Sitting here, feeling my active son engage in some pre-natal athletic behavior, I was interested to read Abraham Piper’s blog today, and the post it referenced. The issue being discussed is the relationship between mothers and sons – which is obviously apropos to my life right now.
To quote Jenna’s post:
There’s Father-Daughter banquets. And being a “Daddy’s girl” is a good thing.
There’s the Father-Son bonding that’s so important. Roughing it. Wrestling. Adventure. There are even retreats for Fathers and Sons.
There’s the Mother-Daughter relationship that is just as beloved as the Father/Son. Bonding over shopping (supposedly), and cooking (perhaps) and staying attached for life (“because the Bible says, ‘therefore a man shall leave his mother and father,’ but not the woman”…you’ve heard that, perhaps?)
But, what about Mothers and Sons?
Now, I must say that as the mama to a little girl, while I pray I will have a life long relationship with my daughter, I am very conscious of the fact that, Lord willing, she will one day find a wonderful man who will change her name. I have every expectation that my daughter will leave me and her father and create a new family.
I think this expectation shapes the way I look at this discussion about parental roles. I don’t think it’s a matter of one role being favored over another, I think it’s a difference in the nature of the parental roles period.
Mothers, by God’s design, are the nurturers, the caregivers. We carry these little beings inside our own bodies while they develop, and then (mostly) we feed them from our own bodies. As mothers, our relationship from birth is defined by letting go. As soon as our children are born we begin losing our ability to completely care for them.
Fathers, on the other hand, are defined by discovery. At the same moment a mother is letting go for the first time, a father is experiencing his child for the first time. When a child is being weaned to table food, the mother is letting go, and the father is beginning to share the chance to contribute to feeding his child. By God’s design, the relationship with a father requires a level of investment and purposeful bonding that is less important in the maternal relationship.
As a result, we mothers tend (I say tend, because I know many a fine mother who is not doing this) to want to hold on tighter. We want to say “No, you can’t drive, because you might get hurt.” or “Don’t climb that tree, you could fall out.” or “Stay away from that gun, you could shoot your foot off!” Fathers, generally, want to say “Let me teach you to drive safely.” or “Let me find a tree sturdy enough for you to climb.” or “Here is the safe way to load and use a gun.” Both roles are necessary, and both roles are God ordained.
I am so delighted at my opportunity to participate in the raising of a girl AND a boy. I am humbled at the role God has created for me, and I am relieved that I have been given a husband to do the heavy lifting, both literally and spiritually, in this joint adventure. And to be honest, I don’t care if our culture treasures or honors any part of the journey.