"Mom, would you like to take a cake-decorating class with me?" When my daughter, Brittainy, asked this question, I happened to be standing in the kitchen amid a pile of dirty pots and pans. What I really wanted to do at that moment was get out of that kitchen and sink into my sofa. I was tired, too tired to think about giving up my next four Saturday mornings learning how to make rose petals out of buttercream frosting.
But then I looked at her face. It was hopeful, full of invitation. So I dug into the details. This class would be an investment of time, and it would require that we purchase a list of supplies. In addition to my full-time job, my husband and I were small-group leaders at our church. Glancing at the sports and school schedules for both of our children, I gulped. This was already a packed month.
But such is the life of a mom. We are so much more than bottle washers or bottom wipers. We wear a dizzying array of hats: master chef, schedule organizer, cheerleader, comforter, mentor and detective. Our time is not just spent; it's guzzled up by the demands of our family. We're often left breathless and frazzled, until we remember who we really are. We're world changers.
Every day we change the course of the future through our encouragement and admonishments, through these life-giving moments when we pour into our children. We get to shape their character and teach them about the God who made them and loves them. We teach them about honesty and the power of commitment. We teach them how to share and how to love. We form the face of tomorrow through our mom-life today. Each moment counts, and for a mom, there aren't any throwaway days.
My daughter and I joined that class. It meant more stress, less margin and less money left at the end of the month. But it also meant precious moments spent with my girl as we laughed over our pitiful attempts at conquering fondant and gum paste. As we toiled together over mastering the exact lilt to our buttercream rose petals, it became Brittainy and me against the world. We were no longer on opposite teams — one generation pitted against the other — but partners collaborating to create a beautiful masterpiece. We laughed and made a mess. But it was our mess — mother and daughter together.
Those mornings together inspired dialog I don't think we would have ventured into any other way. They turned into opportunities to talk about the concerns of a 14-year-old who was asking big questions about life. The conversations were priceless, and I learned that those moments don't come along every day. When they do, I want to be ready.Our relationship took a turn during that shared experience as we learned to appreciate each other in a brand-new way. The time, money and effort I invested in that class now seems so small compared to what I've received in return: a deepened relationship with my beautiful daughter. This is our calling as mothers. We give and invest, spending time and resources. We give to our children when it would have felt good to give to ourselves. We do without so that our kids don't have to.
We need not wonder if it's worth it to find the energy to read yet another bedtime story — it is. When we question the value of going the extra mile for our kids, we can rest in the power of the message we are sending as we model God's command to love someone else more than we love ourselves.
The fruit of our labors may not always be apparent, but let's commit with the apostle Paul to "not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up" (Galatians 6:9). With every hug, every gentle pat, every encouraging word, we are making a difference that no one else can. Without fanfare or thanks, we are shaping the minds and hearts of future leaders, inventors, dreamers and decision-makers. We truly are world changers.
Sherry Surratt is the President and CEO of MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International, an organization that invests in moms and families.