Am I Still Your Favorite Mother?

You were at boarding school and we were six hours from you in our ministry. Our first and oldest to fly from home, you seemed far too young, and we felt so unready. But, the label “Missionary Kid” found a home with other third-world high-schoolers from all over Europe. And for the first time, you made friends I didn’t know, and teachers whose faces I memorized from newsletters. The separation was the hardest thing I’d ever gone through as a mother, like an arm cut off or a pulse with half a beat.  

But there you thrived. You discovered your people. And then one day I got a call from the school receptionist. 

You’d had a bad day, she said. She could tell by the look on your face when you came to the reception desk. 

“Are you all right?” she’d asked. 

And as she told me the story, I could see in my mind the crumple of your face and the quiver of your lip. I pictured your strong hold-back-the-cry liquify into an unleashed dam, and I felt the humiliation you experienced in the busy school’s hallway.  

She opened the door, and drew you into her office. You cried against her shoulder. She listened to your sputtered words and soothed your heart. Then she reached behind with one hand, and pulled a tissue for you to blow your nose. 

I wanted to be the one who handed you that tissue. I longed to be with you. I felt the ghost of jealousy for the hug that should have been mine.    

And something inside, silly and perhaps a little selfish, whispered,  “Am I still your favorite mother?”

I wish somehow God had made a mother’s pain lessen with her children’s peeling away. It would be nice if in proportion to a child’s widening independence the wounds of separation decreased, anesthetizing a forever-severing umbilical love.   

As my children grew, I prayed for godly men and women to come alongside them. God has repeatedly answered that for which I am so thankful. Each time I see it happen, I thank Him with a truly grateful heart. 

And I mourn just a bit with a truly longing heart. 

Because, even though they are grown now with their own children to care for,  I still yearn to be Mom on the other side of the desk, to open the door, and wipe their tears. I want my hand to offer them the tissue.

Yet these are the ways our Father teaches me. He both reprimands and reminds me in His gentle and caring way, He is all they really need. 

And He confirms to me again that He is all I need. 

I’m grateful for the other mom’s, the in-law-sides, who share my love for my children and their spouses. 

I thank Jesus for the wonderful friendships which have grown around them like warm cocoons of care and protection. I love that I love my children’s friends. They encourage walks with Jesus. They listen, and laugh together.

And sometimes watching from the outside, the question whispers again, “Am I still your favorite mother?” When it does, I take comfort from Jesus’ final instruction to John. 

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. (John 19:26-27 ESV)

While dying for everyone, past, present and future, Jesus spoke to one mother in the crowd.  As the Perfect-God-Son cruelly hung in sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, He stepped into her humanity, into her grief and need. He set her apart from all the others in deep son-to-mother love. While dying for everyone, past, present and future, Jesus spoke to one mother in the crowd. Click To Tweet

Jesus remembered His mother and spoke what a Momma needed to hear for a broken heart to heal. Jesus still understands a mother’s heart. 

Birthing pangs continue within a mother’s DNA. I feel wistful for days past, for velvet arms around my neck, for faces up-too-close. I miss the soft-voiced promises to “never, ever leave me.” 

These realities are the blessing and heartache of Mom-hood. It’s the leave and cleave, which give way to God-purposed layers of generations. And although it’s right and good, sometimes it hurts with a thankful, mournful kind of pain. 

Mother’s Day coincides with graduations, weddings, and launchings.  Changing roles and celebrations whisper that same need for assurance. 

If my mother would still be alive this Mother’s Day, I would put my arms around her small frame and lean my head down to feel her soft gray hair press against my cheek. I would whisper loudly so she could hear, “You are still my favorite Mother.” 

She would smile, and I would hand her a tissue.


*Feature Photo by Philip Schroeder

12 Replies

  1. Daneen Campbell Reply

    Oh, Sylvia, how very, very needed this is to my mother-heart right now! My younger daughter is 1000 miles away and has just recently undergone a mastectomy to remove cancer. I long to be with her but so many obstacles loom right now and we feel she doesn’t need to have extra people in her home right now. She has a homeschool consulting/publishing/printing business and is well known. That in itself means that she is limiting her phone/text/message contacts for the sake of peace and rest. It’s a wilderness to my heart not to be able to hold her and love on her! Thanks for your thoughts that, although they bring tears (again!), help me remember she is in the best place she could ever be as the Great Physician gives her healing and help.

    • sylvia schroeder Reply

      Daneen, thank you so much for sharing. What a difficult difficult journey for you both! May the Great Physician continue to guide your steps and bring healing to your daughter. I really appreciate your comments and am praying for her and for you today! Keep me updated!

  2. Candyce Carden Reply

    What a sweet, sweet story that every mother can identify with. Thank you1

  3. Maria Martens Reply

    I can hardly see through my tears reading this, so many feelings and longings to be close to my children come flooding as i remember bringing our kids home and then leaving to go back to the mission field. thank you for the beautiful reminder that Jesus stays near them and us even tough we are far apart in distance. thank you for reminding me that Jesus spoke and speaks to our momma hearts.

  4. Linda Lou Brucato Reply

    Wonderful!! So powerful this precious gift of motherhood. My heart grieves for all those precious women who have not been able to have children. Thanks Sylvia!

  5. Melissa Strout Reply

    Thank you, Sylvia. I am so thankful for people that love our sons and when we have not been near to be there for them others have stepped in for us over the years to show that love that we would of gladly given if we had been nearby.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Yes, I know what you mean! I think in the missionary community we get this “momentary” sacrifice with deep gratitude mixed with tears. I love hearing from you Melissa! Thanks for taking the time to read and effort to respond. I hope you have a truly blessed Mother’s Day!!

  6. J.D. Wininger Reply

    Awww… you’re not supposed to make cowboys cry. I had to take down mama’s photo and tell her that she’s still my favorite. 🙂 Heartwarming Ms. Sylvia. Thank you.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      I made J.D. cry? Made my day! Mamma’s are pretty special and those sweet memories remain. Thanks so much! I am honored by cowboy tears!