Empowering Young Women to Embrace Their Maternal Instincts
Edited extract from her latest book expected to be published in late 2023.
During a brief one-hour interstate flight I sat beside a young man (whom I shall call Ben) in his late twenties. He was married with a seven-month-old son. He’d recently started his own business in construction but now needed his wife to return to work for a year or so – “Just so that we can get on our feet.” The problem was that although his wife had enjoyed a successful career and a high-paying job, since the birth of their baby her innate motherly desires had kicked in – she no longer wanted to leave the home and return to the hectic treadmill of full-time work.
As there were only 40 minutes left in my flight time with this young man before we parted ways, I felt I had to speak up for his wife now or never. “How has your marriage been since your son was born?” I asked him.
Not as good as it was when there were just the two of them, he volunteered. Before the baby, his wife had so much more time for him. He missed her spontaneity and having all her attention. He loved his son, but to be perfectly honest he felt rejected by his wife. Their intimate life was also suffering. When he sought advice from older men on the worksite, they had no answers. “Well, that’s how it is when you have kids”, was their collective response.
My heart went out to the young man and his precious wife. They had been misled and shaped by the feminist myth that women could mother their babes well and have a successful full-time career or work outside of the home. The bond between child and mother is very strong, and in most cases, separation is a very painful experience for both.
“How does your wife feel about returning to work?”
“She’s dreading it. She says she doesn’t want to leave our son at daycare with strangers. It’s getting more tense every time we talk about it. And she’s loving being a mother, so much so that she wants us to have four children.”
Time was short, and I felt compelled to get straight to the issue.
“Look Ben, if in any way you can work it out so that your wife can stay at home with your son, then you should do it. If your marriage is already having challenges and you send your wife out to work against her deep motherly pull, then it will not go well. She will be tired at the end of the workday when she collects her baby from daycare, with an undeniable yearning to spend her last bit of energy with this, her most precious gift in the evenings. She will experience deep separation anxiety every day. And this will impact your marriage, because she will not be able to respond to you in her tiredness. You will continue to read her signals as rejection and most likely react badly, and she will grow resentful toward you for causing her to leave her baby in the hands of another and for taking offense because she is tired; it will only continue to cycle downward. Believe me, it will not end well.”
After further explanation, I saw Ben’s eyes begin to light up. He agreed that my comments made sense, that he was already experiencing some of the realities I had outlined but had never heard anyone talk about them before. As he tossed around some ideas, his demeanour changed from despair to excitement.
“We live in an expensive apartment in the city, we could downscale. My wife is gifted at administration, she could help manage my business at home.” His mind was racing as he considered what changes and sacrifices he could make to help his wife continue at home with their son. It was a beautiful sight.
Finally, Ben turned to me and said with a grin, “As soon as I get off this plane, I’m going to call my wife and tell her that she doesn’t have to go back to work.”
It was a profound interaction for me, and I was challenged by the thought of how many families are suffering unnecessarily. What’s the reason for this? I believe it is self-evident.
Young women are taught that their greatest fulfillment is in a career outside the home. When they marry, become mothers, and experience the innate attachment to their baby and the natural desire to stay home to raise their child, they find instead that they have committed themselves to a huge mortgage or a lifestyle that can only be sustained by two incomes.
There are numerous social media accounts on platforms like Tik Tok and Instagram that highlight the pain of being a new mother and returning to work. Too many young mothers are cradling their infants, weeping and shattered, as they count down the days remaining before they return to work. The sad thing is no one seems to ask the question: “Is what I’ve been taught a lie?”
We simply don’t prepare our daughters for motherhood. Many say they didn’t realise how deeply attached their babies were to them and how much love they were filled with. Having a child had sparked in them a deep desire to create a beautiful and loving home for both themselves and their children. For most mothers, leaving their baby and home every day for work is a literal torture.
I understand that some mothers have no choice but to return to outside employment. Additionally, I don’t mean to say that women shouldn’t work from home; we only need to look to the Proverbs 31 woman who sold in property, planted a vineyard, and made textiles and traded merchandise to enrich her household. It is important to note that she worked from home instead of outside. For now, I’m challenging the narrative that most women are more fulfilled outside the home and can manage a career and a family simultaneously.
In our churches, young mothers struggle with this issue. Sadly, Christian marriages are not doing very well. The church is in the grip of a fatherlessness epidemic, and a motherlessness epidemic is looming as well. We do not teach our daughters how to be wives and mothers which most women will be one day. They enter marriage incredibly ignorant and unprepared because the older women who are responsible for training the younger ones have not stepped up.
This can be attributed to two primary reasons. In the first place, older generations of women, including Boomer and Gen X women, drank the feminist ‘Kool-Aid’ and were deceived by it. They became the weak link in passing down mothering wisdom to our younger women. Secondly, today’s young women do not honour and respect older women as they did in previous generations. This is understandable, because many Boomer and Gen X mothers exited the home for jobs and careers, leaving their children to be raised in day care or by the education system. When it comes to things maternal, the wise and loving advice of older women in the church and community has been replaced by Mother Google.
Over and over, I have seen young mothers completely overwhelmed and frustrated because they were not taught child rearing practicalities. Neither have they been taught the impact of motherhood on children. For many mothers, they see the only way to escape the chaos and frustration at home is to return to work where there is order, recognition, and success.
I believe as Christians we have failed to prioritise the spiritual and practical importance of motherhood, thereby cultivating healthy marriages and families. The importance of this issue should not be underestimated. It begs the question: What are churches doing to support mothers intentionally and corporately in their God-given calling, besides giving them flowers on Mother’s Day, serving them cake, and preaching about motherhood one day a year?
The objective of my book is to expose the lies that I almost fell for as a young woman, and to encourage and teach young women in their highest calling as mothers. By our very nature, women are maternal. And as mothers we have an enormous influence on our children and our husbands, shaping them and shaping the world in which we live.
The Hand That Rocks the Cradle Is the Hand That Rules the World wrote William Ross Wallace in his enduring 1865 poem that praises motherhood as the preeminent force for change in the world. The value of motherhood is indeed far above rubies and infinitely of more value in God’s sight than conquering nations or flying to the moon.
Cindy McGarvie is National Director of Youth for Christ Australia. She met her husband, Rod, in the Australian Army, and together they went on to serve as missionaries with Wycliffe Bible Translators for twelve years, raising five children on the mission field. Cindy and her husband live in Brisbane, Australia.
The Fatherhood Foundation Incorporated trading as Dads4Kids is a Harm Prevention Charity listed under Subdivision 30_EA of the Australian Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 with Tax Deductible Status (DGR) for donations
Dads4Kids – Building Men. Growing Fathers. Changing Generations.