I’ve heard it said before that mothering is a verb. And it’s true – giving birth to another human is not a prerequisite to mothering. Neither is formal adoption. One can mother in a great variety of ways, but the primary meaning of mothering as a verb is to care for or protect like a mother.
One can do these motherly things, and also not identify with the word or the role of — mother.
Erin S. Lane is a writer, theologian, and Someone Other Than A Mother. That’s the name of her latest book, by the way. Erin has a master’s degree from Duke Divinity School with a focus on gender studies. Mentored by Parker J. Palmer and the Center for Courage & Renewal, she works as a vocational retreat facilitator, helping people discern their wildest questions of purpose. Her first book, which I read when it first came out in 2014, is Lessons In Belonging: From a Church Going Commitment-Phobe.
Doesn’t Erin sound like someone we all could use in our life? Well, you’re in for a treat today, because Erin is here to talk to us about the vocation of motherhood, but also, about being someone other than a mother.
Here’s my conversation with Erin.
[Full transcript coming soon.]
God, Thank You for taking care of your children.
For loving us fiercely when we feel unlovable
For feeding us when we’re hungry
For nourishing us when we’re weak
For protecting us when we’re scared
For comforting us when we’re sad and uncertain
For having compassion on us when we do wrong
For resourcing us in our own unique ways to be caretakers of others.
Thank you for the example you have given us for mothering
And showing us how to love and care for your children among us
Help us to love fiercely the unlovable
Help us to feed those who are hungry
Help us to nourish those who are weak
Help us to protect those who are scared
And to comfort those who are sad and uncertain
Help us, God, to have compassion on one another
when we do wrong and when wrong is done against us
Help us to follow the fruit.
May your children feel closer to your loving kindness
when they come near to us.
May there be good fruit falling from our lives
for our neighbors to pick up and savor and be fed.
Thank you, God, for your mothering spirit, and for empowering us with that very same spirit – to be mother, and to be someone other than a mother.