What is the Meaning of Motherhood?

What is the Meaning of Motherhood? May 14, 2024

The image captures the meaning of motherhood as the hands of a wife and mother around her womb in the shape of a heart. The hands of a husband and father are on the outer layer of the wife's hands while a child's hands are placed on the bottom center of the womb.
The image captures the meaning of motherhood as the hands of a wife and mother around her womb in the shape of a heart. The hands of a husband and father are on the outer layer of the wife’s hands while a child’s hands are placed on the bottom center of the womb.  This photo is courtesy of Unsplash.com, taken by Mateus Campos Felipe on November 30, 2019.


What is the meaning of motherhood? This question arises after spending the weekend celebrating mothers in my life.

Motherhood: A Dictionary Definition and Personal Interpretations

Collins Dictionary and The Washington Post  

Collins Dictionary suggests motherhood is about having an inherent worthiness or goodness because someone is a mother. While the dictionary definition is necessary, the meaning of motherhood is best explained through personal experience.

In an article for the Washington Post, Maggie Chiang interviews ten women asking them to define motherhood. Their responses suggest motherhood is about

  • Establishing a connection with your child.
  • Nurturing and offering protection.
  • Loving someone you did not birth.
  • Receiving the world from kids who love you.
  • Learning to love your children as they grow.
  • Accepting failure and the inability to multitask consistently.

Personal Interpretations from Well-Known Mothers 

Beyonce Knowles-Carter agrees with this list when describing her connection with her oldest daughter Blue Ivy.  Beyonce’s understanding of motherhood differs from the list as she discusses discovering more about herself since becoming a mother.

Joyce Meyer’s experience also differs from the list. She describes motherhood as having the ability to handle the small responsibilities and details for a household to function.

Priscilla Shirer admits she used to believe being a mother meant playing the superhero role. This thought process stems from her always rescuing her family from trouble. 

Her perception of motherhood changes as she realizes it is intangible assets like integrity and dependency on the Holy Spirit that made her mom great.

What the Bible Teaches About Motherhood

Shirer’s testimony about her mother proves Christian principles are essential for parents striving to raise godly children. But what exactly does the Bible say about motherhood?

Children are a Gift from and Belong to God

First, according to Psalm 127:3, the meaning of motherhood is a gift from the Lord. Psalm 113:9 proves this as God can give barren women children. 

Sarah experiences this through God’s promise to Abraham as she gives birth to their son Issac at an old age (Genesis 21:2, New International Version). Hannah also witnesses this as God answers her desperate plea for a son in 1 Samuel 1:10-20.

Second, Hannah’s prayer request comes with a vow to dedicate her son to God (1 Samuel 1:11). Hannah’s vow shows motherhood is about being willing to raise offspring in a way where God can use them for his glory.

Manoah’s wife understands this as she obeys the angel’s instructions in Judges 13:7 to raise her Nazarite son Sampson. 

Proverbs 22:6 offers a less specific instruction by urging parents to “train up a child in the way he should go so when he gets old he will not depart from it” (New King James Version).

Honor and Heartache

Barrenness in biblical times came with heartache because having children (specifically a son) symbolizes honor, legacy, and security (Psalm 127:3). Therefore, the biblical meaning of motherhood involves these three aspects.

This is why Naomi became bitter after becoming a childless widow after losing her family in Moab (Ruth 1:20-21). 

Naomi’s pain also suggests motherhood may be about learning how to deal with the grief of losing a child knowing God has a greater purpose. Mary knows this pain as she witnesses the crucifixion of her son so he can save the world (John 3:16; John 19:26).

Other Important Facts about Motherhood

While I don’t want to bore readers with explanations of motherhood in scripture, there are other facts you should know.

According to the Bible, motherhood is also about

  • Being honored by church members as a mother in all purity (1 Timothy 5:2).
  • Children honoring but not idolizing their mother (Leviticus 19:3; Ephesians 6:1-3).
  • Experiencing the privilege of being a grandmother (Proverbs 17:6; Ruth 4:15-16).
  • Offering wisdom and instruction (Proverbs 31:26).
  • Realizing the influence you have on your child and deciding whether to set a positive or negative example (Proverbs 31:2-9; Genesis 27:6-10; Ezekiel 16:44)   

Learning the Meaning of Motherhood from Florence Preston

Personally Knowing God is the Top Priority

Like the explanations above, my mother Florence taught me the meaning of motherhood through several biblical principles. The first principle she taught me is having a relationship with God should be my top priority.

This belief manifests through saying grace before meals and attending church every Sunday.  When I obtained my first summer job, she stressed the importance of giving the first fruits of my increase to God (Proverbs 3:9).

Her instruction has helped me become a consistent tither and more conscious of how God wants me to manage my finances.

Demonstrating Unconditional Love and Servitude

Another lesson my mother continues to teach me through motherhood is unconditional love. In an article about my late brother Donte, I mention how she adopted three kids with special needs.

While receiving assistance from an aid (and family members occasionally), she bore the responsibility of raising us.  She never complained about the daily tasks or challenges of caring for individuals with special needs. She depended on godly wisdom, and prayer to do a phenomenal job.

Providing for disabled children is more than anyone’s fair share of work. However, my mom made and still makes time to help others. Her selfless attitude and helpful nature suggest the meaning of motherhood is servitude.

Her life embodies 1 Peter 4:8-11 as she relied on God’s strength to love and serve others. One day I hope my faith matures to the point where I have a heart for people like her.

Teaching a Child Their Identity

The final principle she taught me through motherhood is my identity as a child of God. She would remind me of my identity in Christ every time I got in trouble. 

She even implemented punishments like having me write out Bible verses hundreds of times. I know Psalm 19:14 by heart after spending over a week writing it in a composition notebook for cursing in class. 

Though annoying back then, I realize she was teaching me how a believer is to conduct themselves. My willingness to please God with my life comes from the standard she set during my childhood.

I would not be the person I am today without her guidance. I’m sure many who read this post share the same sentiment about their mother. 

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised”  (Proverbs 31:30, New International Verison


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