The Mom I Never Knew

Photo Credit: Laura Fuhrman

Photo Credit: Laura Fuhrman

I was 22 years old, fresh out of college, and all I could think about was the European backpacking excursion I was about to take in just a few months.

At that time, my life was all about me.

Little did I know that while I was making plans for my short-term future, a family I didn’t even know was making plans for their long-term future. And it wasn’t the future they had ever dreamed. A life that once included a mom, dad, and four children - now included a widowed husband and his four motherless children.

It was March of 2006 when this family first came into my life. Their grieving father, Mr. B*, was looking for an interim nanny for his four children during their spring break vacation. I was looking for work while waiting to leave for my trip. So I offered to help.

What happened during that one week - from the moment I met those children up until the day I left for Europe - changed the course of my life.

Because once I returned from my six-week backpacking jaunt through Europe, I accepted a position as their full-time nanny. (Although Mr. B referred to me as the house manager.)

I had just graduated from college, yet I felt completely unqualified for this job. I had to learn to navigate the emotions of preteens while also helping school age children with homework. I was driving the family’s minivan to sports practices, running errands, going to doctors’ appointments, attending lessons, and participating in after school functions.

All the while four precious kids were grieving the loss of their mother and learning how to do life without her.

Looking back, not only did I not know what I was doing, I also didn’t grasp the immensity of the part I was played in these children’s lives. Their sweet little hearts were learning to heal and grow without a mother to shepherd them.

Instead of their beloved mama by their side to navigate them through their life’s challenges, they had me - a twenty-something nanny who was also trying to figure out her own life.

We all did a lot of growing during our three years together.

I remember on the hardest days and most difficult moments, I’d inhale this prayer over and over, Jesus, help me. And then I’d exhale, Mrs. B, be near me.

I never knew Mrs. B, but I think I would have wanted to be in her world. Her daughter (and the only girl of the family) would say often, “you would have loved my mom’s (fill in the blank)...” Whether it was something she baked, cooked, crafted, or simply the gift of her joy.

During my years being Mrs. B’s children’s nanny, I felt her presence. I knew she was there celebrating each milestone, each emotional breakthrough, and every victory. And on the most painful days during every heartache, she was there!

I could feel her help. I could feel her prayers.

Four years after meeting the B family, I got married and started my own family.

It wasn’t until holding my firstborn baby that I finally recognized the enormity of my role in that family. I now understood the irreplaceable role of a mother in her child’s life. I wept.

Had I been enough for those kids? Should it have been another nanny?

And if I had insecurities in my role as a nanny to four children, you can probably imagine how deficient I felt as a brand new mother.

Am I enough for this kid? Should it be another mom?

The children I nannied were not my own. They had a mother, and according to all who knew her she was perfect, and I often sought her help. I needed her presence - I needed her powerful intercessory prayers for her children - and for me.

As a brand new mother, I looked to find that perfect mother to help me. Yes, I had my own wonderful mother and mother-in-law. Yet there were areas in my motherhood journey that they simply could not walk with me.  

In my vulnerability, my weakness, and my humiliation of having such doubts about my capabilities as a mom, I asked the Lord to point me to someone to be my mentor. I needed a mom to help me in the darkest and loneliest areas of my motherhood. I needed someone to fill in the gaps where I was deficient and insecure.  

He told me to fear not. God the Father led me to His Son. And His Son brought me to His mother.  It was then that I met the perfect mother.

And the angel went in to her and said, Hail, thou full of grace!
The Lord is with you.
Blessed are you among women.

Luke 1:28 (NMB)

On the heels of celebrating Mother’s Day, and reflecting on the special mothers who have gone before me and helped me to become the woman I am today, I must include Jesus’ mama.

I cannot write this blog praising all the great mothers I have learned from and not give honor to the one who carried, bore, and raised Jesus.

Jesus, our King, our Triune God, had a mother; and her name was Mary.

And if in my human weakness I had called upon Mrs. B to help me be the nanny her children needed, then there was no question that when I became a mother I could call upon Mary to help me be the mother my children needed.

In my daily prayers, and in my Mother’s Prayer Companion, one of my first intentions for each of my children is that they grow to be like Jesus.

Similarly, one of the intentions I pray for myself on my self prayer page is that I grow in holiness to be like Jesus and His mother.

God Incarnate had a mother, and I desire to be like her.

Lord, grant that I could contain one ounce of the love Your mother had for You.

I’m reminded of a scene from Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion. As Jesus carries His cross up to Calvary, Mary’s mind flashes back to a moment when her little boy Jesus fell and scraped his knee. She drops everything to run to her hurting child and hold him in her arms. Then the scene jumps back to Mary, running to her grown son as his beaten and bloody body carries the cross up the hill. All she wants to do is hold him in her arms and consume him with her love.

Lord, grant that I could contain one ounce of the love Your mother had for You.

I pray I can I can be as trusting, faithful, courageous, gentle, and holy as she.

When I meet children or adults that make a positive impression on me, I often think about who raised them. A respectful, virtuous, other-centered soul is a light that I am drawn towards. I want to know how they came to be that way - I want to know their mama.

Just as I longed to know more about Mrs. B because of the children she raised, I also want to know more about Mary because of the Child she nurtured. In the same way, when I meet a child or teen whose character is valiant, I am drawn towards his/her mother.  

Thank you to all mothers who are raising men and women after the Lord’s heart - Happy Mother’s Day. Thank you for the gift of your yes and the light you are to the world around you.

To all mothers who have gone before me, including Mrs. B - thank you for your example, your presence, and your prayers.

From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.

Luke 1:48-49 (NIV)

*Names changed to respect the B family’s privacy.

P.S. The four kids I nannied for are now adults living out their missions here on earth that gives honor to their mama. I have no doubt she is delighting in the woman and men they are today.

Stef Blackwell

Stef Blackwell and her husband are raising their four kids and living the dream deep in the heart of suburbia, Flower Mound, TX. She’s a raging choleric and high functioning introvert, which some have said is impossible. But alas, here she lives to tell her tale. Her greatest strength is bossing people around; her greatest weakness is she bosses people around - and Jesus loves her just the way she is - today. She looks for the one mama who is standing alone and strives to bring them into the fold. God has given her a passion for marriage, motherhood, and living missionally.