Why our society desperately needs more mother tigers


It’s late and I have to go to bed because my son will wake up crying in a few hours, but I can’t sleep. My heart is too heavy and my brain is too full of thoughts. As a mom, I’m just… incredibly sad.

Tonight I watched a video of another clash between police and young people of color. In one particularly difficult scene, a teenage girl was tackled to the ground and pinned by an officer’s knee, while crying in visible fear.

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Watching this unfold, my mommy heart shattered into a million pieces. Later, when I crawled into bed next to Ike, I burst into tears. Some days it feels like brokenness wins.

Obviously, I don’t know the whole story behind this video. In the days to come, it will be a loud refrain, as it always is, of “waiting for the facts”. And it has its place.

But whatever the story, I can’t help but think of those kids and how scared they must have been. Who do you call for help to save you from help? Who do you turn to then?

As this question swirled in my mind, the teenager had an answer. Pinned to the floor, crying, scared, she moaned over and over, “Someone call my mommy.

There is a story in Exodus chapter 1 about two midwives, Shiphra and Puah, who Pharaoh ordered to kill all the Hebrew boys they bore. The women feared God, so they refused.

When Pharaoh asked them why they had spared the boys’ lives, they replied, “The Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives come.”

These women were cunning, but more than that, they were brave. We don’t know if they had children themselves, but they most likely did, which means they made a big sacrifice for other people’s children. They risked their lives for other children as if they were their own.

We live in a time not unlike that of midwives.

In our culture, some children are valued more than others. Some children are protected and defended, while others are thrown away like trash.

Some children are especially vulnerable, just like these Hebrew boys, which led me to ask myself this question: what does it look like to carry on the legacy of midwifery today?

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Here’s what I think that means:

I think that means we dispense with us versus them language. They are not “our” children and “their” children.

Instead, all children are our children.

Instead of treating some children as problems or disabilities, what if we treated them with the care and patience we want for our own children?

Instead of dismissing the “young punk” who “probably deserved it,” what if we cried out for the dignity and understanding we would want to bestow on our own sons?

Instead of sizing up that young man standing next to you on the street, what if your orientation to him was maternal? What if you were worried about him? Did he welcome it? Investigate the surroundings to make sure he – not just your own children – was safe? How about using your mother bear instincts to protect your children AND him?

A few years ago, Amy Chua wrote the book Mother Tiger Battle Hymn on the ferocity of Chinese mothers. The term refers to the strict discipline of a mother, so the concept has some baggage, but I still love its imagery.

It evokes the power of a strong, protective and intelligent mother who would do anything for her little one. In that sense, I wish the world had more mother tigers.

What if it was? What if more of us were to be mother tigers for the children of the world? What if we were like the kind-hearted midwives who cared not just for their own children, but for all children? What if “our children” were all children? Would our country and our world be different?

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I think so. I think God can do a great thing through mothers – not just literal mothers, but also spiritual mothers. I think God can use women to be fierce.

So, here is my modest proposal: Let’s be mother tigers for our children. Not just the children of our families, but the children of our world.

Let’s be fierce. Let’s be brave. Let’s resist the temptation to protect our children from other people’s children. Instead, let us love the children of our nation with the heart of a mother and the heart of our God. Let us continue the legacy of Hebrew midwives.

Being a mother tiger means we don’t have to wait for the facts, don’t cry with those who cry, and don’t wish for a different outcome.

Any parent knows that whether a child deserves it or not, we love them. We endure. We hope, we pray and we work for redemption. That’s what a parent does.

Whether our children deserve it or not, we love them, we fight for them and do everything for them. Not all children have this kind of parent at home, so we have to steer clear of this.

Church, let us stand in the breach. Let’s be the mother tigers, or the mother bears, or the lionesses, or whatever makes your mother’s blood pump. Let us witness to a God who shows no partiality, and who uplifts us all with a burning love, who takes risks and puts everything at stake.

Mothers, tiger mothers, let us take back our children.

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Sharon Hodde Miller is a writer, speaker, pastor’s wife and mother. She writes about marriage, motherhood, culture, leadership, and more, all from a Christian faith perspective.

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This article originally appeared on sheworships.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.


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