What’s your mothering ROI?

Today’s post is from my friend, Connie Neal.  Connie was a speaker at Hearts at Home many years ago.  She recently Facebooked me after attending a conference where she was challenged on her role as a mother.  After our Facebook dialogue, I asked her to write her thoughts as a blog post so I could share them with all of you!

I think this is beautiful…and just perfect for Mother’s Day!

I am at a crossroads, evaluating and redirecting my life now that my kids are grown; deciding where to invest my time and talent for the days to come. While attending a conference on technology and the web I was taken by surprise.

One of the speakers, Scott McClellan, quoted Gary Vaynerchuk. Gary is a consultant and leading voice on using online social media to build your business. The conference speaker recounted how Gary was complaining of business leaders demanding to know the ROI (Return on Investment) of using social media. To which Gary replied –

“What’s the ROI?”

“What’s the ROI?”

“What’s the ROI of your mother? I don’t have data to show you the ROI of Tamara Vaynerchuk. But I can sit firmly here and tell you it’s everything. It’s the whole game, because without the way my mom raised me I’d be a clown.”

Wow! That put my reflections on life – past and future – in a new light. There is strong encouragement for every mother who struggles with daily decisions about where to invest her time, attention, talent, energy, creativity, and love. And what mother doesn’t?

Tremendous social undercurrents continually exert force that would sweep us away from devoting ourselves to raising our children well. It’s like being in the ocean and having to plant your feet firmly in the sand to resist the pull of the undercurrent that has the power to sweep you away.

What’s the ROI of taking our kids to the park, swinging with them on our lap, playing dress-up, having a tea party? What’s the ROI of building a Batmobile for the pre-school parade? Or of not waiting a minute to change a dirty diaper or staying up all night rocking a sick child while softly singing a lullaby no one else will hear? Or of teaching them that God loves them or cooking a meal that is nutritious (but creatively hides vegetables they have yet to learn to enjoy)? Or of setting limits for a resistant teen, or making sure they have clean clothes; or of praying for them or of just being there? And on and on it goes. You can’t figure out the return on investment on any of those things.

In the middle of a rough week, it’s easy to forget that being a good mother is EVERYTHING! Not just to you, not just to God, but to your kids and the world.

Gary Vaynerchuk attributes all he is and all he accomplishes to how his mom raised him. He’s not alone.  Abraham Lincoln said, “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” He may have been attributing that to his birth mother who died when he was nine or his step-mother who taught him to read, loved and encouraged him. So, whatever role you play as a mother, it’s EVERYTHING even though there is no way to calculate or quantify it.

After the session where I heard the Vaynerchuk quote, I opened my computer. The screensaver said it all. There was a recent photo of our family, with our three adult children center, smiling.

I’ve done many things that can be calculated to find a quantifiable figure of the Return on Investment. But it was those little everyday decisions to resist the undercurrent pulling me away from raising my kids well that gave returns that are incalculable and priceless.

Connie Neal
BA Communication, Pepperdine University
MS Education: Instructional Design for Online Learning
Author, Speaker, Instructional Designer

To celebrate Mother’s Day, I’m giving away a copy of the Hearts at Home book I’m Glad I’m a Mom today.  This book features 50 different stories from 50 different moms.  These stories showcase the triumphs and trials of everyday moms. Sometimes hysterical and sometimes heartwarming, these personal vignettes connect the hearts of mothers and give them a sense of community with one another.

To enter the random drawing, simply share your thoughts about Connie’s ROI post or share one thing you love about being a mom.

Happy Mother’s Day!


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45 thoughts on “What’s your mothering ROI?

  1. Today I loved snuggling with my 2 and 3 year olds in bed before we were ready to get up (something I love about being a stay at home mom too—no rush to get ready :). We snuggled, cuddled, and my boy ended up tackling everyone. Precious moments.

  2. I loved this post!! Great encouragement for our daily interactions with our kids… the “little” things that we wonder, “Does this really matter?” It does!

  3. Great message! My kids are 16, 14, 11 and 9. I have rocked and snuggled everyone of them and still do. I used to get flack from from relatives about doing that but you know one day they will be out of the house and I just hope that it teaches them to sensitive and caring adults. What is my ROI??

  4. WOW! What an inspiring blog! I am so blessed to have 3 adult step children (whom I have watched and helped grow into wonderful human beings), 4 step grandchildren, with one more on the way and two adorable children of my own – age 8 and 4. It is truly amazing at how much God has blessed my life with ALL of these children. Each and everyone of them are my heart and soul and I am blessed to be a mother and Grammy to all of them!

  5. Wow, I love being a mom. I don’t think there’s any greater job. I am a mom of 3 and yes at times it challenging but being a mom has actually me become a better person.

  6. After being home for more than a decade as a special needs mom, I am currently in a marketing career learning and applying ROI. This post really spoke to me on all the unquantifiable value of the years that I invested in homeschooling and and just being present with my boys. It is a difficult balance for many moms today, but great articles and teachings like this site help us keep our priorities in check! Thanks so much!

  7. I needed this today! Reminds me that even when I’m here, I’m not always PRESENT!!! That needs to be my focus, all other things can wait. There will be a time when I will long for someone to ask me to wipe their nose or tie their shoes……Time is flying by and by being present and involved, I will not have to regret missing those little moments when there is no more chance for them to happen…..

  8. I love being my 3 kids’ mom! I have tons of favorite parts about being a mom, but one I’ll mention is helping in their classes at school and volunteering for things they are involved in. They like that I have the time to be active in their lives and that I am spending time in “their world”. 🙂

  9. I am a mother to four children, and I can tell you that I have so many ROI’s it is insane. My oldest son went through some very rough times in his late teens, issues that tested our family and my faith. I am happy to say he is now a veteran of the Army who proudly served two tours in Iraq, is happily married and attending pre-law classes at the local University. During boot camp, he wrote a letter to my husband and me thanking us for the way he was raised, to this day just the thought brings tears to my eyes. My second oldest son is disabled and every time he reaches a new level of independance (even when it seems as though it is to challenge us as parents) I thank God for all of the gifts that he has brought our family. Knowing that we have helped him to overcome so many obstacles in his life is such a joy. My youngest son is an honor student and was just confirmed into our church. His joyful heart and loving personality are hugely rewarding. My baby girl is an outgoing, sweet, intelligent young lady. She is so different from her brothers, it is amazing watching her grow into a young woman. There are so many ways that I feel blessed in being their mother, and the return on our investment as mothers continues to grow with each day. God Bless all the world’s mothers!

  10. Good reminder that the “everydays” really are everything. Another good illustration of this is Nicole Johnson’s The Invisible Woman- doing the work that sometimes only God sees…

  11. Thanks for the thoughts today! Sometimes we get so wrapped up in all we can’t seem to get done….that we lose sight of what we are getting done.

    I love being a Mom of 2 wonderful children, Alyssa and Branson!

  12. Having chosen to leave my career in the business world to devote my live to raising my children, this spoke to me on a deep, motivational and inspirational level. I will be thinking about this on Sunday…Mother’s Day.

  13. No money could ever compare to the everyday rewards of being a mom. Bunches of dandelions, snotty kisses, and tired snugglebugs are some of life’s greatest rewards. God certainly knew what He was doing when He made children so small and innocent. God bless.

  14. I’m thinking constantly about my ROI… I think the biggest thing I’ve been pondering today is how I pray for my children and how that impacts them more than all the other investments I make in them…

  15. I’m a mom of 3 boys, ages 12, 8, and 4. Parenting is a definitely a learning experience, and I have learned that kids will remember the things that we think are insignificant. Like catching tadpoles, playing pitch and catch, going to the park, etc. It’s easy to get consumed with motherly duties that need to be completed. Take the time to make eye contact with your children when they’re talking, and take a play break from time to time during your busy day!

  16. More and more, I find myself just sitting back and watching my two preschool children, truly delighting in being a mom. I love to watch their little personalities develop and see the ROI of what I’m trying to instill in them through intentional training and loving discipline. I enjoy just holding them, savoring the moment (because everyone tells me they will be gone before I know it!). God has blessed me in so many ways (including using my children to grow and teach me!), and I wouldn’t want to do any other job!

  17. The best thing about being a mom is the enormous amount of unconditional love I receive from my kids.

  18. I love that my preschoolers love me to sing Rock a Bye Baby to them…mainly because I drop them on the ground at the end. 🙂

  19. Her thoughts are encouraging and challenging as Mother’s Day nears–I really like her question of the return of investment. I am thankful God keeps me anchored in Him when people ask me what I do all day since I am a home engineer. I do use my B.S. in occupational management 😀 I love being a Mom because my kids remind me all the time of what is lasting–loving Jesus Christ and His love changing our lives each day.

  20. Exactly what I needed to hear, as I choose to stay-at-home with my first child, starting this summer. I’m so excited for the investment I will be making in his life!

    • Welcome home, Marie! Do check out two Hearts at Home resources for moms at home: Professionalizing Motherhood and Becoming a Chief Home Officer. They’ll both help you transition home!

  21. I love the idea that the little things matter in the big picture of parenting. This was a great reminder of my efforts, joys, tears, and prayers all contributing to something greater. We have a short amount of time with our precious little ones, who eventually grow into grown children. I am greatful for every minute.

  22. This post came at just the right time. I am currently in the middle (though hopefully at the end) of that rough week Connie Neal referred to, and her words brought me some much-needed encouragement. It was a reminder not to give up trying to do my very best for my family, and to try even harder at getting it right.

    One bright spot, however, sticks out in mind as a most special moment this week. My sensitive and intuitive 5-year-old son knew I needed something to turn my day around. He had put in a favorite CD and when he heard this particular song, he came to me and asked me to come and listen to it. It was “Open Your Heart” by The Laurie Berkner Band. I won’t list all the lyrics, but the chorus goes like this:

    Some things I can’t do,
    That’s why I need you
    To open your heart,
    My heart is waiting for you.
    Open your heart,
    My heart is waiting.

    My son and my sweet 3-year-old daughter sat on my lap, singing to me, with tears streaming down my face. I couldn’t have imagined anything more precious, and I realized what a special relationship we have. And it’s my job to make sure we keep it that way!

  23. I often get too caught up in the “busyness” of mothering and staying at home ie dishes, diapers, mopping, bottles and then at night I feel guilty as I wonder if I spent any quality time with the babies and my older daughter. To remember this post and ask myself what the ROI is. Yesterday I worked with my daughter on her letters and I felt that I had a great ROI and at the end of the day there was no guilt. I’m always working on keeping records for them and at the end of the day I’d rather the kids thought our house a little messy but mom was a lot of fun and that I was a Godly example. Thanks for the post!


  24. I am at a rough place right now with my oldest son that two days ago turned 18 and graduates high school in a few weeks. He has made some very bad choices and we had to lay down some tough consequences while still maintaining some normalcy for our other 4 children. My son hasn’t seen his biological dad in 4 years and he hurts inside more than anything but just doesn’t know how to open up and talk. I have to say that this is so heartbreaking to watch as he continues to with drawl himself from me. However, I know that what we are doing is the right thing and I know that God is on our side supporting me and my husband as we continue to support and encourage our son to open up and trust that we are here for the long haul. This post helps me to remember that all that I am doing for my son and the rest of our children will be remembered when they are adults and face difficult challenges that we are here and God is at the center of all things. A fabulous Pastor always asks people when they come to her for help, “Where is Jesus in this?”, I have adopted this and use it with my children. Watching my children laugh and smile is one of my favorite things about being a Mom.

    • Paige,

      Hang in there…our Erica gave us a tough time during her teen years. And now she’s such a blessing and a beautiful young lady. Stand strong, love well, and keep your eyes on God.

  25. This is a great perspective to hang on to. This post was encouraging but, I am also reminded that the ROI is not under my control. God calls me to love with a 1 Corinthians 13 love (which is always a challenge) and be Jesus to my young children. I do all I can, and mess up quite a bit, but God is in charge of what the outcome will be.

  26. I’ve always thought “quality time” was impossible to maintain; you need quantity time to truly gain quality time with your children. And there’s no way to estimate the ROI for that.

  27. What I love about being a mom?? The special smile that appears on my 1-yr old daughter’s face when she sees me after being separated for a few hours. When my 3-yr old told me I was his “best friend”. 🙂

  28. The only thing more valuable than the ROI of a mother is the ROI of our Heavenly Father. Wow, where would any of us be without Him?

  29. They say, ‘You are what you eat’ likewise, you are ‘how you are raised.’ Genetically or biologically, we inherit certain traits, but by and large we evolve as persons over a period of time.

    Being raised in a middle class family, the formative years by a stay at home mother and other elders, the ROI is we got introduced to God and make time for him, felt secure at all times, learnt sharing, knew to be accountable for time, appreciated the value of living in a joint family with a grandmother and uncle (dad’s brother) his wife and their three kids (we were four), and a widowed aunt (dad’s sister) with her daughter. A couple of decades ago it was common in India to live in a joint family and even now it still is in the rural areas. The biggest ROI is we believe the size of the house doesn’t matter (ours was approximately 600 square feet) but the size of the heart does – we learnt to stretch our hearts.

    Today, the seven of us ( I lost a brother in his teens) are scattered in different parts of the world, each busy with their families and yet the ROI by our elders is we are all the more nearer than far.

  30. Thanks for the reminder today. My role as a mother is so important at every stage of my children lives.

  31. I so needed this today. I’m new to checking out Hearts at Home. However, Jill I did get to hear you speak to I think a class I had with Phil Foster at (then) Lincoln Christian College back in probably 97 or 98. Little did I know then that I would be sitting in a kitchen on 5/7/11, a mother of an almost 4 year old girl, and just turned 2 year old identical twin girls. Back when I was in that college class room, I never thought it possible that God would count me capable to be a wife, let alone a mom to three girls. Satan had spent many years convincing me that those blessings were for others not as scarred. But he is the master lier. Today I rest in the truth of the One who showers His children with grace and blessing. It’s been a hard week. I’ve had a lot of doubts about my ability to be a “good” mom this week. But I’ve received encouragement here and a good reminder about the ROI that will come as a result of some of these seemingly impossible days.

  32. This reminds me about the story of how the great cathedrals were built. The workers toiled tirelessly, most never seeing the end result and realizing that no one would ever know their name. Yet they built something so beautiful that is brings joy to us centuries later. A mom is compared to one of those workers. No one will know everything she does, all the sleep she lost, all the sacrifices she made just to help assure that her children find joy in life.

    I must admit now with 4 children ages 16-23, I often wonder “was it all worth it?”

  33. It just reminds me of how much I love my kids, even when they are driving me crazy. That my kids love me unconditionally, even when I get upset.

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