Even the most novice chess player recognizes the most powerful piece in the game — not the king, nor the bishops, the leaping knights or the eager pawns — but the elegant, versatile queen. She moves powerfully across the board, influencing the moves of every other piece.
My sister recently suggested Satan is working extra hard to discourage me because I am the queen of my household. Not the "dripping diamonds, bring me a cake" sort of ruler, but the "my actions shape everyone else" kind.
I consider myself relatively unimportant: I don't make any money or have important connections. Most days I talk to very few people outside my home. In church, I care for the babies in the nursery, and I'm pretty shy about even updating my Facebook page. Ask the world, and my influence score is shockingly low.
But for my children, I DO matter. My decisions influence everything we bring into our home (books, music, education, food, faith) and everything I hope to send out (kind, compassionate people).
We are all, as mothers, more powerful than we believe.
Of course all power has a flip side — when the queen makes a foolish move on the chess board, it endangers everyone around her. I have made some dreadful mistakes in my mothering.
One summer with a houseful of wild little boys, I lost my temper so often I was afraid I had ruined my children forever. If I had given up, that might have been true. I would have created a wide and towering wall between my children and myself. But I repented, I changed. I've watched in wonder as the grace of God healed my children's wounds and made up for my errors.
As mothers we walk hand in hand with God. I believe God gives special inspiration and dispensation to mothers. He knows we are tired and overworked; he will help us, he will guide us. Some of my prayers seem to hit a cement ceiling, but when I pray for guidance on raising my children, revelation comes pouring down. Heavenly Father knows our children better than we do; he remains the best source for parenting advice.
My little chess mavens taught me the best way to defeat the queen is to distract her; create all kinds of chaos around her, then take her down. Our world could scarcely contain more distractions for women — beauty secrets, social networks, PTA, Pinterest — we are expected to hide our wrinkles, watch our weight, serve the community, maintain a career (at least a little something on the side), all while nurturing children, making dinner and cultivating a happy marriage.
For me, staying on my game means putting God first, making choices, eliminating too much busyness and shutting out the voices of discouragement. I need to live boldly, happily and guide my children along with me. No influence? Look at these people I'm sending out into the world — honest, smart, good and kind.
No one can take me down; I'm the queen.
Writer, photographer Michelle Lehnardt is raising five future fathers and one little mother. She writes at Segullah.org and scenesfromthewild.blogspot.com on building chicken coops, hosting tea parties and missing her missionary son in Russia.