Concern for the feelings of women who have made career choices that cause them to delay motherhood, limit the number of children they have, or choose to not have children at all, are among other reasons that motherhood, in general, has become a hot button issue -- even within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In order to be politically sensitive, in all circumstances, where the issue of how women fulfill their role as mothers comes into play, it is my observation that we are becoming increasingly comfortable with relegating actual Moms' to the back of the bus -- even on Mother's Day. And frankly, that kind of bothers me. Said President Hinckley on the awesome responsibility of mothers:
You have nothing in this world more precious than your children. When you grow old, when your hair turns white and your body grows weary, when you are prone to sit in a rocker and meditate on the things of your life, nothing will be so important as the question of how your children have turned out. It will not be the money you have made. It will not be the cars you have owned. It will not be the large house in which you live. The searing question that will cross your mind again and again will be, How well have my children done?
For those who know my history, as a mother, you might find this concern somewhat surprising. I've wrestled not only with my own Mother's mothering, but also my own ability to mother ideally. It took me a while to put it all into proper perspective. Now that I have, I'm an even stronger advocate for moms, with all our weakness and insecurities. We have a huge task, as mothers in Zion, and understanding this role is one of our great lessons as sisters in Christ.
Here in the United States Mother's Day was originally established to provide a special day for children to pay tribute to their mothers, for their good deeds. It was encouraged that children hand write special messages of gratitude to their mothers. In fact, Anna Jarvis, founder of Mother's Day, was so upset by the almost immediate commercialization of Mother's Day that she actually turned against the memorial and wanted it rescinded.
The simple purity of Mother's Day, it seems, is being recruited to the larger war on women, of women, and, perhaps, even between women. Mormon moms, and Mormon women, are among those who, above all, should not allow this to happen. We, more than any other women on the planet, understand the divine call of all women, to ultimately become a Mom and, I would think, would not be comfortable in, no matter personal circumstances, wanting to see motherhood diminished -- just to be made to feel comfortable.
As I sat in my church meeting, on Mother's Day, I sensed that a conscience effort had been made to focus more on womanhood, in general, rather than on being a Mom -- a mother with children. I have no critique of the remarks given. Thankfully no one read off a list of what makes a perfect mother. You know the kind of list I'm talking about, right? The one that leaves every mother in the congregation, except for maybe one (the speaker's perfect wife or mother) feeling like scum on the bottom of a shoe. No, my ward pulled off this new twist quite flawlessly.
And yet, as a Mom myself, knowing well the sacrifices of so many others who have followed the commandments of God, counsel of living prophets, and promptings of the Spirit in making the choice to give birth, and become a Mom -- in the face of so much opposition in today's world -- I wished with all my heart, on Mother's Day, at the very least, someone would have given such Moms' recognition for this choice, sacrifice and life's work -- praise that it so well deserves.
Again, not that there's anything wrong, at all, in recognizing all women as mothers -- as part of their divine nature. Sheri Dew's great talk, "Are We Not All Mothers?" has had a profound impact on this discussion in the Church -- and rightfully so. I, myself, quote it often.
However, we can't shy away from moving forward, once we've established this doctrine, and acknowledge our gratitude for those women, who are able, and willing, to make the bearing and nurturing of children their first priority, and the impact that this has on the lives of the children they nurture.
Even though, as Sheri Dew taught, Eve was called "the mother of all living", in the garden, before she ever bore a child, nonetheless, her full stature was not complete until after the Fall, where she was able to finally have children -- in mortality. Let us never forget that although we have a prescribed divine destiny, it is in the fruits of becoming, or doing, that the promised blessings are ultimately manifest.
Women today, who make the choice to become mothers, through giving birth or adoption -- and those who desire to do so -- are fulfilling their divine nature, and destiny, as commanded by God -- to multiply and replenish the earth. These particular women, in my opinion, standout among all women, as lights to be honored, and revered, for their sacrifice in setting aside their own desires, and as the Savior, Himself, willingly follow God's Plan -- in the face of much adversity.
This is the perfect Mother -- the one, with all her weakness, chooses to follow God's Plan and teaches her children to do the same -- although for the majority of us, incredibly imperfectly.
Howard W. Hunter on the Motherhood:
A man who holds the priesthood has reverence for motherhood. Mothers are given a sacred privilege to “bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of [the] Father continued, that he may be glorified” ( D&C 132:63).
The First Presidency has said: “Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind” (in James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency, 6 vols., Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965–75, 6:178). The priesthood cannot work out its destiny, nor can God’s purposes be fulfilled, without our helpmates. Mothers perform a labor the priesthood cannot do. For this gift of life, the priesthood should have love unbounded for the mothers of their children.
Honor your wife’s unique and divinely appointed role as a mother in Israel and her special capacity to bear and nurture children. We are under divine commandment to multiply and replenish the earth and to bring up our children and grandchildren in light and truth (Moses 2:28; D&C 93:40). You share, as a loving partner, the care of the children. Help her to manage and keep up your home. Help teach, train, and discipline your children.
You should express regularly to your wife and children your reverence and respect for her. Indeed, one of the greatest things a father can do for his children is to love their mother.
A man who holds the priesthood regards the family as ordained of God. Your leadership of the family is your most important and sacred responsibility. The family is the most important unit in time and in eternity and, as such, transcends every other interest in life.
We reiterate what was stated by President David O. McKay: “No other success [in life] can compensate for failure in the home” (David O. McKay quoting J. E. McCulloch, “Home: the Savior of Civilization,” in Conference Report, Apr. 1935, p. 116) and President Harold B. Lee:
“The most important of the Lord’s work you and I will ever do will be within the walls of our own homes” (Harold B. Lee, Stand Ye in Holy Places, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1974, p. 255). Effective family leadership, brethren, requires both quantity and quality time. The teaching and governance of the family must not be left to your wife alone, to society, to school, or even the Church. Howard W. Hunter, “Being a Righteous Husband and Father,” Ensign, Nov 1994, 49
Photo: Taken on my iPhone, of me and my Mom, on Mother's Day.
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