Here it is Mother’s Day once again, a day when we honor our mothers and other women. My mother passed away a week before Mother’s Day so this day and the previous week are always bitter sweet to me. I love the attention and praise that comes to me as a mother, but I always spend the time thinking of my own mother.
How would you define mother? What constitutes a mother in your mind? Why do we honor mothers? What is a mother?
One definition of mother is a woman who gives birth to a child or children. A second definition is a woman who brings up a child or children with care and love. A third definition is any woman who reaches out to help a fellow human being. Most women are mothers at heart, and most young women and girls are mothers-in-training.
The following lines are attributed to Victor Hugo. “She broke the bread into two fragments and gave them to her children, who ate with eagerness. `She hath kept none for herself,’ grumbled the sergeant.
“`Because she is not hungry,’ said a soldier.
“`No,’ said the sergeant, `because she is a mother.’”
I love those lines because they describe what being a mother means to me. Mothers of all types make great sacrifices for their children and others under their care. A recent news story reported the experience of a mother in Texas. Sometime in March, a mother in Alvin, Texas, demonstrated the love and concern of a mother when a pit bull attacked her two-year-old daughter. The mother recognized that her daughter’s life was in danger, and she did the only thing a real mother could do. She put her own life and health in danger by fighting the dog – even to the point of sticking her fist in the dog’s mouth and biting off its ear. The child was seriously hurt as can be seen in this picture, but she will recover. She will always know that her mother loved her enough to fight for her life!
A mother in North Carolina was in the middle of a divorce and also dealing with two young children with behavioral challenges. She had numerous difficulties including the need to move several times. In spite of her problems she has a tradition of taking her two children out to a restaurant every Friday. On a recent Friday she took her children to a Pizza Hut in Durham. She knew that medication was wearing thin and apologized in advance to a nearby customer – just in case her children misbehaved. The father of three children told her that he understood; he finished his food and left the restaurant. The mother worked at keeping her children subdued. The tearful waitress brought a three-page note on receipt paper, a note that was left by the male customer. The man also paid for the family’s food and left a gift card for future use. His note read, “I do not know your back story, but I have had the privilege of watching you parent your children for the past thirty minutes. I have to say thank you for parenting your children in such a loving manner.
“I have watched you teach your children about the importance of respect, education, proper manners, communication, self-control and kindness all while being very patient. I will never cross your path again but am positive that you and your children have amazing futures.
“Keep up the good work and when it starts to get tough do not forget that others may be watching and will need the encouragement of seeing a good family being raised. God bless! Jake”
When the mother finished reading the note, she was in tears also. The man recognized a mother and paid her tribute in the only way he knew. May God bless him!
A friend passed along a video about an employer interviewing applicants for a difficult job. I may spoil the impact for you to know that the job description was for the position of “mother.” Since you will not be wondering about the job, please listen to the job description given here.
Elder Jeffrey R.Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave wonderful counsel on the topic “Because She Is A Mother.” “In speaking of mothers generally, I especially wish to praise and encourage young mothers. The work of a mother is hard, too often unheralded work. The young years are often those when either husband or wife – or both – may still be in school or in those earliest and leanest stages of developing the husband’s breadwinning capacities. Finances fluctuate daily between low and nonexistent. The apartment is usually decorated in one of two smart designs – Deseret Industries provincial or early Mother Hubbard. The car, if there is one, runs on smooth tires and an empty tank. But with night feedings and night teethings, often the greatest challenge of all for a young mother is simply fatigue. Through these years, mothers go longer on less sleep and give more to others with less personal renewal for themselves than any other group I know at any other time in life. It is not surprising when the shadows under their eyes sometimes vaguely resemble the state of Rhode Island….
“Do the best you can through these years, but whatever else you do, cherish that role that is so uniquely yours and for which heaven itself sends angels to watch over you and your little ones….
“Mothers, we acknowledge and esteem your faith in every footstep. Please know that it is worth it then, now, and forever. And if, for whatever reason, you are making this courageous effort alone, without your husband at your side, then our prayers will be all the greater for you, and our determination to lend a helping hand even more resolute….
“Yours is the grand tradition of Eve, the mother of all the human family, the one who understood that she and Adam had to fall in order that `men [and women] might be’ and that there would be joy. Yours is the grand tradition of Sarah and Rebekah and Rachel, without whom there could not have been those magnificent patriarchal promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob which bless us all. Yours is the grand tradition of Lois and Eunice and the mothers of the 2,000 stripling warriors. Yours is the grand tradition of Mary, chosen and foreordained from before this world was, to conceive, carry, and bear the Son of God Himself. We thank all of you, including our own mothers, and tell you there is nothing more important in this world than participating so directly in the work and glory of God, in bringing to pass the mortality and earthly life of His daughters and sons, so that immortality and eternal life can come in those celestial realms on high.”
I stand in awe of the courage, faith, and strength of the 2000 stripping warriors. I rejoice in the praise they heap upon their mothers. Helaman, their commander, described the young men as follows: “Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.
“And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Alma 56:47-48).
The young men took part is some serious battles and several many wounds; however, not one of the stripling warriors died. “Their preservation was astonishing to our whole army, yea, that they should be spared while there was a thousand of our brethren who were slain. And we do justly ascribe it to the miraculous power of God, because of their exceeding faith in that which they had been taught to believe – that there was a just God, and whosoever did not doubt, that they should be preserved by his marvelous power” (Alma 57:26).
Being a mother is the most noble of all professions. I stand in awe of the young mothers I see all around me. I watch my own daughters and marvel at their capacities to teach and care for my grandchildren. Each of them put their careers on hold in order to be at home with their children in these tough times. May God bless all mothers and all women who mother the children born to other women.