Mother’s Day is here once again. It is a day that brings many mixed feelings to women. Some women wish they had loving feelings toward their own mother but do not. Some women with deceased mothers wish for another opportunity to spend time with their mothers. Some women are mothers, other women long to be mothers, and still others do not want to be mothers. Most girls and young women dream of the day when they will have children, and most mothers are grateful for the opportunity to have children.
Many mothers do not like the public observance of Mother’s Day because the loving words that are spoken about mothers make them feel guilty for not being better mothers. I certainly feel that I failed my own children in many ways, and I expect that the most perfect of mothers feels that she should have been a better one! I am comforted and strengthened in my role as a mother with the following words from Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
… There is no role in life more essential and more eternal than that of motherhood.
There is no one perfect way to be a good mother. Each situation is unique. Each mother has different challenges, different skills and abilities, and certainly different children. The choice is different and unique for each mother and each family. Many are able to be “full-time moms,” at least during the most formative years of their children’s lives, and many others would like to be. Some may have to work part-or full-time; some may work at home; some may divide their lives into periods of home and family and work. What matters is that a mother loves her children deeply and, in keeping with the devotion she has for God and her husband, prioritizes them above all else.
All women are mothers at heart. Those who do not actually bear or adopt children are still mothers in their own way. They may mother step-children, nieces and nephews, siblings, aged parents, students in their classrooms, or even adults in their organizations. There are all kinds of people who need mothering. My oldest daughter does not have children of her own, but she “mothers” people throughout a large area of Alaska as she works to meet their health needs. I marvel at the young mothers of my acquaintance, including my own daughters by birth and marriage. I am amazed at their abilities to meet the needs of their children and to bring excitement, learning, and culture into their lives. I am particularly mindful at this time of those mothers who have lost children, and my heart aches for them.
No matter the age of the mother, she is a strange creature in that she cares more for her children than she cares for herself. I remember the many sacrifices that my own mother made in order than her children could have what they wanted or needed. One of my older sisters wanted to take her new doll to school for show-and-tell, but she had no clothes for the doll. My mother stayed up all night crocheting a set of doll clothing in order for my sister to take her doll to school the next day.
Even though all of my children are grown and married, I had an opportunity to take on the role of mother to one of my daughters recently. She and her husband were asked to be the “parents” for a “family” on a pioneer trek, and she needed some pioneer clothing. She contacted me and asked if I would have time to make two skirts and an apron for her. Even though I had more tasks than I could possibly do in the limited time, I told her yes. My husband questioned why I would take on more work when I was already so busy, and my answer was, “This is what mothers do.” Most mothers willingly sacrifice for the benefit of their children, but some of those sacrifices are more serious than others. I often think of the following lines that 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 have seen these traits in my daughters as they make sure that their children have clean clothes on their bodies and food in their tummies but have not yet taken time to shower or eat. I have often watched as a daughter finally gets a chance to sit down to a meal, and a child suddenly appears with their mouth wide open, much like baby birds in a nest. Even though the child has just finished their own food, they want some of mom’s food, and she gives it to them because she is a mother.
On this Mother’s Day I am grateful for my own loving, self-sacrificing mother, and I am grateful for my husband’s mother who lovingly accepted me as a daughter. I am grateful for my sisters by birth and marriage for mothering me both before and after the death of my mother.
I am grateful for the opportunity that I have to be a mother and grandmother, and I am grateful for my opportunity to watch my daughters in their motherhood. I wish a “Happy Mother’s Day” to all women, both those who have children and those who are mothering the children of other women. May God bless all of us in our motherhood.