What does Mother's Day mean to you? I have been a mother for forty years this year, and yet when I think of Mother's Day I always think of my mother. You see, my mother passed away on May 5, 1979, just one week before Mother's Day. Mother's Day that year was especially difficult, and the next Mother's Day was not much easier. I also think of my husband's mother who passed away three years ago and how much good she brought into my life.
I think of my daughters - both those born into our family and those who married into our family - and their journeys down into the valley of the shadow of death in order to bring fourteen beautiful grandchildren into my life. I watched as my second daughter gave birth to my very first grandchild and marveled at the miracle of live; however, I have declined opportunities to watch the birth of any other grandchildren simply because I do not enjoy watching my daughters suffer or even hearing their cries of pain.
I think about Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We read in Luke 2 about the journey of Joseph and a very pregnant Mary as they traveled from
in order to pay taxes. Luke tells us of
the birth of Jesus, the angel's announcement to the shepherds in the field, and
the shepherds hastening to find the newborn Babe lying in the manger. I love the entire Nativity Story, but I
marvel at these words: "But Mary
kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart" (verse 19). Bethlehem
I think of Mary once again as she stood at the foot of the cross where Jesus Christ - her Son - hung. Her heart must have been breaking and many tears falling as she watched her Son suffer such great pain. John the Beloved wrote, "Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother….
"When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!
"Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home" (John 19:25-27).
I think of Lucy Mack Smith, the mother of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and marvel at her strength as she supported her son in his great mission of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I think particularly of the great pain she must have felt to have two of her sons - Joseph and Hyrum - murdered in cold blood and yet have strength to comfort her daughters-in-law.
Mothers and motherhood are tender subjects. Women who cannot have children ache to hold their own children. Grown, and even hardened, men are known to become emotional at the mention of their mothers. Children always want their mothers nearby, particularly when they are hurt or sick. Home is never quite the same place when mother is not there. I remember a few times during my childhood and youth when I arrived home from school to find my mother not there. The home was far from empty because my father was there and numerous siblings, but it felt empty because Mom was not there.
There have been many times since my mother's death that I have wished for just one more day with her or have gone to the telephone to call her. My mother holds a very special place in my heart, which becomes even more special as I grow older.
Primary children often sing songs to their mothers in sacrament meeting on Mother's Day, and teenagers distribute potted plants or chocolates provided by the Bishopric. I particularly remember Mother's Day one year after the death of my mother. The Primary children were singing their songs, and I was in tears with memories of my own mother. One Primary song that particularly reminds me of my mother is entitled "I Often Go Walking" written by Phyllis Luch with music by Jeanne P. Lawler. My mother's favorite color was blue, and she really liked flowers and walking.
I often go walking in meadows of clover,
And I gather armfuls of blossoms of blue.
I gather the blossoms the whole meadow over;
Dear mother, all flowers remind me of you.
O mother, I give you my love with each flower
To give forth sweet fragrance a whole lifetime through;
For if I love blossoms and meadows and walking,
I learn how to love them, dear mother, from you.
President Thomas S. Monson stated, "It is in the home that we form our attitudes, our deeply held beliefs. It is in the home that hope is fostered or destroyed. Our homes are to be more than sanctuaries; they should also be places where God's Spirit can dwell, where the storm stops at the door, where love reigns and peace dwells."
To illustrate what he meant, President Monson then shared part of a letter written by a young mother: "`Sometimes I wonder if I make a difference in my children's lives. Especially as a single mother working two jobs to make ends meet, I sometimes come home to confusion, but I never give up hope.
"`My children and I were watching a television broadcast of general conference, and you were speaking about prayer. My son made the statement, "Mother, you've already taught us that." I said, "What do you mean?" And he replied, "Well, you've taught us to pray and showed us how, but the other night I came to your room to ask something and found you on your knees praying to Heavenly Father. If He's important to you, He'll be important to me."' The letter concluded, `I guess you never know what kind of influence you'll be until a child observes you doing yourself what you have tried to teach him to do.' What a magnificent lesson a child learned from his mother" ("Becoming Our BestSelves," Liahona, Apr. 2006,2-6).
As mothers, we are often too hard on ourselves. Our children are so much a part of us that it is hard for us to allow them to use their agency and not pound on ourselves when they make mistakes. We often expect perfection from ourselves and feel like failures when we don't have perfect results. I know I have had my times of saying "if only I had …." God had enough belief in us to entrust His children to us. We can't be too bad!
I hope all mothers have a wonderful Mother's Day. We all deserve it!