What is a mother?
“And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living…” Moses 4:26. Pres. J Reuben Clark said, “Motherhood is divinely called, as eternally important in its place as the priesthood itself.” Elder Matthew Cowley state, “men have to have something given to them to make them saviors of men, but not mothers, not women. They are born with an inherit right, an inherit authority, to be the saviors of human souls…and the regenerating force in the lives of God’s children.” Sheri Dew said, “Motherhood is NOT what was left over after our Father blessed His sons with priesthood ordination. It was the most ennobling endowment He could give His daughter, a sacred trust that gave women an unparalleled role in helping His children keep their second estate.”
So what is a mother? Can any woman be a mother? Eve was named the mother of all living before she bore children. Sarah, Abraham’s wife, was old before she bore her only son. A good friend of mine has 8 grown children and I forget how many grandchildren. One of my YW leaders, Kyra Kraft, has never had the opportunity to marry. Are they all mothers? Am I a mother?
I have no children. Even after 2 surgeries, countless priesthood blessings and the adoption process, I still have no children. There are women in this world, such as Mother Teresa who have born no children and yet fulfilled the role of mother in the most amazing way. There are also women in this world who give birth to many children and yet fail to ever be a mother.
So am I a mother? The answer comes swiftly and strongly from the Lord through His prophets and apostles. Yes, I am a Mother! Motherhood is independent of marital status, age, the number of children born, or even the number of children living in my home. Are you a mother? Pres. Hinckley, said, “God planted within women something divine.” Sheri Dew adamantly repeats this prophetic teaching, “We are ALL mothers in Israel, and our calling is to love and help lead the rising generation through the dangerous streets of mortality. Few of us will reach our potential without the nurturing of both the mother who bore us and the mothers who bear with us.”
So what is a mother? Is it just the person who does the sewing, the cooking, cleaning, chauffeuring, tutoring, first aid, etc? A mother can and does do all of those things. I testify to you that being a mother or motherhood is so very much more. Motherhood is the divine gift and responsibility to love, to lead, to serve, and to save. Motherhood encompasses such virtues as faith, integrity, hard work, humility, diligence, patience, kindness, hope, love, forgiveness, meekness, joy, self-worth, wisdom, knowledge, love suffering, gentleness, perseverance and trust.
It is written in Eccl (3:1), “To every thing there is a season, and a time and a purpose under heaven.” Sheri Dew emphasized, “For reasons known to the Lord, some women are required to wait to have children. This delay is not easy for any righteous woman. But the Lord’s timetable for each of us does not negate our nature. Some of us, then must simply find other ways to mother.” Just a note other ways to mother does not include mothering husbands. It doesn’t work very well.
So it is my season to wait to bear my own children and continue to mother others. Some women are waiting on the Lord for the fulfillment of the promise of marriage. Meanwhile they always seek to further develop and mother those around them. Countless prophets and apostles have taught, “No blessing shall be withheld from the faithful, even if those blessings do not come immediately.”
Some women struggle with morning sickness. Others struggle with extreme fatigue as spend endless hours nurturing and caring for little ones. One Sunday while sitting outside the bishop’s office my husband and I watched as a sister in another ward burst out of their sacrament meeting with a screaming young child. I leaned over to husband and said, “If we ask right now, I bet she would give him away.” We both laughed but understood that even in that hour of frustration the mother would not give her child away. Some women wonder if they have any patience left with their teenagers. Some celebrate the departure of their grown children only to answer the phone and hear the familiar voice humbly ask, “Is mom there?”
Some of us may wonder if we are even coming close to what God would have us become. We are perhaps a little too critical of ourselves. I heard a story of a man who came home one evening to find his wife sitting in a corner, facing the corner. When he asked if everything was all right his wife quietly replied. “Mommy’s in timeout.” Elder Holland expresses the Lord’s feelings for mothers most tenderly when he said, “Like the woman [in the new testament] who anonymously, meekly, perhaps even with hesitation and some embarrassment, fought her way through the crowd to touch the hem of the Master’s garment, so Christ will say to the women who worry and wonder and sometimes weep over their responsibility as mothers, “Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole.”
As mothers we look around and see who needs our influence. If we really want to make a difference, we can and do. “Our influence comes from a divine endowment that has been in place from the beginning.”
Motherhood has no end. It was in the beginning and will be for all eternity. Whether it is the mother who gave us birth, the teacher that took the time to care, the leader who loved, the sister that fed us on our mission, the VT that became a true friend, the friend that was always there in our time of need, our mothers are always there.
From the music “Women of Destiny”:
She is not the picture on the magazine
She’s the woman just behind you in the check-out stand
She may appear to be common, but she mystifies
In all the ways the wisest men and children understand.
‘Cause she has eyes that sparkle with her love And she has a smile that’s as gentle as a dove And no woman in a movie or an ad could ever hope to be,
as beautiful as she
She is not a highly honored diplomat Held responsible to lead the world to peace
But what she does is every bit as serious Amidst the turmoil everywhere that will never cease
‘Cause she has hands that wipe the tears away And she has a voice that makes everything okay And no woman from the papers or TV could ever hope to be,
as indispensable as she
And it breaks my heart every time I see her wonder if she means anything to this world that pulls her under
And she doesn’t always she the way that heaven smiles above her That’s the reason I try to always tell her that I love her
‘Cause she may not be known for giving millions To the charities and auctions on the news But I believe she’s given more than anyone On all the times she’s ever had to choose To give up sleep and rock her children every night
And give her heart to always hold their dreams so tight And the best the you and I could ever hope to be,
is as wonderful as she
Oh the best that you or I could ever hope to be is as wonderful as she
On this coming Mother’s Day, it is my prayer that we remember the many mothers who have loved us, led us, served us, and saved us.