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Eagle Mountain, Utah, United States
My name is Lauren, and I live in the bubble. I am wife to Marshall, the biggest BYU fan in the world; and mother to Carly, our big girl, and Wes, our wild man, and Calvin, our new addition. I graduated BYU with a degree in Social Work, and I went forth to serve at LDS Family Services. I like scrapbooking and going out to eat at nice restaurants. I am fascinated by new cleaning products at the grocery store, so I have to shop in wide circles around the perimeter to avoid the temptation to buy. I love chocolate.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Motherhood

I haven't blogged much lately because most of my free time has been spent working on a talk. I was asked to speak in church on Mother's Day this year... I was so excited!

I have never particularly enjoyed speaking in church. In the past I have cried as I nervously write late into the night hours before church. I have even turned down the opportunity once or twice, using various excuses. I have never felt particularly connected with the subject.

But when I heard 2 weeks ago that the bishop wanted us to speak on Mother's Day, I had an overwhelming spiritual confirmation. Even before he told us what the 'topic' was, I knew what I was going to talk about.

Ever since working in adoption, I have been accutely aware of the pain that Mother's Day brings to so many. The childless and infertile, the birth mothers. Both sides of the people I serve and love. And I don't believe for a second that this is the purpose of Mother's Day- to honor a small portion, and alienate others.

So without further ado, here is my Mother's Day talk.


When asked to speak on Mother’s day, I immediately thought of this quote by Patricia Holland. She says:

“In a poignant exchange with God, Adam states that he will call the woman Eve. And why does he call her Eve? ‘Because she is the mother of all living.’… Eve was given the identity of ‘the mother of all living’ years, decades, perhaps centuries before she ever bore a child. It would appear that her motherhood preceded her maternity… I believe ‘mother’ is one of those very carefully chosen words, one of those rich words- with meaning after meaning. I believe with all my heart that it is first and foremost a statement about our nature, not a head count of our children.”

I absolutely know this to be true. Mothering is an eternal divine nature. It is not a term specific to just those currently with children in the home, or even those who have ever born or raised a child. It is not a competition or a badge of honor that only some women in the church have earned by Mother’s Day each year.

As women of the church, we are all in different stages of our lives, but we all have our eternal nature in common. We have all been preordained to the eternal calling of Mother.


In a 2003 address to the sisters of the Relief society, President Hinckley took the time to speak to many different groups of sisters. He speaks to each of their unique challenges and triumphs.

To the single women of the church, President Hinckley offers words of advice, including some dating advice. It’s a fun read if you have the time. More relevant to this talk, however, he says the following: “The world still needs your talents. It needs your contribution. The Church needs your faith. It needs your strong, helping hand.”

In the scriptures, we read about the righteous women of the Lord’s church. Some are notable for their marriages, other for the children they raised. There are also others, whose contribution and righteous acts of sacrifice and bravery are not linked to these traditional roles of wife and mother. Though they may have been married, or have been mothers, these roles are not mentioned in the scriptures. These women include Miriam, a leader of the Jewish women and sister to Moses; the sisters Mary and Martha of the New Testament, and Abish of the Book of Mormon. These women had a great deal to offer in service of the Lord, and their examples have taught generations, regardless of their marital or maternal status.

To the single mothers of the church, president Hinckley said,

“Now I speak to you single mothers whose burdens are so heavy because you have been abandoned or have been widowed. Yours is a terrible load. Bear it well. Seek the blessings of the Lord. Be grateful for any assistance that may come out of the quorums of the priesthood to help you in your home or with other matters. Pray silently in your closet, and let the tears flow if they must come. But put a smile on your face whenever you are before your children.”

Hagar was the mother of Ishmael. She was a single mother- cast out of her home and into the wilderness with her young son. She wandered, and when the food and water were gone, we read that she put her small suffering child in a shaded place, and went a ways off to cry unto the Lord. The Lord heard her, and revealed to her a well of water. When all others had forsaken her, and left to provide alone for her child, the Lord heard and answered her prayers.


To the young mothers of the church, President Hinckley said,

“To you young women with small children, yours is a tremendous challenge. So often there is not enough money. You must scrimp and save. You must be wise and careful in your expenditures. You must be strong and bold and brave and march forward with gladness in your eye and love in your heart. How blessed you are, my dear young mothers. You have children who will be yours forever.”

When I think of a righteous mother of a small child, I always think of Mary, mother of Jesus. If we are raising our children to “try to be like Jesus,” should we do any less than try to be like his mother, Mary? Mary was chosen to raise a young boy into the Savior of the world, to teach him his divine nature, and to then stand aside and watch him be scorned and ulitmately killed by those he ministered to. What better pattern do we have as mothers to our own sweet children? To raise them knowing they are children of God, and to know there will be times we will see them suffer, whether by sin or by the hands of the unjust. Her patience, her humility and her faith are all attributes we need as mothers of this generation.


President Hinckley also has advice for the mothers of older children.

“To the women who are neither young nor old. You are in the most wonderful season of your lives. Your children are in their teens. Possibly one or two are married. Some are on missions, and you are sacrificing to keep them in the field. You are hoping and praying for their success and happiness. To you dear women I offer some special counsel. Count your blessings; name them one by one. You don’t need a great big mansion of a house with an all-consuming mortgage that goes on forever. You do need a comfortable and pleasant home where love abides.”


Lastly, President Hinckley speaks to the older sisters of the church. There is nothing I would add to what he has to say about his own lovely wife.

“Now to you dear grandmothers, you older widows, and older lonely women. How beautiful you are. I look upon my dear wife, soon to be 92 years of age. Her hair is white; her frame is stooped.
I take one of her hands in mine and look at it. Once it was so beautiful, the flesh firm and clear. Now it is wrinkled and a little bony and not very strong. But it speaks of love and constancy and faith, of hard work through the years.”


I would like to add to his list a group of mothers who display true selflessness and love for their children, yet are often not thought of or honored on mothers day because they are not raising their children. The birth mother. Those brave women who discover their pregnancies, love their children from that very instant, and then begin to plan and prepare to give their precious children eternal families, which they know they cannot provide at that time. These mothers, who experience the greatest pain and sacrifice for the sake of their children, are often overlooked- it is often thought that their motherhood has been forfeited. But I say it is the opposite. They have embraced their motherhood. They have displayed the truest nature of a mother- a pure love and concern for their children, above the wishes of their own hearts. They walk hand in hand with Christ, becoming intimately acquainted with the atonement, and make arguably one of the greatest sacrifices a person can make in mortality. To forget to honor these women and their motherhood on Mother’s Day would be a horrible offense.

Lastly, I’d like to honor another group of women often overlooked on Mother’s Day. Those women who are enduring the trial of infertility. These are women who know the pain of loss, and the frustration of righteous desires unfulfilled. These are women who face the assumptions and insensitive questions and comments of others who do not comprehend the pain and longing in their hearts. These are women who sometimes feel out of place within the structure of a church that so greatly honors motherhood and the bearing of children.

In the scriptures we read numerous accounts of righteous sisters who have likewise been given the earthly trial of infertility. Rebekah was called ‘barren;’ Sarah struggled with infertility until her old age- we read of her struggle in the scriptures; Rachel was unable to conceive for years, and we read about her pain and jealousy of her sister, Leah; Hannah was infertile- we read about her prayers to conceive; Elisabeth was infertile and ultimately only one bore one child- John the Baptist.

All through the scriptures, there are stories of righteous, loving and faithful women who were infertile. They had no more than two children each- some only bore one. But these women were some of the most wonderful mothers on record- they changed the world. Without having 10 children, and after having suffered great heartache.

Julie B. Beck once said, ”In my experience I have seen that some of the truest mother hearts beat in the breasts of women who will not (or have not yet) rear[ed] their own children in this life.” I completely agree. I have had the privilege of getting to know many wonderful mothers who have not yet been blessed with children.
These women are among my clients, acquaintances and closest friends. I am sensitive to the pain many have expressed that is felt on Mother’s Day. I have heard innumerable times that they leave church only to go home and weep having felt marginalized or excluded, or worse- avoid church in total that day. What a horrible shame that some of the truest mother hearts are not honored on Mother’s Day. Today I honor them.


Sheri L. Dew states:

"In the Lord’s language, the word mother has layers of meaning. Of all the words they could have chosen to define her role and her essence, both God the Father and Adam called Eve “the mother of all living” 3—and they did so before she ever bore a child. Like Eve, our motherhood began before we were born. Just as worthy men were foreordained to hold the priesthood in mortality, 4 righteous women were endowed premortally with the privilege of motherhood. 5 Motherhood is more than bearing children, though it is certainly that. It is the essence of who we are as women. It defines our very identity, our divine stature and nature, and the unique traits our Father gave us."

Our motherhood is the definition of our sacred divine nature. Our Motherhood was foreordained in the preexistance; it is an eternal promise and calling. It is not just a priviledge for this mortal life. As Sister Holland said, it is not our maternity or a current head count of our children. It is so much more. Yes, raising children is the purpose of our maternal nature, and I pray we will all have that opportunity someday. However this blessing is not singular to this life, and whatever opportunities we are afforded to raise children in this life are simply preparation to receive our eternal roles.


I recently heard a wonderful talk by Glenn L. Pace, of the seventy. He states:

"Sisters, I testify that when you stand in front of your heavenly parents in those royal courts on high and look into Her eyes and behold Her countenance, any question you ever had about the role of women in the kingdom will evaporate into the rich celestial air, because at that moment you will see standing directly in front of you, your divine nature and destiny."

I testify that I know this is true. This divine eternal nature and destiny IS the meaning of the word mother. And I wish every sister here today a Happy Mother’s Day.

9 comments:

Alyssa said...

Thank you Lauren! I used to dread Mother's day to the point where I wouldn't go to the church, and although we do have our beautiful children now, I am still very aware of the very different ways of enjoying "motherhood" and wish I could have heard,and continue to hear more talks like yours!

Stacey said...

Londa posted this blog on her facebook. I, too, have suffered many years of inferility and did not love mother's day. Now that I have children, who came to us through birth mothers, I love celebrating mother's day and wish I could convey that message to our loving birth mom's every year. They just aren't in touch wht us as we would like. Did you know that the Saturday before Mother's Day is Birth Mother's Day? Thank you for including this often forgotten and not talked about group of Mother's.

Tara said...

Beautifully written. U made me cry. Thank u for remembering and including all the different aspects of motherhood. Wish this talk was given in every ward!

Lauren said...

Thanks for the kind words ladies! I am really honored I was able to speak on a topic so close to my heart. @Stacey- Yes! I love Birth Mother's day! My next post (working on it tonight hopefully) is about the birth mother's day celebration we attended yesterday. Are you involved with FSA in your area?

Kim said...

So awesome Lauren. Beatiful. I too think of the "forgottens" every mother's day.

Kim said...

So awesome Lauren. Beatiful. I too think of the "forgottens" every mother's day.

sweets said...

It was great and you did well. thank you and you hubby for the wonderful talks you gave.

juanita said...

wow thank you so much for sharing your profoundly touching talk here! This also made me shed some tears, I am glad I'm not the only one!! I'm single, never married and no kids. I appreciate all you shared, I'd never heard of Sis Beck's quote about Mother Hearts, that was lovely.

Mary said...

Thank you for sharing your talk - it made me tear up too. For years I had a very difficult time with mother's day, and people would tell me "We're all mothers" but just leave it at that. I didn't understand. Your words and the talks that you quoted are so important to help women understand what "mother" actually means. I'm sure Heavenly Father guided you to be able to touch hearts that needed that message. :)

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