A Celebration

9 05 2011

Today is Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day and I have a long, emotional history.

Today I thanked God for the blessings of motherhood. My son was one of the primary children who ran front of the chapel to sing to their mothers at church today, and I smiled proudly and even got a little teary.

Eight years ago the primary children came into Relief Society to sing. I left the room so my sobbing wouldn’t ruin it for the other women.

I didn’t hear any of the speakers at church today, as I was trying to avoid any goldfish cracker-related incidents.

Seven years ago every word spoken across the pulpit seemed to add to my burden of grief and anger.

Today I am a mother, but I remain ambivalent about Mother’s Day. It’s lovely to be celebrated. Belgian waffles? Yes please! Flowers? I certainly won’t stop you! Yet Big G’s usual meltdowns (two sobbing, screaming, end-of-the-world tantrums) seemed magnified today, because he was ruining my day.

Whoops. That’s not what I intended to blog about. Back to my originally planned thoughts.

Each Mother’s Day seems to bring the same message at church: a woman doesn’t need to have children to be a mother. Every woman can influence a child’s life. Every woman can have a “mother heart.” (That last one actually sounds creepy and Edgar Allen Poe-esque if you haven’t read the reference material upon which it’s based.)

This year I decided I don’t like this message. I understand what they’re saying, and I understand it’s a comfort to many women and, at its core, an eternal truth. Just hear me out before you start stacking the wood around the bottom of the stake, okay? It just feels like this constantly reinforces the concept that a woman’s worth is measured by the influence she has on children. “It’s okay if you don’t/can’t/won’t have kids. You can just love other people’s kids!”

I’m probably projecting.

Being a mother is wonderful. It’s the best, most difficult job I’ve ever had, but it’s not who I am, and it doesn’t define my worth.

Today I honor women.

I honor the women with living children. Women with one child, women with a dozen; women with partners and women who travel the road on their own.

I honor the women whose children are no longer with them. Women who held their babies in their arms and women who held them only in their bellies; women who still hear the echoes of a toddler’s laughter and women who know the anguish of outliving their grown child.

I honor the women who long to feel life grow within them. Women who go to endless doctor’s appointments and women who endure invasive medical procedures; women who take medications and women who cry each month when their dreaded period arrives.

I honor the women who have made the decision to bring peace into their lives and stop fertility treatments.

I honor the women without partners whose ovaries ache when they see a beautiful baby.

I honor the women who live full, happy lives and harbor no secret desires to give birth.

I honor mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, aunts, nieces, cousins, granddaughters, and friends.

We are women, and we are worthy. Not because we’re beautiful, strong, brilliant and caring (though all of that’s true). We’re worthy simply because we are.

And you, over there? The one reading who’s thinking this applies to women you know but not to you?

Pay attention here:

You’re so very worthy, and I love you very much.

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18 responses

4 07 2011
So Maybe I Should Write Something « Like Swimming

[…] try to find the last time I wrote something serious. You’ll have to do some searching—it was on Mother’s Day. Two months […]

16 05 2011
Valerie M.

I have read a lot of blogs this year of women who don’t like mother’s day or the sacrament talks about it. What a beautiful tribute you gave to women…all women.

16 05 2011
Jenny

Thank you. I hate that Mother’s Day is so difficult for many women. Women should feel great about themselves, no matter what their title or role.

13 05 2011
Annette

Yes, yes, and yes again.

I got the whole “you’re a mother even if you’re not” spiel in a single student ward. No one there yet was too old to worry about not being a mother. Most of them were hoping to snag a guy. Yet we still got the same old song and dance. Bugged me then, bugs me now.

Womanhood is awesome. Motherhood is too. They aren’t the same thing.

11 05 2011
LaurieBee

Thank you for this! I hate Mother’s Day. It reminds me of the mother I’ve lost, and the child I have who would love to carry a child, the two wonderful birth mothers who gave my daughter babies (and the loss they must feel). When I was raising my kids I used to tell them, “If you love me, don’t fight for an entire day, and clean your room.” I know that was a totally outrageous expectation, but that’s how I felt. Church was particularly painful the year the young men talked the Bishopric into giving the women strawberry plants — because they were DEAD by Mother’s Day! We were actually given DEAD strawberry plants! I used to think that would be funny someday — but it’s STILL not funny!

9 05 2011
Spenc

Beautiful and touching.

9 05 2011
kateanon

a beautiful post. Thank you.

9 05 2011
Mom

I loved reading your blog; it’s so very true. At the same time, it really is miraculous that women in general are noticed at all. Mothers Day hasn’t been around for a long time. Throughout history, women are the menial labor in the background unless they are some goddess like Helen. I spoke in church yesterday (just a testimony) and I hope I didn’t offend anyone. But for wanting to be male for the first 21 years of my life, I find that being a women is an amazing experience–the best experience. I won’t go on and on because this is your blog, not mine, but it’s taken me almost 50 years to realize that I’m a huge, integral part of THE PLAN, children or not. I add something very needed in the world (even if my grandkids only perceive that something as the ability to catch snakes). Women lift others up: you’re very good at doing just that. I love you lots.

9 05 2011
Aimee Clements

Very well said. Very.

9 05 2011
Stef

okay that last comment was me in case you are wondering, who is nogginknits. . .oopps, my bad!

9 05 2011
nogginknits

AGREED! I really hate mother’s day, even though I am one. . .I tend to expect my children to act like angels on mother’s day…they don’t! and I tend to compare what I am to what I think I should be. ..I’m not! I usually end up in tears at some point. My cute husband totally understanding how I feel made my day by making me the cutest card. It started out HAPPY WIFE’S DAY (WHO HAVE CHILDREN). Happy to be a mother EVERY DAY…just do away with the day to celebrate and I’ll be happy!

9 05 2011
Erin

Perfect as usual!

9 05 2011
Alexandra

Perfect.
It’s women, the mothers of the world.

Mother as in nurturer,carer: woman.

9 05 2011
Amanda

Thanks!! Just thanks for putting my feelings to words!! I sure love you!!

9 05 2011
J. Daniel Rollins

Great words.

9 05 2011
erinannie

Oh thank you so much! (I can’t wait to meet you tomorrow! Poor Twitter might explode when we all meet!)
I HATE Mother’s Day because I hate having a flower or some token thrust upon me at church by some person I don’t know, while someone rattles on about the great power of being a mother, yada yada.
It isn’t that I don’t agree. I love honoring my own mother, and the mothers in my life.
And I can say with complete confidence and comfort that I know that I have had an impact on children that do not belong to me.
But I am not a mother, and therefore, do not want to be honored because I have a vagina.
Today was actually the best mother’s day I’ve personally ever had. I may never get married or have children of my own. But I spent last night at a slumber party with my favorite kid, and helped her get up extra early this morning to make her mother breakfast before she went to work. And then “our girl” surprised me, and after I went back to sleep she made me breakfast too, because I’m her other mom. And that meant a million things more to me than some lame carnation forced on me by a stranger.
And then to top it off, a “man of interest” in my life right now sent me an email (he’s deployed) wishing me a happy mother’s day. And because that note came from the man who is currently the front runner for possibly making me a mother someday, it meant something to me.
I didn’t go to church today. And I am glad I didn’t. I hate being honored for something I am not. It feels fake, it feels forced.
I believe in honoring mothers. In fact, I think we should do it more often. And I am all for being honored for being who I am.
Just don’t expect me to accept being honored for someone I am not!

9 05 2011
Liz King Bradley

I TOTALLY agree. It seems to me like honoring women who are not mothers for being…motherly(???) only reinforces that they have to be mothers in order to be loved, needed and respected.

9 05 2011
andygirl

oh honey, you’ve left me in tears. thank you so much for this. so much. love. so much love.

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