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.