The Divine Role of Motherhood
I have women in my life who live in all kinds of circumstances. I know women who have never married, women who have no children of their own, women who have struggled mightily with infertility, women who have suffered numerous miscarriages, women who have lost a child to death, women whose children have strayed and broken hearts. I know single mothers, widows, seemingly perfect moms and moms who struggle daily just to deal with life. I know moms who coach every team, always volunteer to be room mother and have fresh baked cookies after school everyday. I know moms who read scriptures for bedtime stories and sing their children to sleep. I also know moms who feel blessed to have survived another day and spend long hours through the night worrying about all the things they did wrong that day and wondering why they can't get it together. I know women who have passed on from this life whose influence with their family is felt on a daily basis. They know she is there and still loving them and encouraging them. I know working moms, moms who have the privilege to stay at home with kids, moms who struggle with those decisions. I know adopted moms, great moms, good moms and some moms whose children number in the 100's but they have never given birth.
Today I speak to every woman I know, in every circumstance.
Shari Dew said
When we understand the magnitude of motherhood, it becomes clear why prophets have been so protective of woman's most sacred role. While we tend to equate motherhood solely with maternity, 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” 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, righteous women were endowed premortally with the privilege of motherhood. 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.
Elder Matthew Cowley taught that “men have to have something given to them in mortality to make them saviors of men, but not mothers, not women. They are born with an inherent right, and inherent authority, to be the saviors of human souls and the regenerating force in the lives of God's children.”
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 daughters, a sacred trust that gave women an unparalleled role in helping his children keep their second estate.
Again from Shari Dew
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. And all around us are those who need to be loved and led.
As daughters of our Heavenly Father, and as daughters of Eve, we are all mothers and we have always been mothers. And we each have the responsibility to love and help lead the rising generation. How will our young women learn to live as women of God unless they see what women of God look like, meaning what we wear, watch, and read; how we fill our time and our minds; how we face temptation and uncertainty; where we find true joy; and why modesty and femininity are hallmarks of righteous women? How will our young men learn to value women of God if we don't show them the virtue of our virtues?
Every one of us has an overarching obligation to model righteous womanhood because our youth may not see it anywhere else.
Every one of us can mother someone beginning, of course, with the children in our own families but extending far beyond. Every one of us can show by word and by deed that the work of women in the Lord's kingdom is magnificent and holy. I repeat: We are all mothers in Israel, and our calling is to love and help lead the rising generation through the dangerous streets of mortality.
As mothers in Israel, we are the Lord's secret weapon. Our influence comes from a divine endowment that has been in place from the beginning. In the premortal world, when our Father described our role, I wonder if we shouted for joy at least in part because of the ennobling stature He gave us in His kingdom. The world won't tell you that, but the Spirit will!
I have grandchildren here in the valley and in Utah and Wyoming. Everyone of these kids have a mother who is perfect for them, but more than that they have access to generations of mothers. Each one has almost daily access to a grandmother and a great grandmother. Each one has at least one Aunt with no children of her own who loves them, teaches them, supports them in all their activities and is always available to them. Each one has a primary teacher who makes them feel like they are her most favorite child in the world. Each one of them has been the recipient of attention and example and gifts from moms visiting teacher. Each child has been chosen by the primary music leader to be a helper and received a hug or pat or a kind word that made them feel special enough that Nana needed to hear all about it.
Though it is primarily their mothers responsibility to raise them and nurture them and teach them who they are, these children are blessed to have the example and love of many mothers. These mothers will be remembered and loved and praised by these children for all of their days. The influence of these bonus mothers will be eternal!
My mother in law hasn't had children in her home for many years, but she still is very much a mother.
She worries when her daughter works too many hours or when her son says he's very tired. She still makes many of her daughters clothes. When my daughter can't find things that fit right, grandma's sewing machine starts up. When Easter rolls around the great grand daughters have new dresses and blessing gowns and every child, grand child and great grand child has a quilt or two.
She always has a candy jar in the kitchen for the little ones who run in and out. When my son comes down around his birthday there isn't even a question of whether or not she'll be making his favorite dinner of chicken wings done 3 ways! Saturday mornings she is up earlier than any other day, she has to make sure the door is unlocked and the pancake batter is made because the great grands will be bursting through the door fresh out of bed, hair flying all over but ready for breakfast! Her syrup tastes better than anyone else's despite the fact we all buy the same brand.
The kids are with her in the garden eating carrots fresh out of the earth almost as fast as she can pick them. They help her pick strawberry's and pull the onions and line them up to dry. Her house is where they plant their perfect jack o lantern pumpkins, where they go to play with the special toys when they just need a minute! It's where they go to hold bunnies and feed chickens learn how a bee makes hunny.
Her pantry is where everyone shops, it's shelves are full of the bounty of her garden and she'll teach you how to can it all too.
Her influence will always be felt.
My sister in law has never married, has no children of her own, but she has many children. She has been my childrens best friend, chauffeur, teacher, late night movie popcorn maker, the host of endless game nights. She has taken them on numerous trips and made hundreds of memories. She's their photographer, their tie dye t-shirt maker, the one who is always up for a party or a snuggle or a quiet story. The one who always knows when its ok to say yes and when to say go ask mom first. She is the one who buys a car based on how many kids she would like to take on vacation, who opens her home for all family occasions. She is the one who always buys the 4 pack of Season tickets to Tuachan because there will always be kids begging to go with her. She is the one who always says, yes I will be there, yes I will help you, tell me what you need I'm on my way. She has been with them through countless moves, trips to doctors, running errands and hikes in Zion.
There are things the kids do not even talk to me about or ask me to do because they are Kimmy things! I hear, don't worry mom I asked Kim, Hey mom, Kim and I are doing or going or are planning......she is a major part of the their lives. She is the one who has opened her home to nieces and nephews and let them live there until they are ready to move on. Now the next generation of my family is learning all about the Kimmy factor. Two of the kids live with her and she is very much the second mom. She is adored and abused every bit as much as their mom. The Wyoming kids come to see Kimmy, Nana is a side effect! Kimmy is the one ready with the giant cardboard box and the crayons, the one with a giant driveway and sidewalk chalk, the one with sprinklers and giant yard toys and a fridge that just oozes yummy things, not to mention an entire cupboard full of delicious treats. Kimmy is the one who takes them to the beach, she is the one they pile on at movie time. Kim is fun, Kim is love, Kim is easy acceptance. They know her and they love her.
Kim is a high school teacher, the primary organist, a visiting teacher, a beloved daughter and care taker of her parents, a neighbor, a friend, a sister, and she serves in the Relief Society. She has endless opportunities to mother, to lead, to be the example of faithful womanhood.
My youngest daughter has had the feeling that she may not have the opportunity to marry and have children in this life, but though the thought makes her a bit sad she tells me of the example of her Aunt Kim. She has learned from her that there are many ways to mother, many ways to help others through this life that will bring great joy to her life. She has learned from her that you become educated, you find your lifes direction, you continue to serve and be faithful, you remain close to your family and your Father in Heaven and you will have joy!
Of all the things I admire about Kim and love her for, the example of how to live your life with joy is my favorite.
Elder M Russell Ballard said
There is no role in life more essential and more eternal than that of motherhood. While women live in homes under many different circumstances, all are beloved of god, and he has a plan for his righteous daughters to receive the highest blessings of eternity.
The work of nurturing children has eternal significance and it can be exercised throughout life whether or not a woman has a child.
President Uchtdorf said
If you are a mother, you participate with God in his work of creation not only by providing physical bodies for your children but also by teaching them and nurturing them. If you are not a mother now, the creative talents you develop will prepare you for that day, in this life or the next.
Elder Holland said
To the women within the sound of my voice who dearly want to be mothers and are not, I say through your tears and ours on that subject, God will yet, in days that lie somewhere ahead, bring hope to the desolate heart. Ultimately no blessing shall be withheld from the faithful, even if those blessings do not come immediately. In the meantime we rejoice that the call to nurture is not limited to our own flesh and blood.
While not all women have the opportunity to be a mother, god does entrust all women with the divine responsibility of mothering, nurturing, and guiding his children. You are not alone in this divine role. You are partnered with Him, our all knowing and loving Heavenly Father.
Satan has declared war on motherhood. He knows that those who rock the cradle can rock his earthly empire. He knows that without righteous mothers, in all their forms, loving and leading the next generation, the kingdom of God will fail.
The world teaches that becoming a mother is simple biology. A clump of cells divide, form body parts, but that lump of clay isn't even human until it takes it's first breath.
God would have you know that those dividing cells will become the temple that a unique spirit will dwell in. That spirit will come fully formed, with it's own personality, needs, desires and talents. It then falls upon the mothers in his life to teach, train, discover those talents, encourage and love that child.
Motherhood is a sacred calling and has been our calling since before our birth and will be our calling long after this life. In the Celestial kingdom our most sacred title will be that of mother.
Remember that motherhood defines our very identity, and the unique traits and gifts our Father gave us. Those gifts are not wasted on any woman who chooses to nurture, love and lead.
Shari Dew said
Every time we build the faith or reinforce the nobility of a young woman or man, every time we love or lead anyone even one small step along the path, we are true to our endowment and calling as mothers and in the process we build the kingdom of God. No woman who understands the gospel would ever think that any other work is more important or would ever say, “I am just a mother,” for mothers heal the souls of men.
I read quite a few years ago about a group that gave micro loans to desperately poor people in other countries to help them begin a business that would bring them the ability to become self sufficient. But these loans were only available to women. The reasoning was, that women will first provide for their families, then their neighbors, then their communities. The gifts of motherhood allow women to reach out to all those within their influence and touch lives for good.
President Gordon B. Hinckley stated that
“God planted within women something divine.” That something is the gift and the gifts of motherhood.
Eve set the pattern. In addition to bearing children, she mothered all of mankind when she made the most courageous decision any woman has ever made and with Adam opened the way for us to progress. She set an example of womanhood for men to respect and women to follow, modeling the characteristics with which we as women have been endowed: heroic faith, a keen sensitivity to the Spirit, an abhorrence of evil, and complete selflessness.
We all have these gifts, building upon them, learning to use them to serve others is the choice we make.
I found something that was quoted in a general conference address, it was attributed to a christian womans blog. It states:
Motherhood is not a hobby, it is what God gave you time for.
The divine gift and gifts of motherhood are what we were created for, motherhood is all it's forms. There is no nobler calling.
President Bensen said
In the sequence of events as set forth in the scripture, God first created the earth, and the earth was without form, and void. He then separated the light from the darkness, and the waters from the land. Then came the creation of vegetation of all kinds, giving the beauty of trees and grass, flowers and shrubs. Then followed the creation of animal life in the sea and upon the land.
Having looked over all of this, he declared it to be good. He then created man in His own likeness and image. Then as His final creation, the crowning of His glorious work, He created woman. I like to regard Eve as His masterpiece after all that had gone before, the final work before he rested from his labors.
When the doctrines of our divine role and purpose are truly understood, they bring peace and purpose to our lives.
In all your circumstances, look around you, who needs you? Who needs your influence? Who needs your love, your shoulder, your example? How can you use your divine gifts of motherhood to mother those that you bore and those that you bear with? How can you teach, dry a tear, share a laugh? Will you use your gifts to build the kingdom around you? Will you share your light and your heart and your love with those who need it? Will you learn to cultivate your divine gifts of motherhood so that when your blessings become full you will be ready to receive them?
Shari Dew said
If the day comes when we are the only women on earth who find nobility and divinity in motherhood, so be it. For mother is the word that will define a righteous woman made perfect in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom, a woman who has qualified for eternal increase in posterity, wisdom, joy, and influence.
I pray that we may all learn of, cultivate and use our divine gifts of motherhood, whatever our circumstances are. I pray that we will teach our sons and daughters of these divine and sacred gifts so that they too will cultivate them and use them for the good of those around them.
I hope that for many days to come we will look around us at all those who have mothered us, who have helped us mother, who have shown us how to mother, who have used their divine gifts in our behalf and thank them and then pay it forward.
The influence and power of mothers is a strong and powerful force, gifted to all women by a loving Heavenly Father to use in service to all his children. May we use it wisely.