Tag Archives: mother’s day

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day gets a bad rap. We hear so many people praising their angel mothers and we wonder if that title could ever apply to us. No, we finally decide. I’m not as perfect as this man’s mother. I’m no angel. I don’t deserve any praise.

We are way too hard on ourselves. At church today, Brother Rick McAlister noted that no one said anything about a mother being perfect. “Because there’s no such thing as a perfect mother,” he continued, “and it’s a good thing, because there’s no such thing as a perfect father or perfect children, either. But every family has the perfect mother for them.”

Normally when I hear that kind of platitude, I dismiss it just as easily as I would the praise of angel mothers. I’m not perfect, and I’m keenly aware of how far short I fall. Especially right now, two months after my fifth child is born, I’m sleep deprived and snappier than I should be. But when Brother McAlister said that, I knew immediately that he was right. I don’t know what about me—trying to ignore the long list of faults that immediately pops up here—makes me the perfect mother for Hayden, Rebecca, Rachel, Hazel and Benjamin, but I do believe that Heavenly Father has a plan. He didn’t assign us to families by throwing darts. He hand picked each parent and each child.

Yesterday, my visiting teacher shared this video with me, and I loved it:

The talk is “Because She Is a Mother”. I quoted it in a Mother’s Day talk here which I still love. Still feeling inadequate? Maybe it’s time to change the measuring stick.

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This one little thing

Every once in a while, I get fixated on this one little thing. It might be having my son participate in his preschool Christmas program, or my daughter take dance lessons (okay, that one hasn’t happened yet). I want my child to do this thing that really isn’t all that important in the long run, but for some reason it means something to me, like singing “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” in front of 75 strangers proves I’m raising a well-adjusted three-year-old.

Um, no?

Yes, it’s not asking much. But it seems like when I get so excited about these supposedly fun little things, they never go how I want.

The same thing seems to happen with little things that might not be so little—the small gestures I anticipate, like that first smile or first Mother’s day card will be the one little thing that convinces me this motherhood thing is worth it, that I’m not driving myself nuts watching Curious George and teaching the alphabet and trying to get! them! to! share! completely in vain.

Those are the little things that are really dangerous, because I can become so fixated on them that they become the reason for motherhood itself. And when they don’t come—and it seems like they never do—I’m so ready to give up. “All I wanted,” I want to scream at the heavens, “was this one stupid little thing. This one gesture to tell me I’m doing the right thing—one tiny tender mercy. Why are you withholding it from me?”

I’ve gotten better about these little things, but sometimes they sneak up on me. Hayden was “keeping a secret” about his Mother’s day gift at school (not really at all): a book he was writing for me. (It’s his second. He’s pretty prolific; he gets it from me. 😉 ) It was supposed to be a book about how great I am.

I knew better than to get my hopes up. I mean, the child is six. For Christmas, he got me an airhorn at the dollar store, an “attention-er,” he called it. I’ve never received a gift that filled me with so much guilt: my first thought was that he was under the impression that I yelled all the time and needed the help. (Ryan set me straight: he was five. He thought it would be fun. Therefore, he reasoned, I must have thought it would be fun. Child logic.)

Still, Hayden was very excited about his book. A few days before Mother’s day, I arrived to pick him up, and he was distraught. “The wind blew your book away!” he pouted. And it had, the staff verified: this four page book he’d spent all week on had been taken by the (surprisingly stiff) wind.

I was not going to accept this! We marched four blocks, scouring in yards and under cars, looking for that book. And I’ll admit it, my mind really wanted to go to that “Why are you taking this one stupid little thing from me?” place. That “Why can’t I get the smallest vote of ‘thanks, Mom, nice job’?” place. That “Do you not care?” place.

The search seemed to mollify Hayden, at least—my biggest concern at the time (yes, it was). He told me what the book said (I’m a great cook and I give him hugs), and said he’d make another at school the next day.

After we’d been home for a while, I remembered his teacher was sending home a certificate for some award he’d earned. I didn’t know what it was, exactly, so I was pretty surprised to find the president’s signature on the certificate:

As proud and as happy as that made me, though, it paled in comparison to the other homework he brought home:

Yep.

It’s not about these little things. It’s about the sentiment behind them. And that will be there whether I get the book or the air horn or nothing at all.

How have you found fulfillment this week?

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Mother’s Day: do you measure up?

(Hint: the answer is probably YES!)

In our church, we have members of the congregation testify and preach to us each week. The leadership of the congregation gives the speakers their topics in advance. These assignments are often a little terrifying (unless you’re a member of my family, I guess), but today of all days, the assignment to speak can be fraught with peril. I know because I have spoken on Mother’s Day FIVE times (you can read the last time here).

It seems there’s just no good way to address everyone in the congregation on this day. The emphasis on motherhood can break the hearts of the childless. Those who did not have a good relationship with their mothers are reminded of their open wounds. And often extolling the virtues of mothers only succeeds in reminding the mothers in the congregation how short they fall of that standard of perfection.

(Forgoing talks on the subject altogether is a special kind of sin in my opinion, and quite possibly the most offensive alternative.)

This year, our leadership was inspired as the made the assignments. Not only were our speakers very good, but the article they were given as a subject was absolutely perfect. The article, “Look Up” by Elder Carl B. Cook, appeared in the January 2012 Ensign magazine.

In the article, Elder Cook talks about when he was called to serve as a missionary to Germany. Missionary calls in our church are different from those in many other churches: the leadership of the church decides where each worthy applicant is assigned for his/her/their service. So Elder Cook didn’t pick Germany out of any great love for the people or the language; someone he’d never met was guided by the Lord to assign him to Germany.

At the beginning of his two-year mission, Elder Cook attended the Language Training Mission (now replaced by the Missionary Training Center) to learn German. Many missionaries are blessed with the gift of tongues as they learn their mission languages—but some, like Elder Cook, are not. He struggled with German and felt he was falling further and further behind his classmates. Finally, one day, he sought the Lord in desperate prayer for help to learn the language. Says Elder Cook (with my emphasis):

The Lord answered that prayer. I felt this thought come into my mind: “I never called you to master the German language. I just called you to serve with all of your heart, mind, and strength.

Sometimes, as mothers, we feel we’re called to raise perfect children—and they have to be perfect by the time they’re 5. It’s so easy for us to look at other families and how well behaved their children are, or how well they get along, or how well they dress, even, and feel like we’re falling short.

But that’s a deep, deep mistake. As mothers, we’re called to build our children into good people, and that will be the effort of our lifetimes. We have a lot to teach them, but every child learns at his or her own pace. As long as we strive to love and teach our children with all of our efforts, we are doing enough.

Elder Cook continues (emphasis mine):

I immediately thought, “I can do that. I can serve with all of my heart, mind, and strength. If that’s what the Lord has called me to do, I can do that.” I stood up feeling tremendously relieved.

From that point on, my measuring stick changed. I no longer gauged my progress and success against that of my companion or other members of my district. Instead, I focused on how the Lord felt I was doing. Instead of looking to the side to compare myself to others, I began to look up, so to speak, to know what He thought of my efforts.

I don’t know that I learned the language much faster or much better from that point on, but I no longer felt the concerns I once had. I knew what the Lord wanted me to do, and it was in my power to do it.

And that’s a message anybody can learn from—and love.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Photo by Tatsuo Iwata

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Happy Mother’s Day!

To the mothers who endured nine months of constant nausea, back pain, heartburn, bed rest, and general discomfort.

To the mothers who have brought children into their homes, hands and hearts.

To the mothers who nurture children at work, in school, at church and in the community, but perhaps not at home.

To anyone who has ever endured a tantrum, enforced the rules, set limits, been hated for doing the right thing, been reasonable, danced on a whim, learned to see the world with wonder again, rediscovered all there is to love about something, found innocence again—in short, loved a child.

And most especially to my own mother, who has raised four pretty fantastic daughters, and my grandmothers, who each raised four fairly awesome children.

Happy Mother’s Day

Photo by Chris Enns

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Guest post: Motherhood Lessons

By Danyelle Ferguson

Motherhood is a peculiar journey. We never know what our children will be like, what their future holds, nor how it will change our path in life.

I certainly never expected to have a child with mental disabilities. The last nine years have been filled with experiences I would never imagined could be a part of motherhood. But along with the frustrations and stress, there were many joyful moments of success and pride. There are a few lessons I’ve learned during this crazy journey called motherhood.

Love Yourself

The most important criteria of being a good mom is loving yourself. We give so much of our time and energy to our children that it’s easy to get burned out. Don’t be afraid to take time for a girls night out, a long soak in a hot, bubbly bath, or just some quiet time in your car with a drink and book. Whatever relaxes you or makes you happy, find a way to squeeze it in. I’ve had to pick and choose which hobbies or talents to make time for over the years.

For many years, I went once a month to a weekend scrapbooking event. Then my focus changed to writing, so I figured out some time during the week that I could take a few hours to go to a bookstore and write without munchkins pulling on me. If you take the time to decompress from the everyday routine of being a mama, then you will be a much happier person, mother, and wife.

Cross Perfection Off Your List

I used to get so discouraged after visiting a friends whose homes were always spotless. I felt like such a failure that I couldn’t keep up with all my mommy duties and housework like these other women I looked up to. But then, my Relief Society president gave a lesson one Sunday and told us that we needed to cross perfection off our lists. Our Savior Jesus Christ is the only perfect being who ever lived on Earth. While we need to strive to keep the commandments and be good Christian women, having a spotless house, perfect highlights & nails, or the kids with the best grades are not things are not requirements to get into Heaven.

It’s perfectly fine to have mountains of laundry to wade through, toys strewn across your house, and be in desperate need of a haircut. In fact, its absolutely normal! In the last four years, I’ve rearranged my housework. Every Saturday, our family works together to clean the house. Everything gets picked up, vacuumed, and scrubbed. Then during the week, I try to do one or two loads of laundry each day—taking the weekends off. My laundry baskets are never empty and the weekend is the only time my house isn’t cluttered with toys, but I have so much less stress because I’ve accepted that our house isn’t perfect. It’s lived in and the family living there is happy and loved.

Laugh Often

Be quick to laugh, rather than get upset. This is actually difficult for me and I am constantly working on it. But our family is definitely happier when mom’s not a crank. :) Looking back at some of the most stressful mommy moments, I can see that when my hubby cracked jokes and made me laugh, I relaxed enough to think things through better. And my shoulders weren’t constantly tied up with tension knots. Shared laughter is something the whole family will remember forever.

One of my favorite quotes is “Live, Laugh, Love.”

Remember to live your life rather than be focused on perfection, share laughter with your family, and love yourself so you can give the best of yourself to your family.

About the Author
Danyelle Ferguson is the mother of four angels-in-training and the author of (dis)Abilities and the Gospel. You can find out more about her on her website: www.DanyelleFerguson.com or on her blog: www.QueenOfTheClan.com.

Photo of girl hugging herself by Evan Long

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Guest post: Fear and Faith

by Lindsey

Heavenly Father has been trying to teach me a lesson for at least the past eighteen months.

So often I get bogged down in the coulda-woulda-shouldas. I agonize in my evening prayers and while trying to fall asleep over the ways I failed during the day. I fear where life is headed for my children because of my failures.

I wish I could say that at least the fear drives me to improve and be a better mother.

But it doesn’t. Fear is not a truly motivating force and it never will be.

It ends up being nothing more than a despair and distraction. A tool I polish nicely and hand over to that Satan jerk to use against me, and thus my family.

God has been reminding me, in his ever patient grace and mercy, that that is not what he wants for me. That he isn’t condemning me. That he sees progress and I just need to keep moving forward.

In essence, this is a massive battle between faith and fear. And I think that is a battle that many mothers face. But we don’t have to lose!

I’ve received some positive feedback this last week that I sorely needed as I was beginning to focus on all the poor behaviors of my sons and so my competence as a mother; giving in again to that fear.

A visiting teacher and sister-in-law, on back to back days, remarked that my boys are great at listening to me. I had been so focused on the times they don’t listen that I was completely missing all the times that they did.

The very next day my oldest son received a card in the mail from the teacher who led a two year study he just completed being a part of. It was so sweet. Her card made it clear that despite the many students she had, she still knew my son and loved him. She remarked on his eager attitude to learn, his enthusiasm, his politeness; it wasn’t even written to me, yet it really lifted me and once again reset my perspective.

I am so grateful for the reminders that Heavenly Father sends to me through other people to change my perspective from one of fear to one of faith; to really look at my sons.

Yes my boys ignore me sometimes, yes they can be mean to each other and to me, and yes we have improvements to make. But when I stop focusing on those things and really look at my children I see such purity, promise, and innocence.

And while much of who they are was there before they came to me, it is evident that my nurturing and influence as a mother have taken some effect. Some I’m embarrassed to own, but many things that I can be proud of:

They say “thank you,” regularly. They will say, “I love you,” and “I’m sorry,” without being told. They help each other. They cry at bedtime if we haven’t read scriptures or said prayers or brushed teeth. They repeat to strangers the things that I’ve taught them when I wasn’t sure they were listening.

My sons have strong, good hearts. They have what seems to be an infinite capacity for love and forgiveness. They are good, amazing boys.

I need not fear to be their mother. We can get through this together.

This scripture helps me: “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).

This is the lesson that God is teaching me. On an intellectual level, I think I got it. But how to learn it on a deeper, spiritual level so that it becomes part of my life and I can eliminate that fear…How have you done it? How do you keep your faith that you are a capable, trusted mother strong against the fear that you can’t do it? What keeps your faith strong between the reminders and positive feedback?

About the author
Lindsey is a twenty-something year old mother of three awesome boys, married to their incredible father. As a happily married, young, Christian, stay at home mom, she’s proud to be among a very rare, very small group of women. Read her musings from that minority, or participate in There was a moment….

Photo by JJ

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