My day started off great and got better. It began when I woke up and went to the bathroom. As I sat there on the toilet, Noah came into the bathroom and said, “Happy mother’s day mommy! I have something for you”, he ran out and came back with a pencil in his hands. He gave me the pencil and said, “It has hearts all over it”, then he smiled. It was pretty cute.
Daniel was superb all day. He made me breakfast (eggs, bacon and toast with orange juice), cleaned up the house throughout the day and even made a quick trip home and back to church just so he could put the lasagna in the oven, so it was ready as soon as we got home from church. What a love.
We just finished dinner and he immediately cleared the dishes, then washed all the dishes and put away the food. He must know me well … and love me a lot too.
Liam is pretty distracted and excited about his birthday tomorrow, so he started singing “happy mother’s day” and it morphed into “happy birthday to me, Li-am”. I love him.
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I was asked to give a talk in church today. I agonize about public speaking. For some reason, when I get nervous I just say whatever comes to my mind. I have said unbelievably inappropriate things while speaking to large groups of people and it’s so embarassing – it ends up being funny, usually, but mostly emabrassing. I was so worried that I would do the same thing this time around, that I wrote out everything I wanted to say and reviewed it over and over again, so I wouldn’t “go off script” and say something ridiculous. I wanted to remember my mother’s day thoughts, so I am posting my talk.
Daniel said it went well and I stayed to what I had written, so this is pretty close to really what I said. There are some parts that are bolded, that was for me to look at and know where I was quickly. They are the points I really wanted to remember to say:
“When Brother Salvador asked me to speak on Mother’s Day, I asked if there was a specific topic besides just mothers. He said I should speak about the “blessings of motherhood”. I must have paused for a long time because after my silence in response to his declaration of the topic he followed it up with, “well, there ARE blessings, aren’t there?” … yeah, I guess there are.
Asking a 10 month pregnant mother to give a talk on the blessings of motherhood, is like asking one of the pioneers to expound on the blessings of the trek, as they marched into SLC. I have never been so exhausted, in so much pain, so hungry … can you tell if I’m talking about motherhood or the trek? You can’t. But I’m sure if you asked those pioneer saints, in the same breath they would answer, I have never been so emboldened, so strengthened and done more than I ever thought I could endure. I feel the same way as a mother.
I’m not going to lie; I have struggled with this topic.
Motherhood has been hard …
The blessings of motherhood have not really come to me easily, in fact, motherhood itself has been a crash and burn test cycle for me. I really thought I’d be good at it and I’d love it. I babysat kids when I was a teenager, I had 3 younger sisters, I even knew what it was like to get up in the middle of the night to get bottles for my youngest sister, Aria. I thought I knew what I wanted and what I was in for. I had no idea.
Motherhood has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Mentally, physically, emotionally, and it has been a spiritual struggle for me as well.
I have never been so physically exhausted, as I have as a mother. I have never worked so hard at something or gone without food and sleep for it. I have never done something so mentally or emotionally challenging. The reason I have never done something so demanding is because I would never choose to do something like this to myself. It had to just happen to me, because if I had known what I would do as a mother, I would’ve never signed up.
As I thought of the hard things I’ve done as a mother, it made me think of other hard things I have done in my life?
I hiked half dome last August. That was hard. I trained for it, going to the gym several times a week in preparation for it. My husband choached me on the terrain and what to wear and what to expect. We brought water and food and wore comfortable, worn in hiking boots. And it was awful. I hated pretty much every moment of the trail and experience. Motherhood is harder than hiking half dome.
As for mentally and emotionally challenging, I sang an opera in college. I seriously underestimated the intensity of knowing the role of Carmen when I got back from my honeymoon and spent the next solid month, just playing catch up and trying to memorize hundreds of pages of music and French. I remember falling asleep to the music playing through headphones.
I remember kneeling by the side of our brown couch in our tiny apartment in south Provo and repeating the same French syllables over and over again until I found myself not able to read the music through my tears – tears of frustration and mental exhaustion. I do not know French. I didn’t then and I still don’t. So I was basically memorizing sounds, just syllables in a musical line. I had no idea what I was saying, I just had to get it in my brain and repeat it and the blocking on stage in front of hundreds in a few weeks. I stayed up late and got up early. I went to every practice whether I was performing in it or not.
Daniel did not see me unless music was in front of my face, coming out of my mouth or playing through speakers of some sort. I did it and I played the role and did it well, through much prayer and study. I thought I had never been or ever would be so challenged mentally and emotionally as I had doing that … motherhood is harder than learning the role of Carmen.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland gave a talk entitled ‘Because She Is a Mother” in 1997. My friend, Christine Butler, sent this to me in a link one time and I read it and wept. It is so true. So much that rang true to me was in this talk. He is speaking directly to young mothers and in it he says this about physical fatigue:
“But with night feedings and night teethings, often the greatest challenge of all for a young mother is simply fatigue. Through these years, mothers go longer on less sleep and give more to others with less personal renewal for themselves than any other group I know at any other time in life. It is not surprising when the shadows under their eyes sometimes vaguely resemble the state of Rhode Island.”
Then there is the encouraging part:
“Remember, ‘To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven’… Please know that it is worth it then, now, and forever.
You can’t possibly do this alone, but you do have help. The Master of Heaven and Earth is there to bless you—He who resolutely goes after the lost sheep, sweeps thoroughly to find the lost coin, waits everlastingly for the return of the prodigal son. Yours is the work of salvation, and therefore you will be magnified, compensated, made more than you are and better than you have ever been as you try to make honest effort, however feeble you may sometimes feel that to be.”
I have felt that.
Although it has been and continues to be the hardest thing I would have never picked for myself to do, it is worth it. And I’ll tell you why, here are the blessings of motherhood that I have received, two things:
- I have never grown so much spiritually in a shorter amount of time. I felt the NEED to beg for help to my Father in heaven, so many times. I have felt overwhelmed and that this was too much for me. I have felt stripped bare and worn out. I needed help.
Elder Holland was right. I could NOT do this alone and I came to that painful realization over and over again until I came to rely on the Lord more heavily on a daily basis.
Every morning and night in my personal prayers I plead for the Spirit to guide me each day. I learned to do this. I did not always do this. But I found it necessary.
I have felt the promptings of the Spirit tell me things. I was visiting a friend in CA and we had all of our kids and several mommies sitting around a pool. Liam asked if he could go in the water, but we had just gotten out, so I told him to wait and we’d go later. I was in a deep discussion with my friend, when for no reason, other than the Spirit’s guidance, I glanced at the empty pool to see Liam struggling for breath and drowning. I leapt into the pool and scooped him out of the water.
I have been prompted to say certain things and explain things to Noah that I didn’t know. I have been prompted to stop myself in anger and frustration and to simply give love instead. I have knelt down to give hugs and kisses instead of punishments, even when punishments were in order.
I have done things that I was not capable of doing. I know that I have been able to do this because of the help of my Father in heaven and nothing less than divine intervention.
I have been “compensated, made more than you are and better than you have ever been” as Elder Holland said.
The second and last blessing of being a mother that I have found is this:
- My heart has been expanded to love in a way I never thought I could. I have come to know and love and associate with the best little human beings I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing. I am not saying this to brag. I have simply been touched by their sweet and tender spirits. My Noah is such a smart little man. We have had some of the sweetest and most interesting gospel discussions.
I remember driving in the car and Noah suddenly asked, “Who is that guy Alma killed?”
I had nothing come to mind, so I asked Noah for more details of the story he was referring to. He calmly said, “You know, this guy was a clever and wicked man and he wanted to be the King of the Nephites. And Alma fought him with a sword and then Heavenly Father gave him the power to kill him”. I asked Noah if he could remember what the bad guy’s name was at all and he said “Amlaci”. Now I had no idea. So I called my dad and said, “Noah has a question about the Book of Mormon that I don’t know the answer to”. My dad just burst into laughter making a remark about how he’d only be able to answer the questions while Noah was young and later, when the questions got more philosophical, he’d have to refer him elsewhere. It was awesome. Evidently, Noah was right. It was Amlaci (I might be spelling it wrong).
Or he will simply express love to me.
“Mommy, do you want me to tell you how much I love you?”
“Sure, buddy, that would be nice”
“OK … I love you as much as Heavenly Father loves kids. That’s a lot. I love you that much.”
Liam does the same thing. He expresses love so simply, so perfectly, so openly. He was walking with me hand in hand in Michaels and he looked up at me and said, “Mommy, you my fwend (friend)”. One time when we were dropping Noah off to school, Liam and I were watching as Noah jogged into the school and Liam sighed and said very seriously, “Noah is the best. I wuv pwaying wiv him”.
Their hearts are so open, so pure and so full of love right now and I love them.
My heart has been expanded to love in a way I never thought I could. That is a blessing of motherhood. They have a part of my heart and they always will. I feel this love so intensely, it surprises me.
When I was asking Daniel for advice and help on this topic of the blessings of motherhood, I asked him what he felt like the blessings of fatherhood were. He said he has learned more about our Father in Heaven because he is a father. He says he can feel and understand how much Father in heaven must love him, if this is how he feels about our children. It helps him understand his relationship with our Heavenly Father.
I echo that.
How did our brother, Jesus, go through the pain and agony of Gethsemane for us? How could he suffer so much for us and he is simply our brother? At the same time, how could our Father in heaven watch his own son bare that? I could not. But He knew it was necessary to save us, his other children here on earth. It would give us the only chance we had to come back to Him and so he bore that. My father in heaven loves me, more than I love my own children. I have come to just begin to understand this kind of love through my experience as a mother. Noah was right, Heavenly Father loves kids … and that’s a lot.
I cannot finish this talk unless I mention my own mother and her example to me. I have a wonderful mother. I am grateful for her example of what a mother can be. When I think of her, I cannot help but think of that Primary song, “Love Is Spoken Here”. In that song it says:
I see my mother kneeling, with our family each day
I hear the words she whispers as she bows her head to pray,
Her plea to the Father quiets all my fears.
And I am thankful, Love is spoken here.
I can’t imagine any other woman who has prayed more for her children than my mom. That song always paints a clear picture in my head of a sight I saw so often in our home – her kneeling at the side of her bead, bowing her head in fervent prayer. I have felt the power of her prayers so strongly throughout my life, and it has been such a blessing. It is because of her superb example and love for me, that I wanted that for myself and wanted to have an eternal family.
I know God lives. I know He is my father and that I have an eternal family in heaven. I know that if I keep my covenants on earth I will be with Noah, Liam and Daniel and now this new little guy I don’t know yet, forever. This is the blessing of motherhood. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.“