I have been asked to speak in Sacrament meeting on Mother’s Day. I figured I’d avoid that particular invitation for life. It’s on my list of nightmares. This is how the person conducting the meeting introduces me in my nightmare: “Well, brothers and sisters, we usually have our ideal mothers tell us about the joys of keeping their husbands’ shirts neatly pressed, or the wonders of scrapbooking, all about their missionary children, and every splendid thing an outstanding mother can share. We’ve had the oldest mother in the ward address us; the youngest mother; the mother with the most children; the mother with the best-kept yard. But we’ve realized we’ve neglected one group: Incompetent mothers. Mothers who are organizationally challenged. Mothers who have managed to burn holes in their husbands’ ties by setting the iron too hot. Mothers who lose their keys or reading glasses as often as they drink water. Mothers who have a strange fear of Resurrection day when all our losses will be made up, because they envision tons of previously lost socks falling directly onto their graves. Mothers who quit cooking the day they discovered the Stouffers outlet had pre-cooked family entrees. Mothers who (*shudder*) work. We are fortunate to have Sister Margaret Young represent this group. Sister Young, we know your talk will make us all feel better.”
And so I have been called to talk for Mother’s Day. In all seriousness, I have long learned what my particular gifts are as I mother my children–and I also know what they’re not. I have learned something about waiting on the Lord and trusting my own instincts (particularly the loving ones). I have learned that if I focus too much on my failings and flailings, I can diminish the most important aspect of motherhood: simply loving my children.
I have learned to judge myself and other mothers with a very large measure of grace. I have learned that the most important gift I can give my children, besides the gospel, is a firm sense that I believe in them and in their futures; that I actually like them; that I’m excited about their lives. And even if they choose not to participate in the faith I’ve raised them in, their name is safe in our house, and there’s always a seat at the table.
Last year, I gave my daughter (herself a mother of three) the collection of essays and poems edited by Kathryn Soper called _The Mother in Me_. I recommend it. http://deseretbook.com/store/product/5008956