I should start by saying I'm not a mother. I do have a mother (arguably the greatest mom of all-time) and two wonderful grandmothers. Some of my best friends are terrific mothers and my life has been impacted by many other "mothers." Whether you honor a birthmother or an adopted mother of any variety, today is the day to remember mothers everywhere because in reality, we are all here because of a woman.
Motherhood has been called "the highest, holiest service ... assumed by mankind." In no other capacity does one sacrifice so much without asking for anything in return. A mom's wage comes in the form of pure joy as they watch their children grow up and make positive contributions to society but that joy comes after years of unacknowledged service and small seemingly invisible successes.
Jeffrey R. Holland spoke directly to young mothers in his April 1997 General Conference address:
"The work of a mother is hard, too often unheralded work. The young years are often those when either husband or wife—or both—may still be in school or in those earliest and leanest stages of developing the husband’s breadwinning capacities. Finances fluctuate daily between low and nonexistent. The apartment is usually decorated in one of two smart designs—Deseret Industries provincial or early Mother Hubbard. The car, if there is one, runs on smooth tires and an empty tank. 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."
When we are little girls we idolize our own mothers. We think they are the most beautiful girls in the world (I still think my mom is), not even noticing the bags under their eyes. We follow them all around the house and want to do the same things they do. Then the teenage years strike and all of the sudden we begin talking back and rolling our eyes. We don't want to tell our moms anything and we don't want them to tell us anything either. On the back cover of her book, "I am a Mother," Jane Clayson Johnson says, "Every little girl knows that mothers matter." I think this is so true but when we're little girls we don't think to say thank you. Our "following mom around all day" was supposed to let her know we thought she was the best thing ever and before we realize that it might be nice to actually tell her how great we think she is the teenage fog sets in.
A few years ago I was a counselor for EFY and each week I had the opportunity to teach girls ages 14-18 about the importance of motherhood. I wanted them to appreciate their moms more and I wanted them to actually want to be mothers because while it may be a thankless job at times, it is "the highest, holiest service ... assumed by mankind." There is a story that I would always share with them at the end of my class that I think illustrates really well the importance of motherhood.
The Invisible Mother by Mary Lynn Plaisance:
“It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store.
Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?'
Obviously not; no one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.
I'm invisible - The invisible Mom.
Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more.
"Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?"
Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?'
I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?'
I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'
I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she's going, she's gone!
One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well.
It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.' It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription:
'To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'
In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:
· No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names.
· These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished.
· They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.
· The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.
A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.'
And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'
I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.'
At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.
I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.
When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'You're gonna love it there.'
As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.”
One of the things I love most about my mother is how much values her role as a mother, even if many of the things she has done for her children have gone seemingly unnoticed. I don't know how but she seems to completely "get it." She understands her role and why it is so important and she does it so well. I don't think this is something that just happened on June 12, 1989 when I was born and she suddenly became a mother at the tender age of 24. I think she had been preparing herself for years, just as one would prepare for any kind of important occupation.
She is a mother in every sense of the word and she loves it. She would do anything for her children and I think God knew he could count on her. She hasn't let Him down and she has never let me down. I know I don't say thank you enough so to my mama and to mothers everywhere, thank you for all you do when you think no one is watching. Thank you for showing up to every event you think is important in our lives, thank you for loving us even after we rolled our eyes and talked back. Thank you for teaching us by example and for quietly showing us how to be disciples of Jesus Christ. We thank God for you every day but sometimes we just forget to tell you personally...so thank you and 'Happy Mother's Day!'
Messages of Faith
Our blog contributors will deliver consistent messages of faith to try and help all of us come closer to our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Subscribe and receive an
e-mail update every time we post!