I don't expect any of you to read it through - I did just because it's nice to remember that I did have my brain in order at one point of my life. Now I'm a little scattered (read - Dory fish).
To my Mother and my Sister - I love you. To my Husband, Father and Brother - thanks for treating us like Queens. To my darling girls - you both hold my heart in your tiny little palms. I am so proud of you two - I love you unconditionally and forever. (ps. this talk refers to a lot of the experiences I had with Kalea because this was before Melia was born... but Melia - this talk applies to you as well)
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Because She Is A Mother
One of my favorite talks of all time - by Elder Holland Because She Is A Mother
Today I spoke on Motherhood and Marriage in our sacrament meeting. I really enjoyed putting together the talk and learned a lot while I did...
Honoring Women and our Marriages Every Day of the Year (Dedicated to my Mother, my Sister and my Daughters)
When I was first pregnant with Kalea – I spent a lot of time talking to my Mom and Dad about child-rearing, the joy of expectation and my own fears that I would not be able to handle it.
During one of these conversations my Mom told me not to worry. Taking care of kids is easy, just treat them like Men – you know, tell them sweet little lies. I was startled until I realized that my Mom was giggling.
In the March Ensign Elder M. Russell Ballard said this, “Because our mothers love us, we learn, or more accurately remember, that God also loves us.” It is because of my Mother that I have been able to understand and appreciate the relationship I have with the Lord. Because of her love – I know He loves me.
In fact she called me this morning around 9:30am to tell me that she and my Dad had gone to the temple yesterday and put my name in to help me with the talk and knew that I would do great. She then wished me Happy Mother's day. Groggily I thought to myself - "shouldn't I be calling you?" But this has always been my Mom - thoughtful, caring, nurturing.
As my Mom always says Happy Sabbath Day and to all the women, young ladies, and little girls – HAPPY MOTHER’s Day. I wanted to include all the females because I believe that within each of us is an instinctual ability to nurture, sacrifice and unconditionally love. And merely the act of having a child doesn’t entitle us to the title of Mother. We have to hone that spirit and utilize it – whether or not we have children – to earn the title of Mother.
Before I really delve into my message today I wanted to start with some historical information I just learned. I’ve begun reading Bruce C. Hafen’s Covenant Hearts – in it he talks about how the classic elements of the Love Story were a part of the ancient world of Christianity. But this Love Story – the idea that Adam and Eve as children of God were born to become like their parents - Heavenly Parents who are married, deified beings – this Love Story/this truth was lost like many other truths.
Hafen continues by talking about the modern German religious historian Ernst Benz that the concept of apotheosis, or deification – the idea that man can become as God is – was once a widely held idea in the ancient world until it was forced underground by the doctrines of Augustine – a very influential fifth century Christian scholar who seemed nearly obsessed with the evil nature of all mortals.
Augustine taught that Adam’s Fall was a terrible mistake giving mankind it’s evil nature. He also believed that the fallen, evil earth was a burning house from which man must bend every effort to escape. These ideas led Augustine to create the first monasteries and convents, so that people with the highest religious aspirations could flee marriage and the burning house for the refuge of a monastic life.
Now before I go on – I understand… that sometimes that monastic life – perhaps for a weekend - sounds heavenly – throw in spa days and pampering and just the sounds of the waves crashing the beach and I may never leave…
Despite Augustine’s ability to remove the concept of apotheosis from early Christianity and even in open conversation – the idea was expressed, if sometimes in fragmentary form – by poets, musicians and artists.
Hafen notes that one of these is Mozart’s 1791 opera – The Magic Flute. It contains all the elements of stories with heroes, villains, hardships and romantic love. This story talks about Prince Tamino who was saved by three mysterious women from a giant snake. The women tell their queen about him and it leads Tamino to rescue the queen’s daughter, Pamina. After experiencing symbols of personal growth Tamino and Pamina are put through three tests by the priest – in a “Temple of Trials” to prove their purity and worthiness to be married eternally. After overcoming evil forces that would oppose them – they qualify as a “married god-couple” who exemplify the highest kind of love and self-sacrifice” in their struggle to attain the highest virtues. This leads them to “that part of the temple where they are bonded eternally as … god and goddess.”
I love learning things like this. It appeals to my sense of order and logic – and how pure truth –has always been and always will be true.
This Love Story – can also be termed – the New and Everlasting Covenant. That marriage, between one man and one woman is ordained of God and is a binding, everlasting contract between man, woman and God. Which gets me to something else I learned from my Father – he and my Mom love to go to institute classes together.
They have this teacher – President Cottle who they rave about. In one of his recent lessons he talked about the fullness of the Priesthood or The Patriarchal Order. Now, in typical me fashion – I’ve always been adverse to societies and groups that emphasize anything that is termed a patriarchal society – I can’t stand them for how women have and are still treated.
I learned that the meaning of the word patriarchal was changed. In Greek the word Patri = family and Archal = rule. It wasn’t until the Latin version – that they changed from Patri, family to Father Rule.
I like this quote from Joseph Fielding Smith (IE, June 1970, p. 65-66)
You cannot receive the fullness of the priesthood and the fullness of eternal reward unless you receive the ordinances of the house of the Lord; and when you receive these ordinances, the door is then open so you can obtain all the blessings which any man can gain…There is no exaltation in the Kingdom of God without the fullness of the priesthood.
Fullness of the priesthood – includes a woman – a wife – a helpmeet – without her a man cannot gain the fullness – without him – neither can she.
In the gospel we are to live the patriarchal order – a true patriarchal order is family rule – Mother and Father. Husband and Wife. Boy meets Girl in an eternal Love Story.
Motherhood with all it’s trappings – begins in this relationship. For without a true companion – a true love – the ability to bring out the natural tendencies of love, sacrifice and nurture… are stifled by sadness, disappointment and loneliness.
An example of this from (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982, p. 317.)
One sister expressed a concern felt by many when she said, “[We] are greatly in need of the support, and, yes, the willingness of priesthood bearers in our homes to put aside their own special interests on occasion when we are so in need of their understanding.” She underscores the difficult situation of women who are married but are almost without husbands, of children who live with but are almost without fathers. These husbands and fathers have other priorities that they have placed ahead of their families. They claim to be too involved in business or everyday work. Perhaps they are sports enthusiasts, TV-watchers, or noncommunicators. They may even be those who are “diligent” Church workers, even leaders, who spend extended periods of time at church “doing the Lord’s work” to escape the problems and pressures of home life. This real-life example of unrighteous dominion underscores what President Kimball taught: “Men often give women inadequate respect. I sometimes think our own Latter-day Saint women are ‘needy’ just because some of us are not as thoughtful and considerate of them as we should be. Our pantries can be filled with food and yet our sisters can be starved for affection and recognition.”
I don’t want this to sound like a fire and brimstone talk and I don’t want our men to feel defensive. But I know there are many women – and sadly, many in the Church that are starving for support, companionship, recognition – but even more than that affection. I don’t think anyone intentionally means to allow this loneliness to happen – but with the daily cares that often get in the way – we forget – our priorities get jumbled and I guess that’s why there’s so much repetition in our lessons and talks – we have short-termed memories.
My father told me that he knew the best way he could take care of his family was to make it possible that my Mom could be at home. And – the best thing he could do for us kids was to love his wife and support her so that she could in turn give her all to us. Did this mean that sometimes my Dad got less attention in the early years. Yes. And we were a rather demanding bunch. But he recognized early on how important the role of mother was and is. And I am grateful he did.
This reminds me of when I asked people for fatherly advice for Ryan’s 30th birthday a couple years ago and Bishop Andrus emailed me this advice, he said:
“The best fatherly advice I can give him is to continually show that child how much he loves it's mother.”
I appreciated this advice – and bring it up often to him. It’s nice I have it in black and white. Proof.
My Father and Mother had the chance to home teach Bishop Andrus’ family during their short stint as members of our ward. My father told me that Kahna had told them, during one of their visits that Bishop treats her like a Queen. My Dad said – that if any women can say that – her husband is clearly doing something right.
Another example – I still remember the testimony a couple years back that Dan Crook bore about how much he admires the strength, beauty and fortitude of his wife Amy. I love that in that testimony he talked about how he tried – but couldn’t do what she does each day, every day to raise their beautiful daughters. And how grateful he is for her. I love that his daughters heard that testimony.
Motherhood – requires a united companionship – filled with sacrifice and love – not 50/50 but both giving their all.
From The Family: A Proclamation to the World from the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. Children are an heritage of the Lord. Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God…Husbands and wives – mothers and fathers – will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.”
I love the careful way with which this proclamation was written. The emphasis on our “solemn responsibility” to “love and care for each other” and then they add “and for their children.” I love the scripture from Psalms 127:3 – that Children are a gift from God – a privilege. And I especially like that it says Husbands and wives at the end… in addition to mothers and fathers… that no matter our situation in life – we will be held accountable for loving and caring for one another.
I would love to be a better observer – like my Mom and Dad are… but when I do, I notice patterns. I noticed that large families tended to be disjointed, chaotic and full of contention. The parents didn’t get any respect from their kids and the parents seemed to just get in each others way. When I mentioned this observation to my parents they brought up 2 large families we knew when we lived in Bountiful, Utah. The Moores and the Westons. They both have double-digits when it comes to kids. However – their families were homes of order, respect and mutual caring. Sure they joked and teased – but it was never mean – but kind. They cared about each others feelings. My parents helped me see that the reason why these families succeeded in harmony the way they did stemmed from the foundation the parents built with each other. They were each others partner, solid support and true love. Because of their bond of sincere love, admiration, respect and joy – they taught their children to be likewise.
Given that I was contemplating marriage at that point – this little observation was like a beautiful secret finally revealed to me. The secret to a solid family begins and ends with the husband and wife. I realized that no matter how big or small a family is – if the wife and husband don’t put each other as priorities – things begin to crumble – and it’s harder to hold on when times get rough. I really believe that that’s when disappointment sets in – and to me there’s nothing worse than disappointment.
Presenting this message today has given me a lot to chew on and even more to work on in my own marriage and home. But it has also helped me see things that are beautiful. When I was pregnant with Kalea – Ryan did all the vacuuming and all the toilets. He brought in all the groceries and I was banned from any lifting – other than a Haagen Daz bar. I received massages each night… when I really got sore – and those were worth being preggers for. There are still times Ry will know I just don’t have the energy or creativity to come up with dinner and knowing how much I love to eat out – will get something to go from a fav Thai or Indian place. I love when Ry will take me in his arms and we’ll dance in the kitchen – that’s something I’ve always loved about us – and it’s even more fun now that Kalea can watch and smile while we dance. I’m grateful for these little things. My favorite Bishop from my BYU days – Brent Hall said –that if men would realize that doing the littlest things can make their women happy – the world would be a better place.
With the right kind of support and attention – we women can truly blossom in our ability, and gift as mothers to these precious souls sent in our home.
I’ve always admired motherhood – always from a distance. I knew it was the hardest, most challenging and yet, gloriously rewarding calling. When it was my turn – I felt a pull to have a baby…and at the same time – a bit of terror wondering how an ill-equipped child like myself could be worthy of such a calling.
When Kalea entered my life – she filled me with this ability to understand how she feels. She gave me a gift – to find joy in all her little daily experiences. She allows me to revel in watching her explore. I never knew that it could be this wonderful.
And… so hard. The first few months… were so mentally and physically exhausting… I seriously thought the Lord had chosen the wrong woman – that I wasn’t cut out for this gig.
And… this is why I blog – or maintain a weblog titled Crying Over Spilt Milk. My first entry from a year ago May 4, 2005:
Crying Over Spilt Milk
In an effort towards full disclosure and honesty, I want the world to know that I have the cutest baby in the whole world. She is not only the most beautiful little girl, but the most precocious, mischievous and happy princess the world will come to know. I fell in love with her while she was still in my womb. I believe we knew each other before this world and that she was sent from heaven to teach me to be a better woman as I fumble through motherhood. My daughter, my teacher, has given me one of the greatest gifts, the opportunity to become a better person.
So, what’s up with the title? The genesis of this blog began whirring in my head the night I lost it over spilt milk. In this case, breast milk. Can I say breast milk? The event happened around my daughter, Kalea's third or fourth month. I swear I lost all my brain and memory cells upon conception of this most amazing little daughter. Needless to say, all parents know the trial of insomnia inflicted by a child. It was simply another long day of exhaustion. My husband had sent Kalea and me upstairs to take a nap around six in the evening. I was nursing my daughter when she erupted with milk. It was the third time that day she had thrown up and I just couldn’t take it anymore.
I was so worried that she was ill. I mean, when she vomited with the force of an air compressed projectile, it made me feel as though I was seriously screwing up as a mother. In addition, I pretty much lived life in milk soaked nursing bras and pajamas. My physical and emotional well-being snapped with the latest spilt breast milk. That’s where we begin…
Today is a day for women – for the women in our lives who sacrifice without question. For women who nurture and love without respite. For women who find joy in doing the little things without recognition, metrics or promotions. For women who have earned and deserve the love, resepect, and adoration of their fathers, brothers, husbands, sons, daughters, sisters, friends and mothers. How glorious to be one of you women – how blessed to be surrounded by loved ones.
One of my favorite talks of all time is by Elder Holland – titled Because She Is a Mother – he says:
You are doing God’s work. You are doing it wonderfully well. [God] is blessing you and He will bless you, even—no, especially—when your days and your nights may be the most challenging. Like the woman who anonymously, meekly, perhaps even with hesitation and some embarrassment, fought her way through the crowd just to touch the hem of the Master’s garment, so Christ will say to the women who worry and wonder and sometimes weep over their responsibility as mothers, “Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole.” And it will make your children whole as well.
I’ll close with another post on my blog a year ago on May 19, 2005:
These last couple of weeks have been and continue to be... so exciting! It has been fascinating to watch my munchkin become so adept with rolling from side to side. She's gotten to the point where she is mobile, rolling all over the place. She's also been getting onto her knees and scooching herself wherever her curiosity takes her. She's just days away from actual, coordinated crawling. She's also cutting her two, top front teeth. Her two bottoms are in and boy - it makes me gun-shy each time I nurse her.
It is so exciting to watch these changes. Her new thing is getting herself into a sitting position in her crib when we put her down for a nap. She always manages to play when she's supposed to be sleeping. It's fun to see how wondrous the world is through her eyes. Each detail is interesting, from the ties on her bumper to the brakes on her high chair, and my favorite - giggling at the carpet. She always cracks me up.
In addition - our princess is a happy little morning person. Despite feeling too tired to move, let alone goo and gaa to make faces and entertain her in the wee hours of the morning, Kalea always greets each morning with the biggest, most beautiful smiles and chatter. We can't help but smile and play along with her. I mean, we don't have much choice - she's decided it's time to wake up, and well she runs the show.
These milestones we're experiencing are so special and satisfying to see Kalea achieve. At the same time, I can't help but feel a twinge of sadness as she leaves each precious stage. Sometimes I wish I could pause time just to linger a little longer in each of her moments.
I suppose it's all part of motherhood - you realize this little being with the magnificent soul is learning to leave you, eventually. While that's the cycle of life, I suddenly am getting a peek at what my Mom went through. It's bittersweet watching how fast she is growing and developing. If only we could hold on to time and space in a single present - to be able to enjoy and experience it all in one moment forever.
There's a quote I'm experiencing, by Elizabeth Stone, "Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body." I can't help but feel grateful.