Thursday, October 29, 2015

Are You My Mother?

When my children were little, they used to love the book, "Are You My Mother?"  They used to ask me to read it to them over and over again.  It was so much fun for them to read about the baby birds quest as he asks everyone and everything, "Are You My Mother?"

I love being a mother.  I have always wanted to be a mother ever since I can remember.  I was taught from the time I was little that when I grow up, I can be a mother.  Now I have three children of my own and it has been one of the best things I have ever done in my life.  

Mothers have always had an important role in this world and they are needed even more today.  I have noticed today that the importance of motherhood has been questioned and devalued.  A survey  of mothers in the United States in 2005 found that fewer than half of mothers (48 percent) felt appreciated most of the time, and almost 20 percent said they feel less valued by society when they became a mother (M.F. Erickson & Aird, 2005).  Many mothers (and myself included) feel that society does not value the kind of self-sacrificing work motherhood requires.  Some feel pressured to invest their talents and energies in work that they perceive to be more valued by the larger culture.  

Bruce C. Hafen said, "For most of our history, the word motherhood meant honor, endearment, and sacrifice....Yet this spirit of self-sacrifice has become a contentious issue in recent years, making contentious the very idea of motherhood" (2005, p. 181).

If you look back in history, there has been many changes and questions about the importance of motherhood.  Before industrialization, mothers and fathers worked side by side to build their household economy, represented in the family farm or small artisan shop.  With industrialization, the work of production moved outside the home, creating a split between work and home.  Now mothers became the primary caregivers of their children.  Fathers went out into the world to establish themselves as earners.  There became a division between men and women.  Women were to "live" for others" by giving up all self-interest and in that way save the home.  

When my husband and I began having children, I have to admit, sometimes I thought that I was giving up just about everything I wanted to do and felt like there was no time for anything else, except, caring for my children.  Then I began to think of it differently.  I chose to be a mother.  I wanted children.  So why am I so concerned with what "I" want and why don't I focus on my children and just enjoying them?  I like how Elder Robert D. Hales said it,

 "Motherhood is the ideal opportunity for lifelong learning.  A mother's learning grows as she nurtures the child in his or  her development years.  They are both learning and maturing together at a remarkable pace.  It's exponential, not linear....In the process of rearing her children, a mother studies such topics as child development; nutrition; healthcare; physiology; psychology; nursing with medical research and care; and foreign languages.  She develops gifts such as music, athletics, dance, and public speaking.  The learning examples could continue endlessly" (Hales, 2008, n.p.).

This is what I have discovered as my children were born and began growing up.  I started learning so much about children, how to raise them, what to do when they are sick, how to parent them, and teach them.  If I didn't know what to do, I would go check out a book in the library, or look on the internet.  When my son was struggling in public school and we pulled him out, I began homeschooling him.  I had to do a lot of studying and preparing for lessons.  I learned so much during that time.  

Some ways that mothers can nurture growth and development:
-create an environment of safety, peace and learning
-work to perform, maintain and strengthen individual well-being and family relations
-teach your children

All women have been called to partner with God in doing all that they can to help guide their children home to him.  As women engage in the work of motherhood, whatever their circumstances, they will find that their greatest source of strength will come from knowing Christ and his doctrines and relying on Him for help.  Heavenly Father will strengthen us in this holy calling.  I have felt this strength throughout my calling of a mother, and I am so grateful for this sacred calling. 

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