Happy Mother’s Day! Except it’s not always a happy day. I know many women who think Mother’s Day is awful. It’s a reminder of all we have lost, or all we need to feel guilty for, or all we never had. Some women have a wonderful mother who died too soon. Some do not have children of their own. Some feel completely and totally inadequate to be celebrated on Mother’s Day. And some people have a mother that they struggle to celebrate. That’s the category I fall in.
I spent 30 years of my life trying to earn my mother’s love. It rarely seemed to work. My siblings and I were manipulated and abused by our mother until she received what she wanted. As we grew older, we began to recognize her dysfunction and tried everything we could think of to help her. The bitterness escalated until my parents divorced. As things grew worse, I realized that I had to set boundaries to protect myself and my family.
Through the unconditional love of my husband throughout our marriage, the help of counselors over the past two years, unwavering friends who stood by my side, my Master's degree in Educational Psychology, and most importantly through the grace of our Savior Jesus Christ, I learned to stand up to my mother and eventually forgive her. As time passed, I began to recognize that I am daughter of God. I am of great worth. He loves me. And that with Him by my side, I am enough.
I want to testify that God loves all of you. Every woman is a beloved and beautiful daughter of God. And you all deserve to be celebrated on Mother’s Day. Even if you don’t think you do. Because you are enough. In a talk titled Daughters of God, Elder M. Russell Ballard said, “While women live in homes under many different circumstances—married, single, widowed, or divorced, some with children and some without—all are beloved of God, and He has a plan for His righteous daughters to receive the highest blessings of eternity” (April 2008).
Elder Ballard continues, “There is no one perfect way to be a good mother. Each situation is unique. Each mother has different challenges, different skills and abilities, and certainly different children. The choice is different and unique for each mother and each family … some may have to work part-or full-time; some may work at home; some may divide their lives into periods of home and family and work. What matters is that a mother loves her children deeply and, in keeping with the devotion she has for God and her husband, prioritizes them above all else.”
When Elder Ballard says to “prioritize them above all else”, he doesn’t mean to cut out Girls Nights, because heaven knows we all need some time to fill our buckets! In the same talk, he also said,
“Sisters, find some time for yourself to cultivate your gifts and interests…Water cannot be drawn from an empty well, and if you are not setting aside a little time for what replenishes you, you will have less and less to give to others, even to your children.” As we cultivate our interests, we can teach our children what we have learned too!
I know many mothers are worried about the mistakes they make. I know I make plenty of them. If you worry about and recognize your mothering mistakes, that alone shows humility. None of us are perfect mothers. We all wish we could do better. I’ve had a few people ask me if I ever yell at my kids, and I assure you that I do. But I apologize to them, and I pray for grace to do better, to be better. Because I am not my mother. My favorite definition of God’s grace is found in the Bible Dictionary: “It is through the grace of the Lord that individuals through faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means. This grace is an enabling power” (p. 697). Grace is power straight from God! I cannot think of a calling that requires more enabling power to do good works than that of a mother. We need strength and assistance every day. As we learn in Ether 12:27, His grace is sufficient to make weak things become strong unto us.
With Christ as our companion, we are enough. We pray for His Holy Spirit to be in our home and to guide us as we teach our children. We learn from the examples of other wonderful women who are friends to us and mothers to our children! I am so grateful to all the women in my life who show me how to be a kind and loving mother. To those of who you are struggling this Mother’s Day, I acknowledge your feelings. Some days are just heartbreakingly hard. I pray that you feel peace. I pray that you feel hope. I pray that time passes quickly for you. I pray that you feel the loving arms of our Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother circled around you. I pray that you feel good enough; with our Savior on your side, you are always enough.