being the primary music leader i don't often get to go to relief society at all, but today i obviously arrived at the perfect time, and got so much out of the lesson! the lesson was about the blessings of motherhood and sometimes it's something we need to hear.
the sister giving the lesson read from a book called "i am a mother" by jane clayson johnson (which you can buy here... but she so kindly loaned to me to read.) johnson tells of how she had a promising career in television and was watched by millions each day in her job as an anchor on a major network, but gave it up after following a prompting to do so, to be a mother. she met many "you must be crazy's" and even a little ridicule from co-workers, who assured her she would never again be given the opportunity she had. but it didn't matter, motherhood is an opportunity not given to all, which also must be taken when you have the chance.
she attended a function with her husband on one occasion and was asked, along with the other couples attending to introduce herself. she recalls listening as each woman got up beside their husband, and offered a little about themselves, most saying almost apologetically, "oh, i'm just a mother" "my life isn't very exciting right now, i'm just raising our children" or something of the likes. even before the excerpt from the book was finished i already knew what was wrong. there is no such thing as just a mother.
i have been guilty of that myself, when asked, i often tell people i am on maternity leave from my position in the funeral home where i have worked for almost the last ten years and i am trying to decide if i will return to work. or i simply say, i am a funeral director. never, "i am a mother." there's certainly no shame in being a mother and i know that, but it seems to be the way of the world to not want to be "just" that. i right then and there made a mental note to tell the next person who asked, "i am a mother."
there have been many times when i have asked young children what they want to be when they grow up. most tell of something outrageous... i think last time i asked my daughter madeline, she wanted to be a princess, the time before, an ice dancer, (we had just been to disney on ice, mind you) and the time before that a doctor (i am fairly certain we were playing with a doctors kit that day.) but every time i have asked my niece grace (by name and nature...) she has always answered that she wants to be a mother. even before i had children, i knew this was the most beautiful answer. i remember the day her father laid his hands upon her head to give her a blessing and told her she would one day be a mother. it was such a simple, but beautiful promise for her.
not all women are mothers directly to children they have grown in their womb or given birth to. we know of the blessings of adoption, of fostering... and for those not blessed with children, of being an example to nieces and nephews, young cousins and the children of other family members and close friends. it has often been said that "it takes a village to raise a child" and i must admit, with the love and support shown within the confines of the gospel, i think it often takes a ward to raise a child.
being blessed with two children of my own, i have never felt the pain of not being blessed with children, that i know is only too real for so many women. i admire those who have not been blessed with children that do not allow it to consume them. that do not allow it to make them bitter, as i do not know if i could be so strong. i am thankful for those who have that to bear, yet show kindness and love to the children of others amongst that pain.
i know some days i find myself muttering under my breath when my children are being difficult. some days i even find myself wishing they weren't there, only to feel terribly guilty two minutes later because i can't even imagine life without them. but being a mum isn't always easy. sometimes it's horrid. no one tells you about how hard it will be. it's not always smiles and laughter and pretty clothes. sometimes it's being awake all night, cleaning up after sickness, hearing your name being called 5000000000000 times (i don't even know if that's enough zeros) in one day, tantrums, mess, jealousy and many other things. but like any mother, i'll take them all, for even 5 minutes of my babies in my lap sleeping, laughing or just being with me.
i am a mother. it's hard. but it's worth it.