As Mother’s Day approaches, I feel a huge desire to send a message to all the mothers who are manning their family fortresses and caring for their precious families. Our work was already challenging, and now with a pandemic to navigate, we are being required to jump to a whole new level of leadership, capability, and patience. I know that I cannot literally see you in your private chambers, but I know of your experiences because they are likely similar to my own. I want you to know that as a fellow mother, I see you there in your closet, praying in tears, when it seems that you are utterly alone in your struggle. I see you there, bone-tired, having to carry on with preparing yet another meal with whatever resources you have on hand and hungry children waiting. I see you there, listening to a distraught child who just will not be comforted. I see you there, trying to work with your husband to provide for the family. I see you there, putting away your own hopes and dreams yet again for the sake of others.
Mother’s Day, for many moms, can bring a whole mess of emotions and angst to work through. For so many, it is a time when we feel we are not appreciated and valued–at least not to the degree that we deserve. It is nice to be recognized as a mom, but for so many of us it is a reminder of our weaknesses and imperfections. We may think we are not good mothers and are failing our children, or we may compare ourselves to other moms who seem to have it all together. We may see, in greater detail, all of the things we “lack.” Single mothers will feel the effects of their imperfect situations. Women who are not experiencing what they had hoped and dreamed regarding motherhood will be reminded of it again on this day. And so, a day set aside to celebrate motherhood can sadly become a painful day in spite of any efforts by others to make it special. I have wept more tears on Mother’s Day than any other day of the year.
I will never forget a Mother’s Day from about six years ago. My husband had been given a big church assignment and it required him to be away from home most of the day day, starting very early. My children had forgotten it was Mother’s Day and with no Dad around to remind them or coach them on what to do, they started their normal Sunday morning routine, which focused mostly on doing whatever pleased them. I made the family breakfast and started a crockpot dinner, cleaned the kitchen, and got myself ready for the day. As I worked, it became very apparent that I was alone. I felt a huge weight sitting on my heart. I broke up a fight and tried with all my heart to be patient and calm. And when the tears started to slip down my cheeks, I knew I needed to leave for a while. I didn’t want an audience while I had that sob session.
I grabbed my keys and journal and headed for the car. I put my oldest in charge and promised I would be back really soon–that I needed to go help a friend. (It was me, of course.) I drove a short distance away, parked the car and let the tears go. I sobbed for a long time. And then when the tears passed, I began to write out my thoughts and feelings. I wrote about how I was feeling abandoned by my husband, totally unappreciated by him and my children, and how I wasn’t a very good mom. All of my efforts–my consecrated and heartfelt efforts over so many years–were all unnoticed. No one knew what I was doing for this family.
Or so I thought. It was in that moment that I knew I was not alone. As I sat there swimming in my heartache, my mind opened to a new possibility. I realized that no EARTHLY human knew of my sacrifice and consecrated efforts, but my Father In Heaven was keenly aware and He LOVED me so deeply and tenderly! I felt His power and love envelop me and I sat in awe as the TRUTH was taught to me by the Spirit. My efforts were all noticed in heaven. I remembered how the Savior also felt abandoned, unappreciated, and betrayed. He knows exactly how I felt and was there for me–to heal my troubled heart and strengthen me to do my work as a mother.
I returned home that day with a joyful and serene countenance. The remainder of the day was still far from perfect. While my husband returned and tried to make me feel special and the children apologized for not remembering, I knew that my happiness was not dependent on their actions. I accepted their homemade cards and hugs knowing that heaven was smiling down upon me and God pleased with my mothering. That made all the difference to me.
I may not actually be able to see you right now. But I do know who does. Your Father sees into your heart and knows the good that is there. He sees your sacrifices every day and loves you so profoundly. To the mother who is reading this, know that you are in good hands and you are SO LOVED! May you have a wonderfully sublime Mother’s Day this year, in spite of the imperfections of our loved ones around us. Heaven is indeed smiling down upon YOU.