I hate euphemisms. For instance, in the church we talk quite a lot about “attending the temple,” or “temple attendance.” That makes it sound like a duty, something boring we just have to, well, attend. Is that all we’re really doing there? No. We’re forming binding covenants with the Creator of the universe Himself and liberating the souls of the dead, allowing them to walk free of the chains of hell and back into heaven’s light. Euphemisms dampen the power of an idea, for good or ill, and I think it’s important that we give accurate descriptors of sacred things so that we know they’re sacred, so we know the true import of what we’re really doing.
The world has a similar problem with parenting. I mean, just right there, “parenting.” What banality! The world uses other euphemisms for motherhood, especially when they’re trying to compare it to the thrill of “careering” (my word). Too often the world reduces motherhood to “folding laundry” and “cleaning kitchens” and “wiping food from chins” and other things like that. And maybe that’s why there is so much parenting failure in the world today. Too many of them just don’t get it.
So let’s call motherhood what it really is: the crafting of souls.
And let’s call mothers what they really are: cultivators of God’s garden of souls.
Planting truth deep within us, feeding us and watering us and giving us light, tending the branches as we grow, pruning the bad parts along the way. Showing us the beautiful things of the world, giving us arms to retreat to when life takes a bad turn. Teaching us everything they know, and trying to steer us in the right way where they once erred. Giving place for us to rise to our fullest potential, starting with nine months of discomfort and the most painful experience a human being can endure to produce a physical body at our beginning.
LDS.org has it right: every life begins with Mom. For that physical sacrifice is love, and we love because Mom loved us first. Mom is where we first learn that kind of love. Where we learn closeness, and where we learn where to look when we are in trouble. The things we learn from Mom at our youngest ages frame our reality for the rest of our lives, the rest of our eternities. Whether teaching directly or not, Mom is how we gain our first knowledge—what we are put on Earth to gain. Mom, of all people on the planet, has the greatest influence over the future of the human race.
Neal A. Maxwell:
When the real history of mankind is fully disclosed, will it feature the echoes of gunfire or the shaping sound of lullabies? The great armistices made by military men or the peacemaking of women in homes and in neighborhoods? Will what happened in cradles and kitchens prove to be more controlling than what happened in congresses? When the surf of the centuries has made the great pyramids so much sand, the everlasting family will still be standing, because it is a celestial institution, formed outside telestial time.
Yes, she often does fold our laundry, clean the kitchen, and wipe food from our chins—but what she’s really doing is cultivating civilization in the house, and teaching us to live ordered lives. And that’s the first step towards our ultimate goal of godhood. That’s the subtext of day to day life, the real meaning behind the workings of the world. Moms are the drivers of that destiny. Every attribute of spiritual development is found in that precious relationship between parent and child. She is God’s representative to our souls, doing for us what He would do if we were there.
Who else would put up with our rebellions, little and large? Who else would suffer long while we wandered from the path? Who else would be there to fall on our necks and kiss us when we return? Only parents. They are the stewards of our souls while we are far from our true Father’s arms.
So don’t let anyone denigrate motherhood. Don’t let anyone reduce it to a chore-doer. She is closer to God in form and responsibility than any other vocational position in the world. The stewardship gained from jobs and careers, while vital to providing for a family, is less than the stewardship of soulcraft.
So Mom, Nyssa…thank you. I love you both.
Happy Mother’s Day.