Honoring Mothers by Choice

In the interest of full disclosure I have to say that I am not a mother. And I can never be a mother. I am a man. But I have been blessed through the great mothers I have known in my life. And I value motherhood and I am not ashamed.

In order to understand the rest of this post, you will need to watch this video (It is just over seven minutes long and has subtitles, but it is well worth watching and reading):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPtOm9UXfnU

A mother by choice

I saw this video earlier tonight and it has been haunting me ever since. I understand that it is part of an advertising campaign for Walcoal Thailand. And, I know that Walcoal is an Asian company that makes underwear. So, all evening I have been obsessing over an elaborate commercial for woman’s underwear. I know that sounds terrible, but it really is a great commercial, and it has made me think of mothers, motherhood, and the greatness that is inherent in the calling of mother.

I am a man of faith. I have not always been, but as I grow older, my faith grows deeper. Faith is the lens through which I view the world, and faith informs my thoughts and opinions. I do not apologize for that. It is who I am and who I will always be. But, let us be clear, I view mothers and motherhood through the lens of faith, and that shows me the greatness of this sacred calling. I know the value God places on mothers, and I know the great trust He places in them and their ability to care for His children.

But, anything that can be used for great good, can also be used for great evil. We live in a society that devalues mothers. Motherhood is mocked and derided. We live in a culture where those who should defend women who choose motherhood, instead write articles about how they scorn them. The amazing contribution that mothers make to society is belittled. The sacred nature of motherhood is corrupted, and mothers kill their children before they are born or abandon them after they become inconvenient. Either way, the world scorns motherhood, and too many women believe the lies they are fed.
In far too many ways, the world devalues all women, and children, and girls. And that is where this commercial comes in. Because, whether we recognize it or not, not all mothers ever bear children. And not all women who bear children should ever be honored with the sacred title of Mother. A mother is not just someone who gave birth to a child. A mother is a woman, any woman, who chooses to accept the role that God intended for her. A mother is someone who accepts God’s plan for her. A mother is someone who truly cares for one of God’s children entrusted to her care. A mother is someone who recognizes the value of that child-a son or daughter of a Heavenly Father. A mother is someone who willingly gives more of herself than she asks for in return. A mother is someone who willingly sacrifices her needs for the needs of her child. A mother is someone who gives love unconditionally. And in return, she is loved, unconditionally.

And that is a beautiful thing.

So, tonight, I honor all those great women who are mothers by choice but not biology.

Writing Our Truth

aslan[1] 

Editorial note: I know this post is long, but I hope you will keep reading to the end, because I feel it is something important that needs to be said.

One piece of advice that writers hear over and over again is, “Write what you know!” Why is that? I used to assume it was because writing about familiar things made the writing more factually accurate, and that’s true, but there are a lot of best-selling books out there that are full of factual inaccuracies, and there are many, many classic novels which have touched the hearts of readers for generations with completely fictional and wildly fantastical settings and plots that writers can’t possibly know in a real sense. So what, then, does it really mean to “write what you know?”

The more I ponder the idea, the more I believe that it means that an effective writer is honest with his or her readers. Take C.S. Lewis, for example: Narnia was not a world he was familiar with in a real-life-experience sense, but the character at the heart of his story, Aslan, was based on someone Lewis had studied diligently, and, through those studies, someone he had come to know very well. And it wasn’t just Aslan that was an honest depiction of something Lewis knew well; the story itself was based on a real-life struggle each of us faces daily, the internal struggle of choosing between right and wrong. Though the Narnia stories are set in a make-believe world, the truths that make up the core of Lewis’s writing have touched the hearts of his readers in a way that has helped many of them look at their real world through new eyes, and his writing has changed lives. Lewis was a Christian, and he wrote, honestly, without fear or hesitation, as a Christian about Christian ideas and even about Christ himself–that was the truth he knew well.

When I first started “I value motherhood, and I am not sorry,” I asked for the help of two of the most amazing women I know, and then I told them, in essence, “Don’t be too honest. We want to appeal to a wide audience. We don’t want to offend anyone or make them feel like outsiders. We want to be “multi-denominational.” But multi-denominational is not who we are, at least not yet anyway (Here I will insert my multi-denominational parenthetical pitch. If you’re not LDS, but feel you have something to add to our blog, please message us via Facebook or ivaluemotherhoodandiamnotsorry@gmail.com) Right now multi-denominational is not our truth.

Right now we are, all of us, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints; we’re “Mormons,” and not just “Sunday Mormons.” Between the three of us, we have been a bishop’s wife, a high priest group leader’s wife, an elder’s quorum president’s wife, a missionary’s mom–three times, a young women’s president–twice, a choir director, a Relief Society teacher, a Primary teacher, and on, and on, and on. If none of those things mean anything to you, that doesn’t matter, because those things don’t make us special, they are just an indication, or maybe an implication, that we’re trying really, really hard to live our religion. And each one of us strives to incorporate the teachings of our church into every aspect of our lives. Like I told Charity this morning, being LDS isn’t something that colors the surface of our lives, it defines us. I hope you will believe me when I tell you this, but if you can’t, I hope you’ll stick with us long enough to learn that: there is not a one of us who believes that any of this makes us better than anyone else.

Each one of us is flawed. Each one of us is broken or hurting or lost in one way or another. Each one of us has days when she feels like a failure. Each one of us sometimes struggles to live what she believes. Each one of us is a sinner, and so, each one of us knows she is in absolute need of infinite grace, and each one of us strives daily to draw nearer to our Savior, Jesus Christ.
And that truth brings me back around to my beginning–an effective writer writes what she knows, and that shines through in her writing and, hopefully, speaks to the hearts of her readers. Charity and Idelle have been wiser than I have; they have been honest with you from the beginning. I have tried to “scrub” my posts to make my writing appeal to all, and in so doing, I lost truth, and my writing lost heart. For that, I apologize, and I promise that in the future I will be honest with you, no matter what that makes you think of me.

If the fact that we are LDS makes you feel like you can’t possibly benefit from anything we have to say, that makes me sad, but it doesn’t change who we are–it doesn’t change our truth. If you, like I, feel that you can read the writings of Martin Luther, Francis of Asisi, Plato, Billy Graham, Pope John Paul II, Chaim Potok, and Mother Theresa and allow their truths to touch your heart even if you don’t believe in their religions, or even in much of what they write, then I hope that you will find that something we have to say will touch your heart or, perhaps, even change your life.But no matter what you choose, I hope that you will continue to value motherhood and act to honor the work women do in the home wherever you may be.

Not yet like Job

I value motherhood….Truly, I do and I am honored to be asked to be a contributor on this blog. Today, however, as much as I value motherhood, I don’t value myself as a mother.  There are so many standards that the world places on mothers and that we place on each other in our quest to be successful and adequate mothers to our children, and more often than not we cannot live up to those standards (at least in our minds).

I want to share my story with you.  First of all I wanted to be a mother from the time I was little but I wasn’t so sure I would be good at it. I wasn’t interested in getting married right out of high school so I began attending college.  I loved being in college and soon found myself wanting to expand my horizons from there, so I went on an LDS mission to England. What an experience that was!  Soon after returning home, I met my husband and we were married a year later.  Because I was 25, I decided I needed to start having children.  When my oldest was born, every fear and doubt I had about being a mother completely disappeared.  This was my true calling!  I had no problems getting pregnant and although my pregnancies were rough, they weren’t impossible so I kept having children.  That all changed with my 6th pregnancy.  This was unexpected and a little emotionally challenging, but I found a way to wrap my head around a 6th child and became happy.  Then in Sept of 2001 my world came to a halt. I discovered this little baby had died in her 6th month and on 09/10/01 I delivered a perfect stillborn daughter.  I held this sweet baby and we buried her a week later. I won’t go into the grieving process (I will save that for another time). What I will say is that started a period of 9 years and many many miscarriages.  Why didn’t I stop trying?  I don’t know except that I didn’t want it to end that way.  Why am I sharing that?  Because I want you to know that I love being a mother enough and I believe in motherhood enough to be willing to go through that kind of pain to do it.

Now to jump forward, from my former statement, you have probably figured out that I am LDS- or Mormon.  That is why Motherhood is so important to me.  I understand why I am here and what my purpose is. I have one child who has chosen to leave the church she was raised in.  I now have another who has returned home from a mission early beause of health reasons.  He is why I don’t feel like such a wonderful mother today.  He and I drove to an appt today and he informed me he isn’t sure he wants to go back out. I understand if illness prevents it, but this is something altogether different. All of a sudden all of my feelings of failure and inadequacy come back to the forefront and I ask myself what I have done wrong. He is so lost and without direction and I am lost right along with him.

So, today as I have felt my heart breaking and have spent much of my day alternating in tears and pleading to the Lord, I keep hearing a small voice whisper into my mind. “My daughter, peace be unto thy soul. Thou art not yet as Job.” (if you are interested, I will share all of the scripture)    Job, who lost his friends, his family, his home etc…  I have amazing friends, a husband who stands by me and fills my life with love, children who despite trials, try their very best to honor God and their parents, and a God who will not give up on me and has entrusted me with being a mother to 5 beautiful children.  I do value motherhood and I am not sorry!

Heavenly Father’s Plan for Me

Motherhood is something I knew from a very early age was made for me. I can remember being in kindergarten and having the class discussion: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” And I can honestly remember thinking, “Well, I am a girl, so I think I want to be a mom.” Obviously with age and maturity that thought process changed for me.

Fast forward to middle school–I was in a career planning meeting (whatever the heck that means to a 13-year old) with a teacher and my own mother. She asked all the questions: What are your goals? Are you going to go to college? Do you want to go to college? What do you want to be when you grow up? etc. When I began answering the questions, I could tell she didn’t like many of my answers, because many of my answers were goals I had as a future mother. I am not going to lie, I had a few of my “dreams” in there, like play in the WNBA…hehehehe. So, when she got to the loaded question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” without skipping a beat I answered, “A MOM.” I can remember the look on her face as she shot back, “Well after that what do you want to be?”

What do you mean after that? I might have only been 13, but I knew when you sign up to be a mom, there is no after that. I wanted to be a mom, plain and simple. The frustration of this so called career planning meeting was felt on both sides, so we just left it at that.

As I continued through my middle school and high school years, I think I kind of got lost in the mind set of COLLEGE COLLLEGE COLLEGE COLLEGE! So, as graduation quickly approached, I took all the necessary steps towards college. And, I will be the first to say, I enjoyed every second of my college career. I loved it. I told myself so many times, “I am not going to get married until I am 25 and then maybe I will have kids when I am 30.” No sooner had I said this than I met my future husband. I was 20 years old. But I was done. I knew we were supposed to be married, and I knew it was God telling me so.

So at 21, we were married and I moved to small town. I transferred to a small satellite campus where I would continue my education. I only had two years left. I told myself and my husband, “We are not having kids until I finish my school and get to use my degree for a little bit.” My husband agreed. Again, no sooner did I come to that conclusion than I had the overwhelming feeling that we were to start our little family. I can remember thinking, “You are crazy. You are not ready for this…” You name it, I thought it. But I knew in my heart that, once again, my plan and God’s plan were not the same. I told my husband what I was thinking and feeling, and, sure enough, he was right there on the same page with me. I was going to quit school and be a MOM.

After 18 months of marriage we welcomed our first little lovey into our home. It was magical to say the least. The feeling that this sweet little spirit brought into our home and marriage was beyond describable. I knew that this little one was sent to us at the exact perfect time, and that had been Heaven’s plan all along. And a little over two years after that, we welcomed our second.

Please don’t think after reading this that our life is all butterflies and roses. Its not. I will be the first to tell you this. We have days when the house is a wreck (today being one of those), the kids are fighting, and there is no end in sight. I secretly wonder if the dirty laundry is making babies, because every time I walk in the laundry room, the dirty laundry has doubled. I also have days when I think to myself, “I am nothing, I am a just a stay at home mom.” But as soon as I think this I am always reminded why I stay home with my children. It may just be a little reminder: a kiss or hug from my children, a silly thing they do or say, a cry for help, a snuggle; but it is always enough to pick me up and keep me going.

I share my story because motherhood is sacred to me. It is being criticized and looked down on more and more, so I want to add my voice to the cause and fight for TRUE womanhood. I want to be a positive influence in a world that is claiming good things are bad and bad things are good. I am a daughter of my Heavenly Father. I know he has a plan for me. I know without a doubt that my plan was to come to this earth and raise and rear some of His choicest spirits. It doesn’t make me “less” because I stay home. If anything, I feel empowered knowing that God knows me enough to help me and guide me through this life and my family’s life. Motherhood is SACRED. Don’t let the world tell you otherwise.

 

 

 

The letter that started it all: A response to Amy Glass

I am 44 years old, I have a husband and six children, and I vehemently reject Amy Glass’s idea that I am worth nothing. In fact, I look down on women who look down on me, and I am not sorry. I have lived the kind of life that Amy Glass would approve of, and I don’t want it!  I live the kind of life that Amy Glass scorns, and it is beautiful. I know I am doing something good. I am important to the only people who matter to me, and people like me are important to society, because society can not continue successfully without us. I am fulfilled. I don’t need Amy Glass to give me worth. I get that from God and from doing what I know is right.

If you care to know more, read on.

But, full disclosure right up front: I haven’t read Amy Glass’s “article,” and I never will. It doesn’t deserve my attention, let alone my financial support. My response will not answer her point by point, but I would like to share what I’ve learned about being a stay-at-home mom because I’ve spent time being both the self-focused live-only-for-me woman and the others-focused live-mostly-for-everyone-else woman, and it is significantly more work and amazingly more fulfilling to be the latter.

When I was 27 years old I had just given birth to my fourth and fifth children, I had never been anything but a stay-at-home mom, and I had wholeheartedly accepted the feminist idea that I was “nothing.” When I was 28, I signed up for classes at the local branch campus of our state university to alleviate my “nothingness.”
Three and a half years later I graduated summa cum laude (with a perfect 4.0 grade point average, no less!), and another year after that I was running the writing lab and teaching freshman composition as a graduate student. I was touted, by the head of the English Department and much of the administration at our branch campus, as “the future of the English Department.” I was told that I “belong[ed] in academia.” I was given praise and accolades on a nearly daily basis, and I LOVED it. It made me feel good about myself. It made me feel important. It made me think I was “fulfilled.” I would spend countless unpaid hours in my office working to make the writing lab the best it had ever been because I knew it would earn me the admiration of my students and colleagues.
And then, thankfully, one day I realized that I had the rest of my life to do whatever I wanted as a career woman but only a few short years to raise my own children. So I quit graduate school, quit my job as the writing lab administrator, finished up the semester as an instructor, and then walked away from my career. It was one of the most difficult decisions I ever made in my life, and also one of the best.
“Academia” mocked me when I walked away. They told me I was giving up too soon, and that I didn’t have to have a perfect gpa to have a successful experience as a graduate student. They thought I was copping out because graduate school was too hard for me. They couldn’t understand why anyone would sacrifice being “something” in order to raise a bunch of kids. It hurt that the same people who always cried for “tolerance” wouldn’t support my decision, but I knew I could never explain the truth to them, so I made up a lame excuse and partial truth about wanting to write novels and walked away anyway. I quickly learned that, there, I really was nothing, because I was absolutely replaceable.
For the last thirteen years I have worked countless unpaid hours raising children, emotionally supporting my husband, and maintaining a household in order to make the best family and home I can possibly make because I know it is the best thing I can do with my time. Even though the work is grueling and the accolades are few, I am happier than I have ever been in my life.
I have taught reading, writing, and arithmetic to my own children instead of college students, and they rarely thank me for my work, but I get to participate in those moments when they realize they love reading, they can influence others with their writing, and they actually “get” math.
I supply healthy, well-adjusted, mentally stable and emotionally secure people for society, and society tells me that I don’t belong in my home because my work is worth nothing, but I know that if society is ever again to be worth anything significant, it will be because children like mine become the adults society needs.
My work actually IS the future of America, but American feminists belittle me and mock my choice to do what makes ME happy, because they aren’t really interested in the happiness of American women. They are only interested in promoting their own brand of happiness, thereby establishing and securing their own importance. But I AM happy, and I understand my own worth as a mother, a wife, and a woman. That is far more valuable than anything the feminist ideal has to offer me.
I seldom rest when I am sick, and I have never been backpacking in Asia. Instead I wipe snotty noses and poopy butts and go to Wal-Mart for milk and dog food at 11 p.m. in my pajamas, but I am more fulfilled than I was when I was 50 pounds slimmer, could look forward to retreats with the “best and brightest,” and went to my office in heels and dress slacks. In that world I was praised daily, but I was replaceable, Here, I am seldom praised, in fact I cherish the ONE letter I received from my oldest son shortly after he left home that says, “Thank you, Mom. I never could have accomplished all that I have if you hadn’t made the choice to come home full-time. It made all the difference in my life.” The people whose praise means something to me rarely offer up that praise, but I know, without being told, that here, I am IRREPLACEABLE. There is not a single person in the world who can do for them what I do with the pure and honest love and joyfully selfless sacrifice I do it.
I am 44 years old, I have a husband of 28 years who is the only father of my now SIX children–because I love kids so much, and make such cute ones, that I had one more at 37–and I vehemently reject Amy Glass’s idea that I am worth nothing! In fact, I look down on women who look down on me, and I am not sorry. They do not deserve the approval they do not seek and can not get from me. I have lived the kind of life that Amy Glass and women like her would approve of, and I don’t want it!  My husband and children know that they are loved and valued beyond measure, and I KNOW I am doing something great. I am not only important, but irreplaceable to the only people who matter to me. AND PEOPLE LIKE ME ARE IMPORTANT TO SOCIETY!!! because society can not continue successfully without us. I don’t just think I’m fulfilled, I truly am fulfilled. I don’t need anyone, not even a self-important, self-declared powerhouse, to give me worth. I get that from God and from doing what I know is right.
I hope that someone took the time to read this, but even if you didn’t, it was worth writing, because I needed to remember.