Sunday, May 8, 2011

Motherhood

Welcome to my second Mother's Day as a mom. I've got a lot on my mind.

I'm so grateful for the doctrine of motherhood that is taught by my church. We believe that motherhood is the highest, most noble service of mankind. That the feminine traits to nurture, love, and lead others have been divinely placed within women to do great good in the world. All women, whether mothers or not, have the special abilities to reach out to others, to love, and to heal. It is an amazing power.

It is a very long line of mothers nurturing children has gotten us to this point in history.

My great-grandmother, my mom's paternal grandmother, was an interesting woman. She nearly lived a century and saw so much from 1905 to 2004. She told stories about her childhood in the south and her family's move to Ohio by covered wagon. Every time we made a visit she gave a five dollar bill to each of the children. Bribery? Maybe. But it was something that made us feel special, something to look forward to. That, and the dish full of orange slice candies that were so delicious. She had one of these:
that was woven and sat on her mantle. I remember staring at it for a very, very long time before my eyes could look past the red shapes and see the white letters. I don't recall ever hearing about religion on my mother's side of the family, but here was my Savior's name in Nana Bea's living room. I know that she loved her son, my grandpa. I know that she loved my mother, father, brother, and me.

My maternal grandmother was always kind to me. She sold Avon, so I received many pieces of Avon jewelry over the years. My favorite gift from her as a little girl was special, kid-friendly dress-up makeup. Oh the joys of being a girl! Grandma Lois had cats, she smoked in the house, and I always got the impression that she was sassy. She raised four children, lived through a divorce, and lost her final fight to pancreatic cancer. She was a strong woman. My mom calls her "Mother," which sounds more respectful and old fashioned than "Mom." I like it. My mom dearly loved her mother, and I know my grandma deeply loved her children and grandchildren.

My paternal grandmother was the kind of woman who always wore nylons and lipstick when she left the house. She whispered whenever she gossiped, she put curlers in my hair for fun, and showed my what it meant to be a devoted wife. I never saw her lose her temper. Grandma Frances raised four boys, was Catholic (but not in an over the top kind of way), and always made me comfortable in her home. She lost her final fight to lung cancer after battling Alzheimer's. She, too, was a strong woman. My grandpa (my favorite person in the world) loved her more than anything. I know that love was reciprocated. I know she loved my family and me.

My own mother is... I'm at a loss for words. I honestly don't know what I would do or who I would be without her. She is who I call when I need reassurance, who I turn to for support in any endeavor. It is she who has taught me how to be a woman in today's world. She is strong in her own way, full of emotion, full of hopes, faith, and fears. She is my dearest friend and it has been amazing to watch our relationship evolve and strengthen through the years.

I think about my own daughter, about the example I want to be for her. I know she will grow to be a girl and then a woman. I hope she will become a mother herself. She learns so much, so quickly. If she sees something done once she will repeat it. The words she hears, the actions she sees all shape her world and her person. Am I doing enough to lead her in the right direction? I certainly hope so.

Being a mother is incredible. I first knew what it is to love like a mother when I was a child raising a kitten. I felt it more as a teacher guiding my students. I live it now as a mother to a little girl who shares my genes. I am so proud of my baby, so pleased to see the joy that she brings to everyone she meets. She literally spreads smiles and happiness. I've seen it in a smiling girl driving by as we took our walk, the man playing peek-a-boo in line at the post office, numerous people in other cars at stop lights who wave to say hello. It makes me feel radiant to know that the greatest source of my joy spreads it to others so easily. I hope she continues to do so as she grows and has influence on others. I pray that she embraces that gift and uses it to mother others.

What a beautiful thing, motherhood. It is a powerful strength that is found in the love of a woman's heart.

Happy Mother's Day.

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