I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but how to celebrate Mother’s Day is always a complicated issue for most Mormon communities. If you think about it, the poor bishopric just can’t please everyone. For every woman who hates flowers there is one who dislikes chocolate or ________. If you have all the mothers stand up to receive a gift it’s salt in the wound for the childless/single; so you have all women stand, but what’s the age cut off? 18? 16? I heard one ward gave cookies to every girl in the ward (including Primary) because they will one day be mothers. (sigh) Doesn’t this defeat the purpose of showing gratitude for mothers?
For some women this is their favorite day of the year. They spend all year silently serving their whole families without much thanks – and for one day a year they should all worship the ground she walks on, amirite? I agree mothers need more gratitude and recognition at home. I am one of those mothers – and I’m not planning on cooking or cleaning that day (solidarity, ladies!).
But I’ve also been on the other side of the fence. It was exactly this week 11 years ago that our doctor sat us down and gave us the diagnosis of unexplained infertility and an estimate that we had less than a 1 in 1000 chance of ever having a child on our own. Celebrating Mother’s Day that week at church was not easy. And it’s not only the childless that have a hard time; it was always a difficult day for our foster kids, I know family members whose mother is in prison, and as Primary President I had a few kids raised by single dads whose mom had basically abandoned them. I’m sure there are many more reasons that our mother-worship could cause pain for others.
So do you really think we need to go all out at church? Do you think we don’t talk about motherhood enough at church? Honestly, we pedistalize motherhood; quite often to the point of making it the equivalent of the power and authority to speak and act for God. You know what the side effect of this is? We don’t value the discipleship of the single and childless as much. In fact we often marginalize the ways their discipleship builds the kingdom of God in this life; and single adults often feel like they are infantilized in our culture.
I personally would like to speak more about honoring influential women in all that encompasses. So few stories are told at all of our scriptural and church history heroines there’s more than enough material to build on. Although we have a really bad track record of rhetoric and women, especially when it comes to men speaking to women about how to woman. So I’d almost just prefer you skip the talk, because chances are the speaker’s going to blow it, you know? Coincidentally, my husband and I were asked to speak this week on the sacrament. I asked permission to choose my own topic so I could attempt my own MD talk that hopefully would uplift everyone. (A copy of my rough draft can be found here). I’ll let you know how it goes.
Of course the other side of the coin is the backlash against the “Mother’s Day Complainers.” I’ve seen a few posts of those going around facebook over the last few years as well. In one group I’m in the different sides of the discussion were getting pretty passionate. So, what do you think?