Two years ago, on mother's day, I decided to go to the family ward down the block from my house. My decision had nothing to do with mother's day, it was just that I decided my time in the singles' ward was over (RIP). I was 29, and it felt right. I'd been living in my grandparents' house—they died when I was 14, and I knew many of the people in the ward would have stories for me. Which they did. But, what I really learned from my time in that ward was the power of mothers.
Relief society was first, and I arrived a few minutes late. As soon as I sat down, I felt the love of God like arrows in my heart. I knew that many of the people in that room had loved my grandma, and that my grandma had loved them. I knew they loved me partly because of their memories of her, but mostly because these were women who loved. There was something about that feeling, knowing these women would protect me—that made me want to cry my eyes out.
Afterwards, the relief society president came up to introduce herself, and I did cry. She took me into the kitchen and just held my hand while I cried. I couldn't explain to her that I just felt so much relief. That it felt so good to be in a place where I knew I'd be taken care of. She said, This day must be hard for you because she thought I was crying that I didn't have any children. It felt too dramatic to explain that I was just so grateful and relieved.
I used to think when people would say, Everyone is a mother! You don't have to have kids! that it was the most boring thing ever to say—I just didn't even care. I have an awesome mom—that seemed good enough. Who cared about me being a mother? Not me.
But then, a couple of years ago, someone pointed out that Eve is called the mother of all living before she ever has children. I've wondered about that curious sentence (which happens before God even asks Adam and Eve to have children). I wondered about that sentence and watched the women in my ward because suddenly I began to see that perhaps we don't quite understand the connection of motherhood and women very well. Those women were mothers to me. I have a mom. It's not like I needed 150 other moms. But, like I said, perhaps our lack of understanding is encouraged by an insufficient lexicon.
The women of that ward did protect me. And, that protection included encouragement, belief, hope, love. It felt powerful to be with them and to be loved by them.
As Sherri Dew explains in her awesome discussion here:
Motherhood is more than bearing children, though it is certainly that. It is the essence of who we are as women. It defines our very identity, our divine stature and nature, and the unique traits our Father gave us. [...]
Few of us will reach our potential without the nurturing of both the mother who bore us and the mothers who bear with us. I was thrilled recently to see one of my youth leaders for the first time in years. As a teenager who had absolutely no self-confidence, I always sidled up to this woman because she would put her arm around me and say, “You are just the best girl!” She loved me, so I let her lead me. How many young men and women are desperate for love and leadership? Do we fully realize that our influence as mothers in Israel is irreplaceable and eternal? Sherri Dew—Are We Not All Mothers?So, no, mother's day is not a sad day for me as a single woman. First, I'm just gigantically grateful for my own mom. Then, I remember to be more aware of those around me who may need the power of my faith, hope, and love for them.
This is not to say that it's inappropriate to cry your eyes out on mother's day because you want to have kids. It is a real grief. So if you're single, cry it out. If you're married, cry it out. And if you just miss your own Mom, for whatever reason, cry it out. We will all just cry it out together.