Friday, October 31, 2014

Motherhood - An Eternal Partnership With God

Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. 
( The Family: A Proclamation to the World, para. 7)

I love the topic of mothers, probably because it is my life right now. There is nothing more that I wanted to be growing up, than a mother and wife. I have five beautiful children, four of which are living. My first baby died when she was just shy of four months old. I remember the day I had to leave the hospital without her. I broke down, it was devastating for me. She was my first and I wanted to mother her. I was blessed with four healthy children after her, and while I enjoy being a mother raising these very individual children, it can be hard at times. I wonder if I'm doing a good enough job. Will they stay on the straight and narrow? Am I being a good example to them? All I can do is my best and pray for them and myself daily to have the inspiration I need to be a good role model for them. As you watch this Mormon Message and listen to Elder Oaks (a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles), think of how we, as mothers, can perform unselfish acts by serving those in our immediate sphere of influence, our children. 

While studying more deeply about families, I learned a lot about how much of the world views motherhood.  In the textbook, Successful Marriages and Families, Jenet Erickson discusses in detail the importance of motherhood. She gave many insightful research data from 2005, but I wanted to get more up-to-date numbers, so I developed a poll and put it on Facebook. The questions are taken from topics in the textbook. The results of 25 mothers are as follows:

These results intrigued me because the poll was taken by members of the church and non-members. While 100% of those polled said they felt motherhood was part of their divine destiny, a few felt that religious behaviors did not have a positive effect in their mothering. We've discussed so far in this blog positive reason of raising children in the gospel, and we will dive more deeply into that in the weeks to come. But this post is primarily about and for mothers, so that we can gain a greater understanding of our role.

Jenet Erickson describes mothers as nurturers in the following ways when talking about the goals of effective mothering:

* Preserving life: Studies consistently indicate that mothers have a significant role in influencing their children's health and well-being throughout their development. (pg. 133)

* Nurturing growth and development: The desire to sustain the life of the child..... the ways mothers nurture their children's individual growth is the critical influence on their development.... through helping create an environment of safety, peace, and learning. (pg. 133)

Motherhood has its ups and downs. There are good days, and there are bad days. I know for myself, sometimes I dwell on the bad and forget about the good. But something I have been trying to do lately is concentrate on all the good, whether it be big or small. My children range in ages from 7-15, and as they get older, I am realizing more and more that while motherhood has its challenges, they don't go away as the children age, the challenges just become 'different.' But I've also realized that when I am taking care of myself, I end up taking better care of my children. Erickson explains it this way:
It is critical that mothers care for themselves and nurture their own minds, hearts, and bodies as they consecrate their minds, hearts, and bodies to mothering. They must be nurtured in order to be able to nurture those to whom they are consecrated. Elder M. Russell Ballard counseled mothers to: find some time for yourself to cultivate your gifts and interests. Pick one or two things that you would like to learn or do that will enrich your life, and make time for them. Water cannot be drawn from an empty well, and if you are not setting aside a little time for what replenishes you, you will have less and less time to give to others, even to your children" (pg. 135).

I have found Elder Ballard's words to be true in my own life. When I am taking care of myself physically, I am better able to care for my family. When I take some time just for myself, not too much time as to neglect, but enough to nourish my soul to replenish me, I feel renewed and ready to be the mother I was designed to be.

In the text, Erickson says this about single mothers,  

"Studies have consistently indicated, for example, that children do better under the challenging circumstances of divorce, poverty, and a parent's mental or emotional disability when rituals and routines such as family dinner, family prayer, assigned chores and responsibilities, and consistent wholesome recreation are in place" (pg. 136).

My previous post, When Parenting Alone, shares some examples of single mothers and their experiences.

Erickson goes on to say that as we take part in the work of motherhood that we can find our greatest strength as we rely on the doctrines of Christ and ask for help. We should be assured that we will be strengthened in our calling as mothers...."Truly, motherhood places her who honors its holy work next to the angels, for nothing could be of greater significance to God than the nurturing of His little ones-His precious children" (pg. 137). 

In conclusion, I hope you will enjoy this beautiful message by Elder Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. I hope we all remember that our role as a mother is an eternal partnership with God. 



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