|most of my boys, pre-missions|
At this point in time, I have four grown sons, five sons who have received their patriarchal blessings. Each of their blessings speaks to their leadership abilities and responsibilities within their home, the Church and the communities where they will live.
The true value of my leadership will never be more apparent than it is in my home. Children who have been born and raised here will have the benefit of my example and teaching throughout their lives. As I struggle through mortality and the trials of life, they have a front row seat into the depth, or lack thereof, of my character. My life is the book they are taking example from as to how to apply the principles and doctrines of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Do they have other people? Yes. Do they have the scriptures? Yes. Will mine be the only example? No. But it will be their primary example. Why? Because I am their mother.
Mother is the first great care-giver in mortality, the first who comforts, the first kiss, the first hug, the first tear wiper, the first food......or at least she should be. That is the way God intended it. God sends men (mankind, in general) to mothers, always. If, as mothers, we understand our responsibilities and are true to our nature, there isn't anything that we wouldn't do for the safety and protection of that little, new soul that has been sent to us straight from Heaven's door.
Sure, as our child grows, there will be frustration, even irritation and annoyance. But as that little person sleeps, or hugs us, or tells us how much they love us, those negative emotions will slip away and our hearts will swell with those eternal feelings of love and motherhood.
My favorite childhood book is Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch. (OK, I just read the blurb on the link above about why/how he wrote the book--totally crying right now, tears running down my face! Go and read it right now, and then read his little book.) I love this book because it speaks to all of what life and parenthood is. We do feel that way.
"I'll love you forever
I'll like you for always.
As long as I'm living,
My baby you'll be."
And in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we know they will be our baby for eternity! No matter how old they get, when they pass away, or who they become in mortality or eternity, they will always be our baby.
But back to my original point, my ability to teach and train and love the next generation, the one who I influence day in and day out, at least for the first 18 years or so, directly impacts, molds and shapes, the men and women they become. My ability to manage stress, to forgive, to be kind in the face of hurt, anger, temptation, my choices for food, exercise, education, employment, sleeping habits, media appetites, leave the first impressions and set the first examples for those men and women to discern meaning in the world around them. Most importantly, my relationship or lack thereof, with God and my feelings about spiritual things directly influences their world-view concept. What greater form of leadership can there be?
Here are the words of President Gordon B. Hinckley, October 1996:
"...[T]here is strength and great capacity in the women of this Church. There is leadership and direction, a certain spirit of independence, and yet great satisfaction in being a part of this, the Lord’s kingdom, and of working hand in hand with the priesthood to move it forward.
Many of you are here today who were in that meeting. Today you are seated with your husbands, men whom you love and honor and respect, and who in turn love and honor and respect you. You know how fortunate you are to be married to a good man who is your companion in life and who will be your companion throughout eternity. Together, as you have served in many capacities and reared your families and provided for them, you have faced a variety of storms and come through them all with your heads held high. Most of you are mothers, and very many of you are grandmothers and even great-grandmothers. You have walked the sometimes painful, sometimes joyous path of parenthood. You have walked hand in hand with God in the great process of bringing children into the world that they might experience this estate along the road of immortality and eternal life. It has not been easy rearing a family. Most of you have had to sacrifice and skimp and labor night and day. As I think of you and your circumstances, I think of the words of Anne Campbell, who wrote as she looked upon her children:
You are the trip I did not take;
You are the pearls I cannot buy;
You are my blue Italian lake;
You are my piece of foreign sky.
You sisters are the real builders of the nation wherever you live, for you have created homes of strength and peace and security. These become the very sinew of any nation.
And here are the words of a woman I love, Sister Julie B. Beck, from her amazing talk, Mothers Who Know:
In the Book of Mormon we read about 2,000 exemplary young men who were exceedingly valiant, courageous, and strong. “Yea, they were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him” (Alma 53:21). These faithful young men paid tribute to their mothers. They said, “Our mothers knew it” (Alma 56:48). I would suspect that the mothers of Captain Moroni, Mosiah, Mormon, and other great leaders also knew.
The responsibility mothers have today has never required more vigilance. More than at any time in the history of the world, we need mothers who know. Children are being born into a world where they “wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).1 However, mothers need not fear. When mothers know who they are and who God is and have made covenants with Him, they will have great power and influence for good on their children.
Mothers Who Know Are Leaders
Mothers who know are leaders. In equal partnership with their husbands, they lead a great and eternal organization. These mothers plan for the future of their organization. They plan for missions, temple marriages, and education. They plan for prayer, scripture study, and family home evening. Mothers who know build children into future leaders and are the primary examples of what leaders look like. They do not abandon their plan by succumbing to social pressure and worldly models of parenting. These wise mothers who know are selective about their own activities and involvement to conserve their limited strength in order to maximize their influence where it matters most.
Mothers Who Know Are Teachers
Mothers who know are always teachers. Since they are not babysitters, they are never off duty. A well-taught friend told me that he did not learn anything at church that he had not already learned at home. His parents used family scripture study, prayer, family home evening, mealtimes, and other gatherings to teach. Think of the power of our future missionary force if mothers considered their homes as a pre–missionary training center. Then the doctrines of the gospel taught in the MTC would be a review and not a revelation. That is influence; that is power.
Mothers Who Know Do Less
Mothers who know do less. They permit less of what will not bear good fruit eternally. They allow less media in their homes, less distraction, less activity that draws their children away from their home. Mothers who know are willing to live on less and consume less of the world’s goods in order to spend more time with their children—more time eating together, more time working together, more time reading together, more time talking, laughing, singing, and exemplifying. These mothers choose carefully and do not try to choose it all. Their goal is to prepare a rising generation of children who will take the gospel of Jesus Christ into the entire world. Their goal is to prepare future fathers and mothers who will be builders of the Lord’s kingdom for the next 50 years. That is influence; that is power.
Mothers Who Know Stand Strong and Immovable
Who will prepare this righteous generation of sons and daughters? Latter-day Saint women will do this—women who know and love the Lord and bear testimony of Him, women who are strong and immovable and who do not give up during difficult and discouraging times. We are led by an inspired prophet of God who has called upon the women of the Church to “stand strong and immovable for that which is correct and proper under the plan of the Lord.”6 He has asked us to “begin in [our] own homes”7 to teach children the ways of truth. Latter-day Saint women should be the very best in the world at upholding, nurturing, and protecting families. I have every confidence that our women will do this and will come to be known as mothers who “knew” (Alma 56:48). In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Let us be Mothers who know, leaders of the next generation in our homes, in our communities, and in the world as we stand for truth and righteousness. I am not just a mother. I am The Mother, and specifically, Their Mother.