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Just Get Over Mother’s Day

When Sam finally got his PhD, we moved to Florida to become real people. Even though our income increased exponentially, we found that real world expenses increased almost as much as real world salaries. So the first few years when we had anticipated being absolutely swimming in cash were actually still quite financially challenging.

One day my best friend the same age in a very similar life phase and I sat out on my trampoline discussing the struggle of trying to make ends meet while living beyond the days of ramen and hot dogs.

Within only a few months, however, an opportunity came to my family that greatly relieved the stress and made life much more comfortable. When I got pregnant with our fourth daughter living in a 1,500 square foot home along with two companies that we ran from home (including one that stocked and stored inventory) the sardine factor took over and we decided to build a new home.

Once we found the right place and began the process, we didn’t tell anyone and the children were sworn to silence. First, because I didn’t want to be one of those people who just love gush about their good fortune, but also because I knew some people in my ward wouldn’t take the news very well.

We weren’t going to put the old house up for sale until much closer to the move. And because we were only moving a couple of miles away, we would be in the same ward, not much would change, so there was no need to inform anyone. We just wanted to keep a low profile.

The problem was that my kids’ best friends were my best friends’ kids, and were were always together. And eventually one of my children leaked a detail that revealed the move. Sigh.

My friend ran to me, utterly betrayed.

“Alison, I can’t believe you didn’t tell me you were moving?”

“Um, well ?”

“Where are you going?”

Pause. After all my big talk about simplistic lifestyles, the best house for our family turned out not only to be a big, new house, but one in a gated community the kind of place I swore I would never, ever live.

“Um ?Boca Falls.”

“What???”

“Um ?well ?Boca Falls ?because, see, with the businesses and the nightmares about pools and you know how hard it is to find a house with lots of bedrooms in Boca and ?”

“Alison that is so amazing! I am so happy for you! When can I see it? Let’s go right now! I can’t believe you didn’t tell me, this is awesome!”

Now, I loved my friend to pieces. She is still one of the dearest people that I know. But even from her, I did not expect this. We drove to the construction site where she preceded to practically jump up and down with sheer joy ?at my good fortune.

All this while she was still struggling financially as she had been before. And as the construction went on, she brought it up daily. Asking questions about the progress and showing excitement. And it never stopped.

A had a similar incident recently with my daughter, Alana. She’s a performer. An amazing performer. (I know, I know, but this isn’t her mom talking. This is another singer talking. I swear I’ll post the videos on YouTube, just so you know I’m not just overwhelmed with motherly pride.) Recently, she did not get into a very select group she auditioned for one that she had wanted to be in for ages. The director even sat down to talk to her about it. She told her it was because Alana was only going to be a junior, not a senior. And she really wanted to give as many kids a chance as possible.

Yea, yea. I know that being in something cool in high school might be the highlight of someone’s life forever, but when it’s my kid that’s paying the price I don’t like the decision-making process much.

Of course there’s nothing I could do. I wasn’t going to march down to the school and give anyone a piece of my mind. Partly because I happen to adore the director and partly because that probably wouldn’t help Alana in the future anyway. But I couldn’t help making all sorts of comparisons silently in my mind.

Well, I know you’re ten times better at the 100-meter relay than anyone on the team, James, but since you’re only a junior, I’m going to put Billy on the team instead because it’s his last chance to run track.

Yea, right.

Then I remembered the principles in a book I read last month called Outliers. It’s a fascinating look at the contributing factors in the lives of the very most successful people in the world.

One of the strongest influences on successful people is how much experience and encouragement they get in a particular area before they are adults. So I’m wondering if the teacher understands at all that by choosing people for the group based on some sense of social justice instead of on talent she is very likely discouraging some of those with the most potential to excel in the art.

To be sure, I didn’t say anything about this blathering to Alana, but I fumed about it internally after she went to bed.

What Alana did was different. She came home and cried her eyes out. She was devastated. She questioned her talents. She wondered if she should really bother to sing anymore.

Then she brushed herself off and told me how great all these kids were who got selected instead of her. She told me that the most important thing she could do was to support them and be happy for them. She congratulated everyone who was selected for the group. She told them how great it was and how much fun they’d have. She asked for all the details about how they learned the good news. She applauded them.

Next year there won’t be anyone in the audience cheering louder than Alana. And I promise you it won’t be an act.

What does any of this have to do with Mother’s Day?

I learned something from these two people in my life. Even in our difficulties and sadness, it doesn’t always have to be about our personal pain. It can be about the happiness, blessings, and good fortune that come to others.

If Mother’s Day usually stinks because you can’t have kids, your kids have all gone off the deep end, your own mother was crazy or if you children and/or husband just don’t get that you should be cherished and celebrated just one Sunday in May then change the focus from yourself to something better for the day.

Can you be happy for those who have the blessings of children? Can you feel blessed for the great kids you come in contact with and whom you influence in your callings or your work? Can you invite another uncelebrated, lonely mother for dinner not to commiserate, but to give her a Mother’s Day to remember? Can you be grateful that you have a Mother in Heaven who loves you?

Find someone worth celebrating and send your heart their way. And have a happy Mother’s Day.

{ 44 comments… add one }

  • spitfire May 5, 2009, 9:06 pm

    I second the motion!!!

    Your comments & insights are refreshing…..

    Thanx Alison…

  • mormondad's wife May 5, 2009, 10:00 pm

    Your daughter has great insight and maturity. You must be doing something right! :bigsmile:

  • facethemusic May 5, 2009, 10:44 pm

    Awesome, awesome, awesome! I think graciousness is something that is awfully lacking in the world today– both your friend and Alana give me hope.
    It really takes a gracious heart, a sincere love for others and a large dose of emotional maturity to honestly be happy for someone else’s good fortune and/or blessings when you yourself were hoping/praying/yearning for a similar thing. I also think just putting on a good face EVEN IF pangs of jealousy, envy or covetousness have crept in, also shows grace in that you’re putting the other person’s feelings first by not saying or doing something that would either cause them to feel guilty for having what you don’t, or would cause them to feel like they can’t share their joys with you.

  • nanacarol May 5, 2009, 11:25 pm

    Soooo good Alison!!!!!! It reminds me of a book I read just recently–A Heart Like His!!!!!! It’s amazing what happens when you turn your heart out not in!!!! Last week all I did was think to myself, heart like his, heart like his. It was wonderful what it did for me!!! Good job Alison!!!

  • jennycherie May 6, 2009, 6:00 am

    great article!

  • kiar May 6, 2009, 9:13 am

    Beautifully written. Thank you for allowing us to validate the fact that we are mothers and not feel guilty about it. I feel for those who are not blessed with children, and can’t imagine how hard it is to see those of us with our broods day after day. But it’s not just about those of us who have kids, its about the goodness that mothers bring tothe world, whether you are one, or you have one, or you are a surrogate one to a lost soul. There is more to mothering then pushing a child out of your body. It is loving those around you with unconditional acceptance, and guiding them with your example. It is finding Joy in the triumph of others and letting go of our own insecurities. Thanks Alison for the gentle reminder.

  • Michelle D May 6, 2009, 1:23 pm

    Excellent, Alison. Thanks for sharing, for validating, and for making me think about my attitudes and actions.

  • marathonermom May 7, 2009, 2:12 pm

    I wasn ?t going to march down to the school and give anyone a piece of my mind.

    Speaking as a former high school choir teacher, THANK YOU. I had a group of parents do this very thing, after their children didn’t make it into the most elite group. They cornered me in my classroom during my prep hour and ranted and yelled at me for the entire period. In addition to being pretty shaken up from being the object of that level of vitriol, I was also confused. What exactly did they think I was going to do, call up the kids who DID make it and tell them, “Oh, sorry, I know I told you you were in the group, but after talking to the other kids’ parents, I’ve changed my mind. You’re out. They’re in. Now everybody’s happy!” The dad of one of the girls, who hadn’t been able to make it for the love-in, even sent me a nasty letter the next day. It was wild.

    You know what else is weird about that whole thing? The kids got over it, but the parents didn’t. The girl whose dad had sent the letter came and talked to me on the last day of school to apologize for the way she and her parents had acted. We talked a bit, and things were fine between us. But a YEAR later–when I wasn’t even teaching at that school anymore!–I went to a mission farewell for one of my former students. The parents of one of the other girls were at the farewell, and I went up and talked to them after the meeting. They totally gave me the cold shoulder, wouldn’t even talk to me, just stared daggers while I tried to make small talk. I couldn’t believe it! One of my other former students saw that, and he told me, “Oh, Mrs. Longhurst, the whole ______ family totally hates you. My sister is dating one of their sons, and the family sits around and talks bad about you all the time.” A year later. Over a high school choir. Can you believe that? Imagine if I had done something REALLY bad to them!

  • Naismith May 8, 2009, 7:57 pm

    Of course we all should be big enough to “just get over” whatever our challenges are. People should also “just get over” being raped and divorced and paralyzed, too. But we all have different timetables for a grief process.

    I am not sure how applicable the case of the daughter was because the elite group was, well, elite. It isn’t expected that everyone would make it. But it is expected that we are all good mothers.

    And when things don’t work out like we planned and sacrificed and worked so very hard for, it is such a devastation.

    A major reason for people to go inactive later in life is when their children make “different” choices, and they feel unworthy and that they can’t face people at church. Telling them to “just get over it” does not help much. And often they are not jealous of others, and they are happy for those whose kids did turn out. But they just can’t face the whole families-are-forever scene because it is a constant reminder of their failure (which often is not a shortcoming of anything they did, but a child exercising free agency).

    When Martha and Mary wept over their brother’s loss, Christ did not tell them to “just get over it.”

  • Alison Moore Smith May 11, 2009, 9:40 am

    Naismith, if you find wallowing in self-pity a good way to deal with the imperfection of life, go for it. Personally, I don’t. But that’s just me.

  • Oregonian May 11, 2009, 9:59 am

    naismith you pretty much find something to bitch about in everything here. and they think im bad.

  • facethemusic May 11, 2009, 11:20 am

    Girl, you kill me. :rolling:

  • agardner May 11, 2009, 2:29 pm

    I’m not sure I get the connection between honoring mothers even if you aren’t one – and telling someone who has been raped, paralyzed, divorced or lost a loved one to “get over it”.

  • facethemusic May 11, 2009, 4:42 pm

    I think the title of the article is getting in the way of the content. Personally, I don’t think the title fits the content, but knowing Alison and reading the content, I looked past the title. Typically, when someone says “get over it”, it’s usually in a snotty, incompassionate tone of “I don’t care about your problems/struggle/heartaches” etc. But it’s pretty clear to me that this isn’t a matter of “I don’t care about your struggle”, but rather a “despite your struggle”.
    With that in mind, the article is simply saying that no matter the struggle, whether it’s infertility, rape, divorce, illness, financial struggles or lesser things like not getting selected for a singing group, the ability to look past your own struggles to be happy for someone else’s joys is a virtue to be admired and worked toward.
    I think the connection, is that like being able to honor and/or be happy for women who have had children, even if you’ve not been able to, those who have horrible health problems can be happy for those who are healthy, that those who are divorced and/or who have never been married can be happy for those who are celebrating their 50th weding anniversary and/or have finally found “Mr. right”.
    In my own ward there were 3 sisters (no lie, no exaggeration, no kidding) who displayed their “bitterness” about Mother’s Day, the kind of bitterness that prevents them from finding any joy in the day, either for honoring their own mothers or for simply sharing in anyone else’s joy as a mother, and they vocally express it to everyone else. When I called one sister yesterday morning and asked her to tell her husband there was no choir practice before church (the Bishop had cancelled all ‘”extra” meetings so that people could be with their wives/mothers) she said “Well, *Fred* will be at church today, but I won’t. I don’t go to church on Black Sunday.” At first I didn’t know what she was talking about. But then, totally unprovoked by me, she went on and on about how ungrateful her children are (they’re all grown) and how every year they’d give her a card, say “Happy Mother’s Day” then demand breakfast “do this for me, do that for me” and now she just hates Mother’s Day and calls it “Black Sunday”. I tried to joke around it a little, said “ungrateful brats, eh?” she laughed and said “that’s an understatement”. So then I tried to express compassion and sound positive. I told her that I hoped she would come anyway, and that even if she has a hard time with the day in regard to her own children, that maybe she could just think of it as a day to honor HER mother, and maybe even her mother in heaven. She DID show up– I’m not sure if that had anything to do with what I said or not. But later in Relief Society, I heard her saying the SAME things to Jennycherie.
    Another sister who’s never married made a fuss last week, sort of “pre-warning” everyone that she wasn’t going to come the next Sunday because “I don’t do Mother’s Day”. When she said it to me I said ” *Jane*, it’s another Sabbath, that just happens to also be Mother’s Day. You still need to partake of the sacrament, you still have contributions to make during classes. Mother’s day isn’t JUST about YOU being a mother, it’s a day to honor your own. You talk about your grandmother like she was a mother.” She interrupted me and said “Well, I an do that at home. I don’t do mother’s day.”
    Even our own RS president REFUSES to go to Sacrament meeting on mother’s day. She announced it last year, then again yesterday during ward council before church. She went to all her meetings, but wouldn’t go to Sacrament because she “refuses to sit there” during the service. This is a woman who practically RAISED her friend’s children. No kidding. Yet she still refuses to recognize her contributions as a mother and/or maternal figure to these children.
    Despite the incredible lengths that the ward leadership goes to SINCERELY include those sisters who are either single or who’ve been unable to have children, as maternal figures and women who’ve truly “mothered” in many ways,they won’t even come to take the Sacrament, and they purposely make sure everyone knows they “don’t do mother’s day” or are bitter about it– and ALL it does is make the women who ARE mothers feel uncomfortable and even “guilty” for bearing children and or for being recognized.
    Alison’s article isn’t to demean or brush aside the struggle and heartache of those who,for whatever reason haven’t been able to bear children (or any other pain– illness, financial problems, illness, tragedy, etc) but rather to give a lesson of emotional maturity and graciousness, through the example of her friend and her daughter’s experiences.
    Those of us who HAVE had children, (or who have good health, or wealth, or spouses, good marriages, etc) should have compassion and understanding for the pain of those who don’t. We shouldn’t be so consumed with our own happiness, ease, health, wealth, etc that we don’t recognize the need and struggle of others. At the same time, those who DON’T have one or more of these things, shouldn’t be so consumed with their own grief, struggle, illness, poverty, etc that they can’t be happy for or even “be present” when others are celebrating. It’s a two way street.

  • jennycherie May 11, 2009, 6:42 pm

    Posted By: facethemusicIt’s a two way street.

    nicely said – I also really thought that our talks yesterday were not too over the top as far as Mother’s Day goes. It wasn’t just a whole bunch of “mothers are wonderful, perfect angels,etc.” The negative stuff (and the constant need to offer disclaimers for any recognition of mothers at all) is kind of a bummer.

  • Naismith May 11, 2009, 8:44 pm

    if you find wallowing in self-pity a good way to deal with the imperfection of life, go for it.

    I don’t think those are the only two choices, wallowing in self-pity or getting over it. Most folks live in between, and everyone has their own timetable of how they can deal with things. When a sister in my ward was widowed, she made plans to leave the country that first Christmas. The next Christmas, she could cope better.

    Alison’s article isn’t to demean or brush aside the struggle and heartache of those who,for whatever reason haven’t been able to bear children (or any other pain– illness, financial problems, illness, tragedy, etc) but rather to give a lesson of emotional maturity and graciousness, through the example of her friend and her daughter’s experiences.

    And I appreciated that part of it.

    My issue was with the title, of course, and the advice at the end. While being strong enough to get over it and look outward is a great goal, not everyone is there yet. Telling them to do it just adds to the pain and inadequacy. Had it been written in a first person “this is what worked for me,” it would have been less problematic. But it was written in imperative mood.

    I don’t know anyone who is as vocal as Facethemusic described, which I agree is in poor taste. The women I know who hate Mother’s Day are very quiet about it. And since a lot of folks travel to visit grandmothers, etc. nobody really notices if they aren’t there. And I think skipping that Sunday is a perfectly legitimate coping mechanism.

    When my family went through a hard time some years back, our stake president invited us to change wards. He said it would be just too difficult for us to have to see and deal with the folks who had injured us. We tried to tough it out for many months, thinking we could just “get over it.” We finally admitted he was right, and we should change wards to allow healing. It was very helpful that he appreciated how difficult it was, and didn’t expect us to live that celestial standard right away. We were quiet about it, few people ever knew why we changed wards, and we stayed active in the church and gradually came to forgive.

  • marathonermom May 11, 2009, 10:11 pm

    Wow, Naismith, I’m trying to think of a situation bad enough that your stake president would advise you to change wards, and I can’t come up with anything. Would you be willing to share any more about it, for no other reason than my selfish curiosity? Obviously, “NO!” is a perfectly acceptable answer here.

  • Alison Moore Smith May 11, 2009, 10:49 pm

    Posted By: NaismithI don’t think those are the only two choices, wallowing in self-pity or getting over it.

    Naismith, I think they ARE the only two REASONABLE choices **given the context** and given what I actually advocated. You chose to make a case that I never did. “People should also “just get over” being raped and divorced and paralyzed, too.”

    What did I actually suggest? That women should “get over” not being mothers? That they should “get over” having kids who’ve gone astray? That they should “get over” having had a mother who abused and tortured them?

    No.

    I suggested that maybe they could “get over” MOTHER’S DAY. A holiday. One day a year. For the sake of someone else.

    Every Mother’s Day I get the same emails, I see the same blog posts, the same hand-wringing on lists of RS presidents and other women’s group leaders, the same newspaper articles, the same how-do-we-make-this-nothing-to-do-with-motherhood-day-because-someone-gets-their-feelings-hurt. And, frankly, it’s bizarre.

    We can’t possibly have ONE DAY in the year to celebrate mothers or motherhood–in spite of the fact that our leaders always tell us it’s the most stinking glorious thing on earth–because someone is going to be OFFENDED by it. For any number of reasons.

    My dad turns 80 this year. But I guess we can’t have a party for him because SOME PEOPLE DIE BEFORE THEY TURN 80.

    And no one better have a 50th anniversary celebration–and if they do, I’ll boycott it and let you know about my misery–because MY MOM DIED THREE YEARS BEFORE MY PARENTS COULD HAVE ONE. And some people divorce. And some never get married.

    And don’t you dare have a birthday party unless you get me a present, too. Otherwise, I’ll feel bad. And I might spit in the cake.

    Did you see the Summer Olympics? Do you know some people didn’t make the swim team? Some people who worked out every single day and sacrificed and had hopes and dreams. The injustice!

    My kids’ school has a Latino’s in Action club, and I’m TOTALLY POed because I’M NOT LATINO.

    And then there’s that men’s restroom.

    Mother’s Day is ONE DAY A YEAR. If you’re not a mom, it’s not about you. If you hate motherhood, it’s not about you. If you hate your mother, it’s not about you. So why not let that one day go and allow those who WANT to celebrate it, do so without forcing them to tiptoe around? The idea of motherhood is grand–even if it’s not particularly for YOU–let it be grand!

    If you’re sad about infertility or naughty kids or mean moms, that’s understandable. But must you store up all your sadness and dump it on everyone else on the one day that moms are officially celebrated? To me that would be like writing a long letter to my best friend about all my miscarriages–on the same day of her baby shower. Or someone believing her sister’s wedding reception is the place to air her grievances about her messy divorce.

    And I appreciated that part of it.

    Wow. That’s probably the closest thing to a compliment I’ve ever gotten from you. I’m touched!

    While being strong enough to get over it and look outward is a great goal, not everyone is there yet.

    So now we can only talk about worthy goals if everyone is already there? And then what would be the point?

    Telling them to do it just adds to the pain and inadequacy.

    I don’t know. If someone feels “pain and inadequacy” because I suggest they might want to get off the I Hate Black Sunday train and do something kind, gracious, and even productive, I think they have other issues than just hearing my horrid advice. Elder Holland called it “wallowing in the hot tubs of self-pity.” And as someone who was given his hot tub advice–while in the (understandably) self-focused aftermath of yet another miscarriage–I can testify that it works better to do something other than focus on yourself.

    I actually think that most functioning women can look outside themselves for one day without turning that into more PERSONAL “pain and inadequacy.” We can take a step back on ONE DAY a year from our personal pain and look for something to celebrate.

    BTW, I had a friend who was a Black Sunday mourner. And one year she got up off the couch and adopted a hard-to-place teenager. Of course that’s not for everyone, but it was one possible move to make something positive out of a tough situation.

    Similarly, when my dear friend Robes died of a brain tumor, his family didn’t much feel like having the big Thanksgiving Feast. (Some years a few of us got together for the holiday, but Robes was the main cook in his family.) So they first year after he died (he died in September) they all went to a homeless shelter and served dinner. Another positive on a day that could have stunk.

    The possibilities are endless.

  • Alison Moore Smith May 11, 2009, 10:50 pm

    Posted By: NaismithI don’t think those are the only two choices, wallowing in self-pity or getting over it.

    Naismith, I think they ARE the only two REASONABLE choices **given the context** and given what I actually advocated. You chose to make a case that I never did. “People should also “just get over” being raped and divorced and paralyzed, too.”

    What did I actually suggest? That women should “get over” not being mothers? That they should “get over” having kids who’ve gone astray? That they should “get over” having had a mother who abused and tortured them?

    No.

    I suggested that maybe they could “get over” MOTHER’S DAY. A holiday. One day a year. For the sake of someone else. And for themselves.

    Every Mother’s Day I get the same emails, I see the same blog posts, the same hand-wringing on lists of RS presidents and other women’s group leaders, the same newspaper articles, the same how-do-we-make-this-nothing-to-do-with-motherhood-day-because-someone-gets-their-feelings-hurt. And, frankly, it’s bizarre.

    We can’t possibly have ONE DAY in the year to celebrate mothers or motherhood–in spite of the fact that our leaders always tell us it’s the most stinking glorious thing on earth–because someone is going to be OFFENDED by it. For any number of reasons.

    My dad turns 80 this year. But I guess we can’t have a party for him because SOME PEOPLE DIE BEFORE THEY TURN 80.

    And no one better have a 50th anniversary celebration–and if they do, I’ll boycott it and let you know about my misery–because MY MOM DIED THREE YEARS BEFORE MY PARENTS COULD HAVE ONE. And some people divorce. And some never get married.

    And don’t you dare have a birthday party unless you get me a present, too. Otherwise, I’ll feel bad. And I might spit in the cake.

    Did you see the Summer Olympics? Do you know some people didn’t make the swim team? Some people who worked out every single day and sacrificed and had hopes and dreams. The injustice!

    My kids’ school has a Latino’s in Action club, and I’m TOTALLY POed because I’M NOT LATINO.

    And then there’s that men’s restroom.

    Mother’s Day is ONE DAY A YEAR. If you’re not a mom, it’s not about you. If you hate motherhood, it’s not about you. If you hate your mother, it’s not about you. So why not let that one day go and allow those who WANT to celebrate it, do so without forcing them to tiptoe around? The idea of motherhood is grand–even if it’s not particularly for YOU–let it be grand!

    If you’re sad about infertility or naughty kids or mean moms, that’s understandable. But must you store up all your sadness and dump it on everyone else on the one day that moms are officially celebrated? To me that would be like writing a long letter to my best friend about all my miscarriages–on the same day of her baby shower. Or someone believing her sister’s wedding reception is the place to air her grievances about her messy divorce.

    And I appreciated that part of it.

    Wow. That’s probably the closest thing to a compliment I’ve ever gotten from you. I’m touched!

    While being strong enough to get over it and look outward is a great goal, not everyone is there yet.

    So now we can only talk about worthy goals if everyone is already there? And then what would be the point?

    Telling them to do it just adds to the pain and inadequacy.

    I don’t know. If someone feels “pain and inadequacy” because I suggest they might want to get off the I Hate Black Sunday train and do something kind, gracious, and even productive, I think they have other issues than just hearing my horrid advice. Elder Holland called it “wallowing in the hot tubs of self-pity.” And as someone who was given his hot tub advice–while in the (understandably) self-focused aftermath of yet another miscarriage–I can testify that it works better to do something other than focus on yourself.

    I actually think that most functioning women can look outside themselves for one day without turning that into more PERSONAL “pain and inadequacy.” We can take a step back on ONE DAY a year from our personal pain and look for something to celebrate.

    BTW, I had a friend who was a Black Sunday mourner. And one year she got up off the couch and adopted a hard-to-place teenager. Of course that’s not for everyone, but it was one possible move to make something positive out of a tough situation.

    Similarly, when my dear friend Robes died of a brain tumor, his family didn’t much feel like having the big Thanksgiving Feast. (Some years a few of us got together for the holiday, but Robes was the main cook in his family.) So they first year after he died (he died in September) they all went to a homeless shelter and served dinner. Another positive on a day that could have stunk.

    The possibilities are endless.

  • facethemusic May 12, 2009, 10:27 am

    I also really thought that our talks yesterday were not too over the top as far as Mother’s Day goes. It wasn’t just a whole bunch of “mothers are wonderful, perfect angels,etc.” The negative stuff (and the constant need to offer disclaimers for any recognition of mothers at all) is kind of a bummer.

    And THAT is what’s a little troubling to me… because if you think about it– NOTHING was said about mothers or Mother’s Day. Nothing. Except for the “disclaimers” saying essentially “we’re not going to talk about it”– at least nothing that I recall. Sis. Grife was asked to speak about Relief Society in general, and Bro. Floyd was asked to speak about women of the church… then, even though nothing was said about motherhood or honoring mothers at all, Bill felt compelled during the closing remarks to end the meeting (or was asked to include) a disclaimer statement recognizing that fact that the day is often a hard day for those who haven’t been able to bear children. Then they asked any sister 18 or over to stand, and all were given roses.
    Then during Relief Society, the SAME thing happened. The meeting was opened and right from the bat they said, not in these words exactly, but pretty darn close “We’re not going to talk about mothers– so we’re just going to read a story about a woman’s spiritual strength, then we’ll go into the other room and have a little luncheon.”
    It seems to me that the ward leaders go WAY out of their way to make it as all-women-inclusive, “NON-mother” as possible. They don’t even talk about the role of motherhood or importance and eternal significance at ALL, but rather focus on “women”, they give anyone of the female persuasion who’s 18 or over a small gift, the priesthood brethren took over primary, so that every sister there could attend RS, all the Young Women leaders AND the Young women were also in Relief Socity and the RS prepared a lovely luncheon for every single female 12 and over, the last 30 minutes of church.
    It’s difficult to explain my feeings about all this–I can’t quite find the words to express it, and yet I don’t want to be misunderstood. It’s not that I WANT to be “recognized” for being a mother. I don’t need “recognition”–and certainly not from ward members. My husband and kids took me out for a lovely dinner the night before, then woke me for breakfast in bed Sunday morning and serenaded me while I ate. The kids made precious cards expressing their love. And the thing is– they do that OFTEN– they FREQUENTLY make me cards, write me notes, verbally express their love, hug me out of nowhere and say “You’re the best mom ever”– that kind of thing. So I honestly don’t even need an officially recognized “Mother’s Day” since their appreciation and love is so often and so freely expressed, completely unsolicited.
    And yet all the “avoidance” of even mentioning the value, the importance, the sacredness and the eternal nature of motherhood, at CHURCH meetings of all places, on a day specifically set aside for REMEMBERING and RECOGNIZING and expressing GRATITUDE for mothers is really disturbing to me. Not because “I” want to be heralded, but because it seems to me that it’s WRONG and frankly,very selfish for those who for some reason haven’t been able to marry or bear children to raise such a stink that it essentially gets ignored or morphed into something else.
    I don’t see how it’s any differnet than schools or stores or government offices, etc saying “You can’t sing a Christmas song or put up a tree or have a Christmas party, or even SAY Merry Christmas here because it might offend someone who isn’t Christian. So in public, you have to pretend it’s not about Christ at all, but morph it into a generic “let’s celebrate winter” thing so we don’t offend anyone, hurt their feelings and make them feel left out. So keep your “Christmas” stuff within the walls of your house– don’t bring it here.” We celebrate and worship Christ all year. And we can certainly celebrate the day when his birth is “officially and specifically” recognized, privately, in our home, whether or not its recognized elsewhere. But when there IS a day set apart to specfically celebrate his birth, even if it’s only celebrated by some (actually, MOST) then can’t we have generic symbols of “winter” AND symbols of Christmas in public? Can’t we put up a Menorah AND a nativity scene? Kwanzaa candles AND a statue of the Madonna and Child? A snowman AND an angel? But to disregard and brush aside ANYTHING specifically “Christian” or “Christmas-y” is strangely and unfairly one-sided, especially on a day that’s officially set apart FOR the purpose of celebrating “Christmas”. And I see the whole Mother’s Day thing the same way.
    It just seems to me that at LDS church meetings, of all places, where we should know and understand the sacred and eternal nature of motherhood more than anyone else, for it to essentially be ignored and/or morphed into something else, on a day specifically set apart for that purpose, simply because some may not have yet had the opportunity or blessing of becoming mothers YET and
    therefore feel left out/hurt/offended etc, EVEN WHEN they ARE being included, acknowledged and celebrated for the mothering they really DO offer, and for the mothers they will yet be, is just bewildering to me.

  • Alison Moore Smith May 12, 2009, 11:17 am

    Tracy, I think you’re spot on.

    The latest trend I’ve seen follows this illogic. Often when a child has a birthday party, the parents gets the SIBLINGS gifts as well. We can’t have one child any more special than another on ANY day.

    In my mind, that doesn’t help kids grow up and it certainly doesn’t help them be other-centered. Everything is always about THEM. It’s like the stupid phrase, “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Well, yea, that’s Christlike.

    In my family, everyone knows that someone’s birthday is the day we ALL make a HUGE deal about the special person. Even at 2 years old they can understand that THEY have a day, but it’s not on someone else’s day. And even the littlest kids get very excited about celebrating someone ELSE if they are shown how.

    Mother’s Day is about celebrating–for one day–women who are mother’s and who find some value in it and who enjoy it. Period. It’s not General Women’s Day or Female Day or Day of Bra-Wearers. If someone wants to create those holidays, I’m all for it. I’ll take all the holidays I can get. You can even create some holidays that don’t include me. I won’t have a cow or try to guilt you out of it. I might even wish you a happy day. I didn’t celebrate Cinco de Mayo (or as Obama called it Cinco de Quatro…um…), but I was still happy for some friends who did.

    But for heaven’s sake, there’s a Secretary’s Day and I don’t see all the receptionists getting their tights in a bunch over it. Let mothers have their day! There’s nothing shameful about being a happy mom!

  • Naismith May 13, 2009, 5:24 am

    My dad turns 80 this year. But I guess we can’t have a party for him because SOME PEOPLE DIE BEFORE THEY TURN 80.

    Of course you can give him a party. Whatever you want to do in your family is up to you. You’re not taking a sacrament meeting to do it. The question here is how church congregations should respond to a holiday that only even exists for a small percentage of church members. In South America, they celebrate the International Day of the Woman, which hits the same month as the RS anniversary. We wouldn’t be having this discussion there.

    But must you store up all your sadness and dump it on everyone else on the one day that moms are officially celebrated?

    I agree that people should not say anything on that day to mar the enjoyment of others, and that was an eye opener for me. The women I know who hate that day tend to suffer in silence, simply not showing up that day.

    But I think discussion beforehand/after is different. It can be healthy and constructive and has helped shape celebrations that are less offensive without taking anything away from mothers. For example, in some wards, speakers were asked to talk about their own mothers. Our ward no longer makes women stand for oldest mother, most children, etc. because of such discussions.

    I can testify that it works better to do something other than focus on yourself.

    All you can testify is that it worked for you. I appreciate that testimony, and if you had shared what worked for you rather than telling others what to do, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. Everybody is at a different place in their grief. I don’t see anything wrong in being sensitive to that.

    And yes, it is because mothering is so darn important in the church plan that the pain and grief is so profound. I’m glad your friends are so much more mature and functional than mine are, but all of them are children of God.

  • agardner May 13, 2009, 6:38 am

    Our ward no longer makes women stand for oldest mother, most children, etc. because of such discussions

    .

    I really hate it when wards do this. Honestly I’ve only lived in one ward that does, and it’s my current ward. They have the oldest mother stand, the youngest mother (ugh…yeah, let’s celebrate teen pregnancy), the mother with the most children, the “mother of the ward”, mothers of missionaries, mothers of servicemen. Somehow things like that make us “normal” moms feel somehow less…can’t imagine what those who aren’t moms and wanting to be are feeling. I really hate it and told my husband so. I said, “you’ve got to say something and make this stop!”. Ha ha, I don’t think that will make one ounce of difference.

    Oh, and the mom who always is last standing for the most kids (claims 8) has a few biological children and the rest are step children from two different marriages. Not that step-children aren’t loved, but you know??? She also has two teenage children who refuse to live with her and live with their dad instead, yet every year they specially honor her as the mother with the most children. Go figure.

    Then at the end, they say, “will all the mothers please stand”, then corrected, “will all the Relief Society sisters please stand”.

    Not to mention it made us 15 minutes late for Primary, which cut into my singing time that I needed. Ugh.

    I agree with you Alison that people need to honor motherhood even if their unique situation makes that hard, but I do think there are some things that we should change to make it a little less, “in your face”.

  • Alison Moore Smith May 13, 2009, 11:26 am

    The question here is how church congregations should respond to a holiday that only even exists for a small percentage of church members.

    That wasn’t the question at all. The question was how WOMEN who don’t exult in aspects of motherhood might deal with the day better. Had nothing at all to how church meetings are run.

    I agree that people should not say anything on that day to mar the enjoyment of others, and that was an eye opener for me. The women I know who hate that day tend to suffer in silence, simply not showing up that day.

    I’ve heard the complaints every year since I became an adult. Vocally. The first indicator was when I turned 18 and they made me stand up for the flower. I said no. It was Mother’s Day, I wasn’t a mother, I wasn’t standing up. How dumb. I was told I needed to so women wouldn’t be upset. Huh?

    But the not showing up is a statement. And it doesn’t often go unnoticed.

    But I guess that’s my point. “Hate” the day? What is there to HATE about it? Partial birth abortion, I hate. But Mother’s Day???

    It can be healthy and constructive and has helped shape celebrations that are less offensive without taking anything away from mothers.

    Here’s the thing, Naismith, I personally think it’s incredibly UNHEALTHY that everyone is so stinking ready to TAKE OFFENSE. And I think catering to the oft-offended isn’t helping. We’ve raised an entire generation of self-esteem addicts (who have little self-esteem), who think of nothing but themselves and their own pain 24/7.

    So we can’t have real soccer tournaments, because the losers will cry (instead of graciously applauding the winner). So we don’t keep score and we give everyone the exact same trophy. And we have companies that give the exact same salary to everyone (and, of course, they fail and need bailout money–true story).

    Seriously, how many horribly offensive things happen on Mother’s Day? Is it that we give TOO many flower? We make moms sound TOO good?

    Our ward no longer makes women stand for oldest mother, most children, etc. because of such discussions.

    Isn’t there a difference between saying, “Hey, I really don’t want to be called out as oldest mother or most fertile mother or least-married mother. Could we do away with that?” and saying, “I won’t go to church on Black Sunday because of all the hurt and pain you thrust on me!”

    All you can testify is that it worked for you.

    Bologny. General principles taught by our leaders and myriad others. For centuries. Try googling “service” or “selflessness.”

    And you’d have a problem no matter what I said, Naismith. Let’s be honest.

    Everybody is at a different place in their grief. I don’t see anything wrong in being sensitive to that.

    You imply that I am insensitive to grief. Could you tell me what I actually said that supports that position?

    And yes, it is because mothering is so darn important in the church plan that the pain and grief is so profound.

    Grief, even profound grief, doesn’t have to ruin your life. And it doesn’t have to be the catalyst to make all sorts of choices that hurt you and other people. There actually are other choices. I’m simply presenting a positive choice. If you and all your friends prefer otherwise, they have the agency to choose as you wish.

    I’m glad your friends are so much more mature and functional than mine are

    Me, too. Although I’d be curious to know where that little tantrum came from.

  • Alison Moore Smith May 13, 2009, 11:35 am

    I agree with you Alison that people need to honor motherhood even if their unique situation makes that hard, but I do think there are some things that we should change to make it a little less, “in your face”.

    Honestly, Angie, I don’t really care if anyone honors motherhood or not in any particular venue. My ward does it quite well, I think. They simply put some potted flowers in the foyer and let anyone who WANTS one pick it up. One of the talks was a mission homecoming (in the old style that totally breaks the new rules) and the other was mostly about scouting (?) but had some elements of what the scouts thought of their moms. Then the flowers were announced. Oh, and the teen boys stood outside one of the doors after church to hand them out.

    It’s the constant harping at the honoring that I think is dumb and counterproductive.

    There are lots of things that are wonderful and honorable in our world. I think that anyone who wants to honor ANYTHING “virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy” should do so and I’ll support it! If anything ranks up there in worthy things to celebrate and honor, it would be CHILDREN OF GOD who take on a really tough challenge of raising OTHER CHILDREN OF GOD. I don’t think denying parents that honor on the two days out of 365 that recognize them helps anyone.

  • Alison Moore Smith May 13, 2009, 11:37 am

    For the record, here’s the actual “advice” I gave about Mother’s Day:

    I learned something from these two people in my life. Even in our difficulties and sadness, it doesn ?t always have to be about our personal pain. It can be about the happiness, blessings, and good fortune that come to others.

    If Mother ?s Day usually stinks because you can ?t have kids, your kids have all gone off the deep end, your own mother was crazy or if you children and/or husband just don ?t get that you should be cherished and celebrated just one Sunday in May then change the focus from yourself to something better for the day.

    Can you be happy for those who have the blessings of children? Can you feel blessed for the great kids you come in contact with and whom you influence in your callings or your work? Can you invite another uncelebrated, lonely mother for dinner not to commiserate, but to give her a Mother ?s Day to remember? Can you be grateful that you have a Mother in Heaven who loves you?

    Find someone worth celebrating and send your heart their way. And have a happy Mother ?s Day.

    If you (the collective you) are going to contend with my on the issue, at least contend with what I actually said. I’d be happy to discuss it.

  • jennycherie May 13, 2009, 11:55 am

    Posted By: Alison Moore SmithWe’ve raised an entire generation of self-esteem addicts (who have little self-esteem), who think of nothing but themselves and their own pain 24/7.

    I really think this is the heart of the issue. The examples Tracy posted from our ward, kind of fit this. I really think the really vocal “stuff” from Sunday really had more to do with the pain (and the over-focusing on that pain) of the sisters involved than it has to do with Mother’s Day.

    Posted By: facethemusiclater in Relief Society, I heard her saying the SAME things to Jennycherie.

    Mother’s Day is a nice scape goat – but I’ve had very similar conversations with this sister on other days about other issues. She has a personal struggle with letting go of past hurts and with letting her choices today be affected by what happened long ago, so I really think her remarks have more to do with that than with Mother’s Day. AND, even though she was still upset, I am thrilled that she came and I think it had something to do with Tracy speaking up and trying to put a positive spin on things. Sometimes people WANT that encouragement to go ahead and come anyway and step outside of themselves and I feel like Alison’s article could do the same thing for others.

  • facethemusic May 13, 2009, 12:38 pm

    Of course you can give him a party. Whatever you want to do in your family is up to you. You’re not taking a sacrament meeting to do it.

    But this is EXACTLY the problem, Naismith. We’re NOT talking about a birthday. If motherhood is something treasured and sacred within the gospel, which it is, then there’s every REASON for it to discuss it during sacrament meeting on Mother’s DAy. Doesn’t it seem silly that the ONE day a year that the nation as a whole celebrates motherhood, it’s hardly even allowed to be discussed at CHURCH? We’re not talking about Presidents Day, Halloween or Groundhog day. We’re talking about a day that the nation sets aside to honor motherhood- we who have the fullness of the gospel have every reason to discuss it and it’s place in the plan of happiness for this life and the life to come, during a sacrament meeting that falls on the same day it’s celebrated around the country.

    What kind of nonsense are we succumbing to when even a wicked and peverse generation, full of the philosophies of men, sin, selfishness and greed, sets aside a day to honor motherhood and yet we as members can’t “take a sacrament meeting” to discuss or celebrate what God himself has deemed and taught to be holy, noble and sacred, but rather we have to keep it “hush-hush” within the privacy of our homes, lest we offend?

  • agardner May 13, 2009, 7:54 pm

    Alison, I don’t think we’re in disagreement at all. I personally don’t like the singling out of certain mothers as different or more special than others as part of church mother’s day programs, but other than that I’m good.

  • jennycherie May 13, 2009, 8:52 pm

    Posted By: facethemusicWhat kind of nonsense are we succumbing to when a wicked and peverse generation, full of the philosophies of men, sin, selfishness and greed, sets aside a day to honor motherhood and yet we as members can’t “take a sacrament meeting” to discuss or celebrate what God himself has deemed and taught to be holy, noble and sacred, but rather we have to keep it “hush-hush” within the privacy of our homes, lest we offend?

    I can’t help myself. . . .

    AMEN, SISTAH!!:whorship:

  • ChanJo May 15, 2009, 12:34 am

    Niasmith honestly I think you really had to make a stretch to find something to complain about in this post. Sometimes I think you make good points but today I just think you were trying to find something to be controversial about. It didn’t even make any sense.

    I liked this post a lot because I think we spend a lot of time trying so hard to carry around all our pain in a little basket for everyone to see and for everyone to be delicate around. When I look at my grandparents and their whole generation I didn’t see the same need to treat themselves like they were fragile. I think we are worse off for being so extra sensitive about everything.

    And I like the title “get over it” because we should get over the stupid freaking out about the day. It’s a good day for a good cause.

  • ChanJo May 15, 2009, 12:35 am

    oh and facethemusic I like lots of things you wrote too. They were important points to be brought up.

  • CamBendy May 15, 2009, 1:32 pm

    I like this a lot. Don’t know why anyone would argue with it. I think it’s always good to do the best we can and if we find ways to respond better to hard situations we can make things better for everyone.

    What did you all do for mother’s day this year? We had a nice dinner and just relaxed.

  • Lewis_Family May 15, 2009, 11:24 pm

    You know what I hate, valentine’s day… and I am married!

  • ChanJo May 16, 2009, 10:51 am

    hee hee

  • nanacarol May 18, 2009, 8:34 am

    I don’t like Easter and Public Easter Egg Hunts!!!!!! I dearly love the reason for Easter, don’t get me wrong. But I am noticing a tread here too. Every Holiday is about giving. Tired of giving!!!

  • facethemusic May 18, 2009, 9:40 am

    :rolling::rolling::rolling:

  • Lewis_Family May 18, 2009, 10:09 am

    And birthdays? Shouldn’t I get a gift for everyone of my kids birthdays? I went through A LOT to get them that birthday, so should get something then too :wink:

  • Naismith May 18, 2009, 1:26 pm

    I think that my level of disagreement was overstated. I am not taking an “opposite” stand from what Alison wrote, only trying to suggest that we should also consider those who just can’t be that big and generous right now. Yes, I did read what you actually wrote; you didn’t need to repeat it. And I think there are moms who would say “NO!” to all those questions, and feel badly because that is the honest answer. And just can’t follow the advice to “change the focus from yourself to something better.” Not this year.

    Bologny. General principles taught by our leaders and myriad others.

    So do you think my stake president, who was later called as a mission president, was an apostate, or what?

    It helped our family A LOT when he suggested that we change wards, and told us that it was too much to ask that we stay in the ward with the perpetrator who had hurt our daughter. We weren’t being expected to forgive right then and there; we were allowed a grief process. It was balm to our souls.

    And that is what lots of moms (and non-moms) need. I’d like moms who suffer to know that their pain is acknowledged.
    And I think some ways of celebrating Mother’s Day are more acceptable than others.

    And I have to say that the women I know do NOT have problems with lots of things of which this is a scapegoat. One of them always attends baby showers and gives nice gifts to new moms, and I don’t think people know about her MD problem.

    And birthdays? Shouldn’t I get a gift for everyone of my kids birthdays?

    I actually did send my mother thank-you flowers on my birthday, and the florist said that was pretty common.

  • Alison Moore Smith May 18, 2009, 5:17 pm

    Posted By: NaismithAnd just can’t follow the advice to “change the focus from yourself to something better.” Not this year.

    That’s true of any possible suggestion in the world. Yet we still actually think and discuss things.

    For example, Naismith, you repeatedly comment on my “tone.” Did it occur to you that I just can’t follow the advice to change my tone this year? Why don’t you post to let moms who suffer from tone issues so they know that their pain is acknowledged?

    So do you think my stake president, who was later called as a mission president, was an apostate, or what?

    I have no idea what you are talking about, Naismith.

    You said that all I could testify to was the fact that it worked for me. I said that wasn’t so. I didn’t conjure up the idea that other-esteem or outside focus is a good general cure for feeling lousy. And since I didn’t, I can testify to the truthfulness of principles taught by our leaders just like anyone can for any other principle.

    But I suppose when someone bears their testimony about, say, tithing, you get up and correct them with, “Actually, all you can do is testify that tithing works for YOU.”

    And I suppose if someone bears testimony about, say, serving a mission you say they must mean that your stake president (who was later called to be an area authority seventy) is an apostate because the man told your nephew not to go on one.

    I’d like moms who suffer to know that their pain is acknowledged.

    And I guess that pain is never, ever acknowledged.

    And I think some ways of celebrating Mother’s Day are more acceptable than others.

    What ways do you find acceptable? And how are my suggestions unacceptable?

    I actually did send my mother thank-you flowers on my birthday, and the florist said that was pretty common.

    If you want to send flowers to someone on your birthday, go for it. I’m putting flowers on my mom’s grave today. Big whoop. The point is, does your mother EXPECT to get gifts on your birthday? Does she pout and scowl and refuse to celebrate unless you get her something? Or does she actually allow you to celebrate the day EVEN IF it’s NOT ABOUT HER?

    Oh, and Lewis, I’ll be boxing up that gift for you before I go for my birthday dinner!

  • Tinkerbell May 18, 2009, 7:36 pm

    One of my pet peeves is when Mother’s Day is used as a day to celebrate Relief Society rather than a day to celebrate mothers. My husband got the gift for all the women in the ward last year. He got a card/booklet from Deseret Book that was advertised as a “Mother’s Day Booklet”. It contained a talk I really liked (when it was given in a General RS Broadcast) by President Hinckley about the purpose of Relief Society. However, on Mother’s Day, I was so NOT INTERESTED in hearing how great Relief Society is and how much it benefits my life and all my responsibilities related to it. Bleh. The poor guy was so crushed at the response (not just by me, but by most women in the ward).

  • Lewis_Family May 18, 2009, 9:43 pm

    One year, our ward got those lists that are magnetic on the back, from deseret book… tell me that is not used for grocerys? Ya, they handed out grocery lists :smile:

  • Lewis_Family May 18, 2009, 10:36 pm

    Ok, you knew I was being funny right, about wanting gifts on my kids bdays? I know it might be hard to tell when naismith is like, but i do send flowers… blah blah blah, so wasn’t sure if you were teasing back with the boxing up a gift remark, or if you thought I was being serious too…

  • Alison Moore Smith May 18, 2009, 10:44 pm

    Course! :smile:

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