May 13, 2017

Why I Struggle With Mother's Day

For many years now, I have struggled with Mother's Day. I believe that Mother's Day is a time to stop, reflect and say "thank you" to the women in our lives who have done and sacrificed so much. When you think about it a "Mom's job" entails A LOT: sacrificing her body to bring a baby into the world, she often rises before her little one(s) and goes to bed after they do, she cooks, cleans, is a chauffeur, cheerleader, coach, teacher, friend, a shoulder to cry on and the list goes on and on. A mother's job never really ends. Often a mother's pursuits, passions and dreams are put on hold as she puts the needs of her family first.

Growing up my Mother wasn't around very much and at the time I didn't think very much of it, I just thought that's how it was supposed to be. It wasn't until I was a teenager that this realization really hit me. I was sitting in Young Women's and our teacher asked each one of us to share something our father's did to show that they loved us and then they asked us to share something our mother's did to show that they loved us. I could think of a ton of things my Father did to show he loved me, but I couldn't think of a single thing my Mother did to show that she loved me. I started to cry because in that moment I realized that I didn't know that my Mother loved me. To this day I still don't know if my Mother loves or even cares about me.

You see, my Mother chose to work while I was growing up and work was her focus and her priority. When I was a teenager she left our family, left our Mormon faith and said a lot of very hurtful things to me as she exited my life.

I felt like a misfit especially among other teenage Mormons. A big focus in our religious culture is the importance of family and how they can be together forever. At the time, divorce wasn't very commonplace. I wondered how I could possibly be with my family forever if my Mother was no longer part of my life and of the same faith. I dreaded singing the song, Families Can Be Together Forever as it reminded me my struggles.

One day, I was blessed to meet and befriend some other Mormon girls whose parents were divorced. Not only were they divorced, they were divorced for the same reason my parents were. For some reason this caused me to feel a sense of camaraderie. It was during this time I realized that I wasn't a misfit after all that there were other girls going through the exact same thing I was going through.

Many Mormon women began to enter my life at what seemed like just the right moments. My faith, my Father, my friends, my Nana, my step-mother and these women ultimately shaped me into the person that I am today. I will be forever grateful to the sisters who: picked me up each week for Mutual, helped me get ready for the formal dances, taught me how to do my makeup, taught me how to cook, taught me lessons about what it means to be a good Christian person, taught me how to forgive, helped me apply to college, encouraged me to keep going even when it was hard and helped me see the good in me that my own Mother thought and continues to think doesn't exist.

I hoped that one day I would marry into a family that just loved me for who I am and sadly, this didn't happen. I married a wonderful man and I love him dearly but his family didn't accept me as one of their own. I was told that I had "to earn (their) love" and this all but crushed me.

For many years now, my Nana has been the one I look to as my "Mom." I don't get to see her very often because we live in different states, but we make it a point to talk regularly on the phone. She has had a number of health problems in recent years and I know her days are numbered. Even just the thought of her passing brings me to tears. I find myself asking, "Who will be my mother?"

Through all of these really hard and emotionally trying situations, I have come to learn that the Lord is very aware of me. Just this week, I finished reading Daughters In My Kingdom for the first time. And while I was reading I came across a section where one of the former General Relief Society Presidency Members faced a time in her life where she wouldn't be able to have very much contact with her own mother and she asked the very same question, "Who will be my mother?" Her answer was the Relief Society. As I pondered her response, I began to see the truth behind that answer. All of those incredible women who "helped" me as a teenager were/are members of the Relief Society. This brought such peace to my soul.

While I may not be celebrating Mother's Day with my own Mom, I want to say, "Thank you to the many women who have been like mothers to me over the years. Thank you for everything you have done for me! If it were possible I would wrap my arms around each and everyone of you and give you the biggest hug I possibly could. You have no idea how much of an influence and blessing for good you have been in my life. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!"

To anyone else out there who may struggle with Mother's Day, please know that you aren't alone. God loves you! He is so very aware of you!