Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mommy Flowers

I'm delighted today to have a guest post from Desiree, who was gracious enough to share the talk she wrote for Mother's Day today.  Thanks, Desiree!

Hello, I am Desiree X, though if you call me Sister Y, I won't bother to correct you. I have been asked to speak about becoming a mother, since I am obviously in that process now, being 25 weeks pregnant with my first, a son. How odd that is, saying I have a son.

Being pregnant has pushed me to consider my beliefs even more deeply because I am figuring out exactly what I want to teach my children. I want my children to know their Heavenly Parents love them. I want them to know of both Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. 

I once asked my husband what his thoughts concerning Heavenly Mother were and he gave me a typical Jeff response. He said he didn't know, he'd never really thought about Her much. She was not a subject of importance to him. And that deeply upset me because that is what my goal is, isn't it? To become a Heavenly Mother myself? I couldn't imagine my mortal children nor my spirit children ever thinking I was not important to them. But I understand where he was coming from. Heavenly Father is capable of giving us all the love and guidance we need, just as there are many single mortal parents who are capable of and do raise their children on their own. But, Heavenly Father is not a single parent.

A woman I know from an online group told a story about her daughter recently. In order to keep her overly-enthusiastic kids away from the neighbor's petunias, she has taught them that dandelions are"Mommy Flowers" - and they're allowed to pick as many as they want to bring her. After a pet goldfish died recently, this woman had a conversation with her 4 year old daughter, Lorelei about how we go to live with our Heavenly Parents when we die.

Lorelei asked, "Mom, does Heavenly Mother like dandelions?"

Her Mom said, "I'm sure she does. She created them! We wouldn't even have dandelions without Heavenly Mother."

Lorelei responded excitedly, saying "Oooooooh! I want to bring her lots of dandelions and Mommy Flowers when I'm grown up and dead and go to live with her!!!"

Then a couple of weeks ago, this family walked around outside of the temple and Lorelei saw some dandelions there. "MOM!" she yelled. "There are dandelions at the temple!! Heavenly Mother is at the temple!! Heavenly Mother is everywhere!!"

I hope to have such conversations with my son some day. I don't want him to simply know that Heavenly Mother exists, but to actively think about Her, ask questions about Her, and feel a connection to Her. I testify that both of our Heavenly Parents know us and love us uniquely. Lorelei was right, Heavenly Mother is everywhere, including the temple. I felt Her presence, her love for me, in the celestial room when I first went through the temple a little over a year ago.

I've also been thinking about Jesus Christ's example. It has always fascinated me that as important as getting married and having children is, there is no clear scriptural mention of Jesus having his own family. Instead, he was simply a person. When we talk about him, we identify him as a son and a brother, not specifically a husband or father.

In Luke, chapter 2, a woman named Anna is mentioned as one of the people who greeted the infant Jesus at his presentation in the temple. She is called a prophetess, and is described as being of "a great age". She had lived with her husband for 7 years before he died and then she was a widow for 84 years.

After her husband's death, Anna decided not to remarry or have children, but instead spent her life serving God and telling people about the Savior. Anna shows us that we all have different purposes and callings in this life and whether or not we are married or have children, we are loved and valued by God.

Following the description of Anna is the story about Jesus teaching in the temple at 12 years old. What this story is supposed to teach us is that Jesus had great knowledge, even as a child. But when I was a child, this was my favorite story about Jesus because I learned from it that it is ok to be a kid and make mistakes. Jesus didn't tell his parents where he was and when they found him, "his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.

And then Jesus did something my 8 year old self found truly amazing. He didn't apologize for making them worry but instead said, "How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?"

I know if I'd said something similar to my mom, I'd have received one of her infamous lectures. After all, wasn't it a mistake for him to not to tell his parents where he was? Jesus was perfect, but even he was a human child who forgot to tell his mortal parents where he was. He made a mistake, but it wasn't a sin.

And since I've been pregnant, I've come to think more about the other side of the story, which is that his parents lost him, Jesus, the saviour of all mankind. And they didn't just lose him in a shopping mall for 20 minutes.

The scriptures say that Mary and Joseph "went a day’s journey" before realizing he wasn't with them and then it took three days to find him.

Can you imagine the panic and guilt they must have felt? I plan on always keeping this story in my heart to help on the days I feel that mommy guilt everyone talks about. God didn't take Jesus away from Mary, didn't tell her she'd failed or was a horrible mother. She was simply human and made a mistake.

My second favorite story about Jesus was the one where he "overthrew the tables of the money changers" in the temple.

Of course this story teaches us that the temple is sacred and we must never turn God's house into a den of thieves. However, the reason I love this story is because Jesus shows human emotion.

I was adopted from foster care. I have 2 different types of saviors, Jesus Christ, and my adoptive mom. Had I not been adopted, I would either be dead by now or I would be a drug addict/alcoholic, and probably a prostitute. I know it is a startling thought, to think of me living such a life. But the only reason I am not is because my mom showed me a different way to live. I know some people thought she was crazy for taking me and my younger siblings in, but I am so grateful she wasn't afraid to become a mom to 3 very young children in her 50's.

My biological mother and father physically, emotionally, and sexually abused and neglected me. My mom warned me before I got pregnant that having my own children would bring up a lot of my past pain. That when I felt the love a parent has for their child, I would ask how my biological parents could have possible treated me the way they did. My birth mother did not place me for adoption because she wanted what was best for me, I was taken away from her because she abused me.

I am learning that forgiveness can be a very long process. Just when I think I've forgiven them, I find my anger or pain and disbelief bubbling up again.

I am grateful that Jesus showed us that it is ok to be angry, to be human. That it is ok to not instantly forgive people, especially when they have desecrated something sacred, such as the temple, our temples, or the sacred bond between a parent and child. We should not let the pain and anger consume us, but it is ok for forgiveness to not be instantaneous. Having human emotions is not a sin.

I'm so thankful for my knowledge of Heavenly Mother, because as wonderful and loving as Jesus and Heavenly Father are, sometimes you need a mom. I feared men as a child, so, with my past, I am a bit anxious about being the mother to a son. But at the same time, I'm excited for the opportunity to teach him to be a good person.

But even as I happily prepare for this child, I know that just the sight of me can bring up painful emotions and memories for some women, that a lot of women skip going to church on Mother's Day because it is just too hard.

I have witnessed people I love desperately wish for children and not be able to have them. It is true that they can still be aunts and uncles, teachers, and so on. These are important and wonderful roles, but I recognize that being an aunt is not quite the same as being a mother and that the ability to be a mother in the eternities, as comforting as that knowledge is, is not quite the same as holding your child's sticky little hand in yours during this beautifully messy mortal life.

My sister had a miscarriage seven years ago, she had been 12 weeks pregnant with my niece, Sam. Its been extremely difficult for her and my whole family. Sam is happy and is doing what she needs to on the other side of the veil, but I keep thinking about how excited my 6 year old niece would be about her little cousin. How Sam would put her hands on my belly and ask me how my little boy had gotten in there, did I eat him? And I'd laugh and tell her no and that she should go ask her mom.

I remember how difficult it was for me when kids who were born the year Sam would have been born started coming into nursery. But Sam's death has given me a new level of understanding of just how precious each child is.

For me, nursery is the absolute best place to learn about being Christ-like. Jesus said to love one another, and that is what little kids do. They don't care if you are married or who you are married to, or what sort of work you do, they don't particularly care what you look like or what religion you are.

They don't care what you are, they just care about who you are. Are you a kind, loving person? If you treat them with love, that is all that really matters. I look forward to learning from your children every week and thank you for the examples of parenthood I've seen through the years by observing you with your little ones.

My patriarchal blessing calls my children, "those spirits on loan from Heavenly Father." I've taken this as a reminder that our children are first and foremost our Heavenly Parent's children, our brothers and sisters.

So I would just like to end by saying that I know our Heavenly Parents know and love us each as individuals and that I am so grateful for what just these few months of pregnancy have already taught me. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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