Mother’s Day: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

I’ve heard from a number of bloggernacle friends today about their Mother’s Day at church. Some have been nice, some have been very, very bad. I thought I’d do a rundown here of what I consider good ideas and experiences on Mother’s Day, verses the bad.

The Good:

  • people giving talks in SM that feature women as real (not idealized) people who lived diverse lives
  • RS Mothers Day programs that highlighted women in individuals’ lives that have positively influenced them.
  • musical numbers from women-authored hymns, with background explanations of who the women were and why they wrote.
  • men taking over primary and teaching the kids the Deborah and Anna verses of follow the prophet.
  • sitting in cushy chairs, eating food, listening to nice musical numbers in RS.

The Bad

  • SM speaker saying, “Women don’t hold the priesthood. That’s right. Because women hold the babies.”
  • two youth talks which both feature the Stripling Warrior story.
  • The Young Men’s choir getting up and singing male- focused hymns about priesthood, missions, and other manly topics.
  • childless women getting flowers foisted on them when they don’t want them (Note: the way to solve this dilemma is to have the flowers, cookies, candy, etc. on a tables in the foyers  so that women who want them can come and take them.)

The Really Ugly

  • SM speaker focusing his talk around “The Evils of Feminism” describing feminists as coarse, trying to be like men, etc., dismissing the concerns of a woman who wrote to church leaders struggling with women’s status and opportunities in the church, and saying that Satan has led feminists astray.
  • SM speaker referring to that salon.com article about feminist atheist women reading Mormon Mommy blogs, which proves that these women have realized that the route to happiness is being a Mormon stay at home mom.
  • the young woman in SM whose mom just died a year ago speaking about Mothers Day and struggling terribly with her pain. (Note to bishopric: don’t ask people’s whose mom’s have been recently died to speak on Mothers Day.)
  • the SM speaker who said that women should have a baby within 11 months of marriage. Having kids early means that they can act more like older sisters to their kids as opposed to mothers (apparently this is a good thing?)

What was your experience with The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly at church today?

 

Caroline

Caroline is a PhD student in Women’s Studies in Religion and mother of three.

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69 Responses

  1. Whitney says:

    Mine wasn’t TOO bad today, just more of what you’d expect: dudes talking about what it means to be a mother and talking about their mothers’ self-sacrifice, without acknowledging that their moms (and their wives) are multi-faceted individuals.

    The “best” part, though, was when one speaker, after noting that some women need to work outside the home, said that if moms are not around to care for and nurture their children, there will be suffering.

    I’d love to read about other folks’ experiences today!

  2. kia says:

    So, I thought, being in a newly-formed singles branch, that Mother’s Day would be fairly benign this year. Unfortunately that was too much to hope for. I was holding back the rage reasonably well until the speaker, who works as a nanny, mentioned how she realized that the reason why her SAH mom employer hired her is because she wasn’t raised Mormon and didn’t have the opportunity to go to young women’s where they teach us how to be good mothers. Vomit. Seriously, do people not think before they speak? I’m so glad my non-member friend who’s investigating got to be there to hear about how deprived she was for not having a Mormon mother.

    (I miss my old ward. At least they gave all of us gift certificates for ice cream after subjecting us to Mother’s Day talks).

  3. spunky says:

    I skipped the meeting today thinking I would avoid the rubbish– but not so! The ward newsletter was delived to my in-box, basically full of Mother’s Day wishes in equally degrading and ignorant tones. The last gem was this (alert– it is like acid on the eyes):

    “One special leadership opportunity available to women is that of motherhood. Of all professions, motherhood is the best way to rise to the stature of divinity. In our calling as mothers, we have the greatest potential for influence in this life. It is the noblest calling in all the world. The influence of a mother’s teaching does not end with her own children. It extends to grandchildren, great-grandchildren and so on for generations to come.”

    Always nice to be reminded that as a childless woman that I can’t rise to easy divinity and my work with children not blood-related to me has no influence of good whatsoever. Don’t get me started on the “leadership” line…..Silly me, thinking that such harsh judgement is reserved for the next life!

  4. Lynnette says:

    I didn’t go to the first two hours of church, so I don’t know what happened–and I taught RS, and we didn’t say much about it. So my only encounter with the holiday really was having a flower foisted upon me. On the one hand, I respect the intent behind that, and I know it’s often a no-win situation for the leadership trying to figure this stuff out. But as a non-mother, I really don’t want a flower, because a) I respect the very real work that mothers do, and I think it trivializes that to pretend that I’m also a mother in some mystical sense, and b) it feels like a pat on the head. But after fighting off four very sweet YW who were trying to give me one, I finally gave in, because I was starting to feel a brat.

    But that was quite tame, really, and it’s not something I’m all that worked up about. Some of that stuff in your “really ugly” list is horrifying.

  5. Téa says:

    The only thing I really remember from the talks was that the Gospel Doctrine teacher told the “Rebekah fools Isaac” story to praise mothers. =)

    The Bishop announced that they would give nothing out this year. He then spoke on various holidays throughout the year and how they should all encourage us to go to the temple (except Halloween). The gift to the women then, was this: “Brethren, take your women to the temple this week.”

    • amelia says:

      holy hell. Take your wife to the temple as a gift?! That’s ridiculous. And all holidays should encourage us to go to the temple? Unfortunately the temple doesn’t have much to say that’s really all that pertinent to most holidays, including Christmas and Easter. I’d rather go to a performance of Bach’s Magnificat or his Christmas Oratorio than the temple. At least then I’d feel like I was *celebrating* something…

      I’m with Caroline on this one–I have no real problem with the women not getting a little gift, but I think it would be great if a donation of the money typically spent were to go to a worthy charity instead.

  6. HokieKate says:

    One of the speakers talked about three women that he is incredibly grateful for. Right after he was born, his mother was hospitalized for months. He lived with a woman in the ward for those months, and she continued to look out for him on through his teenage years. When his second child was a week old, his wife was hospitalized for a while. The friend that came to take care of the baby even offered to nurse the baby. The third woman was an adopted grandmother, as his wife is of Native American descent. When her biological grandmother passed away, the family adopted a new grandmother from the tribe who has been as close as family. I thought all of the stories were very touching and uplifting.

    • amelia says:

      I like this. The only thing that feels like a good way to celebrate Mother’s Day to me is to actually pay tribute to real women who have helped shape our lives.

  7. Aly S says:

    My mom, who tends to detest Mother’s Day at church, said they had a great one this year. A number of youth speakers were lined up for the end of SM to speak briefly about their moms and they did an excellent job.

  8. Emmaline says:

    I’m going to continue my “come out of lurkdom” trend (started yesterday) because I can’t resist commenting on this question.

    I didn’t go through with my threat to sit in the nursing lounge with the speaker off, and I almost wish I had. One speaker said “Mothers sacrifice their dreams so that their children can realize their full potential.” My immediate response was “Well, operating under that paradigm, women sacrifice their dreams so that their MALE children can realize their full potential and their daughters can grow up to also sacrifice their dreams on the altar of motherhood.” Needless to say, I have problems with that paradigm.

    On a better note, I taught a Mother’s Day lesson to my 12- and 13-year-olds in Sunday School. We talked about the “mothers AND fathers….husbands AND wives….parents” paragraph in the family proclamation, had the kids compare a list of “ideal” mom traits with the traits they love in their mothers, and talked about Ruth and Naomi and their non-traditional mother-ness and how amazingly cool they both were. Since the majority of my kids come from families that would be viewed as “non-traditional” by Mormon standards, they ate it up, and the lesson going so well ALMOST made up for my “I think my brain is going to explode” moments earlier in the day.

    Of course, now I’ll probably magically get released…

    • amelia says:

      That sounds like such an amazing lesson, Emmaline. And I think it’s so very important that we proactively acknowledge and support and celebrate non-traditional families. Especially around the holidays when the official rhetoric and what’s said across the pulpit can sound so dismissive of non-traditional families. Good for you!

  9. Caroline says:

    Emmaline,
    I’m so glad you’ve come out of lurkdom! It sounds like you taught a fantastic lesson. That’s exactly the message they should be hearing.

  10. Caroline says:

    Whitney,
    That perfectly sums up what I see as the general discourse from our general authorities on the subject of women: “Dudes talking about what it means to be a mother.” It’s too bad you didn’t have more women’s voices in your meetings.

    Kia,
    Oh dear. That definitely doesn’t sound like a good meeting to bring an investigator to. I hope your friend wasn’t too offended…

    Spunky,
    I’m sorry about that insensitive paragraph in your newsletter. People who write these things have no idea what a slap in the face such sentiments are to women who don’t have kids. This just goes to show that the discourse about motherhood needs to change from the top, since the people in your branch are parroting what they hear GA’s say.

    Lynnette,
    I totally understand trying to dodge the flower being foisted on you. I wonder if this whole thing about every woman getting a flower began with Sherry Dew and her “every woman a mother” idea…

    Tea,
    How did you feel about the no present thing from the bishop? I think I would be ok with that — but I think it would be even better to take the few hundred dollars most bishops do spend on mothers day and give it to a local women’s shelter.

    HokieKate,
    Now that’s a good sacrament meeting talk. Thanks for sharing.

    AlyS,
    I’m glad your mom had a good day! My experience with youth speakers is either hit or miss, so I’m happy that it worked out well in her ward.

  11. Small Dog says:

    We had chocolate instead of flowers, but I never accept them. It’s “Mother’s Day” and I don’t have children (by choice), not “You Have Ovaries, Have a Cookie Day.”

    However, we did have a talk focused on Heavenly Mother for at least half of it! I was holding my breath to see what the congregation reaction would be…and it was positive. Progress!

    • amelia says:

      I just had to snicker at the “You Have Ovaries, Have a Cookie Day.” Exactly how I feel. Which is why I not only refuse the treats (when I’m at church on Mother’s Day, which I haven’t been for a while), but look the man giving them to me in the eye and say “I’m not a mother.” I don’t do that if it’s a youth and sometimes I’ll even take the goodie if they’re being handed out by the YM/YW, simply because they’re not the ones in charge and I don’t want to make them trying to do something nice awkward. But in most of my wards, it has been the priesthood leadership handing stuff out. I have no problem telling the men in the ward that I do not want a flower or a chocolate because I am not a mother. They need to know that not everyone is happy about having their identity as a woman compressed into some bizarre motherhood-by-virtue-of-ovaries idea.

  12. Rachel says:

    Our Sacrament Meeting consisted of the 6 high school seniors, talking about their moms, how much they appreciate them. There were lots of tears, of course, but what I took away was a sense that I’m not a failure. They all have very different mothers, but they each recognized their mom as wonderful, and doing her best.
    During SS, the men brought cinnamon rolls, fresh fruit and chocolate fountain, etc. The men took over any class a woman was doing 2nd hour. All women came and enjoyed the 2nd hour. It was really nice and they set the bar pretty high for next year.
    During RS, I had to teach the lesson on tithing, so there wasn’t much Mother’s Day in that. But, the lady who gave the opening prayer basically said “Please tell Heavenly Mother how much we love and miss her and we wish her a wonderful Mother’s Day.” Of the 3 things, that was the most unexpected.

  13. Jessawhy says:

    Rachel,
    Like you, I’m surprised to hear
    “Please tell Heavenly Mother how much we love and miss her and we wish her a wonderful Mother’s Day.”

    in your ward.
    Where are you located, btw?

    • Rachel says:

      You’ll never, ever guess.
      Meridian, Idaho, a suburb of Boise.

      • Jessawhy says:

        Wow, my grandparents used to live in Meridian. It’s beautiful there 🙂

      • Corktree says:

        Rachel, are you interested in meeting other Exponent readers? I’m in SW Boise and have been wondering how many readers there are in the area and if they might want to get together.

        I’m glad you had a good experience yesterday. Mine was the “evils of Feminism” talk mentioned. 🙁

    • Rachel says:

      Corktree, I might be interested. How might we go about doing that?

  14. Linda says:

    Before introducing the speakers yesterday the counselor presiding (a hip young man raised by an Exponent sister) read Billy Collin’s poem “The Lanyard” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0EjB7rB3sWc) and talked about how his mother slyly introduced him to this poem a few years back. This was both hilarious and wrenching since his mom died of breast cancer in 2006 and when his voice caught reading it, I got all weepy myself. It was a great tribute A) to his mom and B) to the fact that we all walk around through this mortality offering the “lanyards” of our life to God and sometimes it dawns on us how nothing can every fully repay the gift of the Atonement. The talks addressed an array of colorful, inspiring, “high functioning dysfunctional” families and very human role models – and included the Mary Fielding Smith story (without direct reference to blessing the ox, but definitely showing her chuzpah) and to a story of Pres. Uchtdorf’s mother moving her young family to Germany in 1944 when her husband was serving in the military. A fine and determined lady was Frau Uchtdorf.

    One of my favorite segments was actually what I viewed as prep for Mother’s Day made in testimony last week. Wonderful E. told about watching (with her young children) eagles and their young on live action camera aimed at their nest. She marveled at the power and “don’t mess with me” vigor of the eagles as well as their nurturing and deliberate, tender care with their chicks – and how this reminded her of Christ who acts as Mother Hen, who nurtures us similarly. She encouraged us to both contemplate and emulate that awareness of the fullness of God’s care for us.

    To wrap up the meeting, our talented (professional) organist (who happens to be E’s husband) filled the room with his majestic accompaniment to our closing hymn: “All Creatures of our God and King.”

    For dessert, as I headed out of the chapel to my nursery calling one of the young men gave me a wee box with two tasty chocolates inside. Yum.

  15. TopHat says:

    Our ward had a wonderful program during Sunday School and Relief Society that included a light brunch and a few talks highlighting how different women in the ward have served in their lives. Beautiful.

    • TopHat says:

      Oh- but on the “I’m not sure how to take this” our primary children sand “If I Listen with My Heart” instead of a Mother’s Day song. Admittedly, the mother-centric Primary songs irk me a bit, but I’m not sure how I feel about forgoing them altogether.

  16. Sigh says:

    Mine was bad/ugly (so much so that I came out laughing about how stereotypical it turned out).

    The two youth speakers were nice (but forgettable, or maybe I was wrangling kids since my husband is out of town). But then came the three horrible ones:

    In the first talk we had both “Mother’s Who Know” quoted (and ironically, the person speaking said “someone named Julia Beck, I think”) and the SWK quote about not delaying children.

    In the second talk we had a “I don’t know if this is how it happened, but maybe” story about a daughter who pre-life chooses her mother from portraits, bypassing a celebrity, a queen, and even a mother who works in favor of a haggard looking mother with four other children with “a smile playing on her lips” because she loved unconditionally and would give her all to mother. (I did whisper to my daughter that I don’t believe in this folk belief of choosing mothers, because what does that say about women who never have children (or the mother sitting a few rows ahead of me who desperately wants more than two) that no one wanted them?)

    In the third talk we got a story about a stake meeting where the stake leader asked if any mothers there had had all their children married in the temple. A “Sister Jones” with 11 children had and so he brought her up and asked how they had accomplished that “miraculous, amazing feat” and she said “I was always at the crossroads and threshold of the home, available whenever kids were coming and going” and “we did everything together as a family.” The stake leader then said “You’ve had two important sermons today.” Then the speaker gave as his testimony about the fact that stay-at-home mothers are being attacked and enticed from every angle. He concluded with testifying about the importance of the “patriarchy” working with the mother together in the home.

    Sigh.

  17. FoxyJ says:

    My ward has the YM pass out chocolate bars, but they actually bring them to your house during the day. I kind of like that better than dealing with treats at church, but I’m in UT so it makes distribution a little easier given the compact size of my ward.

    Our sacrament meeting was just fine. We had a youth speaker who rambled about her mother, and then her parents had been asked to speak. They are from Honduras, came to Utah for school, moved back to Honduras about 10 years ago, and then came back here a year ago due to economic issues. They are both life-long members and have dual citizenship and just a cool family (I visit teach her). Anyways, their talks mostly just focused on specific women they have known and stuff like that. I like those kinds of talks better than the quote-filled talks that try and idealize things. I particularly liked the fact that she talked about how the Lord had helped her find a job that would fit her schedule and allow her time with her kids, and also how she does her homework from her school classes while her kids do theirs. I like it when we acknowledge that most women in the church have a life besides simply ‘being a mom’ (whatever that actually means)

  18. CG says:

    Ha. I solved the problem by simply staying home. Sleep sounded so much more appealing than those looks of pity/scorn/disapproval for having been married for 4 years and no spit-up stains on my dresses to show for it, OR than receiving the leftover rose corsages, though well-intentioned, really are just pathetic attempts to make the “mothers-to-be” feel included. Truly, sleep and a lazy Sunday morning was much more appealing!

  19. Stephanie says:

    My husband was actually one of the speakers, and I was proud of him because his message was on how husbands can better support their wives in their calling as a mother. Here are a few quotes from his talk:

    “A lot of men that I have known throughout my life use a woman’s calling as primary nurturer as an excuse to not help with nurturing or rearing children. In essence, we’re telling women, I’m so grateful that you’re such a wonderful woman and nurturer, and I’m so glad I don’t have to help you . . . Men, that’s not how it was meant to work. Although the Proclamation does tell us that women are “primarily” responsible for nurturing children, they are not exclusively responsible for doing so. Elder Faust said, in the May 1993 Ensign, “Both mothers and fathers are equipped to nurture children.” Furthermore, The Proclamation also says, (quote) “In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners,” and that “Parents [not just mothers] have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness.” (close quote). On a related note, sometimes men treat a woman’s role as wife and nurturer synonymous with the role of maid/secretary/ or taxi service. In the July 1989 Ensign, Elder Boyd K. Packer said, (and I quote) “There is no task, however menial, connected with the care of babies, the nurturing of children, or with the maintenance of the home that is not the husband’s equal obligation. The tasks which come with parenthood, which many consider to be below other tasks, are simply above them.” (close quote) For women who have to nurture and rear their children alone without the help of their husbands, or be solely responsible for menial household tasks, motherhood can become a lonely sentence instead of a calling, and the home transforms into a prison instead of a sanctuary. . . If we really value the family and the role of a mother as the highest calling, and not just value it as a convenient replacement for a secretary and maid so that men can perform the really important tasks, then we need to put our money where our mouth is and truly believe (and act as though) the calling of strengthening the family really is the most important calling any individual, man or woman, will ever fulfill.”

    Obviously I’m biased, and so I loved his message, but I’d be interested to hear what others think, and if this is the type of message that was helpful on mothers day, or if it just added to the mess?

    • Small Dog says:

      I really like this talk. Lots of women, myself included, struggle with the homemaking role we’ve been cast in, but I love the emphasis here that making a home is a family affair and cannot (and should not!) be the responsibility of a single person. And if you’re going to make us shoulder the majority of it anyway, you had better “put our money where our mouth is.” Love.

    • Whoa-man says:

      Are you kidding? That is amazing. I wish every person in every ward heard this talk. He should write it all up as a post. I always have to ask myself on these days: If mothering is really so great- why aren’t any of you doing it?

      • Janna says:

        Please, no! Then, we’d perpetuate on the Exponent II forum that, “the role of a mother as the highest calling.” Do we really believe that?

      • amelia says:

        Janna, I think a lot of people (including quite a few Mormon feminists) do believe that being a parent is the highest calling one can have in this life. However, I think that if we were to perpetuate such an idea, we really should emphasize the point that “the most important” does not mean “the only important”; far too often that’s how we understand “most important” in our talking about motherhood/parenting.

        Also, as someone who is not a parent, I simply refuse to believe that I cannot do the most important work God has given his children to do just because I do not have children. Which is why I’m with Janna on this one. I don’t think motherhood, or fatherhood, or parenting is the “highest calling” or “most important” work of this life. I think our highest calling, our most important work, is to learn how to love others as fully as we possible can, in whatever manner our life circumstances allow for. For many people that will mean parenthood, at least for a significant portion of their lives, because those are their circumstances. But the fact that I have different circumstances does not mean I cannot perform this most important work–it just means I do it in a different fashion.

    • Jessawhy says:

      I love this talk! In fact, I’d love to include some of these quotes in the next Words of Wisdom quote book.

      Thank you for sharing!

    • Jesse says:

      I love this. I would love to read the whole thing.

  20. Davis says:

    I can tell you exactly why this happens:

    “Dudes talking about what it means to be a mother.” It’s too bad you didn’t have more women’s voices in your meetings.

    It is because when you try to find speakers in Sacrament Meeting, 4 out of 5 men say yes. 4 out of 5 women say no. It is a huge pain. Trying to find women to speak is like finding a needle in a haystack.

    • amelia says:

      Gee, we’re so fortunate a man came along to condescendingly (and with insult) explain to us why we hear so much from men about what it means to be a mother/woman…

      1. I just don’t believe this assertion. It doesn’t match my experience in which I have never said no to an invitation to speak and in which my mother, my sisters, and my friends do not generally say no (unless there are extenuating circumstances like being out of town).

      2. even if it is true that more men accept being asked to speak than women do, that shouldn’t be all that surprising in a culture in which women are trained to be loving and kind but not to trust that they have a lot to say in an official capacity.

      3. given that most (not all, but most) Sundays there are both male and female speakers, I find it a little difficult to believe that 80% of the women asked say no.

      Sorry Davis. Your point is a no go in my opinion. And if you can’t contribute something constructive to the conversation, you’re not really appreciated. What women don’t need is a man coming along and saying that the reason we have men telling us what to do and how to be all the time is because we’re so flawed that we won’t step up to the plate and accept responsibility to teach/preach in church. Never mind the fact that the church structurally undervalues its women and that the leadership is so bloated in terms of its male to female ratio that of course 80% of what we hear anywhere other than in our local meetings will necessarily be from men. And even in local meetings, we’re structurally more likely to hear from men than from women in SM.

    • Jessawhy says:

      I told my husband I volunteered to speak for next year’s SM!

  21. Sara Bay says:

    Our SM was really nice. The speakers were two mothers of young children (who also both happen to be moving in the next month). They were both self-deprecating and funny as they talked about motherhood. One described the ups and downs of her week. (“I baked a birthday cake at 10 PM. I enjoyed my daughter’s excitement over her birthday. Then I woke up the next morning to her throwing up the birthday cake on my bedroom rug.”) They both concluded that in motherhood, as in other important undertakings in life, we can’t do it on our own (and shouldn’t feel that we have to) and need to rely on the Lord.

  22. Keri Brooks says:

    For the past five years, I’ve skipped church on Mother’s Day because I don’t like my personhood being reduced to motherhood, especially given that I don’t have kids. I’m not a mother, and calling me one cheapens the very real sacrifices that mothers make by reducing motherhood to femaleness. It also cheapens the very real sacrifices I make in my life by relegating them to consolation prize status. (As in, “well, since you’re not a mother, go have a career, but if you’re really righteous enough, maybe you’ll be a mother after you die” sort of thing.)

    Since I moved into a new ward a few months ago, I figured I would give church on Mother’s Day a chance again. I live in a ward with a lot of diversity of life situations, and the comments in class are very honest. As I was getting ready for church, I started to chicken out and figure maybe I should just stay home. I got the spiritual impression that I should go, and that if it got bad I could leave.

    So, I went. I showed up at church and wished my fellow ward members a good morning. They returned the greeting, with no mention of Mother’s Day. The first speaker was a Beehive who gave a cute tribute to her mother. The second speaker was a sweet middle-aged man in the ward who talked about the women who shaped his life and who talked about how much he misses his mother, who passed away a few years ago. So far, so good.

    Then the bishop (who is a really good guy and tries hard) got up to speak and he spouted the usual platitudes about how women are so spiritual and so naturally nurturing and how even women without children are mothers, etc. I got up and left because I felt like my head was about to explode. So, I didn’t get the “you have ovaries” flowers foisted upon me because I wasn’t there for that part.

    The bishop called me later in the day to find out why I excused myself. I haven’t called him back because I don’t know what to say. I don’t want him to feel bad, and I don’t want to come across as a harpy, and I know his heart was in the right place, but his remarks did hurt. Maybe I’ll talk to him next week when I see him at church.

    • amelia says:

      Keri, I hope if you feel up to it you’ll talk to your bishop honestly about why you left on Sunday. I sympathize with your not wanting to hurt his feelings. I think it’s important to avoid causing unnecessary hurt. But that’s also why I think it’s important to talk to him honestly about what you were feeling in response to his comments. I think you can do it in a way that mitigates any possible hurt you may cause. You can start, for instance, by saying that you appreciate how hard he works in his calling and that you understand that he was trying to pay tribute to the women and mothers of the ward, and then explain specifically what it was he said that hurt you personally and why it did. I’d also point out that you know many other women who feel similarly.

      One of the things that stood out very powerfully to me when I saw Milk a few years ago was when Harvey Milk made the point that the LGBT community couldn’t expect things to change if they weren’t willing to speak up for themselves and come out–that ordinary people need to know that their own friends and family are gay. I think the same thing holds for women in the church. We can’t expect the culture of our church to change until we’re willing to speak up as people who are hurt by that culture. It’s harder to castigate all feminists as coarse and trying to be men and etc. when the people who would typically do the castigating know that their own sister or cousin or neighbor holds feminist beliefs.

      That’s not meant to pressure you at all, and I hope you don’t feel pressured. These conversations are not easy to have and they can potentially bring with them negative consequences. I completely respect anyone deciding that they’re not up to having such a conversation.

    • spunky says:

      Keri.
      You are a brilliant woman. I know that your bishop was an unintentional butthead, but it sounds to me like maybe he recognises how brilliant you are and NEEDS you to help him learn, even if you can only offer him a letter of explination- it would still be priceless to him. Did I mention that you are brave as well? I didn’t go to church on MD– I can’t- I can’t take the pain (plus, they hurl the gift crap at the women as they walk in the door- so I can’t even take the sacrament without already feeling attacked, judged and degraded)…

      I mean this when I say this: I admire you. You are smart and strong. Your example has meaning for me. Thank you for being you. Thank you for your example. Thank you.

      • Keri Brooks says:

        Thank you, spunky.

        As I was driving into work this morning, I realized that I should talk to my bishop. I’ll catch him on Sunday. I’ve been mentally rehearsing what I’m going to say. I’m definitely going to let him know that I know his heart was in the right place and that I’m not mad at him. I just hope I can get my point across without being misunderstood.

  23. Margaret says:

    I had a fantastic SM for Mother’s Day– one of the best I’ve ever attended. It started with a youth speaker, a young woman from Nigeria. She was given the topic of “Motherhood and Culture” and she spoke about the role of women in her hometown, how Mother’s Day is celebrated differently there, and how culture is passed down through generations. Very interesting, especially when she talked about how in her ward in Nigeria, there are always women that sit up on the stand with the Bishopric, and she doesn’t understand why we don’t do that here.

    Next was an unmarried, childless woman was spoke on “Mission Moms”. She went on a mission in her forties just a few years ago and she spoke about what a great woman her mission president’s wife was. Then she talked about all the childless women in our ward (actually naming a few of them) and spoke specifically about the work they do with children and YW in our ward. On paper it sounds not fantastic, but she spoke with such power that I was overwhelmed and crying (NOT a common situation in SM for me).

    The third speaker was a woman who based her talk around the women of the Bible. We heard most of the classic stories and some of the lesser known ones. A whole talk devoted to women of the scriptures!

    This was one of the most uplifting SMs I’ve had in a long time.

    • Caroline says:

      “in her ward in Nigeria, there are always women that sit up on the stand with the Bishopric, and she doesn’t understand why we don’t do that here.”

      Wow!! That is fantastic. Makes me wonder why we can’t do that here. Would there be some reason in particular that this is kosher in Nigeria, but not in the U.S. I wish I could investigate this more, but I have no idea where to start.

      Thanks for sharing your stories, Margaret. What a good SM you had.

  24. alex w. says:

    I must be a really shameless (former) college kid, because if there were treats being offered to all the women on Mother’s day, I’d go for it, regardless of the reason behind it! 😀

    Ours wasn’t too bad, just awkward. I think the man who spoke last tried to give a balanced talk about Mother’s Day, and while he had some good points, a few things fell flat and went into uncomfortable territory. I can’t remember anything in particular, though. Just the usual.

    Ditched out on RS, though. I’m sure it would have been interesting.

    • alex w. says:

      Oh, just remembered the highlight: the speaker I talked about DID mention women who worked outside of the home, as as far as I could tell, he was supportive of them working because they need to AND because they want to.

  25. Hope says:

    Isn’t it crazy that every ward has assigned talks about Mothers on Mother’s Day, but for Christmas or Easter the only mentions are usually just the hymns sung?? We had no special Easter program this year and the talks didn’t relate to it at all.

    • Corktree says:

      Yes, this particularly aggravates me as well. I also didn’t hear a single thing about Christ in church yesterday beside the sacrament prayers, and sadly, that is the more common reality of my experience in my ward lately.

      • Keri Brooks says:

        That’s maddening, Corktree. It’s stuff like that that makes people think we’re not Christian.

        Although I can’t do anything about that problem if it occurs three Sundays out of the month, I find that if that happens on fast Sunday, I often get up and bear my testimony, focusing only on Christ (and leaving out stuff like Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, etc. even though I do have a testimony of those things). That way, at least some Christ gets brought in.

    • lanwenyi says:

      Funny thing is that I had the opposite experience yesterday. My (non-member) husband came to church b/c our daughter is a Sunbeam and would be singing (although she refused to at the last minute). He was rather surprised that not only were mothers not mentioned on Mother’s Day, but Christ wasn’t mentioned either. In my ward, we are equal opportunity holiday ignorers. We ignored Easter (Ward Choir number and primary lessons were the only mentions), but we also ignored Mother’s Day (other than the gift and Primary, YM/YW musical numbers). I wonder if we’ll ignore Father’s Day too. I bet we won’t miss Pioneer Day though . . .

  26. lanwenyi says:

    I missed the beginning of SM, so it’s possible that Mother’s Day was mentioned, but I didn’t hear it (We arrived during the Sacrament Hymn). After the Sacrament, the Primary children sang “Mother Dear I Love You So”. Then a departing Missionary spoke abt how excited he was to be going (he rambled and I was entertaining 2 small kids, so I didn’t follow it well). Next, the YM and YW sang a medley (our teenage babysitter called it the “EFY medley” if that means anything to any of you). It was “As Sisters In Zion” and “We’ll Bring the World His Truth” combo’ed. It was the best part of the meeting. The last speaker was our YM President (and military officer) who spoke abt Navy SEALS (the Bin Laden mission and another act of courage in Afghanistan, but I don’t recall the officer’s name, who gave his life to save his men). Neither speaker mentioned mothers at all. A YW was scheduled to be the youth speaker, but though she was there, she did not speak. No reason was given. After the closing prayer, all “women 18yrs or older” were asked to stand “because we have something for you”. We were all given a CD of instrumental hymns. No mention of mothering or Mother’s Day being the reason for the gift. They were handed out by the YM and YW.

    2nd hr, I taught the 16-18 yo Sunday School class. We talked abt diff ways of “being blind” and “seeing”. Emphasis was on not judging others by how they are diff. (no discussion of mothers).

    In RS, the lesson was on Missionary Work. The lesson was fine (and had no mention of mothering) until the end when we were all told how imp it is to raise our sons to be missionaries b/c they make a difference. That should be our focus and goal. Apparently, our only purpose is to raise “sons” to be “missionaries”. I wonder how the women who had no children, whose sons didn’t serve missions, or who only had daughters felt when they were told that raising sons to be missionaries should be their one and only goal. I’m sure she didn’t mean it that way (I know the teacher, and actually, really like her even though I don’t always agree with her), but that’s they way her statements came across (and not just to me).

    The upside: the closing prayer was given by a wonderful woman who mentioned Heavenly Mother and prayed about how much we long to know more about Her.

  27. Juliane says:

    We had two older male speakers. The first one was okay and mentioned that women aren’t perfect, and don’t need to be. Good. The second one quoted extensively from Mormon Doctrine. Not good. He also said that we as faithful LDS women are the .16 top % of the whole world population. I understood that to mean that we are superior to everyone else on this planet. Wow. Eye twitch, head shake, look around, did anyone else hear this?? Hello? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
    Whatever. I got chocolate this year instead of flowers. Good. Was gonna stay at home after my run in with the bishop last week, but the girls begged me to come since they were singing a song with the primary. How could I refuse? Listening to them did make it worth coming to church for.

    • Corktree says:

      I don’t even understand the point about the .16%. What was he going for? Kind of a back handed compliment?

      The speaker in my ward, along with a whole crap load of hateful mudslinging towards feminists, tried to tell women that there is no inequality because “God created women last, so they are His best and final creation” I looked around and wondered if any men took offense to that 🙂

  28. Alysa says:

    I normally play hookey from Mother’s Day SM, but I wanted to hear my twin sons sing with the Primary. They were fabulous. The rest of the meeting, not so much.
    The funniest eye-roller came from an older neighbor of ours – misogynistic as the day is long – telling of how his great-grandfather (a city founder) used to say that his sons were worth a thousand dollars and his daughters were worth five hundred. My 7-year-old son looked up at me in astonishment. “No they’re not!” he whispered. Loudly. I assured him that he was right, girls and boys are worth the same. Then the speaker turned the ridiculousness around, stating that he thought girls were worth a thousand dollars, and boys were only worth five hundred. My other son’s eyes widened and I leaned over to whisper – loudly – “That’s not true either!” One of the YW sitting behind my family started to laugh uncontrollably.
    I thought I must be doing my job as a mother and a YW leader if both my sons and my YW thought that was the dumbest thing they’d ever heard!

  29. Hope says:

    Lanwenyi, that’s funny “equal opportunity holiday ignorers”. I guess if you are going to ignore some, you might as well ignore them all….
    Actually I don’t think that ignoring Holidays has anything to do with the Church, it just has to do with the fact that the Bishop is male. They ignore all holidays anyway. So if they don’t decide to do something special it doesn’t happen.
    Just like my husband…I didn’t get even one Happy Mother’s Day. I was really hoping for at least a clean house…
    He doesn’t do anything for any of the other holiday’s either, barely does anything on my birthday. I’m the one that has to get the holiday celebrations together for my kids.
    He’s not a bad guy either…he just doesn’t think to go all out.

  30. Caroline says:

    I just wanted to say a thanks to all you who contributed stories about your Mother’s Day. What a range from the sublime to the ridiculously awful!

  31. Jill says:

    Haha, Foxyj, I don’t know if you will see this comment, but I think the wife in the couple speaking is one of my best friends. I will have to ask. But if we are talking about Thania, she deserves the “rambling.” She is one of the best mothers I have ever seen and she has done a great job in some very difficult circumstances. Honduras is not an easy place to raise kids. I don’t think public speaking is easy for teenagers. Glad you liked the talks.

    • FoxyJ says:

      Yeah, Jill, I’m talking about Thania 🙂 She is really cool, but they are in the process of moving out of our ward and I feel sad about that 🙁 It’s good for them because they’ve been living with family for a year, but she is an amazing person.

  32. Emily U says:

    Thanks for posting the link to the Deborah & Anna verses of Follow the Prophet. I love it!!

    • Jessawhy says:

      There’s also a verse for Hulda, who is a lesser known female prophet, but my husband decided to stick to the two he knew about because of time restraints.

  33. Shelley says:

    There really wasn’t much mention of Mother’s Day in SM. There were 3 talks on obedience, and the Bishop gave a little message (mostly lip service) at the end. Then all 18+ women got some Deseret Book cd. I’m the Primary pianist, and for singing time, we did “queen for a day” with older women in the ward. They loved it, and I thought it was really endearing. They sat at the front of the room with a robe and crown while the children sang to them. However, our well-meaning music leader’s visual aids reinforced cliche gender roles: cooking utensils, cleaning spray, etc. Although, one of the aids was a blanket. The music leader asked how a blanket reminds us of our moms (they make us feel safe and warm), and one child said, “Moms really like to take naps.”

  34. jenneology says:

    I think I might have been kind of traumatized by the talk in my ward which is why I was so actively avoiding actually writing it out. But its truly awful. Jessica over at WAVE finally got it out of me so here it is:

    There were two lows of it. First the awkward joke about “how fair is that men have the priesthood and women don’t? The men are the ones who get to move mountains and perform miracles and women have to suffer childbirth.”

    Seriously, my head almost exploded.

    Then, later in the talk, he used octopus mothers as examples of self-less mothers as he in great detail described how the mother will stay near her eggs for an entire month without eating and tirelessly blow air on them so they are oxygenated. I quote, “The octopus mother quite literally gives her last breath to ensure the survival of their young.” Then he moved on, no disclaimer that human mothers should not be expected to do the same and that human mothers require the support and assistance of fathers and their community. No mention that it would do a great disservice if women through their children’s infancy and toddler years never slept to attend to their every need and how mothers nurturing themselves to exhaustion through those early years mean that children are left without their mothers. Using that example had a lot of potential and it was a cool marine biology fact but to imply that we as mothers ought to kill ourselves for our children was almost enough to make me walk out.

    A highlight though was the gift given from the Young Women of the ward to all the mothers. It was a handmade card with a quote from President Hinckley on it accompanied with a handful of chocolate pieces. The quote wasn’t the worst, either. Of course, I was too busy with a child squirming on my lap to speak up that they had skipped over me when giving them out, but I did get to enjoy the one my mother received.

  1. May 11, 2011

    […] Day at church is a different story, an as-un-yet-unreconciled story. I am not the only one who thinks sleeping in on Mother’s Day Sunday (more canonized than Easter Sunday in some […]

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