A New Kind of Mother’s Day

This last Mother’s Day was new to me. In the past few months, we unexpectedly found ourselves in the lucky position of increasing the numbers in our household, with the end goal/hope/prayer to permanently adopt. It has been a wonderful adventure and my husband and I are absolutely thrilled. Still… I faced Mother’s Day with trepidation. The first time I was wished a Happy Mother’s Day outside of the foisted “future mother” carnation at church, I was a young single adult. It was in a simple, yet beautiful card from a gay friend. He was also Mormon, and a close enough to know that I could never carry a pregnancy. As he recognised that we both had impossible mountains to climb if we were to gain the families we desired, he wished me a Happy Mother’s Day in a beautiful card with a hand-written addition, to the “Mother in embryo”.

Since then, other men, usually men I dated or close friends, including my husband, wished me Happy Mother’s Days. Most often, children I know—nieces, nephews, Sunday school children who all know I do not have the worldly status of “mother” have always wished me a Happy Mother’s Day. Dear, beautiful, precious close female friends also have wished me a Happy Mother’s Day. I’ve loved this and always felt that was… well… normal. So, when we first married, my husband and I made the choice to celebrate our pre-eternal selves. With this, we have always given each other gifts and celebrated each other for Father’s and Mother’s Days.

This always seemed quite normal to me, until one May when I went Visiting Teaching.

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Mother’s Day Wars

leith graffiti 7 There is probably not a holiday more volatile for Mormon women than Mother’s Day. While some love the talks and chocolates and pansies, some haven’t been to church on Mother’s Day for years.

There are many reasons why one would like Mother’s Day to be skipped over at church. First, Mother’s Day is a secular holiday and the devotion of a worship service to a cultural holiday is yet another specter of American culture creeping into the “gospel.” Second, the veneration and idolization of mothers hurts a myriad of people: women who want to be mothers but aren’t, women who have no desire to be a mother, women who struggle in their motherhood or feel trapped in it, women who have lost a child, people whose mothers were abusive or absent, people who live in families without a person in the role of “mother.” The talks end up speaking to a minority group in the congregation while the rest shift uncomfortably in their seats, eyeing the obligatory chocolates, ready to bolt at “In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”

On the other hand, Mother’s Day is the one day that almost every talk is focused on women, or at least mentions women. It is entirely possible that for 51 Sundays in the year, every scripture will reference a man, every quote will come from a man, every life story and testimony will be about a boy or man coming of age and what he’s learned. But on Mother’s Day, there is a spark of hope that a woman’s name would be listed for every talk in the program, that someone will share scriptures and experiences directed at women, that a breath might be given to Heavenly Mother. We are dogs begging crumbs at the Master’s table.

I have been on both sides of this Mother’s Day war. I have spent my Mother’s Days rolling my eyes and sighing as well as hoping for a drop of gold. Is the motherhood rhetoric so drenched in “shoulds” that there’s almost no way to avoid hurting each other with it? Can we resurrect Mother’s Day from of guilt and shame? Or should we take the crumbs and run with them as far as we can? Should we even mention it at all?

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Favorite Exponent posts about Mothers

Here are some of our favorite posts about motherhood in 2011 and 2012:
*Guest post by Pandora about being a new empty nester
*April blogs about Primary’s best Mother’s Day songs
*Spunky writes about trying to identify with Mary as a childless woman
*Alisa’s poem about being a mother of a child with special needs
*Deborah’s poem about her niece, a former orphan
*DefyGravity muses, “Is there divinity without motherhood?”
*Whoa-Man’s letter to Heavenly Mother
*kmillecam defines her life, mothering and beyond
*Jessawhy on finding a career after motherhood
*Two of Three’s guest post on giving children self-esteem
*Guest post Brittany Kunz’s post about the death of her young son

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That Perfect Mother’s Day Gift

Looking for that special gift for Mother’s Day?  Habits of Being: Mormon Women’s Material Culture is Exponent II‘s first book published in over 30 years.

A variety of Mormon women write about objects they have inherited from their ancestresses in this collection of essays and poetry. Humorous and heart-breaking, this collection includes works by Linda Hoffman Kimball, Jana Riess, Margaret Toscano, and Laurel Thatcher Ulrich.

Order here by Tuesday, May 1st at midnight (PST) to receive your copy (or one sent as a gift) in time for Mother’s Day.

The Spring 2012 LGBTQ issue is now in the mail, but because of the Habits of Being mailing, we’ll also send out any Spring 2012 magazine orders received by Tuesday, May 1st at midnight. Order a subscription to Exponent II or a single issue here.

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The Best Mother’s Day Primary Songs

Children SingingI was the ward primary chorister for a long time—a very, very long time. A great annual challenge I faced was selecting a song for the children to sing on Mother’s Day.

Father’s Day was less difficult.  You wouldn’t think that would be the case.  After all, there are only three songs in Children’s Songbook written specifically for fathers.  In contrast, there are six songs written just for mothers.

However, I like all three of these Father’s Day songs.  Daddy’s Homecoming and My Dad are cute tributes to how fun and likeable a Dad can be. Fathers emphasizes the spirituality of fatherhood and draws parallels between earthly fathers and Heavenly Father. (Skip the red herring verse in the middle about bishops when singing Fathers for Father’s Day.) I like that two of these songs use the modern, frequently used terms of “Dad” or “Daddy” to refer to fathers and that two of these songs (Fathers and My Dad) teach some gospel principles rather than just being odes to Dad.

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