It was hard growing up without you. I love Dad and he was really good at a lot of stuff, but it wasn’t the same as having a mother. I knew you were out there somewhere, but I couldn’t talk to you. I couldn’t get advice. I couldn’t see what I was going to look like when I got older, or what a lady is really like. I only knew what Dad said they were like and I never seemed to relate much to his flawless descriptions of selfless, compassionate, spiritual women. I mean I like all of those qualities. I want to be like that, but I also have another side. A tough, adventurous, foul-mouthed, chase the boys, win the competition, ask a lot of questions, pity no fools, side. In fact, I’ve always imagined you with a little smirk leaning over the kitchen doorway secretly encouraging this other side while you dispassionately say, “Now child, behave.”
But that is all there is. My imagination. Because I don’t really know anything about you. I don’t know what you do or who you are. I don’t know if you are powerful and strong or submissive and meek. I don’t even know if you remember or even care about me. All Dad will say is that you exist and that I’m not supposed to talk about you. I don’t know what that means. My brothers say it is because you are so fragile that if we talked about you and said something mean it would be bad. That used to make sense to me. I just accepted it as normal. I mean I didn’t know any different. But I just had my first baby. A daughter. She’s the greatest thing in my whole life. When she laughs it feels like my heart is skydiving, when she cries it feels like my heart is breaking. I would do anything for this child. I have given up large parts of my body, my career, my love life, my time, energy, and self for this little girl. And I would do it again. Over and over.
But I would never abandon her. I would never leave her. I would never willingly choose to end communication with her. Or ignore her during her difficult moments–the times when she is begging for a mom.
It was hard growing up without you. I needed a mom to teach me about boys, sex, modesty, my body, heartbreak, hormones, friendships, love, death, and life. I needed a mom to help me through my pregnancy, labor, birth, nursing, and all the sleepless nights and hair pulling days. No matter how thoughtful Dad was he could never come close to understanding this stuff. He could never understand what it feels like to belong to a family where the women are silent and the men make decisions. Where femininity is a caricature of personhood. Where no matter where I go, what I do, or who I talk to I am a girl first and a person second.
I’m a mother now. What used to suffice now stings. I don’t care any longer what excuses people have made for you. You should have been here. You should have cared. You should have helped me in my difficult moments and taught me how to be a sister, daughter, mother, friend, aunt, cousin, wife, grandma, and woman. You should have helped me with the things that Dad and brothers didn’t understand. You should not have abandoned me. I will never do that to my daughter. I will do anything it takes to keep her safe, to protect her, to support her, to encourage her, to help her, to teach her, to love her. Anything. There are no excuses that satisfy my heart of why you are absent from my life.
Your Heavenly Daughter
I used to blame church patriarchy for the absence of Heavenly Mother in LDS doctrine and rhetoric. Then I realized that I am treating her exactly like I don’t want to be treated: as silent support staff for the real work of men. If I treat her like a God, like someone with power, position, and priestesshood, then new feelings emerge. I feel angry. I feel sad. I feel abandoned and confused.
What are your thoughts about Heavenly Mother? Why do you think she hasn’t made her own presence known more? If she is a God, why can’t she push past the precepts of man and become an active part in the lives of her children? Have you ever had an experience with Heavenly Mother? Does she even exist?