Listen to this week's "All In" podcast in full by clicking here.
When we set out to create a special video Mother’s Day episode of All In, our goal was to show that there are so many different mothers in our world. The three guests we were able to have on the show represented so many different types of mothers.
Virginia Pearce, daughter of President Gordon B. Hinckley and Sister Marjorie Pay Hinckley, represented the traditional mother but also a widowed mother, a mother of adult children and a grandmother. Breaunna Stone was able to speak to her experience as an adoptive mother but also a young mother and one who has struggled with infertility and miscarriage. KaRyn Lay shared how a priesthood blessing prompted her to befriend the mother of her stepchildren but she also spoke to mothering teenagers and getting married later in life than anticipated, at a point in time when she was unable to have children of her own. And while it would be impossible to cover every kind of mother in the episode, there was one type of mother that was glaringly absent: the single woman who has never borne children.
No sooner did this thought cross my mind than the Spirit whispered to my heart, “You are that mother for this episode.” It struck me that God was allowing me to represent a very important subset of His daughters—a subset that after years spent in singles ward Relief Societies I am proud to represent. So, while I am just the one asking the questions, I believe I am, in the very act of interviewing these women, fulfilling my role as a mother.
There are some who are single and without children who don’t want to be identified as mothers. I understand the pain that association can cause and want to be sensitive of that, but my perspective of my present situation began to shift last July when I got a message from a complete stranger. She lives in a part of California I have never visited and I wouldn’t know her if I passed her on the street. She had just listened to Emily Snyder’s episode of our podcast and said for a long time as a working mother, she had struggled to reconcile the business she and her husband own with her motherhood. She explained that through study (which included our podcast) and personal revelation she had come to see that these two things were complementary rather than conflicting. She then wrote, “So this is all a very long way of saying, thank you for nurturing, strengthening, loving, and creating beauty in this world through your podcast and the other work you do. You have definitely been a mother in my life through that work, as I’m sure you’ve been one for countless others.” This was the first message of its kind and I wept when I received it but it was not the last—messages of this nature have trickled into my inbox in times when I needed them most over the last ten months. Another just came to my email this morning, once again from someone I have never met, that said, “Please know, this Mother’s Day, that you are helping me and so many others be a better mother because of what you do.”
These women were nurturing me and loving me even as they were thanking me for mothering them. I think that is what we, as women, are able to do for each other and for everyone around us. On this week's episode, KaRyn Lay, the host of the This Is The Gospel podcast, said that she has learned that as women "we have the capacity to lift one another up." I believe it is that capacity that allows us to nurture all around us and ultimately, whether we are lifting children up into high chairs or gently lifting the heads that hang down in the hallway at work (I'm looking at you Debby Simmons) or lifting the heart of a brokenhearted roommate, it is that capacity to lift that makes us mothers.
► You may also like: Eva Witesman: Is Mother's Day Only For Those Who Have Borne Children?
I often tell my young friends with children that I would trade places with them in a heartbeat and I stand by that statement but I also have come to accept the assignment God has given my mother heart, even if it is not what I anticipated. So, while some women who have not borne children may reject the title of mother, I choose to embrace it and this year, I will accept every Mother’s Day wish with gratitude and appreciation for the God-given blessing of being a very unique kind of mother and for the many sacrifices of all women who nurture others.
For more Mother's Day content, check out the podcast, video and book below.
In this thoughtful collection, dozens of Latter-day Saint women across generations share their gospel insights and the occasional contradictions found in everyday motherhood. Perfect for all women in whatever role they occupy, All Kinds of Mothers examines motherhood from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences, reminding us that there are countless ways to fulfill the divine calling of motherhood. Available now at DeseretBook.com.