It’s important to note that my use of the word mother in this article is not confined to the conventional meaning that we so often limit ourselves to. Instead, I focus on the spiritual and refining aspects of this word and what it means to sacrifice, to love, to uplift, and to nurture God’s children as a woman.
I’m at that point in my life where I am on the cusp of two diverging paths: focus on building an ambitious career or focus my life on my future family. For anyone who is facing that decision, I don’t envy you—it is a brutal crossroads with society, studies, and Church teachings pulling you in every direction at once. While I’m all about empowering women in whatever role they fill—mothers, CEOs, aunts, humanitarians, professionals, sisters, artists—I recognize too that in society’s recent fixation on empowering women in the workplace, we often forget the important task of also empowering women in their home.
While in my head I understand how essential both roles are and how divine the role of motherhood is, there is a part of me that cringes at the thought of restructuring my life and dreams around a family because that means I will be giving up that part of me society tells me is most important. Of course that doesn’t mean that I can’t succeed financially or professionally as a mother, but I also have to live in reality. I have to prioritize to keep myself healthy and sane. I have to sacrifice some things for others.
But what should I be sacrificing? Time building a family? My career aspirations and dreams? Time with my family or helping children develop? My goals and hobbies?
But recently, I heard one phrase that entirely changed my perspective—one I heard while attending a panel discussion of LDS Church women leaders from all over the world who were featured in the Church Press’s groundbreaking new book, At the Pulpit: 185 Years of Discourses by Latter-day Saint Women.
Powerful women elevating women’s voices and talking about faith and real-life problems—could it be a more ideal setting? At one point, a member of the audience asked how these women—international leaders, humanitarians, sisters, temple matrons, successful business women, and mothers—balance it all. How did they manage to make their careers and church service mesh with their family life?
My ears perked up.
I don’t remember everything that was said, nor who said it, but I do remember one quote. “That was the choice Eve made. It’s one we all must make.”
And suddenly it hit me. I had been thinking of my choice all wrong.
Eve has long been a role model of mine, especially after I devoted an entire semester to studying and representing a recreation of her story based on my reading of the Bible and modern scripture. Eve was not only a “noble and great one” of our Heavenly Father and Mother’s children, she was crowned with glory, a leader and shaper among all women. It was she who had the strength, courage, and fortitude to choose a life of mortality, but also a life of perpetual creation and unlimited potential and power.
But suddenly, I realized, even Eve had to give up Eden to become the “Mother of all living,” the beginning of the human race. Sacrifice is vital to motherhood, as it is to all worthwhile accomplishments in life. Eve had to give up Eden to gain an eternal family. And while I might have to make some sacrifices, that shouldn’t be our focus.
Yes, there will be things I have to give up to become a mother. Yes, it will be hard, even excruciating and painful at times, as it was for Eve. But think of all I can gain. Think of all Eve gained in choosing to give up ease for the chance of creation and eternal life. But more importantly, think of all I can give as a mother. Think of all Eve gave us. She made our lives, this world, eternal progress, even salvation possible by making the decision to enter mortality and start a family, leading to the birth of our Savior and every good thing that has happened in this world. I can create life, worlds, help others progress, and lead others to salvation as I embrace the role she courageously chose.
That’s what it means to be a mother.
Lead image from Getty Images.
For more about how motherhood can change lives, check outOnce There Was a Mom.
"Mom" was the biggest word in her world.
It made her want to dance, and it made her want to hide.
And on some nights, when the house was dark and still and the moon peeked through the window, it made her wonder.
For every mom who has ever wondered if all the little things she does in a day make a difference, Once There Was a Mom offers hope and encouragement.