One of my best friends in the world suffered a severe blow to her morale several years ago when her husband filed for divorce. My friend 'T' lost everything she had save for two things... her faith and her son. In the subsequent years I have watched as my friends unwavering faith in Jesus Christ has molded the very fiber of who she is. During difficult times, 'T' attends the temple as frequently as she can. Sometimes even daily. When she is struggling she seeks out priesthood blessings. When she is sad or lonely she prays. She truly, and thoroughly relies on the Lord for everything in her life and by extension enables her son, now 9, to witness the daily miracles that are wrought in their lives.
Sheri Dew points out that: “Satan has declared war on motherhood. He knows that those who rock the cradle can rock his earthly empire. And he knows that without righteous mothers loving and leading the next generation, the kingdom of God will fail. When we understand the magnitude of motherhood, it becomes clear why prophets have been so protective of woman’s most sacred role.... Motherhood is not what was left over after our Father blessed His sons with priesthood ordination. It was the most ennobling endowment He could give His daughters, a sacred trust that gave women an unparalleled role in helping His children keep their second estate. As President J. Reuben Clark Jr. declared, is “as divinely called, as eternally important in its place as the Priesthood itself.”
We, as women, proudly proclaim our role every time we sing“The errand of angels is given to women;
And this is a gift that, as sisters, we claim:
To do whatsoever is gentle and human,
To cheer and to bless in humanity’s name.”
And yet we shy away from the opportunity of allowing others to grow from our struggles. When we should be open with our spiritual sisters we instead withdraw into our own rooms of self-recrimination.
In this next story I want you to pay closer attention to the power and strength that the women have upon one another. “[I knew the minute she was placed onto my belly], the minute I saw her that she had Down Syndrome. I held her and cried. Cried and panned the room to meet eyes with anyone that would tell me [different]. I held her and looked at her and tried to take it in. And all I can remember of those moments is her face. I will never forget my daughter in my arms, opening her eyes over and over...she locked eyes with mine and stared...bore holes into my soul.
Love me. Love me. I'm not what you expected, but oh, please love me.That was the most defining moment of my life. That was the beginning of my story.
My pediatrician …. knelt down next to my bed so that she could look up at me...not down. She smiled so warmly and held my hand so tight. And she never took her eyes off mine...She was our friend as she beautifully shared the news.
I need to tell you something.
...and I cried hard... "I know what you're going to say."
She smiled again and squeezed my hand a little tighter.
The first thing I'm going to tell you is that your daughter is beautiful and perfect.
...I cried harder.
...but there are some features that lead me to believe she may have Down Syndrome.
I felt hot tears stream down and fall on my baby's face. My beautiful, perfect daughter. I was scared to look up at my husband, so I didn't. I just kissed my baby.
And then the Dr. added...
...but, she is beautiful. and perfect.
I asked for my dad to be let back in the room. And when he walked in, I cried again. He smiled as his eyes welled up with tears and he said, "[It's] okay. We love her." He scooped her up and I asked him to say a prayer. And there, in the delivery room where moments earlier she entered the world, we huddled around my bed...[My husband, my two best friends, even the doctor] kneeled down beside my bed. [My dad] prayed and thanked God for giving us our baby and thanked Him for the wonderful things he had planned for us. For our family.
When my sister arrived the next day ... with tears in her eyes, she excitedly and passionately told me how lucky I was. She told me that I was chosen and that it is the most special thing in the world. She told me it was going to be just fine. -enjoying the small things, Kelle Hampton
Speaking to the women of the Church, President Joseph F. Smith said: “It is not for you to be led by the women of the world; it is for you to lead the … women of the world, in everything that is praise-worthy, everything that is God-like, everything that is uplifting and … purifying to the children of men”
It is my hope, as a mother and a woman, that my imperfections are neither hidden from nor scorned by those around me. It's a delicate hope, and a precipitous position to put myself in, but I truly feel that by being honest with those around me I allow others to find that same honesty within themselves. We are not failing at motherhood, we are progressing and we will continue to progress as long as we do not give up.
And like Stephanie Nielson says, let's just hope there's cupcakes involved.