"Character is the one thing we make in this world and take with us into the next."
- - Ezra Taft Benson
May 27, 2015
Mother's Day Rose
by Marian Stoddard

My Mother’s Day rose had not died.

That was the first thing I noticed when we came in the door, home from our unanticipated journey.

Mother’s Day was subdued this year. During the week leading up to it we had had a grandchild delivered early, in distress, who had not survived very long. We were awaiting Monday’s word on funeral arrangements, while we got ready to leave.

Our ward gave each mother a long-stemmed red rose this year. We left two days later, and before we did I had taken it out of its vase, cut the end off fresh, and replaced the water.

I didn’t know whether it would be gone or not by the time we were home again the following Sunday night, but I knew it would be dead quickly if I tried to carry it with us, and I didn’t consider passing it along to someone else. It would last a week, or it wouldn’t. But it was mine.

In my ward growing up, there were always carnations for Mother’s Day. First the mothers would stand, then all the women who were grandmothers would remain standing to receive a second carnation, then those who were great-grandmothers would remain for a third.

I remember the awe one year when an elderly sister was recognized as a great-great grandmother. I don’t remember her name because I barely knew it then, but she was at church regularly, mostly deaf now, long widowed, deeply wrinkled, and always smiling.

I doubt that I ever said more than hello to her with a brief stop and a smile, but she always acknowledged us. Mother’s Day was a moment of veneration for her, as it should have been.

There are stages of motherhood. Being a mother is hectic and exhausting, and uncertain, at the beginning, a juggling act with school kids, teenagers, and anxious at times with any age. There’s the baby stage, the early school years, and the chauffeur stage.

Sometimes the teenagers and babies might even overlap — that’s its own challenge. It is also filled with delight as our little ones discover the world with a wonder that we’ve usually forgotten, and again as they come to wrestle big ideas and significant principles in their heads. There is so much to teach them, and so much to share.

It calls out the best in us at times, and tries us at other times. But it continues forever, come what may.

I remember when one of the widows of the ward reached the point when she needed to sell her house. She was still able to take care of herself in an apartment, and all three of her children still lived in the area to offer assistance; it was her oldest daughter’s task to take her shopping for groceries once a week.

One week they came to her apartment and parked, and when they approached the door they found it open. Alarmed, they listened but heard nothing.

Entering the apartment with trepidation, the eighty-nine-year-old matriarch reached into the kitchen and grabbed her cast iron skillet, raising it up in her right hand, as she thrust her left arm out behind her to protect her (seventy-year-old) daughter: “Stay back, LaRie! He might still be inside.”

He wasn’t, fortunately, and they called the police and assessed the losses — but the story proves one thing: Once a mother, always a mother. That instinct to stand between our child and harm never leaves us.

Motherhood is an eternal principal. Motherhood is an eternal fact, with no expiration date.

I was startled into thought once by reading an account of something by a woman who was a new mother, facing all the changes in her life and overwhelming feelings that came along with that.

She said she knew she would make mistakes, but she was determined that she would at least make different mistakes than her own mother had made. I have moments of my mother, but they don’t distress me. They make me smile.

I am forever grateful that my best hope was to follow the patterns that my own mother set for me, but we all seek to help our children by the things we have learned in our own experience, whatever those might be.

How life has changed over the years.

My red rose stood watch over an empty table; our home is smaller and my table is now pushed against a wall, under a window, with the leaf removed because there are no children left to sit around it. Gone are the days when eight of us squeezed around it in a bigger place — now there are just the two of us, but we are still parents.

The rose stood patient, solitary, as mothering does in this stage, but it stood with grace. It spoke peace to me for a few more days before it was gone. Its beauty was a tiny tender mercy in a heavy circumstance.

The observation has been offered that the loving relationship between a parent and child is the only one which, if healthy, leads to separation. Spouses and friends draw closer, but a parent’s job is to work themselves out of a job, so to speak. Our work will only bear full fruit over the course of time.

My mothering was of necessity imperfect because I am imperfect. Sometimes, I know, my mothering was inadequate because of fear, fatigue, or misperception; I am grateful to know that the Lord has the power to redeem my imperfect mothering just as He has the power to redeem all of my sins and failings.

I don’t think my children ever doubted my love for them, even if we hit bumps in our road. Much of what I have worked out and learned about the process of redemption has been learned along the road of being a mother, and a wife. Family matters more than all the things that the world trumpets.

And that healthy separation process as our children become launched is only a piece of the story. We all started out as spirit children together before we came to this world, and our piece of time here is set as a relay, if you will, as our parents teach us and we teach our children, and they welcome and teach their children.

As they grow and establish their own lives and families, they become peers to us again, and finally eternal friends. That is the most precious redemption of all.

I am grateful for good parents, and good children. Bringing our breaking hearts together to soak up love, faith, and hope, helps them to mend. May all our hurts be healed, whatever they may be, in the certainty of present help and eternal promises.

Bookmark and Share    

Chickens Happen
- - January 28, 2016
How to Major in Russian
- - January 20, 2016
Making Christmas
- - December 23, 2015
Festival of the Nativity
- - December 09, 2015
Giving Thanks
- - November 25, 2015
A Tithe of Time
- - November 11, 2015
Enemy Vine
- - October 27, 2015
Principles, Preferences, and Beets
- - October 14, 2015
Sabbath Strength
- - September 30, 2015
- - September 16, 2015
More by Marian Stoddard

About Marian Stoddard

Marian J. Stoddard was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in its Maryland suburbs. Her father grew up in Carson City, Nevada, and her mother in Salt Lake City, so she was always partly a Westerner at heart, and she ended up raising her family in Washington State. Her family took road trips all over the United States and Canada, so there were lots of adventures.

The adventures of music, literature, and art were also valued and pursued. Playing tourist always included the local museums as well as historical sites and places of natural beauty. Discussions at home, around the dinner table or working in the kitchen, could cover politics, philosophy, or poetry, with the perspective of the gospel underlying all. Words and ideas, and testimony and service, were the family currency.

Marian graduated from Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Maryland, and attended the University of Utah as the recipient of the Ralph Hardy Memorial Scholarship, where she was graduated with honors, receiving a B.A. in English. She also met the love of her life, a law student, three weeks after her arrival; she jokes that she had to marry him because her mother always wanted a tenor in the family. (She sings second soprano.) They were married two years later and have six children and six grandchildren (so far). She treasures her family, her friends, and her opportunities to serve.

Visit Marian at her blog, greaterthansparrows.  You can contact her at bloggermarian@gmail.com. 

Marian and her husband live in Tacoma, Washington. Together they teach those who are preparing to go to the temple for the first time, and she also teaches a Stake Relief Society Institute class.

Copyright © Hatrack River Enterprise Inc. All Rights Reserved. Web Site Hosted and Designed by WebBoulevard.com