Guilt became my specialty on Mother’s Day because I could always think of something I wish that I had known sooner and done better. Also it was the hardest Sunday of the year for me as I coordinated gifts from the little kids and helped the family fix me a special dinner so they felt good about the day.
I was speaking at an LDS Devotional at Weber College some time ago and had the opportunity to say that if I could only have my children or the rather extensive travel I have had the opportunity to do, the various recognitions I have received, and a certain notoriety that has been mine, I would choose the time with my children – not because it was easy, but because I had learned to love on a new level. I have had the opportunity to work with problems and grow as a result.
And did I do a perfect job? Of course I did not. The five younger children got a better parent than the older three. Why? I had learned a little more. Because I write these articles, I have learned even more. I would do better now as a parent, but like you, I only got one opportunity.
Do I wish I had done some things different? I can look at each child and wish I had done a little more of something and a little less of something else. Does that add to my guilt on Mother’s Day? It doesn’t matter any more because I realize I did the best I knew at the time.
Was it difficult? Of course every mother has difficult days and sometimes weeks and years. I liked what Elder Marvin J. Ashton said in April of 1979 at an LDS General Conference: “Victories in life come through our ability to work around and over the obstacles that cross our path. We grow stronger as we climb our own mountains.”
I looked forward to my children getting married and having children. It has been a joy to see them love on that higher level as children came into each home. I acknowledge that some women who never have an opportunity to marry learn to love other children in a special way and benefit from that experience.
My concern in today’s world is that our culture is, in many instances, encouraging women to choose between work and children. According to an article by Ed Vitagliano called “Birth Dearth” in the American Family Association Journal in April 2009 (www.afajournal.org), many women are choosing not to marry. Others are choosing not to have children. Some consider children a disruption and others make the choice based on economic situations.
I like what Patrick Meagher said, “Children make the world a better place because they force their parents to grow up by thinking about the needs of others” (Ibid.)
If we would receive the joy that comes from watching our children have children, we need to exemplify and express the joy we feel about having children. Our children need to know what a joy they are.