Friday, October 12, 2007

In Defense Of Motherhood

I'm surprised to read comments like this on Mormon blogs.
My husband’s comment about Sis Beck’s talk was that basically, mothers are expected to raise others for greatness, but what about the woman’s ability to achieve greatness outside of her children? Basically, raise good sons to change the world and raise good girls so they can raise more sons to change the world. It’s a depressing cycle, personally, when I think about it, and I wish that female church leaders would allow us to have (and actually enjoy) power outside of children.
If I'm reading "VirtualM" correctly, she believes there is something greater to be accomplished than raising children. Not knowing the woman, I surely can't speak to her particularly, but I'd like to speak to the sentiment I think I detect.

The work of Motherhood (and Fatherhood) is directly analogous, perhaps even parallel to, the work of Godhood. The whole purpose of being on this planet is to gain experience and mold our souls so that we can become like God.

The work of governments, businesses, clubs, communities, and even churches is mere scaffolding to serve the real work done in the homes of people trying to help their children, families, and friends find the path to exaltation through the Savior.

There is quite literally nothing more important that could be accomplished than for a mother and father to raise up their children in righteousness. No service in the church, no duty to the country, no work in humanitarian relief will ever mean more than saving the souls of your brothers and sisters. When those spiritual brothers and sisters are placed in your home as your earthly children, your responsibility is enormous.

It is perfectly natural to crave the attention of the world and the sense of satisfaction and fulfillment that comes from working in the spotlight. But ultimately such accomplishments are fleeting, and all that will remain in the eternities is the work that we did with each other, most particularly in our own families where we have the greatest influence. The scaffolding is important, even vital, but count your blessings for every moment you get to spend working on the eternal stuff rather than on maintaining the scaffolding.

In the long view—the only view that really matters—the work that rests so heavily on the shoulders of mothers is the most important work in the universe.


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  • My dad has a wall's worth of plaques representing all the awards he's won. He's worked hard in his life and he's earned them. His work has kept and continues to keep people safe.

    But those plaques won't give him a place to live when he's old and the only one of those people he's served so well who will provide love and care for him when he has difficulty caring for himself is me, his daughter.

    One child, raised in love and respect, is worth more than any award the world can offer.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/12/2007 8:25 PM  

  • Well, maybe he could build a little shelter out of the plaques... :) Thanks for the comment PDOE.

    By Blogger Bradley Ross, at 10/13/2007 11:19 AM  

  • nicely done.

    Eric Nielson

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/13/2007 4:24 PM  

  • Bradley,
    Thank you for this timely and thoughtful post. I think this is exactly why we hear talks like Sister Beck's -- to remind us of what really matters. It can sound so trite, but it really does come down to being reminded over and over again about our eternal purposes and priorities, because it's SO easy to lose site of them!

    By Blogger m_and_m, at 10/13/2007 11:56 PM  

  • I quite liked Sis. Beck's talk and was dismayed by the negative reaction to it. However, after reading your post, I am wondering what you think about the work done by people who are single like I am (not by choice). As long as we don't have children, do you think we can aspire to nothing greater than "scaffolding"?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/14/2007 4:23 PM  

  • Rivkah, I don't believe that single people are limited to working on the scaffolding. We call each other "brother" and "sister" in the church, but we forget what it really means sometimes. Any work you do to bring other people closer to Christ is the important stuff. Such work is generally done in personal relationships rather than in institutional roles.

    A single person isn't excluded from this work. They have brothers and sisters to watch over as well. It's true that parents have a huge responsibility for a few of their brothers and sisters who live in their homes as children. Single people don't get to exert such direct and constant influence, but that isn't the same, in my mind, as being limited to working on the scaffolding.

    I don't want to demean working in the government, church, or community--the so-called scaffolding. It is just important to remember that there are tasks that matter more in the long run.

    By Blogger Bradley Ross, at 10/14/2007 4:41 PM  

  • You are so right. It took almost losing my life to realize how precious and sacred a calling motherhood is.

    I wonder what VirtualM thinks will "fulfill" her. We live in such a selfish pop psychology culture where we expect instant rewards and "needs" become more important than service.

    A funny thing-the more "me" time I took before I realized the importance of motherhood the more unhappy and disastisfied I was with my children and my role as a wife and nurturer. We probably have more "me" time than any previous generation and yet we whine about everything.

    I was dismayed by the comments about Sister Becks talk. She wasn't laying on guilt but asking us to set our sights on a more noble goal than worldly praise and material success. Great post.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/14/2007 11:39 PM  

  • I was stunned by the negative responses to Pres. Beck's talk. I felt the Spirit strongly during the talk. My wife loved the talk.

    Wondering what I had missed I went back and watched my video of the talk. I also read the print version on the church's website. I received the same marvelous manifestations of the Spirit that I felt the first time, only even stronger.

    I don't wish to judge another, but I might politely suggest that those that felt like I did were not the ones that missed something in Pres. Beck's message.

    By Blogger Scott Hinrichs, at 10/15/2007 8:38 AM  

  • Bradley, I appreciate your comments so much! I think you have captured in words the essence of motherhood--which the world has largely missed.

    I am currently single. I work full-time and try to fill my life with other "meaningful scaffolding." However, as I was discussing your comments with my visiting teachers (who are also single) we all agreed that there is a large part within us that is, at the moment, unactualized. Each of us would gladly give up what we are doing to begin the adventure--accepting the fact that it is arduous at times--of raising children.

    I think a HUGE tool of the
    adversary is to play upon the insecurities of women and make them feel as though they haven't amounted to anything, if all they have acheived is the status of "homemaker." I, myself, have felt to push against this at different points in my life. However, if we are truly trying to become like God, then we will recognize the fact that His Son exemplified the work of personal ministry here on earth. It saddens me to see women who are ashamed or discontent with the fact that they think their children are "all" they've achieved. Their personal ministry to their children will have a more poignant impact on society, lasting for generations!

    I don't belive that a Heavenly Father who's "work and glory is to bring to pass the immortality of man" would be thrilled to know that we are ashamed of the very work that He Himself is engaged in. I believe that if women were to really try to magnify their opportunity to rear their children, and not give heed to the deceptions of the adversary, they would find not only spiritual satisfaction, but also the self-actualization which they crave.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/18/2007 2:29 PM  

  • When I was growing up, still single, optomistic, idealistic, and all those fun attributes we fancy ourselves to possess, I wanted to CHANGE THE WORLD. I would ponder the Ghandis, Mother Theresas, and Abe Lincolns of the world and wonder how I would one day leave my mark to make the world a better place.
    But alas, I fell hopelessly in love with a construction worker and moved to the quiet four-corners area and began having what has now become our family of five adorable children.
    Somewhere in between dirty diapers and nursery rhymes I was asked to give a talk for Mother's Day and had the opportunity to step back and take a self inventory on what my life had become as I had chosen the road of Motherhood over 'Making a Mark in History'.
    As I pondered all of the 'Great' people in history, a thought occured to me. There have been many people that we learn about in school that have molded my world for the better, yet, interstingly enough, not one holds a candle to how profoundly my own life-my personal world- was molded by one person in my history-My Mother.
    How grateful I am that she chose to make my world a better place! I am grateful that she didn't think her talents were too great to be wasted on someone like me who came into the world needing diapers and nursery rhymes...how tedious!

    By Blogger ShelleyG, at 10/25/2007 7:21 AM  

  • Hi you probably don't know who Iam, I am Jake's SIL.

    This quote didn't really preclude the greatness of the women themselve in non child-rearing ways, did it? If it said something like make sure all your efforts go toward the greatness of your kids I would think it was a little strange.

    But the CES system certainly supports women spending plenty of free time, music, gardening, sewing, and I wouldn't think that anyone would mind if a woman wanted to put 'greatness' on her list.

    By Blogger morganspice, at 1/22/2008 4:16 AM  

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