Mother’s Day Sacrament Meetings are always filled with many interesting experiences for me.
The "Mother’s Day Massacre" was one of the most memorable for me. The term was coined by our Bishop at the time – a 50 something engineering professor who was big on getting things done, but not so warm and cuddly – his wife was a stay at home wife and a wonderful warm woman who could pick up the pieces from his can do, "damn the torpedoes" attitude. The two counselors in the Bishopric had wives who were fairly liberal – one kept her maiden name and worked as a professor at a University (she was also the Relief Society President at the time). I was HP GL and observed a lot of this from the peanut gallery (also the counselors were both my great friends).

As Mother’s Day approached, the inevitable question of what type of flowers to purchase came up. The Bishop decided that the ward would not give out flowers that year. He thought it was a silly tradition and not really worth all of the effort (I would guess his wife has not received flowers in years, if ever). However, he forgot to account for the fact that there were tense dynamics in the ward between the stay at home moms and the working moms/non-moms. The tension had been building between these two groups for months for various reasons (one sister in particular, a self-described former feminist turned stay at home mom was driving the tension). When Mother’s Day came and no flowers were given, several stay at home moms (including the sister who was a key driver of the tension) went to the Bishop in tears about not receiving flowers. The Relief Society President and the Bishop’s Counselors were blamed by them for the fiasco and many unkind things were said on both sides, including one sister telling the RSP that she "hated children and mothers", although, unbeknownst to her, the RSP was trying to get pregnant at that time. The Bishop then had to spend a lot of time talking to these sisters as well as the RSP and working mom types to resolve the battle. It was a battle brought on inadvertently by the Bishop between two sides already tense toward one another. It took many months (and the problem sister moving out of the ward) for the tensions to cool off.

In another Mother’s Day Sacrament Meeting a couple of years ago, a woman of 30 or so talked about how her entire life she was raised to believe she needed to get married and have babies. When she graduated from high school she went to college to get married then tried to have a baby for 5-6 years unsuccessfully. She told of how she hated Mother’s Day since she had no children and sometimes would not go to Church on Mother’s Day as she was so angry. They just had their first child a few months before this talk and, I think she was asked to speak about being a new mother, but that portion was lost in her talk. I think her story is sad, but I have heard this type of story many times before.

First, I believe that raising children is one of more important reasons we are here on this earth. However, it is not the only reason we are here on this earth. It makes me sad when women seem to stake their entire worth and value on the ability to bear children. What are we as a Church (and more broadly a society) doing when we make women feel that having children is their primary and sometimes only purpose here on earth? We are causing untold amounts of heartache, grief, and depression to women on either side of the motherhood equation (mothers and non-mothers), not to mention considerable tension between stay at home moms and those who are not in that position. Yes, being a parent is important but so is learning charity, learning to overcome temptation, serving others (both within and outside of the Church), person development, etc.

Personally, I think one of the many contributors to this problem in the Church is Young Women’s, where most of the lessons are focused on being a wife, homemaker, and mother, with few lessons on anything like getting an education, your self worth even if you don’t get married or are unable to have children, etc. Interestingly, the Young Men get lessons on a variety of topics. Perhaps if we taught the Young Women that they have significant worth regardless of their state of marriage or child bearing abilities, we would have less problems like those described above.