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Latter-day Saints Reflect on Mothers and Motherhood

Your mother “has done more for you than anyone in the world,” Anna Jarvis famously declared as she proposed a national day to honour all mothers in the United States. More than a century later, the holiday is celebrated in Canada and in many other countries around the world on the second Sunday of May.

Teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints make clear that the sacrifices and influences of a mother are “beyond calculation” (Elder James E. Faust, “Fathers, Mothers, Marriage,” Liahona, Aug. 2008).

The selfless and unreserved love of a mother is often upheld as emulating the love of Jesus Christ. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland once explained: “When Isaiah … wanted to convey Jehovah’s love, he invoked the image of a mother’s devotion. ‘Can a woman forget her sucking child?’ he asks. How absurd, he implies, though not as absurd as thinking Christ will ever forget us. … ‘For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed,’ Jehovah said, ‘but my kindness shall not depart from thee.’ So too say our mothers” (“Behold Thy Mother,” Oct. 2015 general conference).

Mother’s Day traditions may take a new form this year as families physically distance themselves amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Phone calls and video chats may replace large family dinners and group outings. Nevertheless, many Latter-day Saints are taking time to express gratitude for and reflect upon the mothers in their lives.

Emma Mcleod of Lethbridge, Alberta, recently got married during a small ceremony in Utah, where she attends school. With borders closed, her family was unable to travel from Alberta for the ceremony. Although her wedding day was different from what she had anticipated, she still felt love and support from her mom. “I FaceTimed her about seven times a day leading up to the wedding. I had to organize a bunch of it myself since my mom wasn’t there to help in person.”

“Unconditional love” is the attribute April Gavito names when she ponders her mother’s greatest strengths. April and her husband, Alex, are expecting their first child in June, so she is appreciating her mom even more throughout her pregnancy. She said, “I don’t know if mothers ever feel completely adequate to take on the role of a mother. It gives me comfort to know that whatever comes, I am just going to love her like my mother loved us.”

Alex has been struck by his own mother’s resilience. She left a war-torn nation and immigrated to Canada in her teens, working hard to learn English and support herself. Alex describes her as the peacemaker in the home: “She taught us that no matter how we felt, we had to remember we are family and we are the people Heavenly Father put together as a family.”

When Alex was 18, his mom was diagnosed with cancer. He said, “Seeing her battle cancer with a positive attitude and trusting Heavenly Father — and not being able to do anything about it — was hard, but she kept going forward.” He hopes to pass on his mother’s quality of inner strength to his daughter.

For Zeny Jensen, her daughter’s accomplishments are her greatest source of pride. The gospel has been her anchor, especially in the 12 years since Jensen’s husband died. One of the greatest lessons she has learned while being a mother is to “not take things personally. I’m a sensitive person, and if my daughter is in a bad mood, I don’t want to reciprocate that. I have to be patient. I have to love unconditionally.”

Jensen looks to her own mother’s patience as her example. “We are five kids in our family, and [my mom] never had a favourite, … though maybe I was her favourite, because I was born on her birthday,” she laughs. “I definitely learned how to love from her.”

This Mother’s Day, we thank and celebrate all mothers. To further echo the words of Elder Holland, “Thank you … for shaping souls, for forming character, and for demonstrating the pure love of Christ. … To all mothers in every circumstance, including those who struggle — and all will — I say, ‘Be peaceful. Believe in God and yourself. You are doing better than you think you are’” (“Behold Thy Mother,” Oct. 2015 general conference).

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