Making Mother’s Day Better

May 14, 2007 | 213 comments
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Mother’s Day is an equal opportunity [very bad] day,” writes Kristine at VSOM. “If you’re not a mom, you wish you were; if you are, you wish you were a better one; if you loved your mom, you miss her; if you don’t get along with your mom, you feel terrible and ungrateful.”

Kristine’s reaction is harsh. Yet it’s not unique — I see similar reactions from Sumer, Bored in Vernal, and other women on the blogs.

Why is Mother’s Day so troubling for some women? Is it the mere act of celebrating the day? (That is, would _any_ celebration be equally painful? Why?) Is the problem in the way that most wards celebrate the day? (If so, what elements of LDS celebration are painful?) Is it the lack of other support during the year? The exclusion of other women? The implicit downplaying of other accomplishments? What?

I’m genuinely curious. I tend to like celebrations, myself — Father’s Day, birthday, Christmas. They’re often cheesy, but they typically don’t make me feel depressed or inadequate. So the reaction is somewhat strange to me, but it’s obviously real and serious, and at least somewhat widespread.

I’d like to understand it better. The visceral reaction has to come from something(s), and I’m not sure what it is. Is there a way to praise and affirm without seeming passive-aggressive, or triggering feelings of inadequacy or depression? (If so — how?)

Also, The pained reactions trouble me because I don’t like the idea of someone being sad at her own party, so to speak. And I don’t think anyone really wants Mother’s Day to be a bad day for LDS women.

So let me ask: What is it that makes you react negatively to Mother’s Day, if anything? How could Mother’s Day be better? How could wards, families, or communities address the concerns of LDS women who feel saddened by the day? What could be done to make Mother’s Day less [very bad], Kristine?

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213 Responses to Making Mother’s Day Better

  1. Patata Brava on May 14, 2007 at 7:54 am

    Look, some people just like to complain, and you will never satisfy them. The powers-that-be decide to have a day in which we specifically honor mothers, and that upsets them. For some reason, I think that those same people would be upset if there were no Mother’s day. If the ward handed out flowers, someone would think they were the wrong type or be too prone to be destroyed. if they didn’t hand out flowers, someone would complain that “there are some people who would never get any flowers except for that one Sunday”. If only men spoke at Sacrament Meeting, they would complain that “men just don’t get it. What do they know about being a mother?” Or if just women spoke then, “hmph, well shouldn’t the men at least acknowledge the women in their life? Shouldn’t they say ‘thank you’ publicly?”

    You know, with 25-150 women in any branch/ward you can always find someone who chooses to be disgruntled. I would hope that the branch presidency/bishopric will find seek the spirit in every facet of ministering to the flock.

    BTW, 1) I am male, 2) I appreciate the irony of complaining about the complainers.

  2. Russell Arben Fox on May 14, 2007 at 7:57 am

    We had a single sister over at our house for dinner yesterday, and we talked about Mother’s Day. She said she hates the way the holiday is usually acknowledged in the church. When I asked for specifics, she admitted that yesterday’s service wasn’t too bad, because the bishopric wisely decided to have the Mother’s Day gifts–a carnation–delivered at the end of the meetings. It seems what she hates most of all is when they are delivered at the end of sacrament meeting, because that invariably involves the bishopric making some sort of announcement, like “Would all the mothers and any woman over the age of 18 please stand up?” or something like that. In other words, whenever gifts are given out to “mothers” en masse, those are that aren’t literally mothers almost unavoidably get rhetorically lumped into an “other” category. She had a good point, I think. If I’m ever in a position to make these decisions, I’ll take that into consideration.

  3. paul f on May 14, 2007 at 8:42 am

    i wonder if negative feelings towards mother’s day are widely held. my wife loves mother’s day. she is ambivalent towards sacrament meeting talks, she enjoys the flowers, but she loves our traditions of not allowing her to work on mother’s day. all the kids work to clean, cook and show her their appreciation. it’s only one day, but it means a lot to her and she would really miss mother’s day if we stopped the celebration.

  4. HP on May 14, 2007 at 8:56 am

    PB,
    I appreciate that some complaints are groundless or that they are based solely on one’s perception of injustice, even when none is intended. However, it seems unhelpful to assume this to be the case for a group of people whom you (and I) hardly know. I would suggest that you wait until we hear from those negatively affected before you dismiss their concerns as whining for the sake of whining.

  5. deb on May 14, 2007 at 9:09 am

    I’m the mother of three, and we lost 4 children, plus endured a lot of years of infirtility in all its horror. I also have the world’s most delightful grandchild. Mother’s Day has always been a bit touchy for me, although it seems to be easing a bit as I …mature? age? cease to care? I especially detest the competition the former bishopric did as they handed out plants; who had the most children (I don’t even know how many I have!) and the oldest mother and the newest… just give me the darn petunia and let me outa here!

    I was so pleased yesterday at the way the brand new bishopric who conducted meeting handled it. He has 2 daughters, after a decade of infirtilty and a loss, so I suspect he gets that it can be a painful reminder for some. He welcomed mothers, and called for “tenderness towards those who long to be mothers, but are not currently for circumstances beyond their control.” He referred to the statements by prophets who have promised that no blessing will be withheld, whether now or in the future realm. I thought it was well spoken.

    I have been asked to speak on several Mother’s Days,and always talked about motherING, not just motherS, ala Sheri Dew…we all have a greater impact for good than we suspect, etc.

    The best part of Mother’s Day was being able to talk to my missionary son in England! Twice a year phone calls is just harsh…I was only able to hang up because I knew he was conserving phone card minutes to call his beloved little sister, who was on her way back from a college field trip.

  6. Norbert on May 14, 2007 at 9:22 am

    I say downplay it. It’s not a religious holiday, and yet it gets more play than Easter in some wards, more than Pentecost everywhere. I say do a mention, have the kids sing, then have a regular SM. Forget the gifts and flowers.

  7. Ardis Parshall on May 14, 2007 at 9:23 am

    I’m one who hates “Every Woman Over 18 Day” so badly that I don’t ever go to church on Mother’s Day anymore. I would like to honor my own mother, and mothers in general, but it seems so cheap and condescending to pretend there is no difference between honest-to-gosh mothers, and women who are only theoretically nurturers. I mean, if you think baking cookies for the neighborhood kids is equivalent to mothering, you don’t think much of mothers, do you?

    Mostly I hate the way they won’t let me say “no, thank you,” and make a scene about insisting I stand and accept the potted plant they thrust into my hands.

    I understand and accept that everybody means well, but the way it plays out with the one-size-fits-all treatment is just awful.

  8. Norbert on May 14, 2007 at 9:31 am

    My sister likes to say that “Every Woman Over 18 Day” is like having Every Man Over 18 get gifts on Veterans Day, which would be met with unimaginable scorn.

  9. Russell Arben Fox on May 14, 2007 at 9:33 am

    “It’s not a religious holiday, and yet it gets more play than Easter in some wards, more than Pentecost everywhere.”

    This was absolutely the case in our ward this year, Norbert; Easter Sunday occasioned one (1) talk on the atonement, one (1) choir number, and no (0) flowers, or indeed decorations of any kind. And as for Pentecost…man, you’ve been living in Europe too long. I’m a big fan of Whitsunday, but if there’s an LDS ward anywhere in the U.S. the acknowledges it in anyway, I’ve never heard of it.

    “I’m one who hates ‘Every Woman Over 18 Day’ so badly that I don’t ever go to church on Mother’s Day anymore…I understand and accept that everybody means well, but the way it plays out with the one-size-fits-all treatment is just awful.”

    Good rant, Ardis; that sums up our single friend’s response very well.

  10. Norbert on May 14, 2007 at 9:41 am

    Russell: In CA, our bishop put on a sacrament meeting Ascension and Pentecost pageant, with dramatic readings and choir numbers. It was something to behold. The stake president went apesh crazy.

  11. Coffinberry on May 14, 2007 at 9:43 am

    Yup, the one-size-fits-all thing is definitely why Mother’s day is such a pain. Whatever-it-is-that-gets-honored doesn’t fit everybody, so somebody is left out, no matter what anybody does. Other than the cute primary kids singing, there’s not much need to bring it into church. How about separation of church and mother’s day from here out?

  12. SilverRain on May 14, 2007 at 9:46 am

    I fall into the category of those who don’t thank their mothers enough. Therefore, I like Mother’s Day. It reminds me to call my wonderful, sacrificing mother and tell her how wonderful she is. She doesn’t get enough of that.

  13. Eric Russell on May 14, 2007 at 9:51 am

    Those who suggest that Mother’s Day activities in church should be downplayed or done away with seem to fail to appreciate the importance the day and its events play to many.

    Last week my Bishop mentioned that a few years ago the Bishopric decided that they wouldn’t pass out anything on Mother’s Day that year – to just leave it to the husbands to take care of their wives for the day. He said that’s the single biggest mistake as Bishop he ever made.

  14. Ardis Parshall on May 14, 2007 at 9:54 am

    It used to be the custom (not in LDS wards particularly, but in general America) that you wore a flower on Mother’s Day in honor of your very own mother — red if she were living, and white if she had passed on. I would enjoy finding a basket of red and white carnations and pins at the chapel door (along with a tasteful sign reading “SilverRain, call your mom”).

  15. Susan M on May 14, 2007 at 10:01 am

    Personally, I’m not much for holidays. I couldn’t care less if my family did anything for me for Mother’s Day. (I don’t care about my birthday, either.) I could do without the whole to-do at church, but I realize most people don’t feel the same way I do.

    Yesterday after church my husband said to me, “It’s a good thing they don’t ask me to speak on Mother’s Day. Not everyone has a good relationship with their mother.” He was quiet for a moment, and then he said, “Maybe they should ask me.”

  16. Rusty on May 14, 2007 at 10:15 am

    In our ward we haven’t passed out flowers (or anything like unto it) since I’ve been here (four years ago) and I can’t imagine they did it before I got here. Yesterday there was a talk about the upcoming institute theme, a talk about examples of other mothers and a talk about the shared symbolism of mothers and Christ. Great meeting.

  17. meems on May 14, 2007 at 10:19 am

    Heh. I just made a comment similar to these after I followed your link to VSOM. I was married for 10 years before we had a baby. I always found it really humiliating to have to stand up to get a flower. I felt patronized and like an imposter anyway. I’m sure that’s my own problem, but still, I didn’t like it.

    Now, that I am a mom, I think if the church really wanted to honor moms, they’d give them a day off. A real day off that would not include wrangling children to church, (not giving said children talks in primary), getting subs for all the classes they teach, and making the whole typical Sunday experience optional. No assigned lessons, talks, or anything. Let me sleep!!!

  18. meems on May 14, 2007 at 10:22 am

    I have to add, for balance, that our Sacrament program was very good – 2 songs – one from primary and one from the youth — and talks and prayers by women. Really quite nicely done!

    But I still would rather have been at home, chilling out.

  19. kris on May 14, 2007 at 10:37 am

    Agree with Kristine and don’t think her comments are harsh at all.

    When my husband was the bishop, he discontinued the giving of gifts to mothers/all women over 18. He took it on the chin from a few people, but thought that it was worth it, in view of the pain that it caused many women. Those who seek recognition on Mother’s Day can most often receive it in their homes.

  20. paula on May 14, 2007 at 10:51 am

    I used to totally hate Mother’s Day. RIght now, I can’t say I particularly like it, but can just watch the proceedings with an air of bemused detachment.
    First thing I hate about it: I’ve never been able to live close to my parents as an adult. So I always feel bad on Mother’s Day that I can’t be with my own mom. Especially now that she’s getting older. And I’m an only child. A few times I have been able to make it to Utah for Mother’s Day, but with kids of my own in school, it’s difficult.

    Second thing I hate: the whole emphasis at church on Mother’s Day leaves out a lot of women who aren’t mothers or makes a few other women, whose kids didn’t turn out perfectly, feel awful. Or they make the adult kids who had a bad relationship with their own mother feel awful. Occasionally the talks are sensitive, but usually they just make someone feel lousy, for no good reason.

    Third thing I hate: Getting a single carnation– what on earth are you supposed to do with a single carnation that hasn’t been in water for two of the three hour block? It’s broken and wilted by the end.

  21. Rosalynde Welch on May 14, 2007 at 10:55 am

    Mother’s Day draws attention to the passages of chiaroscuro in mothering, but it doesn’t create them. I don’t care for the tone of the first comment, but I think the substance is basically right: any response to Mother’s Day—even ignoring it completely—will elicit some pain. A basic task of culture is to reckon the social value of different practices, and there will always be losers. Any celebration ought to be compassionately aware of the pain and loss at its flank. But while the price of a culture is high, I think its utility and beauty are higher. (Of course, Mother’s Day is only a marginal part of our culture of mothering, and I frankly wouldn’t care a bit if it disappeared entirely. But that of course wouldn’t alleviate the pain of women who long to be mothers but aren’t, or clarify the feelings of women who are. )

    Our meeting was pretty good yesterday. Family-oriented hymns; a talk on prophets and a talk (by a sister) on women in the scriptures (Eve and Lamoni’s wife); primary children singing; and during RS a visiting teaching conference that all the women in the ward got to attend (men took over the primary). At the end of church, tables set up with potted impatiens for women, but no pressure to take one (I didn’t).

  22. Geoff B on May 14, 2007 at 11:05 am

    Wow, a lot of use of the word “hate” on this thread. There must be a lot of emotions about this issue.

    My wife likes the Mother’s Day tradition, which has been pretty much the same in all of the family wards she has been in (ie, women get flowers or carnations at the end of sacrament meeting). My mother likes that tradition too. I will say there are certainly some areas of awkwardness — what do you do with the 19-year-old unmarried sister, for example?

    But most of the women I know like and appreciate being acknowledged on Mother’s Day.

  23. Geoff B on May 14, 2007 at 11:10 am

    Rosalynde, I like the idea of leaving the potted impatiens on a table for women to take rather than handing them out to “all adult women.” That might help with the awkwardness I mentioned in #24.

  24. Russell Arben Fox on May 14, 2007 at 11:12 am

    “A basic task of culture is to reckon the social value of different practices, and there will always be losers. Any celebration ought to be compassionately aware of the pain and loss at its flank. But while the price of a culture is high, I think its utility and beauty are higher.”

    All true, Rosalynde; I’m a big fan of holidays and rituals and embeddedness and everything else that makes up a culture, and think we should have as much of it as possible. But acknowledging the power and importance of culture is not the same as granting all cultural practices a pass; as your subsequent comment makes clear, there’s no particular reason why Mother’s Day and the ways it is celebrated can’t be critiqued, and perhaps thereby even improved. (I know you weren’t saying otherwise; I’m just making this point explicit.)

    The most constructive critiques, I think, are the ones which focus on the problem of trying to create a “one-size-fits-all” acknowledgement of motherhood/womanhood/over-18-hood. And I think it is quite obviously a problem. I wonder if those that are inevitably going to be hurt by an honoring of motherhood (as it is defined by the church; single dads need not apply) might be able to accept the practice better if there wasn’t this (arguably condescending) “and-every-female-who-is-a-potential-and/or-theoretical-mother-also” thing tacked on to it. Just be up front about it: the actual raising of children in the way the church prefers to see them raised is hard, and those who manage to pull it off deserve praise. As to everyone else: well hey, we love you to, but it’s not your day. What do you think, Ardis?

  25. Russell Arben Fox on May 14, 2007 at 11:14 am

    And Rosalynde, I also agree with Geoff; the idea of leaving gifts out for whomever wants one to take one also avoids the en masse labeling which our single friend mentioned hating before.

  26. Keri on May 14, 2007 at 11:23 am

    As a single, childless woman, I completely agree with the comments suggesting that Mother’s Day should not be turned into “every woman over 18 day”. I think it does a disservice to both mothers and women without children. It cheapens the sacrifice that mothers make by implying that simply having a uterus is enough to be worthy of honor. It also cheapens the accomplishments and sacrifices of the childless by implying that whatever they’re doing with their life is unimportant, and instead focusing on something that they haven’t done, but have the potential to do.

  27. SH on May 14, 2007 at 11:33 am

    I have not enjoyed mother’s day for some years now. Here are the reasons (probably well enough articulated already):

    1. It has a “political” feel to it. We use the day to preach about mothers/families/nuclear family structure, often in a way that is preachy, heavy-handed, narrow-minded, and highly judgmental. Rather than being a day to reflect on our mothers, its a day with an agenda. This has nothing to do with the bishop or ward leadership. My ward (and I suspect almost all wards) have ample numbers of families who feel strong enough about it that it gets across somewhere (speakers, prayers, announcements in p-hood or relief society, sunday school lesson comments, etc, etc. It always spills out.)

    2. It makes me feel uncomfortable for those who grew up in lousy famlies. There are many like this aren’t they?

    3. It seems exclusive: One of our speakers yesterday spent most of his talk speaking about the husband/wife relationship. Of course single members of our church have to tolerate the implied meaningless of their lives regularly. (Then we wonder why inactivity rates are so high in adult single members.)

    4. There is the whole un-married women (or men) issue already described.

    5. The talks are impossible. For me that talks are always “damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” They is, the talks seem to be either re-hashes of old tributes to mothers everywhere, or re-hashes of criticism of the entire idea (like this entry.)

    5. For me, it is totally paternalistic. It always strikes me as a time when alot of men get to reassure women of their importance, but in doing so, they re-inforce the women’s less-significant status, and it gets even deeper imprinted.

    I like the idea above of having everyone pick a flower as they arrive and wear it in memory of their mothers. Those with really lousy mothers could choose to wear the “dead” color even if their mother is alive. Or they could choose to wear no flower at all. Even as I reflect on this, I am again reminded of what a no-win situation this is.

  28. KLC on May 14, 2007 at 11:33 am

    So many comments about the “all women over 18″ approach to mother’s day. I’m guessing that at one time mother’s day recognition in church was really just about mothers. But then some people complained that it was unfair to those women who were not able to be mothers. So we included married women without children. But then some complained that the single women were left out, so we included them. But then someone complained they were insulted to be included in that crowd, they sure aren’t some kind of old maid. So we said every woman over 18 to make a neutral demarcation. And now here you are, complaining about the neutral solution. I think Patata Brava was prescient.

  29. KLC on May 14, 2007 at 11:37 am

    I should add that I don’t agree with the one size fits all approach either. Mother’s day should be about mothers. It’s a pretty simple definition. But this whole discussion illustrates that it’s damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

  30. Ardis Parshall on May 14, 2007 at 11:59 am

    Russell (26), that would be as close to ideal, I think, as is possible. Honor the women for whom the day is intended. Be aware that there is still going to be some pain somewhere, no matter what you do (what about the woman whose only child died in the womb?), and let each woman accept the gift (or not) without drawing individual attention to her choice. Or make it a group-wide thing — the ice cream party sounded great! — serving as a general tribute to mothers and motherhood without necessarily focusing on individuals.

  31. CS Eric on May 14, 2007 at 12:03 pm

    As I mentioned above, my wife doesn’t do Mother’s Day. After nearly 20 years of childless marriage (more miscarriages than I can count), and a lousy relationship with her now-deceased mother, the day reminds her of what she considers to be her worst failures. Normally, I would stay home with her, but as the organist and primary pianist, there are more people counting on my being there for that three-hour block. It’s a delicate balance, and I hate Mother’s Day every year for making me do it. I know being a mother is hard, but this church sometimes makes not being a mother harder.

    The worst year she tried to attend, the bishopric did one of those “who has the most kids” contest, having the women stand while the bishop played the part of the auctoneer (“Do I have four, four? How about five? Six anyone? I see six, who can give me seven?”), giving something special to the woman who had the most. How many children do we count? Do we count the stillbirths? How about our son who only lived a few hours? The ones that didn’t make it past the first trimester? She ran away from the building in tears.

    And what about whatever they give the “mothers” in church? If I take home one of whatever it is (a CD this year), it is another reminder of something she feels she hasn’t “earned”. If I don’t take it home, then I am an insensitive clod who doesn’t understand how much she wants to be a part of this day.

  32. KLC on May 14, 2007 at 12:06 pm

    Kristine, of course it’s not empty complaining. And the leaders of wards that changed the celebration didn’t take it as empty complaining either. They didn’t just “include” women who are not mothers on a patriarchal whim, they listened to the complaints from *women* and took them seriously enough to change the ritual, not once but many times over the years. And yet here we are, grievously offended by the ritual that was specifically revised to eliminate grievous offense.

  33. Ardis Parshall on May 14, 2007 at 12:15 pm

    Maybe somebody in this thread has said something about being offended, but if so I overlooked it. I’ve specifically acknowledged that everyone means well when they try to be inclusive — I think it’s possible to dislike the awkwardness of the result without being offended by the good intention. Please don’t exaggerate our discomfort into being “offended” — that has become a dirty word since the conference talk.

  34. Heather O. on May 14, 2007 at 12:15 pm

    I kinda like Mother’s Day. I like getting something at church, especially if it invovles food and you have an excuse to eat something in Sacrament meeting ( the youth handed out chocolate kisses to the women at church yesterday). I’ve had hard Mother’s Days, and I’ve been lumped into the “other” category plenty of times, but overall, I like the celebration of women. And I like flowers (although carnations are lame–give me the potted variety any day).

    There are plenty of other times I feel guilty at church–when they talk about family history, or not being charitable enough to our fellow men, etc,etc. Mother’s Day definitely does not have a monopoly on guilt inducing Sacrament Meetings. I like watching the kids sing, and I like hearing what other people have to say about mothers.

    Of course, our ward also had a beautfiul Easter Program, consisting of only testimonies of the Savior and 5 choir numbers, and our Mother’s Day program was a basically impromptu one where the youth came up and said how their mothers bring them closer to Christ. Comments from the teenagers ranged from “My mother is, like SO amazing!” to “She really makes a great sandwich.” to “Um, yeah, she’s cool. Dang it, that other kid said what I was going to say.” Actually a pretty accurate reflection about how people feel about their mothers. It was nice. Maybe our ward just does it better than others.

    My cousin, a Bishop in Boston, said that Mother’s Day was the hardest sacrament meeting all year to plan, because of all the things mentioned above. He solved it one year by asking a Stay at Home Dad to be the speaker, who started out his talk with, ‘Mothers, I feel your pain”.

  35. Rosalynde Welch on May 14, 2007 at 12:17 pm

    Russell, but isn’t the “mothers-one-and-all” approach itself a fairly recent concession to sensitivity for the childless? (Correct me if I’m wrong on this.) And now in the name of sensitivity, we’re dismantling even the erstwhile sensitive, and on it will go. It seems to me that sensitivity has become a form of iconoclasm, smashing a lot of beautiful things along with the idolatrous, all in zeal for a good cause. Like I said, I don’t really care about Mother’s Day, but I object to the premise behind the critiques I’m reading. It’s not that I don’t care about being sensitive to women’s feelings (who could read Eric’s comment above without cringing in sympathy?). Sensitivity is good, but I don’t think it ought to be the highest or governing good. Nor is that to say that in the name of community we can with impunity exclude or injure: as a community we *are* accountable for the pain and loss that shadow the practices that hold us together, and that is the price to be paid for fellowship by those who “have”; the injury and pain itself is the price paid by those who have not. But I don’t think fellowship can exist without social structures that by their very nature exclude and thus injure some.

  36. Russell Arben Fox on May 14, 2007 at 12:28 pm

    Rosalynde,

    “But isn’t the “mothers-one-and-all” approach itself a fairly recent concession to sensitivity for the childless? (Correct me if I’m wrong on this.) And now in the name of sensitivity, we’re dismantling even the erstwhile sensitive, and on it will go.”

    I don’t see why your conclusion necessarily follows from your observation (which I suspect is accurate–KLC and Patata Brava are likely both correct on that point). Are we not to engage in cultural corrections just because of a prior overcorrection?

    “Like I said, I don’t really care about Mother’s Day, but I object to the premise behind the critiques I’m reading. It’s not that I don’t care about being sensitive to women’s feelings…Sensitivity is good, but I don’t think it ought to be the highest or governing good. Nor is that to say that in the name of community we can with impunity exclude or injure…But I don’t think fellowship can exist without social structures that by their very nature exclude and thus injure some.”

    Again, I fully agree, which is why up above I posed to Ardis a hypothetical way of accounting for gifts at church on Mother’s Day (for the [actual, literal] mothers, in honor of who they are and what they represent), and a hypothetical way of delivering them (allowing women to individually pick them up as desired, with no mass identification–a method borrowed from your own ward’s excellent example). Ardis’s response was positive (not that such means I’m suddenly is a position to make this the rule of the church!). I’m not trying to get rid of the holiday, or the gifts; I’m not trying to make sensitivity and nonexclusivity the highest good. I am, however, trying to suggest ways of enacting the cultural script which presses the inevitable exclusivity somewhat more reasonably in the eyes of people like Ardis, or my other friend, whose views on the matter are worth taking into consideration.

  37. Mark on May 14, 2007 at 12:29 pm

    In my ward yesterday all of the women “19 and older” (not “over 18″ — semantics!) were given Lindt chocolates after sacrament meeting. It caused chaos in the chapel with all of the jealous children. It didn’t help that the organist was a mother, and therefore dutifully standing rather than playing reverent music during this outburst. *smiles*

  38. Mark on May 14, 2007 at 12:38 pm

    Kristine (#43), thanks for the good laugh!

  39. KLC on May 14, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    Kristine #36, if that is your point we are talking past each other. I completely agree with you, and I initially said that in my comment #31.

  40. Mathew on May 14, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    I like Mothers’ Day as it causes me to reflect on the woman who brought me into this world. That is likely the greatest gift I’ve ever been given and I’m grateful for it.

    Kristine, now you know my bias, can you clarify for me whether you object to the idea of celebrating mothers as part of the worship service or merely the way the celebration is done? If it is only way the celebration is conducted, can you lay out your vision of a better Mothers’ Day celebration?

  41. CS Eric on May 14, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    Kristine,

    Your comment #42 is the real point my wife feels–giving her the same thing as those who have been able to bear children cheapens her pain, and mars the celebration. It isn’t that I don’t think being a mother deserves recognition–being a mother is hard. The hard part is that there are some women who would give anything to be a mother (the day our son died, my wife nearly died, too), and there are some ways that the recognition goes overboard, like the auction I described. I still take whatever the Mother’s Day gift is home to my wife, knowing she will hate it, but also knowing she would hate not getting it even worse.

  42. KLC on May 14, 2007 at 12:54 pm

    Ardis #37, I actually used the word offended because I thought it was a more even tempered qualifier than the word hate, which has been used several times while commenting on the topic. It’s a strange world that considers hate to be mere discomfort while condemning offense for being a dirty word.

  43. Rosalynde Welch on May 14, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    Kristine, I agree with every single thing you wrote in #42; in fact, that’s part of the point I’ve been trying to make. What I’m objecting to is the reasoning: “Hypothetical practice x is painful for some women; thus we must abandon that practice.” I’m completely open to the sort of reasoning you’ve suggested: “Hypothetical practice x undermines its stated social goal by cheapening the good it celebrates.”

    I haven’t anywhere said that childless women must be excluded from fellowship; I’ve said that the pain and loss they feel when motherhood is celebrated is the price they pay for fellowship in the community. As someone who benefits from that particular practice, the price *I* pay for fellowship is my complicity in that pain and loss. I promise you that I feel it.

    Russell, sorry for arguing with you; I don’t object at all to the very useful suggestions you’ve made. I was mostly using your words (because I know you) to make a point of my own about a larger theme in this thread.

  44. Russell Arben Fox on May 14, 2007 at 1:01 pm

    Oh, don’t apologize for arguing, Rosalynde; there are few people I’d rather argue with! And your larger theme is an important one–without keeping it in mind, there would be nothing to prevent any of my suggestions from becoming just another overcorrection which ignores the inherently difficult (but you and I both agree necessary) matter of deciding how to identify and celebrate certain social positions and practices within a culture.

  45. Eve on May 14, 2007 at 1:05 pm

    “And do you really want to say that childless women must, in some measure, be excluded from fellowship??”

    Way too late for concern about that. We already are. If you’re childless in this church of Families Can Be Together Forever, you basically have to accept that your marriage, your church membership, your adult status, indeed, your entire life, are but preliminary and incomplete types and shadows. You have to listen to other women say merrily about any problem, difficulty, or trial you encounter, that it’s not real, because “Just wait until you have children!” [Then you'll KNOW what it is to suffer. Now you're still just a cute little newlyed even after almost eleven years of marriage.] Waiting…waiting…waiting….Throw in an inactive and unbelieving husband and all the attendant reassurances about how if I keep going to church by myself and putting up with this kind of crap I can have the joy of “being given to a righteous priesthood holder in the next life.” Whoo—eee. I guess only the right type of family is together forever.

    Sorry, Kaimi. Feeling bitter today.

  46. Eve on May 14, 2007 at 1:06 pm

    Oh, and I should add that Mother’s Day is a silly Victorian ritual and gags me out with sentimentality, but being given a carnation or not doesn’t make a whit of difference in whether I’m a person or not. I’m not. In fact, I think I’d rather not get the carnation so that we can all publicly admit I’m not a real member of the community.

  47. rd on May 14, 2007 at 1:07 pm

    I have been fortunate to be in wards where Mother’s Day services do not, by definition, exclude a large number of the sisters in the room. But where speakers expressly acknowledge the mothering potential and influence of each woman–regardless of whether they have borne and birthed a child in this lifetime. These talks that describe the indelible “mark of motherhood” that each woman has have left a deep influence on me. After the meeting yesterday I had the opportunity to set a part a married woman without children–who could have taken offense at the very mention of mothers–into a primary calling. Heavenly Father made very clear to this young sister that she has mothering attributes and talents that she is to use in her new calling. And that she will be blessed for it. It was a spirit-filled event. I get the angst on this thread, but I think it can be carefully avoided without throwing the sweet savor of celebration out the window. Mothering is hard. Being a woman is hard. I think we should acknowledge that head on on Mother’s day. Also, if we shed the angst before walking through chapel doors and recognize the deeply good intentions of all who participate in these events I think our church-going experiences would improve. If at the expense of some edgy blogging.

  48. Eve on May 14, 2007 at 1:09 pm

    I can lay out a better Mother’s Day celebration in a heartbeat. Skip Proverbs 31, the stripling warriors, the saintly mothers who sacrificed everything and never raised their voices. Skip all the lip service. Just have the men take over all the class and wrestle the children through Primary, and send the mothers home after sacrament meeting for two hours of peace and quiet.

  49. Rosalynde Welch on May 14, 2007 at 1:14 pm

    “In fact, I think I’d rather not get the carnation so that we can all publicly admit I’m not a real member of the community. ”

    Eve, I feel like I’ve just been punched in the stomach. That was not what I was trying to say; you, of all people, are somebody whose community I would feel honored to be a part of.

  50. willf on May 14, 2007 at 1:17 pm

    Maybe we could just rename it “Women’s Day”.

  51. Eve on May 14, 2007 at 1:19 pm

    Rosalynde, I’m so sorry, I really blew it there. My comments wasn’t aimed at you at all. In fact, they really have nothing to do with this conversation at all or with anything anyone’s said here–nothing anyone’s said here has offended me in the least. I just had a horrible mothers’ day and I’m tired, tired, tired of being told my life isn’t real by well-meaning women at church, and I kind of blew a gasket in the middle of a perfectly polite and reasonable discussion. My bad.

  52. jjohnsen on May 14, 2007 at 1:19 pm

    Why is it always carnations, is that some sort of tradition or are they just the cheapest? Carnations are so ugly.

    Our ward did chocolate, but we skipped sacrament meeting because when I asked my wife what she’d like more than anything else for Mother’s Day, she said “too sleep in”. She sees Mother’s Day as an annoyance, a day when we can treat mother’s with respect after either ignoring thme or treating them like crap the rest of the year.

  53. William Morris on May 14, 2007 at 1:29 pm

    I think the solution is for the LDS Church to truly embrace its international-ness, ditch the American-focused Mother’s day, and instead celebrate International Women’s Day (March 8).

    In Romania, International Women’s Day is celebrated with the giving of “Martisor” [also spelled Martzisor] to the women in your life — teachers, aunts, sisters, friends, co-workers, girlfriends, wives, and, yes, mothers. Martisor are small pictures* or metal objects of flowers, religious icons or symbols, etc. bordered by braided red and white threads. They generally have some sort of pin or something so they can be worn. They are usually created by women (esp. poor women) and sold in the Piatsas [open air markets].

    The only downside to this practice is that some women get more Martsori than others. However, in a Church setting if all women received one from the ward itself and individual members were encouraged to give out their own after church (or even later that day — it seems to me that doing brief visits to the women in your life would be a good way to spend the day), then all women could be celebrated as women without all the baggage of Mother’s Day.

    Of course, I don’t see the way American wards celebrate women changing. And I especially don’t see American members adopting International Women’s Day since it was begun by the Socialist Party, adopted heavily by the Soviet Bloc countries, and in some quarters is still a heavily-politicized celebration.

    However, I do think that the process of thinking about the women in one’s life and giving them a token of appreciation (and sometimes its the need for the gift that causes the reflection — and I think that’s fine) is incredibly valuable (and fun! — it’s fun picking out which Martzisor you are going to give to which person) and is not a need that is met by Mother’s Day.

    * Not the best representation, but the only one I could find online.

  54. CS Eric on May 14, 2007 at 1:30 pm

    Eve,

    I don’t know all of your situation, but it seems close enough to ours that I hope I’m not out of line to suggest you take the same approach to Mother’s Day that my wife does: stay home. It isn’t worth it. Somebody will, intentionally or not, say something that hurts to the core, and as Elder Bednar taught us, it’s your fault that it hurts.

    The best thing about my being in Primary for Mother’s and Father’s Day is that, inevitably, one of the kids will volunteer to let me be their dad for that day so I don’t feel left out. I wish it were that easy.

  55. Rosalynde Welch on May 14, 2007 at 1:33 pm

    Eve, hugs to you (unless you find hugs intrusive and presumptive ;) ). I’m so relieved that your remark wasn’t directed at me, and that I didn’t add any personal weight to your burden. Even if you had been talking to me, though, I would accept that punch-in-the-stomach feeling as the price of the comfort I derive at other times from assurances that I’ve been called to mother my children, that there’s a special significance to my work and special spiritual resources available to me as I muddle through it. What I’m trying to say is that I realize that the very things that hurt you, benefit me; I don’t know how to change that situation, but I will accept my share of responsibility for your hurt.

    Maybe on second thought I’ll just stick with the hugs.

  56. William Morris on May 14, 2007 at 1:34 pm

    Also: the symbolism behind the white and red escapes me at the moment. I’m sure it’s something that would most likely be offensive to some. It was probably something like white for purity and red for sacrifice. Or maybe red for love. I don’t really remember. Perhaps in the Mormon version, it could be green and gold*.

    * A little Mormon corridor joke there.

  57. Ardis Parshall on May 14, 2007 at 1:40 pm

    #48 ” It’s a strange world that considers hate to be mere discomfort while condemning offense for being a dirty word.”

    That’s because as it has been used here (“I hate carnations”), hate is recognizably a figure of speech — nobody could seriously believe that I stay up nights agonizing over the hostility of carnations and planning revenge against them. “Taking offense” doesn’t have that protection (you could easily believe that my staying home from church yesterday meant a serious and ongoing conflict with church practice rather than a simple preference to avoid an inevitably awkward moment) — and taking offense is in the current catalog of unpardonable sins (yes, another exaggeration for effect, which only works because you remember the conference talk and know exactly what I mean).

  58. William Morris on May 14, 2007 at 1:43 pm

    And I should add that March 8 isn’t too far away from the March 17 anniversary of the founding of the Relief Society. So doing a Mormon-themed International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month should be that difficult at all thematically and programatically (assuming, of course, there the directive and the collective will to do it).

  59. Kaimi Wenger on May 14, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    Thanks, all, for your responses. (Especially Kristine, who I kinda called out on the carpet.)

    I appreciate the fact that relationships with parenting, with mothers, with children or spouses or wards, can be complicated and can include negative sides. My own relationships with my mother, my wife, my ward, certainly include negative as well as positive. For some people, Mother’s Day seems to trigger or crystalize those negatives.

    Let me push back and ask, as respectfully as I can, whether this has to be. That is, does celebration really have to trigger the negative sides of the complicated relationships? Yes, relationships are complicated. At the same time, though, there _is_ something good about my own relationship with my mother, my wife, my children, my community. And there _is_ something good and wonderful about motherhood, generally.

    That good sometimes gets tangled up in other things. But isn’t there a way for the community to offer a simple, “I appreciate the real good in motherhood,” without triggering the negatives, the feelings of inadequacy?

    I know, trying to recognize the good of motherhood in a once-a-year event is necessarily going to be forced and artificial. That doesn’t have to undercut the celebration, does it? Christmas doesn’t mean that we can’t think about Christ elsewhen during the year; Thanksgiving doesn’t mean that we can’t give thanks elsewhen; Veteran’s Day doesn’t mean that we can’t continue to honor and respect veterans.

    Isn’t there a way to leave the sh*t behind — yes, life is complicated; we’re not perfect; our relationships with spouse, mother, child, aren’t perfect — but still emphatically endorse the statement that there is something good about motherhood; that mothers are worthy of recognition and praise for that good; that mothers have had influence for good in our own lives, and will probably continue to do so?

  60. Kaimi Wenger on May 14, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    p.s. Eve, you are definitely part of our community. Who else is going to provide us with double dactyls and Wallace Stevens quotes? Frank’s double dactyls are terrible, and you’ve already seen my lack of ability. Please, don’t leave us!

  61. K on May 14, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    Our ward had the young women give out flowers. One of the young women in the ward _is_ a mother (which has, I think, been taken remarkably well by the ward members in general).

    I vaguely wondered whether she would get a flower or not. I didn’t ask, though. Last I saw, she was handing out flowers in the foyer.

    I did wish her a happy Mother’s Day.

  62. dangermom on May 14, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    I hate Mother’s Day too. And I really mean that word. For all the reasons Kristine and Eve give. I would far rather see Mother’s Day in church gone, and good talks about women and mothers and sisters and the pain of losing children during the year. Respect all year round is a lot better than a holiday that just points out the need for a holiday because we still aren’t equal. Let Mother’s Day be for families at home, and stop insisting that we all join in the near-worship of mothers.

    A lot of my reasons are kind of stupid and personal; we lost our first child right before Mother’s Day, and like an idiot I went to church instead of staying home as I should have done. Now every Mother’s Day Sacrament meeting brings it right back, even though I have two lovely daughters (which is why I go–I want to see my Sunbeam singing for the first time). Our meeting was about as good as it could be if it had to happen, and it was still awful. I can’t even imagine what it must be like for people with much harder trials to bear. (And it doesn’t help me much to focus on my mother, who also dislikes Mother’s Day.)

  63. Eve on May 14, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    Rosalynde, thanks for the hugs. I do appreciate your kind words. And no worries about adding to my burden. As you say, it’s a problem without any easy solution. The work parents do is vital and important, and it should absolutely be emphasized. And you deserve all the help and support and spiritual guidance you can get, I think–one of the things that always strikes me as an outside observer is just how relentlessly critical we are of mothers as a culture and how much we make them responsible for every single thing their children do or don’t do. So I do hope that church is a refuge for mothers (and fathers) from that kind of thing. In any case, my little temper tantrum up there has more to do with my own problems than anyone else’s, and my bad habit of smiling and saying nothing and being nice and polite in the moment and then blowing up two weeks later in the middle of a thread on one of the Bloggernacle’s largest blogs instead of dealing with the situation and the people involved directly…bad habit I’m trying to get over. Obviously not succeeding very well today.

    CS Eric, an excellent suggestion (and no problem–sounds like you and your wife have got a decade on me at dealing with this). This is the thing I struggle with every year, though–I feel guilty for staying home from church. And I really miss not taking the sacrament. So I go to take the sacrament and then I think I can just ride it out and it will be OK. Sometimes it’s not too bad. Sometimes it’s terrible. Some years I do go. Some years I don’t. Yesterday I went partly because I blew off the 40-stake stake conference broadcast last week. I’m not being at all coherent here, but I’m really curious about the ethics of staying home from church for something like Mothers’ Day and how people think about it, mostly because I’m not sure how I think about it. But I should probably start my own discussion of it and not take over Kaimi’s discussion here.

    William Morris, great idea. I remember seeing Women’s Day celebrated in Italy. I’d love to get something gold and green on March 8th.

  64. Eve on May 14, 2007 at 2:02 pm

    Kaimi, thanks so much for your kind words. (Now I’m REALLY crying….!)

  65. rd on May 14, 2007 at 2:04 pm

    Kristine,

    Then do we just ignore the difficult issues? Do we ignore the problems? It seems to go completely against the religion I believe in to not address these issues head on. Rather, I think a testimony of our Saviour’s love for all of his daughters, sons, whatever, on days when celebrations of that love can be difficult for some is all the more important. As for me and my challenges, I am grateful in my innermost places when good-hearted people testify of Christ’s love for me–even at my tender spots. Maybe moreso. I know those people don’t understand my deepest challenges or my most tender feelings. But church must suck if because I bring challenges to the sacrament table I am inherently offended by the ordinance. The idea that testimonies of an eternal atonement cannot be warmly received by those with certain, specific, challenges seems counterintuitive.

  66. Heather O. on May 14, 2007 at 2:10 pm

    Just an FYI. Mother’s Day was not invented by Hallmark–they just, in typical commercial style, have capitalized on it. The original inventor and lobbyier for the celebration of Mother’s Day, after the bill got passed and the candy and card machines started up, she spent the rest of her life trying to get rid of it. Here is one article discussing it.

  67. kristine N on May 14, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    Wow, I had no idea there was this much angst over mother’s day. I always thought it was a little odd to celebrate it in my single’s ward (especially the year they decided to give out some stupid, condescending pamphlet on motherhood) but I definitely didn’t find it offensive or painful (okay, maybe that one year right after breaking up with the guy I was certain I was supposed to marry–seeing him hand out a mother’s day gift to the woman he dumped me for that year was a bit painful). Then again, I don’t at all buy into the idea that the reason I am here on this Earth is to procreate. Unfortunately, the idea that my highest calling as a woman is to be a mother fairly permeates this church. I’d like to see us as a society move into a realm where motherhood isn’t the major definition of women, but rather becoming a happy, righteous, productive adult is the ideal. I also gag at the very Victorian ideal we’re put up against and while I can respect the women who find happiness in that ideal, I don’t for a second think that’s the only way anyone should live their life.

  68. Eve on May 14, 2007 at 2:16 pm

    rd, OK, maybe I’m not understanding your point here, but there seems to be a big difference between the sacrament and the atonement of Christ, on the one hand, and a celebration like Mothers’ Day, on the other. The atonement of Christ is the heart of our faith. It’s not optional. It’s the power we trust in for repentance from every sin and healing from every wrong. Mother’s Day, on the other hand, is a fairly recent and culturally specific invention. There’s nothing even particularly or inherently religious about it. As I think Kristine said, it’s like missionary farewells–not inherently evil or anything, relatively harmless, a fun celebration of family and togetherness and all, but not really what we’re at church for.

  69. rd on May 14, 2007 at 2:25 pm

    Eve, I get that and I am not trying to make Mother’s Day out to be a necessary ordinance or anything. But like baptism, youth standards, Word of Wisdom, fatherhood, etc. I think talks on motherhood, parenting, the Proclomation, etc. make up a large section of the syllabus on how we practically apply our faith in this life. And a celebration of motherhood, fatherhood, etc. falls in with that. I also understand that there is not “one” path, and that may people who enter the church of God bring completely disparate histories, challenges, and perspectives to the table. And when we celebrate the importance of the family we should recognize those challenges. I understand that doesn’t happen a lot. And that this can lead to offense because people can potentially take a church view that, for example, only the very happy woman with five little ones running around her feet is “doing it right.” So, when people make efforts to recognize that Mother’s Day is for all women, not just mothers who have physcially borne children, I think it goes a long way to recognize that God loves all his children and celebrates their good choices, and that the atonement applies to them, even they are not blessed like others.

    That said, I hope nothing I have stated is offensive. I am simply trying to find out what others are in this thread, how best to celebrate on a difficult day. And my opinion is that “ditching” such celebrations is a narrow solution to a bigger problem.

  70. Katie P. on May 14, 2007 at 2:33 pm

    Mother’s Day is the one Sunday a year that I skip completely guilt-free. I gave it a shot for several years after my mother died and I decided that the tears and misery were not a good response. I really think the Lord is okay with me skipping it.

  71. Eve on May 14, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    rd, nah, you’re not offensive–at least, you’re not offending me. In one sense I’d agree that getting rid of Mother’s Day because it offends us non-mothers is a pretty cosmetic solution to the much deeper problem a number of people have touched on here of how to promote the family as the most important organization and somehow speak to the lives of those of us who don’t have families in the traditional sense (or those who don’t particularly want to hang out with their families for eternity).

    I’m for ditching Mother’s Day for entirely different reasons, though, or at least considerably revamping it. It doesn’t seem to me to have anything at all to do with how we practically apply our faith, nor does it seem to be so much of a celebration of motherhood as a holding up of a flat, false, sentimental picture of motherhood that tends to make a lot of actual mothers (let alone those of us who aren’t) both gag or despair at their inability to become saintly and perfect–or both. Father’s Day doesn’t seem to be conducted in quite this way, not does it seem to cause as much angst. Perhaps if we talked more calmly and realistically about actual real mothers and mothering instead of letting quite so much Victorianism through the chapel doors?

  72. kristine N on May 14, 2007 at 2:52 pm

    Eve–I think there’s more to it than talking about real motherhood. I really think women being defined as mothers (as they really are in this church) is a big part of the problem. Yeah, men are defined as husband/father as well, but I don’t think that’s the ONLY thing a man can be and still be considered a success, or just an active, productive member of the community.

  73. rd on May 14, 2007 at 2:57 pm

    Eve (78)–I’m completely on board with this statement: “Perhaps if we talked more calmly and realistically about actual real mothers and mothering instead of letting quite so much Victorianism through the chapel doors.” I like to think this is what happens in many meetings as this tone seems to come out often in the Mother’s Day programs I sit in. But maybe not.

  74. Eve on May 14, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    rd, I think we’ve made a little progress in introducing some other forms of discourse besides the sap (now we have sap disclaimers, at the very least), but there’s still quite a lot of sap, in my experience.

    kristine, wholeheartedly agreed. It’s interesting that we seem to be able to expand Father’s Day to encompass other church roles–there’s the standard Father’s Day talk about the father of the home, the father of the ward, and Heavenly Father. Mother’s Day doesn’t seem similarly expansive. It’s hard to imagine a talk about the mother of the home, the mother of the ward, and Heavenly Mother.

  75. christopher johnson on May 14, 2007 at 3:22 pm

    #7, #10: I would argue that Mother’s Day is a religious holiday. As we celebrate the Christmas and Easter we are collectively recognizing the role of Savior that Jesus the Christ played in this world. On Mother’s Day we celebrate collectively the holy and divine calling that we call Motherhood. I could type out some lines contrasting in detail the many pagan holidays, but I’m sure my purpose is served by just referencing them generally.

  76. Natasha on May 14, 2007 at 3:31 pm

    First of all, comment # 1, patronizing and offensive.

    Second, women in this church have historically felt a lot of pressure to be perfect mothers– and to form their primary identities as mothers. The church puts a lot of emphasis on perfect families.

    Although it is changing, official portrayals of such perfect beings and families have been pretty narrow in view–more like a replication of the Victorian angel in the house than a portrayal of a real woman with real problems and real children.

    However, all of us live in a fallen world: very few of us have lives that mimick some ideal. Some of us have bad mothers, or none at all. Some of us are not such great mothers, or we never married, or we aren’t mothers. Or we are mothers, but are children have died, maybe before they were born. Some of us work outside the home, officially frowned upon, and implicitly a selfish decision. Some of us don’t even like children and don’t want our entire personal/religious identity entertwined with them [guilt anyone?]. Some of us are great mothers, but don’t feel like we are. Some of us have children who make bad choices, and we have a hard time not blaiming ourselves.

    So no one really is a carbon copy of that woman held up for emulation, and this is such powerful issue, it’s hard to blow this ideal off. If people at church were a little more open to the idea that there are lots of ways to be a woman, Mother’s Day wouldn’t be such a pain.

  77. dangermom on May 14, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    Hey, whattya know. Mormon Mommy Wars sent me to this article on the origins of Mother’s Day, and it turns out that carnations are the official flower of the day. Is that why they always pass out those carnations?!?

    Gee, I sure hope my coding works.

  78. Mathew on May 14, 2007 at 3:40 pm

    Kristine (#52)–next you are going to be agitating for an end to the annual Valentine’s sacrament meeting.

    More seriously, one of these days I’m going to attend your ward–the Victorian shrine to motherhood on Mothers Day and a narrowly defined, harshly policed ideal of motherhood the rest of the year–it sounds rough. I have admittedly middle brow tastee when it comes to religion which makes it easier for me to accept a Mothers Day program in the absence of an official theological justification for its existence. But if I took my religion straight I bet I could find plenty of material within Mormonism to justify such a program. Would you find a program devoted to motherhood more acceptable if it didn’t coincide with Mothers Day? I still can’t tell if you oject to the celebration or the way it is done.

    There is one thing about the whole topic I find bizarre. The brethren have more or less placed the topic of a mohter in heaven off limites but we are encouraged to celebrate mortal motherhood. Many progressives within the church positively obsess about a mother in heaven but find mortal motherhood a topic of little interest (if it doesn’t fit within their own narrowly-defined, harshly policed definitions). Why the disconnect?

    As for a lack of gratitude towards my mother–despite the fact that we keep disappointing one another we get along reasonably well, but asking me to be grateful more than once a year–that’s a little much.:)

  79. TMD on May 14, 2007 at 4:03 pm

    The mothers’day-father’s day difference…
    (1) men seem to objectify themselves less than women in the church do, valuing less others’ expectations and the degree to which they live up to them (perhaps this is why the Brethren take the chastise and upbraid approach in priesthood (even though it does not seem to have that much effect), which would probably increase prozac consumption in the RS substantially)
    (2) father’s day is treated as a facile act of parity and we all see through it–no one cares that much about their fathers ;)

  80. TMD on May 14, 2007 at 4:06 pm

    by the way, there is much that was victorian that is desirable. I would wager that a great many ‘eminent’ victorians were better, kinder, more open, and more adventurous people than most of us are.

  81. greenfrog on May 14, 2007 at 4:15 pm

    For me, Mother’s Day-oriented worship services present problems because they tend to mistake the status of motherhood as a good surrgoate for the real issue: becoming like Christ. From my perspective, whenever we praise a person for fitting a behavioral category — whether the category be Mother or Tithe-Payer or Aaronic Priesthood Holder or Temple Worker — we engage in a little bit of idolatry. We objectify a subjective being, and value the objectified person/thing on the basis of that category.

    That kind of action is always, always, both over-broad and over-narrow. No category of action is a suitable surrogate for becoming like Christ.

    Of course, that viewpoint absolutely does not mean that the Church should have nothing to say about parenting relationships. Rather, I think the right answer is just the opposite — the Church and we should have lots and lots to say about emulating Christ in a parent-child relationship. But we should (and do, to some extent) have lots and lots to say about emulating Christ in other relationships, too.

    My mother means a lot to me, but she is absolutely not an object, and I decline to treat her as a constituent of a category.

    (I think my own wife was making this point to me early in our marriage when she said this: “You understand, right, that you are not my father, and I am not your mother?” That statement solved a lot of things for both of us related to Mothers Day and Fathers Day celebrations.)

  82. Russell Arben Fox on May 14, 2007 at 4:18 pm

    “Father’s Day is treated as a facile act of parity and we all see through it–no one cares that much about their fathers.”

    I know you meant that humorously, TMD, but this actually leads into a comment my wife made on this thread–that in her years in Primary, negotiating Father’s Day always involved a great deal more embarrassment and heartache than Mother’s Day. Why? Very simply, because the Primary’s Mother’s Days songs, while perhaps unbearably sappy, are basically unspecific: they are, after all, just peans to one’s mother, wherever or whomever she may be. But the Primary’s Father’s Day songs–in particular “I’m So Glad When Daddy Comes Home”–really gets at kids who are dealing with divorce, deadbeat dads, or otherwise absent fathers. She’s seen some younger kids really have a hard time with being asked to sing that song.

  83. Markie on May 14, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    The problem is that there is just no good solution. During the many years we had miscarriage after miscarriage, I hated Mother’s day (‘don’t patronize me by giving me that flower – I’m not a mother and carrying it around just reminds me of that’ ; ‘What, I don’t get recognized just because my body keeps betraying me – can’t you see this is the one thing I want most in the world!’) I recognized that I was irrational and it didn’t matter a single bit. There just isn’t a way to make Mother’s day not be painful for women who want to be mothers and are not (although I do think putting the gifts on a table instead of making women stand up would help a lot). Now that I have a child, I still feel weird about Mother’s day – like I’m still somehow a fraud for taking the flower (again, I know it’s irrational, but it doesn’t make the emotion any less real). I don’t feel like a great mother. I know I haven’t experienced a lot of the hard work that, for example, a mother of teenagers has. I still have residual sadness about all of the babies we lost. I went to Primary yesterday, but I skipped sacrement meeting because I just didn’t want to fight all of the conflicting emotions. If the church suddenly decided not to recognize Mother’s day, I would probably feel slightly relieved, but then the guilt would kick in that it was the silliness of people like me who were too quick to feel offended that took away something that gives others joy. I promise that I am not this emotional or irrational about most topics – just this one (but given the importance of it in our culture and in my own biology, it is a big one).

  84. Alison Moore Smith on May 14, 2007 at 4:29 pm

    I don’t get the fuss.

    Mother’s Day was always about MY mother, not about me. So, I tried to do something nice for my mom. Now that she has died, I miss her and I think about her, but I don’t get all bent out of shape. Everybody dies. I didn’t expect my mother to be twinkled.

    I have a great mom, but if I didn’t I’d just ignore it. I don’t get grumpy on Secretary’s Day just because I don’t have a secretary.

    Now that I’m a mom, I get totally pampered on Mother’s Day. It’s awesome. But if I didn’t, I would get grouchy about it. I’d see what I could do to have the kind of day I wanted. And then I’d try to give my husband the same treatment on Father’s Day. Unless you’re married to a jerk, I suspect that method would work equally well for most people.

  85. TMD on May 14, 2007 at 4:31 pm

    90: I don’t doubt it. But of course, a big part of that is linked to mother’s day in a rather oblique way–the same things that make mother’s day what it is give rise to the strongly preferential treatment women receive in custody hearings and arrangements.

  86. Ardis Parshall on May 14, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    92: You don’t get grumpy on Administrative Professionals’ Day [its new PC name] because you don’t have one? You should rejoice; you don’t have to spring for the gift! If you got grumpy because you wanted the gift but couldn’t have it because, alas, you were not a secretary, well, then, the analogy would fit better.

  87. Eve on May 14, 2007 at 4:46 pm

    Alison, I think it’s great that you’re able to deal with Mother’s Day in such a stress-free, no-nonsense way. I really do. Some years I’m closer to that kind of no-big-deal thinking than others. But please realize that sometimes, for some of us, it’s just not that easy. Personally, my problem isn’t that I don’t get pampered on Mother’s Day. I couldn’t care less about that. Mother’s Day just brings up a lot of painful emotions after years of infertility. It feels like a visceral reminder of what I’ve long suspected–that I really don’t belong in this church, that my infertility is an outward sign of my inward spiritual failings. Trust me, I don’t want it to be this way. But as I think Markie said above, unexpected emotional reactions are simply not going to be the outcome of careful reasoning.

    “I have a great mom, but if I didn’t I’d just ignore it. I don’t get grumpy on Secretary’s Day just because I don’t have a secretary.”

    OK–but I don’t think your analogy is all that strong. We’re not told over and over, for years and decades, that being a secratary is the most important thing we can do in time or in eternity. And our relationships with our secretaries aren’t particularly emotionally significant (or eternal).

    I so often wish on the Bloggernacle that we’d exercise a little more faith in each other’s experiences. Just because something doesn’t bother you personally, it does not necessarily follow that someone else’s reaction to it is a “fuss” (interesting choice of words there) that she should just get over. Just because something isn’t a problem or sin or temptation or source of angst for you–just because your life has been free of some particular trial–it does not follow that that trial is trivial or insiginificant.

    All I’m asking for is a little compassion, a little ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and try to imagine the view, to try to extrapolate from things that HAVE been hard for you to see how THIS is hard for some of us.

  88. CS Eric on May 14, 2007 at 5:36 pm

    Part of the problem with only honoring “mothers” is that there is too much of the element of arbitrariness. Is the teenage mother more worthy of recognition for her “good works” than Eve, or any other righteous woman facing infertility? If the “motherhood” that we praise were more about the righteous works of good women striving to live the gospel than it is about what is often a biological accident, there would be more merit to it. “Motherhood” really should mean more than “fertile,” but often there is no distinction made.

    On a slightly different scale, last month our stake had a “cultural night” which included a list recognizing those of us who had served foreign missions. Was I a better missionary because I served in Korea than was my bishop who served in Idaho? Not necessarily, but my service was recognized and acknowledged while his was not.

  89. TMD on May 14, 2007 at 5:36 pm

    Eve,

    I can’t help but be struck by the deeply calvinistic ideas you seem to be tormented by, either implicitly or explicitly. It’s not entirely clear in your post, but you seem to be according, at least part of the time, (or perhaps you impute to others the according) eternal significance to temporal outcomes. I’m not sure what this means, and I certainly don’t feel it in myself or those around me, but it’s very striking in your expression.

  90. Melinda on May 14, 2007 at 6:01 pm

    I’ve skipped church on Mother’s Day when I was single, and the years that I went, I felt weird taking the flower.

    My ward yesterday did a great job. The sacrament meeting talks were about the women in the scriptures, and they were excellent talks. Good doctrine. They didn’t put in any sap at all about how perfect they were, or even over-emphasize their motherhood. They talked about them as people. (The mothers of the stripling warriors were not mentioned.) At the end of sac mtg, the bishop announced there would be potted flowers on the tables in the foyers to be picked up after church. Then SS and RS had the regularly scheduled lessons without any extra mention of mothers. A few Primary moms came to SS and RS, but not very many so I don’t know if husbands were subbing or how that worked out.

    I wish more of you would have had a Mother’s Day church service like that. While I know the day will be painful for some women no matter what, I was impressed with how my ward celebrated Mother’s Day. They managed not to do any of the hurtful traditions that have been mentioned in this thread.

  91. Alison Moore Smith on May 14, 2007 at 6:08 pm

    Ardis, thanks for updating me on interoffice lingo. :) You’ll note that my Secretary’s Day analogy was not referring to those who are grumpy because they don’t get gifts. It was for those who hate the day because their mother has passed on or their mother was a nutcase or for some reason they can’t celebrate their OWN mother.. :) It also works the other way, as you pointed out. But as Eve pointed out, it’s wholly inadequate because of the significance of one over the other.

    Eve, I’m sorry that my response hurt you. And my use of the word “fuss” wasn’t meant to demean.That was not my intent. Kaimi didn’t seem to understand the issue and neither do I. So I was merely expressing my own, personal experience and, the truth is, I don’t understand the pain and even anger the DAY causes some people.

    Yes, I have six children. But I miscarried five times to get them here. I don’t equate that, somehow, to long-term infertility, but it’s some level of mothering pain. 43 years ago this week I was adopted…because my parents could not bear their own children. Because of their experience, every time my dad was a bishop, our house seemed to be full of infertile couples counseling with them. So, although from the other side, I kind of understand that pain as well.

    So, even when I sat in church, having just lost ANOTHER baby, and wishing I could be pregnant or have my own to hold, I didn’t get angry or leave church or or call it a sh***y day. I guess the reason is that in spite of my PERSONAL issues, it’s still valid to honor mothers. My mother. My husband’s mother. My grandmothers. The other mothers in my ward. Being a mother is still wondrous, even if I wasn’t one.

    Believe me, I’m not trying to put myself up as an example. I don’t know if my response is *correct.” It’s just what made sense to me. It was Mother’s Day not Not Mother’s Day. So it was designed to honor mothers not to exclude non-mothers. To me it seems not much different than a wedding celebration. If Jennifer has a reception after her wedding, it’s not excluding Martha–who isn’t getting married. It isn’t about Martha at all.

    I can understand, to some extent, the pain of infertility or the pain of an absent or neglectful mother. It’s the pain and anger at a DAY that celebrates mothers that I don’t understand–particularly when it often seems to come from those who understand so deeply why mothers are important.

    The juxtaposition of something you said troubles me. You said that, “unexpected emotional reactions are simply not going to be the outcome of careful reasoning.” I assume that you are implying that the idea that you don’t belong in the church is one of those things that is an emotional response that you know isn’t reasonable. Right? I know those pains are healed by knowing that you belong as much as anyone, with our without children, but it’s so sad that those thoughts ever creep up on you.

    Can you imagine how different birthing patterns would be if God dictated it based on righteousness?

  92. CS Eric on May 14, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    Alison,
    Can you imagine how much easier Mother’s Day would be for women like Eve and my wife if God really did dictate birthing patterns based on righteousness? Then there would at least be a reason. Or how much easier it would be if members of the church didn’t act like they believed God dictated birthing patterns based on righteousness? The concept that our actions in the premortal life led to our conditions in this one leads a surprising number of members to believe the reason we are childless is that we aren’t worthy to have children.

  93. Heather O. on May 14, 2007 at 6:32 pm

    CS Eric–

    You don’t REALLYwant to go there, do you?

  94. paula on May 14, 2007 at 6:38 pm

    In my married student ward, all of the women who were childless, for whatever reason, used to get together for Mother’s Day brunch at my apartment, during Sacrament Meeting, then head on over to church for SS, and RS, since we felt it was safe to come back by then.

  95. Alison Moore Smith on May 14, 2007 at 7:03 pm

    No, Eric, then you’d probably have as many children as you like and Eve would, too.

    I’m kind of with Heather O. on this.

    I’ve been a member of the church all my life and already told you my birthing history. I never encountered anyone, personally, who acted “like they believed God dictated birthing patterns based on righteousness.” I’m sure there are some, just as there are some who think wealth and health are determined the same way. But I have to think it isn’t the most commonly held thought, if for no other reason that it’s just stupid in the face of reality. Yea, Ardeth Kapp and Sheri dew are pretty scummy women, aren’t they?

    Anyway, I ran back because while I was running some errands I thought of something. I’m, once again, struggling with the 50 pound weight gain that comes with every pregnancy. And I’m surrounded by skinny women. I am so careful about what I eat; they eat whatever they want. I work out every day (even ran a stinking marathon to get in shape); they…don’t…ever.

    So, does the unfairness in life bother me? Yes. So, again, I’m truly sorry that I seemed unsympathetic to those who are still struggling with these things. I don’t necessarily appreciate it when some skinny person tells me not to be bugged by skinny people. :)

    It just seems that sometimes we cause ourselves a lot of pain by assigning meanings to things that don’t need the assignment. And that we would be happier if we had a different perspective. Being childless doesn’t mean we aren’t righteous or don’t belong. Being fat doesn’t mean we are lazy pigs. And Mother’s Day is really just a day to celebrate a role that is eternally meaningful to all of us. And isn’t there some mother somewhere who we could celebrate?

  96. Alison Moore Smith on May 14, 2007 at 7:31 pm

    Kristine there are a billion differences. That’s the nature of analogy. But if you best friend gets married and you refuse to go just because you are NOT married, there is going to be some consequence to that, too.

    So, my suggestion is that if you are single and really, really, really want to be married, and your best friend gets married first–that you go anyway, you smile, you put on the orange, ruffly promish dress, and –rather than thinking about how sad you are that you aren’t married–that you change your focus to think about how wonderful it is that your best friend IS getting married to such a great guy. And how you’ll NEVER make her wear orange because your wedding will be SO much nicer. Or something. (Did Sheri Dew refuse to attend the Watson/Nelson wedding?)

    Along those lines, we can refuse to go to church on Mother’s Day because it’s not “safe.” Or we can go and be angry and/or bitter the whole time or glare at the pregnant women and refuse to talk to anyone who has children because they have something we don’t. Or we can go to church and think about our own mothers and how they blessed us. Or about what a great mother our sisters are. Or about our grandmothers. Or Mary or someone else in the scriptures. Or about what kind of mother we WANT to be. Or about how we can serve as mothers to someone who needs a mother, even though we can’t have any children, yet.

    Before I’m accused of demeaning terminology, please know that I’m describing myself. I’ve done BOTH. I’ve stayed home and glared and felt hurt and been overwhelmed by sadness for all sorts of outcomes I didn’t like. And then, actually in part because of a conference talk that talked about the detrimental effects of “wallowing in the hot tubs of self-pity,” I figured that–even though my concerns were legitimate and my feelings strong–that the anger and the hurt wasn’t helping anyone…especially ME.

    Changing the way I responded to those difficulties was more pleasant and positive and less destructive and painful. We can’t always control how we feel. Sometimes we’re just blindsided by tough things. But we don’t HAVE to choose to respond to those feelings in the way that is most damaging to our souls.

    Again, I’m not trying to put anyone down for having these strong feelings. I’m just hoping that someone can have less pain on a day that should be, and can be, joyful. If this doesn’t apply to you (or anyone), please discard. It helped me and might help someone else.

  97. DKL on May 14, 2007 at 8:06 pm

    So some women get offended at the honoring of mothers because we have enough leisure-time to afford us the pretense of delicate sensibilities (seriously, I think Emma Smith would have loved Mother’s Day). To accommodate those offended women, we decide to celebrate all women, and then people ask, “What’s the point?” And whether we dilute it so much that it’s meaninglessness or abolish it altogether, we end up with nothing to celebrate at all.

    Shall we stop celebrating July 4th because of America’s history of slavery? Should we stop celebrating Christmas or Easter because of the atrocities committed in Christ’s name? Shall we stop celebrating Memorial Day because American troops have committed atrocities? Shall we stop celebrating Labor Day because organized labor is mobbed up?

    Sure, some of us have angst about parenthood, but that doesn’t entitle us to blame everyone else — only sociopaths blame the world for everything. Tragedy, bad luck, and heartache are part and parcel of parenting, and some people have it worse than others. How exactly does that make it a bad idea to celebrate parenting?

    I hate living in a society where everybody’s complaints are treated as though they’re important. Why can’t we just be comfortable telling people that their attempts to rain on other people’s parades are just immature victim-mongering? From the way that some people talk, you’d think that it was “Screw Motherhood Day.” Feel however you want about it, but don’t ruin Mother’s day for the rest of us.

    I agree with Mathew about how progressives decry any attempt to honor mortal motherhood and obsess over Heavenly Mother.

  98. DKL on May 14, 2007 at 8:20 pm

    Kaimi, to answer your question about how to make Mother’s Day better, I think that we should treat it like any other holiday, and celebrate what’s best about it emphatically and unapologetically. Pull out the stops, and make it motherhood-to-the-max day. Perhaps this can be a reminder to the selfish, miserable mothers-day-is-all-about-me crowd, a reminder that it’s not all about them. When it comes to mothering, everybody has something to cheer about — anyone who thinks otherwise is lying to themselves.

  99. Katie P. on May 14, 2007 at 8:46 pm

    So all those who don’t like Mother’s Day are “selfish, miserable, all-about-me” people?

    I don’t like Mother’s Day. I choose not to celebrate it. Since I don’t have children and my mother is dead, I’m not disappointing anyone to whom I have a duty. I seriously doubt my fellow villagers are resentful that I’m not shaking the pompoms in celebration of them and their happy families. Why do they need my participation and cheer? I figure the best solution is that I don’t join in and I don’t fake anything, and then I also don’t get angry when other people do their thing.

    Same applies to Valentine’s Day. And Cinco de Mayo.

  100. Ardis Parshall on May 14, 2007 at 8:48 pm

    Thank you, DKL. It’s a treat of a very special kind to have your detailed insight into yet another topic about which you understand so very, very much. I mean, who knows “emphatic” and “unapologetic” better than you? I marvel at the unabashed freedom with which you display such intimate comprehension of “sociopathic,” “selfish” and “miserable,” too. Rest assured that the society of which you are a part shares your dismay at joint membership.

  101. DKL on May 14, 2007 at 9:09 pm

    Ardis Parshall: Rest assured that the society of which you are a part shares your dismay at joint membership.

    LOL. If nothing else, I’m always a reminder to others that they’re much worse than they think they are (as they are to me).

    Katie P: So all those who don’t like Mother’s Day are “selfish, miserable, all-about-me” people?

    Maybe. Some people just don’t like some holiday, and that’s fine. Anyone who is positively miserable on Mother’s Day is for sure. Mother’s Day isn’t a holiday about the self. It’s a holiday about others. If you want to mope around about motherhood, do it on one of the 364 others days of the year. On Mother’s Day, you should either go find a mother to celebrate or find ways to appreciate those who want to celebrate you. If you’re so crippled by misery that you can’t do either of these, then at least don’t complain about other people’s enthusiasm for doing so.

    I’ll tell you what: this next Father’s Day, I’m going to organize as many men-over-18 as I can and we’re all going to run out of the chapel crying because we spend too much time at the office, because we shoot blanks, or because we don’t earn enough.

  102. Katie P. on May 14, 2007 at 9:14 pm

    Oh, now I think you’re just trying to get a reaction. :)

    Complaining when people are celebrating is unnecessarily self-centered, and self-righteously castigating others for their honest replies to posed questions is the same.

  103. DKL on May 14, 2007 at 9:39 pm

    Katie, I don’t mean to attack those who are utterly indifferent to holidays. Some people don’t feel any more strongly about Mother’s Day than they do about the vernal equinox, and that’s just fine. Even so, you’re right to point out that I’m both self-centered and self-righteous, nor am I the least bit put off by my own hypocrisy.

    But about that last paragraph about Father’s day, I wrote it to be flippant, but upon rereading it I find that it sounds mean-spirited. Oh, well. Sometimes humor works, sometimes it doesn’t. I stand by my paragraph beginning “Maybe….” I think that’s one of my better paragraphs.

  104. Ana on May 14, 2007 at 9:55 pm

    I started writing and discovered I had a lot to say about this. So I just made it into its own post:

    http://watchoutformama.blogspot.com/2007/05/better-days.html

    YMMV, of course. And I hope it doesn’t offend anybody who is at a different place than I am right now.

    Eve, CS Eric and other infertile people: I believe the Lord loves you and knows your pain. I’m so sorry it’s so hard.

  105. Lupita on May 14, 2007 at 9:56 pm

    Um…having a Mother’s Day celebration at church isn’t official policy is it? Isn’t it determined at the local level? Our sacrament talks were about the temple. Sure, we had a lesson in RS and I thought it was a nice gesture (not an obscene one) :)
    I’m not looking for anyone to validate me on Sunday.
    Unfortunately, there are mothers who don’t receive enough recognition and hey, if this is the one day of the year that makes that specific group feel special and loved and valued, then it’s worth it to me. Yep, bring on the cheese, stereotypes, sappy stories, etc. because I know some people love it and find meaning in it. I don’t but so what?
    Would it be possible to address these thoughts to your ward leaders? Maybe offer to speak next year? Offer some constructive alternatives? Call me Pollyanna all you want but it sounds like some people do just want to complain instead of being part of an actual solution. I don’t see how boycotting church could help anyone.
    There is no conspiracy to make women feel terrible on Mother’s Day.

  106. Eve on May 14, 2007 at 10:32 pm

    Alison, thanks for a thoughtful response.

    “The juxtaposition of something you said troubles me. You said that, “unexpected emotional reactions are simply not going to be the outcome of careful reasoning.” I assume that you are implying that the idea that you don’t belong in the church is one of those things that is an emotional response that you know isn’t reasonable. Right?”

    Sigh. [Just to clarify--sigh not aimed at you or anyone in particular.] Yeah, that’s what we teach. That’s what the scriptures say: all are alike unto God, male and female, fertile and infertile….personally, I find it terribly, terribly difficult to believe, not just as an intellectual proposition, but as an actual, heartfelt reality. Here’s the way I look at it: some people struggle with alcohol or drugs or porn or sexual temptation. One of my biggest struggles in life is the struggle to believe I’m not one of God’s failed experiments. (Twenty-years of depression and counting….) Growing up, church was, more often than not, a miserable place for me, for a variety of reasons, and from the time I was nine or ten, I felt very much on the outside of God’s kingdom. Infertility can sometimes seem like the outward sign of an inward stain, to paraphrase the Catholics. That’s part of what’s so painful for me, personally, about it. I try really hard to stay away from that quicksand, but sometimes my best efforts just aren’t enough to keep me out of it. For me it’s really not a matter of looking around at all of the pregnant women and the mothers in my ward and being jealous. I’m genuinely happy for them (as long as they’re happy for themselves!). It’s more a sense of feeling on the perpetual fringes of God’s grace.

    TMD said,

    “I can’t help but be struck by the deeply calvinistic ideas you seem to be tormented by, either implicitly or explicitly. It’s not entirely clear in your post, but you seem to be according, at least part of the time, (or perhaps you impute to others the according) eternal significance to temporal outcomes. I’m not sure what this means, and I certainly don’t feel it in myself or those around me, but it’s very striking in your expression.”

    OH, I’ll happily claim my Calvinism as all mine. I don’t think it’s really being propogated by anyone else. In my case I really don’t think it’s precisely a matter of calibrating earthly incomes with divine favor. I think it’s more the constant sense that no matter what I do I’m out of divine favor, and then looking for evidence (which, for any of us, there will always be) to support my heartfelt conviction.

    If I really were a Calvinist living in pre-colonial New England, I’d consider myself to have had a revelation that I am eternally damned. Oh, well. At least it would get me out of church, right?

    DKL said,

    “I’ll tell you what: this next Father’s Day, I’m going to organize as many men-over-18 as I can and we’re all going to run out of the chapel crying because we spend too much time at the office, because we shoot blanks, or because we don’t earn enough.”

    Awesome, DKL! What ward are you in? Because I wouldn’t miss this for all the decaf tea in China.
    You organize it, I’ll embroider every participant his very own hanky to sniffle in. Choice of motifs: guns, computer code, board rooms. Sob into something that tastefully advertizes your personal brand of masculinity.

  107. Tamalama on May 14, 2007 at 10:47 pm

    After 12 years of infertility and hating Mother\’s Day in general, I had an epiphany. IT\’S NOT ABOUT ME! Mother\’s Day is intended for us to appreciate the mother in our life. I was such a pain to the people around me because I was so down and withdrawn each year on this day because I couldn\’t have the righteous desire of my heart to be a mother, myself. I came up with every excuse not to attend church and never even thought of what my hurt feelings were doing to my husband. What a waste for me. There are so many who suffer, and I definitely was one of them. Now I think of the sweet birthmothers of my children and have a twinge of pain in my heart for them on this day, but am grateful for the lessons I\’ve learned over the Mother\’s Days gone by. Just like Ebinezer Scrooge, I am a changed person. No more \”Bah Humbug\” for me.

  108. MSG on May 14, 2007 at 10:51 pm

    Sacrament meeting and talks should be about the Savior. I wouldn’t mind one bit if Mother’s Day and Father’s Day in church consisted of the bishop saying, “Happy….” now we’ll have the sacrament and the talks about the Savior with nothing more mentioned about mothers or fathers. Families who celebrate the day can do that later at home. When I go to church (and I’m a mom) I’m not there to hear about mothers or fathers. I’m there to focus on the Lord and to me that’s what focus of EVERY sacrament meeting should be..

  109. Eve on May 14, 2007 at 11:17 pm

    Since I’ve already gone on at such length on this thread, I might as well add that I really don’t blame anyone personally for Mother’s Day trip-ups, for talks or practices that might make me or others feel bad. I do know that no one (or very few) intends to hurt feelings, and I really feel for the bishop on that day. I realize he’s in a bind (as he probably often is!) in that no matter what he does, some people aren’t going to like it. Like a lot of people, there are institutional and cultural changes I’d like to see, but I also do realize that people are just doing the best they can, that no hurt is intended. So I’m not too worried about whether we have carnations or potted plants or chocolates or a donation to the local women’s shelter, whether we make women stand up and get gifts or let them take gifts off of tables. Personally I tend to prefer some of these practices to others, but I also know that the poor bishopric is just trying hard to get through what’s obviously a minefield.

    Tamalama, you know, I thought about giving up my Scroogey ways and becoming a changed [man] and saving Tiny Tim’s life and all that, but then I thought, what would DKL do without me? My self-pity gives him such pleasure that I just couldn’t find it in my heart to, in the immortal words of Calvin’s self-help book in Calvin and Hobbes, “shut up and stop whining.” Nah, it’s way more fun to watch him go ballistic at the tearfully self-indulgent perpetual victim-mongering that spells the certain ruin of our civilization. You realize the poor guy would be out a lot of Bloggernacle identity without regular occasion to assert his manly opposition to feminine self-pity. I consider it part of my divine gender role to offer up some feminine self-pity every now and then. It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it.

  110. Jessawhy on May 15, 2007 at 12:11 am

    I haven’t read all the comments on this thread, but I just wanted to give a log of my Mother’s Day yesterday, and why it was the worst one I’ve ever had.
    My husband has been in Europe for over a week, and my 4 year old son is crazy because it’s too hot in AZ to go outside. Also, I’m pregnant and have a 16 mth old. So, the week hasn’t been that great (we are not used to having daddy gone, and he won’t be home till Friday :(
    So, I get to church and people are saving benches, 1 person per bench, we always sit on a bench, for containment purposes. I head to the metal chairs on the wood floor of the overflow and realize that the 4 yr old is running around crazy in his flip-flops, making all kinds of noise, and that the stake presidency is on the stand watching him. I sit down and start crying, uncontrollably, a week of stress coming out at the wrong time. I felt like leaving before the meeting ever started, but a woman who has kids like mine (same ages, too) came up and hugged me, asked if she could round up the 4 yr old and invited us to sit by her. SM wasn’t great but at least I kept it together, the baby beat me up and dumped craisins every where, while the 4 yr old laid on the floor and fought with the other children. We all trekked to the bathroom during the closing talk and when we came back people were headed to SS. I was surprised and learned that there was no gift for mothers that day. It’s the first time in my life I remember them not recognizing mothers by having them stand and giving them a gift (who cares what it is). I was so disappointed, I didn’t realize how much I had been waiting for that token until it wasn’t there. We left church, because I couldn’t spend the rest of the time walking the halls with the pre-nursery toddler and trying to chase the 4 yr old back to class.
    So, that is why I hated Mother’s Day this year. It’s not really about mothers, it’s just fake. The only thing I heard was the man who spoke last said, “Hat’s off to you mothers, it’s a tough job!” What good does his taking his hat off do me when my children are creating hell on earth in the overflow!!!

  111. It's Not Me on May 15, 2007 at 12:47 am

    #66 Kristine: “They may appreciate the nod to their situation and the kindly intention of the speaker, but this is not an adequate solution to the problem.”

    I haven’t read ahead yet, so forgive me if you’ve already responded to this, but I’ve already read several of your comments/complaints, and I’m waiting for your suggested solution.

    I’m not extremely fond of complaints without a suggested solution.

  112. m&m on May 15, 2007 at 3:02 am

    This has been one of the more depressing threads I have read in a while. As someone who understands the pain of singleness (I watched friends and family, younger and younger by the year, marry and have children years before that time came for me) and a bit about the pain of being handed trials that mean your dreams require some adjustments (including health trials that have meant no more children), I am quite empathetic to those who struggle on Mother’s Day. I also have never been much of a fan of the day. I went into the holiday with a, “WHY do we celebrate this again?” But in the end, it was a wonderful day, for lots of reasons. I called Mom on her mission, even though our relationship is strained, and that felt fine, especially because it meant something to her and kids got to talk to her. I celebrated mother- and grandmother-in-law and was celebrated by children and hubby. I was always a bit on edge at church for those who struggle, but felt that talks in general were pretty OK. And the bishop came in and talked about mothering as a more general concept than just biology or raising children. And I thought that was great.

    Now, after reading this thread, I feel quite at a loss, quite hopeless about this whole topic. I have always been uncomfortable (in an advocate kind of a way, since I feel I empathize some) with how uncomfortable some people are with the holiday and want so badly for us all to be sensitive to those who hurt. But here, the message is that no matter what, those efforts will fail — even backfire! The doctrine of “we are all mothers” has been downplayed and even criticized (side note: this in NO WAY diminishes motherhood in my mind — if anything, it celebrates womanhood in a uniting kind of a way and IMO could pull us together toward our mutual goals of eternal life through faith, sacrifice and service, and recognizes that life is more than headcounts of children and idealistic models of family life — all of which reinforces truth that can help any of us regardless of our stage of life); some want to get rid of rituals that have meaning for many in the throws of difficulty in motherhood (e.g., Jessawhy #122); efforts to reach out are often rejected (feels a bit like “oh, I know you mean well, but basically, you fail anyway”); and people won’t come rejoice and worship with me because “motherhood might be mentioned.” (If you stayed home from our ward, you would have missed the graduating seniors sharing their favorite scriptures and sweet testimonies (including the boy who had his relapse of cancer and shared a powerful testimony about trials and their purpose. And you missed a great joke by the last speaker as well as a heartwarming tribute to a mother’s sacrifice). What’s a person to do? What kind of community can we be if there are so many hair triggers that no one can enjoy or celebrate something like Mother’s Day because it might hurt someone? And how can anyone help anyone if everything you do could potentially be a bombshell? (It makes a part of ME want to stay home….).

    I really, really wish we could adopt Kaimi’s point of view on this (#67). I say this because it is very hard to hear that my heart and empathy and efforts really don’t matter, my desires to help will end up hurting anyway, so, again, what’s a person to do? Just selfishly enjoy the day and ignore those who hurt so as to not risk hurting anyone more? I find myself asking why the church has to so often bear the responsibility for individual pain in this kind of way, especially if no matter what people end up doing, it ends up being wrong. If people hurt, that must mean the church should change. NO. Sometimes people just hurt. That is part of life. Whose life really fits an ideal anyway? (If it does, that will likely change. Life is hard, at some point for everyone.)

    As much as the Savior expects us to help each other, I think He also realizes that we will fail each other because we sometimes ourselves don’t really know what we need, let alone what someone else needs. And changing church programs or people will never fully fix that. But the Lord knows what we need. In the end, isn’t that the answer to our pain? I’ll weep with you. I’ll put my arm around you. But I can’t fix your broken heart and I can give you the peace you need to face your trials. But please don’t isolate yourself in lonely sadness or anger because my trials aren’t yours now, or because we are human. And please don’t push me away in your pain. Stay. Worship. Hang in there. Gently help me understand your pain. Know people do care even if they don’t know how to express it. But mostly, find the Lord in spite of everyone around you in His ordinances and doctrines which hold the keys to peace.

    But as we mourn with those that mourn, should we not also rejoice with those who are grateful and strengthen those who need the very thing that may cause you pain? Is that sometimes not what a spirit of sacrifice demands from us?

    (I should have written my own blog post to respond. Sorry this is so long.)

  113. It's Not Me on May 15, 2007 at 9:10 am

    M&M – that was an excellent response (especially for being written in the middle of the night).

  114. SilverRain on May 15, 2007 at 9:28 am

    I agree that there is something deeply wrong with a society that celebrates individual pain (and pleasure?) over everything else. Where is the joy in life, if you are continually stepping around the dog droppings of what-might-offend?

  115. SilverRain on May 15, 2007 at 9:32 am

    My feelings are pretty much summarized in my most recent post on Mother’s Day. I don’t think there is any way for someone else to not offend you. Their hands are tied. I think America would be a much better place to live if people woke up and realized that only they hold the reins to their attitude.

  116. SilverRain on May 15, 2007 at 9:33 am

    Odd. I definitely don’t have the hang of posting links on this site . . . .

  117. Eve on May 15, 2007 at 9:57 am

    m&m and Silver Rain, I’m not sure exactly who your comments are directed at, since you don’t specify, but since I’ve talked a lot on this thread, I’ll take the liberty of responding. M&M, I think perhaps some of your frustration may stem a fundamentally kind-hearted impulse to solve other people’s pain, and when you can’t–as you rightly realize you can’t–you understandably feel overwhelmed and just want to give up. Is it possible you’re giving yourself way too much stress over this, and perhaps over the many other difficult situations people face? I can’t speak for anyone else, but I absolutely don’t expect anyone else to solve my pain or my problems–in fact, I tend to find such attempts presumptuous, since solving my problems is really between me and God. All I’m interested in from other people is someone who’s willing to hear me out and care. That anyone can do without a little moral imagination. So I don’t think reaching out to people who don’t like Mother’s Day (or whatever) has to be that hard at all.

    SilverRain, again, I’m not sure who you’re talking to, but I can cheerfully assure you that I, personally, am quite capable of not being offended, and I miraculously manage not to be offended on many more occasions than I am offended. (!) I know you may not mean it this way, but your judgment that I, or someone else, or perhaps all of us collectively, are going to be offended no matter what you do comes across as harsh, and also unwarranted. I don’t see how you can possibly know that about me, or us, or whoever you’re addressing, based on a few comments on a blog. I really don’t ask a lot. I’d just ask that you be careful about making hasty judgments that can be hurtful.

    It’s also worth mentioning that the whole idea that we hold the reins to our own attitude is not a scriptural one. On the contrary, in the scriptures we learn to mourn with those that mourn.

  118. Ardis Parshall on May 15, 2007 at 10:10 am

    It’s probably time for this thread to die, so I’m probably foolish for writing this. Nevertheless …

    Most (admittedly not all) of those who have said they don’t like the way Mother’s Day is observed in many wards have complained only about the way individuals are singled out, either by being forced to accept a gift they do not want or by having to endure the “who’s got the most?” auction for attention.

    If you can’t understand why that’s a problem for some, think back to the last time all the temple recommend holders in the ward were invited to stand in sacrament meeting, or the last time all the full tithe-payers were given a carnation, or the names of those who obey the Word of Wisdom were read from the pulpit. How did it feel when you sat while your neighbors stood (and for something you have more control over than I have over my childlessness)? Or how did it feel when the bishop instructed all those with expired recommends to stand too, because he was sure that someday you would all once again have a recommend?

    Can’t remember the last time any of that happened?

    It doesn’t help at all — AT ALL — to tell us to just “suck it up” because you don’t have a problem with it yourself. Although some of the comments here have been vehement, all this has occurred in the context of an invited discussion. I don’t remember without rereading the entire thread that anybody mentioned a public crusade to change Mother’s Day observances — those of us who stay away do it quietly because that choice is more tolerable than “sucking it up” the way we do the rest of the year.

    It doesn’t help at all to misunderstand, label our discomfort as “taking offense,” and then heap additional criticism on us for a misunderstanding that is YOURS, not ours. It’s a misuse of Elder Bednar’s talk to condemn our discomfort and then excuse yourselves from a charge of unrighteous judgment by pretending that we’re “taking offense.” That is akin to my saying “You’re a steaming pile of stupid, bigoted, sarcastic, nasty, unChristian, despicable brutes whose breath stinks and whose children are ugly” and then excusing my rudeness by saying “Ha-ha! Just a joke. Whats the matter? Can’t you take a joke?”

  119. Eve on May 15, 2007 at 10:38 am

    Ardis, Amen and amen. Thanks for putting it so well.

  120. KLC on May 15, 2007 at 10:48 am

    Eve #95: All I’m asking for is a little compassion, a little ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and try to imagine the view, to try to extrapolate from things that HAVE been hard for you to see how THIS is hard for some of us.

    Eve, I really do appreciate your attempt to explain how you feel about mother’s day. But as PB confrontationally said in #1 and as I said somewhat later, people have shown compassion. They have listened, they have tried to imagine your plight and they have tried, repeatedly, to change this minor ritual so that it is less painful. And yet the complaining persists. Given that, why is it not possible to acknowledge the efforts of others to listen to us, admit the pain is still there, and then decide that it is now our problem to manage once a year?

  121. Glenn on May 15, 2007 at 11:20 am

    This seems like a place where I might be able to purge some uncertainty and guilt by confessing the awkwardness that I have struggled with over the past several years. My parents divorced when I was 24 — both remarried — my dad’s new wife is only eight years older than me — it was her first (and only) marriage — she does not/will not have children of her own, although they tried for the first few years together — and while she and I have never discussed it (we live in different states and have never had a ton of interaction), I know that it was heartbreaking that they were not able to make it happen. So when mothers day rolls around, it’s — am I being insensitive to say it is weird? I want to be cool and supportive and show my appreciation for the way she loves my dad and the impact she has made in his life (and the life of my children) — but I feel like any gift or card from me on that day is almost a painful reminder of — you know — I think you get the point. Thankfully, my wife stays on top of gifts and cards (it’s a real strength of hers) and makes sure that we send something nice every year, but I always find myself sitting there with the pen in my hand and a big blank white space to fill and only awkwardness in between. I am sure that my lame attempts at “happy mothers day” are grossly insufficient. I think the sentiments I have read on this thread have helped me undertand things maybe better than before, butI don’t know. I agree it can be a tough day. And I’m just an insensitive man.

  122. Adam Greenwood on May 15, 2007 at 11:24 am

    Children are a positive good and not just the absence of the trial of infertility.

  123. KLC on May 15, 2007 at 11:36 am

    Kristine, why the confrontational anger? Your reply to me summarizes this whole discussion.

    I understand what Eve wrote about her pain, I understand what she wrote about her frustration. Yet instead of acknowleging a good faith effort and a sincere desire to empathize you attack me, apparently because I am not willing to just join in with the pity and anger fest and have the temerity to suggest, not demand but merely suggest, that one solution might be found within ourselves instead outside ourselves.

    The bishops and other leaders have also listened and they have sincerely tried to change to accomodate the feelings so eloquently expressed here. But their efforts are thrown back in their face as stupid, inadequate, unfeeling.

    Alison said it much better than I did, but in the end, after the venting and empathy and changing on the part of others, we must bear our crosses alone. Is that such an offensive idea?

    Finally, what really is offensive is your pompous assumption that I have never experienced personal trials and tests even close to what is being talked about here, because if I had then I would understand and never would speak out as I have done. Please spare me from your academic analyses of something you know nothing about.

  124. Eric Russell on May 15, 2007 at 11:37 am

    Is it possible that DKL in 112 and Tamalama in 119 are, in fact, correct in principle?

    If so, what do we make of that? Should voicing such ideas be forbidden?

    It seems a terribly awkward position to put another person in to say that their disagreement is invalid because it is a disagreement and not “compassionate understanding.” Is there any way to express such ideas in a compassionate or acceptable way?

  125. Kaimi Wenger on May 15, 2007 at 11:38 am

    Ardis, Kristine, Eve, and others,

    You’ve explained well how Mother’s Day can be painful. I appreciate the way that Mothers are singled out, as Ardis notes. I realize that Motherhood is a trial for some, as Kristine notes. And Eve, I appreciate your efforts to help poor DKL feel welcome. :P

    I’m still not fully convinced, though; that is, I think I see the complaints, but I have a hard time fully accepting them. I realize that’s probably just evidence of my own faults. Still, one idea is nagging at me.

    I do _not_ mean that people who complain are “taking offense,” in any way that deserves condemnation. The feelings of people are real and important, and people who I like and respect have weighed in here. I emphatically don’t think that anyone is “taking offense” in a problematic way. However, I have the nagging sense, more broadly speaking, the principle behind the old Brigham Young quote (not _that_ one, Ardis :P ), the quote that, “‘he who takes offense when no offense was intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense was intended is usually a fool,” could be relevant. It seems to me that this is the paradigmatic case where no offense (in the broad sense, not in the sinful, angry sense) is intended. These are entirely well-meaning acts, more well-meaning even than the usual church actions.

    I realize that it’s still quite possible to be hurt by unintended effects of well-meaning acts. I don’t mean to downplay that. (And we have this discussion in other contexts as well, such as baptism for the dead. Do our good intentions in baptisms of Jews matter, or do we look at how the act is received?) But I guess that my own response is tempered by a reluctance to be too condemnatory of well-intentioned acts.

    Is there a way to focus on intention — “my community is trying to make moms feel better and appreciated” — rather than on the often inelegant execution? I don’t want to downplay concerns, but I’m not sure that many concerns can’t be mitigated, at least somewhat, through that kind of approach. Or is that too cheesy or simple?

  126. Kaimi Wenger on May 15, 2007 at 11:38 am

    Ardis, Kristine, Eve, and others,

    You’ve explained well how Mother’s Day can be painful. I appreciate the way that Mothers are singled out, as Ardis notes. I realize that Motherhood is a trial for some, as Kristine notes. And Eve, I appreciate your efforts to help poor DKL feel welcome. :P

    I’m still not fully convinced, though; that is, I think I see the complaints, but I have a hard time fully accepting them. I realize that’s probably just evidence of my own faults. Still, one idea is nagging at me.

    I do _not_ mean that people who complain are “taking offense,” in any way that deserves condemnation. The feelings of people are real and important, and people who I like and respect have weighed in here. I emphatically don’t think that anyone is “taking offense” in a problematic way. However, I have the nagging sense, more broadly speaking, the principle behind the old Brigham Young quote (not _that_ one, Ardis :P ), the quote that, “‘he who takes offense when no offense was intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense was intended is usually a fool,” could be relevant. It seems to me that this is the paradigmatic case where no offense (in the broad sense, not in the sinful, angry sense) is intended. These are entirely well-meaning acts, more well-meaning even than the usual church actions.

    I realize that it’s still quite possible to be hurt by unintended effects of well-meaning acts. I don’t mean to downplay that. (And we have this discussion in other contexts as well, such as baptism for the dead. Do our good intentions in baptisms of Jews matter, or do we look at how the act is received?) But I guess that my own response is tempered by a reluctance to be too condemnatory of well-intentioned acts.

    Is there a way to focus on intention — “my community is trying to make moms feel better and appreciated” — rather than on the often inelegant execution? I don’t want to downplay concerns, but I’m not sure that many concerns can’t be mitigated, at least somewhat, through that kind of approach. Or is that too cheesy or simple?

  127. SilverRain on May 15, 2007 at 11:47 am

    Firstly and most importantly, I wasn’t targeting this to anyone so much as to a very modern-day attitude. I don’t feel any need to sympathize with attitudes I don’t agree with, no matter how much I may “mourn with those [people] that mourn.” It is unfortunate, though unavoidable, that expressing disagreement with an attitude is invariably equated to demeaning a person with that attitude.

    Secondly, as has been pointed out, “reaching out” to people in pain has been done, and has done no good. I don’t feel it is Christlike to coddle and sympathize with attitudes that cause damaging eternal pain to those with those attitudes. My Father has not tolerated those attitudes in me, though I have always felt He loved me. I believe that Christ loved the Pharisees and empathized with their point of view without agreeing with it, justifying it or permitting it. (NOT that I’m comparing you to Pharisees, just that it is an easy example of the principle I am trying to explain.)

    Thirdly, my words are not given from a high horse of never having felt similar things. I am and have been in the position of wanting something that others have and feeling pain because I did not and could not have it. Those somethings were often things that others used to define my worth. My conclusion was that I needed to “suck it up” because wallowing in my pain did nothing to dispel it. The situation was out of my control, but my feelings were not. Indeed, I realized that I hold the reins to my own attitude, and expecting others to change to change me was vapid. I was, rather than trying to smash others down, trying to share a perspective that lifted me up.

    Eve, what I said – that no one can control the offended state of anyone but themselves may be harsh, but it is no less true for its harshness. Sometimes harshness is required for change – it has been so many times in my life. That is not meant as a judgement of YOU or of Ardis or of anyone. Quite the contrary – both you and Ardis are people I have seen here and there in the Bloggernacle and you have both earned my respect for your intelligence and your spirit. You are both amazing women from what I can see, which makes it even harder for me to see you both suffering from something that is, at worst, a silly aspect of our culture.

    Fourthly, I wasn’t addressing a few comments on a blog, but was addressing an attitude I have noted throughout my life, particularly in the single Mormon scene. It’s tragic and natural that those attitudes exhibited by singles are exhibited by wives and then by mothers and finally grandmothers. The focus changes, but the sentiments do not. This attitude is not a small issue, it colors your esteem of yourself and your behavior towards others. It is not of God. Staying away from Church is not a solution – a truth that I wish I could apply better in my life.

    Ardis – there have been suggestions that Mother’s Day should be changed. Perhaps they were not labeled a “public crusade” but they are there, all the same. Again, I wasn’t “heaping criticism” on you, personally, but on an attitude. Perhaps complaining or staying away from Church are not behaviors of one who has taken offense, but they look like it. If you are allowing external circumstances to dictate your behavior – specifically attendance at church – you are handing the control of yourself over to someone else. For what it’s worth, I wasn’t using Elder Bednar’s talk as a weapon – that is a severe misuse of a talk. To me, GC talks are to be used to examine my own behavior, not to use as ammunition for my sling. I find the principles we are discussing here to be of importance in my life and worthy of discussion. Empathy towards those in pain, though present, brings me no closer to change.

  128. DKL on May 15, 2007 at 11:48 am

    Ardis: It doesn’t help at all to misunderstand, label our discomfort as “taking offense,” and then heap additional criticism on us for a misunderstanding that is YOURS, not ours.

    Of course it doesn’t. And if this had anything to do with it, then I think you’d have a very good point. But there’s plenty to celebrate about mothers and motherhood, and any suggestion that we need to walk on eggshells when we try to celebrate it does not strike me as constructive.

    So some people want to pay compliments to mothers and other women by giving them a flower or some other form of recognition. The gracious thing to do is accept the compliment as intended. It’s poor form to make people who are trying to sincerely compliment you feel self-conscious about it.

    In our ward this past Sunday, one woman spoke very profoundly about the health challenges that she faced due to complications with the delivery of her last child (she’s no longer able to bear children as a result of those complications). Her health problems were so severe that she was unable to care for her newborn or her other children for a long time following the birth. A single woman in the ward took care of the newborn, and others in her neighborhood and in our ward took care of her other children. With tears in her eyes, she thanked these people for the mothering role that they played in the lives of her children at a challenging time in her life.

    There’s people that I’d like to thank for the mothering role that they’ve played in my life (not the least of whom is my mother). And it strikes me as important to make sure that others get some recognition for the work that they do with their own children and with others. If Mothers Day helps to do that, then I just don’t think it matters whether it makes people uncomfortable. Frankly, when I hear people talk about how uncomfortable they feel about mothers day, my response is “get over yourself.”

  129. Kaimi Wenger on May 15, 2007 at 12:10 pm

    DKL,

    Truly, you are the mother of the bloggernacle. Can we present you with a carnation?

  130. Eve on May 15, 2007 at 12:25 pm

    Whew. Where to start?

    KLC, I don’t see any more confrontational anger in Kristine’s response to you than in yours to all the rest of us.

    “The bishops and other leaders have also listened and they have sincerely tried to change to accomodate the feelings so eloquently expressed here. But their efforts are thrown back in their face as stupid, inadequate, unfeeling.”

    Actually, I expressed my deep sympathy for the difficult situation bishops are in and my realization that they and everyone else is doing the best they can. Some people have suggested that not making everyone stand up and leaving gifts on a table at the side of the chapel and making talks a little more realistic would help. I think they’re good suggestions. But no one has said that bishops are stupid and unfeeling, or even that their efforts are.

    “after the venting and empathy and changing on the part of others, we must bear our crosses alone. Is that such an offensive idea?”

    I believe that’s almost exactly what I said above to m&m. I don’t think there’s anyone here who doesn’t realize that our crosses are ours alone. All I ask is that if you can’t be empathetic or at least sympathetic, please don’t add to my burden by making insensitive–although entirely innocent and well-meant–remarks like “Just wait until you have children!” That’s all. I have NO interest in other people carrying my crosses for me, and I don’t see that anyone around here wants anyone to assume their cross of singleness, infertility, childlessness, the deaths of the children, etc.

    “Eve, what I said – that no one can control the offended state of anyone but themselves may be harsh, but it is no less true for its harshness. Sometimes harshness is required for change – it has been so many times in my life.”

    SilverRain, if you personally find harshness helps you to change, OK. That’s perfectly fine. Personally, though, it doesn’t help me to change at all–it only pours salt into my wounds–and I suspect that it doesn’t help a lot of people (didn’t Joseph Smith say something about the surest method of getting people to abandon sin was to watch over them with tenderness?). So please, please–I just ask that you refrain from harshness in my case. All it does is enlarge my wounds.

    “Empathy towards those in pain, though present, brings me no closer to change.”

    I would propose that genuine empathy for others is possibly the most significant change we are required to undergo in this life.
    And I’d also suggest that all of your points about how we can’t change or control others, only ourselves and our own attitudes, apply to your complaints as well as to ours.

  131. Ardis Parshall on May 15, 2007 at 12:28 pm

    Honor mothers all you like. I’ll join with you, whole-heartedly.

    All I’ve asked, really, is that in all your honoring, you honor this simple request: When you offer me your flower, allow me to say “no, thank you.”

  132. Eve on May 15, 2007 at 12:32 pm

    Kaimi, I’m going to ship a dozen long-stemmed carnations to DKL post haste, wrapped in a gun-embroidered hanky.

    O DKL, I feel to tell you you are the mother I never had, my guiding saintly star, the angel that has watched over my Internet cradle with wheezy (root) beer breath. You have labored tirelessly for the good of the Bloggernacle, even multiplying yourselves into many personae for our collective salvation. And so this day, even though it’s 363 days before Mothers’ Day, may I honor you before the world with all of my heart, all of my carnations, and all of my guns.

  133. Carlton on May 15, 2007 at 12:34 pm

    The solution is so obvious, keep Mother’s Day as is and purge the freaks.

  134. Eve on May 15, 2007 at 12:37 pm

    Carlton, sigh. And I wonder why it is that I’m repeatedly getting the not-so-subtle hint at church that the kingdom of God isn’t for “freaks” like me. Thanks for at least being honest about it. Do you have any suggestions as to where I might go to deny myself the eternal blessings of the gospel since in your estimation my freakishness makes me unworthy of them?

  135. Carlton on May 15, 2007 at 12:42 pm

    I’m a freak too, remember?

    http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/?p=806

    (I ain’t got no blog skillz!)

  136. Eve on May 15, 2007 at 12:47 pm

    “Is there a way to focus on intention — “my community is trying to make moms feel better and appreciated” — rather than on the often inelegant execution? I don’t want to downplay concerns, but I’m not sure that many concerns can’t be mitigated, at least somewhat, through that kind of approach. Or is that too cheesy or simple?”

    Kaimi, actually I wanted to thank you for raising your concerns about the Mothers’ Day issue sensitively and for acknowledging that it is a tough day for many of us. Honestly, stuff like this is a real bind for me. I think there are a number of things we could do to make Mothers’ Day easier, and that they’ve already been thoroughly covered, and as I said before, I don’t blame the poor bishop if he doesn’t remember to do every single thing I think should be done to make it easier for me personally. I always think of this impossible negotiation between the individual and the community as the Crafts Bind. I hate and despise crafts and wish they’d be barred form church. But I realize that a lot of women adore them and I certainly don’t feel right about demanding that the church cater to my personal needs at all times. So it is with Mothers’ Day. (But then so many actual mothers hate the day too–that’s when I start to think we might be better off jettisoning it, if NOBODY really likes it all that much.)

  137. Eve on May 15, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    Carlton, OK, fair enough. Let’s start the Ward of Freaks. I’ll be there in the first row.

    Aack, I’ve got to get something done today. Bye, ya’ll. It’s been fun. At least some of it has.

  138. Kaimi Wenger on May 15, 2007 at 12:58 pm

    Eve,

    Is there any chance we could replace carnations with roses? Because then, we could send DKL guns and roses. :)

    Ardis,

    I’m happy to honor that request. And if it’s okay with you, we’ll forward those flowers to DKL. :P

    All,
    Thanks again for this discussion — it’s been really helpful and enlightening for me, and I hope it’s been helpful and non-painful (as much as possible) for you as well.

  139. CS Eric on May 15, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    I hesitate to comment again, because of the reaction from my last comment. There have been people who have told my wife that the reason we don’t have any living children is that we don’t deserve them–not righteous enough, either in this life or the premortal one.

    Part of the pain, too, comes from the fact that both of our patriarchal blessings promises us children. I will have my children “grow up around me” and “love and honor” me through my life. My wife cannot bear children now, and I am past the age where most agencies would let me adopt. Neither of us has family that is close to us. All of our grandparents and both of our parents died surrounded by family. We won’t have that. For us, Mother’s Day, and to a lesser extent, Father’s Day, both remind us not only that we no longer have our parents and that we won’t be parents, but that we really will only have each other as the years go on. As much as we love each other, there are times when the loneliness absolutely overwhelms us. The gospel provides hope for the future, but for the present it doesn’t give us children to teach and worry about, or grandchildren to spoil.

    Mother’s Day isn’t just about the flowers, or the chocolates, or watching the woman with six kids still standing while my wife never gets to stand up. Those are only symbols of something deeper.

    On a lighter note, I am glad to see that I am not the only one who believes DKL to be a real mother….

  140. DKL on May 15, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    Eve and Kaimi and others, I won’t be holding my breath until the flowers arrive, but if they do I’ll do everything I can to make sure that you feel like it is an appropriate and an appreciated gift — especially if you send them to DKL c/o Miranda Park Jones.

    But Ardis made, I think, a pretty substantial argument. More substantial than anything that either of you have offered. I argue that what she says is correct, but beside the point. I realize that both of you are sympathetic in some sense to feminism, but I’d urge you to please make an exception just this once and offer a substantive reply.

  141. SilverRain on May 15, 2007 at 2:01 pm

    Eve – of course my points apply to myself, too. That was, after all, my point – that my comments weren’t directed at you, but at an attitude that I sometimes find in myself as well. I do regret having hurt you. That wasn’t my intent. However, in three books of scripture, the Lord has also said that He chastens whom He loves. I commented out of a desire to share what has helped me get out of similar feelings. I wasn’t commenting with the intent to wound, but to look at a hard situation with which I empathize and try to make a suggestion as to how it could be truly alleviated. Changing a culture isn’t going to happen overnight, if it happens at all. Changing one’s own attitude is done much more quickly.

    Perhaps you would better understand where I am coming from if I were to prove to you that I have felt similar feelings to yours. When I have been in such situations and looked for help from those I love, the support was not there. I was told to get out of myself. I hated the sentiment. I was angry and hurt by it. But eventually, I lifted myself from the dust (metaphorically) and realized a few things. As a result, I became stronger.

    Ardis – I agree with your sentiment. I also think that if all you do is expect (or request) others to change, you will still be hurt by Mother’s Day twenty years from now.

  142. KLC on May 15, 2007 at 2:08 pm

    Kristine, I can see that I overreacted. I’m sorry.

  143. Ardis Parshall on May 15, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    SilverRain, I’m making a direct appeal to you to stop stuffing words into my mouth or predicting my future. Your self-righteousness is growing ever more insufferable.

  144. SilverRain on May 15, 2007 at 2:28 pm

    Ardis – I apologize. I truly was trying to help by sharing something I’ve learned in the past. I’m done here.

  145. ECS on May 15, 2007 at 2:42 pm

    Church discourse must change to celebrate and accept women as individuals first and foremost instead of little mothers in embryo who reach their full potential only when they bear children.

  146. Melissa on May 15, 2007 at 2:59 pm

    I have yet to see anyone on this thread echo my own feelings about Mother’s Day so I will offer my thoughts as a contrast to those on this thread.

    As a childfree woman in my early thirties, I can honestly say that I have never experienced the Mother’s Day agony others seem to have known in such abundance. I am well aware that that this pain can be real and acute and I am truly sympathetic towards those estranged, infertile, and unmarried women among us for whom Mother’s Day can only be described as traumatic.

    My own experience of standing up in sacrament meetings on Mother’s Day over the years has never been one of “pain” in the sense that others have described because I do not actively mourn the fact that I’m not a mother. I have never spent time weeping for my unborn children so I don’t experience the day as a symbol of my own unfulfilled desires and expectations or yearn for something I had but lost like others do. My experience has been quite different.

    Sometimes during the meeting I feel a sense of gratitude for those maternal others in my life or sympathy for those I know are desperate to conceive. That state of peace and love is fleeting, however, as it is usually disrupted by being compelled to stand at the end of the meeting to participate in a ritual that I experience as an alienating misrecognition. This feeling does not linger and by the time I leave the chapel the feeling most resembles annoyance.

    However, while being asked to stand and receive the token handout does not represent a painful symbol of something I do not have or cannot be, it is still one more instance where I am reminded that I am not and may never be, accurately recognized in any meaningful way by my own religious community. On Mother’s Day I’m confronted once again by the fact that my religious community doesn’t value me for the woman, scholar, sister, musician, teacher, friend, etc. that I am. When I am forced to stand and accept my community’s categorization of me as a mother/potential mother/would-be mother/eternal mother it feels like the message to me is, “This is how we see you. You might think you’re someone else, but this is what you really are and what we really want you to be.” This is not usually “painful,” (although I suppose it could become so as the years progress) but it is really obnoxious.

    The worst part by far for me, however, is the keen awareness that I am unwittingly the source of other people’s discomfort on Mother’s Day. Well-intentioned strangers often assume that all childless women are sitting there in terrible grief. As m&m describes, “I am always a bit on edge at church for those who struggle.” Ironically, it is the most sensitive people who can be the most annoying on Mother’s day with attempts at compassion grounded in their own false assumptions that so often manifest in pity and patronizing. They drive me absolutely bananas! Please don’t assume I’m stricken with sadness because my life looks different than yours or is a radical departure from LDS prescriptions. Let your sensitivity lead you instead to reflect critically on the social practices of the church.

    I agree with Kristine. I don’t think we need celebrate Mother’s Day in church at all.

  147. Tom on May 15, 2007 at 3:07 pm

    ECS, must the Church also change its doctrines about families being central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His Children and about marriage being required for exhaltation? Because if you don’t get rid of those doctrines, believers who aren’t married and don’t have families are always going to feel like there’s something missing in their life.

  148. rd on May 15, 2007 at 3:20 pm

    “They drive me absolutely bananas! Please don’t assume I’m stricken with sadness because my life looks different than yours or is a radical departure from LDS prescriptions. Let your sensitivity lead you instead to reflect critically on the social practices of the church.”

    Life is sure tough for the honest, striving giver of compassionate service. I hope that comments like these won’t dissuade others from making efforts, however inadequate, to show love. This whole thread demeans kind acts to the inadequate reachings of bumbling oafs. I think heavenly angels see things differently. How one’s love for another should lead to criticism of the church’s social structure in the stead of loving acts is beyond me. The two are not mutually exclusive. I am comforted that most in the world accepts loving acts, no matter how imperfect, as sincere efforts.

  149. DKL on May 15, 2007 at 3:46 pm

    ECS: Church discourse must change to celebrate and accept women as individuals first and foremost instead of little mothers in embryo who reach their full potential only when they bear children.

    Nonsense. That’s exactly like saying that the church must change to celebrate and accept men as individuals first and foremost instead of little missionaries in embryo who reach their full potential only when they serve a mission.

  150. m&m on May 15, 2007 at 5:30 pm

    Kristine,
    What if continuing this tradition is something meaningful to a lot of other people (I personally wouldn’t care either way — I get nothing meaningful from the gifts given from the ward, and I wouldn’t care if the meetings didn’t mention Mother’s Day, although I always love seeing/hearing the children sing), but for the discussion, I think it’s valid to consider that it IS meaningful for some (again, see Jessawhy as an example). This is exactly the concern I was trying to express. I’m not sure it’s the right thing to do to look at the pain of the few (as real and understandable as it is) to make decisions for the many. Sure, there may not be some deep doctrinal reason to have Mother’s Day celebrations on a particular day (although doctrinal support for motherhood is clearly there and using this as an excuse to celebrate it seems not out of the realm of reason), but why not let people celebrate something that has lots of good? Again, see Kaimi’s 67.

    All I’ve asked, really, is that in all your honoring, you honor this simple request: When you offer me your flower, allow me to say “no, thank you.”

    Ardis, for what it is worth, I would honor that request.

    (Can I say, though, as an aside that I think SilverRain deserved a bit more benefit of the doubt. I don’t think she ever meant to inflict pain on you or anyone. Calling her self-righteous seems a bit harsh, dontcha think?)

    Melissa,
    FWIW, I actually see the giving of gifts as celebrating you (us) for who you are and what we do NOW, not only for who you can be “someday.” And, FWIW, I couldn’t care less if they decided to never give us anything again. It means little to me.

    Eve,
    You have both put forth the concept that we should mourn with those that mourn, and that is what I am trying to do. This thread makes me feel, though, that my efforts to do so will end up causing more pain. That is depressing. At some point, it feels that anything done is wrong, and that hearts and love are misunderstood or missed. I’d like to think that if we were all meeting in person, there might be less divisiveness and more understanding and compassion and benefit of the doubt all around. :)

  151. Adam Greenwood on May 15, 2007 at 5:38 pm

    Church discourse must change to celebrate and accept women as individuals first and foremost instead of little mothers in embryo who reach their full potential only when they bear children.

    Why should we celebrate individuals, exactly? I happen to think we should, because existence itself is meaningful and valuable. But we should celebrate rocks and stars and hermit crabs for the same reason.

    What makes men and women worth more than hermit crabs is our likeness to God, which reaches its fullest expression in fatherhood and motherhood.

    We’re hardly worth celebrating for what we are. Individually we’re not so much. What God has in mind for us, fatherhood and motherhood–that’s breathtaking.

  152. Rosalynde Welch on May 15, 2007 at 5:53 pm

    “a ritual that I experience as an alienating misrecognition … I am reminded that I am not and may never be, accurately recognized in any meaningful way by my own religious community”

    Althusser described the primary psychic operation of ideology, interpellation, as an act of recognition: “Hey you, yes YOU!” it calls, and subject feels herself recognized, and turns. The subject is then herself merely an effect of ideology, an effect created precisely in that moment of call and recognition.

    Religion works in many ways like a classic Althusserian ideology: to those poor in spirit who suffer psychic pain from a confused or infirm identity, religion calls out in recognition, “You are a child of God.” But in other circumstances, religion works differently. To those of us who suffer perhaps from a surfeit of self, those of us who play the lead in the musicals of our own lives, religion calls us out of and away from the self-as-protagonist; it washes out the sand from beneath ideas of self-created, self-chosen identities. This call, and this turn, too, is grace.

  153. Ardis Parshall on May 15, 2007 at 5:58 pm

    “Calling her self-righteous seems a bit harsh, dontcha think?”

    /sigh/ Yes, it was, and I’m sorry I posted it. I’m glad that I discarded four other potential comments throughout the life of this thread that lashed out just as harshly against various commenters for the incorrect and uncharitable assumptions they make about those of us who don’t like Mother’s Day.

    My harshness is not directed toward anyone who means well and tries to extend sympathy or compassion for what they assume (incorrectly) is grief. The impatience kicks in when people presume to lecture me on how to handle that imagined grief, especially when they are sure I’m stewing in agony, that I brought this agony on myself because I “took offense,” and that if I don’t take their advice and mend my ways in the precise way they describe I’ll be stewing in said agony for the next 20 years and probably apostatize to boot.

    Incorrect assumptions lead to false conclusions. Unsolicited solutions for false conclusions from people who have no right to chastise me personally and publicly are unwelcome. Well meaning is not necessarily well done.

  154. m&m on May 15, 2007 at 6:44 pm

    Ardis,
    I understand what you are saying. I guess I just see incorrect assumptions being tossed around in both directions and in general about the topic at all, and that is part of what gets us to places of frustration. (And that is a general comment, not just directed at your interchange with SilverRain.) It just seems a bit surreal that something that on the face seems kind of simple and inocuous can be something that elicits such intense responses and feelings. And I am saddened that it would drive people to stay home. But anyway…dead horse is already dead at this point, right?

  155. jat on May 15, 2007 at 6:45 pm

    *Barbara Erenreich’s book ‘Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy’ sheds some light into *some* of the overarching societal proclivities which might be affecting our burnt-out perceptions of holidays and celebrations. I’m just suggesting that there are other forces besides the hurt feelings discussed in this thread which might be contributing to our 21st c. distaste for a communal celebration. It’s a theory. (I’m not dismissing the feelings though!)

    Families Without Children:
    *I have a friend whose mother was abusive and neglecting. (The kids were all finally taken away). Christmas and Mother’s Day are grueling. However, my friend anticipates marrying and having children and giving the stability and love that she has seen modeled in other families. She focuses on the values and beliefs which are necessary for love and the spirit to become part of the home and family environment. She can’t delude herself though. She’s got major baggage to deal with and a lot of the deck stacked against her. Can’t celebrating the *potential* goodness for her future motherhood (this life or next) and that optimism for those values be positive? Is it not a righteous desire to yearn for loving motherhood? She needs the modeling and discussion of eternal ideas that Mother’s Day *is supposed to* give. (I’m a feminist and would holler bloody murder if one of the very few days to focus on women were taken away). To those w/o children with raw feelings, you must know how important these values are, otherwise you would be apathetic; but you’re not. Would you put a gag order on those values at the pulpit when people like my friend and her future family need to learn about them so badly? Of those who don’t have children but who were raised by a righteous mother (or know yourself the spiritual principles necessary), would you find solace in selflessly serving someone like my friend and teaching her the principles she needs? For those like my friend, even though you don’t have children yet and don’t have a positive mother, would you find strength in being a teacher and delivering an empathetic message instead of listening to someone who doesn’t understand your plight? I’m guilty of leaving Mother’s Day meetings sometimes too, and every time I complain about the status quo, I get the same response— get your tookus in there and make a difference!!! (I wonder if Bishops would consider calling a childless sister to speak on Mother’s Day, and whether mothers would not summarily dismiss her. We love Sheri Dew right?)

    Dysfunctional Mother-Child Relationships:
    *Even though many mother-child relationships are dysfunctional, much of the pain and angst can be assuaged by thankfulness to a mother for everything from their small goodnesses to their unforgettable gift–life. Are we not in an era where the hearts of the children are turned to their [parents]? I’m not a therapist, but I know that my friend isn’t ready to forgive her mother or reach back to her in any way shape or form. I don’t really understand why sometimes forgiveness takes a long time and at other times (ie this past year’s Amish example) the healing was so reflexive and instantly sincere. I do know that we are commanded to forgive, to love and honor our MOTHERS, and that we also believe in sealing ourselves to our parents f-o-r-e-v-e-r. I think we don’t wrap our brains around this. It’s not some abstract thingy, its a real bond and would (I think) imply an eventual positive relationship and actually choosing to be happy together (in righteousness). I don’t think it would have as much purpose if we stayed on opposite sides of some galaxy somewhere never wanting to speak to each other. I know it is bitter now, but to all those with heinous mother-child relationships, ignoring it isn’t going to work forever.

    Solution:
    I see us helping each other to take small steps together towards healing relationships between parents and children, and healing the hearts of hopeful parents by first recognizing the good things we’ve given each other and realizing our potential to grow, forgive, and make a difference in our children, friends and selves. Of course this is done only by focusing on the Savior and Our Father in Heaven. Poor, rich, bad or good, adoptive or birth, we can all learn more about reaching out to our own mothers. For those that need some space and healing time, take it and don’t feel guilty. Know that help to do so is in prayer and the scriptures and also through well-intending brothers and sisters at church who do mourn alongside you- many of them who are experiencing or have experienced the same things. But don’t stop the growing and learning that your fellow brothers and sisters need by placing a gag order at the pulpit.

  156. It's Not Me on May 15, 2007 at 7:12 pm

    So we should end a tradition that I believe most women like because of the few who find it painful? Sorry, I just can’t buy into that. Bishoprics should become more educated about the variety of feelings regarding Mother’s Day and try to be sensitive to that in the way ward traditions are carried on.

  157. Melissa on May 15, 2007 at 7:34 pm

    Rosalynde,

    I was thinking of Althusser explicitly as I was writing other things today so it shouldn’t be so striking to me that you saw the shadows of his thought in my comment, but it is. Or rather, your use of him is.

    Aware of it or not, you spoke in my language today. I heard you.

    M.

  158. SilverRain on May 15, 2007 at 7:37 pm

    m&m – thanks for your defense of my intentions. They obviously weren’t clearly defined by my words.

    Ardis – I really didn’t mean to make you hurt more. I wasn’t trying to judge you. I think m&m’s right – if you could hear my voice when I said those things, perhaps my intent would have shown more clearly. I saw a general situation in which I had found myself before. I only wanted to share the things that helped me get out of similar feelings that were hurting me. I’m not a bad person. I don’t think I’m judgmental of people. I also believe that I’m very empathetic. Perhaps these beliefs are wrong. I hope they aren’t, but I must recognize that they may be. I should have recognized your pain better and given you the words of commiseration you needed rather than trying to help. I know that sometimes help isn’t what is needed.

    I hope you accept my apology, because I really hate the thought of hurting you and Eve. It’s been bothering me all afternoon.

  159. Melanie on May 15, 2007 at 7:39 pm

    I am currently childless, and yes, Mother’s Day at church can be a bit awkward. I don’t want to be discounted or told I “just don’t understand” because I don’t have kids–but neither do I want to discount the very real sacrifices and implications of motherhood. I believe there are some things I just won’t know/feel/understand until I am a mother myself. After all, if there’s truly nothing unique about motherhood, why is childlessness so exquisitely painful?

    So yes, some of us find Mother’s Day uncomfortable, but why does that mean the whole ward has to give it up? We all have pain of some kind in our lives, and we have covenanted to comfort one another, but I don’t think that mourning with those that mourn means that we should eschew certain blessings simply because we don’t all have them. When I had cancer, I lost all my hair: head, body–everything. It was not a pretty sight. But it never occurred to me to wish that the rest of the world would shave their heads and rip out their eyelashes. When I heard of a group of people who basically did just that to support their friend with cancer, I was horrified. The gesture was well-meant, I know, but come on…one bald, eyebrowless wonder is enough! I would have hated for my friends to do that for me. I knew they all had problems, too, and there were lots of ways they found to share their love and support without literally joining me in my challenges. I feel the same way about motherhood. It’s such a wonderful gift–please don’t feel like you have to downplay it on my account! I hope you mothers celebrated all day, or even all weekend!

    I also think it seems a bit unfair to pin all of our discomfort on Mother’s Day. Infertility, miscarriage, strained mother-child relationships, past abuse, being single when you don’t want to be…all of these things are heart-wrenching every day of the year. They are inherently painful–no date on the calendar changes that basic fact. The challenges are real, but not because Hallmark said so.

  160. Ardis Parshall on May 15, 2007 at 8:06 pm

    I am not hurt. I am not grieving. I am not angry. I am not stewing in agony. I am not offended. I am not sorrowful. I am not mourning. I am not trying to spoil anyone else’s celebration. I am not trying to change anyone. I am not apostatizing. I am not in need of sympathy, empathy, homeopathy, telepathy, or sociopathy.

    I am not a mother.

    I do not want a Mother’s Day gift.

    That seemed simple enough yesterday morning. Who knew?

  161. Mark IV on May 15, 2007 at 8:38 pm

    I am not hurt. I am not grieving. I am not angry. I am not stewing in agony. I am not offended. I am not sorrowful. I am not mourning. I am not trying to spoil anyone else’s celebration. I am not trying to change anyone. I am not apostatizing. I am not in need of sympathy, empathy, homeopathy, telepathy, or sociopathy.

    Oh sure, Ardis. We all know you’re just saying that because you secretly covet a potted geranium.

    Can you, or somebody else on this thread, confirm my impression that 10-15 years ago Mother’s Day gifts in church were really just for women who had borne children? I think I recall a GA statement (Packer? Ballard?) in support of this practice, but I may very well be mistaken. Anyway, it all seemed to change about the time of Sister Dew’s “Are We Not All Mothers” talk at BYU women’s conference.

  162. Kaimi Wenger on May 15, 2007 at 8:45 pm

    Mark,

    By reading your mind, I can tell that you really want this Highly Diluted Essence of Magnetic Silver. However, I’m not going to give it to you, because I don’t even see you as a person.

    How’s that for telepathy, homeopathy, and sociopathy, all wrapped up in one?

  163. Mark IV on May 15, 2007 at 9:09 pm

    Not bad, Kaimi, not bad. I wants the precious.

  164. ECS on May 16, 2007 at 9:47 am

    Tom – being married is not a ticket to the Celestial Kingdom. Bearing and raising children is not a requirement to get there, either. (Marrying more than one wife might be, though). Unless you become like Christ, however, marriage isn’t going to get you very far. And since we’re assured everyone will have the opportunity to marry at some point, unmarried, childless Mormons will not be barred from the pearly gates.

    If Church discourse respected women as individuals and not primarily as a means to an end, I think many single and childless women would feel less like something was missing in their lives and more comfortable maintaining their spiritual focus upon goals they can attain in this life.

    DKL – when motherhood lasts only two years and doesn’t involve the toll of pregnancy and childbirth (and that fickle biological quirk of fertility), perhaps your mission analogy would make more sense.

  165. Adam Greenwood on May 16, 2007 at 10:07 am

    And since we’re assured everyone will have the opportunity to marry at some point, unmarried, childless Mormons will not be barred from the pearly gates.

    This statement is a contradiction in terms. You don’t have to be married *now* but marriage is it. No exaltation outside of marriage.

    Fatherhood and motherhood isn’t a means to an end, it is the end.

  166. CS Eric on May 16, 2007 at 10:10 am

    In what seems like nearly a week ago, I said (or meant to) that there isn’t anything inherently wrong in recognizing mothers, or in what motherhood is supposed to be. One of my intentions has been to explain why some of the forms that recognition takes is painful and why. I haven’t asked anybody to stop recognizing Mother’s Day–just be aware that some ways to do it are better than others. Some wards and branches do a better job of avoiding the over-the-top practices than others. However, there is no guarantee that this year will be one of the better ones, so there are many women, my wife included, who choose to stay home on Mother’s Day rather than take the chance.

  167. ECS on May 16, 2007 at 10:16 am

    Adam – it’s not a contradiction. Righteous men and women who do not marry in this life will have the opportunity to choose to marry (and, presumably, have children) after they die. Being an earthly mother or father is certainly NOT the “end”.

  168. Adam Greenwood on May 16, 2007 at 10:20 am

    Ergo, ECS, unmarried persons are barred from the pearly gates.

  169. ECS on May 16, 2007 at 10:25 am

    Adam, you seem intent on misreading me. Unmarried persons will have the opportunity to marry to gain exhaltation. In other words, if they don’t marry in this life, they will not be barred from the pearly gates because of their earthly marital status. Is that clear enough for you?

  170. Adam Greenwood on May 16, 2007 at 10:26 am

    Motherhood and fatherhood is the end. It would be odd if we didn’t talk or think about it because the end wasn’t wholly achievable in this life.

  171. Carlton on May 16, 2007 at 10:36 am

    The end? So throw out the idea of eternal progression.

    I still say purging the freaks is the best or at least the easiest, approach to solving this mess. Imagine the lightened load by not having to deal with those whiners. You know the types: widowed, gays, singles, divorced, childless, darkies, brownies (Lamanite-types), sick, afflicted, deformed, retarded, etc. Would Christ even linger with such freaks? They’re so gross, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind……
    But maybe we’re all freaks. And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick.

  172. ECS on May 16, 2007 at 10:38 am

    My point is not that we shouldn’t “talk or think about” becoming parents, my point is that parenthood is not the only worthy goal to achieve on our earthly journey. Mother’s Day talks and the general discourse about women in the Church communicate that having and raising children is pretty much the only thing women are designed to do.

  173. Ardis Parshall on May 16, 2007 at 10:57 am

    Thank you, CS Eric. Thank you, ECS.

    By the way, it seems particularly useless, contentious, and silly to claim the high ground so adamantly when an argument depends on Mormon doctrine AND on a doctrinally unsound figure of speech like “pearly gates.” What’s next? A debate over whether temple work is efficacious if done for Mickey Mouse rather than the more formal Michael Mouse? (Of course we all really know that he is not eligible for proxy work yet without the approval of his next of kin — does Minnie count as that, without the proof of their marriage license? — because he wasn’t born long enough ago.)

  174. Tom on May 16, 2007 at 11:10 am

    being married is not a ticket to the Celestial Kingdom.

    True. It’s necessary but not sufficient. Marriage and childrearing are also integral parts of the progression of men and women towards godliness. So we should encourage them. They are things that we value because of our doctrine, and our discourse should reflect those values. Of course, we should be as sensitive as we can with those who can’t live up to the ideal. We should love and value them for who they are. But we can’t let the possibility that some good people will feel because they can’t live up to the ideal make us stop teaching ideals.

    Valuing and encouraging marriage and childrearing does not treat women or men as a means to an end. It reflects our belief that participation in families is an important part of men and women’s mortal experience and that exhaltation is reserved for married men and women.

    (Marrying more than one wife might be, though).

    I suppose you could believe that if you discount prophetic teachings of the past 100 years.

    If Church discourse respected women as individuals and not primarily as a means to an end, I think many single and childless women would feel less like something was missing in their lives and more comfortable maintaining their spiritual focus upon goals they can attain in this life.

    Church discourse does respect women as individuals and not as means to an end. It teaches the same thing to men and women: marriage is required for exhaltation and participation in families is an important part of our mortal experience, as well as our eternal life.

    None of us will attain our potential in this life. We all are lacking and we will all be lacking until we die. Some people will fall short in some areas and others will fall short in other areas. That’s life. Until we attain perfection we should all feel inadequate and unwhole.

  175. Lupita on May 16, 2007 at 11:14 am

    “I am not hurt. I am not grieving. I am not angry. I am not stewing in agony. I am not offended. I am not sorrowful. I am not mourning. I am not trying to spoil anyone else’s celebration. I am not trying to change anyone. I am not apostatizing. I am not in need of sympathy, empathy, homeopathy, telepathy, or sociopathy.”

    I’m still laughing about this. No, you couldn’t be clearer and there is nothing quite like the agony of being misunderstood ad infinitum.
    However, if you are ever in need of aromatherapy, let me know. I’ll send you a candle (beats a lousy carnation any day ;)

  176. DKL on May 16, 2007 at 11:37 am

    ECS, if you think that Mormonism views you as incomplete because you’re not a mother, and if you want to belong to an organization that views you as complete, then you’ve got two choices: (1) become a mother, or (2) leave. In any case, It won’t do to bemoan the fact that you can’t dictate how the organization views you. All organizations define their members in terms of the priorities of the organization. That’s what makes them organizations.

    And if you don’t want the toll of childbirth, then you can adopt or have a surrogate mother.

    When I hear people tell me that the church doesn’t celebrate people for who they are but how they somehow fit into this-or-that theological hobby-horse, I think that it’s most often the case that they feels incomplete and uncelebrated (and usually embittered) on their own, and they just blame it on the church.

  177. ECS on May 16, 2007 at 11:40 am

    “But we can’t let the possibility that some good people will feel because they can’t live up to the ideal make us stop teaching ideals.”

    The ideal on Mother’s Day (and many other Sundays), however, seems to be the outward appearance of being married with children. Holding up the traditional nuclear family as _the_ “ideal” achievement in this life misses the boat on the true “ideal” achievement, which is learning to follow Christ.

    As for women and men being taught the same thing about motherhood and fatherhood – Church materials and General Conference talks reveal the wide disparity between the education of young men on becoming fathers and the education of young women on becoming mothers. This disparate education and emphasis continues through Relief Society and Elders Quorum.

  178. Tom on May 16, 2007 at 11:58 am

    The ideal on Mother’s Day (and many other Sundays), however, seems to be the outward appearance of being married with children. Holding up the traditional nuclear family as _the_ “ideal” achievement in this life misses the boat on the true “ideal” achievement, which is learning to follow Christ.

    We have a lot of ideals and values. Some days some ideals get more airtime than other ideals. That doesn’t mean that we’re neglecting the other ideals or jettisoning some in favor of others. In the case of teaching about the importance of participating in families and fulfilling our family responsibilities, this is something that we believe helps us and our children in our efforts to attain the ideal: develping the attributes of godliness.

    As for women and men being taught the same thing about motherhood and fatherhood – Church materials and General Conference talks reveal the wide disparity between the education of young men on becoming fathers and the education of young women on becoming mothers. This disparate education and emphasis continues through Relief Society and Elders Quorum.

    There may well be differences in the ways that men and women are taught. I don’t dispute that. There may be wisdom in those differences. I don’t konw. But the fact remains that we’re all taught that we need to be married in order to be exhalted and that childbearing and childrearing are central aspects of our lives here and in the next life. We should all feel that those are ideals that we need to do our best live up to, and I think we’re all taught this. At least that’s been my experience in young men Elders Quorum.

  179. DKL on May 16, 2007 at 12:11 pm

    I have to laugh every time I hear someone talk about the fact that people have to be married to be exalted.

    The only criteria that can be irrefutable established for obtaining the celestial kingdom is faithful valiance. From what Gordon B. Hinckley says, exaltation may not be an actual orthodox church doctrine at all. But every embittered ignoramus in the church bemoans the fact that their pet group, e.g., gays, singles, illiterates, fans of the movie Orca, is somehow barred from the celestial kingdom or (gasp!) exaltation unless they change. The one group whose exclusion nobody bemoans is people with serious “issues” (to the extant that this excludes fans of the movie Orca), because I think that we’re all hoping that we don’t have to deal with them on the other side.

    Yet this cottage industry of complaint about celestial exclusion serves merely to fuel the dysfunction of people with “issues” and distract them from the edifying task of putting their “issues” into remission.

    In the end, I’m left to ask myself: Can’t we have a single thread about women in the church without people complaining about the purported doctrine that people have to be married to reach some certain level of glory?

  180. bbell on May 16, 2007 at 12:14 pm

    Mothers Day was fine where I was.

    I was visting a ward in Corpus Christi TX.

    All youth speakers, youth choir etc.

    Somebody is always offended or upset by something in the bloggernaccle. Gender topics always bring out those opposed/ offended by the “family ideals of the church”

    Its interesting to me that we do not have flame wars over Fathers Day Sacrament meetings…..

    My view. All males over 18 are not fathers. Only those who have children and behave responsibly.

  181. ECS on May 16, 2007 at 12:18 pm

    Tom – I appreciate your comments and I don’t necessarily wish to disagree with the gist of them. I do want to point out, however, that the “centrality” of childbearing and childrearing is placed squarely upon the woman, not the man. I’d wager that very few men in the Church feel personally singled out for inadequately living up to the fatherhood ideal and dread going to Church on Father’s Day the way many women in the Church dread Mother’s Day.

  182. Tom on May 16, 2007 at 12:30 pm

    ECS: I do want to point out, however, that the “centrality” of childbearing and childrearing is placed squarely upon the woman, not the man. I’d wager that very few men in the Church feel personally singled out for inadequately living up to the fatherhood ideal and dread going to Church on Father’s Day the way many women in the Church dread Mother’s Day.

    Hmm. I wonder. I know I often feel like I’m inadequately living up to the fatherhood ideal. I don’t feel singled out, but when ideals of fatherhood are taught I feel the need to change. I don’t dread Father’s Day. It reminds me to be appreciative of my father and to express appreciation to him for his sacrifices for me.

    DKL,
    It seems pretty well established to me that the highest degree of glory is reserved for married people. I’d be interested to hear why you believe this is not so. Maybe a Mormon Mentality post?

  183. It's Not Me on May 16, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    It’s been interesting to watch people talk past each other. I also feel enlightened to learn that the D&C is wrong about marriage being required for exaltation.

    I believe marriage is required for exaltation, but like somebody above was trying to make clear, that marriage may also take place in the hereafter for those who did not have the opportunity to do so here; hence, “unmarried Mormons” are not barred from exaltation so long as a) they did not have a real opportunity to marry in this life, and b) they get married in the hereafter, where a real opportunity will be presented (at least, that’s what I believe). That, however would render them “married Mormons.”

  184. SilverRain on May 16, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    I have to laugh every time I hear someone talk about the fact that people have to be married to be exalted.

    The only criteria that can be irrefutable established for obtaining the celestial kingdom is faithful valiance.

    Exaltation does not equal obtaining the celestial kingdom. Exaltation is the highest order of the celestial kingdom. We are taught in D&C 131:2 that in order for a man to be exalted, he must enter into the covenant of marriage. I would be interested in seeing how Pres. Hinckley’s teachings contradict that, as you say.

    I do want to point out, however, that the “centrality” of childbearing and childrearing is placed squarely upon the woman, not the man. I’d wager that very few men in the Church feel personally singled out for inadequately living up to the fatherhood ideal

    I wonder how much of this has to do with the female propensity for guilt and self-criticism rather than actual doctrine or teachings. It seems to me that the Church is often harder on fathers than on mothers, they just don’t obsess about it. Culturally, women embrace and wallow in their guilt.

  185. HP on May 16, 2007 at 12:52 pm

    “fans of the movie Orca”

    Dammit, DKL! That’s it! You! Me! Guns at Noon! Just after my all-night Shamu-snuff marathon.

    ps. chupacabra

  186. m&m on May 16, 2007 at 1:33 pm

    Mother’s Day talks and the general discourse about women in the Church

    Mother’s Day talks, perhaps. General discourse is NOT that limited. There have been many, many things said to help women see that their journeys may differ and THAT’S OK.

  187. m&m on May 16, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    I’m still laughing about this. No, you couldn’t be clearer and there is nothing quite like the agony of being misunderstood ad infinitum.

    To be honest, I’m still confused about this, actually. I don’t understand what you are feeling, Ardis, but something must be going on if you stay home on Mother’s Day. Whatever it is, I’m sorry you feel that way.

  188. HP on May 16, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    Good point, m&m. Perhaps she is just tired of Louis Midgley rudely interrupting her Mother’s Day fondue party with the Tanners and George Smith.

  189. m&m on May 16, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    Should I be defending myself or Ardis against that comment, HP? (Ardis, sorry for saying anything more. I know this needs to die.)

  190. Ardis Parshall on May 16, 2007 at 3:28 pm

    m&m, if I don’t want to stand and accept a Mother’s Day gift, I have three choices:

    * I can “suck it up” and accept the gift with a smile. Women do this all the time. It’s courtesy. It’s a Good Thing. If my reason for not wanting the honor is adequate, though, I shouldn’t have to suck it up — in this case sucking it up does more harm to me than good to you.

    * I can remain seated and politely decline the gift. But this is not permitted. I’ve had a bishop stand at the podium, call on me by name to stand with the rest, and refuse to go on with the program until I stood. I’ve had young men take me by the arm and try to drag me to my feet. At the very least, the flower is pressed into my reluctant hand and something along the lines of “It doesn’t matter that you’re not a mother — you can have one anyway” is said. Surely you can recognize that as unpleasant and can understand why I might not like to be part of such a scene.

    * I can avoid the situation by staying away. That to me is the best choice, or the least unacceptable choice.

    Of course it all depends on whether or not my reason for not wanting the recognition is adequate. I’ve tried unsuccessfully to state my reason earlier in this thread; it has been misunderstood. (No pity and no preaching, please! Neither is wanted or appropriate.)

    I would be at church on Mother’s Day as gladly as I am on any other Sunday if you would respect me enough to allow me to say “no, thank you” and have us both go on our way without fuss.

  191. Carolyn on May 16, 2007 at 3:28 pm

    Kaimi,

    I know I am coming to this discussion waaaaaay late. One thing that has been overlooked is that men and women relate to their mothers differently. Little boys have to separate from their mothers in order to become men while little girls are expected to become their mothers.

    This makes the whole mother/daughter relationship a very sensitive area. If we had good mothers then we feel guilty if we don’t live up to their example. If we had bad mothers we worry that we will become them.

    I suspect that many (well intentioned) men simply want to honour the sacrifices their mother made and feel setting aside a day to do that is an innocuous way to achieve this. These (well intentioned) men don’t realize the hornet’s nest of emotion they are stirring. (Witness the last two hundred or so posts if you don’t believe me.)

    As women we are constantly being compared to our mothers in one way or another. Yes, men are compared to their fathers but it’s not the same thing. It’s a question of degree. (Many of the previous comments have agreed that men simply don’t get as worked up over this.) Telling us to suck it up and deal overlooks the constant push/pull emotional tug-of-war most women have with their mothers or will one day have with their daughters.

    My own mother was a life long member of the church who began drinking alcoholically when I was seven. She died many long, violent, self-destructive years later while on a drinking binge. I felt nothing but relief. (Alcohol was not her only problem. But for the sake of brevity we’ll leave it at that.)

    I have long ago made my peace with this outcome and have received more than one spiritual reassurance that my mother’s choices do not have to hinder my own life. In fact, if I am honest, I am forced to admit that her negative example and the determination *not* to become her has probably influenced me toward good more than any other factor in my life. Bizarre, huh? Now *that’s* a Mother’s Day talk I’d like to give. ;-) Nonetheless, I am still on occasion asked to explain her life and I am still being compared to her rightly or wrongly.

    I also happen to be single with no children of my own. This particular aspect of Mother’s Day pain has already been well covered in this discussion. I would, however, like to add that with the exception of those who suffer from infertility — which I’m sure must be a very painful circumstance — many of us who are single are childless as a result of our choices.

    I can think of a number of friends who married men with whom they knew they would have less than satisfactory marriages just so they could have children. Many of them are now divorced. Marriage as a means to an end (children) was not acceptable to me.

    I can also think of any number of boyfriends from my past who would have been delighted to provide me with the opportunity for motherhood (sans marriage of course). That was also not acceptable to me. In short, I am childless as a result of retaining my integrity and keeping my covenants. I am childless as a result of my choices. That means I am not a victim. Instead of feeling sorry for me, maybe I should get a little credit. (I think this is what the prophets mean when they say singles who have not had the opportunity for children will have every blessing. It’s God’s way of acknowledging my right choices.)

    Having said all that, even though I’m fine with my life and I know that God is fine with my life, Mother’s Day is still really tough. There’s just so much cultural baggage around this day.

  192. Ardis Parshall on May 16, 2007 at 3:31 pm

    m&m, HP is saying all the magic words to cause this thread to die. No defense needed.

    Hey, let’s round up all the unwanted Mother’s Day flowers, turn them into a funeral arrangement, and put this puppy under.

  193. m&m on May 16, 2007 at 3:38 pm

    Ardis,

    Thanks for answering. (And for the record, I will say again that I would not force you to take a flower and your stories are really shocking.)

    Should I wear black now for the funeral of the thread?

  194. Sonnet on May 16, 2007 at 3:41 pm

    Carolyn,

    Your comments remind me of my very favorite episode of “Sex and the City” (the shoe shame episode!) where Carrie reflects upon how we never give women gifts for *not* marrying the wrong guy…Love that.

  195. Carolyn on May 16, 2007 at 3:53 pm

    Sonnet,

    I would love it if we had an occasion like that. Sort of like a reverse bridal shower. I’m sure I would have a stack of those gifts by now!!

  196. SilverRain on May 16, 2007 at 3:53 pm

    Careful when you draw lines in the sand, Carolyn. I’m a girl. :)

  197. m&m on May 16, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    hm, my comment didn’t show up. Ardis, thanks for responding, and once again, I would let you refuse the flower. No fuss, no muss. (I’m sorry your experiences have been so awful.)

    Should I wear black for the funeral of the thread? Or maybe a flowered dress?

  198. Carolyn on May 16, 2007 at 4:10 pm

    SilverRain,

    Hmmm… I’m not sure what part of my comment you are referencing. Kaimi asked in his original post why Mother’s Day can be so troubling for some women. I was merely offering a possible explanation.

  199. SilverRain on May 16, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    Carolyn – I just meant that I don’t see the big deal, and I’m a girl, so it’s not a man vs. woman thing.

  200. Carolyn on May 16, 2007 at 4:21 pm

    SilverRain,

    I never said all women, only most. If you don’t see the big deal, then count yourself lucky. You’re in the minority.

  201. Carolyn on May 16, 2007 at 4:25 pm

    By the way, I didn’t mean to say that it was a man vs. woman thing at all. What I meant was that something that started out with the best of intentions inadvertantly ends up causing a lot of unintended grief. I think that was the gist of Kaimi’s original post also, if I read it right.

  202. Louise on May 16, 2007 at 9:13 pm

    As a kid I always wondered what was wrong with women on special occasion. I have finally decided that no one says what they want. They just sit around expecting someone to read their mind and hope it happens on their special day. People need to stand up and say, “I want this on Mother’s Day.” Either that, or get off their soap box and stop complaining. People who don’t like the day don’t have to celebrate it.

    I also think part of the problem is that women let a bunch of old white men tell them what they are worth. Women need to learn to define themselves.

  203. queuno on May 17, 2007 at 12:21 am

    Ardis -

    I really think you need to go back and wait for the bishop to call you to stand, and remain seated. I think this needs to a duel at high noon. Even better if you’re seated in exactly the center of the chapel.

    I might start paying 11% to see that. I’ll pay the extra 1% in your name. I’ll put my bets on you.

    Some other random thoughts:

    My wife and I are struggling with family relationships at the moment. Particular with her mother, but I am not exempt from difficulties with my own (except, that my mother is a saint, I’m told). I still made the obligatory phone call, if for no other reason then we don’t have to make them for another month or 2 (they don’t call us; we have to call them).

    I sat at lunch with my bishop friend, who just presided over his first Mother’s Day SM (he had been a counselor over a few). They handed out potted flowers. He was shocked and amazed at how many people griped over it — “why can’t we just get chocolate?” Even the RS president was a bit surprised. He commented that next year, he’s debating saving the budget resources and just giving it to the general RS budget. His family and other families in his ward have suffered through painful times related to children, and I know he went to great lengths to not offend. I felt sorry for him because he specifically tried to not be an insensitive clod, yet half the women in the ward just assumed that because he was a man, he just wouldn’t understand that women love chocolate more than flowers.

    Maybe, in our haste to criticize our local leaders (bishops and RS presidents, both), we need to remember that it could be us next time having to make the decision, and I wonder how many of us would approach this topic with the same amount of bravado if we were making the decision (Bishop DKL, with Sister Parshall as the RS president — I might pay 12% to live in that ward). Bishops in particular are instructed to try to minister to the entire ward. Maybe I should suggest to my friend that they spend the first half of the meeting celebrating mothers and the last half flogging them.

  204. queuno on May 17, 2007 at 12:40 am

    @202 – The problem with your approach to definition is that you assume that there aren’t faithful, God-fearing women who have elevated motherhood to a special status. It’s not just old white men.

  205. DKL on May 17, 2007 at 8:55 am

    Only in Mormonism do you have women complaining about it when people try to be nice to them. If Mormon feminists are trying to get rid of nasty stereotypes, they might do well to try to eliminate the nasty behavior that gives rise to them.

  206. Ardis Parshall on May 17, 2007 at 9:26 am

    But DKL, we’re all looking to you as our model, our hero, our go-to-guy! We trust you’ll share with us the secret of eliminating nasty behavior just as soon as you figure out that part yourself.

  207. Chino Blanco on May 17, 2007 at 9:58 am

    from
    http://www.wisebread.com/inventor-of-mothers-day-wants-you-to-stop-wasting-money

    Americans are planning to spend an average of $139 on Mother’s Day gifts this year. That’s a stunning $16 billion national spending frenzy that would have horrified Anna Jarvis, the founder of Mother’s Day.

    Anna lobbied for the creation of the holiday as a tribute to her mother and mothers everywhere. Her efforts paid off in 1914 when President Wilson officially designated the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

    Later on, after seeing her holiday cheapened by rampant commercialism, Anna denounced her own holiday. She wrote:

    A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world.

    And candy! You take a box to Mother — and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment.

    Ironically, Anna would spend the rest of her life fighting against the holiday she created …

  208. Mark IV on May 17, 2007 at 10:12 am

    queuno said:

    …(Bishop DKL, with Sister Parshall as the RS president — I might pay 12% to live in that ward).

    queuno, I see your 12%, and raise. In fact, I’ll go all in. I would begin living the law of consecration immediately if I lived in that ward. They would probably have to put a penalty box in the bishop’s office as a means of keeping order during ward council, but the funny thing is, it would probably be a great ward.

  209. DKL on May 17, 2007 at 10:35 am

    Ardis, again, your remark is beside the point. I’m not especially concerned with eliminating nasty stereotypes, so I don’t have any special aversion to the behaviors that give rise to them, as such. My advice is to feminists who seek to eliminate the stereotypes.

    But let’s be perfectly clear: This is a (kind of bizarre) thread about why some women feel justified publicly refusing compliments, and refusing compliments is not one of my problems. But next time there’s a thread that bears on my faults, don’t be shy about calling me to task.

  210. Kaimi Wenger on May 17, 2007 at 11:23 am

    DKL writes,

    “Only in Mormonism do you have women complaining about it when people try to be nice to them.”

    Don’t get out much, do you?

  211. DKL on May 17, 2007 at 11:42 am

    Ouch!

  212. Ardis Parshall on May 17, 2007 at 12:03 pm

    Because I use my name in this forum, declining to hide behind initials and pseudonyms, and because ideas and attitudes misunderstood by others have an unpleasant tendency to stick to the person to whom they are falsely attributed and can and have been used against them later, and AS LONG AS THIS THREAD WON’T DIE, I once again deliberately distance myself from lying accusations.

    I responded to an invitation from Kaimi to answer his question. Until then, I had not made any public statement about my dislike of Mother’s Day — you will note, if you are fair, that in my own Mother’s Day question, I did not complaint. There is a mild hint there, recognizable only because I explained it in this thread. So, DKL, I have not been public in my dislike in person or in writing, except in this single discussion SOLICITING responses.

    Nor have I *complained* about Mother’s Day, or about any compliment. Preferring to decline an honor I have not earned is not a complaint. In polite company, a quiet “no, thank you,” is acceptable and is not considered a complaint.

    Publicly embarrassing a woman by turning all eyes to her for quietly retaining her seat is not a compliment. Manhandling her to her feet is not a compliment. Refusing to accept her quiet “no, thank you” is not a compliment.

    To whatever extent DKL’s remarks were aimed at me, I decline the compliment. No, thank you, DKL.

  213. Kaimi Wenger on May 17, 2007 at 12:23 pm

    Thanks all, for your responses. I’m sorry I haven’t been able to participate more — there are some interesting ideas. I like what Melissa and others say about the fact that other accomplishments seem to be downplayed. At the same time, though, Mother’s Day does seem important to some women — see some of the comments in Ardis’ thread on flowers. I don’t think that Kristine’s and Melissa’s suggestion of doing away with the celebration is ideal, either. It seems that that would make some women more comfortable, but make others less comfortable.

    I suppose there’s really no silver bullet. Either way, some women will feel excluded, marginalized, or otherwise not part of the celebration. Maybe some amount of marginalization is inevitable.

    My own sense is that making Mother’s Day better is largely not about Mother’s Day at all. Many of the complaints brought by Kristine, Eve, Melissa, and others seem related to the overall atmosphere in the church. E.g., if women’s accomplishments (educational, vocational, musical, etc.) _were_ recognized more consistently, that would seem to undercut the criticism that women are recognized only as mothers, not as people.

    There’s probably more to discuss, but this thread may have gone on too long. So, at the (repeated) suggestion of some of our participants, I’m going to close this thread. Thanks, everyone,* for your suggestions and comments. I suppose we can continue the discussion when Father’s Day comes around.

    *By “everyone,” I am of course employing the standard usage — i.e., “everyone except DKL” . . .

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