That’s a controversial statement but let me explain.
I write this blog entry to all mothers, but specifically to my own mother, my wife and my two beautiful daughters who are now mothers with children of their own.
Everything of ultimate importance “now” in my life, began as a young toddler in the care of my Mother. I don’t want to discount my father. He was a good man and in my later years he built on the foundation laid by my Mom. But, Mom had a profound impact that I am not sure she realized as a young mother. Mom and Dad became my example of heaven. As they taught us about God and His plan I could imagine Him as having characteristics of grace, mercy, love, justice and forgiveness because my parents modeled this to a greater extent in our family.
My father was a teacher and a farmer. During the winter he taught religion as a seminary teacher for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. During the summer he worked a farmer raising, for the most part, his 9 children. My mother never worked outside of the home while she had children. I didn’t say she never worked, because she raised 9 children and somehow accomplished, single handedly, everything that ‘that’ entailed.
By God’s stated design children start out in the constant care of nurturing mothers, and so it is she that was our earliest teacher and exemplar. I never had a doubt of my mother’s love for me, for others, and above all for God. Don’t be deceived by that statement, Mom was not perfect (but this is not a record of her imperfections). However, because of her I grew to understand that perfection was not required. In my memory she was full of love and concern, and from my early childhood recollections she spent time singing to and teaching us the stories of Jesus, taking us on occasional outings into the great outdoors (the barn yards and orchards were huge for a child), and being with us when it counted (which is “always” in children’s lives), interspersed with occasional well deserved discipline, frustration and even infrequent despair and panic at being solely responsible for 9 usually rambunctious children. As a young boy I recall two particular instances of my mother’s faith and the power of her prayers.
The first of many examples was when Harrison who was 6 and I of 5 were sword fighting in the house. Harrison had a butter knife and I had found a pair of scissors. I don’t think Mom knew I had the scissors. Harrison climbed up on the table and jumped down on me and I instinctively thrust my arms upward with the scissors, stabbing him in the stomach. Mom ran in with all the crying that ensued and assessed the damage. As soon as she learned that Harrison had been stabbed in the stomach she began praying out loud while she acted. As she took off his shirt to assess the extent of the injury she plead with heaven that Harrison would be all right. Her next step of action was to call Dad in from the field to give Harrison a priesthood blessing and then a quick trip to the doctors. To her relief the scissors had only punctured the skin and had not gone through the muscle wall and into the vital organs.
The second example occurred in the same year. Dad was in the field and we were all in the house watching and getting in the way as Mom made a batch of cookies. Steven was 2 and was on the table. Mom had the mix-master going and had put the ingredients in to mix and in a split instant Steve put his little hand in the bowl and his hand was drawn into the beaters. Mom quickly pulled the plug, turning off the machine, and again praying out loud, she worked to free a 2 year olds hand which looked terribly twisted and bent in the beaters but she was unable to free him. Continuing to pray and plead she herded 3 little boys (4, 5 & 6) and carried the mix-master and Steven (2) into the old Volkswagen van and drove into the field where Dad was able to eject the stuck beaters and free Steve’s hand. Miraculously his little hand was flexible enough to avoid broken bones and only had bruises and marginally cut skin to show for it all. Throughout my life my Mother was a vocal prayer whenever emergencies arose and they arose frequently with 9 children.
What examples to my 5 year old mind. I had no double! Mother taught by modeling the pattern to follow when urgent help was needed. I am forever indebted to her efforts to be the best Mother she could be. I have a personal relationship with my Heavenly Father because she instilled a toddlers faith with these earliest recollections from my childhood.