Mother’s day is one of my all-time favorite holidays. This is partly because I have the best mom in the universe, partly because my wife is also the best mom in the universe (tied with my mom), and partly because I like to eat candy and buy toys.
I have occasionally been asked to give talks at church on Mother’s day, however, this year they asked Natalie to talk instead. She spent hours preparing for her talk by soliciting ideas from other moms, reading scriptures and other literature about motherhood, and pondering and praying about the topic. Her preparation paid off and she was able to deliver a beautiful discourse on the “Joys and Challenges of Motherhood.” For me, the highlight of the talk was the reminder that when the Savior hung on the cross the last matter of business he attended to during his mortal ministry was to ensure that his mother would be taken care of. I think that experience nicely illustrates the value of mothers. Natalie also reminded us that Mother’s day is not a day to be frustrated with your own inadequacies as a mother or frustration in not being a mother (I assure you that I am plagued by neither of those frustrations), but rather, a day to appreciate your own mother. I’m glad that she mentioned this because one of my biggest peeves is hearing women complain about this holiday, expressing how horrible a day it is. I just don’t understand this… even if you had a poor childhood, your mother did bring you into the world, care for you (even if it was inadequately), and as Natalie nicely put it– “potty trained you” (no small feat). I don’t think anyone has the right to not celebrate mothers day. (Now I’ll step off my soapbox).
In an article at lds.org I found the following quote by Joseph F. Smith:
“A mother that is successful in raising a good boy, or girl, to imitate her example and to follow her precepts through life, sows the seeds of virtue, honor and integrity and of righteousness in their hearts that will be felt through all their career in life; and wherever that boy or girl goes, as man or woman, in whatever society they mingle, the good effects of the example of that mother upon them will be felt; and it will never die, because it will extend from them to their children from generation to generation.”
I certainly agree with this. Even ten years or so removed from living at home I feel my mothers influence every day in the things I do, see, and say. Even the cheesy catch phrases like “2-4-6-8, Christensen’s are never late” and “I can do hard things”, while not usually expressed out loud, are still going through my head all the time. I feel as Abraham Lincoln did when he said “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” My mother did things growing up the drove me crazy like insisting I come home at 5:00 for dinner (while my friends all stayed and played much later), spending every Monday night at home with the family, and she had planning meetings to prepare for planning meetings to prepare for holiday celebrations months away. I laugh about these things now because I’m usually one of the first ones to leave my favorite hobby (ultimate Frisbee) so I can go home and spend time with the family, I am always home on Monday nights and we even have a family policy of not answering the phone after 6:00 pm on Monday, and I love planning and preparing for vacations and other holidays, often starting preparations months in advance. I’m grateful that my mother has rubbed off on me in so many positive ways.
I should also note that Natalie is an amazing mother. I think the most refreshing quality she has is that she is constantly looking for ways to help our children develop and dedicates so much of her time and energy to them, but she never seeks the spotlight for herself. I get very annoyed that often “Mother-of-the-year” mothers are usually recognized for all the things that matter least in mothering (having a successful career, developing personal skills that don’t necessarily benefit children, etc). Mothers who are truly doing their best as mothers don’t get recognition. For example, no one knows (until I write it in this blog) that Natalie helped Sharon clean up after her five or so “accidents” yesterday without complaint. I think Natalie is a hero for not giving up on potty training but instead lovingly doing her best to help Share improve a little each day. She also helped Eli with a few of his inventions, did some grocery shopping, laundry, held preschool for all the neighborhood children (while their parents are away on a cruise) and covered carpool for the remaining children. And that’s just what she did in the morning. In the afternoon she did some more cleaning, took Share to swimming and Eli to soccer (which is a sacrifice for her because she doesn’t want the kids to be too involved with extra curriculars), came home and helped whip up dinner, and, oh yeah, she did all of this with a three-month-old attached to her wanting her constant attention. Nat deserves mom-of-the-year based solely on a single days work.
Mom, I love you. Natalie, I love you. I am grateful that the two most amazing women I know are related to me.
P.S. On a somewhat related side note… on Monday Wal-mart had all of their easter candy 75% off so we went crazy and bought easter baskets, easter eggs filled with candy, chocolate bunnies, etc. We ended up spending about $5 for an Easter avalanche. We then went to a public park, hid some eggs while we ate dinner and then gave Sharon and Eli each a new easter basket and they raced to pick up as many eggs as they could. It was a blast. Celebrating holidays two weeks after the fact is always a lot of fun.