As a child, growing up, it was exclusively a chance to remember and make more vivid the memory and appreciation for all that my mother has done (and continues to do) for me. This obvious tone to the day continued uninterrupted until I married and found myself commemmorating my own mother, as well as honoring the woman I chose to be the mother of my children. When difficulties conceiving and bearing children broke that natural sequence, I was forced to reconsider the meaning of Mother's Day.
During the years when our yearning went unfulfilled, I found meaning in the many ways that women can fulfill many roles of mothers, regardless of their parental or marital status. Nevertheless, I also recognized that none of this filled the void in the hearts of those whose opportunity it might never be to carry a child whom they would then raise as a mother. This became personal, and the weight considerable.
Now, as I straddle the ever-shortening distance between that anxious and burdensome time, and another (just a few weeks until I'll have a double dose of daddy duty) which promises to be at least as anxious and burdensome, I found myself contemplative during the Mother's Day service this morning and throughout the day. The talks took me down a line of thinking that I hadn't discovered until today. Our Heavenly Father chooses the title Father. We call Him that, not because of any posterity He may (or may not) have had when He sojourned as a mortal man; rather, we call Him that because it is His divinely appointed and chosen title. By inference, Mother in Heaven holds a similar position of honor based on Her godhood, and holds that title for eternity, regardless of the presence/absence of mortal posterity preceding Her exaltation. We honor and reverence and worship our Heavenly Parents.
This realization led me to think of those divine titles of Father and Mother as being less bounded by mortality. Instead, they are titles to which each of us aspires, regardless of the randomness that sometimes can accompany the giving of mortal life and which is associated with a mortal sphere, accompanied by mortal use of agency.
No one on earth is truly a Father or Mother yet, but each of us aspires to achieve Fatherhood or Motherhood. So when we honor motherhood and mothers each second Sunday in May, we do so as a type or shadow of true Motherhood. And we honor the mothers in our lives as they strive to become Mothers. We recognize and appreciate the traces of divinity shown in mortal motherhood. And we recommit ourselves, regardless of whether we are children seeing only our mother, or unmarried adults yearning for love and family, or childless couples feeling bereft of opportunity and progress, or divorced parents striving to juggle both fatherhood and motherhood, or widowed or orphaned individuals who feel the longing for loved ones lost, or empty-nesters feeling like parenting somehow passed them by and reflecting on opportunities not created or not taken, or anywhere in between or further down the road. This sense of rededication, of making holy once again our sense of purpose in pursuing parenthood in its eternal sense, can serve as an inspiration every Mother's Day as we take in whatever messages have been prepared by well-meaning saints seeking to serve.
We honor our mothers and our Mother, and hope that the mothers in our lives receive as divinely as they have given (and continue to give). And we aspire to the godly nature of their examples as they reflect and aspire to the parental concern and love of a Heavenly Father and Mother, who embody true Fatherhood and Motherhood.