The detours of motherhood, or why I’m like prophets and my children are like Lamanites

detour20signsI’m currently at my parents’ home in Atlanta for Spring Break.  Unlike the great white North where I live, Spring actually lives here, so it’s been a nice change of scenery.  Outdoor weather has allowed my children to play hard and sleep hard.  My nights have been mostly quiet and peaceful.  The night before last I fell asleep face-down diagonally across my bed, on top of the covers with my scriptures open.  Before I dozed off to sleep, however, I managed to have an epiphany while studying Alma chapter 17 in the Book of Mormon.

I don’t know if this is a common struggle with other mothers or not, but I have some dear friends– friends I consider “kindred spirits” in the Anne of Green Gables’ sense– with whom I have not had decent contact for years.  I still love them as much as I ever did, and I do think of them often and wonder how they are.  Occasionally, we drop each other a quick “hello” on Facebook, and we exchange Christmas cards religiously, but despite our mutual admiration, we’ve kind of fallen out of each others’ lives.  Sometimes I mourn that a little bit.  I miss my Sunday afternoon drives up in the mountains with best girlfriends where we listened to sappy love songs and poured out our fears, struggles, dramas, and memories together.  And we laughed.  A lot.  I don’t live even within a few states of most of them anymore, but the life I have chosen is no longer my very own.  I share it with a husband and three little children.  I love them all and wouldn’t give them up for anything, but they’re pretty darn time consuming.  My friends are living similarly busy lives, and I truly understand it.  It still makes me a little sad, but as I read my scriptures Tuesday night, I saw it all a little differently.

There was a group of tight friends:  Alma the younger and the four sons of Mosiah.  These verses explains the missions they were called to:

11 And the Lord said unto them also: Go forth among the Lamanites, thy brethren, and establish my word; yet ye shall be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls.

It struck me that this is very much like my calling to be a mother.  The words patience, long-suffering, and the command to be a good example stood out to me.  And the work of saving souls is literally in our hands and homes.

  12 And it came to pass that the hearts of the sons of Mosiah, and also those who were with them, took courage to go forth unto the Lamanites to declare unto them the word of God.
  13 And it came to pass when they had arrived in the borders of the land of the Lamanites, that they separated themselves and departed one from another, trusting in the Lord that they should meet again at the close of their harvest; for they supposed that great was the work which they had undertaken.
It really does take courage– doesn’t it?– to give up portions of your life as you know it because you hope to teach your children and make a difference in your own family.  And that is truly what happens among friends who begin/accept the motherhood journey; we “depart” in a sense, with faith and hope that we’ll meet again.  And we couldn’t do that if we didn’t believe that “great was the work” we have chosen.  (My commentary is in brackets and italics below.)
  14 And assuredly it was great, for they had undertaken to preach the word of God to a wild and a hardened and a ferocious people [have you seen a toddler or preschooler’s temper tantrum??]; a people who delighted in murdering the Nephites, and robbing and plundering them [okay, there’s not much murder going on in my house, but my fridge has definitely been plundered many times]; and their hearts were set upon riches, or upon gold and silver, and precious stones [or Webkins, the candy aisle at the grocery store, and Chuck E. Cheese tokens]; yet they sought to obtain these things by murdering and plundering [whining and manipulating], that they might not labor for them with their own hands [“No! Mommy do it!”].
And why again do we throw ourselves into that kind of mess and responsibility?
 …  16 Therefore, this was the cause for which the sons of Mosiah [a group of dear friends] had undertaken the work, that perhaps they might bring them unto repentance; that perhaps they might bring them to know of the plan of redemption.
 17 Therefore they separated themselves one from another, and went forth among them, every man [woman, sister, friend] alone, according to the word and power of God which was given unto him [her].
And for the first time, I saw myself and my unseen-but-not-lost friends as teammates on a holy mission.  We are working together more than we know, and I am strengthened by their efforts in far away lands with their own little Lamanites.  I feel unity with them, and frankly, with all of you readers, too, as I consider how we are truly serving a mission together to instruct an entire generation about God’s plan of happiness and their role in it.  It’s amazing actually.  It makes me realize that I’ve been closer than I realized to my fellow-mothers all along.
The first verses in this chapter (before the flashback in the verses I’ve quoted) show the joyful reunion of this group of friends and how they are even happier to know that each of them has remained faithful to their mission and worked hard and even suffered much in their efforts to save souls.  I think this is why we pick up right where we left off with beloved friends we have not seen for a while, because we have a cause and a deep commitment in common.  It makes me pretty darn excited for heaven or those retirement years (whichever comes first!) when we will have the time again for Sunday drives with good friends, laughing about our days among the Lamanites.
Don’t be shy… try your hand at the limerick contest.  Come on, it’ll be fun.
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21 thoughts on “The detours of motherhood, or why I’m like prophets and my children are like Lamanites

  1. My favorite part of that story is the part you referred to last, where the five friends were the happiest that they had all remained faithful to their covenants and had grown stronger in trials. I’ve been thinking a lot about what it is that connects us to some and why it’s so easy to part ways with others. I haven’t come to any firm conclusions yet, but I think your example of these men contains at least part of the answer. Great post, Steph.

  2. I loved this post. I’ve always loved the verse where they’re reunited and have related it to my (full-time proselytizing) mission, but I love they way you applied this here.

    My reality to the contrary, I still haven’t quite given up the dream of reconnecting with friends BEFORE my kids all de-nest, but I love your idea that some separation from friends is just part of the very demanding journey of leaving the familiar behind to embark on creating and nurturing a family.

  3. I like this post a lot. It kind of makes me sad that it has been confirmed now that I will probably not get to spend quality time with my friends for quite some time. Looks like I will have to turn Dal into a “girlfriend”.

    • Oh, I don’t think we have to give up that part of our lives entirely. Good heavens, that would be depressing. We have to make time for those things for our sanity, and I try to do it occasionally…. even girlfriend getaway weekends/reunions. But I think that we’re fooling ourselves if we think things should be as they were before. Husband and children have inserted themselves on our priority list right under God, and they need and deserve our attention, but we don’t have to cloister ourselves in our homes just because we’re moms. We mothers need each other to commiserate and survive! 🙂 It’s just different now, and that’s okay. I’m just realizing that we need to be strengthened in the mission we share, and not be grumpy because we don’t get to go out to lunch with our girlfriends three times a week. 🙂

  4. Oh thanks so much for this! I have never really thought about it this way before. What a unique perspective! Makes me feel better about the daily tasks at hand. I needed a boost today…

  5. So insightful and so wise … we are all temporarily on our motherhood mission.

    I actually have thought a lot about my mission in life right now being motherhood. In fact, a couple of years ago I ordered myself a personal copy of “Preach My Gospel” and I have been reading the entire thing and all the scriptures that go along with it. And while I study I focus on applying the scriptures to my motherhood mission. It has been most eye opening … I only have a couple of pages left in the manual and then I will start it over.

    Thanks, as always, for sharing your soul with us!

  6. Great, thought provoking post. I love when we get these flashes of insight while reading the scriptures. It’s easy to get distracted by the day-to-day and forget why we’re really all doing this. There is certainly a time & season to everything and we need to appreciate all that each has to offer.

  7. What an incredible parallel you’ve drawn here, Stephanie. Talk about likening the scriptures to yourself! It really strikes a chord for me. Motherhood can be a lonely battle some days, and this really puts a beautiful perspective on it.

  8. Ah, Steph. You truly amaze me. This entry really struck me, and honestly, made me teary eyed. The line “my life is not my very own” just resonated with me and got my heart all un-hardened for the rest of your post. It’s so good to read the way that you think, because sometimes I just don’t think that I’m getting through to my particular set of Lamanites, as much as I love them. Thank you, as always.

  9. What a great post! Lately, I’ve wondered about what role my friends are supposed to be playing in my life. This post makes it very clear. It’s okay that we don’t see each other all the time, because we each have a more important role right now.

    I really think blogs are a Godsend! (If used correctly, of course.) I’m able to learn from my friends (real-life and otherwise) while not taking time away from my children. The experiences of other women really boost me up!

  10. I love your reference to “kindred spirits” from Anne of Green Gables! And I really appreciated this a-ha of yours that can apply directly to us as mothers. I too love blogland and enjoy learning from the insights of others. Thank you for sharing this. 🙂

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