The Privilege of Motherhood

12:50 AM

Our children don't always come to us the traditional way. My mother became an insta-mom when she married my father. My dad and my older sister Angela were a packaged deal. My sister has always appreciated our mother in a very special way, because she had to live six of her youngest years without her.

My parents, Jim and Penney Griffith with their oldest daughter, Angela (front-right)
as the flower girl at their wedding reception. Penney, adopted Angie when she was 6 years old.

As I was organizing my mother's papers I found the following talk she had written about Angela, me, and the blessing of being a mother. It touched my heart and helped me remember how blessed I am to be her daughter and what it means to be a mother.

Heavenly Father blessed me right away with motherhood as Angela (our little 6 year old) came with her daddy to our marriage. As our wedding day approached she would always say, "our wedding", meaning the three of us or "we're getting married". Then as many of you know, the 3 of us were blessed very soon with a little angel from heaven, our Wendy Joy.

Six year old Angela is on the far left. She is standing in the receiving line of our parents wedding. She was so excited for this special day- the day that she was getting a mama. She appreciates our mother in a special way, probably because she had to live her six youngest years without her.
Our children bring much joy into our lives. Even when the days are stormy as just last Friday when Angie took sick. After the bad night, she was feeling fine the next morning and her little "I love my mama", sent a ray of sunlight through the clouds. As I was preparing this talk, she said, "Isn't it nice to be a mama?!" Yes, it is!

Jim and I marvel at this wonderful miracle called birth which you especially think about when you have a new little one in the house. She can't talk, and yet looking into those baby eyes, there is a true testimony of the existence of a Divine Creator. How privileged and grateful I feel to have been given a small measure of His creative power in my role as a mother. to know that you have been a part of this creation is the greatest blessing given to man and woman.

My older sister Angie and me. She was so happy to be a 'big sister'.
There is an old proverb which states, "Since God could not be everywhere at once, He created mothers." Along with the joy and happiness associated with motherhood, there comes much responsibility.

Our responsibility as women starts ever before our marriage. It is important to keep high standards, for each child born into the world has the right to be well born of goodly parents. Then as our children are born to us, we acquire the responsibility of rearing them, shaping their character, molding their thoughts, planting in them high ideals, righteous purposes, and faith in God.
Jim and Penney Griffith on their wedding day 3/31/67

Orson Pratt said, "Let each mother commence with her children when young, not only to teach and instruct them, but to chasten and bring them into the most co-operation. For then is the time when they are most easily trained and their tender minds are the most susceptible of influence and government."

My sister Angie sporting a swimming cap and hugging me
When you have a child of your own, you come to truly think of the great principle of pre-existence and how just a short time ago this little one was in the presence of our Heavenly Father, so very pure and innocent as to the ways of this mortal life. This makes me so aware of the complete dependence they have on us to supply their very need. A child's greatest security comes from a pure and unselfish motherly love. 

A little word, a simple word and yet it means so much. Love is the strongest force, and underneath it's magic touch a heart unfolds. Just like a flower that opens to the sun. This is the sweetest thing in life, when all is said and done.

"The mother's image is the first that stamps itself on the unwritten page on a young child's mind. It is her caress that first awakens a sense of security: her kiss, the first realization of affection; her sympathy and tenderness, the first assurance that there is love in the world..." -David O. McKay
Mama and Me
In my short experience of motherhood, I find one of the great blessings is all that we learn from our children. Ora Pate Stewart expresses this in her poem, Lullaby,

We have come to the end of a busy,
You have come for a good-night song,
And although you think I am singing for you,
You have sung for me all along.

Your dear little lips, when you kiss me good-night,

Are as sweet as an angel caress;
And your soft little arms, when you hold me 
so tight,
Are the total of happiness.

Then folding your hands in a dimpled clasp,

And climbing upon my knee-
With your head half bowed
And your eyes half closed-
"Bless Daddy and Mama and me."

Today's been a day of correction for you,

I've mingled my tears with your own.
And tonight I am wondering who has taught best,
For I've not been teaching alone.

My mother, Penney Louise Smith Griffith wrote and shared this message on her first Mother's Day, after my birth in 1968. She was speaking to a congregation of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Laguna Beach, California. I know that because of her loving and righteous influence her posterity has been and will be blessed.

My mother taught me what it means  to be a mother. I have learned that being a good mother doesn't mean I have to be perfect at the art of mothering. Part of being a good mother means that I should be perfect in knowing that I am not and that I should forgive myself for that fact. Teaching forgiveness should be Number 1 on The List of Things to Teach Children First (even before potty training). It's essential to good mothering, to be good at both forgiving and asking for forgiveness.

My children will be better prepared for their own role as a parent if they know how to forgive well. So when they have that thunder-crashing moment - the moment when a young parent first realizes that they aren't and never will be the ideal parent that they imagined because that ideal doesn't exist, anywhere (including Instagram) - I hope they will forgive themselves quickly for that and then move on.

When my adult children reflect on how I parented them, I think that what they'll remember first is that I loved them something fiercely and consistently through both my actions and words, however imperfect it might have been at times. And that this devotion and love, mingled with forgiveness, humility, and constant learning, is what it takes to be a good parent. I anticipate that they will learn quickly (as I did)  that the key to successful parenting is to never stop trying to be the best parent you can be while accepting and learning from your flaws.

And so there will be stormy days, but mostly sunny and that's OK, because isn't it nice to be a mama.

Me and Mama 1986

Me and Mama on my wedding day January 2013

I am so grateful for my beautiful daughters, all that they have taught me,
and all that I have learned being their mama.
Here we are together on Sariah's wedding day.

My mother, Penney had 4 daughters (no sons) and each of her daughters had only daughters. Penney has 10 granddaughters and no grandsons. Her first great-grandson came through my oldest sister Angie. Angie's daughter Bryn has two sons, the oldest is Tristyn and he gets the title of being the first boy born into the family in 3 generations.

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  1. Love your writing Wendy! Beautiful tribute to your mother!

  2. I love learning more about your mom! She is such a lovely lady in so many ways, just like you, Wendy.