How pumpkin seeds validated my motherhood
My husband and I could not have children. Fortunately, he had a son from his first marriage and I was blessed to have him in my life from the time the boy was five years old. I raised him as my own and loved him as my own. But there were times when I felt I was “only” the step-mom—never good enough or loved enough or appreciated enough to be called Mom. When he was in his 20’s he ventured out on his own, paying little mind to his family. It broke my heart and I felt my motherhood ripped from me again. It was hard enough going through the pain of childlessness, sitting through church alone, thinking all sorts of crazy thoughts about the inadequacies of my own motherhood. Those were hard and lonely years. I felt as if my influence in this one boy’s life was meaningless. But I still did what I could to reach out and be a good mom. As things started to fall in place for him in his life, he began to include us again. He put himself through college, met a wonderful girl and got engaged. He was more pleasant to talk to, but it was still quite difficult to reach him. I longed for the days when we were close—when we did things together as mother and son, when I felt I mattered to him.
Then came the phone call. It was a week before Halloween and he and his fiancé were carving a pumpkin. He called me up to say hi. I was curious—he rarely called to say hi. He mostly called when he was in need of something. After the pleasantries came the question. I thought, “Uh-oh. He’s in trouble again.” But instead he said, “Kristen and I are carving a pumpkin and I remember how you used to roast pumpkin seeds when I was a kid. I told her how good they were and I was wondering—can you tell me how you roasted them?” At first I was shocked that he remembered, then I was shocked that he called to ask. In today’s age, you can find anything on the internet. But he called me, instead. I told him how I did it, then wished him luck. After I hung up the phone I felt as light as a feather. He remembered something wonderful from his childhood and he credited me with the memory. I mattered to him. The pumpkin seeds validated me as a mother.
The kind things you do matter
There are more times than I’d like to admit when my kindness has gone unnoticed. We do good deeds for others and often get little to no thanks in return. I used to think this meant others didn’t care, but the pumpkin seeds proved otherwise. The kind things we do build upon the souls of those we influence. They become a permanent part of another person’s heart and soul. They shape the future of the people whose lives we touch. The nurturing things we do have a lasting effect on others, whether they ever come back and tell us or not. In the meantime, we can receive validation from our Heavenly Father. There was not a day that went by when I wasn’t on my knees praying for comfort to know I was a worthy mom, and strength to remain that way. Even though I had to wait a very long time to know my son appreciated me, it took only seconds to feel the eternal comfort from my Father in Heaven through prayer. The moments when He held my hand and walked with me gave me strength to carry on even when I felt I couldn’t do it by myself. He knew I mattered. And He knew my son knew it too—He walked with me until my son was able to express it in his own way.
To nurture others is to be a mom
Motherhood is one of the most important forces for good in this world (along with fatherhood, which I’ll write about next month). A kind and loving mother with strong values and a deep sense of nurturing can shape children of all ages simply by her loving nature. I’ve often been sensitive about my childless status, feeling I wasn’t worthy of the accolades that other mothers would receive on Mother’s Day. But over the years I’ve learned to recognize my influence as a mother goes beyond the physical act. Motherhood is not just about bearing children—it’s about nurturing those in need. It is a way of life. I think there is something inherent in women, a tender heart, a caring and compassionate insight, a way we feel for others, that defines all women as mothers. That deep sense of nurturing reaches all the lives we touch. To be a good friend, a mentor to others, and a guiding light to those around us is to be a mother to all mankind.
Happy Mother’s Day to all who have given a mother’s love
Mother’s Day honors mothers for the nurturing they give and the sacrifices they’ve made to give it. It opens the eyes of the world to the truth about motherhood—its divinity and godlike nature. When we remember how sacred it is to nurture all of God’s children, we stand alongside our Savior and bear witness of his healing power. Our nurturing has a healing effect on others. We in turn bring people closer to Christ as we live our true nature. I know my Father in Heaven has a plan for me and for all of his children. Motherhood is part of that plan. I cannot bear children in this life, but I can be a mother to those around me. I can “mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort” (Mosiah 18:9). And the eternities have endless promises which will ensure that my nurturing and motherly kindness will not go unnoticed or unrewarded. Having a mother’s patience and faith assures me this is true.
Nanette O'Neal loves the gospel and is very happy to share her testimony on LDS Blogs. She is a convert to the church and still feels the spirit burn strong within her heart. She graduated from Mason Gross School of the Arts with a degree in music education and has taught children and adults in the private and public sphere for over twenty years. Nanette continues to study the gospel and the art of writing. She writes weekly inspirational articles on her blog and is currently working on an LDS fantasy novel series, A Doorway Back to Forever. You can find her at NanetteONeal.blogspot.com. Nanette has a wonderful husband, talented son, and three beautiful dogs.