I Am Not a Mother, but I Play One…

May 7, 2007

by Carrie Ann

Ah, Mothers…the universal subject. EVERYONE has a mother, so whether she was present or not, good fairy or wicked witch, involved or distant… we all have something to say about mothers.

LDS doctrine teaches that Motherhood is a divine role. If you have had the privilege of being in the Young Women’s or Relief Society organizations, you understand what a BIG deal motherhood is. While young men are leaning what it means to be a priesthood holder, young women are learning what it means to be a mother. You can’t escape it; this continues on through adulthood.

In the church, some people feel that we are simply reduced to our roles, priesthood and motherhood, without any consideration of the individual. Some people have a hard time accepting their expected roles. Some single people may feel alienated, some child-less mothers may feel so as well. I can only speak from my own experience: I have been single in the church, and I am now a child-less mother. Double whammy!

Man, how do I cope? How do I handle the pressure? (And how can I be a childless mother? Are you a mother if you have no children?)

Fortunately, as a single member of the church I “got it”. Sure, I wanted to get married, I was endowed, but I understood my place in the church even if I never had the chance to marry in the temple. It did not reduce my testimony, my ability to serve and teach, or my awesome-ness one bit. My spiritual esteem did not come from the role of wife. I had to live, and plan to live my life in case marriage never happened for me. I found happiness being single. Happiness doesn’t just come to us (it never does); we have to look for it.

But marriage did come. I really lucked out; seriously, I could not ask for a better man/best friend. So I am one step closer to my divine role as “mother”, but, alas, I am denied. Or am I? I have seriously considered whether or not I am just completely heartless or what, but I really feel OK.

Occasionally, I hear a lesson that says that “people who do not marry in this life or who do not have children will still be afforded the same blessings”… et cetera and I think “Oh, yeah, that’s me.” My husband and I are doing everything we can to try to have children. You have no idea how humiliating infertility can be: the poking, the prodding, the strangers looking and examining certain parts, the fluids, the tests, the personal questions, the surgeries… What takes the bishop’s daughter one night, one Chevy Malibu, and one six pack of wine coolers up the canyon is taking us thousands of dollars and years off our child-bearing lives.

The irony is more funny than painful. But because we are doing all we can, both spiritually and physically and financially, I have NO GUILT about sleeping through the night, wearing dry-clean-only clothes, going out of town whenever we feel like it, having “intimate relations” at any time of day with the bedroom door unlocked, never having to find a babysitter, et cetera. This type of freedom is the privilege of the childless. There are pros and cons.

Those of you who have kids probably feel sorry for us, and you should. We have no idea what we are missing out on. OK we have an idea, but we have been blessed by fertile family members who have provided us with darling, lovable, and affectionate nieces and nephews. We love them and feel loved in return; plus, we can go home at night, have “intimate relations”, AND still have a full night’s sleep. Yes!

Through my family and my church service, I feel like a mother. OK, I don’t like being forced to stand up on Mother’s Day Sunday and receive my obligatory pink carnation, but I’m sure some mothers might even feel offended at how much I feel like a mother. I can hold my own in any child-rearing, potty training, how-do-I-get-them-to-sleep-in-their-own-bed conversation. I am not completely inexperienced. I am surrounded by children. I have been in Primary and in Young Women’s and have felt true love and concern for the individuals in my class. There are things a teacher can do that parents just can’t do. And there are things parents do that we as teachers could not be successful without. It is a partnership.

Just as my patriarchal blessing promises, I am a mother in Israel. I love my role, the literal and the divine. I am more than my role, but it is a part of who I am as a daughter of God. I have love and admiration for the mothers who have come before me. These mothers were important! Look at all they have accomplished and all their posterity has accomplished! I am in awe.

And I want to become a mother because I love and admire my own mother. She was a fledgling feminist who gave up an art career to have a family. At the age of 25, with four young kids, she was called with my dad to be the mission president in Sweden, a country she had never been to, a language she did not speak. All through the next three children, 11 moves, 5 states, three missionaries, 7 college graduates, various church callings, and rarely seeing my dad, I have never heard her utter a word of complaint. This is not a complacent woman! She did not just go along with the status quo! She and my dad have been partners through it all, and none of us would be where we are without her influence, example, support, and love. Happy Mother’s Day, Mo!


  1. I love your post. I am never going to be a mother, but I think it’s important for guys, especially Mormon guys, to understand where the ladies are coming from.

    I think it’s a natural instinct for women to want to be mothers and without those instincts I think very few of us would be around. But besides instinct, motherhood has to come from the heart and I think you possess that pure quality.

  2. I am touched by your comments–thanks Ceeb.

  3. oh, how I love your honesty and your candor. 🙂

    What I most love is how well you tell your story(ies). I think that is one thing that I most love about this site is seeing other sides to the story and learning about the experiences that others have had. Well done, my friend…well done.

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