To my mother and my children…
June 10, 1981 by Rene’e La Montagne Hazen
I PASS THESE SEEDS TO YOU
As I hold you in my arms rocking back and forth, your eyelids close, then open, then close. I smile as you stretch again—and yawn—trying to push sleep a little further in the distance, but to no avail. “Night, night, my little one.” Counting the sun kisses on your nose and brushing the lock of golden hair from your brow, my thoughts travel beyond today and into the possibilities of your tomorrows. What are your hopes and dreams? What kind of person will you be? How will you interact with people? Will you have a happy marriage? What will your children be like? How well will you accept your daily responsibilities? How will you fare as a wife and mother? What kind of example will you set as a daughter of our Father in Heaven?
My heart skips a beat as you pull your baby doll up closer and snuggle down into my arms to the deepest dreams of sleep. You suckle from my breast and the feelings of love permeate my soul… oh, how I love these moments with you! Such joy reverberates my being! How grateful I am to be your mommy. How grateful I am to have you at my breast with only the creak of the rocker imposing on our solitude. These are precious, intimate and sacred Moments in Time together, my baby.
My days begin early with dishes and spilled milk and jam dripped from your peanut butter sandwich all the way to the back door. Bills to pay. What shall I cook for dinner? Hurry kids, it’s my turn to car pool. (Oh, why do these days go by so fast?)
A warm feeling comes over me as I think again of that jam sandwich and the look on your face as you analyzed the look on my face when I wiped up the mess you so innocently left behind. What kind of mother will you be? What kind of mother am I?
As I sit here with you, I think of the eleven loads of wash that still need folding—then my thoughts go back in time when I was just a little girl with pigtails just like you….
I remember the patience my mother had with her responsibilities of life. She never seemed hurried, and everything got done—sooner or later, I guess. I don’t remember the wash piled high, but I do remember my mom helping us set up the lemonade stand on the corner, helping us to count our pennies, never mentioning all that lemonade we had spilled and drank ourselves, or that she bought it on sale for only 29 cents at the market—just for us. She didn’t mention the sticky kitchen floor, or the enormous mess in the kitchen…. she just helped mix another batch of lemonade—and smiled as we giggled about our enormous financial success measured in dimes and nickels and pennies.
Although I can’t see the jam on the floor, I’m sure my brother Barney and I blanketed our home with out-of-control messes! I’ll never forget the look on my Mom’s face when I cooked dinner for the first time—and she helped me clean what was once a kitchen! She didn’t complain about the mess…. she just bragged and bragged about the delicious taste of my almost-burnt pot roast! How grateful I am that she spent so much time with me in the kitchen!
It was your Nana that had time to pop corn for the entire neighborhood. Our home was the gathering place—probably because my mother was so much fun to be with—right in the middle, always laughing, always looking at the sunny side of things, making people laugh and feel important.
She taught my brother and I through her example never to lie—no matter what the cost–and though we didn’t appreciate that lesson growing up, that one principle has added so much depth and stabilization to my relationships. She taught us compassion and shared with me her respect for all people—no matter what color, what shape, or what kind.
When your Uncle Barney was 6 and I was 8 we did an awful thing. We were playing with matches in the forest. We knew what we were doing was wrong but it seemed like such fun to light the piles of pine needles on fire, then pound the blazes out with our jackets. We didn’t realize the extreme danger involved. All the neighborhood kids were doing it; why shouldn’t we?
When we were finally home, we noticed the heavy, billowing smoke behind the trailer park across the street. We heard sirens and watched all the commotion (caused by a few little thoughtless children. We didn’t even have a clue some of those children included US!).
The sheriff knocked at our door. He spoke with mommy and daddy, then they came in the bedroom to talk to my brother and I. I held my little brother, Barney’s hand. Just seeing the look on my mother’s face told me something was very wrong. I’m sure the Sheriff must have told us some very important things like how dangerous it is to play with matches and how we could have been seriously burned and how we could have killed someone–or even ourselves. But I don’t remember all that.
What I do remember were the tears on my mother’s cheeks as she spoke of the tiny baby squirrels and chipmunks and birds whose mommies and daddies had died because of the fire and were now all alone with no one to love them or feed them or protect them, and because of our carelessness, the babies would die, too. Mom didn’t yell or scream or tell us how angry she was. But the lessons she taught rooted deep in our hearts. We were so sad that we had done such an awful thing. We never played with matches again. And Barney and I cried and cried for those baby chipmunks and birds. Mom just held us in her arms and cried with us. Great lessons were taught with her gentleness and compassion.
My mom has such a sweet spirit and tender heart. And though at times it is a handicap to feel things so deeply, I have learned from her to find joy in even the simplest things of life. My heart swelled when you took your first step—and my eyes fill when you offer your last bite of apple to your sissie. Life is so sentimentally beautiful—and from your grandmother I have learned to appreciate the fruit of my spirit that learned from her spirit to bring love, joy and peace to our home.
As I review now the garden that your own mother will be planting in you, I am overwhelmed at the responsibility at hand. How will I teach all that you need to know in the few short years I will have you? There are so many noxious weeds I must pluck from my own garden in order to plant and fertilize and nourish what you should have in yours.
Lord, please help me to control my temper. Help me to be patient and understanding and accepting of the problems children face in their everyday lives. Pleases help me to treat this little one with kindness even when her temper flares and she throws unkindness back at me. Help me to teach that communication is an art, that behavior is learned, and that self-control is a tremendous asset in personal and professional success. It is so difficult to express bad feelings without hurting others. No problem that needs to be solved is more important than the eternal perspective of the relationship at hand.
Please, Father, help me to be her role model. Please help me to withstand the temptation to demand respect rather than earning it. And please, help me to always swallow my pride, to keep the Spirit close to my side. I love to kiss my children at days’ end—no matter how frustrated I feel, no matter how tired I am, no matter how overwhelmed I felt about the day—that is always the highlight! Kissing their tender cheeks, brushing their locks from their brows, sitting snuggled with them as we read stories and giggle and talk about the day…. oh, what joyous privileges this mother enjoys!
Please, Father, help me to take time to talk to myself! In all instances, what would the Savior do? How would He react? Help me to transplant only the best and hardiest seedlings from my garden to theirs—and as time goes by, help my children to realize my efforts to pluck out my weeds, repent, apologize, and acknowledge my own weaknesses before God. Oh, Father, I am so far from perfect—but, oh, please help them to see how much I want to be like You!
Please help them see my efforts to stay close to You, Father. Please help them know how important prayer is—a sacred communication between You and I—and such a blessing when sorting through problems and the difficulties in life. You have never let me down, Father. And no matter how much I blow it, you are always there to pick up the pieces, dust me off, and set me up right to try one more time. My mom inherited from you those same endearing qualities, Father….. I can’t even begin to count how many times she has picked me up, brushed me off, stood me up right, and sent me on my way to try and try again. She taught me never to give up.
My testimony is so precious, Father. Help me to share it often with these little spirits. Help them to know I love You, Lord, that I love Your Son, that I appreciate and love the scriptures and the teachings that come from the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Help them to know You are the hypostasis of my life, and that all that I am, all that I hope to be, all that I strive to do, is because I LOVE YOU—and I want more than anything to live with You again!
In my efforts with everyday life, I pass all my good seeds to you, dear child. As you watch me wipe up your dribbled jam from the floor, fold the clothes, hug and kiss your daddy as he walks in the door, kneel at my bedside to say my prayers, read the scriptures, go to church, and make popsicles for your friends, carry your lemonade to your pop stand, kiss your “owies” away, can and preserve food as the prophet has asked, pay tithing, serve others, and take the time from my busy day just to hold you, rock you, love you, think about you, and pray for your future and your heart and all the goodness that I know is brewing inside of you….I pray you will remember all these very loud but silent lessons that are being fertilized in your little heart and tiny mind. You will learn from me—mostly from watching…. And I must remember the magnitude of the lessons I am teaching. A good part of me will be taken with you as you raise your own babies…. Oh, Father! Please help me leave a legacy that is good and beautiful and worthy of my stewardship over them—and their children!
In the endless circle of life, we are given the God-given right to choose. He has blessed us with free agency—to adopt or decline qualities that will enable us to become gods or goddesses. Someday, we will inherit all that He has, and will be given the opportunity to meet God and tell Him all about what we did with the love in our hearts.
The seeds I pass on to you, you may freely accept or reject. I hope I have shared only the best from me, but, if not, know that the worst is there for you to evaluate and set aside as education.
And now, as I hold you tenderly against my breast, a lump in my throat swells and tears roll down my cheeks. On has slipped from my chin to rest on yours, and as I brush it away, the joy I feel is overwhelming. It is such a privilege to be your mother. I will take time! I will choose carefully the seeds I wish to share with you.
For you see, my darling, I could be holding…. a mother of nations …..
Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out for small things proceedeth that which is great. Doctrine and Covenants 64:33