Motherhood is more than bearing children… It is the essence of who we are as women.
— Sheri Dew
“Have you ever wondered why prophets have taught the doctrine of motherhood—and it doctrine—again and again? I have. I have thought long and hard about the work of women of God. And I have wrestled with what the doctrine of motherhood means for all of us. This issue has driven me to my knees, to the scriptures, and to the temple—all of which teach an ennobling doctrine regarding our most crucial role as women. It is a doctrine about which we must be clear if we hope to stand “steadfast and immovable” regarding the issues that swirl around our gender. For Satan has declared war on motherhood. He knows that those who rock the cradle can rock his earthly empire. And he knows that without righteous mothers loving and leading the next generation, the kingdom of God will fail.
“When we understand the magnitude of motherhood, it becomes clear why prophets have been so protective of woman’s most sacred role. While we tend to equate motherhood solely with maternity, in the Lord’s language, the word has layers of meaning. Of all the words they could have chosen to define her role and her essence, both God the Father and Adam called Eve “the mother of all living”—and they did so she ever bore a child. Like Eve, our motherhood began before we were born. Just as worthy men were foreordained to hold the priesthood in mortality, righteous women were endowed premortally with the privilege of motherhood. Motherhood is more than bearing children, though it is certainly that. It is the essence of who we are as women. It defines our very identity, our divine stature and nature, and the unique traits our Father gave us.”
Men have to have something given to them [in mortality] to make them saviors of men, but not mothers, not women. [They] are born with an inherent right, an inherent authority, to be the saviors of human souls … and the regenerating force in the lives of God’s children.
— Matthew Cowley
“For reasons known to the Lord, some women are required to wait to have children. This delay is not easy for any righteous woman. But the Lord’s timetable for each of us does not negate our nature. Some of us, then, must simply find other ways to mother. And all around us are those who need to be loved and led.
“Eve set the pattern. In addition to bearing children, she mothered all of mankind when she made the most courageous decision any woman has ever made and with Adam opened the way for us to progress. She set an example of womanhood for men to respect and women to follow, modeling the characteristics with which we as women have been endowed: heroic faith, a keen sensitivity to the Spirit, an abhorrence of evil, and complete selflessness. Like the Savior, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross,” Eve, for the joy of helping initiate the human family, endured the Fall. She loved us enough to help lead us.”
The statements above are from Sheri Dew’s classic address, Are We Not All Mothers?, delivered at the Relief Society General Meeting in November 2001. This talk, given by one of the LDS Church’s numerous outstanding woman leaders, is possibly one of the most insightful messages on the subjects of womanhood and motherhood to be found in Mormon literature.
Listen to Sister Dew’s talk in its entirety, either by clicking here or by visiting the related page at BYU Broadcasting. It runs 14 minutes and is worth listening to. You may also be able to view the talk in the video window below.
After considering Sheri Dew’s remarks – in particular, her assertion about the “obligation to model righteous womanhood” to the young women of our day – you may wish to read Emily’s thoughtful post, Growing a Mother Heart, in her The Lioness At the Gate web log.