Her name is Jasmine.
Actually I think her name is something else but she told me she likes to change her name every day for fun. I guess yesterday was a “Jasmine” kind of day.
She loves the color purple. She wants to be a soccer star when she grows up.
She smiles all the time and pretends she’s a princess. And yet–life is hard for her.
Throughout the day I learned that Jasmine’s sister died, her mother can hardly take care of her, and she’s never met her dad. So she comes here after school to play, get help with math homework, and have something to eat.
I wasn’t sure what to expect yesterday when I went with my company to do volunteer work at a group home. But I certainly didn’t expect to meet Jasmine–or any of the other twenty-something kids who seemed to just blow in with the wind.
These kids come every day after school since they have nowhere else to go. They’re wandering souls not yet immune to the poison of a hard world. My heart couldn’t help but break as I scanned the room that day. A group of teenage boys sat alone at a table playing a card game and erupted into laughter and playful jests as soon as someone won. A toddler sat on someone’s lap, his shirt soaked with apple juice. A group of young girls with braided hair and pink shoes formed a circle in a far corner, talking with their hands. So many kids. So many struggles. So little moms.
And then, of course, Jasmine broke my train of thought.
“Do you have kids?” she asked me. I shook my head no.
“Well, you can be MY mom now!” she exclaimed during snack time.
And the words struck me.
Maybe it struck me because I’m not yet a mom–and because of medical reasons, it’ll be awhile before I am. Maybe it struck me because motherhood always went hand in hand in my mind with pregnancy, painting a new nursery, or driving a car strapped down with car seats. It never really struck me before that moment that I can still be a mom. So can you.
It really is the most sacred calling.
I have a world against me on that opinion– I realize this. You might be too.
Bloggers, columnists, extreme feminists and modern-day thinkers join in a fight against motherhood. Motherhood is restricting, they’ll say. Motherhood is a 1950’s approach to oppressing women. Motherhood, some say, is for those women who don’t have any other ambitions in life or for those who wind up chained down. And with this line of thinking we slowly forget what being a mom even is. We forget that it’s all about reaching out to someone who needs it. It’s about selflessness. Mentorship. Nurturing. Compassion. God’s work.
I think back now to not only my amazing Mom, but the countless other women along the way who loved me, taught me, sacrificed for me, and wound up on their knees for me. They were women who had no children of their own, women who had quite a few mouths to feed at home, women who were young, women who were so old that I only remember them in my early childhood memories. They were women who taught me patience or music or writing well or faith in God. Women who stayed after school to help me with long division. They were strong, selfless, beautiful women consistently taking on the role of mother. Those are the women I remember.
We aren’t called to live a life dedicated to ourselves. It’s never the reason we came. And I’m tired of living in a world where selflessness is equated with weakness.
Elder Holland once said in an address, “The work of a mother is hard, too often unheralded work. Please know that it is worth it then, now, and forever.”
It’s always been worth it.
Eve understood this when she stepped out of Eden just so we could be born. Sarai understood this when Abraham told her their generations would be as numerous as the stars and she thanked God for it. Mary understood it when she rearranged her entire life and lost friends and a good reputation all to make way for the Savior. Jesus himself understood the value of motherhood when some of the last words he spoke were to John, asking him to take care of his mother. From the beginning of time we’ve been reminded of our responsibility to God’s children and the eternal principle of it. Why have we forgotten?
Be the woman that changes everything for someone. Jasmine’s simple, childlike plea reminded me of the urgency of it all.
Whether you have six children or no children, whether you grew up in a home with a mother who loved you or a home without one present–be someone’s rescue, if only for a period of time in their lives.
Be someone’s mom.
Oh, and I promise you–it’s not old fashioned to change the world.