We may not all have the opportunity to be actual mothers during our mortal state. But whenever a woman bends down to lift and help — whenever she opens her heart to give and serve — she is doing it with those eternal qualities of motherhood that live, always have lived and always will live, within her.
What can we do as mothers to accept, teach and lift our daughters?
• Teach them the basics, and offer no excuses about it: how to clean a house, do laundry, prepare a meal — and the extra bits that enhance both cleanliness and beauty. Take pride and delight in work, and your daughters will, too.
• Respect her opinions and desires. Listen to her — anytime, anywhere. Acknowledge her fears as well as her gifts. Laugh with her. Listen to her music. Help her to make her own decisions, and teach her to make them through the safety of prayer. Then respect and support what she decides to do.
• Praise her. For years, my daughters would roll their eyes and say, "Yes, I know, he’s half in love with me. You think every boy is." They would also accuse me of over-enthusiasm whenever they did something, anything, noteworthy or interesting.
• Teach her to be beautiful and to appreciate beauty in everything. Help her develop the confidence and delight of true femininity, grace and poise. Teach her the power of being her best self at all times.
• Teach your daughters to love and forgive and to think of others. Let them see the joy that is found in this. When my sisters and I were growing up, our family had very little money, yet our mother was always volunteering us to babysit for free so that struggling young couples could have a night out. She also told us (not asked us) that we were to respect and be gracious of the older people in the ward who loved to corner one of the youths and talk, talk, talk for what seemed like hours on end. While friends slipped past, we stood resignedly and listened. We grew to feel good about what we were doing and to appreciate their appreciation. I have had a fondness for older people ever since.
• Pray with your daughter. Read scriptures with her. Share your faith — and some of the fears and desires that brought it to life. Be humble and teachable. Delight yourself in the things of the kingdom. Let her learn by what she sees — by what you are.
True, this is a very partial "list." So especially remember through it all to simply love her and enjoy her. Daughters can be role models, too. I have gained spiritual insights and strengths from my daughters. I have learned skills from my daughters. And my life has been enriched by their interests, hobbies and pursuits — as well as by becoming part of the places where they have made homes. How many outstanding people I have met in far-away communities, how many ward families I have become a small part of because of the paths my daughters have taken in their own lives.
"A mother’s children," it has been said, "are portraits of herself." Despite the differences of individual gifts and personalities, this is true.
We are a part of all our mothers and all our daughters. I have a cherished granddaughter who is so delightfully her own, yet is in many ways a perfect copy of all that is uniquely me. What of a great-great-great-grandmother who went before — dim in the distance of time into which I gaze — but part of me still, perhaps very like me someone I will especially love and remember when earth life is past.
Mothers and daughters. There are so many of us — living and learning, waiting our turn, doing our part — all bound together, past, present and future. We have great cause to rejoice!
Susan Evans McCloud is author of more than 40 books and has published screenplays, a book of poetry and lyrics, including two songs in the LDS hymnbook. She has six children. She blogs at susanevansmccloud.blogspot.com. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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