Mother’s Day is one of my favorite holidays, and not just because I am a mother. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes inadvertently called the Mormon Church, I have been taught by example the joys and divine nature of motherhood and womanhood.
You [women] are the guardians of the hearth. You are the bearers of the children. You are they who nurture them and establish within them the habits of their lives. No other work reaches so close to divinity as does the nurturing of the sons and daughters of God, President Gordon B. Hinckley, the past president of the Mormon Church, said in an October 1995 address titled “Stand Strong Against the Wiles of the World.”
‘No Other Work Reaches so Close to Divinity’
I love that line: “No other work reaches so close to divinity as does the nurturing of the sons and daughters of God.” The Book of Mormon is a book of scripture in the Mormon Church, another testament of Jesus Christ and a record of the peoples who lived in the ancient Americas. In one story, a group of people had been wicked and bloodthirsty but were taught the gospel and repented. They became the Anti-Nephi-Lehis and covenanted with God that they would never again take up their swords. Years later, their new country was at war. Their friends the Nephites were fighting to protect them and needed help. So the Anti-Nephi-Lehis wanted to take up their weapons and help. Some 2,000 of their sons said, in essence, “Don’t break your covenant. We’ll fight. We didn’t make the oath with God, and we can take your place in the battle.” They had faith that God would take care of them, and He did. Helaman was chosen as the military commander to lead them. In Alma 56:46-48, one of my favorite scriptures, he says:
For as I had ever called them my sons (for they were all of them very young) even so they said unto me: Father, behold our God is with us, and he will not suffer that we should fall. … Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them. And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it.
I also know that my mother knew it. She knew of the importance of her work in the home. She taught us both in words and example to trust in our Heavenly Father and turn to Him always. My sisters and I still talk about how she would go to her closet and plead with the Lord in prayer to help her. We couldn’t hear her words, but we could feel her pleadings with God. We knew she had faith and trust in Heavenly Father.
‘Mothers Who Know are Nurturers’
Sister Julie B. Beck, then Relief Society General President of The Church of Jesus Christ, said in an October 2007 address titled “Mothers Who Know”:
Mother who know are nurturers. This is their special assignment and role under the plan of happiness. To nurture means to cultivate, care for, and make grow. Therefore, mothers who know create a climate for spiritual and temporal growth in their homes. Another word for nurturing is homemaking. Homemaking includes cooking, washing clothes and dishes, and keeping an orderly home. Home is where women have the most power and influence; therefore, Latter-day Saint women should be the best homemakers in the world.
My mother took this responsibility very seriously. She loved (and still does) being a mother. She nurtured not only her own 8 children but also several others who were in need of love and care. She loved every one as her own. She set a powerful example of how to love, nurture and care for my own children as well as those around me. I count it one of my highest honors when I hear, “My child won’t go to anyone but me, but she (or he) will go to you.” It doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does, I feel like I’ve accomplished something special. That is the essence of my mother.
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 mother has layers of meaning. … Motherhood is more than bearing children, though it is certainly that. It is the essence of who we are as women, Sister Sheri L. Dew, then second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency of the LDS Church, said in an October 2001 address titled “Are We Not All Mothers?” (Relief Society is the women’s organization in the Mormon Church.)
Honoring Future Mothers
Growing up, my dad would bring my mom a bouquet of flowers for Mother’s Day, and he always had a carnation to give each of his 6 daughters to honor his “future mothers.” When my husband and I were first married, we talked about Mother’s Day and I asked if he was going to get me something. He was surprised and said, “But you aren’t a mother.” And I said, “I am the mother of your future children.” My parents had instilled in me a desire to honor motherhood and womanhood on Mother’s Day, and I wanted to continue that tradition in my home. We have two daughters, and my husband also gets flowers for them on Mother’s Day. I want my children to understand the importance and value of women and mothers, and the girls who will one day be the women and mothers of the world.
Sister Dew said, “President Gordon B. Hinckley stated that ‘God planted within women something divine.’ That something is the gift and the gifts of motherhood.”
I love being a mother and a homemaker. I love having my children around me. I love watching them learn new things and grow and develop in the gospel. My mom used to tell me to cherish every moment with my kids because one day they’ll grow up and move away from home, and I will miss them. I know she’s right. How grateful I am for the divine gift of motherhood, and for a mother, father and Church leaders who taught me to cherish and honor this role in my life.
National Mother of the Year and Young Mother of the Year Awards
Every year, mothers selected from nominees in the United States, are honored by the American Mothers, Inc., an interfaith, nonpolitical, nonprofit organization, as the National Mother of the Year and the Young Mother of the Year. In addition, women from the 50 states and U.S. territories are selected for both titles. American Mothers Inc. seeks “to champion women by honoring, educating, and serving mothers at home, at work, and in the world.” 
The honoree for the 2013 National Mother of the Year award was Judy Cook. Cook is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently referred to as the Mormon Church by the media and others) from Vineyard, Utah.
LDS women from other states who were also honored include: 
Young Mothers of the Year:
North Dakota—Kendi Chase
Mothers of the Year:
Arizona—Judith Alice Nelson Ward
California—Renee Evans Starr
Nevada—Zan Peterson Hyer
Oregon—Vivienne Smith Lewis
Washington —Francine Cowie