Saturday, August 28, 2010

Mother Told Me

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

Mother Told Me, by Elder Bradley D. Foster
Of the Seventy

My wife and I take turns being our children's favorite; often a child prefers one of us over the other. During the times when I'm the "also ran," I sometimes get to hold or otherwise comfort our little ones when their mommy leaves on an errand or to a meeting. I see their little faces scrunch up, see those big alligator tears pour down their faces, and hear their anguished cries for "Mommy!"

There was a time when I would be heartbroken either at their pain and longing or at the loss in pride at not being the momentary favorite, but now I actually smile when these partings occur. I don't think my smiles come because I'm a cruel and terrible father—I usually don't think I'm cruel and terrible—but because I'm happy that my children love their mother and long to be with her.

Since the last conference, in the times that I've found myself standing on the porch holding our littlest one as he bemoans his mother leaving, I always think of Elder Foster's talk:

Perhaps the reason we respond so universally to our mothers’ love is because it typifies the love of our Savior.

In his talk, Elder Foster shared a story of his friend that I just love. Please forgive me recounting it in its entirety:

I understand in a personal way the great influence of mothers.

My good friend Don Pearson shared an experience that highlights this influence. One night his four-year-old son asked him to read a bedtime story. Eric had picked out his favorite book: The Ballooning Adventures of Paddy Pork, a story about a family who lived on the isles of the sea and traveled from island to island by hot-air balloon. It was a picture book that had no words, so Brother Pearson made up words to the story.

“Paddy is in a hot-air balloon. He is landing on an island now. He is dropping a line over the side of the balloon.”

Eric stopped him. “Dad, that is not a line. It’s a rope.

Brother Pearson looked at Eric and back at the picture book, and then he continued:

“Paddy is getting out of the balloon and climbing down the tree. Oh no! His coat is caught on a limb!”

Again Eric stopped him. “Dad, that’s not a coat. It’s a jacket.

By now Brother Pearson was somewhat perplexed. He said, “Eric, there are no words in this book, just pictures. Why do you insist that it’s a jacket?”

Eric answered, “Because Mother told me.”

His father closed the book and said, “Eric, who do you think is the last word, the ultimate authority in this house?”

This time Eric thought carefully before he answered, “You are, Dad.”

Brother Pearson beamed at his son. What an exceptional answer! “How did you know that?”

Eric quickly responded, “Mother told me.”

A few days ago I went to the university's main library and found many picture books—books without words—including The Ballooning Adventures of Paddy Pork. I've enjoyed looking at these books with my two youngest children (because the eldest reads like a champ), but I've enjoyed more watching them look at them themselves. While my children don't have the history with these books that the little boy in the story does (along with his mother), I can see the imagination and overall love of books that my sweet wife—their mother—has instilled in them.

I'm grateful for my amazing wife and all she does to teach, train, and love our children.

Now, I wonder what their response would be if I were to ask, "who do you think is the last word, the ultimate authority in this house?"

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