The Mother Who Knew!

Mothers, you are NOT alone in your sacred work.

There’s a tale of a mother who lived in a shoe,
When faced with a challenge knew not what to do.
So the family had dinner without any bread—
Then she spanked all her children and sent them to bed!
Why we rehearse this nobody knows,
So let’s faithen the story and see how it goes. . . .

There once was a mother who lived in a shoe;
This wise mother was a mother who knew!
When faced with a trial, she did not dread,
She ran to her room and knelt by her bed.
With the faith of an angel, that’s how she prayed,
Imploring the Lord for her much-needed aid.

And perhaps her sore trial stayed still the same;
Yet day after day, she called on His name.
And she did what she could and she gave it her best,
Trusting the Lord to cover the rest.
Knowing that time would make all things clear—
In this life or next, she just wouldn’t fear.

So all you dear mothers wherever you live,
Who try and who serve and who love and who give.
Who work every day, your children to raise,
With little for thanks and little for praise;
On this journey you’ve taken, as you faithfully plod;
Know this, dear mother, you’re a partner with God.

And when you face trials, you know what to do—
Do like the mother, the mother who knew!


What is more innocent than little children and nursery rhymes?  Think of it, little tots holding hands and turning circles to “Ring-around-the-Rosies” or clapping hands to “Peas Porridge.”  Then there is sweet Mother Goose with her bonnet and half-rimmed spectacles telling cute stories of plum pie, little lambs, fetching water, sailing in a wooden tub, cows jumping over the moon, and. . .STOP RIGHT THERE!

Let’s get one thing straight.  There is nothing innocent about any of this.  As cute as little kids are, everybody knows they are not perfect angels.  And as for the nursery rhymes, many of them have dark and disturbing origins.  I was reading about some of these rhymes and really began to wonder why in the world we continue teaching them.  One that stood out to me was “The Mother Who Lived in a Shoe.”  Regardless of the origin, I don’t understand why we recite a poem about a mother who doesn’t feed her children properly and then spanks them all and sends them to bed!  Is that really the message of motherhood we want children to learn? 

But it got me thinking, what if we changed the rhymes and made them worth telling and repeating?  Take “The Mother Who Live in a Shoe” for example.  What if instead of talking about an abusive mother, we told of a mother filled with love for her children and faith in God?  That would be worth reciting.  So I thought I would give it a try. 

As I was writing this, I used the word “faithen”.  Technically, it’s not a word, but you may remember hearing it.  It comes from General Conference a few years ago when someone got tongue-tied in the prayer and instead of asking for our “faith to be strengthened” asked for our “strength to be faithened”.  I’m sure it was embarrassing for the person praying but; honestly, that is the only thing I remember from that session of conference.  I have thought about the meaning of the mixed up words many times.  I have come to the conclusion that I really do want my strength to be faithened more than the other way around.  To me, having strength that is faithened puts the emphasis on action.  It makes me question if I am really using my energy and strength to accomplish faith-filled and faithful activities.

Now, I want to make a special plea to mothers.  In this poem I had the thought that the mother who lived in the shoe should be a “mother who knew.”  This thought comes from the excellent talk by Julie Beck entitled “Mothers Who Know” (General Conference, October 2007).  I would strongly encourage every woman to reference that talk and think about the truths taught therein.  If you do, then you will realize that it doesn’t matter your financial situation, your health, your looks, your calling, your position, your intelligence, or where you live—even in a shoe.  You will come to know that you are doing what is most important in your divine role as mother.        

And generations to come will look back in reverence and say, “That was a mother who knew.”

Written: January 2016

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