Monday, February 21, 2011

Just a Mom?

My patriarchial blessing says, three times: Be concerned in following your chosen field of endeavor, teaching and helping others to enjoy life.

What in the world does this mean. Is being a mother my "chosen field of endeavor"? Should I have become a school teacher? Do my various callings in the church count? Have I missed the mark on a career path I was supposed to take? This has stumped me for over half of my life.

Sometimes I wish I could clone myself and do two things at once: care for the home and family (a full-time job) and also go back to school (a full-time job). You might already know that I'm leaning towards a masters in social work. There are dozens of branches in that field and I think at least one of them would be a good fit. I could even become a counselor like I'd originally planned, working with mental illness; or maybe work for an agency like Casa, which changes children's lives. I think I could really help people; even teach and help others to enjoy life.

But I know in my heart of hearts that now is not the time for school, or even a job. My service is more needed at home than in the world. What good would it do to make 100 people's lives better if I fail the four that God entrusted to me as my children? This is my calling, to lead and teach and train my children.

But motherhood: it is hard. So dirty. So draining. So repetitive. So unglamorous. So ordinary. Some days I feel like I give and serve and chauffeur and cook and counsel and correct . . . and no one cares. Or they care and they rebel. Sometimes I would love to have a job so I could abdicate my responsibilities at home. I could get some praise and recognition for my work.  Let someone else take care of everything at home. Or just let the kids raise themselves.

Those are the bad days. And I'm sorry for evening mentioning them, because if you are in my situation you're probably depressed just reading what I just wrote.

But here's the good thing: It's all a matter of perspective. As always, my attitude is a choice.

David O. McKay said: “[The] ability and willingness properly to rear children, the gift to love, and eagerness … to express it in soul development, make motherhood the noblest office or calling in the world. She who can paint a masterpiece or write a book that will influence millions deserves the admiration and the plaudits of mankind; but she who rears successfully a family of healthy, beautiful sons and daughters, whose influence will be felt through generations to come, … deserves the highest honor that man can give, and the choicest blessings of God” (Gospel Ideals [1954], 453–54).

So if I take those bad-day feelings and turn them, I might instead say:

Motherhood: it is hard. It teaches me that I can't control everything. It's an emotional and physical work out. I get to improve my techniques by practicing every day. I am one of many unheralded but dedicated women who labor at home, and I am in good company. Some days I feel like I give and serve and chauffeur and cook and counsel and correct . . . and I know my service has long-term benefits even if I don't see them day to day. Sometimes the children rebel and disobey but they are learning boundaries and consequences which will help them learn how the world works. If I went back to school or got a job I would enjoy using my talents-- but not at the expense of using my talents at home. No praise or recognition at a job compares to a hug or a thank you from a child. There is no one who can take my place here. I am entrusted, called, and made equal to the honor of raising these precious children of our Father.

How about that?

There may well be time for me to pursue other dreams. I believe there will be time.

Now is my season for full-time dedication to the rearing and educating of my children--to really be there for Tyce, Mary Rachel, Cameron, and Harrison. So I guess maybe I've answered my own question, at least for now? I hope I am on the right track, that this is the right path. And I pray that along the way I am teaching and helping my children (and my husband!) to enjoy life.

Every day is a choice. Today I choose to be happy and strong.

You know that when I write it's like I'm talking out loud. And even though you don't say anything back you've helped me by listening. But you can comment any time you like. (!)

Seminary last week was great. It will take me a while to get in the groove but I've really, really enjoyed teaching the scriptures to a really great group of young people. I feel blessed to have the opportunity study and use my mind and heart to serve in this way. It's a challenge I'm really beginning to enjoy.


A Real Pacific NW Housewife said...

I love this post! Can I just say ditto to everything you wrote. You are soo good at communicating your feelings to others to help them relate. I don't know if that last sentence makes sense, lol. See, I'm not so good at that. You have inspired me to dig out my blessing and read it as well. Keep going I think you are a great mom! I want to be like you when I grow up. Miss ya.

Silver Strands said...

I answer back all through your posts ... then by the time I get to the end, I've nothing left to say :)

But let's see ... one thing maybe: YOU ARE INSPIRING. I love how you share the real you and show me how to come out on top every time.


Rebecca and Co. said...

Thanks, ladies. That means so much coming from two really great mothers!