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Please, Not the Nursery!: Preserving Our Sanity in Callings

R. L. from California wrote:

I just got called to the nursery and I’m considering apostatizing. Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but not by much. I am new in this ward, have young kids myself, and now, even at church, I feel totally isolated. How can I preserve my sanity?

Tracy says:

Launch spit wads toward the pulpit?

Aaagh! Kidding! Just a little twisted humor. Please don’t do that!

I think most sisters would probably feel the same way. The interchange and discussions during the auxiliary meetings on Sundays and sitting next to other sisters in Relief Society are how you get to know and feel comfortable with members of the ward. And let’s be honest, you can’t do that if you’re spending two hours in the nursery. Personally, I’ve always felt that new members of the ward shouldn’t be called to the nursery until they’re pretty well established and have made friendships.

Also, let me be up front and say that I do not believe that every bishopric, in every ward on the face of the earth, sincerely prays about who should be in each and every calling, every single solitary time they call someone.

One example of many: I know a brother who was issued a very intensive calling the day before he was moving across the country. Evidently the bishopric didn’t even know that this man’s family was moving all of their belongings were already on there way across the continental divide. I mean, come on!

But, let’s consider a few things.

First, is it possible that you received this calling without your name having been fasted and prayed over? Of course. Maybe they’ve been trying to fill that calling for months and then you showed up and they immediately thought you were an answer to their prayers.

But second, maybe you really are the answer to their prayers. Just because teaching in the nursery isn’t the ideal calling for making friendships in a new ward, it doesn’t mean that Heavenly Father didn’t inspire someone to call you. Maybe you’re exactly who the nursery needs. Maybe you’re exactly where He wants you to be.

Unfortunately, it’s pretty common in the LDS church to feel like the nursery is a Sunday day-care. Sisters often feel that they’re just in there baby-sitting so everyone else can go to their classes. The fact that we even call it “the nursery” doesn’t help. But isn’t it really a matter of adjusting our attitude?

There are lessons to be taught. The lesson certainly doesn’t take up the entire two hours, but a well prepared teacher, who’s thoughtfully planned out her lesson can have activities, songs and games that go with the lesson that can take up the majority of the time, so that she’s not just “baby-sitting” but teaching.

Considering that not all families are having family scripture study, family prayer, and Family Home Evening, it’s likely that your lessons may be the only gospel teaching that a few of the children in your class will get all week.

Also, you mentioned that you have young children of your own. So think about this, every Sunday after church other mothers of young children will be coming to your classroom door to gather their children. This can be a good opportunity for you to get to know them and maybe begin some friendships. Make a point to talk with them about what you did in class that day. Maybe you could even arrange a midweek play date so your kids can play, and the moms can hang out and chat.

So even if you feel like you were called just because you were a “fresh body” to stick into the calling, and even though your new calling may require you to do a little extra work in beginning some new friendships, remember that other than their parents, you are one of the first teachers these children will have. If you serve them well, and with all your heart, they will one day “rise up and call you blessed.”

Alison says:

R. L., you sent this question some time ago and only now have I had to time to revisit and post it. When I looked it up, I didn’t even remember the topic. My, how timely it turned out to be for me.

When we put our house up for sale last spring, I was released from my most beloved calling of Relief Society teacher and called, short-term, to teach Sunbeams. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Sunbeams. They are dear and sweet and love unconditionally. It’s sitting in Primary for two hours and teaching lessons like I Am Thankful for Fish that makes me want to come down with a fever and severe case of vomiting every (single) Sunday morning.

When our house went under contract just a few weeks ago, both my husband and I were released from our callings (Sam was the Sunday School President). I ran to find the Primary president, returned my binder, and (literally, honestly) skipped into Relief Society declaring, “I’m back!” with great joy.

I love Primary. I just don’t want to be there. It’s not that I begrudge doing my part in the kingdom, in giving of my time and resources, in serving others and making a contribution! It’s that I so terribly don’t want to miss Sunday School and Relief Society! Particularly now, when my entire life is consumed with my own little at-home Primary. Since I homeschool, I spend my days (and nights) with children ages 3 ?16. I don’t work outside the home. I don’t go to lunch or the gym with my peers. I’m not taking college classes to improve myself. I teach my kids, I drive my kids, I feed my kids, I clothe my kids. Then, at church, I spend the first hour and ten minutes wrestling with a feisty toddler and a bored six-year-old.

The last two hours, when my children are nestled all snug in their age-appropriate classrooms, are generally my only weekly adult interaction, group gospel study, and time to breathe and think clearly without someone tugging on my sleeve. So, after eight months being oxygen deprived, I was overjoyed to be back in the land of the living. And I’m one of those insane people who actually reads the Gospel Doctrine lesson (usually looking up supplemental material as well) and the Relief Society lesson ?with a highlighter in hand. I love every moment of gospel discussion and insight and see it as a profound opportunity to learn from the Spirit, to rejuvenate, to motivate.

But less than a week later, when we contracted with the soon-to-be owner of our house to lease it back from him as we built our new one, word spread that we would be staying in the ward a few months longer. We were duly warned by both the bishop and his counselors that the respite was not long to be.

Today, I was home with a sick child and my husband came home to inform me that I had been vicariously issued a calling in my absence. Setting aside the probable impropriety of such a move, I held my breath, waiting to hear the fate that I would endure for the remainder of my tenure in the Cedar Pass 1st Ward ?

Course 11 Primary Instructor

Then I did something I’ve never done before in such circumstances. I broke down and cried. Literally, I sobbed for almost an hour.

I’ve never turned down a calling, unless informing the second counselor who has just requested that I serve as Primary pianist that I actually do not play the piano at all constitutes refusal. Mormons accept callings issued, favored or not, ill-suited or not. “Whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies.”

So, R. L., today I feel your pain. With all the honesty I can muster in a public forum, at this point in my life I’d rather stay home and read the scriptures and watch BYUTV for the last two-hour block than sit in another sharing time full of noisy kids, playing some dumb, matching game on the chalkboard and requesting Book of Mormon Stories for the umpteenth time. I feel almost desperate for some adult interaction and communal gospel study.

What do I do? Do I just suck it up, go along with the assumed acceptance, put my heart into it, and hope to survive? Do I let the bishop know that I am willing to accept the call, but that I would like him to consider my feelings? Is doing so the same as refusing? Does it impugn me? Does it make me less valiant? How does it effect my standing in a ward where I am already a marginal character? Should I even care?

I wrote very practically (I thought), several years ago, about this topic in another Circle of Sisters article titled Is It Ever OK to “Just Say No”? But, I find, it’s much easier to dole out profound advice when your own salvation isn’t riding on the answer. Technically pioneer women could refuse to participate in polygamy, too ?so long as they were willing to rot in hell for it. So, just how important is my 42-year-old sanity in the eternal scheme of things? Should I follow my own advice?

Apparently I have no answer for you, R. J. It’s too personal this week for me to be objective. Just know that I empathize.

Kathy says:

I think I would have served forevermore in the nursery in my Arizona ward if I had not moved to Idaho. But and this is a huge but, although it has only one “t.”

I was ready. My children were grown and gone and I was eager for tiny arms around my neck and sleepy heads on my shoulder. I fervently believe it is grandmas and grandpas who belong in the nursery. I was joined by another grandma, one of my favorite ladies in the ward. We loved every minute and did a great job. I would have been content to stay there for the rest of my second estate.

When you begin to get grey hair and jowls, it sometimes feels as if you have heard every possible iteration of every possible Relief Society discussion. I know. It seems impossible. When I was your age, I was the most passionate consumer of Gospel Doctrine and Relief Society lessons in the last dispensation. I was always sorry when the hour was over, and many times I believed we could have continued for another two or three hours without a squirm or a cough.

I agree with you completely. It is during those years of hunger and thirst that you need to be with the adults. The day will come when you will feel just as starved for the company of babies and toddlers.

So, for the love of all that is holy, why do our leaders wrest us from the bosom of our sisters when we most desperately need to be in Relief Society, then allow us to languish with the other grannies when we would love nothing more than to trot a baby, even a howling baby, for two magically fleeting hours, in a strange room scaled for occupants one eighth our size?

Wouldn’t it be an amazing piece of probationary irony if Heavenly Father simply needs to remind us, as gently and tenderly as possible, that we were among those in a recent Sacrament Meeting singing “I’ll go where you want me to go, Dear Lord?”

I’m not suggesting this is the case, mind you. I do not pretend to understand the will of the Lord, or even the motivation of the bishop. It’s just a thought.

{ 54 comments… add one }

  • Reader Comment June 27, 2007, 11:13 pm

    Marie R. writes:

    Sorry, I just think most of the calls are about expediency, not about inspiration.

  • facethemusic June 27, 2007, 11:20 pm

    I had a few other thoughts since answering this particular question.

    We all have our interests things we enjoy doing, that get us excited and engaged. And naturally, we also have things that really don’t interest us, things we find boring, or that we just can’t seem to find any excitement in.

    When we’re considering what to get a degree in, what job or career we’d like to have, or even what homemaking group to join, don’t we always go for what interests us? Of course! If we’re going to invest our time and energies into something, we want it to be in something that really interests us and captures our attention.

    That said, we don’t really get a choice with church callings. Of course, we can choose whether or not to accept the calling. But, it’s not like it is in other faiths, where you can say, “I thoroughly enjoy working with teenagers, and I love music, so I think I’ll apply for the youth music ministry position.” That’s where I’d be all day if I could!!

    But where am I? In Cub Scouts. My absolute least favorite calling. If I had to choose between that and nursery, I’d pick the nursery! And it’s not the kids I love the kids. But I’d rather be working with them in Primary teaching them songs, or doing a sharing time, than meeting in the middle of my already crazy and hectic week to talk about insects, tie knots, and play kick the can.

    So, is it “bad” to not like your calling? I don’t think so. We’d probably serve better if we did enjoy it. But, Heavenly Father knows there are things we enjoy and things we don’t. I think what matters to Him is the effort we put into serving, no matter what capacity we’re serving in.

    Do the people you’re serving know that you love them? Are they benefiting and growing because of your efforts? Do you do your best to fulfill your calling, despite the fact that you don’t really enjoy it? That’s what matters. And really, I think that says a lot more than when it’s a calling you do enjoy.

    I just don’t want R.L., or anyone else for that matter to feel guilty for not liking their calling. Hopefully, as we adjust and settle in, we learn to enjoy a calling, or at least parts of it. (I’m doing better, but I’m not sure I’m at the point yet where I can say that actually “enjoy” being a Den Leader.) I doubt my bishop would say he “enjoys” his calling. I know he’d say he’s grown from it, that he’s learned things and grown in ways that he may not have otherwise. But I’m confidant that he’s desperately waiting for relief and release.

    I don’t think the Lord cares whether or not our calling is our passion, I think He just wants to see us serve, stretch ourselves, and feed the sheep.

  • Reader Comment June 27, 2007, 11:22 pm

    Rebecca L. of Lehi, Utah, writes:

    Alison, I just read that you are back in Primary. I am not sure if I should offer my condolences or not. I did notice there were some articles in this months Ensign about serving in Primary.

    You know, the only time I didn’t mind serving in Primary was just before we moved from Eagle Mountain. Our Primary President was incredible. She was so good at teacher relations and at least every other week she would call me, visit, e-mail or whatever to see how my class was, if there was anything she could do to help, praising things she noticed and thanking me for what I was doing. I think it was the first time that I ever felt that what I was doing was helpful. I used to pour my heart into my nursery lessons and bring activities and all sorts of things but the nursery leader and parents would comment about how silly it was because it was ‘only nursery’ and eventually I felt that way too. It made a big difference when I knew that the Primary President was aware of me and my class and interested in our progress. That’s my two cents on that.

  • Reader Comment June 27, 2007, 11:23 pm

    Ann M. of Boise, Idaho, writes:

    Why is nursery always treated like the armpit of all callings? These are precious children of God. What a privilege!

  • Reader Comment June 27, 2007, 11:23 pm

    S.L.M. of California, writes:

    Alison, yes, I think you just suck it up. What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger! You can do it! I know, I felt the same way and I survived ?and I think I’m a better saint for it.

  • Reader Comment June 27, 2007, 11:25 pm

    Margine from Arizona, writes:

    R.L., it is difficult to get to know people in a new ward when you have a calling that limits contact, but there are things you can do to help. This is what I suggest (from personal experience):

    • Always do your visiting teaching assignment (if you have one; if not, ask).
    • Invite the sisters who visit teach you to come each month (don’t let them forget!).
    • Go to as many of the offered Enrichment actitivites as you can. Even if the topic isn’t of much interest to you, it’s a good way to socialize with adults in your ward.
    • Attend any ward activities that are held: firesides, parties, etc.
    • Join the ward choir!
    • Stay after events to help clean up. Sound weird, but it works.
    • See about starting up a playgroup for your children with others nearby. This is a great opportunity for mom, too!
    • Find a running/walking partner or group to join each morning.
  • Reader Comment June 27, 2007, 11:25 pm

    Kellie from Washington, writes:

    Having served in leadership positions many times, we have to be honest that not every calling is deteremined by heavenly messenger or lightening strike. Many are directly inspired and others are simply acceptable to the Lord based on what who is available and willing.

    But even if you’re just the “available and willing,” accepting a call is an opportunity to be obedient, to serve God’s people (even his littlest people), and to grow in testimony. So, jump in and serve with all your heart.

    That doesn’t mean that we are evil if we struggle with a calling! We all struggle at times and it’s no more noble to feel “unworthy” or “unqualified” to serve as the Primary President than it is to feel strains of “insanity” when we are called to a position that stretches our feelings of isolation (or underutilization or teen vocabulary or camping skills) to the limit.

    I predict someone ready to pounce with a scold, but it will only be for appearances. Callings are usually hard, that’s how we grow. We don’t have to pretend they aren’t in order to be true saints.

  • Reader Comment June 27, 2007, 11:26 pm

    Carmen R. writes:

    Nursery is my favorite calling. That means everyone loves me because I am happy to serve there when most people aren’t, and it saves them from having to take a call they dread.

    There are other callings, though, that make me feel just like R.L. When I have had to teach in front of adults, that is when I want to throw up. It makes me so nervous. I can’t sleep for a few nights before the lesson and when I start teaching I sweat and get red marks on my face and neck. It’s really awful. Talking in church is worse.

    But I still do it when I’m asked to because I think that’s what Heavenly Father wants of me. He hasn’t made it easy or painless, so I struggle every time, but I think that is the place to start.

  • Reader Comment June 27, 2007, 11:26 pm

    Andee R. writes:

    I laughed and I cried when I read this column. Brava, sisters! These are things we often feel, but don’t dare speak in public for fear of being castigated and thought heretical. The simple truth is many callings can be overwhelming and discouraging; and it’s not always because they are the most difficult. Personally, I much prefer serving in a “challenging” stake leadership position, than in a (perhaps less demanding, but more isolating and more thankless) “easy” calling.

    Keep up the great work. Your voice of reason is needed.

  • Reader Comment June 27, 2007, 11:27 pm

    Shelley from Oregon City, Oregon, writes:

    I have never been to your site before, and after reading what I did, I don’t plan on going back. I was reading some dialoge where someone was upset about being called to nursery, and the many responses back to her were so negative. Granted, there were some “positive” possibilities as to why this lady “may” have received her call. But I could not believe what was being said about bishops not having inspiration giving calls, about being so “tired” of serving in primary, wanting to throw up every Sunday morning so you didn’t have to teach. Come on!!!

    I serve as Primary president of my ward and I am shocked to see what you are putting out on the web for all to see, how disgusted you are about serving in primary or nursery. I cannot think of a better place to be to feel the Spirit than with loving children who depend on us to help teach them. Have your opinion, fine, but don’t be putting it out there for all to see, especially those who may be new to the gospel and dont’ understand, perhaps, as much as you or I about getting calls and so forth. I have served in Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary presidencies, and let me tell you, there is no better place to be, than around a whole slew of children in the nursery or sharing time. Better than around a bunch of women complaining all the time.

  • Reader Comment June 27, 2007, 11:27 pm

    Amber from Beaverton, Oregon, writes:

    I’m confused. So it’s evil to say you don’t like nursery and Primary, but it’s OK to say you don’t like Relief Society or to name-call the women there?

  • Reader Comment June 27, 2007, 11:28 pm

    Shelly from Arizona, writes:

    I think it’s good to have a place to discuss concerns and difficulties. You probably wouldn’t want to talk about hating Primary in front of your Primary class, but that’s a different thing.

  • facethemusic June 27, 2007, 11:32 pm

    I’m very sorry that you were so disappointed and appalled by the responses given to the question about serving in the nursery. I think though, that you may have misunderstood or maybe your passion for serving in Primary is so great that your disgust for those who don’t like it at all (and for opinions that show understanding for those who don’t like it all) didn’t allow you to pay close attention to what was actually said, or to some of the very positive counsel that was given.

    It wasn’t said that “Bishops don’t have inspiration about calls.” It said that not every single person, in every calling, in every single solitary ward of every stake, was called by inspiration. Sometimes, callings are issued because the president of an auxilary felt to call that person, and the bishop simply agrees, thinking that the calling is a “match” for that person, but without a prayer over that specific person and calling and “divine inspiration” given to the Bishop himself, to call them. Sometimes, they’re issued out of desperation. I certainly don’t think that these situations are the norm, or that they happen very often, but it happens, and even your own bishop will tell you that. It’s not a put down or derogatory toward bishops.

    When I was Primary president, I had serious disagreements with my bishop about who should be serving as the teachers. We were in a very tiny, and mostly inactive ward. I was desperate for teachers, but I wanted the children to have teachers that had strong testimonies, that could teach with the Spirit, and help the children to recognize the Spirit in their own lives. (There’s an article on the site about that, too) My bishop wanted me to call inactive people who hadn’t been to church in years. Why? Because in our tiny ward, the only other sisters who didn’t already have callings were the senior sisters, and each of them had turned down the calling saying that “they’d served their time in Primary.” I couldn’t even get them to substitute, and I was often the only one in Primary, with no counselors, no teachers, no pianist, and no nursery leader. So I had all the kids by myself for two hours, teaching Sharing Time, and leading the singing while playing the piano myself. I’d felt strongly inspired to call sisters who were then serving in Young Women and Relief Society, but my bishop wouldn’t agree, and continued to give me names of inactives to consider. I did pray over those names, and I still continued to feel so strongly about the names that I’d already been given through inspiration, that I went to the stake president to ask his counsel. Do you know what he told me? He told me that when people turn down callings, and there appears to be no one to fill them, that bishops will either ask someone to assume that callings’ duties, without actually issuing them the call, or they’ll call someone who they know can do the job, even though that person is not the one he felt inspired to call. There’s work to be done, and somebody has to do it.

    I happen to agree with you Primary is a wonderful place to be. But we were addressing a sister who simply didn’t feel that way, and felt like she wasn’t supposed to be there. Coming down on her in a “your a horrible person for not liking the nursery” kind of approach wouldn’t produce any positive result. Simply telling her that the kids are precious in the sight of the Lord wouldn’t do any good either she already knows that. She needed a combination of understanding for being in a calling she didn’t enjoy (much of which was approached with tongue-in-cheek humor, which you apparently didn’t appreciate) and a reminder that there must be something that the Lord thought she could accomplish for the benefit of the children and something that the children could give back, to benefit her.

    I understand that you don’t agree with our honesty and somehow feel that our opinions should be kept to ourselves and not “out there for all to see.” But I think that truthful and honest discussion accomplishes much more than embarrassed or ashamed silence.

    You have to remember that Circle of Sisters is an advice column, not the Ensign. People are asking for our opinions and that’s what we give them. And though our opinions are based on our experiences, testimonies, and understanding of the gospel, our answers certainly are not “gospel” in and of themselves, nor are they canonized scripture. There are many times when readers completely disagree with our thoughts, and others when they whole heartedly agree. We leave room for all opinions. And you should remember that the sisters who send in questions, those who answer them and other readers who respond, are all sisters in the Church who represent the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of sisters worldwide. They’re representative of the sisters in your own ward, and some of them are representative of you. We can either ignore the real issue out of shame or embarrassment of the truth, or honestly address it and maybe make a difference.

    Lastly, I don’t really see the difference between someone who has a passion for Primary and is offended by people expressing their honest feelings about disliking working in the nursery or Primary, versus someone who might have a passion for Relief Society, who would probably be offended and appalled when they read the words:

    l have served in Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary presidencies, and let me tell you, there is no better place to be, than around a whole slew of children in the nursery or sharing time, better than around a bunch of women complaining all the time.

    Relief Society is a “bunch of women complaining all the time”? Let’s be honest you’re right. Sometimes it is. But don’t you think such a statement might appall your ward RS president? And yet, that’s how you feel and you expressed your honest feeling. If you believe that such feelings and opinions should be kept to oneself then you might want to ask the site editor to not publish your response. Most feedback, positive or negative gets posted to the site “for all to see.”

    I do hope that you’ll reconsider and browse the site. You may find that even though you thoroughly disagree with what was said in that particular article, you may agree with and even learn something in another. Either way, peace to you and your family.

  • Reader Comment June 27, 2007, 11:33 pm

    Patricia Power writes:

    I am currently the Young Women President and am looking forward to serving in the Primary maybe even the nursery some day! Although I love the Young Women dearly and have certainly grown from this calling, I have no daughters and am baffled at times at the Young Women’s attitudes and emotional seesaws.

    I would encourage us all to look at our current callings and ask what it is that we can personally offer to those we serve. (I had to do that and once I did, I was more prepared to put in the work to be in the Young Women.) And if you really don’t want to serve in your calling, have the courage to say so! Drop some hints about where you would like to serve I know that if I hear someone loves the Young Women, I am more likely to consider them when I have a staffing need.

    Just my thoughts.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 27, 2007, 11:34 pm

    Patricia, the third of my four daughters just reached teenagedom last summer. Perhaps it will help to know that having a host of daughters does not make the emotional rollercoaster any less baffling!

  • Reader Comment June 27, 2007, 11:35 pm

    Tamary Shoemaker from Magna, Utah, writes:

    Nursery has its unique challenges, no doubt about it. I just wanted to add one thought: The way we talk about our calling influences others. Of course we shouldn’t lie and say we love our calling if we don’t. But if we’re constantly expressing martyrdom or loathing, it helps spread that way of looking at that calling.

    I’ve been in wards where hardly anyone would accept nursery or Primary or Cub Scout callings because it had become the ward joke that those were the worst callings ever. But I’ve also been in wards where someone starts to turn that around by speaking as positively as they can about the good things in their calling ?and by finding those good things in the first place, although that can be very hard to do sometimes.

    I also think we need to be honest with the Lord and with the bishop if we continue to feel negative about our callings, because no matter how we try to hide those feelings, they’ll come through to the people we’re trying to serve. I don’t think it’s wicked to go to a bishop and say, “I really hate this, and it’s affecting my ability to do the job. What do you suggest?”

  • Alison Moore Smith June 27, 2007, 11:37 pm

    What a kind, wise response, Tamara. You are right on the money.

    When we first moved to Florida in 1991, my husband was called as the Weblo leader and Primary teacher. After being in the bishopric in Utah, to us that seemed like cake. But when the Primary counselor stopped by to give Sam his stuff, from the top of the stairs I heard, “Oh! Thank you, thank you! Thank you for accepting this calling. No one would accept it!”

    To be sure, that caused a bit of trepidation! (And, to be sure that bunch of boys had earned their reputation!) But after a few weeks of Sam teaching, with me as “the bouncer,” the trouble was gone and it turned out pretty well.

    I agree that we can be honest with our leaders. But I honestly believe that turning down a calling should be a rare, prayerful thing. Who cares if I don’t love it? We serve where we are needed and we do our best and learn what we can and help others as much as we can and grow as much as we can while we are there. That’s why it was so hard, really. Because I knew I would be where I was called.

    To finish the story: We haven’t heard back from R.L., but I accepted my call and Sam accepted the call to team teach with me. The class is lively and cute. Lots of spunk, lots of questions, goofy, silly, excited to read scriptures and participate but no teen attitude or eye-rolling.

    I still miss Gospel Doctrine a lot. I still think Sharing Time is painful. But I do love my new kids. And the Primary president said it was fine if just one of us stayed with the class during Sharing Time, so that the other could go to Relief Society/Priesthood. So once in a while I get to have fellowship with adult women.

    It’s all good ?as usual.

  • heather June 27, 2007, 11:42 pm

    I got a shock when I told the bishop I was always being put in the music callings and I needed a change …. He said, “Well, we could always put you in as a cub scout leader! Grass is always greener….

  • Alison Moore Smith June 27, 2007, 11:45 pm

    heather, was your bishop named deeby, by any chance? :surprised:

  • Rebecca June 27, 2007, 11:45 pm

    I am a scout leader and received another calling. You’ll never guess where…:wink:

  • Alison Moore Smith June 27, 2007, 11:50 pm

    Not again, Rebecca???

    Rachel, was it you that wanted this article brought over to the new side? :confused: Anyway, whoever it was, here it is. Enjoy!

  • heather June 27, 2007, 11:52 pm

    Alison, no my bishop is not Deeby, Dooby or Dubby . LOL

  • Rebecca June 27, 2007, 11:52 pm

    Again. Way again.

  • heather June 27, 2007, 11:55 pm

    Hey, do some of you hold two or more callings?

  • Alison Moore Smith June 27, 2007, 11:56 pm

    May we please have a moment of silence for my dear friend, Rebecca, as she is sucked, silently into the black hole of doom ?

  • Rebecca June 28, 2007, 12:06 am

    You may all send me chocolate… No, really it’s OK. I have had a feeling for a few weeks. Not many people have the opportunity to hold these two callings simultaneously. I think it should be mentioned in my eulogy. :devil: It will be fun and since I have had this feeling for awhile (and told my husband that I felt I was going to get this calling) at least I feel like it was an inspired calling unlike all the times before when I was asked because no one else would accept the calling.

  • heather June 28, 2007, 12:08 am

    call me clueless, what is your new calling can I ask?

  • Alison Moore Smith June 28, 2007, 12:09 am

    Leave it to Rebecca to see the infinitesimally small pinhole of light piercing through the damp nothingness.

  • agardner June 28, 2007, 7:13 am

    I’m glad this thread was resurrected. I think it’s an important topic.

    For the record, I love serving in the Primary. Or at least in some Primary callings, lol!

    I think musicians naturally get narrowed into those music callings just by virtue of their skill. I’ve been there too. In fact, I’m there right now.

    I was called to play the piano in Primary the 2nd week we lived here. I know they were just so desperate for someone to accept this calling that as soon as they knew I played, they jumped right on it. There really aren’t a lot of people here who play, and those who do are in leadership callings. So they really do need me. I have learned that when I have tried to find a substitute! Mine was truly a call of desperation over inspiration, but I do “get” it.

    Having said that, this is a calling that I could do in my sleep. It’s really boring for me, honestly. I do get a kick out of the kids as I observe them, but then again having been in Primary for about 7 of the last 10 years I’ve had enough of that too.

    My dh is the counselor in the bishopric over Primary now. He knows how I feel but is only being honest when he says that there really is no one else right now. The only people I’ve found to sub are my husband (and he is usually out of town when I am) and finally a senior missionary who is serving here with her husband. She can’t have a calling in the ward since she’s a full time missionary, but she can sub for me once in awhile. She is a life saver (but alas, will only be here for a year!)

    I’ve also told dh I wouldn’t mind a second calling (lots of people in the ward have two) so that I could maybe get to know more people since I think the only people I know in the ward are the Primary presidency and chorister. My visiting teachers have never come (I don’t even know who they are). I do go visiting teaching but most of the people I visit are also in Primary. His argument against that is that the bishop feels that the bishopric wives should only have one calling because of the demands on their husband’s time. I can understand that too. I don’t want a major calling – just somewhere I can help contribute, get to know people, and challenge myself a bit.

    But then I have to remind myself that callings aren’t necessarily what we “want to do”. We serve where we are asked and needed. Admittedly, I need to get outside of myself a bit and meet more people without being forced into it by my calling. If I could choose what I want to do, I’d probably get back to Relief Society because I really love it there and miss it. Hey, maybe I could swap with the RS pianist?? Actually, no, I replaced her in Primary because she and the chorister weren’t getting along – so that won’t work!

    Anyway, I have determined that it’s best to just serve where we are asked and do the best we can. Although I could do more, I know that setting a reverent tone in Primary is something that I can help to do in my calling. I LOVE the Primary music so it’s fun to be a part of that. I just have to think of the positives here!

  • vinniecat June 28, 2007, 9:48 am

    I can understand the feelings of isolation some women feel when called to the nursery and primary. I’ve been in callings in the primary for the majority of my adult life and I have to admit I absolutely love being with the kids. That doesn’t mean I don’t miss RS and Sunday School. Our ward has a pretty small nursery and we call 4 women to work in there – so you have every other week “off” to go to Relief Society. We also try to rotate those callings every 9 months or so, as well as the library workers, so people know it won’t be forever. I think this is great wisdom in our bishopric. We are fortunate to have the “manpower” to call 4 people to this position. As Primary President in our ward, I did feel inspired to recommend certain names for nursery leaders. I won’t say they were all thrilled at the prospect, but I pray they will feel the spirit as they work with our (and my own) precious children. As a parent I appreciate nursery workers immeasurably and would be willing to help out any time – understanding that sometimes people may need a break.

  • Lewis_Family June 28, 2007, 12:23 pm

    Posted By: heatherHey, do some of you hold two or more callings?

    Yep, Webelos leader and Enrichment Food Coordinator…:shock:

  • Alison Moore Smith June 28, 2007, 1:19 pm

    Valiant 11 teacher; Stake RS music director

  • Rachel June 28, 2007, 1:30 pm

    Yes, Alison, it was me! Thank you, I’ve been watching for it, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading the thread!

  • Rachel June 28, 2007, 1:36 pm

    Oh, and speaking of Primary, all of these thoughts help immensely in my new calling ;) We have five teachers to replace in Primary right now (thankfully, not nursery, though), and as we ponder names, it is a true challenge. How do I recommend someone I love and know would be great with the kids to fill a calling I hoped I would never have? What do you do when an entire former Primary presidency hasn’t been given new callings and you have many classes that need subs? It’s such a temptation to ask them to fill in, but how can you when you know it will be difficult for them to even see “their” kids, let alone come in and watch someone else fill their shoes?

    Sorry, off topic. Just rambling because that’s what’s on my mind.

  • agardner June 28, 2007, 1:57 pm

    Rachel, I have a couple of thoughts on Primary callings.

    I think most recently released Primary presidency members would be happy to help until you can get callings filled. When I was released as president, my best friend (who had been one of my counselors) turned around and called me to be the chorister. I loved it!

    When considering people for callings, remember that serving in Primary is a joyous thing for many people. My mom, for example, could spend her entire life working in the nursery and being thrilled with it. She has worked in Primary for most of her 38-year married life, and that’s what she loves to do. I would just suggest prayerfully considering individuals, and Heavenly Father will let you know who would be best for the children in your ward. Sure, not everyone is going to be jumping for joy when they get a Primary calling, but most will accept it and do a good job, and come to love it. Primary can be a really great place.

  • Rachel June 28, 2007, 3:41 pm

    Oh, I didn’t mean to be a downer, I am having an off day today. And I’m a bit overwhelmed by various things.

    I do recognize that the Primary is a great place to be. And that is a great new outlook to have! I’m still aware of the negative aspects, I just realize that all callings come with blessings and every auxiliary in the church has a different, but good, atmosphere. I am quite excited about my new calling in the Primary, and I realize many people are happy to serve there. I guess it’s just hard when considering names to know who the Lord wants for the calling, and part of that is my own weakness of knowing how to help those who are called. I can’t imagine myself “training” these new teachers, never having had a positive experience teaching in Primary myself. However, “who the Lord calls, He qualifies.” All will be well, I just need to trust in Him.

    Oh, and as a note, the entire former presidency will be teaching Primary classes this week–two were just called as teachers, two will be subbing. How’s that?! :)

  • agardner June 28, 2007, 4:24 pm

    No, I didn’t think you were being a downer. Sorry if I made you feel that way.

    I just think that sometimes we assume people don’t want Primary callings, when actually a lot of people are happy to do it (or at least “take their turn” lol!). It’s just allowing the Lord to lead you to those people. I was really surprised a few testimony meetings ago that this lady who has been teaching Primary for several years got up and said how much she loved her calling and she would be so sad if she got released. So sometimes we might assume someone needs a break from it or whatever when they really are quite happy to be there.

    Way to go for getting the old presidency involved! I’m sure they are happy to do so.

    Don’t worry about training the teachers (well, worry about it as in do it, but don’t worry about it as in let it stress you out!). Read Teaching, No Greater Call and give a copy to your teachers if they don’t have one already. It’s a great resource. I wasn’t ever a Primary teacher either before I served as president (other than my horrific stint in Sunbeams when I was 20 and stupid), but I think I turned out to be a good support for the teachers. At least I hope so.

    I really think you are going to end up loving your calling. Every calling seems to take time to adjust to and to feel that it is part of us, but it will come. Good luck!

  • east-of-eden August 2, 2007, 4:17 pm

    I’m going to revive this, even though it’s been a month way down on the boards….

    When I moved to my current ward 4 years ago, as a newlywed, I was put into Primary. I was frustrated becuase I felt like I was the only one who cared about reverence, and felt that Primary was NOT a day-care service. I overheard the day-care comment more than once in the halls too. Conseqeuntly I never met anyone my own age, it was very frustrating. I also felt that I was not getting much out of Primary, I literally felt like I was languishing–I’m not a big fan of the current Primary lesson books either. Like someone commented upthread, I had no idea who my VTs were either.

    Fast forward 3 years, I was still teaching Primary but also teaching at Satan’s High School. I was basically a basket-case all the time because of my terrible teaching stiutaion at school, but I was a basket case because of my Primary class too. I was having a crying-jag every Saturday night with the thought of having to go and teach Primary. The presidency was no help, nor were the parents of my Primary students.

    I finally decided to go and talk to my bishop because I was seriouly considering not coming to the last two hours of church anymore. When I talked to my bishop I told him of my frustrations with the Primary, and of my bad situation at work. I just asked for a break till the end of school and told him that even if he didn’t give me a break I was quitting anyway. The next week he sent a counselor over to tell me I was being released. Within about three weeks of this all the school teachers who were serving in the Primary were released. I think it finally took someone being honest with the leadership for them to realize what was going on. They never thought that school teachers might not like teaching even more on Sunday.

    I think bishops do pray about callings, but I think sometimes it is desperation when they call someone. But, if we are not honest with them, they will never know what is really going on in the ward. My bishop had no idea what was going on with my job, and was very sympathetic.

    As for serving in Primary, I realize kids are very choice and precious, but sometimes tending, teaching and caring for other people’s children is hard….very hard, and not very appealing! I feel for the sister who was put in the nursery right off the bat. Not a good placement in my opinion, but hopefully, she will be able to have some sort of meaningful interaction with the grown-ups in the off-Sunday times.

  • Lewis_Family August 3, 2007, 10:06 am

    Children might supposed to be choice and precious, but lets be honest there are too many out there that are quite the opposite. With no rules or discipline at home, how can you expect them to follow rules at church? Sometimes it is just not possible, and the parents need a wake up call of having their rowdy kids in class with them a few sundays then maybe they will step up. I think its not primary that gets to people, it is turdy kids that need padded rooms that gets to you.

  • Alison Moore Smith August 3, 2007, 11:19 am

    Posted By: Lewis_Familyit is turdy kids that need padded rooms that gets to you.

    :shamed: Lewis, you’re killing me! Wah hah!

  • east-of-eden August 3, 2007, 1:06 pm

    turdy kids

    I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard!

    But I don’t even think it’s lack of rules at home–this is big part of it, but not all of it. I think that some people walk into church and they don’t think they same rules of behavior apply. I’ve seen kids in primary and mututal do stuff that would land them in the dog-house so fast in school they wouldn’t even think of doing those things, but they feel perfectly free to do that in church.

    I also think the adults, and I include myself in this, are afraid to say something when they see inappropriate behavior. I don’t know why this is. I remember being more concernend about having to call a primary parent than a school parent. I guess it’s because you still have to see the primary parent after the school year is over, and there is always the chance you will end up on the ward jello and casserole service committee together.

  • Lewis_Family August 3, 2007, 1:54 pm

    That is a fear we need to get over, no one is saying you have to be rude about calling the fact that their kid is the reason why no one ever gets to hear the lesson on sunday, but it is something that has to be done. I never understood how people would think they could act in a lesser manner at church than at school, in fact it is quite saddening how true that statement is. I hate when I see kids running in the halls on Pack night, and I can be heard saying quite often ” Just because it isn’t Sunday doesn’t mean this isn’t still the church.” I am pretty laid back, but no nonsense, so I guess I just have a manner about me that I get away with setting people straight without making enemies, glory maybe if I made a few I could get one of my callings dropped huh?

  • Lewis_Family August 3, 2007, 1:56 pm

    Oh, and I will give you that it isn’t always lack of discipline at home, but then parents get in the mind set that church is a free babysitting occasion so there is lack of discipline at church. I think more teachers should make the effort of taking the kid to their parents ( which is easier done when you team teach since one can stay and one can take the rowdy kid.) Like I said before, a few Sundays with them might open eyes to what stinks their kids are at church.

  • Lewis_Family August 3, 2007, 2:00 pm

    In regards to the turd language, I hope it isn’t too offensive. Growing up I used to use colorful language, so when I straightened my life out, I had to find equally descriptive alternative words. Turd just to describe rotten kids, so yeah, sorry if it is too graphic of a word.

  • agardner August 3, 2007, 2:28 pm

    In response to East-of-Eden’s comments – I think that one reason we are afraid to speak up sometimes is that it involves spiritual welfare and we are afraid to offend. We hear the stories of “Sister so-and-so was so nice to me and that’s why I’m active today” and it makes sense to us that the reverse may sometimes be true. We are afraid of driving people away from church. I’m not saying that I’m that way, but I think some people are. Especially if the family who’s children are acting up are kind of on the verge of inactivity anyway.

  • Lewis_Family August 3, 2007, 4:00 pm

    It’s sad though when we value one members activity over another’s. Yeah this family won’t threat inactivity but they are not getting the spiritual knowledge they seek at church because the one who is threatening is so disruptive and we would rather not lose them over teaching the lesson. Does that make sense? I am not sure how that mentality came about but it is one that I think we need to do away with. If we have to walk on eggshells in order to maintain someon’s activity, then their activity is not based on the right foundation to start with.

  • momof2 August 3, 2007, 5:43 pm

    Not an answer, just a personal experience…

    When I was on my mission, I learned that the most important thing I could do to reach a person was to love them. Over and over again I saw people respond to being loved, often without even realizing exactly why. By the end of my mission I had a strong testimony that the only things that mattered in being a missionary were being obedient, having the Spirit with you, and loving the people.

    I started learning that lesson even before my mission, though. as a primary teacher. I was teaching the children who were 7, turning 8. There were 17 of them, the biggest class in our primary, kind of a big responsibility for a single 24 yo sister. I was lucky, though – they were still pretty sweet at that age, still looking for the approval of their teachers and parents. Except for one boy, a dark-haired little hellion, the wild child of the primary and the despair of his parents. The primary president warned me about him, and told me to keep an eye on him to keep him from taking off out of class. The very first Sunday, though, he escaped from our classroom through a window (it was an old building, with huge casement windows that we would open to get some cooling fresh air) and took off running around the building. The primary president saw him and hauled him back, very upset with him and with me. I went home rather wilted and weepy, with not very happy feelings in my heart toward my little troublemaker.

    Our bad start continued just as poorly. No matter what I did, he just wouldn’t behave. The rest of the class was so good, but this kid was sure to act up in some fashion during every class, interrupting, crawling around the room and playing, distracting the other children, never in his chair for more than 5 seconds at a time. In sharing time he would always sit next to the wall, and hit his head, rythmically, against the cinderblock. I was scared he’d hurt himself, so I told him to stop. He ignored me. I finally just stuck my hand between his head and the wall. He didn’t show any sign that he noticed, just kept banging his head, now against my hand.

    One week he was being particularly difficult. I finally stopped my lesson, turned to him, and sternly told him to behave. I rather naively thought that would have an effect. Hah! He looked at me for a second, then went back to acting up – worse than ever.

    I went home frustrated and feeling bad. What could I do to get this kid to behave? I prayed about it, not really expecting an answer. (I didn’t really know how to recognize the Spirit back then.) The next week I girded my loins and headed back to Primary. Sure enough, right in the middle of class he started acting up, the worst he’d ever been. And then, acting on what I thought then was an impulse, but recognize now was an answer to my prayer, I stopped talking, went over to his chair, knelt down in front him, put my hand on his cheek and looked into his eyes. Then, I very gently and lovingly asked him, using his name, “Could you be more reverent, please?”

    He didn’t give me an answer, just looked at me, but I smiled at him and went back to the front of the room and continued the lesson. It was astonishingly quiet. He sat there, in his chair, watching me, participating in class, transformed for a few minutes into a model child. I was amazed.

    I’d like to say there was a lasting change in him, and that we forged a strong relationship after that – but, actually, I left for my mission just a few weeks later and he was sick for a couple of those weeks. I don’t know if I could have done more to reach him, or if I was just blessed to have one good week. I’d like to flatter myself that he still remembers me, and thinks with gratitude of that experience. I would be willing to bet, though, that he doesn’t even remember me. :smile:

    As a parent, I see how much my children love their primary teachers and it touches my heart with gratitude toward those women who have so willingly taken on what I know is a sometimes frustrating and difficult calling. My oldest, especially, must be a trial for her teachers. She is energetic and highly social. I’ve peeked into sharing time on occasion and seen her poor teacher have to admonish her to stop talking, stop climbing on her chair, and pay attention. When we see her around town, though, my daughter always runs eagerly to her, crying out, “Teacher!” and throws her arms around this young woman. She gets hugged back, complimented on whatever toy or article of clothing she shows off, and generally treated with love. The same with my youngest and her teacher.

    I wanted to share this because I was struck by the last few comments. I think it is true that we are afraid of offending, and that we sometimes don’t handle situations as we should because we don’t want to drive anyone away. I don’t think we really need to worry so much about this, though. If we approach a difficult situation with a spirit of love, of charity, in our hearts, I do think that the people we are talking with will, usually, respond to that. We can’t avoid offending everyone. Some people are looking for an excuse (guess how I know!), but most people will respond positively to a true interest in their welfare and their children’s.

    Parents want their children to be happy and to be loved. But is there a one of us who doesn’t get defensive when we feel our child is under attack? Even if it’s a richly deserved attack, we respond to not only protect our child, but protect ourselves from the implied / imagined criticism of our parenting. It is only through love that we can overcome that reaction, only through the Spirit that we can have that kind of pure love in our hearts at such difficult times.

  • 2B April 3, 2013, 8:56 am

    When I look over the last 20 years of my church service, I can say that I only served in and attended RS for two years of it. My first calling when I was 18 was to serve in the nursery. I have served as nursery leader three times since then. All of this time execpt for the two terms as YW president have been in the Primary.

    I laugh when I remember telling my dad upon high school graduation that I wanted to do anything but teach. I homeschooled my three children and have taught in Primary my whole life it seems. I volunteered and taught each den leader rank through Cub Scouts twice with each son and even taught and moved through Girl’s Scout ranks for 10 years with my daughter. I didn’t wait for or expect someone else to make my children’s programs good. I make sure that my class children are learning the basics of the gospel right and hope they are growing a testimony that will be their rock through these troubling latter days. I know I am being a missionary when I teach other’s kids who are in my class or den.

    I admit that I have gone through stages of ‘self pity’ and not liking my class, but it quickly passes. I understand that there are times when the priesthood does not pray about who is called where sometimes. I have made a point to make sure that any name I submit for a calling has been prayed over, so I am doing the Lord’s will.

    I love teaching in Primary and just smile at the Bishop when he tells me that he wishes he was a nursery leader again. He thinks that ‘IT’ is the best calling in the world and I have to agree with him. But I too graduated from nursery with my kids and have moved up through the class ranks with them. Yes, there are days when I have too many visitors, and somebody’s ‘not trained to sit still’ kid that I complain to my husband. I only have to pray for help to get over it for it to pass.

    Yet everytime the Primary President checks in with me to see if I am burned out of teaching and wanting a change that I tell her, “I’m fine right where I am. You put me where you need me. I’ll do whatever you need.”

    I don’t ever see myself moving to get out of a calling as we are in our retirement home now, so I know when the Lord has a need to use me somewhere else that I will get a new calling. Actually I hold more than one at a time, so I do have chances to mingle with my sisters. I have great relationships with the RS women. They include me every chance they get and I attend weekday activities. I visit with them after church meetings and in my VT service. After 10 years in this ward they are my extended family.

    I moved around every 2-3 years before ‘retiring’ at age 40. I got over my quiet attitude becoming outgoing and friendly because I didn’t have the time to sit back and wait for someone else to make a move towards me. We are the ones who make our life happy or not. “Faith without works” has become a part of me. I know that my happiness is determined by me and not anyone else. If I want to be happy, I have to work for it. It isn’t going to be given to me. The grass always looks greener on the other side and thinking that ‘if I had’ another scenario I would be happy are just satan’s mirrors of excuses to think happiness is possible over there. If I can’t be happy in my present situation, I can’t make myself be happy in any other. Life is a test that I intend to pass hopefully with flying colors. He has shown us how to be happy with his life of examples. If we look at others with the right attitude, we will find ourselves surrounded with friends.

  • Brook February 8, 2014, 3:45 pm

    I am so very sorry for being years late to this conversation and I realize that my comment may never be read by anyone, but I have to say that reading all that you ladies have had to say has helped me immensely. My husband and I were recently called to the nursery and it has been a terrible struggle for me. It wasn’t long ago that we moved into this ward. When the bishopric asked what we’d be interested in doing calling-wise, my response was, “Please, anything but the nursery,” yet here we are.

    I am in my 30s and my husband is in his 40s – we do not have children. We live on the other side of the continent from family so we’re out here alone. We’ve been here for 6 years, but have moved around in this area quite a few times. I finished graduate school 2 years ago and do not work, so I am especially lonely. Church has always been my social life since being out here. Relief Society is my adult interaction other than phone calls from friends and family (and of course being with, my husband). When we were called to the nursery, I cried. I felt like we had been exiled from everyone else in the ward. How are we supposed to make friends? In the nursery, we hear nothing of Enrichment Night activities or any other adult/Elder’s Quorum gatherings. We still have not been assigned visiting teachers or home teachers – heck, we haven’t even been set apart yet. I get that it isn’t the church’s responsibility to make friends for me, but these extra barriers have made my social participation a bit more difficult.

    I feel more lonely than ever. The bishopric called another couple to serve with us, but that was in order to reactivate them and surprise, they do not show up so we are alone. This has made our job even more difficult. I will probably be chastised for saying this, but sometimes I question why I am going to church. Given, we ARE providing service in the kingdom, but rather than feeling spiritually uplifted on Sundays like the parents of these children, I feel exhausted and frustrated… and dare I say, resentful. For the last two Saturday nights, I have had nightmares about our calling. I have actually considered moving our records to another ward in the area because my anxiety over this is getting the best of me. My husband does a lot of traveling for work and I used to go with, but I feel like I cannot now because we’d be constantly asking for subs and I’d feel like I was always putting someone out. Having to stay here alone for the sake of this calling while my husband travels will add another level of lonely to my life and I’m not looking forward to that. Last week, because we have so many kids and only two of us, one of the kids escaped and took off running while at the same time, another jumped off of a chair and hit his head, which caused a bloody nose. I couldn’t take the injured kid to his parent because my husband was out of the room chasing the escapee around the church. I just think that not having a sufficient staff creates a liability issue as well as a safety concern. What’s worse is that we don’t even know who the children’s parents are or where we can find them because we are so new. Their siblings drop them off and we have no role book so all I know is the first names of the children. That’s about it. My only hope is to find someone in the presidency if there is a real problem and hope that my husband doesn’t have another catastrophe while I’m gone. Last week was our worst so far – we live in a very cold climate, yet my husband and I both had sweat dripping down our backs by the time we were finished because we had been running so much (might I add that we have normal BMIs and are physically fit).

    I get that we provide a relief to the parents of the children who have been wrestling with them in sacrament… that much is clear. The older siblings drop off the kids before we can even get out of the chapel. Forget having to pee before heading to nursery (and having that 10 minute break that we are supposed to have) – I have to go during sacrament so that I can hope to get to the nursery in time for the kids. Then comes pick-up time. I watch the clock in agony the entire time and painfully forget that when the clock strikes 4:00 p.m., I still have another half hour before I am relieved from my duties because the families take so very long to retrieve their children. I’d go looking for parents but again, I do not know anyone and would not know who belongs to whom. If I am entirely honest, I feel like families are taking advantage of my free babysitting services.

    I heard one lady say that “The parents of these children have to go home with them and deal with them after church so they shouldn’t have to deal with them during their meetings. That is why parents should not be called to the nursery” I am sorry, but I disagree. These children are precious and innocent and indeed sweet, but when their parents go home with them, they are only dealing with one child (of this age, anyway), not 15 like I am. One child is much different than a group of children who egg each other on and encourage naughty behavior from one another. Her statement was comparing apples to oranges. Furthermore, these ARE their children, after all. I suspect the kids behave much differently with their parents than they do with me as they seem to know that I am in no position to discipline them. I do not think it would be a bad idea to rotate the parents from week to week so that no one couple is forced to miss 1+ years of gospel doctrine and RS/EQ. Some bishops will not issue temple recommends if these classes are regularly missed because they are of such great importance, but if you are called to the nursery, you miss them every week, sometimes for years… so why can’t we take turns in the nursery?

    Then there are the parent complaints (the problem is, I see parents so randomly that I do not have the chance to memorize which people are parents to which children), “Please don’t use Play Doh because it gets in their clothes.” “Please don’t blow bubbles right before we pick up the kids because their hands are sticky.” “Please don’t let my son say X, we are trying to teach him to say Y.” “Please potty train my child.” While I’d like to provide customized care to each individual child, the reality is that I am chasing several others at the same time. If you remove my ability to keep everyone busy for at least 3 minutes at a time (Play Doh/Bubbles), you’ve pretty much sentenced me to two hours of anarchy and the last thing I am worried about is your son saying “gosh.” (Literally, the dad does not want his son to use the word “gosh”). I sometimes feel not like a volunteer, but as if I am a paid domestic worker.

    I considered that maybe they chose this calling for us in order to be “cute” and hint off to us that we need to have kids. Little did they know that we had begun trying, but after the nursery experience, I expressed to my husband that I felt like I didn’t have the mental and emotional stamina to deal with this 24/7 and decided that I just couldn’t handle having our own children. It isn’t that I don’t want to obey the commandments but based on my own challenges, I just realized that perhaps a family wasn’t going to work for us, especially because we’ve had such a late start in our particular marriage.

    Reading your comments has helped me to realize that even if I dislike this calling with every fiber of my being, it is what I have been called to do and I must obey. I am sure the ward members who helped us unload our moving truck didn’t enjoy it, but they did it because they saw the importance of serving Heavenly Father’s children. I have to think this way as well. The bishopric insisted that they had preyed about this and all agreed that we were supposed to be given this calling. I have to trust that Heavenly Father put us in this calling for a reason. Perhaps it is through our diligent service despite loathing our work that we will prove to Him that we really are willing to obey, even when we do not want to. I could certainly use the blessings that come with service so I might as well buck up and deal with it, right? I hope to one day be one of those people who can tell my story to someone else who is struggling and be able to conclude with, “And then I realized WHY I was supposed to do what I was called to do and now I have a strong testimony of the importance of accepting our callings.” It’s only two hours every week, right?

    Thanks, ladies.

  • Alison Moore Smith February 11, 2014, 8:27 am

    Brook, welcome to MM. All the comments are read, at least by me! And if page hits and email are any indication, by other people as well. Feel free to chime in on any discussion, no matter how old. :)

    When the bishopric asked what we’d be interested in doing calling-wise, my response was, “Please, anything but the nursery,” yet here we are.

    I understand the need to fill callings but, sincerely, I’ve almost never seen a case where we couldn’t accommodate people’s strong feelings about callings.

    Church has always been my social life since being out here.

    I hear you, sister! Being a work-at-home mom and homeschooling (26+ years now), church is the most consistent adult interaction I get. Given that there really are people who LOVE and DREAM ABOUT nursery and Primary, I think we might give some preference! :)

    When we were called to the nursery, I cried.

    The last time I served in Primary (as chorister, again) I calmly stated that I really hated serving in Primary but would do my best. The time before, I literally sat on the bathroom floor and cried.

    I am so sorry for how you are feeling and understand. :( Honestly, I think, given what you said, this is a time to just say no. Maybe stick it out a few months and then TELL your leaders you need to be released and why. And absolutely include everything in your list! And I mean everything, such as that you are considering moving to another ward to get away from the calling.

    The bishopric called another couple to serve with us, but that was in order to reactivate them and surprise, they do not show up so we are alone.

    Kaahhhh! Years ago I was the “assistant homemaking leader” to a homemaking leader who was inactive. So, yea, my job was to plan and administer homemaking meeting while being prepared at any moment to step aside if she might happen to show up. Kind of a joke and, no, it didn’t reactivate her. (But, seriously, why don’t inactive people just say no? Hard to understand feeling compelled to accept a calling when you aren’t compelled to show up to do it or go to church or anything else…)

    I will probably be chastised for saying this, but sometimes I question why I am going to church. Given, we ARE providing service in the kingdom, but rather than feeling spiritually uplifted on Sundays like the parents of these children, I feel exhausted and frustrated… and dare I say, resentful.

    Brook, there are many callings that can leave you exhausted by the time that block is over! I started having breakfast-for-dinner or soup-for-dinner or anything easy-for-dinner on Sundays (as opposed to my mother’s example of super nice Sunday dinner) when I was education counselor in RS, I think. After multiple meetings and being “in charge” during church, I just wanted to curl up on my bed!

    It seems to me, however, it’s not just being tired of wrangling a bunch of toddler, but the lacking social interaction, loneliness, and all the other issues combined that are making this so difficult.

    In my opinion, you should asked to be released. Yes, I know there are some who would NEVER say this and would call me a heretic, but let’s be real. Not every bishop — in fact I dare say few bishops — are aware of all the unexpressed issues of everyone in the ward. And I can say from experience that even EXPRESSED issues are often dismissed by leaders.

    When I was called to be chorister a few years ago, I was very clear that being in Primary was very difficult for me. Every time I was asked by a bishopric member, I reiterated that (just in case they thought they were doing me a favor by leaving me there). When I renewed my temple recommend after serving well over a year the counselor asked me, again, how I liked my calling.

    Seriously? Am I in a vacuum? I looked him straight in the eye and said, “I hate it.” Period. No qualifiers.

    He looked like he was going to fall off his chair. I just looked at him. After some hemming and hahing, he said, “Well, I guess we’ll have to do something about that.”

    I was released. A year later. So, yea.

    I heard one lady say that “The parents of these children have to go home with them and deal with them after church so they shouldn’t have to deal with them during their meetings. That is why parents should not be called to the nursery” I am sorry, but I disagree.

    Good freaking heavens. This sounds like the “How can you stand to be around your kids all day? question I get asked all the time.

    If you don’t want to “have to deal” with your kids, don’t have them!

    I do not think it would be a bad idea to rotate the parents from week to week so that no one couple is forced to miss 1+ years of gospel doctrine and RS/EQ.

    I think this is a fabulous idea! And I see no downside, honestly, except for parents who have other callings during those hours. Consistency is good, but kids do just fine with a regular rotation of familiar people.

    BTW, you can take some control to ameliorate some of the problems. I have been in wards where the nursery leaders posted rules on the door, including a rule that ONLY PARENTS could drop off kids and that they could not be left unattended (meaning, yes, you can use the bathroom before nursery!), etc. Whatever works best.

    And, no, you don’t potty train anybody. Period. Just say no to that, too.

    I have to trust that Heavenly Father put us in this calling for a reason. Perhaps it is through our diligent service despite loathing our work that we will prove to Him that we really are willing to obey, even when we do not want to. I could certainly use the blessings that come with service so I might as well buck up and deal with it, right? I hope to one day be one of those people who can tell my story to someone else who is struggling and be able to conclude with, “And then I realized WHY I was supposed to do what I was called to do and now I have a strong testimony of the importance of accepting our callings.” It’s only two hours every week, right?

    This is the best thing ever. I’m reading and getting wound up and wanting to hop over and defend you from the evil nursery calling. And YOU explain the problem and come to such an amazing conclusion.

    Whatever you do, I think it can become less awful and more joyful. :)

    Much love!
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Career Inequality No More – Obama Will Pay You to Be a Super Model!!!My Profile

  • jennycherie February 11, 2014, 4:41 pm

    Brook – I *beg* you, PLEASE show your post to your primary president. PLEASE. You are not whining and you are being very faithful in continuing. But these are serious problems that should NOT be part of serving in nursery. If you are understaffed, the parents MUST stay – they can rotate or whatever but it IS a serious liability issue if you have 15 children, age 3 and under with only two people to watch over them. As nursery leaders, the MOST important thing you do is NOT crowd control. There should be enough nursery workers to allow you to maintain your sanity. It is very possible that this is exactly why you and your husband were called – to stop the madness.

    Alison already gave you some good advice, but just let me add a second:
    1. You should not have to use the restroom during sacrament, take the time to do it in between. You have a solid ten minute break (it is in the church handbook!) between sacrament and the start of the next meeting. Take your time.
    2. You don’t potty train any body. ANY thing related to potty-ing is the responsibility of the parent. PERIOD. Anything.
    3. Three adults is the bare minimum – one to run after escapees/deliver kids to parents and two in the room at all times.
    4. The primary presidency should have one member in the hallway keeping an eye out for escapees of all ages and for emergencies.
    5. I love the nursery manual. I totally get while it feels like you are just providing free babysitting, but it is more than that. I love the nursery manual. I remember reading something in it, that ages 18 months – 3years is the prime time for gospel teaching. It is hard to believe when some of them seem to be such absolute terrors, but there might be something to it.
    6. I promise you, having your own kids is nothing like serving in nursery. ;)
    jennycherie recently posted…RHS Band Marches at UCM HomecomingMy Profile

  • Angie Gardner February 12, 2014, 6:55 pm

    Welcome Brook. I just wanted to say hi and that I agree with Alison and Jennycherie’s advice. They are both smart women and speak the truth!

  • T. Brook February 19, 2014, 12:42 am

    You are such wonderful women. Thank you so very much for all of your kind words. I have been feeling so guilty about my comment ever since I left it. I was not expecting so much support.

    We are going to try to stick this out for a couple of months to see how it goes. I figure that I owe it to the Lord to give Him the “college try.” My husband has spoken to the primary president and in so many political words, has let her know what is going on. It sounds like, however, we’re going to be alone again this next Sunday. My mom suggested that we politely nag every week that we are understaffed and (in her words) they’ll probably call a new couple within a couple of weeks. I guess we’ll see.

    I guess I will feel more justified asking to be released if I can at least show that I tried.

    Thanks again, for taking so much time to give such detailed responses. You are brilliant and I already look up to you.

    • Alison Moore Smith February 19, 2014, 6:06 pm

      T. Brook, that sounds like a good plan. See if you can get support, see if you can find a way to make the position positive. But ultimately, this IS your decision and you won’t burn in hell if you tell them you really can’t be in nursery at this point in your life.
      Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Judging the Judgmental: Telling Women to Stop Thinking Is Not My Profile

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