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The Value of Motherhood (this may not be what about you think)

Once in a while, you read something that sticks, that changes your view on things, that changes your life.

I wanted to write about one of those things for me. It’s been nearly nine years since I read this little comment, a comment that was buried in a rather long article entitled “Teach the Children” by President Boyd K. Packer.

Even the title wouldn’t necessarily prepare you for the little gem that could even be missed, because the focus was not on children in this little quote. I’m grateful that the Lord didn’t let me miss it.

President Packer was talking about being a willing learner, and about how sometimes he will get letters from people who (in essence) apologize for their hard feelings about some hard thing he has taught.

I mention one among several subjects. A sister may finally come to see why we stress the importance of mothers staying at home with their children. She understands that no service equals the exalting refinement which comes through unselfish motherhood. Nor does she need to forgo intellectual or cultural or social refinement. Those things are fitted in in proper time for they attend the everlasting virtue which comes from teaching children.

No teaching is equal, more spiritually rewarding, or more exalting than that of a mother teaching her children.

Now, I know the whole stay-at-home mom thing is a hot topic. It’s not always possible for women to be full-time homemakers. I realize that. I believe the Lord can guide each of us in our individual circumstances to know what is best for our families, right now.

I also know that motherhood is a tender topic for those who aren’t mothers right now. I truly believe that our trials are tailored to us. I also know that I don’t understand all things, and that growth will come differently to each of us, and often in ways that stretch us beyond what we think we can bear. My heart aches for those whose heart aches in this way, and I hope you can find peace and perspective in your life.

And yet, I wanted to share this for those who find themselves being stretched beyond what they feel they think they (or their children?) can bear in their role as mother — because it IS a very difficult, often thankless job. It’s hard to face the mundane repetitiveness, the irrational emotionality of little children, the exhausting unpredictability of being responsible for others’ lives and health and well-being and spiritual growth. I don’t know that I have ever felt so weak and inadequate as I have as a mom.

But maybe that is part of the reason it’s so important for those of us who are mothers right now to stick with it, to not buy into the notions that swirl around us that we need to be “out there” somewhere doing, accomplishing, competing, achieving in order to be growing and progressing. That doesn’t preclude us having hobbies, or working to meet the needs of our families, or finding ways to keep the educational process alive in some small way. But it is not easy in my experience to remember that ultimately, the world often doesn’t reward the kind of work that God values most. It takes faith to do that kind of work.

I am grateful for Pres. Packer’s quote, because it has helped me have a little more faith in it all, and to understand a little more what the whole ‘family first’ principle is all about.

It’s about becoming like God.

{ 14 comments… add one }

  • Alison Moore Smith December 18, 2008, 9:54 pm

    Michelle, not only is this beautiful, but something that touched my heart in a much needed way today. Thank you, thank you.

    the irrational emotionality of little children

    As the snowbirds in Boca always exclaimed (loudly and in your best New York accent) to me when they saw me shlepping around with my four daughters. “Oh, just wait until they’re teenagers!!!” :smile:

    I don ?t know that I have ever felt so weak and inadequate as I have as a mom.

    True that.

    I actually thought I was a really good mom (and even had the gall to say so ONCE in a RS lesson–and never lived it down) until my oldest turned 12. Then I realized that I was just a completely idiotic fool of a woman, pretending at this parenting thing in a most unconvincing way.

    Anyway, bless your heart for writing this, Michelle. I hope you all take time to read it.

  • kiar December 18, 2008, 9:59 pm

    had written a big long rsponse that got killed by my stupid computer! (it is sick, and needs help)
    So, here instead is the short version: You rock, I love being a mom, I will follow my dream of nursing school when I can, and being home is the right place for me. I used to think it wasn’t. I know better now!!

  • facethemusic December 19, 2008, 8:21 am

    Wonderfully put, Michelle!
    I really appreciate the way President Packer included this statement:

    Nor does she need to forgo intellectual or cultural or social refinement. Those things are fitted in in proper time for they attend the everlasting virtue which comes from teaching children.

    I get frustrated with critics of stay-at-home moms who make it sound like the phrase means you actually have to “stay” at home– like you’re imprisoned there 24/7, can’t go out, can’t take a class, can’t get together with friends, etc, etc. (And I’ve heard some unhappy stay-at-home moms make the same kind of comments) It’s just a matter of prioritizing, so that the
    “mothering” is the MAIN thing, and everything else gets fitted around that, rather than trying to fit the kids in to our schedules.

  • Alison Moore Smith December 19, 2008, 9:07 am

    I have heard those things as well, Tracy. I do think, however, we (collectively) have brought some of this on ourselves. Stereotypes exist for a reason and, unfortunately, there is often truth to them. If stay-at-home moms aren’t the ones who keep soap operas and daytime talk in business, I don’t know who is.

  • jennycherie December 19, 2008, 12:44 pm

    Posted By: Alison Moore SmithIf stay-at-home moms aren’t the ones who keep soap operas and daytime talk in business, I don’t know who is.

    according to my husband, it would be the truck drivers/dock workers on break in the breakroom who faithfully tune in to Regis & Kelly (at the 9am break), Days of Our Lives (I think that’s the one, over lunch) and The Ellen Degeneres ? Show (at the 3pm break).

  • Lewis_Family December 19, 2008, 1:05 pm

    I keep the disney channel in business :smile:

  • Alison Moore Smith December 19, 2008, 5:43 pm

    I’d kill to see a bunch of dock workers watching Days of Our Lives!

  • jennycherie December 19, 2008, 8:45 pm

    I could give you the address if you’d like :wink:. It’s not that far if you fly!

  • Michelle D December 19, 2008, 8:53 pm

    Michelle, thank you so much for posting this. It comes at an opportune time for me.

    I wanted to share this for those who find themselves being stretched beyond what they feel they think they (or their children?) can bear in their role as mother

    Lately there have been many things, including motherhood, that have seemed to stretch me far beyond what I feel I can bear. Thanks for the reminder of priorities and perspective. It helps me remember where (Who) to turn for peace.

  • davidson December 20, 2008, 7:55 am

    Thank you, Michelle. Lovely thoughts. I spent all morning wondering how to reach out to a fourteen year-old son who has suddenly developed a dissatisfaction with family. He prefers staying in his room to interacting with us. In thinking about it, I realized that most of our conversations with him lately have been more like monologues directed AT him, not conversations with him. You know, “Clean your room,” “get your clothes in the wash,” “do your homework.” I was thinking this morning that I needed to do some real mothering with him, let him know how much he is loved IN ADDITION to what he needs to accomplish. And then I read your lovely post. I guess the best thing I can do for him is to be happy myself, content with my role, but anxious to stretch and reach and grow.

  • davidson December 20, 2008, 8:02 am

    And Alison, if you’d like seeing dock workers watching soap operas, I think you’d like this. When my father-in-law was alive, my husband worked with him in a small brick mason business. They had one other employee. During their workday, they listened to the Ricks College station on the radio, which played classical music. One day Ricks aired a show that included the music from “Cinderella.” Later in the day, all three big, tough, mud-covered brick layers were singing “Bippity Boppity Boo” for the remainder of the afternoon, not even aware they were doing it. Oh, the power of suggestion.

  • Alison Moore Smith December 20, 2008, 11:18 am

    :clap: Classic, davidson.

  • nanacarol December 20, 2008, 12:04 pm

    Great article. Makes me so grateful once again that I stayed home the majority of the time. The fruits of it are still happening. Thanks again for giving us such good insight.

  • mlinford December 20, 2008, 1:37 pm

    Well, folks, this article is one *I* have needed this week. Whew.

    I’m grateful if it was meaningful to others as well. I am so grateful to have the guidance of prophets to help me try to keep my life more in focus.

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