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.