The Career of Motherhood

On Wednesday Hilary Rosen, a Democratic strategist, made a comment on CNN about Ann Romney saying that she “has actually never worked a day in her life,” referring to the fact that Ann has spent her adult life as a stay-at-home mom rather than as an employee of another corporation. ¬†While the Obama campaign has indicated that Ms. Rosen’s comments do not reflect the position of their campaign I felt the need to address this line of thinking in general in the world. It’s something that was on my mind before this came up and I had considered writing this post anyways, but now I have a very good excuse to not procrastinate doing so ūüôā

First, you ought to know my work history. ¬†I graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics with a minor in Computers and the Humanities. ¬†In my life I have worked as a babysitter, software quality assurance tester, accounting clerk, department store customer service representative, theater technician (spotlight operator, stage hand and stage manager), web developer, and stay-at-home mom. ¬†Most of those jobs would be considered part time jobs that I held through high school and college. ¬†When I was a theater technician I was part of a touring theater group and most days would consist of waking up early (generally 7am-ish), driving to a theater, moderate manual labor all day (unloading/loading a truck full of theater equipment, setting up props, speakers, lights etc), doing a show, loading the equipment back up and finally leaving the theater late at night (generally 11pm-ish), going home to a host home and doing it all again the next day. ¬†As a web developer I held a traditional 9-5 salaried position with a local advertising agency which I commuted to on the bus, and came home to make dinner, drive it across town to my husband and only get home in time to go to bed before doing it again the next day. ¬†Suffice it to say, no one could say that I’ve “never worked a day in my life.” ¬†However, of all the jobs I’ve held, being a stay-at-home mom FAR surpasses any of my previous positions in difficulty and general amount of work that I do.

It amazes me how our society doesn’t look at full-time motherhood as “real” work. ¬†I know it may seem that those of us who have chosen to make our family our career just have it easy – getting to stay home and play with kids all day – but anyone who thinks that has obviously never tried it. ¬†As a mother I am on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. ¬†When I worked at my traditional 9-5 job, even though my days were long (starting around 6am and not really getting home until nearly 9pm), when I went to bed at night there wasn’t a baby in my bed who expected to be fed at 2am. ¬†My clients didn’t call me at 3am because they’d had a nightmare and needed some comforting. ¬†Except in rare situations, I had my weekends completely to myself. ¬†As a mom I get excited when I am alone for long enough to go pee without my boys trying to climb on me or get into something. ¬†Every aspect of my life revolves around my children. ¬†Sure I had to grocery shop, cook, do laundry and dishes before I had kids, but now I do those things while carrying around an 18lb child, or trying to referee the two kids so they don’t kill each other while I try to accomplish some task. ¬†Everything I do takes twice as long because these children require my attention at all hours. ¬†There are naps to be taken, joy school, bedtimes, playdates and a host of other activities that weren’t part of my daily life before parenthood.

I know that some people are thinking, “yeah, but the work isn’t very difficult.” ¬†Au contraire mon chere! ¬†One of the most difficult parts about motherhood and running a household is that in all my educational experience leading up to this career choice I didn’t receive much training that actually taught me how to do what I’m doing now. ¬†There wasn’t a single class in college that taught me how to keep a house clean with toddlers in it. ¬†I didn’t get a degree that qualified me for treating fevers or successfully baking bread (a skill I have yet to gain).

The hardest and most frustrating part (in my opinion) is that the work of a mother is never done, and it’s the same work over and over and over again. ¬†I can spend all day working on laundry, getting it cleaned, dried, folded and put away; but at the end of the day we take off the clothes we’re wearing and there’s more laundry to do. ¬†Every 3-5 hours throughout the day it’s time to prepare another meal, convince my kids to eat that meal (which takes far longer than just eating on my own) and then all the dishes that come afterwards. ¬†I change diapers only to have to change them again within a few hours. ¬†As fast as I can pick up all the toys, clothes and other stuff in our house our boys seem to make different messes just as quickly.

For the past several months my status message in GMail has said “I feel accomplished in a day if I complete one thing that won’t be undone by day’s end.” ¬†That pretty well sums up my life. ¬†To me, that’s the biggest difference between my career as a web developer and my career as a mother. ¬†As a web developer I would be presented with lots of problems – broken pages, new pages to build, typos, loading issues etc. ¬†But as soon as I solved the problem, it was done and I could move on to the next problem. ¬†The only reason I would have to revisit the same problem is if I did something to mess it up again, or if it was on a different site. ¬†As a mother I am constantly re-doing the same things, not because I did them wrong the first time, but because they are things that need to be done over and over again.

Even the things that look to others like leisure activities aren’t quite what they seem on the surface. ¬†Yeah I watch a lot of TV, but it’s mostly Super Why or Ni Hao Kai Lan that I put on for my kids so that I can try to get some dishes done without my almost one year old climbing into the dishwasher. ¬†I’m on Facebook a lot, but it’s usually because (like right now) I’m stuck at the computer with a sleeping baby in my lap that refuses to sleep on his own. ¬†I’m relatively active on Pinterest but mostly to find ways to save money, clean better, cook new things, find good educational activities for my children or generally researching how to be a better homemaker. ¬†Playdates look like fun and games, but between getting kids prepared to leave the house, behave appropriately at someone else’s house, and getting them back home (not to mention the disruption to their routine which can be very unwelcome, even with the fun of a playdate in mind) – it’s a lot more effort than you might think.

Please don’t take these comments the wrong way. ¬†I love being a mother. ¬†My life right now is completely devoted to what I consider the most important endeavor I could embark on – raising my children to be good, productive, smart, responsible members of our community. ¬†It requires long hours, patience, organization, creativity, wisdom, endurance and most importantly hard work. ¬†I wouldn’t trade it for the world, and I feel so grateful for my wonderful husband who shoulders the burden of providing financially for our family so that I am able to spend my time focused on running our household and raising our children. ¬† But just because I don’t receive a paycheck doesn’t mean what I do is any less work. ¬†Hilary, I daresay that you¬†don’t know what it’s like to have worked a day in your life until you’ve been a stay-at-home mom.

Easter Thoughts

Easter Thoughts

Over the last few days I’ve been reading in our New Testament reader to Sam about the last week of our Savior’s life, His atonement and resurrection. ¬†It has given me a chance to ponder on these events for myself and think again about what Christ’s life means to me. I had one quick thought that I wanted to share.

The thing that struck me was that as Christ was on the cross he said “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do“. ¬†I’ve read that a million times but this time what stuck out to me was not just that Christ forgave the very people who were killing Him, but that He did so while¬†they were in the very act of doing so. ¬†He didn’t wait for them to realize what they’d done wrong, or to feel any remorse. ¬†They had beaten and humiliated Him, cast lots on His clothes and nailed Him to a cross, and while they were yet reviling Him and watching Him suffer and die – He forgave them. ¬†It made me think once again that I have zero right to withhold my forgiveness from anyone. ¬†“… The Son of Man hath descended below it all, art thou greater than He?

I know that Christ loves us. ¬†He suffered for our sins and sorrows. ¬†He died on the cross and rose again on the third day. ¬†I know He lives, and because He lives again I will be able to live again after this life too. ¬†I am forever grateful for this knowledge and love our Savior. ¬†I would invite everyone to view the video above. ¬†It’s just 7 minutes long and depicts the final week of Christ’s life and His resurrection. ¬†Just take a moment to think about what His sacrifice means to you and how you can be a better disciple of Christ. ¬†Happy Easter ūüôā

Thoughts from General Conference

I can’t believe that another General Conference has once again come and gone. ¬†The weekend went by far too quickly, particularly since I spent most of it sick and with a sick baby. ¬†I’m still fighting through the symptoms (although I think they’re allergy related now) and my baby still has a lot of congestion and is really cranky so it’s taken awhile for me to write up some of my thoughts from the weekend. ¬†What a blessing to be able to listen to the prophet of God and be with my family.

I think my favorite talk was Elder Holland’s talk about the parable of the vineyard. ¬†The talk immediately caught my attention because that parable had randomly been on my mind earlier in the week. ¬†I hadn’t been reading about it or studying it but for some reason it had come to my mind during the week. ¬†I’m glad that it did catch my attention because it was something I really needed to hear. ¬†Elder Holland paraphrased one of the scriptures by saying¬†“Why should you be jealous if I choose to be kind?” ¬†It was a good reminder to me to not judge those who haven’t been fully faithful to the gospel. ¬†It doesn’t harm me at all, my blessings from living the gospel are so much greater than their perceived happiness from failing to do so. ¬†Why should I begrudge them the Lord’s mercies to regain later in life what they could have had all along? ¬†It doesn’t diminish from me at all. ¬†I always love Elder Holland’s talks, he has a way of speaking that is ¬†straightforward and deep at the same time. ¬†I always come away with something profound from his talks.

I was also very moved by Sister Julie Beck’s talk. ¬†In the Saturday afternoon session Sister Beck was released as the General Relief Society President (meaning she was in charge of the organization of the women of the church on a worldwide level, but will now be stepping down to allow someone else to fulfill that post). ¬†When she was released I turned to Eric and said, “I bet she’ll cry through her whole talk this weekend.” ¬†I was wrong. ¬†Her eyes remained dry through her talk, and I sobbed. ¬†It wasn’t so much the talk itself that touched me but reflecting on the leadership this wonderful woman has given to the church. ¬†I so admire her boldness in defending women and their roles in creating families and homes. ¬†She has helped me to gain a true vision of the power of women and the unique, divine abilities that we’ve been given. ¬†It is not a popular time to be declaring that women should be protectors of the home and doing what they can to fulfill that role, and I am so grateful for Sister Beck’s leadership in standing up and defending that order. ¬†My testimony was strengthened that the Lord sends the leaders we need in our time. ¬†I think Sister Beck was uniquely qualified to fill this role at this time and will miss having her at the helm of our Relief Society. ¬†That said, I know that¬†Sister Linda K. Burton, who¬†was called as the new general president of the Relief Society, is going to be marvelous and that she will bring something to the table that we need now. ¬†I hope I can grow up to be like these wonderful women.

Another talk that really touched me was Elder David F. Evans’ talk. ¬†I had been thinking just that morning that I wished I could be a better missionary. ¬†I love¬†the gospel of Jesus Christ and want to share it with the world! ¬†However, I live in Utah, a state where the majority of citizens are already members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. ¬†As a stay-at-home mom I’ve found that most of the people I know are other stay-at-home moms. ¬†Since my children aren’t of school age yet the other moms I know are the women I meet at church. ¬†So my day-to-day contact with those who don’t share my faith is extremely limited. ¬†But Elder Evans reminded me that it’s important that our missionary experiences be current. ¬†Also that just living the gospel daily is a way of sharing the gospel. ¬†I also thought of a particular friend who I felt might need some lifting up. ¬†As I was thinking of this friend Elder Evans said that when we receive promptings of people who needed a message of the gospel that we should “act without delay”. ¬†So, I stopped listening to his talk and quickly composed an email to this friend ūüôā

There was another moment that really moved me.  President Uchtdorf spoke on Sunday morning and as he began his talk he related that he had received a letter from a mother who told of her children who had a very strained relationship.  This mother asked President Uchtdorf to talk about how they could fix their relationship during General Conference saying that she knew their relationship would be healed if he were to do so.  So, President Uchtdorf did just that saying that he prayed for these siblings to be reconciled as their mom had faith they would be.  I was so touched that with all the things that are going on in the world President Uchtdorf took the time to listen to the concerns of this individual mother and to pray for her children and address them in General Conference.  The talk itself was wonderful as well, but the example he set of taking time for the one was more impressive to me than any of the words he said afterwards.

There were many other amazing talks, but those were my particular experiences with conference that I wanted to record and share. ¬†I’m excited to get to go back and study these talks for the next 6 months and continue to be uplifted and inspired by them.