Ladies of the Round Table

May 12, 2008

Such a Time as This

Filed under: Uncategorized — E. @ 3:51 pm

I have been debating, debating, debating in my head whether or not to write this post.  I haven’t written any posts here yet (life has been a tad busy, sorry) and I don’t want my first post to be alienating or controversial, but I’m going to do it and hope for the best.

Motherhood was very difficult for me at first.  That isn’t to say it isn’t difficult at times still, but not in the way it was.  I knew with every fiber of my being that staying at home with my children was what I wanted to do — for them.  When it actually happened, however, when I actually starting being a stay-at-home mom, I realized very painfully that it was for them and completely, totally, not for me.  I struggled with the “what if’s” and second guessed myself for years (about six of them) until I was asked to speak in church on Mother’s Day, 2004.  That was a turning point for me.

(Umm . . . for those of you who don’t like reading/hearing about God, I hope big sirens and whistles just went off in your head when you read “I was asked to speak in church”.  At this point, if you keep reading, it is your decision.) 

So I am going to share much of that talk here, not to be preachy, not to make it seem like I condemn mothers who work outside the home (because I don’t), but to share what has helped me make peace with a decision that I knew was right for me to begin with, but just had a hard time accepting in practice.  I am going to share it in case anyone else, either a regular reader or someone who just stumbles across this forum, is struggling with the same feelings I had in hopes it can help them.  I am also going to share it in hopes that people will see stay-at-home moms aren’t just air-headed women who would “do something more”  with their lives if they had the drive, or understood that they could.  Believe me, I understand.

So, without further ado, here it is (though somewhat edited for space because it was, like, a 15-20 minute talk.  I know, that was further ado.  Anyway . . . ) :

I recently ordered a pamphlet written by Sister Hinckley entitled, Is This What I Was Born to Do?.  In it she recounts the story of Esther who was encouraged to approach her husband, the king, to plead for her people.  She knew if she did this she could possibly lose her life.  Mordecai, the cousin who raised her, encouraged her with these words, found in Esther 4:14:

“Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

Sister Hinckley observed that when we have those moments in our life when we think, “Is this what I was born to do?” we could translate that question into Mordecai’s question, “Who knoweth whether I am come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

As mothers, do we not ever, in frustration, wonder, “Is this what I was born to do?”  I know I have.  But it is my testimony to you that we have come to the kingdom for such a time as this.  As mundane as motherhood may sometimes seem, especially for the stay-at-home mom, it is exactly what we are here for.  I bear you my testimony that I know Heavenly Father is aware of you.  The children you have are your children because that is part of his plan, not just because their number came up and it was their turn to come down to earth.  I know this because shortly after my husband and I were engaged, but before we were married, Heavenly Father let me know very specifically that I would have three daughters – three daughters who, along with many other children, wanted desperately to be with their mothers.  In those difficult moments of motherhood, I try to remember this, that these are my children for a reason.  I may not know the reasons, but Heavenly father does and so I have to have faith that he will help me with whatever the challenges are, because nobody else can do my job.  Likewise, mothers, nobody else can do your job.

President Hinckley has said, “I remind mothers everywhere of the sanctity of your calling.  No other can adequately take your place.  No responsibility is greater, no obligation more binding than that you rear in love and peace and integrity those whom you have brought into the world” (Pres. Hinckley, Bring Up a Child in the Way he Should Go, Ensign, Nov. 1993).

No other can adequately take your place – those are the words of a prophet.

I believe there is so much in the world that can distract us from the sanctity of our callings as mother.  Not only can these things distract us, they are designed to do just that.  In the past few decades so many doors have been opened to us as women.  We have more choices than ever before regarding our educations and our professional opportunities.  The availability of these choices, I believe, is inherently good.  After all, our Heavenly Father is all about giving us the ability to choose.  However, somewhere along the way, with all the cheering and hurrahing over our new choices, many women seem to have forgotten that the old choice of being a full-time mother and homemaker is still an option.  Don’t misunderstand what I am saying.  For some women staying at home is not an option and the brethren have recognized and continue to recognize this with love and understanding.  I temporarily returned to work when my oldest was about 5 months old.  Sometimes it is necessary.

One of the unfortunate side effects of so many women working outside the home is that those who stay at home often compare themselves to their professional counterparts and feel that they don’t measure up.  The stay-at-home mom with a degree wonders if she isn’t wasting a hard-earned education.  The stay-at-home mom who never finished her degree because children came along wonders if she hasn’t missed out on a great opportunity.  As we watch other women climb the corporate ladder or increase their education we wonder if we couldn’t have done the same, and if we wouldn’t be more interesting people for having done so.  Of course, allowing ourselves to become mired in the “what if’s” distracts from our task at hand of rearing our children in truth and righteousness.

I occasionally hear from an old college roommate of mine.  The last time we got a Christmas card she was finishing up her Ph.d. and learning some obscure African dialect, I believe.  Her letter was full of all the interesting things she had been learning and doing and I began feeling like an utter failure. 

Well, I cannot speak an obscure African dialect.  I don’t even remember most of the French I learned in college.  I don’t have a Ph.d.  I don’t even have a master’s degree.  I haven’t been published in about 4 years now, and I never was published in any highly respected publication.  Shortly after my first daughter was born I was offered the job of being the editor-in-chief of one of the area’s largest semi-weekly newspapers.  I turned down that job, but am reminded of the opportunity every time I open up my daily paper and see the smiling face of one of the columnists who worked her way up to her current job, in part, by being the editor of the paper I turned down.  But when I focus on these things, my job as a mother becomes more frustrating, and motherhood is frustrating enough without adding resentment for the unfulfilled “what if’s.”

President Joseph F. Smith said, “After all, to do well those things which God ordained to be the common lot of all man-kind, is the truest greatness.  To be a successful father or a successful mother is greater than to be a successful general or a successful statesman.  One is of universal and eternal greatness, the other is ephemeral” (Pres. Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1939).

When I quit working after we started our family there were those who asked me if this is what I really wanted to do and, if so, why?  I always said that when my children are grown, if they turn out well I don’t want to share the credit with the daycare; and if they turn out not-so-well, I don’t want to spend the rest of my life wondering, “What if I’d been home for them?  Would that have made all the difference?”

President Hinckley has said, “You have nothing in this world more precious than your children.  When you grow old, when your hair turns white and your body grows weary, when you are prone to sit in a rocker and meditate on the things of your life, nothing will be so important as the question of how your children have turned out.  It will not be the money you have made.  It will not be the cars you have owned.  It will not be the large house in which you live.  The searing question that will cross your mind again and again will be, How well have my children done?  If the answer is that they have done very well, then your happiness will be complete.  If they have done less than well, then no other satisfaction can compensate for your loss” (Pres. Hinckley, Your Greatest Challenge, Mother, Ensign, 2000).

I hope with constant vigilance we will pray for the strength to ignore the distracting “what if’s” and the wisdom and insight to understand that we are women of destiny.

There is so much on this subject that I found that I wish to share with you.  Maybe someday I’ll write a book on it, but for now, time is short.  I would like to share the following statement by the First Presidency, published in 1942:
“Motherhood is near to Divinity.  It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind.  It places her who honors its holy calling and service next to the angels.  To you mothers in Israel we say, God bless and protect you, and give you the strength and courage, the faith and knowledge, the holy love and consecration to duty, that shall enable you to fill to the fullest measure the sacred calling which is yours.  To you mothers and mothers-to-be we say: ‘Be chaste, keep pure, live righteously, that your posterity to the last generation may call you blessed’” (Message of the First Presidency, Deseret News Weekly Church Edition, Oct. 1942). 

When we find ourselves longing for the boardroom, the pressroom or the classroom and longing for all the emotional, mental and monetary benefits therein, we need to remember that we could be forfeiting our place next to the angels and forfeiting benefits that we can’t even comprehend.

Yes sisters, this is what we are born to do – to love our children as no one else can, to teach them the things only we will see they need to learn, to make home a happy and safe place, a place of refuge from the slings and arrows of the world.  It is my testimony that, like Esther, we have come to the kingdom for such a time as this.



  1. What a beautiful talk! Thanks for sharing and gives me some food for thought as I am currently in a debate with myself about staying at home vs working.

    Comment by Carissa — May 12, 2008 @ 11:03 pm | Reply

  2. First off, let me start by saying that I am one of those people who had sirens going off at the mention of church…I read anyways. And I found this quote to bring me some prespective ” …my job as a mother becomes more frustrating, and motherhood is frustrating enough without adding resentment for the unfulfilled “what if’s.””


    Comment by Jen — May 13, 2008 @ 6:34 pm | Reply

  3. What great timing you had in posting that, as much of it is exactly what I needed to read at exactly this time. You always have a way to speaking to me as nobody else can! I cried my way through it, and it helped me enormously as I struggle with some of those very thoughts.

    Comment by Stacy — May 19, 2008 @ 3:50 am | Reply

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