Maybe it's my memories of the time I attended General Conference with my roommates and some friends our freshman year of BYU. One of my roommates was from Utah, and she insisted that we would have to get in line at a horrendous hour if we wanted to get in without having any tickets. Plus, we were young and foolish and it sounded like a lot of fun, so off we went up to Salt Lake City to get in line. Now, when I tell you we got in line at a terrible hour, I mean 2 am. That's right, we never went to sleep the night before and then got in line. My roommates packed a bunch of blankets and I attempted to snooze on cold, hard concrete without much success. We did luck out and get seats in the tabernacle though. Remember, my freshman year was 1996-97, so I'm talking about the OLD tabernacle.
It was really exciting and invigorating to be a part of a live session. However, the adrenaline rush didn't outweigh the effects of dimming the lights to begin the session. The lights dimmed and me and my roommates lasted for a few minutes and then slowly began to fall asleep...in the old tabernacle...where the seats are hard, wooden pews with straight backs. To sum it up, it was one of those experiences that is fun to do once when you're young and foolish. I would never be able to do that now...of course all of my ideas of what I could do now are jaded due to having to think about hauling kids around.
My favorite talk was by Julie B. Beck. She is such an amazing speaker. I love that she feels real, that she seems to be so organized and capable. When she spoke about how important the role of mother is, I couldn't agree more. She spoke, like she did last Saturday, about how important it is that we have children and not be selfish with our lives. I know several couples that have or are currently struggling to have children and I'm sure it's so hard for those women to hear talks like this, but I hope they realize that remarks like this are never meant for them.
I have to say that it was wonderful for her to emphasize that mothering does not mean babysitting. What sort of vested interest does a babysitter have in your child. None. As a mother, you have 100% interest that the child in your care is well fed, well taught, well loved. I watched an Oprah one time where they had working mothers and women who had chosen to stay home with their children. One of the working moms said, "Anyone can read a story to a child." How sad that her perception of a "mom" is someone that is only able to perform menial tasks. As if her mind were too important to waste on instructing her own child.
My husband actually heard another woman speak one time who works well over 40 hours a week as does her husband. Someone asked her if she felt like she was being a good mom given that she didn't get any quality time with her child. She honestly said that she felt like the drive to daycare and the drive home were quality time because she had good conversations with the child. Now, if she HAD to work in order for their family to survive, I would say good for her for trying to make the most of what little time she gets with her child. However, when you CHOOSE to work because you feel like your talents are wasting by being at home I feel badly for your children.
I have been blessed enough to always have the opportunity to stay home. I'm not saying I'm the greatest mom ever either. It was a very hard transition for me to go from working 8-5 to having no defined hours. From leaving my work at the office, to actually, literally living at the office. It was especially frustrating when my first child was a newborn because all she really needed was sleep and food. How easy to convince myself that anyone could do that for her. (I'm not going to go into all the arguments that support how much better breastfeeding is than formula.) Plus, I felt like I was highly appreciated at work where at home this tiny baby never seemed to be aware of my efforts in her behalf.
However, I have to say that having had a full-time job and also having had the opportunity to be a mother, being a mom is hands down the harder option. I think some women choose to go back to work because they actually can't handle the stress of motherhood. Did I get stressed at work? Definitely. Did I worry that I was shaping a future life? Never. Did I have bad days at work that made me want to quit? Definitely. Do I have bad days at home that make me feel like a failure? All the time. The difference is for me, simply this. ANYONE CAN DO WHAT I DID AT A PAYING JOB. NO ONE CAN DO MY JOB IN MY HOME WITH MY KIDS. NO ONE.
Sure, other women are going to be better moms and offer talents that I won't have to offer my children, but if I'm sincere in my attempts to teach and love my children, God is going to bless me. I know it, it has happened. I have seen my child be hurt, sick, happy, elated, surprised, the whole spectrum of emotions. When my child needs something she cries out for me. When my child learned something new for the first time, I was there. I didn't have to hear about it from anyone else.
When we die nothing but the knowledge we've gained and the relationships we've nurtured are going with us. I want my child to know that there wasn't a single job that I thought was tougher than being home with my children because only those tasks which push us to our limits are those activities that provide us with growth and improvement. Nothing was tougher, but nothing was ever so fulfilling. So thank you Sister Beck for recognizing the importance of mothers.