As I prepare to re-enter the workforce after over ten years of being at home to raise my children, I have cause to look back at the choice I have made and to wonder if I did the right thing. For me and my family, yes, I did. In fact, at the earliest possible moment, I will come back home because my children aren’t done with me yet!
I am sad to leave my children for this space of time, because I truly believe in what I was doing. Being a wife and a mother is the best job I could have ever trained for, aspired to, applied for and won. It’s not counted for much among the trend-setters of the world, popular opinion doesn’t think too highly of it. But motherhood, is a God-given opportunity.
The Mormons (members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) teach that being a wife and mother are the greatest callings to which a woman should aspire. In a tribute to mothers on one occasion, David O. McKay, former President of the Church, said:
“She who can paint a masterpiece or write a book that will influence millions deserves the plaudits and admiration of mankind. But she who would willingly and anxiously rear successfully a family of beautiful healthy sons and daughters whose lives reflect the teachings of the gospel, deserves the highest honors that man can give, and the choicest blessings of God. In fact, in her high duty and service to humanity, endowing with mortality eternal spirits, she is a co-partner with the Great Creator himself” (Gospel Ideals, Salt Lake City: Improvement Era, 1953, pp. 453–54.)
What an amazing job description that is, and what woman wouldn’t want to receive such accolades?
Otelia Compton was granted an honorary doctorate of laws degree from Ohio’s historic Western College for Women. Honorary degrees are usually bestowed for achievement in the sciences or the arts, but Mrs. Compton, at age seventy-four, was awarded the LL.D. “for outstanding achievement as wife and mother of Comptons.”
Mrs. Compton had raised three sons who went on to join their father in receiving whole page dedications in Who’s Who in America. She, herself was a mid-western farm girl yet her influence on the men in her life cannot be denied. Her ancestry was from simple farm folk, but her achievements as a wife and mother brought her fame she did not seek.
In an interview, a reporter asked for her formula, and then recorded: “Her recipe is so old it is new, so orthodox it is radical, so commonplace that we have forgotten it and it startles us. ‘We used the Bible and common sense,’ she told me.”
The reporter made the assumption that her children must have done so well in their lives because of their superior heredity. However, Otelia Compton disagreed, she claimed the answer was the home.
“The tragedy of American life is that the home is becoming incidental at a time when it is needed as never before. Parents forget that neither school nor the world can reform the finished product of a bad home. They forget that their children are their first responsibility. Today servants are hired to take care of children. In my day, no matter how many servants a mother could afford, she took care of her children herself. The first thing parents must remember is that their children are not likely to be any better than they are themselves. Mothers and fathers who wrangle and dissipate need not be surprised if their observant young ones take after them.” (From Out of the Best Books, Bruce B. Clark and Robert K. Thomas, 5:198–202.)
As a woman, you do not need to look beyond your children’s upturned faces to find happiness. N. Eldon Tanner, in his talk “Happiness Is Home Centered,” (Ensign, Jun 1978, 2,) says:
“The happiest women I know are those whose families would rather be home than any place else; whose children come bounding in after school to look for Mother to tell her about their activities of the day; who share the sorrows and joys and successes of those children and rejoice in their accomplishments; who glow with pride as their children take their places of leadership in political, business, and community life; and eventually share their love with grandchildren, whose response opens up a whole new world of rewarding satisfaction.”
“Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalms 127:3.) Wouldn’t you feel the greatest pride if you could claim that God Himself was your boss? Imagine you answer directly to Him in the rearing of your sweet children. The truth is, you do. And the benefits He provides for a job well done are a deep sense of self satisfaction and eternal happiness and joy.