When motherhood came to me, it came hard and fast. After having four kids in just as
many years, a trip to Walmart was a pretty huge production. Often part of this production was
comments from random strangers about how full my hands were or even too bad I didn’t have
my boy/girl twins first so that I didn’t have to have any more children. It seems that popular
opinion is that if you are going to be a mom all you would ever want is 2 kids maximum.
Hopefully a boy and a girl right off. A boy and a girl to dress up and look the part. One boy for all the boy experiences and one girl for all the girl experiences. You know, something to fill my
Instagram with. I quickly replied that I loved all of my children and was happy to have each of
them in my life. So happy that we added another daughter to the mix four years later.
Society at large doesn’t value raising children. It really isn’t ranked high on the list of
good things to do with your time. Almost anything ranks higher. When my oldest was 2 month
old I ran into an old friend from high school. She asked what I was doing, and I commented,
while beaming and holding my new baby in my arms, “I am a stay at home mom.” She looked at me and replied, “That’s it?” It paled in comparison to her advanced degrees and prestigious job. At least it did to the world.
Neil A. Anderson quoted the writer Rachel Jankovic in the October 2011 General
Conference when he said, “‘[Growing] up in this culture, it is very hard to get a biblical
perspective on motherhood. ... Children rank way below college. Below world travel for sure.
Below the ability to go out at night at your leisure. Below honing your body at the gym. Below
any job you may have or hope to get.’ She then adds: ‘Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. You do not collect children because you find them cuter than stamps. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for.’”
Because God is good, He sees us, He sees our efforts and He can make so much more
out of our sacrifice. He didn’t give us our children to get in the way of our dreams, but to help us in becoming more than we ever could on our own. Becoming a mother doesn’t take away from who we are but can enhance it.
One of my favorite poems on motherhood is:
"On Nest Building" by Carol Lyn Pearson
Mud is not bad for nest building.
Mud and sticks
And a fallen feather or two will do
And require no reaching.
I could rest there, with my tiny ones,
Sound for the season, at least.
If I may fly awhile—
If I may cut through a sunset going out
And a rainbow coming back,
Color upon color sealed in my eyes—
If I may have the unboundaried skies
For my study,
Clouds, cities, rivers for my rooms—
If I may search the centuries
For melody and meaning—
If I may try for the sun—
I shall come back
Bearing such beauties
Gleaned from God’s and man’s very best.
I shall come filled.
Oh, the nest that I can build!
When building a nest for our children, we need to make sure that we use the best
materials and the best tools. We must be that. My grandfather was a very wise man, full of quips of wisdom. One that he used to say often was, “Get enough exercise so that you can be of service, study so you can be of service, sleep and eat well so you can be of service.” If we
desire to be an instrument in the Lord’s hands, we must be the best instrument we can be. We
have often heard the old saying that says, “You cannot draw water from an empty well.”
I was that empty well for a lot of years. I was spread too thin and I didn’t take the time to
take care of mom. I was sick, exhausted, and found very little pleasure in life. My home was a
mess and my children were a wreck. I started having some serious health conditions and knew that I had to change some things in my life. I needed to be an example to my kids of living your life well. I needed them to know that it was a good thing to take care of yourself and be physically and spiritually self sufficient. That wasn’t selfishness, that was part of being a good steward of yourself and it gave you the ability to serve God more fully.
When I first decided to start taking better care of myself, I wondered if I would be able to
do it with my kids home all day. I wondered about having to do less for them so I could take care of myself. I soon realized that in taking care of myself, I was taking care of them. I didn’t need to send my children away in order to take care of me, God didn’t give me children to get in the way of taking care of myself. They aren’t here to hinder my life, but to enhance it.
What we love, what we have a passion for, is passed down to our children. This balance
between being a mom and taking care of mom is a dance that we all must learn how to interpret for ourselves and our family. It will be different for all of us.
Some of the things that I have learned along the way are:
1. Lay your dreams down at the feet of our Savior. He knows you, He knows why
you were created, and He won’t let you go to waste. The opportunities will arise
when the time is right. Trust in Him.
2. Follow the example of our Father in Heaven and find joy in your posterity. Rejoice
in your children the way you know the very God in Heaven rejoices in you.
Cherish each and every spirit that comes to you, know that they were hand
picked to teach you and give you the experiences you need to become who He
needs you to become.
3. Fill your bucket. What does your body and soul need? Take care of that first so
that you can be the best for your family. Your children aren’t here to get in the way of your needs. I go for a walk and write most mornings before my kids get up because that is what my spirit and body need. I need to do that in quiet and solitary. The rest I do when my kids are awake. They know to be quiet when mom is reading her scriptures. They go hiking and swimming with me. We cook and do laundry together. All the novels I want to read, I read aloud to them. As we live this life of togetherness my children are learning so much, but hopefully they are learning that motherhood isn’t a drudgery. Hopefully they are learning all about the beauties in life. They are watching me struggle. They are watching me fail. They watch me try again. And I hope that through this they learn that struggle is normal, and to turn to God continually. They are learning that motherhood, that life isn't perfect, but God hasn’t given up on me yet.
Tiffany Thomson has been homeschooling her 5 nerodiverse kids for 9 years. You can follow
along with their adventures on Instagram @thomsoncreek