19 August 2011


I came across a friend's blog, and read EXACTLY what I needed to hear. Lately, the 2 big M's have been on my mind: Mommy & Money. Today we live in a world where choosing to prioritize one 'M' over the other 'M' becomes a lose-lose battle:
"You're JUST a stay-at-home Mom, you don't work?"
"You work? So where's your baby?"
People will always jab at you with disappointments, and for a slight while I almost gave in to feeling ashamed with baby/not with baby. However, I know where my balance is...I love being a Mother, I enjoy learning to be a Mother, I'm grateful for having a flexible job, an almost completed degree, having family "Ka'ahanui Day Care" just down the street, and especially grateful for a hardworking & supportive Husband.
How wonderful it is to be apart of a Church that makes you feel honored, cherished, understood, essential....loved.
 I was so surprised to read that someone else shared similar experiences once baby arrived. If you have time, read one mother's take of being more than "just" a Mom :)

I am a Mother

I just finished reading a book entitled thus. A truly enlightening book. A book with truths that I believed, but needed to hear. 

My mother-in-law (an incredible mother in her own right) gave me this book as a present on my 22nd birthday. At the time I was living in Dallas, TX and so sick with pregnancy that I couldn't stand up to walk across the room, let alone focus my blurry, head-achy eyes long enough to read. The book was packed away in our move and I just recently pulled it from my ever-evolving "I'm going to have a library in my home someday" collection.

I don't think it was a coincidence that I waited until now to read it. I've been a mother for almost 3 months. Truly a veteran, right? The beginning was tough. I was not blessed with a "sleeper." The hormones released from giving birth and nursing, combined with extreme exhaustion made me sad. Not depressed, but sad. I had my fair share of "I don't know why I'm crying" moments.

All of a sudden I had this precious little being who depended on me for EVERYTHING. I was supposed to feed her, change diapers, burp, rock, sing, nurture. I was filled with anxiety for her well-being. What if I wasn't good enough? 

But wait, there was a house to clean too. How was I supposed to set her down long enough to tackle those dishes piling up in the sink? Or the laundry, or the vacuuming, dusting, scrubbing, straightening? Oh, but wait a second, I forgot: I'm a wife too. To a guy who spends all day studying his brains out so he can have a good career and I can continue to stay home with our children. He'd probably like some dinner when he comes home, huh? But whoops, I haven't been to the grocery store in 2 weeks. Tuna sandwiches anyone? Oh and Kyle if you could open the tuna and mix it and wash the lettuce and grab the pickles, I'll lay out the bread. Ta da, I made dinner!

And then there was me. Sarah. Not Lydia's mom or Kyle's wife. Just me. When was I going to sleep, or eat, or lose the 55 lbs I gained in pregnancy? Yeah, you heard that right. 55. We'll talk about it later.

But as the weeks passed it got better. I was filled with such indescribable joy when I looked down at my beautiful daughter with her big, googly "I'm so happy to see you mama" eyes. She had faith in me. She trusted me. And so did God. Eventually I did learn how to read Lydie books, take her on walks, exercise during her nap (if she takes one), feed, change, play itsy bitsy spider, clean the house, and have a real dinner cooking by the time Kyle walks through the door. Not everyday. But most days.

It is work being a mother. Joyful work. Hard work. So why does the world tell me that it's not important? Why do people think motherhood is not a real job? In her book, Jane Clayson Johnson relates an experience in which she attended an LDS business function with her husband. She was a very new mom at the time. She listened as the men took their turns listing their prestigious professions, degrees, and successes. And one by one she listened to their wives stand up and give different variations of the phrase, "I'm just a mom." "My life's not very exciting right now; I'm just a stay-at-home mom." "I don't have any credentials; I'm just raising our six children." "I'm just a mom."

Reading this, I felt the same way Jane did. If you don't call that real success, real accomplishment, real work...then what the crap am I doing all day everyday? Okay, so Jane didn't say that. But in slightly different words, she sure as heck thought it.

President David O McKay once said, "She who can paint a masterpiece or write a book that will influence millions deserves the admiration and the plaudits of mankind; but she who rears successfully a family of healthy, beautiful sons and daughters, whose influence will be felt through generations to come,...long after paintings shall have faded, and books and statues shall have decayed or shall have been destroyed, deserves the highest honor that man can give, and the choicest blessings of God. In her high duty and service to humanity..., she is co-partner with the Creator himself" (Gospel Ideals, 453-54).


If we are to believe this, then no banker, lawyer, doctor, or dentist does work that is even half as important as the work mothers do. I do not say this to bring down the importance of what men do. For mothers who choose to stay home (and I'm not saying that's right for everyone) hard working men make this possible. I am forever grateful for the work that Kyle does in preparation to support our family. And I know that the work I do is just as important, if not more so. "For Satan has declared war on motherhood. He knows that those who rock the cradle have the power to rock his earthly empire" (Sheri Dew).

It makes me sad when even LDS women do not see the merit in what they do. Why are women ashamed to be stay-at-home moms? Because the world tells us that if we are not making money we are not contributing? We are contributing far more than the world could ever imagine, and we are doing it without prestige and without monetary reward. Every CEO, every world leader had a mother to coax, teach, support, instill. Perhaps the world will never again know this truth, but I hope that women of the church always will. "If the day comes when we -- meaning covenant women of God -- are the only women on earth who find nobility and divinity in motherhood, so be it" (Sheri Dew). We are in the business of raising people. And we should be proud of it.

This is not to say however, that we must do everything ourselves. Without my own support system of family and friends I could never do this. The book addresses the fact that all LDS women, all mothers are in the same boat. So why do we criticize one another? The following quote rang true to me:

"If LDS women criticize each other rather than connect with and support each other, the adversary wins the day by driving wedges into natural, womanly relationships of strength. Because women can give so much never-failing charity to each other in relationships, one curse of the modern world has been to isolate and alienate women -- including LDS women -- from one another by making them more competitive" (Elder Bruce C. Hafen).

After I read this quote, do you know what I did? I started thinking of all the women I know who criticize others too often and how destructive that is in the church. Oh the irony of it all. How many times have I said to Kyle, "Oh, I couldn't be good friends with her, we're too different."  How does that make sense? It doesn't. 

How many times have I either heard or said the following:
Her children are out of control. Doesn't she know how to discipline?
Her children are like little robots...she needs to lighten up.
She should cut her hair/ She has mom hair.
She's super shy/ She talks too much.
So and so watches R rated movies/ So and so is a Molly Mormon.
Ugh, could she be any more gorgeous/sweet/talented/perfect?
She's a working mom.
She's just a mom.

Elder Bruce C. Hafen said, "Can we love and support each other without judging each other so harshly? So many of us are trying our hardest to live the commandments, often against great odds in our personal lives and unique family situations. Heaven knows, the world isn't giving us much support in these relationships. Let us support one another, even when -- especially when -- we differ on matters of personal choice and circumstance."

I read this book during the many hours I spend nursing and rocking Lydia. So I had a lot of time to think about the role I play in criticizing other mothers or just women in general without even realizing I'm doing it. There must be a reason why we are always counseled against negativity and gossip: it's everywhere. And I decided something: I don't want to be that girl. I'm hard enough on myself without other people talking badly about me, and I should show the same kindness to others. So I've started a positive activity: for every name that pops into my head I pick a physical attribute that is lovely, a talent that they possess, and a quality that I admire in them. I began with family members & close friends and moved on to girls on my street and in my ward. And you know something? It was EASY. My biggest problem turned out to be narrowing it down. Her eyelashes are stunning...wait no, her hair is the perfect color. She is just so dang friendly...wait, maybe I admire her faith more. I don't want to just smile in the hallway when I see women at church; I don't just want to speak kindly of them; I want to think kindly of them. After all, we are all sisters. We are all mothers. If not in this life, than the next.

More than 60 years ago the First Presidency of the LDS church defined motherhood as "the highest, holiest service...assumed by mankind" (Improvement Era. November 1942, 761). What mothers do is sacred work. If I can accomplish one thing in this life it would not be to write a book, make lots of money, or build that library that I dream of. It would be to raise righteous, happy, productive children and support other moms in doing the same.

You will never hear me say, "I am just a mother."
Here's to proudly leaving out the "just."

*Every quote I use is found in "I am a Mother" by Jane Clayson Johnson*


  1. Amen sister! Even though I am not a mother yet, I have always felt sad about the disrespect that society shows Motherhood! Especially "stay at home moms." I also really enjoyed the part about judgment! I was actually just thinking about that today and telling myself I need to be better about not being so critical of others. Those were the exact words I needed to read, thanks for sharing! xxx

  2. I LOVED THIS POST SO MUCH! It was a much needed read, especially for future mothers :)

  3. Thank you for posting this! I'm really going to read that book. I'm not a mom yet but have ALREADY been struggling with the decision of whether or not to be a working mom. I would love to be a stay at home mom but sometimes I feel like that would be wasting my graduate degree, etc. Of course that's hog wash but you know what I mean. How our society makes us feel like we have to work and if we're not than we're not succeeding. It's not true at all. You are doing the most important work right now as a mom! Don't forget it!

  4. I'm not a mom, but I REALLY NEEDED TO HEAR THIS! And I don't know why but now I'm crying lol yOu are an amazing mom ashlyn, especially watching you rock sandra's little baby to sleep yesterday at the bridal shower.

  5. This was such a good post ashlyn! Seriously I'm not a mom, but idk how you guys do it! Just from babysitting my niece 4 days a week I get tired and frustrated and i can't imagine having my own..YIKES! Your job is 24 hours and that makes YOU AMAZING! I can tell how much you love you daughter! This kind of brought to my mind from one of the talks one of the women gave in a general conference last year (cannot remember her name oops!) but it was "The world will raise our children if we do not." isnt that a scary thought? Being at home with your child/children i think is one of the most important things you could do for them..EVER! anywho hope you guys are doing great!