I graduated from BYU without the famous MRS degree. I did, however, study Marriage, Family, and Human Development so when the opportunity arose, I would have some idea of what a marriage should look like (I grew up in a single-parent home). I actually found a job in my field of study, much to my mother’s amazement. And to her delight it was about 25 minutes from her house back in Colorado. I worked as a professional research assistant which just sounds so…professional!
But the call to school was strong and I returned to pursue a master’s degree in applied linguistics. Again, my mother wondered what on earth I would do with that! But this time I had a plan. I would travel the world teaching English. I would have income where ever I chose to live and I could see the world. Best plan ever. Until I met Brent.
I finished up my master’s degree the semester after we married. I taught at a university and a local vocational college. My professional career was underway and I was pleased with my earning potential, even if we weren’t leaving the country anytime soon. Then we discovered we were going to add a new member to our family. Her due date was actually two days after the term ended so it was a perfect way to feel complete when I left the workforce to become a stay-at-home mom. My husband has been in school our entire married life minus one semester after Sammi was born that we tried to work out how to finish up his pre-reqs for medical school.
Student life is hard in general and even harder financially. I had the opportunity to teach for two semesters at a local college, but the time away from Sammi, worrying about her and having child care be difficult to keep consistent with friends watching her just wasn’t worth the opportunity. After two semesters I knew that my primary responsibility was to be home with her. I was strengthened and confirmed in this decision by The Family: A Proclamation to the World. ” Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.” It felt awfully hard to nurture her when she spent so much time away from me at such a young age. I needed that experience when she was young and before we added any more children to our family to really know and be committed to staying home with our children.
Fast forward a few years and we’d added a second daughter to our family. My husband had been accepted to medical school and we moved across the country from Utah (where we were surrounded by family) to Tennessee. Things were even tighter as we had less income and more people in our family. I had started blogging and wrote an ebook (which is now available free here.) It felt like everything I tried to do to add income to our family just cost us more money!
Then Brent started a website for osteopathic med/premed students. In all ways that you measure online “success” his website left my little blog in the dust. I had worked so hard on this baby of mine and it was hard to feel like he was more successful than me. I started to resent that and the time he spent away from us studying. I went through a dark time of struggling to understand how to find joy in our situation. Again, the Proclamation offered counsel and comfort. “Fathers…are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.” When I finally let go of my wounded pride and read that with the Spirit I was taught a powerful lesson.
I grew up a very independent child of a single-mother who had returned to school when I was little and completed her GED, Associate’s, Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees by the time I was 10. She was so blessed to have success in her endeavors to provide for our family. She had no alternative but to provide and she worked as hard as she could to be worthy of and prepared to receive the blessings the Lord had in store for our family. But my situation was different and the Lord needed me to know His will for families and to trust His plan for our little family that now included a son.
In those dark and lonely nights with Brent away studying and the little ones sleeping I had many conversations with the Lord. They began as rants, adult-sized temper tantrums, but slowly moved to desperation to rid myself of my negative feelings of resentment and bitterness, and then to calm and honest soul-searching to truly have a change of heart. The Savior was with me through this lengthy process and never abandoned me. Those dark nights weren’t so lonely anymore and I had comfort in knowing I was trying to improve my weaknesses.
I still fall short of the ideal nurturer. I still have temper tantrums. But they are less frequent and shorter lived. It’s a long road to perfection, isn’t it? I cling to the counsel in the Proclamation to continue a forward progression with our family. “Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.” As a family we are happier and more peaceful when we read the scriptures daily, kneel in prayer together, and have lots and lots of tickle attacks. I am so grateful for the patience and forgiveness of my husband and our children. It would be hard to face each new day if I didn’t have faith that I could do it better than I did the day before. I am grateful to a loving Savior for the ability to repent and change not only my actions but my heart as well.
What helps you face each new day with courage?