The Misfit Cygnet said:
Long ago, when I was Advocate for the World, I did many great things to help other people. I helped abused children, abused mothers, advocated for midwifery, and probably would have gone to Mexico or Haiti or Peru if it was in vogue in my earlier years.
You see, what I neglected to realize was that Heavenly Father already has a plan. His plan is really, well–perfect. He sent us here in family units. Family units are His plan. He sent us here with people automatically in place for us to serve. They are not “our” children, you know. They are His. We are His. We are in this together, and He answered the question, “Whom shall I serve?” by putting us in groups called families.
Yes, we should serve each other, but we do need to focus on our families. Nothing else will compensate for failure there. Personally, I am not anywhere near believing that my family is all set…and think about it: if every mother in the church could put orphans, midwives, homeless, non-profits and conferences on hold and focus on her family for one year–what would happen? We really could change the world.
While we focus on the family, however, we certainly do not ignore those who are in need. Heavenly Father planned that out for us, too! It is amazing what happens when we carefully help those who are placed in our path by God, and not wander on paths He has assigned for someone else.(I added the emphasis.)
Many of us have a huge desire to get out and change the world -- we've grown up that way! It's humbling to direct that desire to the home, at least for a season, and sometimes quite a long one!
I remember one of my seminary teachers one time was teaching about following the Spirit. He emphasized that of course we need to follow the Spirit in all we do. Say a person drops all her books at school and you feel inspired to hep her. Should you? Of course! Say you get a feeling not to help her, and you wonder why not because it would be a nice thing that you might normally do. Well, maybe it's someone else who needs to be prompted by the Spirit to help that day. Maybe someone else needs that connection with the girl who dropped her books.
I assume we should use the same principle in determining how we serve outside our homes when we're in that time of life with young children. If you want my unsolicited advice: If we honestly feel inspired and directed to serve in a project outside the home, DO IT. If it's something we just want, and it's even good, but we don't actually feel prompted by the Spirit to do it, we should probably hold off.
One commenter, Amy, added:
When Pres. Benson asked mothers to go home (mid 80′s, wasn’t it?) my feminist teenage mind was furious but my neglected child heart was longing for my mother. My mom worked from home as the largest distributor for Brite Music (Mormon and values music) in the country. She spent hours on the phone, her evenings doing home presentations and hired neighbors to care for her homemaking chores. But she was home! All of us children knew that she wasn’t really home. Decades later my older sisters (who didn’t have a working mother) have all dabbled in business ventures and taken jobs outside the home. Those of us who lived with a working-at-home mother shun it like the plague. Ultimately my mom decided to continue working (at home) because she felt that what she was doing was helping so many families. While that may be true it’s also true that her younger children all struggle with the pain of being unnecessarily abandoned by our stay at home working mother. (The money she earned was used for nicer things and activities but not needed for the family to survive.)
This has led me to ponder how many ways I may stay at home but not BE home at all. Am I really present and “HERE” “NOW” or am I lost somewhere in the past or the future and missing the growth and education of my children all together?Wow. I really liked what she said. So, I think, it's most important that I'm home now, right? Of course! I've heard some people say that it doesn't really matter if you're home or away at work because you'll be distracted with other things when your home anyway. So true. However, this reminds me to get my priorities straight when I'm at home: cut the blogging as necessary, stop other projects as needed, focus on the real priorities; let the hobbies, at-home work, and volunteer opportunities fall into place after.
2/9/11: I was just reading the Women in the Scriptures blog, and there was a nice discussion entitled, "Mothers and Careers: The Age Old Question." I liked the post, but really liked the comments at the end -- all dealing with this topic.
2/11/11: I realized I wanted to add another teeny, tiny note at the bottom of this post regarding the great working mom versus stay-at-home mom debate. Cokie Roberts in We Are Our Mothers' Daughters thinks the whole thing is silly; and she's probably right. She suggests we all need to be supportive of each other; why are we women all turning against each other? Interestingly, as I've learned reasons why many of my friends are working, typically part time, or even in the home, it's very often because there is a real financial need, but it's not like they want to go tell the world this. This really emphasizes to me it's not my place to judge who's working and who's not! We all seem to be trying to make the best decisions for our own families.