Jana Porter is still pinching herself over the fact that 3 1/2 years ago she married the best man in the whole world. She and her husband, James, have a very active and adorable 18-month-old son named Blake. She is just barely scratching the surface of this whole mom thing and finding out it is a lot deeper/harder/richer than she every imagined. Jana has a bachelors and masters degree in English from BYU and in her oh-so-precious spare time she loves family history, Zumba, and daydreaming.
A few Sundays ago I attended a class in my ward on the sacrament. The instructor began by asking what we thought of Brother Abo’s talk that day. Apparently, he had spoken on the Atonement and the Lord’s sacrifices for us.
There was a short silence as everyone tried to think back to the talk and formulate a response. Normally I would have joined them. But … I couldn’t.
You see, although I had been at church during Sacrament meeting, I hadn’t heard Brother Abo’s talk. I had been sitting in the foyer with my son, handing him cheerios and trying to keep him from stealing toys from the other kids who were also in the foyer being fed cheerios by their moms.
So instead of reflecting on what had apparently been a very moving talk, I sat there in silence, unable to participate. And cried.
I cried because I had not heard Brother Abo’s talk. I cried because I had not really heard more than a handful of talks, if that, in the past year since my son had been born. And I really like talks. Continue reading
I’ve been teaching early morning seminary for a few months now, and so far I’ve learned a few things:
1-I truly believed before I started teaching that I could get all my prep work done if I gave myself an hour a day. I look back on those innocent days of summer, and I laugh and I laugh and I laugh.
2-No matter how good your kids are — and I have some really good kids — they will try to text during your lessons. I’ve tried to develop my kindly-but-also-disapproving face for such occasions (you know the one, with the raised eyebrows and the cocked head and the little half smile) and it kinda works. Temporarily.
3-The Old Testament is fascinating. Complicated prophets. Bold, sassy, decisive women. Incredible miracles. God’s exasperated scoldings. Intrigue, mayhem, redemption. Good times. Continue reading
Today’s guest post is from Marcia Stanford. Marcia lives on a tree-lined street in California with her charming husband and delightful children, who are growing up much too quickly. She is a BYU English major currently completing the last few courses via Independent Study. Raised in Utah, she now savors the opportunity to pick fresh lemons year round and tend to her window boxes filled with red geraniums.
She’d always wanted to go on a mission. On Sundays she would organize the television programing, self-appointed as the oldest sibling, as they watched “Families are Forever,” “Labor of Love” and “Called to Serve.” She loved them all. So really, it was no surprise when shortly after turning twenty that she began the process. It didn’t matter that she was in college 700 miles away from home. I got calls, texts, and emails about health insurance, medical appointments, and interviews with a Bishop whose name I didn’t know. She was always an independent soul—a soul filled with faith.
When the call came she was volunteering at the Provo MTC. At the appointed hour we gathered around the speaker phone at home, while roommates, boyfriend, sister and grandma gathered in her apartment. This was drama. She started to read the letter. It sounded like the lines from “Called to Serve,” only this time it was real. My little girl was ready to fly.
“You are hereby called to serve in the El Salvador San Salvador East Mission,” her quavering voice read. Ah! At least I knew where that was. My brother served there in the 70’s—before they closed the mission to civil war unrest. Obviously it had been reopened in the decades since. I hadn’t paid attention. Now I prayed with earnest that such unrest had been resolved.
And the evening and the morning were the first day.
I ran 200 fewer miles in 2010 than in 2009. I read 25 fewer books. I spent a lot of time doing things I don’t enjoy like moving, volunteering in classrooms, baking (mostly) unsuccessful allergen-free breads and goodies, hosting parties and play-dates, and cleaning. I gave up lifelong dreams. I walked away from opportunities I thought I wanted. I had another miscarriage, another D&C. I continued to be terrible at things like Visiting Teaching (or any activity in which I have to use the phone), making deadlines, and mailing packages. I spent more time alone. Continue reading
I recently read the following article. It said that American women are becoming less happy, while American men are becoming happier. They suggested it was due to women taking on more roles outside of the home. Stating that women are increasingly disconnected and distracted, and as they get busier they have less time for the various parts of their lives and as a group, having children makes them less happy. I wonder if the explanations of these puzzling phenomena are really this simple or more deeply embedded in our cultural beliefs and expectations about self, family, and what happiness is.
We live in a very “me-focused” society. It’s your thing, do what you wanna do. Self is pre-eminent in this day and age. Sacrifice is the new “s” word. It is a taboo construct in our culture. Few things are seen as egregious as giving up something you want. Children demand sacrifice, children smack in the face of self-service. They are needy, they require our time, our bodies, and the subjection of our own momentary pleasures or desires. There is no question they make life harder. Any mom who goes to the grocery store can appreciate throwing children into the mix makes it more of a “hassle”.
Can more hassles=happiness though? To me it depends on how you define happy? If you see happiness pleasure, a mere emotion, something you can’t control, then having children probably will make you less happy. Yet if you view happiness a choice, something we assign to our lives when we are doing something we feel is important and has purpose, despite our momentary emotions- you probably won’t feel the same way. Surely too the definitions of happiness are different if you are looking from our long-term, eternal view as opposed to an atheistic, hedonistic, “eat drink and be merry” philosophy. Continue reading