My entire life hinged on a single sentence. “And in your schooling prepare yourself to be a mother in Zion, for this is your role in life.” Less than a page and generic in almost every way, my patriarchal blessing contained just this one startling admonition. I was stunned, humbled, disappointed. Academics were my venue and I played them well. Motherhood had never interested me and I chose teen poverty over babysitting gigs involving diapers, dishes and hours of screaming babies.
Just a few days after my blessing, I witnessed President Benson’s appeal “To the Mothers in Zion” where he punctuated the charge of motherhood and homemaking. His words struck my soul and I threw away my Ivy League brochures, abandoned my dreams of becoming a doctor/lawyer/journalist and scoured the BYU catalog for homemaking majors.
Twenty-two years later, my decision sounds naive, but at the time my parents praised my obedience, my young women leaders thought it was lovely, and my seminary teacher burst into happy tears. And I… I am completely amazed at how well it worked out– I scurried through college in three short years, married in my last semester, graduated with a BA in History(never did fit into the home-ec department) and was pregnant just days later. At the pleading of my senior advisor I took the GRE but was soon too sick and then too overwhelmed with my colicky baby to apply for grad school.
It was nearly twelve years later when I emerged from debilitating pregnancies and six beautiful screaming babies, that I realized I’d had options. That I could have put off childbearing for a few years, that my husband could have pursued a career that utilized his talents, if I’d taken a paying job and put him through school.
Still, I can’t complain. We’ve been incredibly blessed with six remarkable children, the ability to pay the bills and a latent aptitude for mothering that I might never have discovered.
But would I give the same advice to teenage girls or my own daughter? ABSOLUTELY NOT.
Many of my friends never had an opportunity to marry– those who chose an interesting, enriching career path have maintained rich, happy lives. Those that dreamed only of a husband and babies? Not so much.
Nearly a dozen friends are widowed, divorced or caring for injured or unemployed husbands as well as their children. The ones with teaching degrees, nursing degrees and/or business experience are weathering the storms better than those with no career plans.
The Lord’s command to “multiply and replenish the earth” has never been rescinded, but I believe it’s been tempered a bit with continuing revelation, “You are moving into the most competitive age the world has ever known. All around you is competition. You need all the education you can get. Sacrifice a car; sacrifice anything that is needed to be sacrificed to qualify yourselves to do the work of the world.”(President Hinckley: A Prophet’s Counsel and Prayer for Youth) and “I urge you to pursue your education—if you are not already doing so or have not done so—that you might be prepared to provide if circumstances necessitate such.” (President Monson: General Relief Society Conference Oct 2007).
Tell me. What do you think? How have your educational goals been determined by church and parental counsel? Have you followed a commandment and been blessed later? Or taken advice and regretted it? What dreams have you put on hold for parenthood and what advice would you give your daughters?