Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Mothers and Careers: The Age Old Question

Awhile ago I received an email with a question from Naomi, who I know through the translation work my husband does for General Conference. I asked her if I could post it here in hopes that other women (and men) would share their experiences and insights. Here is what she asked:
I am currently a working mother of two little ones, 3 and 4. And as such I often struggle with the concept that "fathers are ... responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families ... [and] mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children." The family proclamation also says that "...other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation" which is at the moment the case in my situation. But what if a woman chooses to be a mother AND have a career, not out of necessity? If the woman is not supposed "to provide the necessities of life" but rather to nurture her children, how does a woman reconcile desires for a higher education and a career? Or should she be discouraged to obtain higher education and a career?

As I am considering obtaining a master's degree with two small children at home/day care, while also being a working mother, I am not sure if maybe I am being a bit selfish by wanting to go for more education, or whether it would be a good example for my children to see that their mother values education? What is a woman to do? What are your thoughts? I'd be interested to know.

I really appreciate Naomi asking this question because I think it is such an important question for women to be thinking about and discussing. Personally I feel like I have a constant debate going on in my head about how involved to be in things outside of my home. I know I could use some more guidance. Yet before everyone else shares their thoughts I just want to share with you two stories of early Mormon women that have given me a lot of guidance as I've prayed and pondered about where God wants me to be spending my time, energy, and talents.

The first story is the story of Susa Gates Young who was a daughter of Brigham Young and is considered to be one of the most influential Mormon women in history. Carolyn W. D. Pearson wrote this about her in the book "Mormon Sisters":
"During her lifetime of seventy-seven years, she was a prolific writer, musician, genealogist, teacher, organizer, administrator, home economist, public speaker, researcher, traveler, suffragist, and Church worker as well as a wife and the mother of thirteen children... She corresponded with Tolstoy and took tea with Queen Victoria. Susan B. Anthony once offered her the post of secretary in the National Council of Women if she would give up her militant Mormonism; Susa declined....Married at sixteen, she was divorced at twenty-one. Only five of her thirteen children survived to adulthood. Despite a lifelong commitment to the Church she underwent a spiritual crisis in middle age... as an old woman she personally catalogued over 16,000 Young family names... she could no more be called a "typical Mormon woman" than her father could be called an "average Latter-day Saint."

This woman really did it all and left an incredible legacy. Yet despite all she accomplished she often quoted something her father, Brigham Young, had once told her:
"Daughter, use all your gifts to build up righteousness in the earth. Never use them to acquire name or fame. Never rob your home, nor your children. If you were to become the greatest woman in this world, and your name should be known in every land and clime, and you would fail in your duty as wife and mother, you would wake up on the morning of the first resurrection and find you had failed in everything; but anything you can do after you have satisfied the claims of husband and family will redound to your own honor and to the glory of God."
This counsel became the creed by which she lived her life. She knew that when she stood before God he wouldn't ask her about the societies she organized, the vote she helped secure for women, or the articles she had written-- he would ask her about the precious souls he had entrusted to her care and how she had fulfilled her duty to them. Even during the time in her life when she was a single mother and had to work to support herself she strove to do the work of the Lord, no matter where it took her, all while testifying that she considered "Mother" to be her most important title and home to be her most important responsibility.

The second story is of Dr. Ellis Shipp who was the second woman doctor in Utah. When she was in her late 20's, and the mother of three little boys under the age of 5, she was asked by Brigham Young if she would leave her family for 5+ years and go East to study to become a doctor. Her autobiography reveals a woman who was torn between wanting to fulfill her responsibility as a mother but who felt a burning calling from God to gain knowledge and skills that were desperately needed among the Later-day Saints. It is heartbreaking to read how she said goodbye to her three little sons, the youngest one was not even a year old yet, how she cried the whole long train trip to Philadelphia, and how for the next several years she longed to be with her children and her family more than anything else. Yet she knew that she was doing what the Lord wanted her to do and her story is filled with miracle after miracle about how the Lord provided a way for her to accomplish what he had sent her to do.

When she returned home after her years at school her youngest son didn't even recognize her. It took her several years to re-establish the relationships she once had with her children. Yet in the end Dr. Shipp's training was a huge blessing to the Mormon community; she trained hundreds of women in the skills of nursing and midwifery and saved thousands of lives. Her life wasn't easy but she always thanked God for the opportunities she had been given to serve her fellow men. Like Nephi in the Book of Mormon she had gone and done the things the Lord had commanded and in return God had prepared a way for her to be both a mother and a doctor.

The examples of these early Mormon women have really influenced and strengthened me the last few months. Lately I've had a raging debating going on in my heart and soul about going back to school to get an advanced degree. I've been pondering about it and praying about it but every time I ask God I always get the answer, "Not yet, I need you here with your children." I think perhaps the time will be right, some day, but I know for right now I need to stay where I am. In addition this quote from a talk Julie Beck gave last year also seems to play constantly through my head, she said:
"We see evidence all around us that the family is... becoming less important in all societies. We know that because marriage rates are declining, the age of marriage is rising, divorce rates are rising, and more than a fourth of all births are out of wedlock. We see lower birth rates, and they’re dropping every year worldwide... Many times a career is gaining importance over the family. We know, from our studies here at Church headquarters... that our youth are increasingly less confident in the institution of families. They're less confident in their ability to form a successful eternal family. Because they are less confident in families, they're placing more and more value on education and less and less importance on forming an eternal family."
I realize that for me-- it will be different for every woman-- being at home with my children is where the Lord needs me right now. This is a huge sacrifice for me but I feel that the Lord knows this and has blessed me, beyond my wildest dreams, for doing what he told me to do. For example, not long after my first child was born I felt prompted... no, commanded... to start this blog and it has proven to be such a blessing in my life. Through it he has opened up possibilities for me that I never even dreamed of. I can testify that when we we obey the Lord's commandments for us, whether it is staying at home like me or continuing your education and having a career like Dr. Ellis Shipp, he opens up the way and blesses us and our families.

So Naomi, I think what I am trying to say is that we need to pray about EVERY decision, no matter how small it seems, that takes us away from our children and our homes. For like Neal A. Maxwell said,
"The act of deserting home in order to shape society is like thoughtlessly removing crucial fingers from an imperiled dike in order to teach people to swim. "
If we are going to do something as critical as take our finger out of the dike, so to speak, then we need to know that the Lord had told us to do it and that He is watching over our "dike" while we do his work. We don't want to take our finger out for selfish reasons and then one day, as Brigham Young said, "...find you had failed in everything."

I want to bear my testimony that God has a different plan for every woman, every family, and every situation and if we ask God he will give us direct and powerful revelation. He knows the deepest desires of our heart and I promise that He will provide ways for us to do them... we just need to have the faith to listen and obey.

Now it is your turn... what are your thoughts and what has been your experience?


  1. This is such an excellent post. I agree with your comments whole-heartedly. I hope you'll link-up this post on my site tomorrow for others to benefit from!!!

  2. This is an important topic to me, because I obtained an advanced degree and have worked part-time as a mother. I truly believe that as long as we live our lives the way we should and seek the Lord's guidance, we will never go amiss.

    Early in my marriage, I felt inspired to pursue a master's degree while we were waiting to be blessed with children (I know that this was something that was easier for me to do without having already had children). People questioned my motives, and sometimes I even questioned them! Even though it was difficult at times, the Lord confirmed for me that I was in the right place at the right time. My education and employment has ultimately helped my husband and I pay for extensive fertility testing and treatments without going into debt. Because of the nature of my work, I am able to set my own hours and have been able to work minimally since having our son. I feel that my family has been blessed because of my education.

    Now that I am pregnant again, I am seriously considering leaving my practice and and staying at home full-time. This is something I really want to do and I'm sure many would say that it is the right thing. But I won't do it until I feel confident that I have the Lord's seal of approval for this decision, because only He knows what the future will hold and what will ultimately be best for my family and me. I know the same holds true for each of us. Because the Lord knows us all individually and has plans for EACH of us, what is best for one person may not be best for another. But as long as we are doing what He would have us do, He will always prepare a way, and we will be blessed in whatever endeavor that is.

  3. I liked this post. I, too, have struggled at various times - trying to get my desires to match with my circumstances.

    When my first two kids were much younger, I wanted to go back to school to earn an advanced degree. Being a stay-at-home-mom was challenging in a way that I couldn't imagine.

    Suddenly, I experienced a major change - divorce, that stripped me from my ability to be at home and nurture my children. I had to be both a provider and a nurturer. I didn't have the energy to do both. Suddenly, I looked, longingly, at scribble marks, cleaning up mundane messes, cooking, and dishes. I never had any time/energy for any of it.

    I now have had the opportunity and have another child. She is getting to the toddler age (my other daughters are elementary aged), and I'm remembering the rigors of having little ones. Even though toddlers can be a handful, the time goes by quickly. Soon, there will be more time to pursue some of my other goals. I have felt Heavenly Father prompt me in this way.

    I feel like he doesn't want me to give up on my dreams, he just wants me to follow his timeline.

    okay - long comment - but thanks for such a wonderful post.

  4. hello dear heather! it's been awhile since i have commented on your blogs, but i have still been reading when i can. love them and love you.

    just wanted to add my 2 cents that my mother is perhaps my favorite example for everything: i'm the youngest of 6 kids, and the day i started kindergarten is the day she went back to school to get her masters and eventually phd. she is now in her 50s and still going strong with academic pursuits: she always says to me that little ones are little for such a short amount of time in the long scheme of things, that babies don't keep. there will be ample time for all else when they're a bit older and in school. i think it's very sound advice and i hope to follow it once i actually have kids (ah! i hope it's soon). my mom always had both desires to be a mother and also be out in the world as a "mover and shaker" if you will, and she has fulfilled both desires wonderfully. she was such an example for me when i was in school, seeing her write papers and attend class as well. but she only began once we were old enough to be a bit independent.

    hope that makes sense/helps in someway. i think it's awful to think of feeling guilty for wanting a career or higher education - not necessary and not of the Spirit at all. yay for motherhood and yay for being engaged in communities and our great world where so much is to be learned!

    beijos from brasil,
    julianne :)

  5. Wonderful post. I loved the quotes, especially the one from Brigham Young to his daughter.

    I served in a Relief Society presidency once and our president was always telling us, "times and seasons, ladies." It's the quote I always remember when I'm tempted to be somewhere other than my home. Right now is the time and season for me to be home raising my children. Later on there will be time for me to pursue whatever other goals I might have outside the home.

  6. I think your quote from Elder Maxwell is very important. We can "save the world" by raising good children.

    I don't believe that necessarily means sacrificing higher education. There are a lot of ways to educate ourselves while still nurturing our children. As Naomi said - she wants to show her children she values education. We just need to be careful that we don't show our children that we value education above raising our children.

    A great way to educate yourself and nurture your children? Read with them - learn new things with them. I can't tell you how many times I have learned something new (or been reminded of something I once heard about) by answering my preschooler's questions. This can be even more fulfilling with older children, because your teenager will likely have much more stimulating questions and interests. If you do take a class or two, let your children know what you are learning. Teach them about what you are learning. Engage them in discussion. Use what you are going to school to learn to teach your children.

    I completed the last two years of my undergraduate degree with a baby, and was pregnant with my second by the time I graduated. I felt that my being at school and learning was preparing me to be a better mother. Even though my field of study (math) had little to do with raising families. I think I learned how to reconcile pursuing my own education with raising a family, and I think I was a better mother when I was a student than I am now, free from schooling 8-o

    I think taking a deep look at exactly why we want more formal higher education would be prudent. If your reasons are for your family, I can see that being something that would be good. If your reasons are to "save the world" or be of some "good" to the world then you might want to rethink your priorities.

    No success can compensate for failure in the home - so it's been said.

  7. Great post, Heather. You're so right. When we counsel with the Lord about these decisions, He will never lead us astray. And the answer may be different for you than for your neighbor. And that's OK.

    I have felt drawn toward doula work for years, but every time I make an attempt to try to attend any births, things always fall through, and I just keep getting the feeling that right now the Lord wants me to focus on my children and other work he has for me to do. And I'm OK with that.

  8. This is a great post today! It is something that probably runs through each of our heads from time to time. The answers can be different from one woman to the next. I have my advanced degree. I work and am the main support for my family. My husband was out of work for three years. Now he makes much less than he ever made before and we could not live on it. However, we work opposing schedules so that a parent is always home. It works for us, we know it is right, and it is where the Lord has placed us at this time. As we counsel with the Lord, we will each receive the answer that we need in order to proceed.

  9. I went back to work when my twins were 5 months old. I found myself very unhappy, and that I was much happier spending my energy running my household and teaching my boys. Becoming a mom was like finding that perfect job. It had all the things I loved about my jobs in the past, but it had this one extra thing that was always missing: the will to keep improving and keep going so I could better myself for my children.

    I'm at home now, and though our financial status is not great I really do not feel I should return to work. I don't like the idea of having to put my now 3 boys in daycare. So instead I've been trying my hardest to save my family money. We've bought cloth diapers and a clothes line, and we are desperately trying to get my husband through school while staying as self sufficient as possible.

    Though I long to stay home I also have a desire to obtain an education, or take on jobs that make me feel like I'm using my talents and gifts. I'm now trying to start up a cloth diapering business that I can run from home, and I'm trying to find a degree I can get that won't take too much time away from my children, but allow me to have a back up plan if my husband is unable to work or if I find myself facing this world without him.

    It's hard to think about going to school and spending time away from my children. It's also hard to think about furthering our debt to get me a degree I may never use. But the feeling gets quite nagging, so I'm sure it is a choice that will bring us blessings.

  10. I am so glad Heather posted on this topic. I love her research and thoughts, so THANK YOU! I am also happy to read everybody elses' insights. Glad I was able to spark such a great conversation. ;)

    Since emailing Heather my question, I have thought more and more about it myself, and though I haven't come to a final conclusion, yet, I am learning the truth of "for everything there is a season."

    I am grateful I was able to earn my undergraduate degree before we started a family. Right out of college I was able to work for the Church up until I had my first child four years ago. Last year, our situation required that I return to work to help support the family, and I was blessed to be able to return to the same division within the Church for employment. I enjoy my work there, though sometimes it's hard to stay away from the kids so long. The one thing I have to keep in mind though is that I am still a mother, even though I work every day, and right now we are going through a season where I am required to work outside the home.

    I couldn't have asked for a better day care for my children than the one they currently attend. That and the fact that I work for the Church have made the decision to go back to work so much easier on me.

    I do know that this won't be my life forever, and the season for me to be a full time mom will soon come again. And as far as furthering my education goes, that season will come too someday, I am starting to realize.

    In the meantime, I know I need to focus any extra time I have besides sleeping and working to my husband and my children. And that is what works for me right now and feels right.

    Thank you to everybody for sharing your thoughts and experiences, this has been very helpful for me and I am sure for everybody else who is reading this post and your comments.

    Above all, Thank you to Heather for going through this extensive research, as always, and tying it with your personal thoughts. You are simply amazing! Jon is a very blessed man, and your children are blessed children! :)

  11. I really enjoyed this post! Thanks!

  12. I'd like to add that the "motherhood and career" question isn't really an age-old question, but rather one that only arose as a result of the industrial revolution. Before that, work and parenting largely took place in the same location (big generalization, I know, but still true as a whole). And both parents were usually engaged in work, in the sense of contributing to the household, producing items/food/etc, and so on. So it's really a modern-day question that people didn't have to really face in the same way until fairly recently in human history.

    Okay, so moving is a tough question especially for LDS women who have such high expectations coming from both themselves and church leaders. And we get advice to stay at home with our little ones AND get an education AND develop our talents AND be self-sufficient and it can be really hard to reconcile how to do all of these things. Some people can do one or more at a time, others have to do one-at-a-time.

    It's nice to talk to other women about how they've figured this out, but really the important conversations are the ones between you, your spouse, your children, and God. Anything else is just frosting on the cake, so to speak.

    I have a PhD, 2 master's degrees, 2 little ones and another on the way. Right now I'm staying at home with my kids--but still, I'm writing and publishing and going to conferences on the side (nothing crazy intense, because after all I have hardly any time to myself right now). We're really lucky because in our family, the question of working & staying home is not at all financial. My husband makes enough that we can live on one salary--such a luxury these days. Of course we're really frugal too and have made good financial decisions throughout our married life that brought us to this point...but anyway I know that so many people don't even have the luxury of deciding whether to work or stay home. Right now I'm really content doing what I'm doing. I'd love to teach adjunct or part-time at some point to keep my foot in the door and, once kids are older, think about doing academia more intensely than casually. My husband would be beyond thrilled for me to work and him to stay home with the kids...but right now it doesn't appeal to me. Not until I'm done being pregnant and nursing and all that stuff!

    I do get concerned about seeing so many young LDS women drop out of school once they marry. It's not like you can't go to school and have children at the same time! Sure it takes a lot of planning and hard work. But I've known way too many women who do this, only to find themselves in a really miserable spot later on due to divorce, husband's unanticipated health problems, etc etc etc...Plus you have to be wise and prepared for the future. And without at least a bachelor's degree, your hopes of getting a decent job are next to nothing.

  13. Wow thanks Ladies. It is so wonderful and so helpful to hear all your experiences and ideas. I know it has helped me, so thank you!

    Oh and Rixa, I think you are right about this not being an "Age Old Question". The debate between having a career and being a mother is a recent development. In all honesty I was kind of scraping the bottom of the barrel for a title for this post :) My thought was that women, all through history, have always had to struggle with division of labor questions. I imagine that maybe even Rachel or Rebbecca at one point in their lives wished they could go out and herd the sheep all day instead of changing diapers and cooking meals.
    I think women have always, no matter what era they lived, had to make prayerful choices about what they did outside of their homes and families. But you are right, the Industrial revolution really made things much harder for women... in lots of ways.

  14. I love those stories, and I feel they are the exception more than the rule. It would take a LOT for the Lord to call a woman away from her family ... and I think sometimes we are much too prone to put those words in His mouth and claim revelation. I think the best thing a child can have in her life is the knowledge that her mother chooses to be with her, and that her mother loves it. If a child feels like her mother is just yearning for other things it takes the joy and security out of the gift. On the other hand, a child whose mother needs to go to work but lets her know - really KNOW - she'd give anything for the ability to stay home, is also a beautiful blessing to that child. This life is all about children ... and that needs to be how they feel.

  15. I am so going to have to come back and read the comments when I have more time. This is a struggle I have had too. We haven't been too well off most of our marriage, but keep having promptings to have more kids; I think there's one more in our near future. I have so many creative ideas but I can't seem to find where they fit in with my life. But I know they are not to have gain. I need to learn to share my talents though. I tend to hide them. And I want my kids to learn to develop theirs as well. I can't think of most ideas I have that won't benefit our home environment in general. It is to make our life more fulfilled and spend time together doing, that I feel I need to do these things. I know that I am supposed to be at home with my kids, but I can't say that is the same for everyone. Everyone is entitled to personal revelation. As a whole I think moms need to be home, but that must be a prayerful decision for everyone. And even as a stay at home mom I can't say I balance my time as well as moms who work and are more productive in teaching their children how to organize a home. It's already hard for me, I can't imagine adding a job to that. We'll just be poor for awhile, the blessings will come in the Lord's time. (and my husband has a masters degree) I admire the women of this church for their talents and abilities though. What great examples we can find every where in one area or another.

  16. Shelli, I really liked your comment about working outside of the home being an exception to the rule. I think that is really true. I once heard a quote by Elder Oaks-- that I wish I could find-- that said the Church always teaches the basic rules and will always stick to it. Yet God makes exceptions (ie, imagine Nephi and Laban) and it is our responsibility to pray and receive revelation to know if we are an exception to the rule. We can't just assume we are because we want to be. That has been a hard lesson for me to learn.

  17. For me the hard part is not knowing which season will come next... In nature, you know that spring will follow winter and fall will follow summer. In life, I expected children to follow marriage and full-time employment to follow my graduate degree. They didn't. Instead, employment followed my marriage and children followed my degree. This uncertainty makes me crazy...and makes counseling with the Lord in every decision even more important.

    Right now, with a 2-year-old son at home and a daughter in kindergarten, I have an application in for a great training opportunity. I'm on tenterhooks, not only waiting to learn if I get an interview, but also due to my ambivalence about working outside of the home at all right now.

    My children arrived after a long wait and with a great deal of trouble. I like being at home with my son. Every time I start getting worked up, however, I feel a calm reassurance that applying for this position was a good thing to do, that I don't need to worry about what will happen next, that things will work out.

    It reminds me of a quote of President Hinckley's my mission president shared in conference a few years ago. "It isn't as bad as you sometimes think it is. It all works out. Don't worry. I say that to myself every morning. It will all work out. Put your trust in God, and move forward with faith and confidence in the future. The Lord will not forsake us. He will not forsake us. If we will put our trust in Him, if we will pray to Him, if we will live worthy of His blessings, He will hear our prayers."

  18. Hey Heather I was just commenting on the Master's Wheel post, when I saw a link to this and read through it. Because I had the spectrum/wheel on my mind, it was interesting to read this post from that perspective. Coming from that angle, I felt impressed that at the judgement day the Lord will in fact ask us about things like *whether we helped secure the vote for women* or served in the community etc. However those responsibilities will be asked about after our key responsibilities-- those non-negotiable responsibilities that Sister Beck talks about. Because I do think we have responsibilities to society that we will be accountable for, and at the same time I do believe that our responsibilities to family will always be the priority. What do you think?

  19. Kels,

    I think you are right that God will certainly ask us for a report on what we have done with our lives. I espeically think that this is true when it comes to preaching the gospel or moving His work forward because we are taught that if we don't fulfill those resp. that the blood of other will be on our hands. Whenever He gives us a commandment or a personal revelation I think He expects us to fulfill it to the best of our abilities and will hold us accountable. But I think you are right too in saying that the FIRST responsibilities He will ask us about-- and the ones that will REALLY matter-- are our family and our self. If we fail in those ones but succeed in other areas we have failed in everything that really matters to God. Because the truth is that if God wanted to he could cure everyone of AIDS, give women the right to vote all over the world, and stop wars in a heart beat. He has that much power- just look at how the Berlin Wall came down. But the things he can't do and which He NEEDS us to do are fulfill our family resp. and to improve our souls and be Christ-like people. That is really the only gift we can give Him that He doesn't have the power to do Himself.

  20. Hmmm I'm not sure I'd ever thought of it quite like that. I'm hesitant to think that it's the one thing I can give God just because I'm used to thinking that I can't really give him anything he doesn't already have... but your logic is sound! :) I'll have to ponder on it a bit more. I do think though, that he won't ever cure everyone from AIDS, or free all the women and children who are enslaved, or liberate everyone from oppression and conflict until the second coming, and so until then we need to consider it a real responsibility. But like you said, not our primary responsibility. I guess we're coming from different concerns-- yours seems to be that we'll forget our primary responsibility, while I am concerned that sometimes we neglect other responsibilities because we think our primary responsibility is the only one we have. I think both perspectives are important ones! So I'm really grateful, as always, to get your insights and thoughts. :)

  21. I read somewhere that studies show that children are likely to get the same level of education as their mother, and get the about the same annual salary as their father. One of the best ways to teach your children is by example. If you want to teach your children the importance of an education, being well educated certainly helps. i was taught growing up that getting an education and job skill, even if I never had to use them, would be the smartest investment I could make for my future family. I would always have the means, should the need arise, to care for my children outside of my home.
    I come from a long line of educated women. My mother, my grandmother, and all my sisters have college degrees. All of them are also great mothers. My mother went back for her masters degree when I was in elementary school, my sister started nursing school TWO WEEKS after having her first baby. My oldest sister just finished her PhD, her husband and five children couldn't be prouder. I recently finished my degree and am looking forward to becoming a mother someday, and these women are my super-hero role models!
    Women in my family have worked from home, worked outside of the home, gone to school, and simply been moms. All of those were right decisions for them. They were still able to be wonderful caregivers and teachers to their children.
    As long as you have the blessing of the Lord and the company of the Holy Ghost, you will surely not fail. For you are on His path.

  22. Wonderful post! Thank you for this blog! Our Young Women are studying heroines of the scriptures for girls camp and at first I worried that we wouldn't have much to go with...but this blog has proven me wrong! I've been using it as part of my daily scripture study and can't wait to share the stories with my YW next week at camp.
    This post was beautifully and conscientiously written, I appreciate the two examples you shared. I am an at home mom, a job I personally love, so it is harder for me to understand why anyone would want to leave their children and home to pursue something out in the world. Thank you for reminding me that the Lord guides each woman differently, that we cannot judge for we do not know what God has inspired and directed our fellow sisters to do.

  23. It is admirable to have higher education, but the decision about when to obtain that should be made prayerfully with God. As for working, it is good to have marketable skills in the event the father cannot adequately provide for necessities, but working beyond that is time spent away from cultivating essential relationships with our children. This choice is another we should make prayerfully. God may say yes because he knows your husband will be laid off in the future or for some other reason, but I think usually we'll be encouraged to stay home.

  24. I had this same question in mind last week concerning whether to return to get a master's or to dedicate all my time to being a wife and mother. I thought of looking at the backgrounds of the women general authorities, who are our role models. I was very surprised to find that all of them had bachelor's degree, except for one, but none of them had master's!
    My mother got divorced when I was 3 and my brother was 1. She had to go back to school for 3 years to finish her bachelor's. It definately helped me to see the importance of women receiving higher education and gave me a determination to finish my education as soon as possible before having children. We were very blessed that my grandmother would leave my grandfather in California and stay with us for months at a time in Utah to babysit my brother and me afterschool, to make healthy warm meals, to do laundry, etc.
    My mom greatly appreciated this so that she could play with us after she was finished with school, enjoy dinner with us, and help us with our homework. As we'd go to sleep at night, I would hear my mom typing on her computer to start her studies. She'd get 4-5 hours of sleep each night and was exhausted for years. She had dark circles under her puffy eyes. It made me feel so bad for her.
    She did her best, and I appreciate her example more than anything. However, she regrets not being able to spend more time with us growing up. She got to spend a good amount of time with us afterschool, but she wasn't a full time mom. I'm 25 now and she still tells me every so often how she regrets not being able to be there emotionally and physically over the years.
    I wish that she had had more energy to help me learn good study habits in school, to help me with my homework, to make dinner as we became teenagers. There were many times she was so tired after work she'd need to nap. I needed her a lot when I was a teenager, even when I didn't think I did. Looking back I realize how helpful it would have been for her to help me learn how to cook, how to study.

    I have received my bachelor's, which I am grateful for. I know that as I show my children the importance of reading, by reading and learning things on my own, and reading with them, they will know the value of education. I don't, in my situation, see the need to run faster than I have strength, so that I can serve my husband and my children with the majority of my energy. I want to get a master's degree later on in life, but I feel that I need to trust the Lord to give me opportunities to learn by experience, by personal study, and by small service opportunities each day.