What I want you to know about being a Mormon stay-at-home mom

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here.  Today’s guest post is by Nicole.
Most of what I say can be applied to any stay at home mom, but I threw Mormon in there because there has been a stigma attached to it, especially in feminist circles. When people hear the phrase Mormon Mom I don’t want them to picture an uneducated woman with 10 children submissive to her husband.
Families are a central part of my religion. We believe that families and family relationships are eternal. That belief gives a different, broader… more eternal perspective to everything I do as a Mom. I will get to be my husband’s wife, my parents daughter, my siblings sister… and my kids Mom forever as long as I am worthy of that blessing. Mostly, that belief inspires me to lofty heights but can invoke despair depending on the day and the amount of stuff I’ve had to clean up… kids have so much stuff. I’ve often thought my kitchen floor alone could feed a third world country.  
I have absolutely nothing against women who work full or part time or women of different/no religions. I have friends in each of these categories. I am not taught to, nor do I avoid people who are not exactly like me.  
Because of the centrality of families, there are a lot of stay-at-home moms in any given Mormon congregation (side note: the actual name of my religion is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Mormon is a nickname… yes we are Christian). It is not a commandment; you are not ostracized if you choose differently. It is simply a natural outcome of one of our core beliefs. This is an awesome support network and an instant opportunity for friendship. There are older women who have already been through it all, younger moms to swap babysitting with, hang out with, go to the park or grocery shopping with… we weren’t meant to do this whole motherhood thing alone.. I have been a stay at home Mom in Los Angeles and in a small town in Utah and have found this network in both places. My Mom was a stay at home mom in the Middle East, Texas, Arizona, and Utah and she can say the same.  
My husband respects me, what I do, and treats me as an equal. Women don’t hold the priesthood in my religion. This fact has stirred up a lot of controversy recently. It has never bothered me. I have always felt valued and honored as a woman. I’m sure there are exceptions to that. There are unrighteous men who abuse the priesthood; who see it as a tool of power or a right to control. However, the official teaching of the church is “no power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood – only be persuasion, by long suffering, by gentleness, and meekness, by love unfeigned, and by kindness.” Women and men are different. We have different qualities, different roles and can both achieve amazing things. I know that if I ever wanted to work or go back to school my husband would support me in my goals and dreams. We would work together to make sure that our children and each of us were getting everything that we needed.
I did not sleep with my husband before we were married. We learned everything we know about sex from each other… ok and a few books because we were completely clueless… and our parents and friends gave us some advice/information as well… but pretty much just from each other. I don’t feel deprived by that fact nor have I ever had a desire to know what it would be like with someone else. It makes it sacred, special, and exciting just for us and only us. I want the same thing for my children. I encourage my kids to reach for their dreams, and tell them they can be whatever they want, while emphasizing that parenthood is the most important thing they will ever do. Currently my children want to be a marine biologist, a waitress/artist/Barbie rockstar, and the youngest is still undecided. We set aside one night a week to BE as a family. Traditionally it’s Monday night, but that doesn’t work with our current schedule so we do it on Tuesday nights… at least 70% of the time. This is a time to teach values, teach about God, our relationship with him, Jesus Christ, or anything else my husband and I feel our family needs to talk about. Each of us takes a turn teaching … including the three year old. Sometimes we just have fun, play games, go to the park, do service and/or yell at our kids to sit still, be respectful and LISTEN.
I have tons of goals, dreams, and ambitions outside of being a stay-at-home Mom. My degree is in Speech-Language Pathology I would love to work in that field again. I want to read tons of books, write books that make people think, travel EVERYWHERE, be involved in local politics, start or at least work for a non-profit, get a Master’s degree…. Some of these are compatible with staying home with my kids and can be achieved in little increments. Some are not. Life is long. I decided that what I want to BE is more important than what I want to DO. I can’t think of anything better at molding me into a more Christ like, compassionate, organized, hardworking and a myriad of other qualities person than staying home and taking care of my three children.

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