Wednesday, April 23, 2014


I loved the Church's video and social media campaign preceding Easter this year. We watched the #BecauseofHim video a few times as a family and each time, the music and words and images resonated deeply--food for my soul. The message that because of Him we can start again, that there is no end, not when we die, nor as we live our lives each day, is truly what gives me hope through the daily grind. This career and calling of mine--mothering these 4 children, being a companion to J, loving those around me--is beautiful and joy-full, but it is also frustrating and discouraging, and many days (most days?) I end the day humbled, feeling as though I have not been very good at any of them.  But because of Him, I feel peace in the midst of discouragement. Because of Him, I start again each day.

I used to love the week before Easter and the short nightly devotionals we did with the kids. The last 2 years have been difficult, though, as kids have scattered every which way in the evenings for soccer, track, cub scouts, you name it. We haven't come together in our short daily remembrance and celebration, and I miss that.

Most of my Easter pictures this year are from my parents' Easter/spring party, which was really a lot of fun, thanks to my mom's skill at planning. She had family games, kid games, egg hunts, egg dyeing, a scratch-off prize box for the games, a treasure hunt, a short spiritual lesson, and dinner! Phew! I'm tired just listing all of that!

Little Zelly in hog heaven, swinging and having just polished off something delicious
Finding their Easter baskets Sunday morning:
About to tear into her hollow bunny and looking so pleased about it

Doing it all

I wrote this last week and never hit the "Publish" button:

It's 11:30 pm exactly, and I am almost done grading research papers. I wanted to document, for people who have asked me, how I "do it all," meaning, I suppose, how I live the normal life of an LDS stay-at-home mom and teach college as well.  The answer is that I don't. At all. In the past 4 months, I haven't read a book for fun, I'm woefully behind on my TV shows (Downtown Abbey, I'm coming!), I don't read every day to my 4-year-old or take him on outings or throw the ball to him or sit and laugh with him, I don't have regular and meaningful conversations with my husband since I spend my kid-free time in front of a computer screen, I have a house full of unfinished projects, and my daily exercise happens only if I get up before the kids and only if I cut down my daily time to 30 min because anything more than that would eat into my sleeping hours, which seem slim to none, given that most of the grading and class prep I do happens after 9pm, when the kids are finally in bed (older kids=more activities, more school work, later bedtimes=a tired Mom!) So, there are plenty of things I'm not doing. There's really no such thing as doing it all.

But I am usually getting meals on the table, getting kids to activities, helping with homework, and keeping my house clean (since I can't think when it's not clean). And I am rocking my teaching. Last week my teaching group leader called me to summarize her observations of my class and her evaluation of my teaching and said she couldn't think of one thing to write that I needed to improve on. My students' evaluations were similar. Not one negative comment and not one suggestion for improvement. Only glowing reports.

I'm happy about that, of course, but I'm also woefully aware that not one suggestion for improvement reflects on the fact that I've thrown all my efforts, the best of me, into teaching my class because it's more measurable and it has a deadline and I'm getting paid to do it.

This is what usually happens when I teach. Tonight I'm reminded of what one of the women in my dissertation study--Les--wrote about the value of unpaid work:

"There has been so much talk lately, of this of 'us' the 'opt out generation'. The women who are 'turning their backs' on the opportunities now available to them to stay at home. I listened to such an interesting discussion on NPR- polling young women in elite colleges- expressing their likelihood of staying home in the future, many feminists troubled by the numbers. Thinking our society must be sending the message you can't do it all- the clocks must be rolling back. Why is it 'Choice feminism' is not accepted. How is choosing to care for others not a choice? I am deeply troubled by the way caregiving is undervalued in our societies. This extends to caretaking professions as well-- the pay and respect meeted out to a teacher is far less than that of a lawyer, business executive. Linda Hirshman contends the only way to flourish as a human being is through paid work.
To her I suggest the only way to flourish as a human being is unpaid work. The work that is the great equalizer of men and women across cultures, across all history and time. The work of care. I feel far greater satisfaction at night when I help someone far more than when I get a paycheck. I am not godless or a slave to the god of self glory-- development of my own personal morality is far more rewarding than another plaque on my wall--
So my social statement is this- I am a woman, a smart woman, I don't want another woman to speak for me. I have a voice, my own voice. The press may not quote me, like Linda Hirschman, so my voice may not be as loud- many whispers can create a great sound--I am one woman just as she is, of equal importance, with a voice as unrelenting, as strong and as valid- Don't pity me, don't trouble yourself that society has done me wrong, don't fear I may never escape this domestic drudgery and become enlightened--This life, as a mother, as a mother who stays home, is my choice. . . . I wanted to experience motherhood without distraction. Homemaking is not drudgery, paid work is not bliss."

So, I sit here reflecting at now 11:43 at night, with a bad cold and case of laryngitis and a deep end-of-semester fatigue, ready to throw in the towel, to submit the grades, to "opt out," and just go back to not "doing it all."

Monday, April 7, 2014

My testimony of education

It's been a month since I've posted. Life has been crazy busy and I guess I'm trying to decide if I should keep my blog going or not.

But in the meantime, join me at Segullah. I posted last week about my testimony of education.