She's an author, a teacher, and she blogs daily at Letters From Lin.
Take it away, Lin!
“By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and
righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and
protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of
their children.” (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “Family
Proclamation.” Salt Lake City: 1990.)
But what if you have never married, had children or are divorced or
widowed? As a young child, I played house with my dolls-cuddled and loved
them. I just assumed that one day I would grow up, be married and become a
stay at home mom. My own mother however had to work because she was
widowed when I was only five years old. I didn’t think I would need to find
employment when I had a family neither did she. But… “life is what happens
while you are making other plans.”
I realized the importance of gaining job skills and education to help me find
employment to support myself just in case I became an old maid and didn’t find a
husband to fulfill my childhood dream of a family. I pursued graduate work and
taught part time at BYU, then finally found “the one,” and married in the Salt Lake
LDS Temple at the ripe old age of 24.
After my marriage, I found myself working fulltime as my husband was still
in graduate school. When our first child was born, I realized how much I wanted
to stay home and raise our son, not miss any of his development as a fulltime
mother; but that was not to be. Finances necessitated my continued employment
and finding a babysitter to be “me” was difficult. Feelings of guilt were frequent as
I left my child at daycare or with sitters.
This was before the Proclamation on the family although LDS prophets
were still giving the same advice to women…”to come home from the workplace
and be a fulltime mother… not seek after the riches of the world. . President
Kimball also advised… No career approaches in importance that of wife,
homemaker, [and] mother” (Fireside address, San Antonio, Texas, 3 Dec. 1977).
I was never able to be home fulltime despite the birth of two more sons as my
husband continued his graduate work with studying for a PhD degree. Staying
home was an illusive goal. Working part time was easier for me as a mom than
fulltime, but that didn’t last long as I soon faced new challenges.
At age 35 with three dependent sons, I found my temple marriage of 10 years disintegrating
because of the unfaithfulness of my husband. Despite my best efforts, endless
prayers, and intensive marriage counseling, my husband’s behavior didn’t
change. Saving my marriage and eternal family was not possible. To stay in my
marriage was to risk my sons following their father’s path away from gospel
principles. Divorce was not something I entered into lightly or without consulting
with my Bishop plus attending the temple prayerfully.
As a single parent, I became an elementary teacher. It was a good
occupation for me to have time with my growing children and yet work fulltime.
We had summers and holidays off together. It was challenging to be parenting
alone but kind home teachers and a sweet bishop helped sustain me and offered
priesthood blessings, which were a great help. Personal prayer and rereading my
patriarchal blessing reminded me of opportunities promised me that would be
fulfilled in this life or the next.
Later I remarried and thought, "Ah, now I can be home full-time,” but my new
husband had difficulty finding work and returned to graduate school. So now I
was supporting my children and a new spouse. As another son was born to our
blended family, I finally quit my job. We tried to survive without my salary on a
student loan until my husband found full-time work.
The ideal is for a young mother to try to stay home with her children and raise them, but it’s not always
possible despite your best intentions, prayers, and hopes. Church leaders have counseled those working mothers or single sisters who have to work to support their own or family’s needs heaven’s help.
Lastly, my advice to those of you who are single is to pray often, because our
Heavenly Father, who knows you best of all, knows your talents and
strengths as well as your weaknesses. He has placed you here on the
earth at this time to develop and refine these characteristics. I promise you
He will help you. He is aware of your needs, and by and by those promised
blessings of companionship will come to you. (James E. Faust, “Welcoming Every Single One,” Liahona, Aug 2007, 2–6)
I know that my Heavenly Father understands the struggles I’ve
had as a working mother all my life. Great blessings of peace and
comfort have come as I was able to forgive my divorced husband, go
forward with my life, and raise my children in the Church.
Understanding that each person has their free agency and life is full of
challenges has brought understanding and wisdom to me as I look
back now. We are here to learn and strengthen ourselves by the things
that we experience. The gospel is full of guidance for our lives, if we
will follow it, and a loving Heavenly Father is always there to
strengthen and counsel with us as we pray and seek his Spirit in our
Thank you, Lin!