I learned a powerful lesson once that has really shaped my approach to this stay-at-home-mom thing. It was when I was still single without even a prospect of marriage and living with my parents.
It was the first day of summer vacation from university, and I was ready to live. it. up. I had planned to visit somewhere, anywhere in Utah I hadn’t been before. No one was coming with me; I was just going to drive and enjoy moments of peace in lieu of my normal rush. It was going to be awesome.
I woke up that morning and headed up the stairs to get some breakfast, when I bumped into my dad.
“Shay Ray! Do you have any plans today? The landscapers are coming, and I need someone to be home while they’re here.” Both my parents had to work. My little sister was at school. My brother was on a mission. And that left me to be the needed landscaper-sitter. My heart was bummed.
I found a room in the house with the most sunlight and plopped down to do some scripture study. Which went fine, but uneventful.
I remember thinking about the rest of the day ahead of me. I had hours all by myself while stuck inside. I wish I had some work or even some homework to do right now.
And almost immediately, this thought came to mind: If you are reliant on work and homework to fill your day in order to feel productive, how are you ever going to be a stay-at-home mom?
It was a reality check if there ever was one. I suddenly saw myself: a lifelong student and worker for other people. I was relying on a teacher or a boss to tell me how to use my time and what to do. I instantly knew that I needed to become a better manager of my life. I thought about Heavenly Father. He is His own boss. No one has to tell Him what to do, and He’s 100% productive and 100% on task and 100% happy. If I truly believed that I was preparing to become as God is, then being the only one in charge of my time and how I spend each day is one of the greatest lessons I needed to learn. It was truth.
So for the second time that day, I had scripture study. It was me praying, pondering, recording, and reading the scriptures to find out what I needed to know and understand and do in order to gain this skill of self-motivated productivity.
Elder M. Russell Ballard said, “I am so thoroughly convinced that if we don’t set goals in our life and learn how to master the techniques of living to reach our goals, we can reach a ripe old age and look back on our life only to see that we reached but a small part of our full potential. When one learns to master the principles of setting a goal, he will then be able to make a great difference in the results he attains in this life” (Preach My Gospel, pg. 146, emphasis added).
So I set goals. I made a plan. Soon, I had a list of attributes and goals for myself to obtain and learn in order to be more independent and responsible.
After a successful hour of planning the next several months, I now realized that I had forgotten about the present. I still had an entire empty day ahead of me. I thought I should maybe clean around the house first. Meh. But as unexciting as it was, it would be a good service to my parents, and I usually ignored cleaning because I didn’t have time, and now I did. So, I said a prayer and asked Heavenly Father if He could help me feel fulfilled as I cleaned instead of just feeling bored. And as usual, as I try to follow promptings and truth, my prayers are answered. The monotonous was made subtly enriching.
I think back on this experience often. I learned a lot of crucial things that day. Some of my days now are still better than others; yet, as I strive to be an ever improving manager of my time and my progression in life, I feel grace.