It states in The Family: A Proclamation to the World that "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." (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "Family Proclamation." Salt Lake City: 1990.)
So what about if you have never married, had children or are divorced or even widowed? I remember when I was a little girl. I use to play house with my dolls. I would cuddle them and love them and I just assumed that some day I would grow up and get married and become a stay at home mother. My own mother worked when I was little, but eventually was able to do just that. I never thought I would need to find employment when I had a family but....."life is what happens while you are making other plans."
Early on 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 lady and didn't find a husband to fulfill my childhood dream of a family. I worked full-time right out of high school and attended classes at the community college, and institute too. I finally found "the one" and married him in the Mesa Arizona Temple at the ripe old age of 20.
After our wedding, I found myself working full time as my husband was still working for his family business. Eventually the family business closed and my new husband who had never worked for anyone other than his family found himself unsure of himself and uncertain he would ever be able to find a job good enough to support us. It took a little convincing and eventually he found himself working for a new home improvement center in our area. When our first child was born, I realized just how much I wanted to stay home and raise our daughter and not have to miss out on her growth and development as a full time mother, but that was not to be. Our finances necessitated my continued employement and having to find a baby sitter to be "me" was really difficult. Feelings of guilt were a frequent thing for me as I left my new little child with sitters.
This was before the Proclamation on the family, even though LDS prophets were still giving the same advice and counsel 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 than that of wife, homemaker, and mother" (Fireside address, San Antonio, Texas 3 Dec. 1977). I was never able to a be in the home fulltime despite the birth of three more children as my husband and I continued to work to support our family. Staying home was an illusive goal. Working part-time of course was easier for me as a mother than fulltime, but that never happened and if it did, it didn't last long as we soon faced new challenges.
With me at around the age of 40 and with four dependent children, and my husband around the age of 41, he underwent the first of four back surgeries in the hopes of repairing the fractured vertibrea and the degenerative disks. Over time his back grew progressively worse to the point he was taking a lot of pain medication. His last surgery about a year and a half ago was to place a nerve cord stimulator to help releave most if not all of the pain so he could stop having to take all the pain medications. Well, we all know what happened when the lead wires slipped and they tried to reposition them. He is now paralyzed from the waist down and the damage is permanent. This meant many changes for all of us. It also meant that I had to take on a lot more responsibility at home. Some people out in the world who do not know our Heavenly Father's great plan of happiness have asked me why I stay in a marriage like this. Honestly, leaving was NEVER an option and I am always quite taken aback by those people who even hint on the matter. Sure, our marriage has had it's ups and downs and there have been times when I myself questioned if we could endure the test of time, especially after our children were grown. Kevin and I didn't always see eye to eye and there were even times when I questioned actions taken to the point that I seeked guidance from my Preisthood leaders and I have had to trust their guidance from time to time. Even though we were not what I would call the perfect couple and we struggled from time to time, divorce was not something I ever wanted or something I could or would ever enter into lightly or without consulting with a Bishop for help. Today a lot has changed for Kevin and I. We are both still struggling, but for different things now, and I actually miss my ornery, opinionated, and quick-witted husband. His last surgery took that away from him. We've both changed since his last surgery. Some things I do not like at all. Like me having to take on the primary responsibilities my husband would have like providing for our family, and sometimes even presiding over our family, which I hate! My husband is not dead and when he is not ill he still can preside and provide the spiritual guidance our family needs in most cases and I am so very grateful for that. For those times when he cannot I sometimes defer to my oldest son for help, and sometimes I just have to make a decision, pray that it is right, and act accordingly.
As what I now consider to be a lot like being a single parent, I still work full time and I have a great job that allows me to be home with my family in the evenings and on weekends. It's challenging to be a parent mostly alone, but kind ward members and a sweet bishop help sustain me and even offered priesthood blessings, which were a great help. Personal prayer and rereading my patriarchal blessing reminds me of the opportunities promised me that would be fulfilled in this life and the next.
Now, I still have the dream of someday being able to be a stay at home mother, but I feel my time is running out as my youngest soon turns eighteen. I don't know if we could survive without my salary on Kevin's social security and without medical insurance.
The ideal is for a young mother to try to stay home with her children and raise them, but it's not always possible desite even the best of intentions, prayers, and hopes. Church leaders have counseled those working mothers or single sisters who have to work to support themselves or families need heaven's help. And I believe this whole heartedly! We do. We really do.
Lastly, my advice to those of you who are single would be to pray often, because our Heavenly Father, who knows you best of all, knows your talents and your strengths as well as all of your weaknesses. He has placed you here on the earth at this time to develop and refine these characteristics. I promise He will help you, because I know He continues to help me even today. He is very much aware of your needs, and by and by those promised blessings of companionship will come to you.
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 myself and my husband, move forward with life, and raise our 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 if we will pray and seek his Spirit in our lives each day.
In closing, I leave you with a few quotes. I couldn't decide on just one....