I am a Mormon mom. Before you assume you know what exactly that means, hear me out. I’m just like many other moms. I get frustrated. I make lots of mistakes. I love my child so much it cripples me sometimes. I’m sleep deprived, overwhelmed, stressed and so, so grateful for the crazy days I'm blessed to spend raising my child. Some of the rumors circulating about what it means to be a Mormon mom are true, but most of them are not. It’s true that I don’t drink and I pay tithing every month. I also work full-time and I only have one child at the age of 34...by choice.
The misconceptions about what it means to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, more commonly known as the Mormon church, are as plentiful as the amount of tiny cars and trucks scattered around my house right now, and the times I’ve shed happy and sad tears since becoming a mom.
My story is both similar to and different from other LDS, or Mormon, moms. Below you will find 15 fascinating facts about what it’s like to be a Mormon mom, straight from one woman currently raising her child as an active member of the Mormon church. I can’t speak for anyone else, but, in my opinion, like everything in life, there are wonderful things and difficult things about this choice. Read on to find out more about what it’s like to be a Mormon mom.
15 I Pay Tithing
Tithing is one of the hang-ups many people have with the Mormon church. It is a principal that was introduced early in the church’s history, and has evolved over time. Members are asked to contribute 10 percent of everything they earn to the church. In the beginning, many members contributed one tenth of their livestock or harvest. Today, most pay tithing by donating 10 percent of their monetary income.
What is this money used for? The church has stated, “Tithing is used to build temples and meetinghouses, translate and publish the scriptures, do missionary and family history work, and in other ways build God’s kingdom on earth.”
Many don’t understand why anyone would willingly donate their hard-earned cash to a church. Diapers, food, clothing and other basic necessities aren’t cheap, and I’d be lying if I said it was always easy to part with money that could be used to help pay for these things, or buy myself something nice. Why do I do it anyway? Well, I use the church’s facilities. I go to church every Sunday. I attend the temple. I see the good the church does in the world. Basically, I feel my contribution makes the world a better place for everyone, especially for my son.
14 I Don't Drink
It’s true. I’ve never tasted an alcoholic beverage of any kind. For me, the decision to abstain from drinking has never been a difficult one. I've heard many moms say that having a glass of wine after the kids are in bed is their favorite way to unwind. I simply find different ways to relax, whether it be a warm bath, a good Netflix binge-watch session or a square or three of dark chocolate. My choice not to drink is a personal one, and I in no way fault those who do.
In an official handbook written for the youth of the LDS church entitled "For the Strength of Youth", it states, “Care for your body, eat nutritious food, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep. Practice balance and moderation in all aspects of your physical health. Also, avoid extremes in diet that could lead to eating disorders. Do not intentionally harm your body. Avoid dangerous activities that put your body at risk of serious injury.”
Why no alcohol? The handbook’s instructions on this topic conclude, “Being under the influence of alcohol weakens your judgment and self-control. Drinking can also lead to alcoholism, which destroys individuals and families." As previously stated, I don't mind one bit if others drink. As with everything, some can handle their alcohol better than others. To be truthful, I'd probably be one of those people who couldn't handle it very well, and I don't have any qualms about refraining from partaking of adult beverages.
13 I Work Full Time
It is a common misconception that Mormon moms are expected to stay home, bake bread from scratch, keep the house sparkling clean, make cute wreaths for their doors and do constructive, meaningful activities with their children every second of every day.
While it is true that past church leaders have encouraged women to avoid working, the changing culture and social climate has changed the church’s stance on working mothers. I feel supported in my decision to work by my husband, my local church leaders and most of my friends and acquaintances in the church.
Of course, sometimes guilt lingers in the back of my mind, and I can't help but wonder if I’m being judged for my decision, but, most of the time, I'm at peace with it. Any rumors circulating stating that Mormon moms are forbidden to work are false. My husband and I are equal partners. He stays home while I'm at work and vice versa. It works for us.
12 I Only Have One Child
Another common misconception about the church is that Mormon women are expected to bear as many children as they are able, as quickly as they are able. It is true that many Mormon families are large. It is also true that many LDS couples marry young and choose to have children soon after becoming man and wife. Even though it is common for members of the church to have many children, there is no requirement to have a big family. It is not church doctrine that women are expected to produce many babies.
As previously mentioned, I’m 34 years old, and I only have one child. This is not due to infertility. My husband and I chose to delay starting our family so that we could secure savings and spend time strengthening our own relationship before bringing children into the world.
Mormons believe it is a commandment to “multiply and replenish the Earth,” but the decision regarding when to have children, and how many children to have, is a private one to be made by each individual family.
11 I Got Married In The Temple
Many notice the LDS, a.k.a Mormon, temples in their areas and wonder what the heck goes on inside of them. Many of the practices that take place inside of the church's temples are sacred and private. What I can say is that inside of these beautiful buildings, ordinances are performed for those who are no longer living. They are also the places where many Mormon couples choose to be married.
My husband and I chose to be married and sealed in the temple. This was a difficult decision for us. It meant many of our close family members and friends who were not active members of the church could not attend this monumental event in our lives. Neither one of our own fathers were present for our wedding. My maternal grandmother and grandfather, who helped raise me, and are like my second set of parents, were also unable to attend.
We held a reception afterwards where all of our loved ones could celebrate with us, but I am quite sure it was painful for those who were not in attendance to know they missed the moment we became husband and wife. Why did we choose to be married in a place not everyone we love dearly could follow? Mormons believe being married in the temple seals the marriage not only on Earth, but in the life after this one. Additionally, we believe any children we bring into the world will be sealed to us.
10 I Am My Husband's Only Wife
It is common knowledge that many of the early leaders of the LDS church practiced polygamy, or plural marriage, meaning they had more than one wife. This practice was brought to an end in 1890 by the 4th president of the church, Wilford Woodruff, when he issued a Manifesto that brought the practice to an end.
LDS.org states, "The end of plural marriage required great faith and sometimes complicated, painful—and intensely personal—decisions on the part of individual members and Church leaders."
Not all members agreed with the Manifesto, and, as a result, the FLDS church was formed. Those who felt it was right to continue the practice of polygamy formed the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, an organization that has been in the news in recent years for allegations brought against one of their leaders, Warren Jeffs. Many confuse the LDS and FLDS churches with each other, or think they are one and the same. They are two separate churches. Mormons do not practice polygamy, and haven't for over a century.
9 I Believe In Life After Death
The belief that there is life after death has become all-the-more dear to me since becoming a mother. The Mormon church teaches that when we leave this life, a better world awaits us. It brings me great comfort to know that if something ever happens to anyone I love, especially my sweet child, it would not be the end.
Mormon.org explains, "'Job in the Old Testament asked what most every person coping with the loss of a loved one aches to know. The uncertainty of death can add to grief. But Job answered this question confidently: 'Though … this body [be destroyed], yet in my flesh shall I see God.' Because of the Resurrection of Jesus, 'in Christ shall all be made alive.'"
Life after death is a topic many prefer to steer clear of. So much of what happens after we die is unknown, and so little can be backed up by science, or proven in any way. I choose to believe the doctrine of the Mormon church that death is not the end.
8 My Husband Served An LDS Mission
Before we met, when my husband was just a 19-year-old young man, he chose to serve a 2 year mission for the LDS church. Serving a mission is not a church requirement, but it is highly encouraged that young men, and any young women who have the desire, and are willing and able, should serve a mission for the church. Many elderly couples also choose to serve missions together after their children are raised. Single members who never marry or have children, or who are widowed or divorced, also often serve missions later in life.
Mission calls are issued by the First Presidency of the church, and members are sent to locations all over the world. My husband served his mission in Montreal and Quebec City in the province of Quebec, Canada. As a result, he speaks impeccable French.
He chose to study the language further after he returned home, and also learned Spanish in college, a feat made easier by his mastery of the French language. He is now teaching our son to speak in French and Spanish.
7 I'm Not A Good Cook
It is a common misconception that Mormon women are expected to be clones of June Cleaver. While it’s probably true that some Mormon moms feel pressure from their neighbors, friends or fellow church-goers to have it all together in the homemaking department, this old-fashioned notion couldn't be further from the truth.
As a matter of fact, my husband is a much better cook than I will ever hope to be. I will never be a perfect housewife, and that’s okay. I will never make adorable matching outfits for our family to wear to picnics in the country or bake homemade meals from scratch.
While it’s true that many Mormon women are wonderful cooks and fabulous homemakers, the assumption that all LDS women are is completely false. Furthermore, it is utter rubbish that Mormon moms are expected to be good at these things. In my personal experience, no church leader or fellow member has ever asked me to prove myself as an Iron Chef, and my husband would rather I leave the household duties to him. I'm happy to oblige.
6 I Have The Support Of Other Women
One wonderful aspect of the Mormon church is the constant support and love I feel and receive from other women within an organization known as The Relief Society. What is it, exactly? LDS.org states, “The Relief Society is the women’s organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."
The site continues, "All adult women in the Church are members of Relief Society. Through Relief Society, sisters...increase their self-reliance, enlarge their talents, expand their knowledge, strengthen families, and reach out to those in need."
Of course, cattiness and judgmental tendencies will always exist to some degree, but, in my experience, dealing with women in the church, these instances are very rare. When being a mom gets particularly rough, it's nice to know that someone has your back. The Relief Society has made it possible for me to get invaluable comfort, support and love from other mothers, young and old, when I’ve needed it the very most.
5 There's A Lot I Don't Know
Questions from outside critics and former members abound about the history of the LDS church, it's associations with polygamy, how the Book of Mormon came to be and many other aspects of the Mormon faith. I'd like to say I have all the answers to these burning questions, but I don't.
I freely admit that there's a lot I don't understand, and a few stances the Mormon church has taken that I don't completely agree with. When my child is old enough to ask me these questions, I'm completely comfortable with telling him I'm not quite sure.
Many may wonder why I would choose to be a member of an organization that I don't fully understand everything about. To them, I would say, what I do know is enough. I know the Mormon church gives me opportunities to serve others, come closer to Christ, feel peace in a tumultuous world, and gets me through the toughest days of motherhood. For me, that's all I need. There are plenty of things about this world that I'm still just beginning to understand. To put it simply, I'm okay with not knowing all the answers.
4 I Feel Guilty Sometimes
I admit it. Being a Mormon mom can be really difficult sometimes. Not because of anything the church teaches, but because of unrealistic expectations I set for myself. When I see other moms at church on Sunday or at social functions during the week who seem to have it all together more than I ever will, I struggle to remember that I’m a good mother, even with all of my imperfections.
You see, the fact is, many Mormon women are great cooks, stay-at-home moms, mothers of many children and talented decorators. On the days I’m feeling less-than, it can be hard not to compare myself to the many examples I see all around me of what I consider to be the ideal mother. This can make my working-full-time, shoddy cooking, only-one-child ways seem lacking on all fronts. Here's the truth: any guilt I feel is self-imposed. As with many traditional religions, well-meaning comments from those in the church can sometimes throw me for a loop as well.
It’s hard not to compare myself to the idealistic notions of what a “good mom” should be, especially when I see them all around me. Luckily, one of the most central teachings of the LDS church is the Atonement, which keeps me grounded and reminds me that I am, in fact, enough.
3 I Am A Christian
As previously mentioned, the Atonement, or the belief that Jesus Christ lived and died for all of our sins, heartaches and imperfections is a common Christian belief, and one that is shared by members of the Mormon church.
Many do not view Mormons as Christians, when, in fact, Christ is at the center of the church’s teachings. This is the reason I’m a Mormon Mom. I couldn’t get through motherhood alone. I need a companion, a friend, a confidante. And I, personally, have found what I’ve needed through my belief in a higher power. A power who is there for me when I need to vent, lifts me up on days when I’m not sure I can go on, and speaks peace to my heart at times when I’m sure I’m the worst mom who’s ever lived.
I am a Mormon and I am a Christian. I believe the stories the Bible teaches as well as those taught in the Book of Mormon. I am teaching these stories to my child, and, when the time comes, I will do my best to let him know he has the freedom to decide for himself what he believes.
2 I Respect The Beliefs Of Others
Maybe it’s the Mormon missionaries scattered across the globe, or the enthusiasm with which members of the LDS church share their beliefs, but, more than once, I’ve heard those outside of the church state they feel judged by Mormons, or feel unduly pressured to investigate the LDS faith.
As stated on LDS.org, a series of statements known as “The Articles of Faith” were “Written in 1842 by the Prophet Joseph Smith, these 13 statements explain the basic doctrines and practices of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." They summarize the basics of what members of the LDS church believe. One of the statements reads, “We believe in worshipping God according to our own dictates and allowing others to do likewise.”
People aren’t always perfect, and it’s certain some Mormons come across as overbearing or judgemental or both. I can only speak for myself, but I can honestly say that while the church is the right thing for me, I accept and respect the beliefs and opinions of others. Whatever a person believes is their right. In fact, many of my closest friends are not members of the LDS faith.
1 I Hope Others Will Respect Mine Too
I am a Mormon mom. Above, I’ve explained a little bit about what that means, at least for me. I am doing the best I can to raise my child in the way I feel is best, just like every other mom on the planet.
Being a mother is not easy. Being a woman is not easy. It is, however, easy to be way too hard on ourselves. It’s also easy to shy away from things and people we don’t understand. Whatever a mom’s beliefs, she shares a common bond with every other woman living who has had the unspeakable privilege of bringing life into the world, or adopting a child as her own.
We are raising the future generation. What we teach our young ones will affect the future: their future. My hope is that moms everywhere will teach their children to be tolerant and respectful of each other, to accept differences in others and to learn that we are stronger when we stand together than when we tear each other down.
I am just a mom. We are all just moms. And whatever our race, religion or ethnic background, we cradle the future in our arms, hold the future when we grasp a tiny toddler hand and affect the future with the way we treat each other. May we all choose love, and teach love.