How The Family: A Proclamation to the World Inspired The LDS Mother's Almanac and my Life


The Family: A Proclamation to the World

Inspired The LDS Mother’s Almanac

 . . . and My Life

            One evening in the Provo temple, I had one of those life-changing moments where I felt so overwhelmed with gratitude for the blessings in my life that I prayed and offered all of myself to God.

Within the next few days, my husband was called as a Mormon bishop, I found out I was pregnant in my late forties and Deseret Book (an LDS book publisher) called and asked me to write a comprehensive book for mothers. Well, it looked like my Heavenly Father needed my body, my husband and a new book for mothers I didn’t feel even remotely qualified to write.

Then I remembered my promise in the temple.

I deeply doubted myself. How could I possibly do what God needed when my husband and children wouldn’t quit jumbling up my days with constant family demands and drama? Certainly there was someone out there more qualified. I just wasn’t up for up this . . . especially that formative comprehensive book. With all the material I could cover, what would be the most important?

That weekend, my husband was headed up to the Homestead resort in Utah for some business meetings and I decided to go with him. While he was in planning meetings during the day, I had the opportunity for some quiet time to think away from my noisy household.

I was sitting alone in a hotel bed pregnant and nauseated contemplating where to begin. How could I write a comprehensive book for mothers when I was still trying to figure out this mom stuff for myself? I cried, but that just gave me a headache. So I got on my knees and prayed with a sincerity and earnestness that only comes from complete desperation. I was on my knees for a long, long time. I poured out all my inadequacies and flaws. I told God I couldn’t do what He needed me to do without help.

Then the answer came, clear and sweet. I needed to re-read the proclamation on the family. As I read, the jumble of anxieties in my head felt at peace for the first time.

“We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force.”

This quote became SECTION ONE titled Better Beginnings where I discussed pregnancy, labor, delivery, and caring for a new baby. I was also living through pregnancy, labor, delivery and caring for a new baby in my own life while I was writing about it.

“Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live.”

This quote became SECTION TWO called Understanding the Basics where I discussed children at different ages of development, discipline, housework, preparing meals, laundry, yard work family finances and fitness. I was also trying to fit in all these hundreds of demands on my energy while I was writing about it.

“Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.”

This quote became SECTION THREE where I give ideas for celebrations, birthdays, holidays, important events, the outdoors, family vacations and daily life. I was also living through all the crazy holidays, events and vacations while I was writing about it.

“Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.”

This quote became SECTION FOUR where I discussed expression, art, cooking, crafts, computers, dance, drama, music, photography, reading, science, math, writing, family fun, nurturing self and grandma-hood. I was also wondering how to fit in all that good stuff and learning to be a new grandma while I was writing about it.

“Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

This quote became SECTION FIVE where I discussed the family and the church, perfecting the saints, proclaiming the gospel, redeeming the dead, balancing busy family life, spiritual growth for moms and dealing with tough problems. I was also trying to create spiritual growth in my unbalanced self while I was writing about it.

Yet, even after I had a vision for the organization and what I wanted to discuss, my life was not happily ever after. I got about 200 pages into the manuscript before I got bogged down and discouraged. I wanted to give up. The new book and my life were just too exhausting and overwhelming. I rarely saw my busy bishop husband, my ten very active children were a hand full and the newborn late-night feedings and teenage curfew breakers kept me in a state of perpetual sleep deprivation. 

Then I remembered my promise in the temple.

So, I just kept rubbing my eyes, waking up every day, and giving it my best shot. Is The LDS Mother’s Almanac, my book that was inspired by the proclamation, a literary masterpiece? Far from it. Do I have a perfect family? Far from it. Did I ever see my husband again when he was released as bishop? No. They made him stake president. Did I ever get a goodnight’s sleep? No, I still have teenagers and my husband snores. And guess what, I’ve never really felt like I figured out how to be a mom. I think that’s OK. I think we all feel like that.  
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Estella said...

I think they chose JUST the right person to write the Almanac, Janene. You're amazing.

arianne said...

Love your honesty. It gives all of us moms hope and comfort.