After weeks of quarantine to stop the spread of COVID-19, governments are easing the lockdown restrictions. And, I have to say, I’m a little disappointed. It’s been fun having my kids at home with me. Sheltering in place has helped to remind me what’s most important in life and the things that I can live without. And I have talked to others who feel the same. This experience has reminded me how important the basics are—especially in the family. Under quarantine, everything shifted back to the home. Kids did all their school work from home—including some college students. Meals became more home-centered as restaurants closed down. Many people had to work from home. We had church at home. Our social interaction shifted to the home. And it was nice. My children began to relax more and not be so frustrated. We all gained a greater appreciation for this focus on home life.
And not just home life, but our roles in it. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes mistakenly called the Mormon Church) has long taught that a mother’s place—and her greatest responsibility—is in the home. The Family: A Proclamation to the World explains,
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.
As President Harold B. Lee taught,
A mother’s glorious purpose is the building of a home here and laying a foundation for a home in eternity.
While the world would diminish the good that mothers accomplish being at home, the COVID-19 quarantine has shown just how important they really are. Let me explain.
A House of Order
Motherhood, frankly, is often an overlooked job. And the philosophy of the world is that a woman’s talents are best served in the workplace, not at home. But keeping a house running and in order is no small feat. The scriptures teach,
Organize yourselves and … establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God (Doctrine & Covenants 88:119).
Much of that work falls on the mom. President Gordon B. Hinckley observed,
My dear sisters, … I stand in great admiration for all that you do. I see your hands in everything.
Many of you are mothers, and that is enough to occupy one’s full time.
You are companions—the very best friends your husbands have or ever will have.
You are housekeepers. That doesn’t sound like much, does it? But what a job it is to keep a house clean and tidy.
You are shoppers. Until I got older I never dreamed of what a demanding responsibility it is to keep food in the pantry, to keep clothing neat and presentable, to buy all that is needed to keep a home running.
You are nurses. With every illness that comes along, you are the first to be told about it and the first to respond with help. …
You are the family chauffeur. … And so I might go on.
In this chaos and uncertainty of the pandemic, this was magnified. We had to be more organized and focused with our finances, grocery shopping, internet, and computer use. And having mom at home to direct the effort was essential.
A House of Peace
When our state shut everything down, we still had snow on the ground—5 feet high in places. And since the ski resorts shut down soon thereafter, we were pretty much stuck inside. The kids needed the first few days to wind down from the stresses of school, but it didn’t take long for cabin fever to set in. Especially since it was a good 3 weeks before remote learning started for our school district. We found peace as we focused on the Savior. Elder Richard G. Scott said,
Many voices from the world in which we live tell us we should live at a frantic pace. … Yet deep inside each of us is a need to have a place of refuge where peace and serenity prevail, a place where we can reset, regroup, and reenergize to prepare for future pressures.
The ideal place for that peace is within the walls of our own homes, where we have done all we can to make the Lord Jesus Christ the centerpiece.
It can be difficult to go from the frantic pace of school of life to a standstill unexpectedly. Elder Scott continued,
Be certain that every decision you make, whether temporal or spiritual, is conditioned on what the Savior would have you do. When He is the center of your home, there is peace and serenity. …
The fulfillment of this counsel does not rest upon parents alone, although it is their role to lead. Children can be responsible for improving the Christ-centered efforts in the home. It is important for parents to teach children to recognize how their actions affect each individual who lives in the home.
It was important for me to be home to not only keep the peace but also help my kids find peace.
A House of Learning
Mothers have the primary obligation for nurturing in the home, and this includes helping teach children. Never did I feel this more than when remote instruction started up in our school district. President Henry B. Eyring taught,
While I do not know all the Lord’s reasons for giving primary responsibility for nurturing in the family to faithful sisters, I believe it has to do with your capacity to love. It takes great love to feel the needs of someone else more than your own. That is the pure love of Christ for the person you nurture. That feeling of charity comes from the person chosen to be the nurturer having qualified for the effects of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. …
As daughters of God, you have an innate and great capacity to sense the needs of others and to love. That, in turn, makes you more susceptible to the whisperings of the Spirit. The Spirit can then guide what you think, what you say, and what you do to nurture people so the Lord may pour knowledge, truth, and courage upon them.
When school work resumed with remote learning, there was a steep learning curve for all of us. At the beginning, one of my teenagers kept complaining, “But Mom, why all of a sudden do you care if we do our school stuff? You never asked us about it before!” I had to explain that I didn’t have to ask before. But now that all school work was being done at home, it was my job to ask and make sure that she did it. And I can’t say that I was always great at it. But I tried. And so did they.
A House of Prayer and Scripture Study
I’m not going to lie, school with remote learning was rough at first. Especially since we had been slacking off and doing our family scripture study at night. But then we decided as a family to resume our morning routine of family prayer and scripture study. President James E. Faust said,
… The source of our enormous individual strength and potential is no mystery. … We need only to draw constantly from the power source through humble prayer. It often takes a superhuman effort for parents of a busy family to get everyone out of bed and together for family prayer and scripture study. You may not always feel like praying when you finally get together, but it will pay great dividends if you persevere.
… All of us need the strength that comes from daily reading of the scriptures. Parents must have a knowledge of the standard works to teach them to their children. A child who has been taught from the scriptures has a priceless legacy. Children are fortified when they become acquainted with the heroic figures and stories of the scriptures such as Daniel in the lions’ den, David and Goliath, Nephi, Helaman, and the stripling warriors, and all the others.
It wasn’t always easy to get up early knowing that the kids had a flexible schedule, but it was worth it. Our morning family scripture study and prayer didn’t totally resolve all of the frustrations with juggling computers and bandwidth issues, but we were more prepared to deal with the problems that arose.
A House of Faith
The Church of Jesus Christ closed all church buildings—including temples—during the COVID-19 shutdown. But members were allowed to have the sacrament in their homes under the proper priesthood authority. (All worthy male members of the Church who are of age are eligible to hold the priesthood.) The sacrament, which is the Latter-day Saint equivalent of the Holy Eucharist, is blessed and passed by priesthood holders. It is a special and sacred opportunity to have this in our home. President Dallin H. Oaks taught,
The ordinance of the sacrament makes the sacrament meeting the most sacred and important meeting in the Church. It is the only Sabbath meeting the entire family can attend together. Its content in addition to the sacrament should always be planned and presented to focus our attention on the Atonement and teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. …
Typically the sacrament is administered, passed, and received by the members in an atmosphere of quiet reverence. The conducting of the meeting … is brief and dignified, and the talks are spiritual in content and delivery. The music is appropriate, and so are the prayers. This is the standard….
We have followed the same standard, albeit on a smaller scale, in our home. Down to and including how we dress in our Sunday best. President Oaks said,
How we dress is an important indicator of our attitude and preparation for any activity in which we will engage. If we are going swimming or hiking or playing on the beach, our clothing, including our footwear, will indicate this. The same should be true of how we dress when we are to participate in the ordinance of the sacrament. …. Our manner of dress indicates the degree to which we understand and honor the ordinance in which we will participate.
Our home has become, quite literally, a house of faith.
A House with a Stay-at-Home Mom
Now the question might arise, what does all of this have to do with stay-at-home moms? Well, for our family, a lot. And the COVID-19 shutdown illustrated this in bright neon colors. A few years ago, I started working as a proctor for standardized testing in the schools for six weeks or so in April and May. I started doing this because I was in the schools with my kids and it brings in a little extra money. However, during that time my kids can’t be sick because I can’t be at home with them. I have less time for cooking meals and so we have more quick and easy (but not always so healthy) meals. Then the schools shut down and standardized testing was canceled. We had to reorganize our schedules, rework the budget, and rethink how we spent our time.
As we did so, I realized that just being there for my children was the most important thing. As Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught,
In family relationships love is really spelled t-i-m-e, time.
In times of global crisis, having the stability of mom at home is essential. Sister Sheri L. Dew explained,
Never has there been a greater need for righteous mothers—mothers who bless their children with a sense of safety, security, and confidence about the future, mothers who teach their children where to find peace and truth and that the power of Jesus Christ is always stronger than the power of the adversary. …. No woman who understands the gospel would ever think that any other work is more important or would ever say, “I am just a mother,” for mothers heal the souls of men.
And now, more than ever, we need that healing power in our homes.