Background: Tanya grew up in California with nine siblings. She came to Utah to go to college at UVU and graduated in theater performance. Her husband ruined her plans of going on a mission when he showed up at her apartment one day looking for directions to another apartment and found Tanya instead. A few years after graduating with her first degree, Tanya decided to enter the Culinary Arts program at UVU. “I decided that even if I was only able to use those skills in my own kitchen, it would be worth it,” she said. However, she is often asked to cater for weddings and other events. She is the mother of Gus, who is almost two and loves finding pockets and building train tracks.
The Most Important Work
I definitely feel that my work as a mother is a calling. But everything else I do still fits within that. I still have personal goals. I still perform. Just the other night we performed and that is fulfilling to me personally. So when I do things like that it still helps me to be a happy and balanced mother. I don’t think to be mother and to be nurturing my son I just have to stay home at the sink. I can show my son that you can have goals, you can seek after them, you can develop your talents.
But motherhood is still the thing that brings me most joy. It’s him, my son Gus. I love that I stay home. My husband and I had a long time before I could get pregnant so I worked for years. I worked up in jobs and became a manager. That was fulfilling when I was there, but I was still always excited for when I would get to be home as a mother. It doesn’t mean, though, that I’ve come to this part of my life and just take care of the house. By thinking, “the dishes have to be done, so I do them, the house has to get cleaned so I clean it,” is living passively, I think. Even in the household realm there is a difference in living actively and living passively.
I am a big list maker. Sometimes I’ll put something on my list that I’ve already done that morning so I can’t start with something checked off, haha… If something is written down it helps me remember because I forget and then I’ll realize at the end of the day that I didn’t do something. I find for me, that there are different areas: the goals for Gus, for the house, my calling (both long term and short term), family budget, performing. Even though I’m “just” a stay-home-mom, if I don’t have those things written down and are working on them, then I do forget and then things drop. I’ll find myself only dealing with the dishes and the cleaning up again and again, without saying, “you know what, it’s okay for those toys to sit there for a while because on my list I need to work on this thing that is also important.”
I can’t separate the spiritual side from the temporal side. The daily details of women’s lives may be different but the principles of the gospel are the same for each of us. Heavenly Father has commanded each of us to have a close relationship with Jesus Christ and to study our scriptures. If you set that time for scripture study and communing with the Lord, then it will then affect everything else you do. All those details, whether it is changing diapers five times a day or doing other things, then those details fall into place because you have that perspective I think the gospel brings. I feel really lucky, really blessed, in that regard. I think there are a lot of problems that can be solved by living the principles of the gospel. And that’s not to say that we don’t have real trials. We see lots of good people go through real trials. But we can also put ourselves in situations when we bring on our own struggles because we let life become too much. The spiritual and the temporal are combined. But I think we can also bring things on ourselves, good and bad.
Living Without Regret
I feel like I’ve done a lot because we didn’t have Gus for so long, so I was keeping myself busy. And all the while, I just wanted so badly to be a mom. So when I finally got it, everything about pregnancy was exciting. I got heart burn when I was pregnant, but I loved it because I never got heart burn before. I was so excited for it because it was part of the pregnancy and it was just one more reminder that a baby was growing inside of me and it was messing up my body and that it was awesome. I wanted it so badly that I was excited for everything that came with it. So even the mundane days, like when Gus was sick and all I could do was rock him, and feed him, and get nothing else done, I was still happy. It was still a day with my son that I finally got—something that I’ve wanted for so many years. And so I found that because I wanted to get pregnant for so long, I had to turn it over to the Lord and say, “you know what, I’ve just got to be patient.” So I waited and then I still had to learn what patience really was because I would say, “I’m being patient so why don’t I have him yet?” So I think we do have to try to find joy in where we are right then. I could have, because I wanted to get pregnant, hated culinary school or all the performing we did. But because we didn’t have a child, we were more free to do a lot of things. I had to just tell myself to enjoy that—enjoy that we had so much time together. It was so precious. And to enjoy the experiences we had traveling or doing different things, or going back to school for a different major. But at any moment, I would have loved to have received a baby too.
I’m a big believer that if you want to be happy you can choose to be happy. I know that we can go through really hard times. I think in the grand scheme of things, you have to find ways to be happy where you are or you’ll always find something you are missing out on. I could have been sad that I was missing out on motherhood when my friends were being moms, but then they’ll be nice and free when I’m still raising my kids, so I think you’re wasting time, you’re wasting opportunities to find joy when you only look at what you don’t have at that moment.
I think there are things that we can regret. But I think the gospel brings perspective on what we can truly regret. I don’t regret going to Jackson, Wyoming for a year to start a comedy club with my husband even though it delayed my husband’s graduation. But if we chose not to go to the temple, that is something I would regret, missing out on that. I love that my husband and I can perform, that our hobbies intertwine, that he can take me to the temple, that he can give me a blessing—those things to me are super important and so I don’t regret the other things. The gospel brings that perspective. It puts regret into perspective as well.
People will sometimes regret something because they are comparing themselves to other people. Honestly, if what you are doing is working for your family and you’re keeping the important gospel principles in mind, then the details don’t matter.
Women in the Home or in the Workplace
I’ll never judge a woman that goes to work, ever, because we live in a world where there is an ideal which can’t always be reality. We have an ideal from the gospel, where mothers are generally the nurturer of the children but every family is different. The question is, when you are home, what kind of attention are you giving to your children? I know many working mothers who are on top of it with their kids. They are in a situation where they have to work, but they are great mothers to their children. They are wonderful with their children because they love them and they know why they are going out to work. They are going to help provide for their family. I’ve also seen moms who were stay at home moms who were spending all day on Facebook and blogs. They just kind of missed it—missed the whole idea of being a mom. So, I think in general the question should be, when you’re at home is that your focus?
I struggle with this issue too. I still have lots of opportunities to work outside the home doing things like catering and weddings. But I have to ask myself with every opportunity: why would I be doing it? Would I be doing it because we need the money and we’re strapped? Would I be doing it so I could say it did it? I know there are two sides to everything. You do have to keep yourself happy and healthy mentally, you do have to have time for yourself, things that are for you so you can better take care of your children. But I think sometimes we use that as an excuse to go after stuff that maybe isn’t the most beneficial. I think, for example, showing Gus that I have goals and passions, showing him that I like to perform is great. Once a month, on a Friday night, I go perform because he can see that. He’s seeing that I’m a real person. But, I believe that it’s important to think about why you are leaving the house. Leaving the home isn’t necessarily a bad thing; the question is why are you leaving? You have to question the real motivation behind what you are doing it.