what I wish I’d said

Sunday, I taught the 16-18 year old girls on “Choosing a Vocation.” In an effort to veer from the usual fare of “you all should be mothers but you need a back up plan just in case,” I waxed eloquent on how they could be anything they wanted, do anything they wanted; I urged them to shut out the voices of discouragement. I shared this article about Kathryn Stockett’s sixty rejections before she published The Help. It’s a fantastic piece; I especially love the final paragraph:

The point is, I can’t tell you how to succeed. But I can tell you how not to: Give in to the shame of being rejected and put your manuscript—or painting, song, voice, dance moves, [insert passion here]—in the coffin that is your bedside drawer and close it for good. I guarantee you that it won’t take you anywhere. Or you could do what this writer did: Give in to your obsession instead.

I believe with all my heart that these incredible girls can do whatever they want, that they should pursue their dreams. We had a great discussion where they shared goals and we discussed glorifying God in all we do.

And just as the last girl walked out the door, I realized what I’d missed, what I didn’t say. Blame it on a shortened lesson time, Fast Sunday or just my general state of distraction, but I wish I’d said,

mothering my children is the sweetest, finest, most fulfilling career I could have chosen. Not a moment of education: scholarly, spiritual or practical has been wasted as I teach and work and pray with my family.

And not a moment of my time has been wasted in raising this family. My children and my husband are worth every sacrifice, every girls’ night out I skipped, every job I turned down to spend more time with them.


Because I married young and had children right away, I thought, for a long time, that I’d missed my chance- grad school, a magazine internship, possibly a professorship– and it’s easy for me to see now that those options come round again. In fact, I could have never dreamt of all the opportunities my life would bring. I’m still at the stage where I say ‘no’ to most things that come my way– in fact this school year looks like it will be our most demanding season yet– but the future is full of possibilities. In all those long years that I did nothing but nurse babies and mop the floor my sister told me often, “It’s OK that you don’t have time to write; when you do have the time you’ll have stored up lots to say.”

My children are worth my time. Their stories, their games, their pigtails and peanut butter sandwiches are worth my time. I’ve learned that publishing an article or being paid to take photos isn’t the thrill I’d once imagined. One Gabriel hug is worth more than a front page article.

I’m still an advocate of dreaming big. Goodness, I’m the one trying to sell a screenplay, looking up the name of Taylor Swift’s agent so I can send him a script. People are certainly laughing at me.

But the soul and center of my life are Erik, Ben, Stefan, Hans, Xander, Gabriel, Mary– they are the work, the passion that I am excited to wake up to every morning. My family is my masterpiece.

September 7, 2011



  1. Selwyn

    September 7, 2011

    Hindsight is at times annoying as all hell. Knowing that they are ‘your’ young women, though, I’m sure they can see that already. And they’ll remember you, and come ask you when their own choices are looming.

    Amen, alleluia sister.

  2. michelle

    September 7, 2011

    Love. This. Post.

    I think one of the things that is hardest about trying to talk about these things is that ultimately, they have to learn by experience and learn from the Spirit and have their lives unfold in their own time and way to really understand it all. The way you have learned about the sweet joy of motherhood is by doing it and it’s as we get older that we realize that we really don’t have to ‘do it all now.’ But they’ll have to learn that on their own. The way they’ll learn how to balance all of that is by experiencing that tension and getting their own revelation.

    And I LOVE this from Selwyn: “Knowing that they are ‘your’ young women, though, I’m sure they can see that already.”

    I hope they read your blog, because your momma heart shines through like the sun at noonday. I can only imagine what they see, too, in associating with you regularly “in real life.”

    To me, your blog is one of the best testimonies of the joy of motherhood, and it’s one of the reasons it’s among my late-night treats before I go to bed.

  3. cristie

    September 7, 2011

    amen and amen. xox

  4. Jess

    September 7, 2011

    Amen, sista.

    Little Sister was 7 pounds when she was born. She is our biggest baby, yet she seemed so teeny tiny. I swore on the day she was born that I would not forget how tiny she was. Somehow, it’s already slipping through my fingers. As I was listening to her newborn baby breaths this morning I tried to capture the moment and store it away. I want to be mindful of these moments with my pack of four.
    Thanks for the reminder that while this job has the four toughest bosses I’ve ever worked for and may not be impressive on a resume to many in the corporate world, I wouldn’t change it for their world!

  5. Emily

    September 7, 2011

    Thank you for sharing such beautiful truths.

  6. Tasha

    September 7, 2011

    Thank you for writing this, Michelle. It’s just what I needed.

    I’ve been having a hard time with my health lately, and have been tempted to drop out of school since it is getting so hard. I’ve wondered if it really is that important to finish this one last year of college. But I love what you wrote:

    “Not a moment of education: scholarly, spiritual or practical has been wasted as I teach and work and pray with my family.”

    You’ve helped me to remember why I’m really at school. You’ve helped me to remember that even though I don’t have the babies that I’m longing for right now, I can still work on being a good mother.

    Thanks for saying the right thing to this young woman.

  7. Judi

    September 7, 2011

    Thank you. I needed this today..Some days you just want to cry and today is one of them. Your post helped me remember why I gave it all up.

  8. Emily M.

    September 7, 2011

    thank you for this. i hope you don’t mind, but i shared a link to it on my facebook page. it is perfectly said. i believe it is how every mother feels, or at least it is how i feel. thank you!

  9. J. A. Bennett

    September 7, 2011

    So beautiful and well said! When we realize what matters most everything else just falls into place 🙂

  10. Linn

    September 7, 2011

    So lovely and touching I can hardly stand it. I love what you said about being a wife and a mom and relate to it with every part of my heart. Thank you wonderful friend.

  11. Cheryl

    September 8, 2011

    Two things:
    1. I love what you wish you had said. But it’s okay — maybe you’ll have another chance to talk to them, maybe even one on one?

    2. I owe you a big apology. I wrote that comment on your other post about knowing the family in the video, but what I should have said was: I have felt the same way when I see extended family love, but you, like me, have the opportunity to create that in our own immediate families. We will become those in-laws, those grandparents, and we will create those memories ourselves. And you are incredible, and your family is amazing, and what you and your husband have created together is down right gorgeous. You are blessed. 🙂

  12. Lisa

    September 8, 2011

    Oh my friend Michelle, you write with such intelligence and grace. I’m also certain that those Young Women know you and your family and realize the value you place on the life you have chosen. Hopefully, if they are lucky enough that they get to choose…they’ll make the choice and love it, whatever it is!

  13. Jenny

    September 8, 2011

    this is PERFECT.

  14. Rachelle

    September 9, 2011

    You said it perfectly. This is the best post ever and I agree with you 100%.

  15. Chantol

    September 9, 2011

    “My family is my masterpiece.”
    My heart skipped a beat as this line made my crazy, busy world seem right. This line will stick with me forever. It so very well explains my heart. Thank you!

  16. jenjamin

    September 13, 2011

    Holy moly, that was amazingly said. I loved every bit of what you said and agree completely. I feel much the same way and never does saying no to something ping my heart the same way missing beside prayers with my sweet children. Nothing greater.

    on a side note. I love your script and I definitely think there is huge marketability for it. I am not finished. I had a minor upset. I shattered my wrist 2 weeks ago. (photos and updates are on facebook) My husband is giving it to his producer to read. I can wait to see where this takes you.


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