Thursday, October 9, 2008


I really look forward to weekends because Lonnie is home, and I am no longer outnumbered by the babies. Thankfully the kiddos are pretty low key given their age, but there certainly are times during the long week that I wish for a second set of hands and more often when I wish for adult conversation and a break from being the only one responsible for the social, intellectual, physical, and spiritual welfare of my children.

The past several weekends, Lonnie has been away from home helping with post Hurricane Ike cleanup. Our area was not as seriously affected by the hurricane as other areas not too far away, where there is a lot of work that needs to be done. Lonnie has gone to Galveston and Bridge City to help muck out houses and remove debris caused by the hurricane and the rising flood waters. Due to the fact that Lonnie is also the Elder's Quorum President at church, he has also spent many weeknights on the phone organizing volunteers for the weekend work.

It has been hard having him busy and gone, and I have found myself complaining about the time that he could be spending with the family even though I know that the service he offers in important and necessary. I have always considered myself a service-oriented person, but now when faced with having to share my husband, I have am having a hard time being able to give.

I have realized what is most upsetting is that I can't go and help along side Lonnie. I can't dig through debris and nurse my babies at the same time. I can't be a mother and be on the front lines in a disaster. The service that I offer now is the same service that I offer day in and day out, I care for my children. While I do not in anyway discount this service and its value, it is yet a significant adjustment for the activities I was previously involved in.

I had always assumed that I would be able to put my baby in a sling and take my children along on my service-oriented adventures, but I didn't expect motherhood to be so all consuming. I didn't expect that I would be so tired all the time. And I didn't expect to have two babies at once.

Maybe, as my children get a little older and I get a little more skilled at mothering, I will be able to again venture out into the world and find ways to be involved and allow the kids to also be involved in service, but in the meantime I need to do some adjusting. I need to more willingly and happily allow my husband to leave me on the weekends and offer the service that I can not offer myself.

So how do you combine service and motherhood? Has this adjustment been a surprise to anyone else? Please share with me your wisdom.

Guatemala women's group: pre-marriage, pre-motherhood.


  1. I think we just have to give ourselves a break - we can't do it all! I do understand what you mean though. After I had Addie I was feeling like I needed to find some sort of service to do again and saw an article in the Ensign about their family search indexing project. It's a way to volunteer without having to leave your home...

  2. The end got cut off:

  3. Well, I don't have any wisdom for you, but my mom used to tell me that there are different "seasons" in our lives as women- different times for different things. I guess you are experiencing a change in the weather!
    I just want to say how much I enjoy reading your blog and your insights and watching the babies grow!
    We miss and love you. xoxo

  4. Hey Alisa,

    I have an idea for you coming from two sides of experience. I have a friend who had twins back in the spring and she has found great assistance from "surrogate grandparents" in our ward. We have lots of widows and retired older women who have amazing lives and experiences but grandchildren that are grown or far away. Maybe asking them to come over and help would provide you with extra hands, a grown up voice, and service in helping them to feel needed, loved, and purposeful. My mom, as the older women in the world, LOVES feeling needed by the young moms in her ward. I think it could be win-win. Just a thought. A long one, but you know us southern gals, we love to talk!

  5. It's hard not to be in the action when you normally would be. Right now, having little babies, the best thing I could tell you is to yeild to it because it is fleeting.

    I hear you on the challenges of letting your husband serve. Dave is often home late due to some sort of service he's performing when I'd like to have a little service my way. I figure we need the blessings so I try not to get on his case too much.

  6. I hear you too. Mike is also EQP and it takes time, but I have to remind myself that I am really grateful to have a husband so willing to serve!

    I second the Family Search Indexing idea. I think it is a fun at home project.

    It has been challenging to change my service focus, but has grown easier as the months have gone by especially watching Abby grow and develop!

  7. I know I have a baby too. It is really hard to do service. I figure my day will come when I can help as much as I would like.

    As for a second pair of hands, I would love to come over. Kaitlyn loves babies and even tho I have my own, it would be fun to get together. It would be nice to have adult conversations.

  8. Sweet Alisa, saver of world problems and reliever of suffering victims. You are doing THE most important job right now, the gospel, the whole philosophy of Christ is being lived in your home, each and every minute. As you feed those mouths and change those cute, smelly bottoms, fret over their mental and physical well being as well as try to stay need to let some things go. To be honest, there are more than enough hands to help with the clean up, and don't feel bad about complaining to Lonnie, I do it to Isaac all the time. Our evenings and weekends are precious because they fly by so fast. Your family is more important than anyone or anything right now, even your callings. Don't feel bad, just know that you are doing a phenomenal job, I can tell by looking at their adorable photos. Wish I lived closer, I miss you and would be by all the time to eat your ear off with adult conversation. Love you!

  9. sweet lis, you need company! Clearly, i think you are more than aware of your service that you do on a 24 rotation. It's just is a lonely project of one sometimes. My willingness to allow Tom his time greatly improved when I aknowledged personal needs. Service, for you, previously served many functions, one of which was working with a group, united together for a common goal. While you can be on the front lines of hurricane relief, you can establish your own group of front line mothering. Go to a friend house and paint their walls during naps. Invite friends over to help organize the volunteer projects even if Lonnie executes them.

    There are many ways to make motherhood a group effort again.

  10. Hi, Alisa. It's me, Alisa! (Our parents are Danville friends.) I've been reading your blog since you were 24 weeks pregnant, but, as you can tell, I'm not much of a comment-leaver.

    But I did want to tell you that one of the things that has helped me with the (big!) adjustment to staying home with small children is something I learned in bienestar in the MTC--you were one of my teachers, remember? It was a new way of thinking about how "charity never faileth." Charity never fails because, unlike faith and hope, which serve to get us to exaltation, we will need charity once we get there. Having charity is being like Heavenly Father and Jesus and doing what they do. Being a mother has taught me such profound things about Heavenly Father's love and Jesus Christ's Atonement--I can't put them into words. Now I realize that we have families so we can develop true charity. I may not be "out" very much giving that visible, hands-on kind of service, but the most important service happens at home.

    For what it's worth, I think staying at home with a baby, though it certainly has its joys, is mind-numbingly boring. But that seems to be getting better as my first gets older.

    Staying at home is hard. As a result, there are often many opportunities to serve/offer support to other women who also stay at home with small children--even just providing some precious adult conversation! I have found a great deal of fulfillment in building friendships and support networks with other moms.

    Congratulations on your beautiful family! Max and Maya are adorable. You are an amazing person, and I feel truly privileged that my path in life crossed with yours. God bless!

  11. Alisa

    Yes - I've really felt those things as well but probably to only half the degree because I have only one right now. Sometimes I feel so conflicted over whether or not to try to clean my house or to try to go and talk to the wonderful and lonely old woman next door. I have also been afflicted with long lists that come to me as I lay down to sleep about people I wanted to talk to but didn't get the chance too, or the food bank that is desperate for volunteers or whatever else. And I honestly sometimes don't know how to do it all of it and lay there feeling overwhelmed. More importantly, I want my children to grow up seeing their mother and father in the community. It's important for me that my children see me out there too, not just their dad. I know that may not always be in the first year after a child is born, but I do want them to know that mama's give to the community in powerful ways that extend beyond the important and sacred space of the home. Anyway - just wanted to empathize and let you know that I am feeling the same struggle. I love seeing your kids - they are beautiful!

  12. you posed a great question here, alisa. i had to think about it before commenting and i still don't have pearls of wisdom. i agree with a lot of the comments (that i just skimmed): taking care of the babies is a HUGE service, sacrificing your husband is also a HUGE service, looking around in your ward/community for little ways to serve is a great idea (i especially loved danalee's idea on helping others feel needed), and yes, as the kids get older you will be able to drag them along and teach them (i know there was a family in my ward who made superhero family service t-shirts and then would show up at someone's door for FHE to help). i have a close friend here in CT who has encouraged us to go back to the old fashioned way of writing handwritten notes of encouragement. i've been writing more especially to my two remaining grandparents and mother-in-law. i won't call this service, but i feel good in remembering them. never overlook the simplicity of doing good.

    what a great question and discussion, alisa. thanks.

  13. Oh, Alisa, I so totally 100% hear what you are saying. I do have hope for you, though it's maybe a little farther in the future than you may like. Once they get to be 4 or 5, there isn't anything you can't do with these kids. Kinley has helped sort through clothes for the DI, toys for the nursery, she has dyed noodles for the women's abuse shelter, helped sew receiving blankets for humanitarian projects, and a whole lot more. I found, to my great surprise and absolute delight, that serving was even MORE fun and fulfilling when I was sharing my love of service with my child. It's still a few years away and you'll have to be creative, but there are so many things that they can help you with. I've even considered trying to take her up to Welfare Square and the Humanitarian Center in SLC, but I got derailed with the pregnancy and she might be too young by their standards anyway. But at 4 or 5 they can sort pennies that are collected, sort out clothes, help make and deliver meals, help sort and even sew patches or quilting squares, help you sort or create anything you would take on one of your South American adventures, etc. They can even help participate in Visiting Teaching, for crying out loud. I've had Kinley present part of a message before. Anything you would do anyway, they'll be able to make even better and more fulfilling. I PROMISE. I promise you'll be able to return to the service fray again, and you'll be three times more effective with the little hands that will be joining you!! Just a few more years and the Mercer family will be a frightening service family to be reckoned with!!! At 5 years old, they will be FULLY able to help you in your service passion, I can guarantee it. It will take some creativity, and it will be interesting with 2 children at once (as I'll soon find out), but if anyone can do it, you can! It won't ever be the same as it was before. But from my experience, I think you'll find that it can be better!! Oh... but it takes longer and isn't always totally smooth :) I never thought I'd have the time or ability to access this part of my life until I was old or the kids were all in school. Kinley has picked up the torch and has allowed me to fill that bucket even better. I know you understand that your big service of the moment is loving these little children and changing their poopy diapers. The other kind that was such a hallmark of your previous life will come back again sometime sooner than you think. In the meantime, I understand the struggle to find your new identity and I wish you the very best of luck on this journey!

  14. Oh Alisa - I love you! I don't know many people who would worry about lost service opportunities as new mothers - what greater service can you be giving. You are so amazing!