[Editor's Note: This article appeared in the
EXPONENT II, Spring 1979]
by Margaret B.
Black & Midge W. Nielsen
LDS women unconsciously compete with an idealized image of the
already-perfect wife and mother who successfully incorporates all the
demands of family, church, and society into her life. Although we
have never met such a woman, we persist in believing she's out there
somewhere. We can just imagine what she must accomplish in a day.
Patti gets up very
early and says her personal prayers. She zips her slim, vigorous
body into her warmup suit and tiptoes outside to run her usual five
miles (on Saturday she does ten). Returning home all aglow, she
showers and dresses for the day in a tailored skirt and freshly
starched and ironed blouse. She settles down for a quite
meditation and scripture reading, before preparing the family
breakfast. The morning's menu calls for whole wheat pancakes,
homemade syrup, freshly squeezed orange juice, and powdered milk (the
whole family loves it).
With classical music wafting through the air, Patti awakens her husband
and ten children. She spends a quiet moment with each and helps
them plan a happy day. The children quickly dress in clothes that
were laid out the night before. They cheerfully make their beds,
clean their rooms, and do the individual chores assigned to them on the
Family Work Wheel Chart. They assemble for breakfast the minute
After family prayer and scripture study, the children all practice
their different musical instruments. Father leaves for work on a
happy note. All too soon it is time for the children to leave for
school. Having brushed (and flossed) their teeth, the children
pick up coats, book bags, and lunches which were prepared the night
before and arrive at school five minutes early.
With things more quiet, Patti has storytime with her pre-schoolers and
teaches them a cognitive reading skill. She feeds, bathes, and
rocks the baby before putting him down for his morning nap.
With baby sleeping peacefully and the three-year-old twins absorbed in
creative play, Patti tackles the laundry and housework. In less
than an hour, everything is in order. Thanks to wise scheduling
and children who are trained to work, her house never really gets dirty.
Proceeding to the kitchen, Patti sets out tonight's dinner:
Frozen veal parmigiana that she made in quantity from her home-grown
tomatoes and peppers, She then mixed and kneads twelve loaves of
bread. While the bread rises, Patti dips a batch of candles to
supplement her food storage. As the bread bakes, she
writes in her personal journal and dashes off a few quick
letters: one to her Congressman and a couple of genealogy
inquiries to distant cousins. Patti then prepares her mini-class
lesson on organic gardening. She also inserts two pictures and a
certificate in little Paul's scrapbook, noting with satisfaction that
all family albums are attractive and up-to-date. Checking the
mail, Patti sees that their income tax refund has finally arrived--a
result of having filed in January. It is earmarked for mission
and college savings accounts. Although Patti's hardworking
husband earns only a modest salary, her careful budgeting has kept the
After lunch, Patti drops the children off at Grandma's for their weekly
visit. Grandma enjoys babysitting and appreciates the warm loaf
of bread. Making an extra call, Patti takes a second loaf to one
of the sisters she is assigned to visit teach. A third oaf goes
to the non-member neighbor on the corner.
Patti arrives at the elementary school where she directs a special
education program. A clinical psychologist, Patti finds this an
excellent way to stay abreast of her field while raising her
family. Before picking up her little ones, Patti finished
collecting for the charity fund drive.
Home again, Patti settles the children down for their afternoon
naps. She spends some quiet time catching up on her reading and
filing. As she mists her luxuriant house plants, the school
children come through the door. Patti listens attentively to each
one as they tell her about their day. The children start right in
on their homework, with mother supervising and encouraging them.
When all schoolwork is done, Patti and the children enjoy working on
one of their projects. Today they work on the quilt stretched on
frames in a corner of the family room.
Dinnertime and father arrive, and it is special hour for the whole
family. They enjoy Patti's well-balanced, tasty meal, along with
stimulating conversation. After dinner, father and the children
pitch in to clean up so that mom can relax. She enjoys listening
to the sounds of laughter and affection that come from the kitchen.
With the teenaged children in charge at home, mother and father attend
an evening session at the Temple. During the return trip, they
sit close together as in courting days. "Well dear," says Paul
Perfect, "did you have a good day?" Pat reflectively answers,
"Yes, I really did. But I feel I need more challenge in my
life. I think I'll contact our Family Organization and volunteer
to head up a reunion for August."