Wednesday, November 17, 2010


I was recently called as the Literacy Specialist for the Relief Society. I'm working with another sister, and together we tutor two sisters in our ward in English. One is from Korea, and the other from Hong Kong, China. Although they can communicate in English quite well, they both feel unsure of themselves, and it's become a social barrier for them in being able to communicate on the level they wish. You can imagine how difficult that would be! I find this type of teaching so rewarding! I feel charged when I teach, and it's such a thrill to see that smile of understanding, or a nod of satisfaction that a concept is grasped. I love helping answer questions that come up, like communicating with a teacher, turning down an invitation politely, battling the insurance company, or giving directions to her house. Things we really take for granted!

For weeks preceding the start of our tutoring sessions, I was agonizing over what to do with my two kids while I taught. Boo would be in school, and although Yaks and Diddles are well-behaved, I felt they were too much of a distraction to have in the room with a lesson going on.

Yaks trying to pick his own pumpkin - 2007

I have a really hard time leaving my kids. My parents rarely left us with sitters, most likely because it was so expensive! It's not a separation thing, it's more of a responsibility thing. I feel like my children are my responsibility, and to ask someone else to watch them for me feels like I'm dumping my responsibilities on someone else. I feel selfish doing it. A part of me worries that my kids will feel that they are being dumped and that I don't care about them. I didn't enjoy babysitting as a girl, so I assume babysitters are only agreeing to babysit for me out of politeness or obligation. I can count on one hand the number of times we have hired a babysitter and gone out alone. I know it's not healthy.

So, anyway, the weeks passed, and I knew I had to start teaching. This sister needed me, and was anxiously waiting for me to begin. It was the shove that I needed to overcome my "issues", and in turn, learn a great lesson.

I realized that in order to serve, I needed someone to serve ME, and that was difficult. Once I got over that prideful hurdle, I thought of a few mothers in our ward that my kids know and are comfortable with, and explained my circumstances and what I needed. I was hoping that by having several helpers, I wouldn't be burdening one person week after week. I sent them e-mails and then anxiously waited for their responses. They quickly came, all in the affirmative, and were happy to help. I was so relieved. So grateful. My fellow teacher even offered to come to my house to watch my kids so they would feel more comfortable! Then she shared something that another sister in our ward once shared with her. She said, "One reason having children is so challenging is because we are forced to rely on each other for help, and in that way we'll all be able to perfect ourselves by serving one another." Isn't that so true?

I'm eternally grateful for each of them just the same. It reminded me of the talk Elder Holland gave and the experience he shared of an elderly sister who said, "I have never been a leader of anything in the Church. I guess I've only been a helper," to which he replied, "Dear sister, God bless you and all the 'helpers' in the kingdom."

So once again, the teacher becomes the student, and learns a valuable lesson that I hope I won't soon forget!


Cara and Steve said...

What a fun calling! And very rewarding too... you are an excellent teacher, and I'm glad you are able to use your talents to serve. I completely understand your situation with having a hard time asking others for help, especially when it comes to tending children. Since Steve is gone so often and I still try to work, I often have to ask others for help. It is really hard sometimes because I don't want to feel like a burden to others, but I have also realized, especially when you don't live close to family, that people are more than willing and happy to serve. I accept offers graciously and always try to help in return. My neighbor and I "trade" off tending several times a week now, and I think it's really good for Grace and her children. Steve and I finally have at least 1 date night a month alone too!

Mary Jane said...

You are a great mom. I'm sure you are a great teacher, too. They're all lucky to have you!

Marie' said...

When do you teach? I would love to help you.

Nicole said...

I have loved your last couple of posts. Oh the things we learn as mothers that have nothing to do with mothering. Have you ever been to teh Segullah blog? It is a literary journal written by LDS women. There was na article in one of the publications about Manna from Heaven and mothering in the church. it was amazing and put the whole small-children-and-church-thing into perspective for me. I will look it up and try to give you a reference for it.

Dianna said...

Yes, yes, yes! I keep learning this over and over. This post reminded me that I need to volunteer tutor in our ward. I know those sisters must truly appreciate the sacrifices of your teaching AND leaving your children with someone else. I DO think it is good for your little ones anyway. Let us know how the tutoring goes.

Plowgian Page said...

It truly does take village to raise those kids doesn't it? I'm with you on the asking for help thing. It's hard to ask. I also don't want to feel like I'm taking advantage. Can I please watch you kids sometime this week while you are here so you and Josh can go out? It would be fun cousin time too!