Finding Fulfillment Behind the Scenes Cleaning carpets, washing dishes, cooking dinner, folding laundry . . . it all sounds so commonplace in comparison to the exciting, fast-paced life of a working woman. But in the end, many women decide to give up their careers to stay at home. They are willing to do their job behind the scenes. So what is it about being a stay-at-home mom that makes washing dishes and folding laundry worth it? Carolyn Marriott (BA ’87) from Tacoma, Washington, is a classy stay-at-home mom with seven kids. She gets up at six thirty every morning, snatches a bite to eat, and studies for about an hour and a half. She then goes on a walk, comes home, and responds to emails—it’s the only part in the day when she has time to herself. Afterwards, she helps her youngest daughter practice the piano and spends time working on homework with her kids in school. She cleans the house. Takes care of finances. Talks with the family. Makes dinner. And she runs through this routine all over again the next day. But there’s more to Carolyn’s life that is hiding behind the scenes of her daily routine. Genné Allen, Carolyn’s friend for over ten years, comments that Carolyn dedicates herself to the education of her children, keeps up-to-date with politics, takes care of her flower beds, and makes an effort to dress well and decorate her house. “What are some things I admire about Carolyn?” asks Genné. “I admire her [for her] convictions in lots of things. For her thoughts about politics. . . . For her dedication to her religion. . . . She’s one that jogs and exercises, and she’s one that [watches] what she eats.” Carolyn has made the Marriott home not only a place of learning, but also a place of cleanliness and comfort. Her actions are a reflection of the atmosphere she has established in their home. Of her seven children, Carolyn has three daughters, Stasia, Alexandra, and Tessa, who are all happily married; a son, Jameson, who is on a mission for the LDS Church in San Bernardino, California; and another son Peter who is getting out of high school and preparing for a mission. Stasia, Alexandra, Tessa, and Jameson are all attending (or have attended) BYU and are serving faithfully in their church
callings, which include everything from choir pianist and missionary work to compassionate service leader and break-the-fast coordinator. Carolyn’s youngest children, Katie and Lizzy, are still at home. Among many things, Katie and Lizzy are actors, pianists, and avid readers. All of Carolyn’s children have made some kind of contribution to society by being hard working, honest people. And Carolyn has contributed to society by bringing up all her children to be those types of people. Alexandra said, “My mom has always believed that we need to be contributing citizens. She kept us educated in politics and showed us good citizenship through her example. She taught us moral principles, and she always served in the community. . . . I remember, growing up, [that] she was always helping people.” Carolyn believes that raising good children is just as important as holding a day job that contributes to the economy. It is because of honest, hardworking people that America has economic success, and a mother’s example plays a huge role in influencing that honesty and work ethic. It is just one of the reasons why Carolyn is willing to stay behind the scenes. Carolyn has also taught the value of hard work. Tessa remembers when the family decided to make their sidewalk into a beautiful brick pathway. To save money, they bought used bricks that were still caked in cement. Carolyn sent all her kids out into the backyard to chip the cement off with hammers, and Tessa recalls “chipping, chopping, and champing” those bricks until she thought she’d lose her mind. “I thought we would never be done. The pile of bricks was just so, so high.” But when the family got together and built the sidewalk with those bricks, the rewards were outstanding. “The sidewalk looked great. We had the best looking, most rustic and authentic pathway in the neighborhood.” Carolyn’s children learned through family projects that hard work is essential and worthwhile. Genné also mentions that she always noticed Carolyn’s efforts to pass on her homemaking skills. She says that Carolyn taught her children how to cook, clean, sew, make bread, and keep a clean house. She has been the example that encouraged her children to become competent, self-reliant people.
Hard work was a value that Carolyn instilled in her children, and so was a love for learning. Tessa, who is currently attending BYU, says she loves so many things about her mom, but she especially admires her mom’s love of learning, which was contagious growing up: “I remember I would come home from seminary, and she would be at the table studying. . . . She would always tell us about the things she learned, and that made us want to learn too.” Her love of learning, even after college, inspired Tessa, as well as her other siblings, to work hard and to make learning a lifelong habit. Carolyn would not have had the same great influence on her children if she has decided to take a day job. If Carolyn had decided to go to work outside the home, life would have been different, says Tessa. “We were more important [to her] than money. Her staying home showed us that family and our well-being was more important to her than the material things of life.” Peter explained that if Carolyn went to work, she wouldn’t be able to spend the same amount of quality time with him as she does now. He says, “She drives me around to ballroom [dance practice] or to friends’ houses. She always comes to track meets and helps me with math lessons and with requirements for Scouts.” He says that it has been great having a mom at home because she makes him and his siblings feel loved. She is around to help them when they need it. For Carolyn, there is no question about the importance of her role as a mother. She says, “I always dreamed of having kids. . . . I don’t see anything more important than being a mom.” Genné says that Carolyn has always had “a testimony of being a stay-at-home mom. . . . She doesn’t see it as having to give up something. It’s her role, destiny, and contribution to the world.” It has not always been easy though. Carolyn says that you sometimes feel isolated when you only have little ones. Sometimes it feels like you don’t have anyone to talk to except little kids. And sometimes it takes a super-human effort just to get the smallest thing accomplished. Family members don’t always say thank you, and others forget to recognize the personal sacrifices you make on a daily
basis. At a day job you earn money, or you receive promotions. There are clear, measurable perks. But as a mother, your efforts are rewarded in less obvious ways. Motivation has to come from within. People told Carolyn that despite all the difficulties of raising children, it is nothing in comparison to dealing with teenagers. She didn’t think it could get harder than having seven small children, but when they really did grow up, different concerns arose. She says, “And then your kids get older and start having real problems that aren’t just “fall-and-scrape-your-knee” [problems], and then I tell myself ‘[my friends] were right!’ because the worries are much greater sometimes.” But despite the worries and problems that arise, Carolyn says that staying home is worth it. She says she loves to see her children’s accomplishments. “I remember when the doctor asked me how many words [Alexandra] knew when [she] was 18 months. And so I counted and told the doctor the next time we went, and she was like ‘Woah, that is so above average!’ And so I [thought] I had the most brilliant kids.” Moms just think everything about their kids is so wonderful, especially when they see their accomplishments. But one of the greatest experiences, Carolyn says, is having children. “When you see your newborn baby—a baby that God has given you the responsibility to care for—it’s a piece of heaven. It’s a wonderful thing that Heavenly Father trusts you [with] that baby.” And as your children grow up, Carolyn says that it is worth it when you’re reading to your kids and you have the feeling that nothing in the world is more important than spending time with your children at that moment. No job, no matter how much money you could be making, is as important as bringing up your kids in a righteous environment. And so for Carolyn—with her “to do” lists, dirty laundry, cluttered kitchen, but peaceful home—it is worth it.