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Mothers and future mothers on the Ke Alaka‘i staff share their insights on mothering and motherhood

A woman with a black shirt and blue and white striped pants sits on a floor with two of her sons, who are both wearing black and grey T-shirts and basketball shorts. They are reading a book together.
Sugarmaa Bataa reads a book with her children.

For some Ke Alaka‘i employees, being a mother means many things, such as showing unconditional love to caring for their children’s needs and incorporating things they’ve learned from their motherly figures. However, they said motherhood also comes with certain challenges that shape the meaning of being a mother.

A learning experience

Mahana Tepa, a senior from Tahiti majoring in mathematics, said raising her daughter has taught her to make sacrifices and also showed her what it means to be selfless and have unconditional love.

Tepa said she finds joy in her daughter’s happiness in the simplest moments. “It doesn’t have to be a big thing to have her make me happy.” Although mothering can be difficult, she said, “It’s one of the best experiences I’ve ever [had] because I get to find myself and learn more from her than she does from me.”

Sugarmaa Bataa, a senior from Mongolia majoring in graphic design, said being a mother and having children is a gift. “I have all these responsibilities to make them grow into a better human being … and I need to accomplish that.” As she is raising her children, she added she is also learning how to be an adult.

Challenges and blessings of motherhood

Tepa said one of the challenges of being a mother is adjusting her schedule to her daughter’s needs. Prior to having her daughter, she explained she and her husband would have more free time and nap whenever they wanted.

Now, she said she has learned how to organize and prepare her schedule for the day. For example, she shared if she was tired and her daughter was energetic, she’d have to adjust herself to accommodate her needs.

Tepa said it can be difficult as a student to balance her motherly duties and try to meet deadlines at the same time. In addition, finding babysitters is diffcult because most people around here are students. “It's even harder when you are a student and a mother at the same time.”

Being a mother means recognizing her own imperfection and understanding she’s bound to feel frustrated and tired at times, Tepa shared. “These feelings we feel are totally normal and we don’t have to feel guilty about it. … We’re all human and we’re still learning.”

She also shared it’s important to care and love for someone without complaint, knowing it’s worth it in the end. “You’re trying your best and that’s all that matters.”

A small family, including a mother and father, two sons and a daughter, sits on the BYUH campus. They are wearing black, white, pink and red.
Some BYUH students are also mothers.

Bataa said being a mother can be hard when she feels inadequate about how she teaches and guides her children. On one occasion, she shared her 6 year old was struggling to get along with his friends, so she told him to be nice to them.

However, she said her son was still struggling and she questioned if she was teaching them the right things. Bataa said one of the hardest things is not knowing if she has the right solution, but said it has been better to pray and seek the companionship of the Spirit when guiding her children.

She said spending time with her children eases her struggles, and she doesn’t feel or see her children as a burden. “They’re like these magical creatures running around and giving you joy. … They’re supporting me emotionally.”

Looking towards motherhood

Leiani Brown, a senior from Taylorsville, Utah, majoring in English, said her mother taught her it's more important to love a person than to correct them. She said she and her mother had a relationship beyond just a mother-daughter relationship.

Growing up, Brown said she noticed some of her friends didn’t have the best relationship with their mothers. “In my eyes, I felt like they [their mothers] were very commanding and just told them to do stuff and that friendship didn’t exist.” This made it easier to respect and follow her example because it came from a place of love, she explained.

Uurtsaikh Nyamdeleg, a junior from Mongolia majoring in hospitality and management, said she wants to love her children unconditionally. Being a mother is different from being a mom, she said, because being a mom requires making sacrifices and giving time and love.

Nyamdeleg said she wants to develop a friendly relationship with her children. “Having this relationship will help them to really find out who they are, love themselves and learn to grow.”

She shared she’s learned the importance of forgiveness from the motherly figures in her life. She said becoming a mother means following the example of Christ by forgiving and loving others.

Having children is a goal she and her husband are striving for but haven’t achieved yet, Nyamdeleg shared. One Sunday, she shared she learned about Abraham and Sarah during a Sunday school lesson. At an old age, it seemed impossible for them to bear any children, however, God was able to provide a son for them named Isaac, Nyamdeleg explained.

She said the lesson of the story is that anything is possible through having faith in God. “I think every woman has a chance to become a mother [or] opportunity to become a mother if they choose to.”