By Lesley Larson
In addition to working a part time job, Kristin Ashby spends her mornings doing laundry, washing dishes, and taking trips to the park, all with her 20-month-old companion in tow. But Kristin says that being a mother involves more than just housekeeping and entertaining her daughter Isabel.
“I am the person that Isabel is with all the time,” she said glancing up at her daughter, who was chatting cheerfully to herself after climbing the stairs and settling with her toys near the front door. “It”s a big responsibility. We are trying to teach her how to be a good little person.”
Ashby is married to one of the 5,592 or 33 percent of men who are married and enrolled at BYU, according to statistics for Fall 2005 kept by Janet Rex, information and financial manager at University Communications. Rex said no statistics are collected on the number of students at BYU who are also parents.
Before becoming a mother herself, Ashby said she recalls hearing friends say they wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. She said she thought, “”What in the world? Why would you want to?” I thought that it would drive me crazy to just be at home all day.” But Ashby said there is actually plenty to do, and that motherhood is a rewarding lifestyle.
“Anyone could go to work,” she said. “I could work eight hours a day, but I feel like this is a better, bigger challenge.”
Ashby said basic mothering skills were intimidating at first. She said before Isabel was born, she didn”t know any nursery songs and wasn”t completely comfortable changing diapers. And once after bathing Isabel, Kristin put Isabel”s diaper on backwards.
But she said books on childrearing recommended by friends have provided helpful hints. And once a week, Isabel and countless other tots gather at the Provo City Library for story time, where both Isabel and Kristin have learned some nursery songs.
In addition to mastering basic mothering skills, Kristin”s husband Joseph Ashby said he has observed personal growth in his wife as a result of motherhood.
“Since the baby was born I have seen everything about my wife enhanced, ” he said. “Her love has grown, her sense of responsibility increased, and every other good quality has become great.”
Ashby said that even though motherhood is rewarding, there are hard days too, especially when Isabel was still too small to let her mom known she was happy.
“But I feel like it gets better the older that they get,” she said.
In addition to teaching Isabel Spanish, which both Kristin and Joseph learned while serving as LDS missionaries in Costa Rica, both parents have hopes that they can teach Isabel to have a good attitude about life.
“I hope that Isabel learns from Kristin how to be happy no matter what your circumstance is,” Joseph said. Likewise, Kristin said that she wants her children to know that they are ultimately in control of their lives, and whether they choose to be happy or sad. Because Kristin and Joseph both work part time in addition to schooling and caring for Isabel, Joseph said time together as a family is rare.
“Having a spouse in school while being a mother makes time as a couple difficult to come by,” he said. “Kristin, Isabel and I only spend a few hours together.” Yet Joseph said that moments together make all their efforts worth it.
“No amount of money, prestige or monetary success could have been more valuable than that,” he said. “Every mother should how vitally important their role in this world is.”