#hearLDSwomen: Released to Give Unwanted Break Because of Pregnancy

I got released from my calling teaching the Young Women when I was seven months pregnant. I had only had the calling for four months. I argued with the bishopric first counselor on the phone for 20 minutes, telling him I didn’t want to be released. He said the bishop had decided since we had enough people to fill callings, he wanted to “give the pregnant women a break.” I told him I knew I looked like I was due any day (I get huge when I’m pregnant), but I still had more than two months before the baby was due, and I at least wanted to wait until then to be released. I told him it was very patronizing to make decisions to “help” pregnant women without asking the pregnant women what would be helpful. He released me anyway. (Another of the pregnant women–there were 3 of us due at the same time–had to have the whole Primary presidency go to bat for her to keep her in her calling another couple months until after the Primary Program because she’d worked so hard to teach the kids all the songs and wanted to see it through.)

Flash forward to present–2.5 years later–and our bishop (new bishop) is literally being killed by his calling: he’s had four major surgeries and more hospital stays with complications due to an autoimmune disorder that flares up with stress. His calling is obviously contributing to this stress as he’d never had serious problems before. He’s missed several months’ worth of Sundays and responsibilities. But will his priesthood leaders decide unilaterally that he needs to be released for his own good? Of course not.

– ElleK


Pro Tip: When deciding to release someone from a calling to give them a break, take their experience and wishes into account. If you would like to make policies to help women, consult with women before implementing them to make sure the policies are actually helpful.

Click here to read all of the stories in our #hearLDSwomen series. If you would like to submit an experience, please do so here.

“If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 4:23).

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8 Responses

  1. Amy says:

    When my first baby was just a few months old, my husband and I moved into a ward I had lived in as a single adult before I was married. I was on maternity leave from work, feeling isolated in my new motherhood, and so I felt happy to be moving back to a ward where I had previously felt needed and valued. I knew they knew me, and I was excited to serve again.

    My husband was called almost immediately as a Sunday school teacher, while I anxiously awaited my calling. The weeks went by and no calling came, and I felt confused because they knew me, and so must have known my desire and capacity to serve. Finally, after what seemed like forever, a counselor came by to offer me a calling – nursery music leader. “We didn’t want to give you anything too demanding,” the counselor told me, “since you are a new mother.”

    I remember feeling so sad about that after he left. It was assumed that as a new mother I would want to be shielded from any job too demanding, but no one asked ME if this is what I wanted. For me, new motherhood meant my life was suddenly wrapped up in the tiny sphere of my home, and I desperately wanted a way to reach outside that sphere, to feel useful to someone other than my baby, and to have adult connections.

    I didn’t say any of this as I accepted the calling, and honestly, the issue was never the calling itself. Being a nursery music leader really did sound fun, and in the end I loved every minute of it! The issue was all in how the calling was chosen for me, and how it was framed when it was extended. If the counselor had simply showed up and called me as nursery music leader, I wouldn’t have felt the sense of sadness I felt in knowing that I was intentionally NOT being considered for certain callings simply because I now had a husband and a baby.

    • ElleK says:

      Amy, I completely understand! It feels so patronizing when someone decides on your behalf–without even asking you–what you can handle or what is best for you. Thank you so much for sharing.

      You did such a lovely job writing this up–I’d love to use it in the series officially if you’re willing! And please feel free to submit any other experiences you think of.

  2. Gail says:

    I live in a ward in which all of us young mothers are doing all the heavy lifting in the ward because so many people refuse callings and there are so many less active members. We’re all exhausted and getting burned out. I would love the luxury of living in a ward in which I did not have to juggle work, small children, and at least two callings at a time. I think your point is very valid—women should have autonomy and have a say and should be able to keep serving in more demanding callings if they want to. I just have the opposite problem in my ward. #fastingandprayingfortwohourchurchc

    • Wondering Why says:

      Apart from the loss of one hour of church, how do you see this as being a good move?

      I can see pros and cons. But I am interested in others’ views as to why we should be fasting and praying for it.

  3. Wondering Why says:

    Unfortunately in our ward we have the opposite problem. Sisters who take being pregnant as a reason to be released – at about four months. The rest of their life does not change. Only being released from their calling. They then stop coming to church entirely at about 7 months – and we don’t see them until the baby is about two months old.

    I can’t imagine why a bishop(ric) would not ask the question. May be this was how his wife felt, when she was pregnant and wasn’t released, so his only term of reference was what his wife wanted. Narrow minded.

    My mother served as a pregnant RSP in our ward with three other children – back was RS was during the week. She also ran Sunday RS for YSA – when priesthood was running – once a month. Home making was an all day thing every month.

    Everyone is different. I think there has been sufficient training given on how leaders should counsel with members about their callings. It is a shame it is not all heeded.

    • ElleK says:

      “Unfortunately in our ward we have the opposite problem. Sisters who take being pregnant as a reason to be released – at about four months. The rest of their life does not change. Only being released from their calling. They then stop coming to church entirely at about 7 months – and we don’t see them until the baby is about two months old.”

      I don’t see this as a problem at all–quite the opposite. Women should be absolutely free to choose based on their own circumstances whether or not they keep callings during pregnancy and after birth.

    • Risa says:

      Not bringing you child to church until they’re 2 months old sounds like a very educated choice considering the risk of RSV to young babies and other diseases they might not be vaccinated against yet.

      Also, callings are unpaid and voluntary, and you should be grateful that anyone chooses to spend their time serving without getting paid.

  4. Lily says:

    I know most people feel differently, but I don’t think I have ever been sad about being released from any calling.

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