‘There will never be enough praise of the world to fill a cup that has a hole in it’: Finding Godly Joy in Motherhood

My family and I moved to Colorado in 2020… right in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was an awkward time to move to a new place where we didn’t know anybody, so we were really excited when we could finally start attending church in person again. I remember meeting Alana Hutchins and her family that first Sunday back and being so excited. She reminded me a lot of my sister: super friendly, fun to talk to, and always looking to bless others. Right away she recognized that we were new and made a point to come meet us. She didn’t even really know us, yet she invited us to dinner at their home later that week. We clicked right away and I remember being so excited about this friendship! She even had a little boy who was about a year older than my oldest… and she told me she was expecting! I was also pregnant at the time, so it felt so perfect!

The only difference was that I was expecting my second child and she was expecting her EIGHTH (!!) child. Yep. Eight! 8! Ocho!

Honestly, after getting to know Alana over the past almost two years, I can attest that if anyone can and should have eight children, it’s her!! That gal is filled with so much love, hard work and patience. She’s such a good mom, she should write a book. Oh wait. She DID! I’m currently reading it, and it is so encouraging, hilarious and helpful. I would totally recommend it.

Alana’s life is genuinely joyful, so I knew I needed to interview her so I could share the sunshine in her soul with YOU! Please enjoy as Alana shares her wisdom about life, motherhood, and faith.

Alana Hutchins is a mother of eight, an awesome wife, a thoughtful friend, and a disciple of Jesus Christ. She is such a great example of living life intentionally and making the most of each day. I feel so honored that she shared with me her recipe for success in parenting (and in life in general).

The Good Parenting Pyramid

“I’ve been listening to the Follow Him podcast and one of the guests, Jenet Erickson, referred to a visual I’d never heard of or seen before,” Alana said. “Our quest for good parenting is like a pyramid with our relationship with God at the bottom, our relationship with our spouse next, our relationship with our children next, then teaching our children, and finally a small portion of discipline at the top.”

She commented that it can sometimes feel like we are constantly disciplining and teaching. When we start to feel that way as parents, it might be a good reminder to step back and assess if we have spent enough effort down at the basic, more crucial levels of the pyramid.

“It is so important that children know you love them, that they are important, and that God loves them,” she said. “If they don’t know they are loved first, it really won’t matter at all what you say to them because it will be like water running off the back of a duck, nothing will be absorbed.”

An adorable photo of Alana with two of her kids.

The Role of Jesus Christ in Parenting: Pleasure vs. Joy

Alana said that she has learned through Priesthood blessings and by looking for God’s hand in her life, that the Lord loves her. Just as importantly, she has learned that the Lord loves her own children even more than she can.

“The most clear and consistent inspiration I receive usually has to do with the relationships I have with my children and how I can guide them down the covenant path or progress as an individual,” she said. “Parenting eight tiny (and not so tiny) humans is something I need all the help I can get from God. At times they amaze me and at other times they baffle me. God has protected our family both spiritually and physically in so many ways for which I am grateful.”

She mentioned that she finds pleasure and momentary happiness from dancing and other activities, which is a great outlet for her. Everyone needs outlets, including parents of young children! Alana recently read something that touched her and changed her mindset about happiness:

“Stop trying to manufacture happiness (and she added, ‘pleasure’) and instead start receiving the gift of Joy from God.”

“It seems like a crucial thing that we can tell the difference between temporary pleasure and joy,” Alana said. “Watching my children play together brings me joy. Watching the baby learn new things brings me joy. Spiritual insight and personal revelation brings me joy, which happens most often when I’m studying the word of God. Serving with purpose and love of God brings me joy.”

As a mother of young children, Alana has had her fair share of sleep deprivation, and the issue of having too many things to do and not enough time to do them all. She used to pray to get more sleep, but this past year she has altered her prayers for strength to be able to function well with whatever sleep she does get.

“Unsurprisingly the Lord has strengthened me and I’ve felt really good on many occasions when I only received 4-6 hours of sleep,” she said.

She also mentioned she has struggled with a sense of losing herself and craving the praise of the world throughout her time as a mother. She has done various part-time jobs to bring in extra money for her family, but she told me “there will never be enough praise of the world to fill a cup that has a hole in it.”

“Only God can fill your cup without it immediately leaking out,” she said.

A photo of Alana being the beautiful person that she is!

Self-Care in Parenthood

Something that helps Alana stay balanced and sane is her consistent effort to exercise (for her, a big one has been yoga) and spend time outside. This has helped her to be better about avoiding comparisons to other people in her circle of friends and online, even if she isn’t totally immune to it yet.

“It goes back to the base of the pyramid again, when my relationship with God is strong and most important then my sense of self is much more secure and I’m not looking so much for external validation,” she said.

Another ingredient to her recipe for success is her focus on early mornings. Setting aside at least thirty minutes to pray and study scriptures, followed by thirty minutes of physical activity gets her day started in the right direction. She also makes time to read (and write!) books. Here is what she said about her experience writing a book:

“As a personal exercise, writing a book was a great way to get set down and organize my thoughts about motherhood. I thought that if reading this book blessed just a few mother’s lives then it would be worth it.  Writing really solidified my testimony of the divinity of motherhood in a way that lifted me more than any reader.”

She also wrote this book in part because she felt like other women (myself included!) look to her like she should know the answers to parenting since she has had so much experience having eight kids.

Messages From Her Book, “Last of Her Kind”

Alana feels like she has received more than she has sacrificed in her life by choosing to have children. Her book, “Last of Her Kind,” was written as a defense of a dying way of life, the “large family.”

I asked her to pick two messages from her book to share in this article, and here is what she said:

  1. “Women are doing wonderfully well, better than they think, so worry less and enjoy more.” As she writes in her book, “Button that cape and straighten that halo, you are an angel and a superhero all rolled into one.”
  2. “We tend to prioritize immediate inconvenience (diapers, lack of sleep, and day care) over our long term desires for children in twenty years when we will want grandchildren, large family gatherings, and possibly even someone to take care of us. Invest now in a family and it will pay off over the long term/eternity.”

Some Parting Words of Advice

Lately, Alana has had Alma 29:3 on her mind: “For I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto me.” She read this in conjunction with a quote from Elder Maxwell: “Being content means acceptance without self-pity. Meekly borne, however, deprivations… can end up being like excavations that make room for greatly enlarged souls.”

“No one wants a shallow soul, but sometimes it is hard to remember the only way to achieve a deepness of character involves growth, sacrifice, and going through hard things,” she said.

Her advice to parents?

“It is trite, but do not look forward to the future too much, really enjoy the present,” she said. “Hold on tightly and dig in. You may be sad when they are no longer little and you realize time has gone much faster than you think it could have.

“It is so true that the days are long but the years are short.”

If you’d like to purchase her book on Amazon, CLICK HERE!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: