Motherhood: ‘The most important work’

Kimm Washburn reflects on joys and challenges of being a ‘Guardian of the Hearth’

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Motherhood: ‘The most important work’“The most important work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own home.” — Harold B. Lee

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Kimm Washburn is an accomplished musician, experienced organizer and peerless volunteer. But raising her children alongside husband Ephraim is the role she cherishes most.

Like most invited subjects of our Mother’s Day features, Kimm was reluctant to step under the spotlight. In the end, she said, “I feel so strongly about motherhood that I felt I couldn’t refuse! My greatest joys in life definitely come from being a mother in partnership with my loving husband.”

Ephraim and Kimm just recently celebrated their 22nd anniversary. They have raised Caleb, Josh, Ben, Lydia, Eve and Anna — ranging in age from 20 to 6 — during their time together.

“We love being together as a family,” said Kimm. From sports to school to recreation to vacation, the Washburns do things as a family whenever possible.

“We all support each other and try to attend as many events as possible together as a family.” Sometimes that means Ephraim coaches some of the kids on the field (or track) while Kimm and the rest cheer from the sidelines. Sometimes it means Ephraim bringing all six children to watch their mother play clarinet in the Desert Community Orchestra. “I’m sure that has not been easy for him!” Kimm said.

“It’s fun, now that the kids are getting older and developing their own musical talents, to be able to attend their performances — and even better to be able to perform together with them.”

Kimm said that education is also very important to their family, and that both parents volunteer wherever and whenever possible.

“We are also a very religious family.” They go to church on Sundays, hold daily devotions to read scripture and pray together. “Ephraim and I feel very strongly about the importance of involving the Lord in our parenting. We try to share our faith with our children, and have in turn learned much from their faith.”

Her favorite thing, though, is just being together. “I love having my children gathered around — those are the times I treasure.”

Kimm said that she herself had a perfect childhood, growing up on a lake with horses near Seattle. Her parents also valued their time together as a family and made sure to provide opportunities for their children to experience a myriad of activities.

Her father, despite working long hours, never missed one of her performances. Her mother instilled in her a love of service. “She had great faith in God, which helped her through many trials. She set a wonderful example for me to follow.”

Kimm is the PTO president of Richmond, an assistant to the middle-school Cross Country team, a member of DCOA and an active volunteer with the RMES “Rising Stars” program. Like her mother, she is also active with her church.

Last year she took on the role of administrator for JustServe.org, which matches up volunteers with service projects. This became one of the critical components in the community’s recovery from earthquakes last summer. Under her leadership, she helped connect hundreds of volunteers to scores of projects yielding thousands of man hours of service.

But even with excellent role models, and experience as a babysitter growing up, motherhood is difficult to imagine ahead of time.

“I wasn’t prepared for how tired I would be!” she laughed. Juggling the needs of so many, while executing the never-ending chores that accompany homemaking, can be discouraging. “Especially when you receive very little thanks — or even the opposite, many times!

“Fortunately, I’ve had a wonderful, supportive husband by my side who helped me get through those times.”

As her children have grown, the challenges have evolved as well. Her kids face the external enticements of the world as well as the internal raging of hormones that follow the coming of age. While she holds onto her faith that the compass she and her husband have offered will continue to guide them, she continues to pray that they will make good choices.

“During these times I just wish I could turn back time and have those little, energetic as they were, innocent children again,” said Kimm.

“But, to tell you the truth, there hasn’t been a stage of development that I have not loved. I have rejoiced at every little accomplishment and found joy in every moment. I love my teenagers, just as much as my little toddlers learning how to walk. It’s so fun to see the development from the little babies I held in my arms to the strong young adults with their different personalities and desires.”

She pointed to Gordon B. Hinckley’s reference to mothers as “Guardians of the Hearth,” who devote themselves to train, teach, educate and help their children.

“I am extremely grateful to my husband for his help in this as well, but there is something unique with women that cannot be replaced. We are the heart and soul of the family. I like the term ‘homemaker,’ for we help to create a home into a place where our children feel safe — a place where they can receive support, love and encouragement. A place where they can feel comfortable and know they will be accepted no matter what.

“Loving homes make strong communities.”

Kimm said that she has learned not to give specific advice. “As soon as I tell someone what to do it ends up backfiring!” she smiled. “I guess my only advice would be to pray. There is someone who does know us and our children perfectly and what we need — and that is our Heavenly Father.”

She recounted how many times she has found direction through this medium.

“Also, don’t expect your children to be perfect.” It’s an unfair expectation, she said, and an impossibility for us as parents as well. Mistakes are how we all learn and grow.

“I can definitely give encouragement, though.” She said that looking back on jobs and positions she has held outside of the home over the years, she does not believe anyone will remember even her name.

“Hopefully through those experience we are able to touch people’s lives individual,” she said. “But I am going to be bold enough to say that the only thing that really lasts are relationships — most importantly those in our family.

“As a mother, you have an opportunity to influence generations.”

During this time of quarantine, she and her children have been reading stories from their family history. “I am moved by their stories, and so grateful for the sacrifices they made for me so that I can enjoy what I have today,” said Kimm.

“I hope that, as a mother, I can live in a way that will bless my posterity for generations. I believe that our family relationships exist beyond this life. That knowledge helps me stay committed to strengthening my family relationships, even when things are hard.

“I love being a mother. It has blessed and enriched my life and brought me great joy. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

Pictured: Kimm Washburn (center) with her husband Ephraim and their six children (from left) Lydia, Caleb, Ben, Eve, Anna and Josh. — Photo by Emily MacGregor

Story First Published: 2020-05-08