Motherhood offers relatively few paydays for services rendered. There is no beginning and no end of any one pay period. There are no bi-weekly checks, no bonuses, no commissions, no opportunities for stock options with this job. You just keep working and working, day in and day out, back-to-back shifts, hoping that one day, maybe just one day there will be some kind of payday for all your efforts.

Take heart, the paydays do exist. But they are often unpredictable, sporadic, and will last you until your next payday to be sure, but you have no idea when that will be.

For example, my newborn recently learned how to smile. Genuinely smile. And not just smile, but he smiled with a coo that made his blue eyes sparkle like the Mediterranean at high noon. That, dear readers, was a payday. When he smiled at me, it was a more than satisfying payday for the nine long arduous months of pregnancy, the inferno that was the first two weeks of nursing, and for what will be a full year of uphill diet and vigorous exercise to get the weight off. Again.

(And no. It doesn’t just “fall off.” Just last week my innocent five year old niece took one look at my belly and cheerfully asked if I was expecting yet another baby! How exciting! No, I replied. The baby built himself a little house while he was in my tummy, and even though he’s moved out, the demolition of his cozy country cottage takes a full year to complete. At least.)

My baby’s first smile was his way of saying thank you, thank you, keep up the good work. I make no promises, but another payday is on the horizon if and when I sleep through the night for the first time. Keep fightin’ the good fight dear mother.

The day my toddler was completely potty trained was another payday. In fact, I believe I lay back in bed that night and said to my husband with a dreamy look in my eye something like, “You know when you close a big account at work and you feel like you’re on top of the world? Well I don’t get too many wins like that, but today was a win. A win! Boy, I needed that win.”

My brood is still very young, so I’ve yet to experience the paydays of graduations, missions, marriages, and what they say is the ultimate payday: grandchildren.

But I recently experienced a payday that I was not anticipating: Primary Program Sunday. It has always been my most favorite sacrament meeting of the year, hands down. I always say it’s because it’s the only Sunday when sinless people are at the pulpit the entire hour.

But this Sunday was something more. Four of my children were up there, singing the hymns of Zion with gusto. My nine year old daughter had small solo and she sang like a nightingale. My oldest gave a talk and he looked so grown up and mature I could hardly believe my eyes. My husband and I couldn’t stop smiling and we certainly couldn’t help the waterworks.

I felt like Fraulein Maria, “I must have done something good,” but I couldn’t remember what. When they sang and delivered their lines of gospel truths, the squabbles and messes and fits we experienced just that morning, all melted away. Their own individual goodness shone through and I felt like what I’ve been doing day in and day out this past decade has all been worth it.

It was enough to see me through till my next payday, to be sure.

Whenever that will be.