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Modern Life: Heather and Matthew Deighton Find Balance Through Their Mormon Faith

Heather Deighton, 28, stay-at-home mom; Cole, 4; Holland, 2; Matthew Deighton, 31, senior public relations manager at Ancestry, and Kendall, 6.

“So . . . collect canned goods often?” This was Matthew Deighton’s opening line when he first met Heather at a food drive in college. “Now, you need to understand that I’m drawn to awkward situations, and at times I’ll create those moments just to bask in them,” he admits. “In my defense, if I’d known I was going to marry her, I would have come up with something a bit smoother.” Heather jokes that their meeting was “super romantic” but, anyway, it worked. The Brigham Young University graduates have been married for eight years and are the parents of three kids.

Heather is a stay-at-home-mom, which she enjoys—most days. “It has its pros and cons. I love being able to see my children learn to walk, learn their letters, catch bugs outside,” she explains. “I don’t love the potty training, tantrums or cleaning, but Matt helps out quite a bit. Especially those evenings when he comes home from work and I look and feel like a train wreck. He’ll take the reins and tell me to get out of the house and go do something fun.”

Matthew jokes about one of the surprising revelations of parenting. “Who knew that I could want to choke someone and hug them at the same time?” But then he becomes more thoughtful. “As the children grow, I feel like I’m losing part of my family. Kendall is 6 and I love who she is. But I also miss 2-year-old Kendall. I love the people my children are becoming, but I miss the people they were as well. So when Holland is poking me in the eye and her stuffed 'lambie' is giving me kisses at 5:30 in the morning, I remind myself that her 2-year-old version isn’t going to be with our family for long and I need to enjoy each second.”

“My Mormon faith grounds me. I know I’m not anywhere near perfect, but my beliefs give me a direction. They offer me strength to be a more patient and loving mom than I could be on my own.”

When life does feel chaotic, the Deightons find balance through their Mormon faith, but others don’t always view their religion favorably. Heather shares that she has been ridiculed, and Matthew says it hasn’t always been easy, especially in high school. “With 12 Mormons in a school of 1,500, at times I stuck out. I’ve had a lot of people tell me about some bizarre things that I supposedly believe, so I’ll set the record straight—I believe in the savior Jesus Christ.”

Matthew says he has often felt persecuted. “Most non-religious people don’t care if I’m Mormon or not. The majority of negative comments have come from other Christians, which I think is sad. I feel that as Christians we need to hold one another up more than ever.”

For Matthew, everything comes down to the importance of connecting, and he brings that conviction to his job. “Ancestry [the family history site] is all about connection. I’ve helped people fill in blanks in their lives, everyone from those abandoned at birth to African Americans finding out where in Africa they come from. It’s incredibly fulfilling and adds to my positive outlook. I know we’re making a difference in people’s lives.”

He extends that thought to his children. “I hope they can see the good in the world. It’s easy to see all the bad and heart-wrenching things going on. I hope they make the effort to look for the positive and help those around them.”

“Heather doesn’t do anything that really drives me crazy. I’d say it’s probably the other way around. After we were married I really got into wood carving, and then later woodworking. I’ve taken over the garage with woodworking tools, so sawdust gets dragged into the house. Sorry, Heather!”

Who has the better sense of humor?

“I don’t know who has the better sense of humor, but I tend to take joke a little too far. It’s common for us to meet new people and as we’re walking away Heather will say, ‘Yeah, they’re never going to talk to us again.’ I think being yourself and making people laugh is the quickest way to make friends—that’s proven true for me.” —Matthew

What do you love most about each other?

“Matt can make me laugh at any given moment. At times it can be annoying, but more often than not, it reminds me to relax and enjoy the moment rather than focusing on all those stressful things—like potty training and what’s for dinner.” —Heather

“I remember when we were dating and one night it was quite late. I dropped her off at her apartment and gave her a kiss goodnight. As she shut the door I remember thinking, I don’t ever want to have to say goodnight and leave her again. That was the moment I realized I wanted to marry her. When I finally did propose, I told her it would be me and her against the world. After eight years she still draws me in. No matter what’s happening in life—the trials, the struggles, the ups and downs—when I’m with her nothing else matters. I feel calm and safe and I know everything is going to be all right. She is my rock. It’s still me and her against the world.” —Matthew

Give us some thoughts on parenting.

“I remember what I was like growing up, so I give my kids a break on a lot. I can’t tell you how many things I broke that belonged to my father. I think there’s dozens of broken drill bits under his work bench (sorry, Dad!). I’ve realized that my children will break every physical item I own, starting with the ones I like. But it doesn’t matter. I care about them more than I care about any of my physical possessions. I just wish I’d held on my 6-foot-long horns a little longer. That’s all I’m saying.” —Matthew

“The range of emotions is so surprising. How do you explain this? One minute, everything is fine, and the next it’s as if the world ended and everyone is crying because Cole ate the last chicken nugget. Then five minutes later, you’re crying from happiness because Holland just said 'I love you' to Dad for the first time and everything is perfect. The highs and lows in parenthood are extreme, and you never know what’s coming next.” —Heather

Matt, tell us about the work you do at Ancestry.

“I’m a senior public relations manager, and we have a DNA test that’s revolutionizing family history. I was talking to my neighbor Diane about six months ago and found out she was adopted. She had been looking on and off for her birth family for 15 years. I asked her if I could help, and I gave her the AncestryDNA test. Ten days later we got her results back. We found a half-brother living in Hawaii and a first cousin who’s been living less than a mile away from her for the last 10 years! I invited both of them to my house that night, and Diane met a biological family member for the first time. Three months later, on Diane’s birthday, she was able to meet her birth mother. When you work for a company that changes people’s lives like Ancestry does, your job becomes a passion and you never want to leave.” —Mattew

What are the biggest challenges facing you right now?

“For me it’s the work/life balance. I want to work hard to create a good life for my family, but if I’m working too hard, I don’t get to see my family. If I’m with my family too much, I’m not doing enough at work to help me grow and advance so I can help my family. I’m lucky to work for a great company that believes in family.” —Matthew

What’s the craziest time of the day, and what’s your favorite time of the day?

“Bedtime is the craziest. Hands down. Mom and Dad are tired, and the kids are wound up/cranky. It takes all the energy I have to get them down to bed with minimal crying—from the kids and myself. One of my favorite moments is after the kids’ bedtime. Matt and I will talk about our day and laugh about the ridiculous things our kids said. It’s great to be just us for a moment.” —Heather

What are you most proud of?

“Our family. As cheesy as that sounds, I put so much time and energy into building a happy home for my kids. As a SAHM, it’s hard when you’re exhausted and trying to do your best and someone asks you ‘So what do you even do all day?’ and you struggle to come up with a single answer. Ugh, seriously?! I’m proud of my kids. They’re worth every frustration and every effort. I’m so grateful they are mine.” —Heather