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“The great plan of happiness revealed to prophets is the plan for a happy family.
It is the love story between husband and wife, parents and children, that renews itself through the ages” (Boyd K. Packer).

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Mom the Martyr

It seems to me that it is so easy sometimes to be Mom the Martyr.  I've been struggling with that myself.  And it's completely my own fault!  It started out with me feeling sorry for my busy older girls.  And ended with me slowly absorbing all of the children's chores into my own list of things to do.  What?  I used to be SO. GOOD. at teaching and training my children to be good workers.  That was back when I homeschooled them and had complete control over their schedules and mine.  Then they started growing up.  And spending more time away from home.  And suddenly I found myself feeling guilty about asking them to do helpful things.  I also tend to speak "service" as my love language - so when my kids are stressed or worried or sad, I do their chores for them.  And then that becomes the new normal.

This week I remembered that not only is that not good for THEM, it is not good for ME!  I am getting run down and tired and stressed and having a hard time lightening up and having fun.  I'm letting my spiritual well run dry and my body get soft instead of taking care of my core needs.

I haven't figured out the nitty gritty details of what has to change, but I started by making a list of everything I might need to do in a day.  It was long.  And I realized that the kids need to help.  There are seven of them now.  All except the baby are capable of doing a LOT of the things on that list.  The rewards are sweet.  They will get a better mom, and they will learn valuable lessons and life skills.  It's also a little bit about prioritizing and letting things go.  I have to learn to do that as well.  Counters, meals, bedrooms, floors - they don't need to be perfect.

Mom the Martyr no more.  I'm stopping the pity party and ending the not-enough-hours-in-the-day feeling by letting my family do what families need to do - work together to make this house a home.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Teenagers

Can I just say, parenting teens is HARD.

H.A.R.D.

My teen daughters are fantastic.  Seriously.  I couldn't ask for better girls.  They are trying so hard to do what is right, to excel in school, and to serve those around them.  I have no complaints.

But as a parent?  Dang.  Even with amazing kids my husband and I constantly struggle with knowing what boundaries to set, when to intercede, when to step back.  I'm constantly asking myself, do they need a little push, a lot of support, or to be completely left alone?  It all felt a lot easier when they were younger, that's for sure!

I am so grateful to have the guidance and promptings of the Holy Ghost and know that my Heavenly Father is walking through this mortally journey with me.  Knowing that even though I will make many, many mistakes, through His Atonement the Savior will magnify my efforts.  This gives me the ability to keep going without becoming too weighed down with my concerns.

I have found that for me the surest bet is to stay prayerful, and when I'm talking to my girls admit that I don't know everything; that sometimes I really am just taking a stab in the dark.  I ask for their patience and respect, and make an effort to respond in kind.  I keep my mouth shut more often and let tears and emotions ebb before engaging (oh how this seems to be key - especially with girls!).

The good news is, it's pretty hard to screw up a kid.  I know because I made a ton of mistakes with my eldest, and look how great she's turning out to be.  Not that I'm responsible for her greatness - that was already there inside her.  What I'm saying is that it takes a lot to ruin your kid.  :-)


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Journals

A couple months ago I heard one of the best talks I have heard on the topic of journaling.  Keeping is a journal is one of this topics that makes a lot of people sigh when it comes up.  It's like ONE more THING to do that you just don't have time to do properly.  I thought I'd share a couple things I remember from the talk, though, because it really was excellent.

Sister Galloway shared a few journaling experiences she has had over the years.  She keeps a couple different journals.  In one she writes down promptings she's received, things prayed for, and prayers answered (which is probably the most important of the three - recording the answers).
In another journal she writes specific things that she is grateful for - which I think is often a record of blessings that she has noticed during the day.

She shared some specific instances where journaling has helped her through difficult times, and when it helped her sustain a child through a difficult time.  She talked about how it has increased the quality of her prayers when she is putting more thought into what to ask for and paying attention to the answers.

I felt inspired to be more consistent about making special note of spiritual experiences I've had and prayers answered.  Instead of keeping a separate journal, I've been marking them with a star in the margin so that when I'm flipping through, I can go back and re-read about some of my more poignant and spiritual moments.  I like to write on Sunday evenings, but I will pick up my journal any time I have something specific to say.  I don't write every week, though I'd like to write more frequently.

I was a really dedicated journal-writer in my teens/early 20s.  I recently went back and re-read quite a few of those journals and it was such a helpful thing as a mother.  Sometimes I just don't remember what it is like to be 16.  Reading about my feelings, concerns, and recognizing all the dramatic emotion I was experiencing on a daily basis really helped me feel better prepared to relate to my teenage daughters.  Instead of feeling frustrated with the things they say and do, I had so much more empathy because I could remember being there!

Sometimes I go back to specific experiences in my life when I really had to lean on the Lord.  There's a feeling of strength that comes when I remember those times and how, with the Lord's help, I was able to get through them just fine.  It is a reminder that there is still help available from my Savior and Father.

Keeping a journal has great power to bless our lives.  It helps us focus, prioritize, and follow-through.  We will remember the goals we have and the values we want to stick to.  It can provide a source of spiritual renewal and strength.  We will be reminded of our Heavenly Father's love for us.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Priorities

Every family is going to have different priorities.  Lately this is something that I've had to keep reminding myself over and over again.  That, and remind myself not to judge others because their priorities are different than my priorities.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Keeping Quiet

It's such a hard lesson for me to learn.

In my pride, I think I'm so full of good advice.  And maybe sometimes I am.

But there is one place where my advice is almost never welcomed in the way I think it should be.  That relationship between mother and oldest daughter is tricky sometimes.

But I've learned two important things.

1.  When she starts to complain, keep my mouth closed.

2.  When you're tempted to offer solutions, instead ask what you can do to help.  Then be quiet and let her talk.

So simple, yet often so difficult for me to remember!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Precious One



For four years I wondered and worried and debated about how to know if our family was complete.  Five children felt good.  Our last two children were only 15 months apart, so life had been busy.  In some ways it was like raising twins.  My arms were frequently full.  And yet I had a nagging feeling. A feeling of unrest.  Not a specific prompting that there was another child that The Lord wanted to send to our family.  Just a worry that I might be called upon to have another child when I was pretty sure I didn't want to go thought that experience again.  Life was good.  The kids were growing and becoming more independent.  I had more freedom than ever before.

Ten months ago, just weeks before my youngest turned four I finally humbled myself enough to tell The Lord in prayer that I would gladly welcome another soul to our family if that was his will.  Nine months ago I found out I was expecting my sixth child.    I didn't think He would take me up on that offer so soon, but I was not disappointed that He did.

My pregnancy started out challenging in different ways than usual.  The pregnancy itself was fairly straightforward.  Our lives we're what was hard.  My mom was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer the weekend I found out I was pregnant.  Our family suffered repeated illnesses, including a  three week bout with the flu.  I was unhappy that pregnancy and illness kept me from being able to care for both my immediate and extended families in the way I would like.  I was pretty miserable until I was 8 months pregnant.  Then all my unhappy symptoms left and  I suddenly felt fabulous.  For the next six weeks  I had tremendous energy, my body felt healthy, and emotionally I was better than ever.

For nine months we had pondered what to name our child.  We settled on Faith when she was one day old.  Somehow it seemed appropriate.

For my previous five children, the true challenges of a new baby always manifested in the first two months.  For me, those first two months were two months of misery.  Breast feeding is a challenge for my body, and takes a lot of physical and emotional pain in the beginning.

With Faith, I wanted to have happy memories of our first couple months.  I wanted to avoid the trauma I'd suffered with the preceding children.  I made some plans and said a  lot of prayers.

Faith is three weeks old now and I have had the best three weeks of my life.  I have received the greatest blessing and answer to my prayers that I could have hoped for.  Life has been smooth.  There have been small hiccups, but emotionally I have felt so good.  I have been able to snuggle my child without worrying and fearing the times she would wake up to be fed.

Heavenly Father has given me a gift....the opportunity to see the great blessing it is to have a child, in a way that  I have never experienced before.  Instead of the pain and fear, I've been able to experience the joy and relish the small sacred moments.  I don't want it to end.  I don't want her to be my last because it saddens me to think of never having these perfect moments again.  I'm afraid that I will forget them.  That I will forget the perfect feeling of a tiny body curled up against mine, of the soft, sleepy squeaks at the foot of my bed as she wakes for a midnight feeding.  I don't want to forget the powerful swelling my heart made when she was first delivered and we saw her precious face for the first time.

My prayers each day are full of gratitude for the gift Heavenly Father has given me.  I'm so grateful that I humbled myself enough to allow this blessing into my life.  Every day I feel a renewed sense of amazement that God lets us be co-creators with him.  He trusts us with these tiny bundles of perfection and innocence.

I'm not a perfect mom.  My imperfections sadden me far too often.  I lash out in anger, say things I don't mean, scold too harshly.  And yet The Lord sees fit to bless me with another chance to get it right.  Children are a gift from God in so many ways.  And I have felt more thankful and more in awe of the miracle and goodness of it than ever before.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Keepers at Home

Titus 2:4-5 reads:
"That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good obedient to their husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed".

I've been pondering this scripture, focusing particularly on the phrase "keepers at home".  What is a Keeper?

In modern day parlance, we commonly reference a housekeeper.  In the past a housekeeper was someone who had charge of the keys of the manor; who oversaw the day to day operations involved with keeping a home functioning smoothly.  The housekeeper makes sure that the meals are cooked and served on time, supplies are purchased, bills are paid, laundry is completed, and other arrangements are seen to.  They don't necessarily do these jobs themselves.  I see the role as more supervisory than anything else. The manager of the home.  In this sense, a keeper is someone who is responsible for the maintenance of something.

A Keeper is also a guard.  A guard is a protector and defender.  A guard is to keep us safe from harm or danger.

A Keeper is one who assumes responsibility for another's behavior.

Finally, a keeper is someone charged with responsibility for the preservation and conservation of something valuable.

A keeper is the role that God has given to women.  There is so much meaning wrapped up in that one little word.   How can we be Keepers at Home?

I have to say, some days I get a lot of joy out of my responsibility as housekeeper....and other days, not so much.  On the days that I feel joy, it is because I recognize that my efforts have made our home a better place to be that day.  There is joy in fulfilling our Godly purpose.  Like most things that God asks of us, it isn't going to be easy all the time.  But we are richly compensated for our efforts.  When most people think of themselves as keepers of the home, this is the role that first comes to mind.  It might feel like a drag.  You might think to yourself, "yes, my job is to do the laundry and change the diapers while HE has all the fun".  And some days that will be true.  Other days your role as keeper of the home will be manifest in witnessing small delights such as a child's first prayer, a flutter of kisses on your cheek, or the look of silent appreciation as a feverish family member slips between freshly laundered sheets and tucks comforting quilts around their body.  There is joy in being that kind of keeper.

As keepers of the home, women are tasked with being the guardians of their home in spiritual ways as well.  As co-chair with our spouse in the running of our homes, I believe women have been blessed with a particular sensitivity to the needs of our family.  That is what we bring to the table.  It is our responsibility to create an environment where we and others in our family can receive the personal revelation necessary to make appropriate choices.  We support our husbands in their role as spiritual leader in our home, but recognize that they depend upon our insights and in-the-trenches experience in the day to day management of the home.   As women, I believe it is our duty to keep the influence of Satan at bay; to stop evil in the form of music and other media from crossing the threshold into our home.   We create the haven that our families need.

If a keeper is also a conservator - what, then, would we be conserving?  Along with the atmosphere of our home, I believe that women can quite literally be the tie that binds a family together.  As keepers of our husband and children, we foster and establish quality family relationships.  Family relationships are the number one priority in this life - and our main role is the preservation of this unit.

Why are women counseled to stay home and concentrate on their families?  It is not to enslave us to our husbands, to make us utterly dependent.  It is because our job is so important.  It is time-consuming.  It is vital to the salvation of our family.  If we are focusing our efforts in other areas, we will not be as successful as our family needs us to be.