Thursday, May 8, 2014

Mother Joy

I’m at the stage of life that I no longer require the annual (or more frequent) reminder that motherhood is worth doing. And maybe even better, I’m past the guilt of wondering whether I’m a good enough mother. So today’s blog, ahead of Mother’s Day, is meant to help younger mothers get greater joy out of their mothering, which is what I think God intends for them.
Being Grandma is the dessert of motherhood.
Point one: Just being a mother, in an age that has skewed what it values, is honorable. You’re doing it; your kids are alive. Yay! Here are some words of wisdom in support of the wonderful thing you’re doing for civilization: 

“The righteous woman's strength and influence today can be tenfold what it might be in more tranquil times... Other institutions in society may falter and even fail but the righteous woman can help to save the home, which may be the last and only sanctuary some mortals know in the midst of storm and strife.”—Spencer W. Kimball 

“The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one
purpose only—and that is to support the ultimate career.”—C. S. Lewis 

“Women who make a house a home make a far greater contribution to society than those who command large armies or stand at the head of impressive corporations.”—Gordon B. Hinckley 

“For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given
me my petition which I asked of him.”
—Hannah, mother of Samuel, 1 Samuel 1:27 (KJV)

Point two: You’re not in this alone. Not only is there a daddy working alongside you (I hope), these children in your care belonged to God first. He is especially fond of them. He wants them back home with Him, after this growing, earth life adventure. You don’t have to be perfect at the job. God entrusted you; trust His judgment. You don’t have to meet some unreasonable level of super-mom-hood before you qualify to ask for help. “Ask, and it shall be given you” (Matthew 7:7, KJV).  It may be true that parenting is harder today than when we were children. It might seem perilous. This is no reason for despair; it is reason to “pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good” (from a Mormon scripture, Doctrine & Covenants 90:24). 

“Imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with. That must be terribly
frustrating to Him, but He deals with it.”—Jeffrey R. Holland 

“Parents today wonder if there is a safe place to raise children. There is. It’s called a gospel centered home.”—Boyd K. Packer

Earnestly Striving + Christ’s Atonement = Enough
—Linda Nuttall 

That last one is mine. I’m sure others have had the same  idea, but it came to me as something I needed to remind myself. So I wrote it on the little message board on my refrigerator, and made a post for it on Pinterest.

Point three: Live with joy. There was a time this was particularly difficult. My children were small, and I was just discovering some chronic illnesses that were making things more challenging than I had expected. Like having constant infections, and never getting back up to better. Meanwhile, kids had their illnesses, including ear infections. But I knew in my heart it shouldn’t feel like a miserable burden to take care of my own children that I loved.
So in my prayers I literally asked for the ability to take delight in my children.
The physical challenges didn’t really go away—still working on that. But when I look back on the child-raising years, I know I truly did delight in my children. What wonderful, bright, funny, delightful children I got to raise!
Let me add just a note about the homeschooling decade we spent. You know how in the early years, you get so excited when your child learns a new thing? First step, saying “Mama.” We think it sort of goes away after those first few years—but it doesn’t. When you’re the homeschool teacher, you get to be there for those other discoveries: how to do the quadratic equation, the ability to read music, loving a book you always wanted to share with them. A child gets something new—and you’re there to see it!
If that’s not what you feel called to do, fine, don’t stress over it. But just know that, even though it’s exhausting, it’s a joyful way to live. Note: there were bad hours many days, and sometimes just bad days. But there was also a huge accumulation of really worthwhile living I am so grateful I had. 

"I think you will find, my young friend, that in life most of the work in the world is done by people who aren't feeling very well."—Russell LeBaron Briggs, Dean of Harvard Law School, 1995 

“Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.”—Doctrine & Covenants 64:33 

Point four: Endure well. Endure is one of those words heavily weighted with suffering. But it doesn’t have to be. It can be just staying on the path, correcting slight straying, and just doing what it takes to make the journey. So advice on this point is, again, not meant for guilt, but for increasing joy.
Love yourself. Love your husband. Love your children. Accept yourself the way you are, encouraging yourself to be the best you who is still you. Accept your husband the way he is, encouraging the good, and never shaming whatever might not be perfect/more-like-you or less-like-you. Accept your children the way they are, encouraging growth, encouraging their natural goodness, and never shaming whatever might not be perfect/more-like-you or less-like-you.
If any of these things seem overwhelmingly hard, ask for help. Ask God first. If you need more help, He will lead you to it. He plans for you to succeed, and He’s very good at accomplishing His plans. You’re his daughter, and you’re a mother—know that He loves you. 

“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.”—Peggy O’Mara 

“If you have a bad thought about yourself, tell it to go to hell because that
is exactly where it came from.”—Brigham Young 

“Ordinary people who faithfully, diligently, and consistently do simple things that are right before God will bring forth extraordinary results.”—David A. Bednar 

“As you create a home, don't get distracted with a lot of things that have no meaning for you or your family. Don't dwell on your failures, but think of your successes. Have joy in your home. Have joy in your children. Have joy in your husband. Be grateful for the journey.”―Marjorie Pay Hinckley, wife of Gordon B. Hinckley

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