“Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalms 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live.
-The Family: A Proclamation to the World
If motherhood has taught me one thing, it has taught me to recognize the taste of my own foot. It’s kinda mismatched-stripe-sockey-tasting, with a few fuzzies between the toes.
I have put my foot in my mouth so many times in the four years since I became a mother. Actually, perhaps that’s not the best phrase to use. But it’s all I can think of right now.
What I’m trying to say is that every time I say something snotty in my head (I know, me, snotty?) at some point it comes back to bite me in the butt. Or foot. Now I can’t keep my cliche’s strait.
For example, I remember thinking about some unsuspecting mother in years past: “You know, if you just wipe the back of your chairs off every day, they won’t get grimy.” (I know, snotty.)
Now, I do wipe my chairs down – and daily just isn’t a reality – but it seems like I do it constantly. And you know what, no matter how diligent I try to be, when someone comes over, there’s always dried raspberry jam or some other sticky nonsense on the back of my seats. I don’t know what’s so hard about keeping the food on the table. But it seems it winds up anywhere but.
And what about tantrums? Those heartfelt manipulations produced by two year olds to get a scoop of ice cream, when they didn’t eat their dinner. Well, on this, I am as I always thought I would be: heartless. Let them cry all they want. Those crocodile tears won’t move me.
But somehow this isn’t something I’m proud of. I feel like a mean mommy. I mean, gosh, I don’t want to be one of those moms with kids that are totally out of control, but would it hurt me to give in every once in a while? I’ve come to appreciate the soft voices of mothers who concede, striving to develop that tenderness in my own persona. Motherhood is a life of self doubt and second guessing.
I went to a friend’s Girls Night Out, where we celebrated the fabulousness of womanhood. We discussed what it meant to be a mom, and each woman at the table voiced their own self doubts and who they looked to as an example of strength in their perceived weakness. It was interesting to listen to women who felt those same fears . . . or different ones. It made me realize that parenthood is hard. Judgments are easy to pass in short, careless moments. But the reality is that we’re all struggling to find our own paths.
Wyatt was telling me about a Tony Robbins speech he read once (Tony=Awesome) about the dichotomy of our lives: most people tend to be focused on the achievements of life: the quantitative outward accolades of the world. But once a person gets past the focus of achievement, they will find an empty shell if they don’t also concern themselves with a life of fulfillment: the inner joy and satisfaction found solely from within from various aspects of life.
I thought about this as it relates to the Proclamation, or even the Gospel as a broader topic. I think Heavenly Father is trying to tell us something. I think He knows where we can find our greatest fulfillment, in our families. But it takes work. (Wow, I talk about work in the gospel a lot. Am I pessimistic?) But for me it’s kinda like the whole iron rod thing . . . if we just hold on to what He’s told us, that families are central to His plan of happiness – if we believe that, then our joy will be found in that family.
And so for me, children are work, but they are also a promise, from Heavenly Father, for me to have a life that has meaning, and peace, and joy, and hope, and all the things I want my life to be. It won’t be disappointing or hard or heart breaking (although I won’t escape those times) because when it’s all done, there will be this glowy-pink-ness over everything in my life because it was shared with my family. That’s what I cling to on days when Olivia won’t eat her dinner.