Monday, May 11, 2015
becoming a better mother
I hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day! Mine was sweet. I sure love being the mother of these four children. They are quick to forgive my faults and generous with their love. I felt that love so strongly yesterday that it made me want to be better at showing my love for them.
This morning I was seeking inspiration on how to do that when I came upon this older conference talk from Elder Ballard, entitled "Daughters of God". I remember hearing it in conference a few years ago. It touched me then, but it touched me even more today. It was exactly what I was looking for, and I decided to choose it for this week's conference report.
I'll just share the bits that affected me the most, if you don't mind:
Elder Ballard said, "There is no one perfect way to be a good mother. Each situation is unique. Each mother has different challenges, different skills and abilities, and certainly different children. . . What matters is that a mother loves her children deeply and, in keeping with the devotion she has for God and her husband, prioritizes them above all else."
I've always found it interesting that the one person on this earth who is the most like me - my sister Leslie, parents differently than I do. We definitely do a lot of things the same, but we sure do lots of things differently, too. And that's ok! That's how it should be. Only I know my children as their mother can, so of course the decisions I make would be different from another's. The key is the love. As long as we love our own children with our whole hearts, we don't have to worry about how we compare to another mother.
He continues, "It is crucial to focus on our children for the short time we have them with us and to seek, with the help of the Lord, to teach them all we can before they leave our homes. This eternally important work falls to mothers and fathers as equal partners. . . I believe that the instincts and the intense nurturing involvement of mothers with their children will always be a major key to their well-being."
I realized the other day that we only have five summers left with Mabel at home. Five! Those will fly by quicker than I know. Now is the time to be teaching my children. I can't put it off for another day.
Elder Ballard, while admittedly not a mother himself, gave four really great pieces of advice for mothers. They are:
"First, recognize that the joy of motherhood comes in moments. There will be hard times and frustrating times. But amid the challenges, there are shining moments of joy and satisfaction." So true! There are lots of long, boring days as a mother, but the little bursts of joy sprinkled in makes it all worth it.
"Second, don't over-schedule yourselves or your children. . . Families need unstructured time when relationships can deepen and real parenting can take place. Take time to listen, to laugh, and to play together." The other day after school, I found myself and all four of my children together in the living room. That doesn't seem to happen often enough. No one had any activities that day and we were relaxing together, reading, or playing. It was peaceful, and in the midst of this down time, we had one of the best discussions we've ever had. It was what I always imagined motherhood to be. But it was the unstructured time together that allowed it to happen.
"Third, even as you try to cut out the extra commitments, sisters, find some time for yourself to cultivate your gifts and interests." This one can be difficult for me. I don't like the idea of "me time". It makes me feel uncomfortable, even though I know it is important. I think the trick is using that time wisely and not letting it infringe on the time that I need to be spending as a mother. He continues by saying, "Avoid any kind of substance abuse, mistakenly thinking it will help you accomplish more. And don't allow yourself to be caught up in the time-wasting, mind-numbing things like television soap operas or surfing the internet. Turn to the Lord in faith, and you will know what to do and how to do it." Such a good reminder! Yes, it is good to take time for myself to nurture my talents, but that does not mean that I can spend all the time I want looking up projects on pinterest, you know?
"Fourth, pray, study, and teach the gospel. Pray deeply about your children and about your role as a mother. Parents can offer a unique and wonderful kind of prayer because they are praying to the Eternal Parent of us all." Yes, and yes. As I study the gospel for myself and then try to teach it to my children, I feel a great sense of well-being. Like everything is going to be ok, like I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. And that feels really, really great.
I want you to know that I know these things are true. I have seen them work in my own life and have felt the power and peace that comes from following Elder Ballard's wise counsel. I am grateful for these reminders today.
Read, watch, or listen to the full talk here.
posted by stephanie at 1:41 PM