Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Spiritual Thought: Motherhood and Faith

Social media can be so interesting sometimes. Over the weekend, with Mother's Day and all, it was neat to see so many old pictures, sweet moments of friends with their mothers. Many videos and blog posts about motherhood and what it means to each person.

A friend wrote a very personal blog post about how she felt that motherhood has not come natural to her. She talked about how it seemed that those around her were enjoying it more than she was and that was quite a struggle for her.

My heart went out to her because I know a similar feeling. And I suspect a lot of people do. We are told to "enjoy every moment" but that's so hard sometimes when you feel like you're losing yourself in the day-to-day. And it's hard, too, when it seems that other moms have perfectly curled hair, beautiful makeup and nails, are back in their skinny jeans, and their kids are quietly eating vegetables without spilling a drop on themselves.

Today, I didn't change out of my pajamas until 5:45 pm. Let's not talk about showering. My kid ate "lunch" at 4:30 p.m. because that's when we got to it, and even then it was a cheese stick and bunny grahams. Oh, and a few strawberries that I prayed she didn't drop all over her dress because we were meeting friends for dinner. She screeched through dinner (that's a fun new trick) and dumped water on one of our friends. And then bedtime. Oh, bedtime. She cried and cried and cried and we took turns rocking and singing and letting her cry and cycling back through again. She finally fell asleep close to 10. Today was a rough day.

During the rocking and singing for hours on end, I had plenty of time to reflect on my own feelings about motherhood. I don't feel like motherhood has come easy to me either. It's definitely gotten better in recent months, but there was a time in there where I felt like I'd really lost myself.

But I can also see how much I have learned, especially in relation to the Gospel. Since my personal conversion, I have been committed to living the Gospel but have at times become too comfortable and too lax in my practice. Since Emma was born, I find that I pray more, all the time. I think often of the quote from Elder Packer, "There are few things more powerful than the faithful prayers of a righteous mother." And I do pray for her. For protection while she sleeps, for relief from pain when her teeth hurt, for a healthy appetite to grow strong, for intelligence, for strength. It's brought me closer to my Heavenly Father as I feel my own inadequacy. As much as I can do for her, I can't protect her from everything. I can't help her with everything. I need Heavenly Father to do those things that I can't.

Not only do I pray more, but I have an urgent desire to live the Gospel more carefully each day. We are always told that we are "lights on a hill," that others observe us and learn from our example. Nothing drives that home like a toddler. It seriously *shocks* me how much she watches and imitates me. We didn't even realize until she started doing things we had never taught her. Like picking up a brush and rubbing it on her head. Trying to put socks on her feet. Or one of my proudest moments, the night we said "Ok, time for prayers!" and she immediately folded her arms and looked at us expectantly. She is watching. She is learning. From everything I do. Does she hear and see me pray, with our family and alone? Does she see me read my scriptures and bear my testimony? Does she see me being kind, patient and forgiving? Or does she see anger, selfishness, judgement, laziness? I'm so much more aware of the things I do now, knowing that she is watching and learning.

I am so grateful that Heavenly Father organized us in families. Man, that guy. He knew what he was doing. I reflect often on the love I have for her that fills my heart. That makes me want to do anything for her, to help her, to teach her, to comfort her. It has taught me so much about my relationship with my Heavenly Father and how he must feel about me, as his daughter.

Elder Neil L. Andersen said in a 2011 conference talk: “Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. You do not collect children because you find them cuter than stamps. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for.” No, Motherhood has not been easy. But it has also been wonderful. I am so thankful for the privilege of being a mother and how it has strengthen and grown my testimony and grateful for the wonderful little spirit that has been entrusted to me. I may not have enjoyed every minute, but I am eternally grateful for each minute I get to be a Mom.

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