Deep theological thoughts on motherhood

superstock_1538r-4019I had a light-bulb moment the other day. You know how in the talk we’re studying this week for General Conference Book Club, there’s a quote from Joseph Smith about how revelation can come into our minds as “pure intelligence flowing into you”? It was one of those kind of moments. Pretend you’re interested.

I had recently finished writing a guest post for Mormon Mommy Blogs. (I believe it’s posting on the 30th– that’s this Thursday, but I’ll be out of town and won’t have internet access to point you all that direction, so GO there and make a comment so I don’t look like the guest blogger who shouldn’t have been.)

Anyway, I wrote a post about “Diapers and Divinity,” which obviously is the title of my blog, but it was mainly an attempt to explain my philosophy on motherhood in general, and the motivating principles for which I try to use this blog as a medium. So the thoughts were still fresh in my mind and I kept thinking and kept thinking about how majestic motherhood really is. I felt convinced that the simple things we do as mothers are really, really important, but I still felt like I was unable to articulate why. Moms are often caught up in (and discouraged by) the dreary details of motherhood, but surely there must be a deeper purpose in it than we see . . . or don’t see. And then the thoughts came.

Everything we do is meant to point us to Christ. All of those mundane things we do— the dishes, the diaper changing, the laundry, the booger-removal from walls and bedding, :) all of it— are symbols of some part of the Savior’s atoning mission. Stick with me here, I’m trying to make sense. I’ve always liked this scripture in Moses 6:62-63:

62 And now, behold, I say unto you: This is the plan of salvation unto all men, through the blood of mine Only Begotten, who shall come in the meridian of time.

63 And behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath: all things bear record of me.
Everything. That thought took me a little deeper and I began to recognize that all those ordinary tasks fall into categories of what Jesus Christ did/does for us:
  1. He takes dirty things and makes them clean. “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” (Isaiah 1:18) Think about it: laundry, dishes, bathing, cleaning toilets, all fall into this category. Even changing a diaper becomes a poignant symbol when you think of it as taking a soiled child and making him clean, something the Savior does for us.
  2. He turns contention, pain, sorrow, and hunger into peace, healing, comfort and nourishment. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28), “Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh” (Luke 6:21). This could be a job description for mothers. We nurse wounds. We wipe away tears. We restore peace. We feed people.
  3. He turns chaos into order. “I created these things; yea, in the beginning . . . And the earth was without form, and void; . . . And I, God, saw everything that I had made, and, behold, all things which I had made were very good” (Moses 2: 1-2, 31). As mothers, we create the world of our home. Our homemaking and housekeeping efforts take matter unorganized and turn it into home: a place of learning and existing as a family. We are creators.

l30Isn’t that amazing? Maybe some of you are thinking “Duh, I knew that,” but to me it was an entirely new and enlightening concept– a revelation that I participate in the Savior’s work when I do my simple mom stuff. It’s a struggle, but it’s supposed to be hard; the Atonement was not easy for Him either. But seeing those symbols for what they are and what they can point me to has made a big difference for me. So, like my little sidebar introduction says, join me in getting back to mothering with a renewed sense of purpose. That purpose— divine motherhood— is very, very cool.

I’m headed to Women’s Conference at BYU for the rest of the week, so I’ll be pretty quiet on the Internet front. I’m going to post my GCBC comments tonight, so please keep that conversation going all week. The new talk will still go up on Sunday. I’m hoping to learn lots of cool stuff and come back and share it with you. Say a prayer for Matt’s four days as a single parent. (But don’t pray too much– I want it to be hard enough that my shoes seem unfillable. :))

True confessions of a 6-year-old mind. Beware.

ezpicknsYou know how some kids pick their nose and eat their boogers?  (I’m afraid Natalie might be one of those kids.)  Not Grant!  No way.  Never in a million years would he do that because it’s disgusting.  Instead, Grant likes to wipe his boogers on furniture, car windows, carpet… whatever’s handy.

I recently discovered that the side of his bed looks like this:

dscf2022No, your eyes are not playing tricks on you.  It really IS that gross.  So now, his bed has been equipped with this:

dscf2023And if that isn’t bad enough, there have been other totally unacceptable infractions of the no-booger-wiping rule.  The lastest was so dire that I did what any good mother would do and forced my child to make a public, internet-based confession.

Did you see all that heartfelt remorse?  The sorrow?  The wailing?  Um, yeah.  Well, Clark and Natalie were jealous about Grant’s debut on the big screen, so the climbing, whining and button-pushing resulted in this:

I know, I know, you are SO impressed.  Feel free to send an Academy Award, or Xanax, whichever seems more appropriate.

General Conference Book Club Week 3: Elder A. Packer

01_05_packe It’s Week 3– So glad you’re back!  This week, we will study a beautiful and simple talk by Elder Alan F. Packer of the Quorum of the Seventy.  This talk, “Finding Strength in Challenging Times” was part of the Saturday morning conference session; it was actually right before Elder Christofferson’s talk that we just studied in Week 2.  Its basic message is that we are capable of receiving personal revelation and building a faith-filled testimony, both of which will give us the strength we need to face challenges in our lives and in the future.  The talk is rather brief, but I love the clear and powerful truths and promises he expresses.  I’m excited to read your insights and personal experiences with these principles.

>>Click here to read the talk “Finding Strength in Challenging Times!” by Elder Alan F. Packer.<<

As in weeks past, just leave your comments here on this post.  The previous weeks’ posts will remain open indefinitely, so you can always return to catch up or revisit those great talks as well.

If this is your first visit to the General Conference Book Club, click here to learn more about it. You’re welcome to join us at any point along the way.

In keeping with Elder Packer’s talk, I wanted to share this short video put out by the Church testifying that the gospel IS simple and God teaches us on our level.  Maybe I was particularly moved by it since I’m currently serving as the Primary president, but it’s a beautiful testimony of how personal and uncomplicated the gift of gospel knowledge can be.

Facing your own demons

I believe that the hardest part of being a mother is learning things about yourself that you didn’t want to know.droppedimage1

Before I was a mother . . .

  • I did not know that after a full day of picking up toys and hounding others to do the same, a slew of inappropriate thoughts and words would come rushing into my mind when I stepped on a Mr. Potato Head piece at 2 a.m.

  • I had no idea that when I was awakened by a flashlight in my retina, spilled yogurt on the floor and the smell of a potty-training accident, it would take almost an entire day before I could let the angry feelings go.

  • I never thought that I would breathe out threatenings like a fiery dragon when my 4 1/2 year old still wouldn’t poop on the potty.

  • I wasn’t aware that when I function on almost no sleep, even the tiniest inconvenience can tip my scales and make me the wicked witch of the homestead.

  • I thought I was a morning person.

  • I even thought I was a patient and laid-back person. (laugh out loud)

  • I was punctual and responsible, and got really annoyed when other people were late.  I think I’ve been on time to 6 events in the last 5 years.

  • I certainly didn’t think I’d ever be one of those moms whose entire house is full of chaos and clutter.

(And don’t get me started on personal hygiene, and exercise and beauty routines …)

But the fact is, I did become a mom and I was forced to face some truths about myself that were quite shocking and disagreeable.  Whenever new moms ask for advice, I always say, “Be prepared to learn things about yourself that you don’t like.  It’s hard, but you’ll figure it out.”  Of course this realization is wonderful, too, because it’s exactly what makes us turn to our Savior for help.  Learning that we are not as strong as we thought we were makes us recognize how much we need Him.  I always loved the scripture in Ether 12:27, and even more now that I’m a mom:  “And if men [or women, or moms] come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”  I just love that.  Given the list above, how could I not?

(This entry was originally posted on August 23, 2008.  I’m trying to recreate my lost archives.)

Lovely ladies

dscf1750Lately I’ve been feeling grateful for wonderful women in my life. Sometimes we let ourselves drown a little bit in the dreary details of motherhood, but a conversation with another mother I admire can lift my spirits, refocus my purpose, and remind me that I am not alone in what sometimes seems difficult.

When I was 16 years old, I was the only girl from my church group that was not invited to a particular formal date dance. When the next day at church, I was the only one who showed up in a regular dress, and the rest of the girls were all wearing their formal gowns from the night before (for the record, I’m not fond of that “trend”), I felt like an idiot. And in typical teenage fashion, I felt dramatically sorry for myself. I went home and moped for most of the afternoon, until the doorbell rang. There on my doorstep was Julia, the president of my young women’s class. Julia was a senior at my high school, and she had recently undergone a bone marrow transplant in an attempt to escape the cancer that had come and gone more than once. She was bald, but had a lovely smile, face, and grace about her. Anyway, she showed up at my house that afternoon with a small flower pot and a card. It said “Bloom where you are planted.” Apparently, she sensed my hurt feelings at church and went out of her way to reach out to me and encourage me. The irony was not lost on me. My problems were small and insignificant in comparison to hers, yet she was noble enough to acknowledge them and encourage me.

This trend has repeated itself many times in my life, especially recently. In the last month alone I can pinpoint conversations I’ve had with women who have significant struggles that make mine look ridiculous at best. But like Julia, they have served me. They have showed me kindness and made me feel their love and God’s love through them. One has a handicapped daughter and struggles daily with decisions related to her care and balancing her needs with those of her other children. Another recently overcame cancer while caring for her three small children. One has five, yes FIVE, children with special needs and amazes me frequently with her spiritual insight and willingness to listen to me. Another, pregnant with her fourth child, was just diagnosed with cancer. These women are AMAZING. They think they are ordinary, but they are great examples to me, and I thank God I know them.

President Ezra Taft Benson said, and I whole-heartedly agree:

The fellowship of true friends who can hear you out, share your joys, help carry your burdens, and correctly counsel you is priceless. For one who has been in the prison of depression, the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith have special meaning: “How sweet the voice of a friend is; one token of friendship from any source whatever awakens and calls into action every sympathetic feeling.” . . . What a boon to be in the company of those who edify us!

I’m also constantly amazed by those of you who drop by this blog and whom I read about as I surf the blog world.  You are good women with good hearts doing good things.  We should all tell each other that more often.  We need to say it, and we need to hear it.

A few shout-outs, just because I feel like it:

Jana at The Meanest Mom always makes me laugh.  Her post today cracked me up.  I love her integrity in parenting; sticking to her guns despite the pushes and pulls of children and critics.  (She’s also hosting a great giveaway, but you don’t need to pay much attention to that.  I believe 47,000 people have already signed up for it, so your chances are probably better with Powerball or the NFL draft.)

Heather at the Extraordinary Ordinary wrote a great post this week about the lessons that motherhood forces us to learn.  It made me think so much that I had to email her instead of leaving a comment because I was so verbose I would have been a comment pirate and taken over her post.  I love her authenticity and substance.  Incidentally, I spent some time with her in person recently and she’s just as lovely in real life.

And all of you that have commented on the General Conference Book Club posts have impressed me so much.  Thank you for being as cool and insightful as you are.  Really.  I’ve spent the last two nights falling asleep while reading Elder Christofferson’s talk, but I’m going to jump in tomorrow with my own feedback.  Hope to hear from many more of you, too.

And I have to mention this lovely lady:  dscf2015

She’s one spunky, delightful little girl who keeps me smiling.  Her daddy’s out of town this week and it’s endearing to see how much she misses him.  Today, she bumped her nose and said, “When daddy gets home, I will show him my nose and he’ll kiss it better.”  When I  grow up, I bet she’ll be my favorite woman on the planet.

Cheap must be in the genes (AND jeans)

You may recall my post several days ago about the shame I endure for the sake of a good bargain.  (Click here if you missed your chance to laugh at me and feel better about yourself.)  Well, it turns out that my “frugal” characteristic is a product of both nature and nurture.  It runs in the family.  My mom still rinses out Ziploc bags so she can reuse them.  And the only time I ever wore brand names growing up is if they had acid spills on them and we could buy them as “seconds” at some sketchy bargain basement.  Don’t get me started on the refilling of brand-name cereal boxes with generic tasteless substitutes and thinking we wouldn’t notice.

Well, my younger brother Greg lives in Tennessee and each year their newspaper hosts a Cheapest of the Cheap competition.  He’s been a finalist for the last three years.  This year, the cheap effort that won him honor was to avoid the cost of tennis lessons by posting videos of himself playing tennis on youtube.com and soliciting free advice.  Well, apparently all the stars posing as blue-light specials aligned themselves correctly in the universe because he won!  What did he win at a Cheapest of the Cheap celebration?, you might ask.  Well, get this.  He WON A THOUSAND DOLLARS!!!  (Okay, so it was really $999.99, but still!)

Here is a link to the newspaper article honoring him for his extraordinary cheapness:

Bad economy brings out the cheapest of the cheap: Check out the 50 top money-saving tips from this year’s contest

And here he is ladies, straight from his high-falootin’ newspaper photo shoot.  (Sorry, he’s taken. Wink, wink, Melinda!)

bilde

So congratulations, Greg.  I know you’ll probably need most of that money for tennis lessons, but if you’re feeling generous. . .  I could really use a new pair of jeans that don’t have a cow poop pattern on one leg, and mom might benefit from a Costco-sized box of Ziploc bags.  Just a thought.

I bet you folks have some awesome cheap stories.  You sure won’t win a thousand bucks here, but share your wisdom as a public service.  What money saving strategies work for you (or did you have to endure as a child)?

Going postal

post-officeI wish stay-at-home moms got to stay at home more, because sometimes going places in public with children really bites.  I have a top ten list of places I hate to go with my children.  When you have three children in car seats, there is no such thing as a “run in and run out” errand.  The post office is high on the list of unpleasant outings, along with the DMV, doctor appointments, and Visiting teaching.

Maybe there’s just an unusually high percentage of grumpy postal workers in my neck of the woods, but I seriously cringe when I have to go INSIDE to take care of postal business.  I don’t know what it is, but my children walk into a post office and get a primal urge to run around in small circles.  It does not matter that we have a little chat about it in the car before we go inside.  Those retractable stand-in-line barrier things are of the devil (and also part of the reason that the bank is on my top-ten list).  I’m talking about these:

belt

I might as well be speaking Russian to  Japanese Snow Monkeys when I repeatedly ask my kids not to touch them.  The previously-threatened and then followed-through time-out that they recieve at home does not even deter them.  This picture represents the relationship between a four-year-old’s hands and those dumb retractable-belt barriers:

mothflameSo, anyway, I had to go to the post office Saturday.  The last two times I went were around the holidays, so you can understand why I’ve stayed away so long.  (One of those involved a federal offense where I left with unpurchased merchandise that I’d already written on because I simply could not stand in line any longer.  For the record, I have since returned and paid my debt to society.)  And in this particular post office in the past, my children were all yelled at by a “gentleman” behind the counter who firmly reminded them that there’s NO RUNNING.  So I gave the lecture, and my three little post-office demons and I walked in.  Luckily there were only a couple people in line, and I tried to use my mental powers to keep my children by my side while I purchased and addressed padded envelopes.  However, I refer you back to the pictures above, and you can guess what happened.  I called their names many times and reminded them to stay by me and stop running in circles like rabid terriers.

The lovely postal worker, however, could not refrain from also barking at them, so I was annoyed.  Again.  And when I went to the counter and paid, and she said to me, “Boy, they sure have a lot of energy today,” I kind of snapped a little.  I didn’t really go postal, but I was bugged.  I tried (unsuccessfully) to hide the snark as I said, “They always do.  They’re CHILDREN!.”  Then I concentrated on my PIN for my debit card, forced a smile, left, and promised myself for the 746th time since I had children to never return to the post office again.

So, um, Becca and The Queen, you’d better appreciate that chocolate!

What’s on your I’d-rather-brush-my-teeth-with-toe-jam-than-go-there-with-my-children list?  You know you have one.