Why I have decided to ignore my children

woman with appleYou know how we are often told to turn away negative thoughts and voices that make us question our self-worth and potential?  Well, now I am faced with a moral dilemma.  On the one hand, I should nurture my children and be a good listener.  On the other, I should ignore voices like this:

 

 

Grant:  Um, Mom, let me look at your teeth… (invasion of personal space) … Your teeth are brown.

Me:  What?  They’re not brown!

Grant:  Yeah, they are.  They’re brown.

Clark:  Let me look.  (in my grill)  Oh, yeah. … Maybe the other day at the baseball game some dirt flew in the air and got on your teeth.

Me:  (blink, blink, stunned silence.)

Natalie:  I wanna look.  (3 children on my lap, staring disgustedly at my now-faded smile)  Oh.

And you can see that, clearly, I should no longer listen to my children if I want to keep any shred of dignity or warped acceptance of my own appearance.

Elder Marvin J. Ashton said (and I tweaked):  

In the world, where there are often voices of pessimism and negative feelings [my children], the voice of gladness is welcome indeed. Some seem to live with doubt, fear of the future, and sorrow for the past [or renewed shame in their less-than-gleaming-white teeth]. If it is our nature to criticize or demean, we can cause the voices of gladness to be silenced [and one's desire to smile to be eliminated]. We need those who bring gladness into our lives. We need those who give encouragement and reflect optimism.

Sincere yet simple words of praise can lift souls and bring gladness. Mark Twain remarked that he could live two months on one good compliment. In the words of the biblical proverbs of Solomon: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” (Prov. 25:11.)

Encouragement can be quick and simple, but it is a voice of gladness that is needed by everyone.

So, I made a few decisions today:

1.  Ignore my children.

2.  Remember to say nice things to other moms because their children probably sucked all of their self-worth out of them.

3.  Call Matt to find out if our Health Savings Account covers any kind of cosmetic dentistry.  (I did. It doesn’t.)

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.)

Shut up!

smileI consider myself a fairly confident person overall, but I do have my struggles with self-doubt.  Something about spending the last week at my parents’ home has triggered some pondering in me.  And then when I set goals of things I know I want to be better at, that voice starts a-talkin’.  It says things like this:

When your children sometimes exhibit “unacceptable” behavior, that means you have failed as a mother.

Remember those 12 pounds you’ve gained slowly over the last couple years?  Well, take a good look in the mirror and you can see exactly where they are.  Ha!  Take that, fat girl.

Plus you haven’t exercised once this week.  That means you have no self-discipline and these 12 pounds aren’t going anywhere… they’re probably just the beginning.

Your house would barely qualify as a tool shed in this neighborhood.

When you go to church today and see people from your past, they might look at you and the phrase “worse for the wear” may come to mind.  Sure, smile and be polite, but you know they’re thinking you’ve let yourself go.

Stop making so many comments (two!) in Sunday School.  You’re just a visitor, for pete’s sake.  This is probably why your bishop made you the Primary president… because you just can’t keep your mouth shut in Sunday School and Relief Society.

Plus maybe the stuff you’re saying is dumb and people don’t care anyway.

And then in the mix of all that befuddlement, the Relief Society teacher quoted something she said came from Elder Holland’s talk, “Cast Not Away Therefore Thy Confidence.”  Simply the mention of that title jolted me.  I immediately felt a sense of comfort and acceptance.  My perspective changed and I became accutely aware that the voice I’d been listening to did NOT come from my Heavenly Father.  His voice does not make me feel small or unimportant.  So I jotted down the name of the talk in my notes and came home and studied it.  I just wanted to share a few quotes that have refueled my spirit today:

“Certainly don’t give in to that being who is bent on the destruction of your happiness. Face your doubts. Master your fears. “Cast not away therefore your confidence.” Stay the course and see the beauty of life unfold for you.

“…  I acknowledge the reality of opposition and adversity, but I bear witness of the God of glory, of the redeeming Son of God, of light and hope and a bright future. I promise you that God lives and loves you, each one of you, and that He has set bounds and limits to the opposing powers of darkness. I testify that Jesus is the Christ, the victor over death and hell and the fallen one who schemes there. The gospel of Jesus Christ is true, and it has been restored.  “Fear ye not.” And when the second and third and fourth blows come, “fear ye not. … The Lord shall fight for you.”  Cast not away therefore your confidence.”

So, I’m telling that voice of self doubt to shut up.  There are lots of things about me that it clearly does not understand.  Things like this:

  16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
  17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ;
 
“Though we may see ourselves as weak and simple, we all share a noble heritage and can develop a faith that is equal to that of remarkable, faithful women who have gone before us. We have a vital role to play in helping build the kingdom of God and preparing for the Lord’s coming. In fact, the Lord cannot accomplish His work without the help of His daughters.”
smile2So, stick a sock in it, voice of doubt.  I’ve got a lot of important things to do and be, and I simply don’t have time for your nonsense.  Nice try, though.
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