Mom Shame: Whom the Lord loveth, He maketh cry like a baby.

I paraphrased that scripture in the title a little bit.  It really says “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth,” but I was just trying to make it more accurate as it relates to me.

(Deep breath.)

I’ve been drafting this post in my head for five days, and it’s still going to sting a little.  In fact, as soon as “the incident” happened, I knew I was going to have to blog about it, but that I would have to wait until I had recovered my dignity.  I don’t know why I feel so compelled to tell this story, but my best guess is that it has something to do with confessing and moving on.

I’ve been busy. There’s the regular busy:  the meals, laundry, carpool, church responsibilities, volunteering at kids’ schools, homework and chore supervision, etc.  On top of that, I have several writing projects going on, many of them with deadlines (even if they’re self-imposed). I’ve also had some lesson and teaching preparations happening on the side. I’ve been doing some behind-the-scenes research and really-small-scale activism about some social issues that have captured my attention and that I feel strongly about. It seems like I’ve had a really long ever-growing list of emails to reply to and appointments to make and stuff that just keeps taking a few minutes here and a few minutes there.  Other tasks and details added to my juggling efforts, and I started to feel a little out of balance.  You know, the nagging feeling that maybe I needed to pause and refocus, but I was too busy to do that, so I just left the thought hanging and kept on going.

Fast forward to Friday.  I was hosting a girls’ night party at my house that night, so I was engaged in must-get-the-house-clean-and-do-party-prep mode.  I got sucked into some emails and other online “business” in the morning that I kept going back to and checking on in between chores.  The boys were at school and Natalie was working on her own chore chart and then I turned on a show for her.  The phone rang and I talked to my good friend for a while.  Toward the end of our conversation, I told her I would email her a link about something we were discussing, and I headed toward the computer to log in and pull it up on the screen.  When I walked over to my desk, I saw this note taped to my keyboard.  It knocked the air out of me.

It felt like a kick in the stomach. I stumbled through a quick goodbye to my friend, hung up the phone, and carried the paper into the family room.  Natalie was sitting on the couch.  She saw the paper, and her eyes were wide waiting for my reaction.

I started to cry.

“I’m sorry, Natalie.  Do you feel like I think the computer is more important than you are?”  She nodded yes.

“Have I been a bad mom?”  Yes again.

I cried more and said I was sorry more.  She looked a little worried, but she hugged me, and she mostly seemed relieved for having voiced her grievance and been understood.  I, on the other hand, was mortified.  Here I was writing a book about motherhood, blogging about motherhood, trying to find ways to fight pornography and protect my children, and frankly, forgetting to be a good mother.  I felt it deep.  You can talk it away and rationalize, but I know it was a necessary, personal wake-up call.  It was a guilty flame that burned out a little hole inside of me, and God was giving me a chance to fill it back up again with the right stuff.

I talked to a friend.  I talked to my mom.  And when I thought I could tell the story without crying, I told Matt.  I was wrong.  We all came to the same conclusion.  I was doing good things.  I really was, but I neglected the most important things.  It was a classic case of good, better, best, and I failed.  It’s not like I had abandoned my children and all household responsibilities, but I could have done better.  I should have done better.  I like to think that God heard my silent heart-prayers about feeling out of balance and not quite knowing where to fix it, and then He sent me a lightening bolt answer.  It wasn’t a fun answer.  It was humiliating.  But it was the right answer.  It was just hard.

Natalie and I have talked about it more, and we’ve come up with a system that allows me to work on some projects, but still gives her the time and attention she needs from me.  It will take a little time for me to change some habits, remind myself often what matters most, and get things balanced again.  It’s totally worth it.  Maybe even the shame part.

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” –Luke 12:34

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A few post-scripts:

1.  The girls’ night was fun!  Natalie joined in and loved it.
2.  Next weekend is the Story @ Home conference in Salt Lake, where my friend Jana is teaching this workshop: “Striking a Balance with Real life and Online: It’s unacceptable to put our families in crisis or fail and give up on our dreams, both can work.  Come learn five essential principles for following your dreams and striking a balance while keeping God and family first.”  Coincidence?  I think not.  Come join us.
3.  The book I contributed to is still at its special pre-sale price.  Here’s a link to know more and buy a copy or two.  🙂

GCBC Week 16: “As Many as I Love, I Rebuke and Chasten” by Elder D. Todd Christofferson

First of all, thanks to all of you who checked in to the roll call last week.  I’m glad to know there’s still a little army marching along.  🙂

I really, really like this talk by Elder Christofferson.  Maybe it’s because the Lord teaches me often through chastening. The “naggings” of the Holy Ghost have frequently been the means by which I finally get my act together and do what I know I should be doing.  And I’m grateful for that.

“As Many as I Love, I Rebuke and Chasten” by Elder D. Todd Christofferson

Some of my favorite quotes in this talk were:

Divine chastening has at least three purposes: (1) to persuade us to repent, (2) to refine and sanctify us, and (3) at times to redirect our course in life to what God knows is a better path.

If we sincerely desire and strive to measure up to the high expectations of our Heavenly Father, He will ensure that we receive all the help we need, whether it be comforting, strengthening, or chastening.

What parts of his message stood out most to you? How do you think we can apply these lessons?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.  If this is your first visit to GCBC, visit here to learn more about it, and join the fun.

GCBC Week 25: Pride

This week we’ll take a look at one of the great talks from the priesthood session.

“Pride and the Priesthood”
President Dieter F. Uctdorf

“It is almost impossible to be lifted up in pride when our hearts are filled with charity. “No one can assist in this work except he shall be humble and full of love.” When we see the world around us through the lens of the pure love of Christ, we begin to understand humility.”

Share in the comments some things you learned or appreciated as you studied this talk.  If this is your first time visiting the General Conference Book Club, click here for more information.

Open mouth, insert cork (to keep the foot out).

“Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing a tempting moment.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

I sometimes think I’m kind of funny.  In fact, I’ve long thought my wit was one of my more attractive qualities.  I can make a quick, snappy comeback to most situations and usually elicit some laughter.  I hate fighting and contention, but I love clever banter.  In fact, I often use humor as a way to diffuse a potentially volatile environment.  This will make sense to any Austen fans out there, but one of the reasons I love Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice is her gift for smart and funny conversation, like the time when she and Jane are both lamenting her single status right after Jane and Mr. Bingley became engaged:

Jane Bennet: Oh, Lizzie, if I could but see you happy. If there were such another man for you.
Elizabeth Bennet: Perhaps Mr. Collins has a cousin.

I love that kind of laughing away an awkward situation.  There’s obviously a place for humor:

“Find happiness in ordinary things, and keep your sense of humor.”  ~ President Boyd K. Packer

“There is certainly no defence against adverse fortune which is, on the whole, so effectual as an habitual sense of humor.”~ Thomas Wentworth Storrow Higginson, quoted by President James E. Faust

However, in the last couple weeks my “humor” has made a couple of bad situations worse.  My attempts to make a witty comment left some people offended, and upon reflection, in both cases I realize they thought I was making light of their struggle.  So, I’ve been eating a little humble pie Continue reading

General Conference Book Club Week 11: Elder Ringwood

(Remember that today is the first day of the 12 days of Christmas.  If you’re interested in joining us in a challenge to spread kindness, click here for more information.)

I know the holidays are a really busy time.  Amidst all of it, try to remember this advice we learned in last week’s talk by Sister Matsumori:

“If we provide a still and quiet time each day when we are not bombarded by television, computer, video games, or personal electronic devices, we allow that still, small voice an opportunity to provide personal revelation and to whisper sweet guidance, reassurance, and comfort to us.”

So whether it’s this book club, or time in your scriptures, let’s take the time to replenish our Spirits so we can keep our priorities strong amid all the bustle.  (I slacked off last week and I felt it.)

This week’s talk is called “An Easiness and Willingness to Believe” and was given by Elder Michael T. Ringwood of the Quorum of the Seventy during the Sunday afternoon session of General Conference.  Our lives can become complicated, but the gospel is quite simple; just taking the most simple, basic steps in our daily lives gives us access to the knowledge, blessings and faith we need to wade through all the complications.

“The daily living of the gospel brings a softness of heart needed to have an easiness and willingness to believe the word of God.”

“If you are like me, you will find what really brought an easiness and willingness to believe were not the circumstances but the commitment to live the gospel during [significant] periods of life.”

You can read it here, or watch it here, or listen here.  It’s also on page 100 in the November Ensign.  Share your insights and goals in the comments after reading the talk.  I missed all your voices last week.  (Go here if you’d like more information about this General Conference Book Club.)