When Rich and I were engaged, we decided we wanted to have 9 children. People wonder why 9? We wanted a large family and figured that, if I had a baby every 2 years from age 25 to age 40, we would have 9 children. We haven't made it to 9, but we got off to a running start with the twins coming (three weeks early) a couple of weeks before we had been married 9 months. Boy, have we have learned some things in the past 15 years since we sat there waiting for my mom to come take over. Once she left, we had to--it was sink or swim! I was thinking about all that I have learned from marriage and family this morning. Here are a few of the things that came to mind:
- I learned that, with the Lord's help, you can accomplish anything. I am the baby in a family of two girls, and to think I would be able to have 8 children was actually laughable to my mom. I didn't really know how to cook when we got married, and I wasn't much of an organizer or homemaker. Over and over, I have gone to the Lord for encouragement and ideas. That process has never failed me. I am still not much of a homemaker in the organizing sense, but we are making it!
- Which made me think of the second thing I have learned, and relearned, over the years. The most important thing to the Lord in parenting is not whether you keep a clean, organized, decorated house. I know that He will help us with that, if it is important to us, but if you can't ever get it quite together (I am speaking from personal experience here), that's okay, too. On the other hand, what does matter is to love the people in our lives.
- I am learning all the time that Savior's way really is the best way. This applies to marriage and motherhood and everything else. When I follow the Savior in how I treat others by being patient, unselfish, long-suffering, kind and gentle, I am much happier. Family life sure seems to be a natural, if sometimes painful, path to learning how to be better in this area.
- I have learned that I am a better mother when I forget myself and put other people first. I am a much better wife when I do this, too! Oh, to always remember!!
- I have learned that the ideal of having a family is pretty different from the reality of actually raising one. What you don't see in that family snapshot where everyone is smiling for the camera is the fighting and teasing and wrestling and broken windows and broken bones and tears and mess and work. But you also don't see all the laughing and fun times and sweet moments and chubby little arms wrapped around your neck, either. All in all, it's worth it!