Monday, February 16, 2009

A little time alone + a good night's sleep = appreciation

Rich and I went away to San Francisco for one night while a good (and brave) friend babysat our family. We had such a wonderful time together, and I am posting some pictures and details on our family blog. This weekend helped me to see a couple of things differently.

First, I love being with my husband alone. When we are alone, we can talk without being interrupted. We can hold hands and sit next to each other without someone plopping themselves right in between us. Everything is more fun with Rich, including walking around in the rain on a cold night, eating at a little city diner, and even laying around in our pajamas and reading separate books. However, as I watched the other people in the city shopping or sitting alone or dressed in perfect corporate-world outfits, I felt deeply how grateful I was to have such a fun, busy, full life with so many great people in it to go home to. I love my life and all the little (and big) people in it that demand so much of my time. I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.

Second, I am grateful to be able to take care of all these people. I spoke last night for a long time with a friend who has had life-threatening complications after the birth of her last baby. She has five children about the same age as our five youngest. Because of her health problems, she cannot even lift her baby, who is 10 months old. She mostly can only care for herself and help with only the simplest needs of her family. What a blessing that, although it is a lot of work to take care of this big group, I am strong and healthy and able to do it.

Life is good.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Here is what one of our daughters wrote during the Sacrament today:

I am six yere's old
Don't bug my brothers
I'll triey to ctr
becuse I know that
Jesus loves me and that
he died for me
I shood ctr becuse
I love Jesus

She also made a list of things she is going to do to be better, including ctr, not bug my brothers, and not scream at my parents. Two of the things that family members complain about is her bugging and screaming.

At the time she showed me this, I had been thinking about my own goal of using kind words with our family and how I just couldn't seem to change my behavior on my own. Reading her note gave me great insight into both her behavior and into myself as a parent. Once again, I realized that she and I are not so different. She wants to change, too. She can't do it on her own, either. She is trying, at her own level, just like I am. Except I am not the patient, long suffering, kind parent that my Father in Heaven is. He doesn't scold me when I make the same mistake over and over. He doesn't lose His patience. He doesn't get angry or throw His hands up in disgust. He just patiently tries to help me remember what I want to do and to help me change, and then He waits while I give it another try, over and over and over.

I thought of the Savior's parable on forgiveness in which a servant is forgiven of a large debt by his Lord but then fails to forgive his own fellowservant of a much smaller debt. My Father in Heaven is unfailingly patient with my inability to change, and I am like the unforgiving servant if I am not patient with my children as they struggle with their own weaknesses.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Great Builders

My mother-in-law sent me an article entitled "The Invisible Mother" by a woman named Charlotte, a US Embassy doctor's wife in India. Charlotte discussed the idea that we feel invisible as mothers and that our work goes unseen by most, and compared it to the makers of the great cathedrals of the world. Here is a portion of the article. (Please email me if you want me to forward the whole text.)

No one can say who built the great cathedrals--we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story... told of a rich man who came to visit a cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, "Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it." And the workman replied, "Because God sees it."

It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewed on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral , but you can't see right now what it will become.'

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the anti-dote to my strong,
stubborn pride.

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home for Thanksgiving, 'My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours, and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there's anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'you're gonna love it there.'

As mothers, we're building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right.