Sunday, February 20, 2011

How do I Serve?

In Relief Society today, we had a lesson on Service (probably like most people around the world.) The teacher put four categories of different kinds of service on the board, and then we made lists of ways that we can serve under each category. The categories were economical, social, physical and spiritual. It created a very inspiring discussion to think of so many different ways to serve.

Ever since the lesson, I have been pondering how the service of motherhood, probably the greatest service most women give, was not very represented on the list we made.

Maybe we don't see all the work we do for our families as 'service' because it is so menial and so every-day. It doesn't get us much attention from others, and most of it has to be done all over again the next day.

It's like not being able to see the forest through the trees.

Motherhood begins as women are willing to literally 'lose themselves' to provide physical bodies for Heavenly Father's spirit children. What greater physical service could someone give? Then, whether you give birth to the children or adopt them, the work of taking care of them is some of the most demanding physical work around. In fact, there aren't many other professions that require someone to do all his regular work during the day after being on the night shift, and being woken up regularly, all night.

Sister Julie B. Beck said at Women's Conference last year, "...I learned something from my father-in-law years ago. He was steel worker and spent his time working three different shifts. He either worked the day shift, the night shift, or the swing shift. As a young mother I realized that I was working all three shifts, and that's why I was so tired."

And while all acts of service are worthwhile and appreciated by our Father in Heaven, I believe that the most effective and long-lasting service we can give is the service we give to our families.

We serve as we do the physical work, such as cooking, cleaning, laundry, and carpooling. We also get the fun physical service, like giving lots and lots of hugs and kisses, and playing together.

We serve as we persevere through Family Home Evening and scripture study and Sunday church and trying to go to an event as a family, only to spend most of it watching toddlers in the hall.

We serve as we come up with creative ways to make breakfasts and lunches for everyone, and then get up early to make sure they eat and get out the door with lunch in hand on time.

We serve as we give over our bodies to little growing babies for 9 months, and then to big growing babies for possibly another year or more. We give up our sleep and we give up our fashion style and we give up our cute little compact car.

When they grow up and have some more freedom, we give up our sleep again, this time driving them to and from Stake dances and never really falling asleep until they are safely home once they can drive themselves.

If I had to sit in that lesson again, I would try to make my comments focus more on motherhood, just to give all those great mothers some more appreciation for all of the service they do every day without even thinking about it.

Monday, February 14, 2011

It's nice growing older

Happy Valentine's Day

Today we are having an afternoon holiday, which means that I can post the significant thought that I just had on the blog.

Here is the significant thought: It's nice to get older. It seems, to me, that life gets easier as I get older.

Here is why I had that thought: Last night, Rich and I stayed up late putting together little valentine boxes for each of the children. I had purchased all sorts of little treats at the dollar store the week before. Rich helped me assemble them and then read his book while I cut out hearts and put a short note in each one. Then, when Rich went to brush his teeth, I put out a card and a treat for him.

I had to do this last night because Rich gets up with the high schoolers and gets them breakfast and out the door to seminary (and on Monday, signed up for basketball reffing), and I sleep in.

Just now, Rich called from work. He thanked me for the note in the card. He apologized for not leaving a note for me. I told him that I didn't care. I know he loves me. I told him that my "note" was that he got up with the older children and handled the basketball sign-ups and breakfast and the laundry crisis that happened this morning and let me sleep in. I told him that I know he loves me because he does things.

And I really meant it.

Something about this exchange took my mind back 16 years to our second Valentine's Day together. I remembered, with a cringe, how mad I got because Rich completely forgot Valentine's Day. He finally remembered about three days later and brought me flowers, but I held this against him for something like five or six years. I said I forgave him but, oh, I sure didn't forget about it.

And yet, somehow, with the passing of time and the closeness that comes with weathering the storms of life together, I don't feel like he has to do something special on Valentine's Day to show his love for me anymore. Maybe it's about understanding his heart. Maybe it's about forgetting myself. Maybe it's about getting more mellow with age (even though it seems I am less mellow in a lot of other areas...) Maybe it's called maturity.

Anyway, it's nice, whatever it is.

It's nice to grow older with someone and know them so well that you know what is in their heart. It's nice to give them the benefit of the doubt and not waste a bunch of time pouting or angry. It's nice to just feel happy on Valentine's Day because I was able to do something for my family to show them I love them.

Well, and I could write an entire post about how wonderful my husband is and how much I love him. (But I already told him that in my note.)

Yep, it's nice growing older.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

It's a new holiday

Have you heard about the new holiday? It's March 9--Get Over It Day. The best thing is, you celebrate it year-round.

I love this concept. "Get over it!"

For some reason, probably that I am now in my 40s and experiencing those nasty peri-menopausal hormones, I have gotten obsessive about things that I used to take in stride. Like when I recently signed Katie and Jacob up for the ACT before waiting to get their track season schedule. Once I received the schedule, I realized I signed them up for the same day as their biggest home track meet of the season. I should have waited.

I talked to Katie about it. I talked to Rich about it. I talked to Jacob about it. They each said, "Oh well."

I looked it up to see if we could change it. We can--for $20 each--$40 I am not willing to pay just to change the date of a test that I should have waited to sign up for until I got the track schedule.

It still bugs me.

It's at this point--the point where I cannot change the thing that is driving me crazy, the thing that I wish I could go back and do over, the thing that makes me cringe when I think of it--that I need to say to myself "Get over it!"

I did everything I can do. I made a mistake. The consequences aren't that bad. They are only Juniors. They will have another big home track meet next year. They need to take the ACT. They don't seem to really care that much. So get over it!

Issues like this seem to come up more and more these days (hormones). So I am trying to learn to say "Get over it!" sooner.

Like Friday night. I had signed up to bring 2 dozen homemade cinnamon rolls to the Young Women fundraiser. I had also signed up to bring a potato salad. We also had a lot of home schooling to do to finish the week. Daniel also had a basketball game.

So I was a little frazzled when I put the cinnamon rolls in the oven. I put two small pans on the top rack, and they cooked too quickly. They were done on top but not it the middle. I didn't realize it until I frosted them. Then I put them back in the oven, but I couldn't be sure they cooked all the way.

I still had the pan from the bottom rack. Those cooked perfectly, as usual. But that meant I could only bring 1 dozen cinnamon rolls. Can I tell you how much this was bugging me? I wanted to bring 2 dozen cinnamon rolls. I had signed up to bring 2 dozen cinnamon rolls. I always bring 2 dozen cinnamon rolls.

But I only had 1 dozen.

So I told myself, "Get over it!" They will survive with only 1 dozen. No one will notice. It will be fine. It will all work out.

I was still a little tense, but I am new at this.

And so I took only 1 dozen cinnamon rolls, and guess what? It was just fine.

There are lots of things in life about which a mother cannot say "Get over it!" The important things, like keeping the commandments and giving basic care to the family and accomplishing big things that matter to other people. But most things that don't go just right really won't matter in the long run. In fact, most things that go awry will either be a vague memory or a funny story later on.

Oh, why can't I remember that at the time?

So tonight I vow to say to myself "Get over it!" as quickly as possible when the details of something are really getting under my skin.

In fact, here are a few things that have been bugging me lately. I am going to tell myself "Get over it!" right now about these things.

So I am not the weight I want to be and very much not the weight I was when we got married. For 17 years, I have been bearing and raising children. I have the family that I always hoped for. But because I have that family, there hasn't been a lot of free time to exercise. And when there has been free time, there has also been illness and low iron and surgery. I eat healthy food and exercise. My current weight does not interfere with our life or with doing the things that I love. The day will come when I will be able to focus more on myself. So get over it!

So what if my husband does not pick up a room unless specifically asked? He does pick it up when I ask him. And he does a lot of other things that I don't ask, like balance the budget and pay the bills and unclog the toilet. And he never complains about how the house looks. He is 40 years old. He has lived half of his life. If he doesn't notice a messy room now, he probably never will, unless I point it out to him. So get over it!

And speaking of the house, it is more messy than I would like during the week. But we have a large family, and more than half of it is home all day long. We home school, which means I spend much of my time during the day teaching my children, which otherwise would be spent keeping things up. And the toddler spends much of her time undoing anything that I do manage to get done when my back is turned! I like home schooling. The day will come when there are no more children to teach, and no more toddlers, and it will be a lot easier to keep up with the housework. Plus, it will never matter how tidy our house was during the years that we raised our family. So get over it!

I could go on, really I could, but you get my point!

So celebrate with me and say "Get over it!" about something that has been bugging you today!