Happy Mother's Day!
How many of you feel like you are a candidate for the Mother of the Year award? How many of you feel like in the midst of all the hectic business of life and the stressed words that were expressed at our children and loved ones you go to bed feeling like the day was a loss or a failure? There have been plenty of nights when both of us have gone to bed wondering what we could have done better. There is an amazing talk by President Uchtdorf titled "Of Things That Matter Most" given in 2010 that can give us hope and guidance. In it he talks about the pace of our modern lives and the benefit of slowing down and steadying the course and focusing on the essentials.
We all have so much to do, with all our dishes and laundry, the vacuuming...and much more. And then there are things like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and all the other apps and games or other social networks out there that sometimes it hard to focus on the things that matter most.
"Let’s be honest; it’s rather easy to be busy. We all can think up a list of tasks that will overwhelm our schedules. Some might even think that their self-worth depends on the length of their to-do list. They flood the open spaces in their time with lists of meetings and minutia—even during times of stress and fatigue. Because they unnecessarily complicate their lives, they often feel increased frustration, diminished joy, and too little sense of meaning in their lives." Pres. Uchtdorf
Sometimes it can be hard to decide what should go on our to do list. It can be even harder to prioritize all those things. There have been many times when I will be in the middle of a chore and one or both of my girls will ask me to come dance with them, or read a book, or play some game. I always feel torn between getting my chores done, the things I feel need to get done, and spending precious time with my little girls. Most of the time I will tell them I need to finish, because I feel its important that my girls realize that we can't always play, that there does come a time when we need to work. (I also feel these are prime opportunities to teach my girls how to do certain jobs and chores) but there are other times when I see that pleading little twinkle in their beautiful eyes that I remember something my own mom has told me many times. "The dishes will still be there, the laundry can wait, but your children wont always be there, and they can't stop growing in order to wait for you to enjoy this time with them." In these instances I stop what I'm doing and I go play with my girls. I like to believe those are the memories that they will take through life with them, that "Mom would stop and play with me."
"Printed material, wide-ranging media sources, electronic tools and gadgets—all helpful if used properly—can become hurtful diversions or heartless chambers of isolation." Pres. Uchtdorf
There are other things in our lives that have become more prevalent the last few years that can be huge distractions. Let me just say, I don't think distractions are a "BAD" thing. Sometimes we ALL need a little distraction to keep us from completely going crazy. However, it is important to keep those things in check, and not let them rule our lives. We can't let them become a priority over the things that are truly important in our lives.
“We have to forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best because they develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen our families.” Elder Oaks
As we go through our days there are things that NEED to get done. Each of us has the same allotted time, we each have 24 hours in which we have to accomplish all of our tasks. So, which are the things that we can do without? We mentioned Facebook and Pinterest and some other things that can take up a lot of our time. At times we tend to let these things monopolize our lives. So many women (and men) use these "tools" to compare themselves to others, which often times leads to feeling inadequate. Another down side to obsessing over the computer or any electronic device, is, at least in our cases, our children tend to misbehave a lot more when our attention is so riveted on a screen. Again, we're not saying these things are BAD, they are just things that we need to keep in balance and not allow them to get out of control or take up time that should be used for something else.
We have a challenge for you. We challenge you to for at least one day (maybe more if you can) turn off the TV and the computer, put down your iPad, or any other device you may have and take out some of those distractions. The challenge isn't so much about turning things off as much as it is REPLACING those things with more simple things, the things that build you up and can help revitalize you. Since most of you readers are writers you could print off your WIP the day before and then for your "unplugged" day simply use a pencil. If any of you participate in this challenge we would love to hear about your experience. There is a little story in the talk we have been quoting that we found humorous and fitting.
..it wasn’t long after astronauts and cosmonauts orbited the earth that they realized ballpoint pens would not work in space. And so some very smart people went to work solving the problem. It took thousands of hours and millions of dollars, but in the end, they developed a pen that could write anywhere, in any temperature, and on nearly any surface. But how did the astronauts and cosmonauts get along until the problem was solved? They simply used a pencil.
We have so much technology in our modern day lives that we have grown to depend on it so we feel like we need it at our finger tips all the time. But if we step back for a moment we may realize that much of this technology is only creating more stress and clutter in our lives than necessary. It doesn't matter what the world thinks of us. It doesn't matter if we have as many pins on Pinterest as our friends do, or as many pictures on Facebook of fun vacations and parties. It doesn't matter how many "likes" we get on our statuses. We should give little notice to things like this and instead focus on the things that uplift us and build up our foundation in the gospel.
We have a divine role as mothers to set an example for our children and teach them about the things that give true value to our lives. It is also our duty to unlock their own divine potential. In doing this, our children become our greatest cheerleaders and in turn help us to be better mothers.
Last week I (Jessica) made a birthday cake for my youngest daughter's birthday. This was a slightly stressful task because I have never taken any cake classes and I was just flying by the seat of my pants. I kept worrying about whether or not it would look right, and just the way I envisioned it. As I was applying the first layer of icing (the "dirty icing" which is just plain white icing) my oldest daughter was standing near and kept gasping and exclaiming, "Mom, you're doing a great job!" or "Mom, that is so beautiful!" It wouldn't matter if this cake turned out looking nothing like I envisioned because my girls would think it was perfect, and that is what truly matters.
When I (Ashley) take the dog on a walk, I put my younger 2 children in a double jogging stroller, and my oldest rides his bike along side. The other day, I decided to pick up the pace a bit and jog part of the way home. The dog thought this was great and began to pull on the leash wanting to go even faster. The runner I am not kept screaming inside at me to STOP! But I had this little voice next me on his bike who kept saying, "You can go faster Mom!" and "I know you can run all the rest of the way!" My little cheerleader, he inspired me to keep going. I didn't run all the way home, but I felt pretty darn good knowing my little guy has faith in me and didn't want me to quit. I think I need to jog with him more often!
These are the people who's opinions matter, and they think we are Super Moms. So we should go to bed at night feeling like a super mom.
We feel that way about our own mother. Growing up, we both truly believed that none of our friends had cleaner houses than we did. Our laundry was always done. Even if you needed that work shirt that you wore the night before, you could come home from school to find it hanging in your closet. But this wasn't all. Our childhoods are filled with afternoons of flashcards, spelling quizzes, and stories. Every time we left that school project to the last minute, Mom was there to stay up with you until it was done. I will always remember the banana Mom drew on the cover of my report on Ecuador. Our shelves in our homes today have many books on them that are worn and tattered from being read so many times throughout our childhoods. But we keep them because they hold so many fond memories of reading together with Mom. She taught us how to clean and cook, but will always be the first to tell us that the cleaning can wait, our children are more important. Our mom truly is Super Mom, we love you!
You may find yourself asking what makes a good mother. We answer you with a quote from Pres. Uchtdorf's talk:
...in short, they focus on the things that matter most.