Sunday, February 24, 2013

Patience and Prayer

I must admit, this parenting thing is tricky.  There are days when I watch my kids interact and can't for the life of me figure out why they don't get that things are so much easier when they are nice to each other.  They make things so hard for themselves when they are mean.  We have countless family home evening lessons on how to be nice to each other, why it's important, and everything, but they just. don't. seem. to. get. it.

Patience is something I'm learning with all of this.  It takes great patience for me some days to grit my teeth and keep calm while trying to pry my fighting children off one another.  It takes great patience when I have to, yet again, handle a screaming six-year-old because something didn't go exactly right for him, or the eight-year-old, for that matter.  It takes great patience to bite my tongue and wait until a later time without the kids when I don't like how my husband handles the discipline.  Like today when he made them sit in a time-out for forty-five minutes because of how wild they were when we had some house guests.  Forty-five minutes is excessive for kids aged five to nine, especially when we spent the entire time quieting them.

I had an experience though.  On Thursday this week, I had a fabulous day.  I managed the tantrums and meltdowns of my children beautifully and got a lot done.  We went to the DMV, the store, and the library.  We did preschool and played some games.  I picked them up from school and took them to piano lessons.  I picked up my husband at the airport and came home and whipped up a last-minute dinner, even convincing myself to cook at home instead of stopping somewhere and picking something up.  We got the kids to bed and I spent the evening sewing.

I thought back on why my day had gone so well. I figured out two reasons.  The first was that I had gotten a decent amount of solid sleep the night before.  That was partially due to the fact that my husband was out of town.  His sleep apnea (he has actually been diagnosed and is going back in for more information and treatment!) and snoring keep me awake when my pregnant body doesn't.  He was gone and I slept very well that night.  That can't be duplicated most of the time and I wouldn't necessarily want it to be--him being out of town, that is--but I wouldn't mind separate bedrooms if we could ever do that (just for sleeping's sake!).

The second reason I think was that I had really said my prayers that morning.  I have not been very good with praying most of my life.  I find that I have a hard time really communicating with Heavenly Father and tend to follow more of a script.  Or I find that I can spend the entire prayer asking for things without thanking for anything or the other way around.  Or I forget what I really wanted to pray about and then remember later.  So this year I decided that I  needed to learn how to offer more sincere prayers and really focus on praying.  Focusing on it is one of the harder parts for me because there is always so much going on around me, especially for morning prayers, so I often skip them altogether in the morning.

But Thursday, I really, really prayed.  I focused on asking for guidance when faced with challenges my kids bring me and having the patience to communicate well with them.  I think that helped a lot.  The next day, Friday, I forgot about my morning prayers and proceeded to have one of the most awful days ever.  As I reflect on those two days, I think I need to really work hard at having more sincere, consistent morning prayers. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

I Am a Mom

I am a mom.  That means that my days are not mine.  My time is not mine.

However, I wouldn't have it any other way right now.  This is the life I chose to have.  My power to make a difference in the lives of my children is immeasurable.

Some day my children will be grown.  They will talk about their childhood.  What will they remember?

Will they remember me being there, present in their lives?  Or will they remember me being too busy with other things, things that are much more trivial?

When I chose to have children, I chose to give up some of myself for them.  I chose to put someone else's needs before my own.  I chose to make their lives a priority in my life.

I need to remind myself of these commitments, these obligations.  There are days when I spend too much time watching TV.  There are days when I spend too much time on the Internet.  There are days when I spend too much time reading a book.  I need to take more time each day with my kids as I realize this time is fleeting.

I am a mom. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Ultimate Bully

My children learn a curriculum about once a month at their school called "Bully Blockers".  I don't really know what they talk about in that, and I'm doing more research to find out, but last week there was a news story about another young man who had taken his own life (twelve years old) due to bullying.  So I decided to talk to my kids.

"What do you learn about in Bully Blockers?" I asked.

Mostly it was about how bullying was bad and how they need to be nice.  All good stuff.  However, my biggest concern is that my child will be bullied and not have the strength to get through it, that in being bullied, like this twelve-year-old, they will not be confident enough in themselves and will believe the bully and consider the worst.

So we took the conversation in a different direction.  After all, bullies have been around since the beginning, and because of that, I decided to go back to the beginning.

"Do you know what happened before we came to Earth?" I asked.

My kids mumbled different answers.  So I reminded them of the Primary song I Lived in Heaven.  We sang it and talked about the words.  This is what I told them.

We lived in Heaven before we came here.  Heavenly Father had a plan for us to come to Earth and get a physical body so we could progress and then someday return to Him.  He needed someone to help with this plan, to be a Savior.  Lucifer volunteered, only he wanted to make sure EVERYONE came back by forcing us.  Jesus also volunteered, but wanted to let us have free agency. (We had a little side conversation on free agency).

Heavenly Father wanted us to have free agency and Lucifer (Satan) wanted to force us.  So a war broke out.  Some people followed Satan and others followed Heavenly Father.  In the end, Satan lost and his punishment was that he could never be born and have a body, and all of his followers got the same punishment.  And they were cast out of Heaven.

Then I told them,  "You are on Earth because you followed Heavenly Father.  If you had followed Satan, you wouldn't have been born.  Just the fact that you were born means that you followed Heavenly Father."

"Do you know what this means?  It means that you fought Satan in the pre-existence and won."

They all look at me, realization sinking in.

Then my 6-year-old shouts, "We fought the ultimate bully and beat him!"

And I tell them, "You need to remember that, if you are ever bullied, that you are strong enough to withstand it because you have already fought the ultimate bully and won!"

Think about that.  I hope to teach my children their value in the eyes of God.  Like the book, You Are Special, by Max Lucado, that it only matters what God thinks of them and He already thinks they are pretty special.  Their self-worth and a more eternal perspective will be what strengthens them when in a situation of difficulty.  I just hope that I can teach them this when they are young and it will stay with them as they grow.

Satan is the ultimate bully and they have already beat him once.  That is a pretty powerful thought.


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