Thursday, September 16, 2010

a mother who's starting to know

A confluence of thoughts and experiences led me to blogging today:

Last week I read that 500 women were raped in Congo in July and August by both rebel militias and government troops and cried whenever I thought about it for the rest of the day.

I've been thinking and praying about how to have more patience with Anna and how to say yes more and no less.

My mom shared what was said at an area conference about mothers being online and/or working while at home.

I read King Benjamin's address about teaching our children.

I listened to an interview with Julie Beck and her daughters on the Mormon Channel while I folded laundry, cleaned the kitchen, and got dinner started.

With all this stewing in my mind, I've been really analyzing how I spend my time. Do Anna and Levi have my attention while they're awake? When am I crossing over from relaxing down-time to brain-draining wasting time? Am I productive with the time I'm online? Are my priorities right? Are household matters getting attention before my personal entertainment? Am I pulling my weight in our marriage and parenting duties?

I used to devote quite a bit of time to reading the news. But on that day that I read about the rapes in Congo, I thought, "What good is this doing? What on earth can I do for those women, for that country?" I said many prayers for the Congo that day, but it was truly draining to feel the weight of those wrongs all day and feel helpless to do anything about it. There are others who can act. World leaders, church leaders-- it's their job to know about these things and decide how to act, and what aid can be given.

But my job is to provide a peaceful and happy home for my family. And to do that, I need will and energy. When I spend to much time online (reading the news or otherwise), reading magazines, shopping, or watching TV, I can feel that energy being suck away by the world, into its problems and injustices, into self-doubt, into wanting what I don't need, into thinking I need to do or be more than I am.

So more and more I am exercising my will and closing my browser. In the time I used to spend on the news or blogs, I do family search indexing. All the parenting magazines get a quick browse for helpful articles (like one I recently found with FABULOUS ideas for teaching toddlers about all sorts of things) and then get tossed in the recycle bin. I've unsubscribed from about a dozen email lists.

I can tell things are getting better. I am saying yes more often. Anna's happier, I'm happier. I create more, sew more, cook more, and have more fun doing it. Anna's more polite and helping with chores and becoming amazingly creative.

We're no where near ideal yet. I still slip into vegetation and have plenty of bad habits yet to be tamed and broken. But it feels so good to know I'm on the right track.

Julie Beck said, "Mothers who know do less. They permit less of what will not bear good fruit eternally. They allow less media in their homes, less distraction, less activity that draws their children away from their home. Mothers who know are willing to live on less and consume less of the world's goods in order to spend more time with their children—more time eating together, more time working together, more time reading together, more time talking, laughing, singing, and exemplifying. These mothers choose carefully and do not try to choose it all. Their goal is to prepare a rising generation of children who will take the gospel of Jesus Christ into the entire world. Their goal is to prepare future fathers and mothers who will be builders of the Lord's kingdom for the next 50 years. That is influence; that is power."

I feel the power and I'm starting to know.


Samantha said...

Thanks for your is just what I needed to hear.

Jeneric Hansen said...

Thank you so much for this!I have often thought to myself, if the world goes down in flames I would rather die playing monopoly with the kids then watching the news.There is a wonderful video on called "parenting" right along these lines. You are a wonderful mother and Anna and Levi are so lucky to have you. I remember when my kids were little it is so exhausting but so sweet, cherish these times.

Jennie said...

Thank you for this. I constantly ask myself why I clean the house instead of play with my kids. They don't care if the house is messy. They want me. I need to find that middle ground of not letting my house go to trash and playing with my 3 girls.

Emily said...

Thanks for reminding me and inspiring me. It's so hard to feel satisfied with the way I spend my time as a mother, because there's always so much to do! But some things are so much more valuable and eternally important than others. This is something I'm really struggling with right now because I'm always tired with this pregnancy, so I have to nap a lot. We just have to do our best, you know? Anyway, thanks for sharing and helping me remember I'm not the only one out there struggling to be a better wife and mother.

D said...

I know what you mean about not burdening yourself with the world news-- whenever NPR starts talking about the Arab world (i.e. every five minutes) I want to turn it off. I feel like, what can I do about any of this? What do you expect me to do?
And I'm barely affected by anything compared to my wife. The stress of the news causes her physical pain.
And yet...
I think about the most stressful times in my life. They were often when I was changing the most. Think final exams-- it's so hard that it hurts, and you get cranky and go without sleep-- but at the end of it, you know more than you did before. You have a more truthful picture of the real world.
You know the saying "ignorance is bliss." I think we have a kind of duty to face up to the truth, whether or not it's painful.
And we can do something about it. We can contribute to charities, either with money, or time (and I don't mean just tithing.) There are a lot of good, righteous LDS families who have plenty to spare, but spend it all on their own family because they have essentially (with the best of intentions) shut out the outside world, so that it doesn't enter their attention. We can try to spread the word about it. We can try to invent new things that will make it so that people no longer have any use for the oil, or the diamonds, or the slaves and servants.
Of course, there's only a few years when the kids aren't in school. It does make sense to take a few years off from the world when they're so young and dependent.

Eric said...

Nice post, Heather. Reminds me of a talk I love by Neal Maxwell called "The Women of God"

A few quotes:

"You rock a sobbing child without wondering if today’s world is passing you by, because you know you hold tomorrow tightly in your arms."


"When the real history of mankind is fully disclosed, will it feature the echoes of gunfire or the shaping sound of lullabies? The great armistices made by military men or the peacemaking of women in homes and in neighborhoods? Will what happened in cradles and kitchens prove to be more controlling than what happened in congresses? When the surf of the centuries has made the great pyramids so much sand, the everlasting family will still be standing, because it is a celestial institution, formed outside telestial time. The women of God know this."

We hope to get together with you guys here soon! It would be a fun reunion. Tell Sam were working on the plans...

Marci said...

LOVED this! It is something I struggle with constantly. Earlier in the summer I deleted out more than have of the blogs in my google reader and just that alone made such a difference!

Leighanna said...

Thanks Heather! This is a wonderful thought. I needed it. I realized yesterday that in my tired and vegetative state that I tell William, "I don't care" Way too much when he asks for things. I then realized I don't want him to start saying that or developing a careless attitude... So, there's my thing to work on right now. Tuning in and really discussing the things he wants.

Jocelyn Christensen said...

This was truly well-said...what a great post! Thanks for the reminder!

Jacob said...

I totally feel you, I do that all the time. Like dear old Screwtape said, "The great thing is to direct the malice to his immediate neighbours whom he meets every day and to thrust his benevolence out to the remote circumference, to people he does not know. The malice thus becomes wholly real and the benevolence largely imaginary." I'm sure you're doing quite well in life generally, that's just a temptation we all fall into I think.

lizzie said...

I have had moments recently when I wondered why I wasn't out saving the world when I don't do anything all day. Except that I do a lot every day, it is just hard to see what I do when it is in other people's little bodies and little heads. I hope that makes sense.

It is sad to me to realize that I just don't have the time or the mental and emotional energy to keep up with current events and to involve myself in them like I thought I would back in high school and college. But I am doing my part simply by being a mom, as hard as it is for me to see and to recognize on a daily basis.

Thanks for reminding me of that, and for saying it better than I can.

Rebecca Holt Stay said...

Thoughtful post
One of the good things about being a woman is the opportunity to completely redefine yourself over and over again in your lifetime. If you are wise and pay attention like this, how you spend your valuable time will continually change.
As I read your comments I thought of two Carol Lynn Pearson poems:

(on involvement with moral and social issues)

"Some gardeners
slash frantically
at the weed's
offending shoots -

And others
labor steadily,
the roots."



God fashioned me
for feeding,
and set me in
a hungry land.

I give -
to satisfy
the unconscious appetite
of the unborn,
and the child's
first thirsting need.

I give -
to be
sweet sustenance
to aching man,
and then
quiet comfort
to a weary, wanting

There is much
hunger here.

Father - fill me,
that I may nourish

Feeding the hungry,
clothing the naked,
visiting the sick
all need to start at home.
When we are done there, most woment have plenty of time to continue the work out in the world.

tpmotd said...

That's funny. I've recently stopped using the email for anything unplanned or that I didn't get a link to in my email. That is, I decided to stop browsing. And I'm experiencing similar effects.