Last week I read a blog post written by a mother who bemoaned moms who blog about the downfalls and poor behavior of their families and children. She spoke of teaching children correctly so bad behavior doesn't happen in the first place, and most especially- not laughing about it when it does. (While I don't know this mother personally, only through reading her blog, I respect and admire her viewpoints and have gained a lot by reading her posts) She then listed a few links to blogs that were more uplifting- better examples of what we should be promoting as mothers, I suppose.
Her tirade made me stop and think. I wondered if it could be my blog she might have been critical of, as I often make light of our bad behavior. (Then I quickly retracted that thought because I remembered that I have probably about five people who read mine!)
I happened to look at a few of the links that she suggested. She was right. They were inspiring to say the least. Well thought out posts by moms who by all appearances put their families at the very top of their lists. I appreciated that they weren't full of posts of perfect parties and outings, or even the latest, hippest clothes (although I do think it's fun that some moms plan perfect parties and wear hip clothes :) It didn't feel like they were trying to show-off even, but they did speak of the importance of homemaking, clean/tidy homes, organization, and kind and ever-obedient children who seemingly never fight but are instead always the "best of friends" and are always quick to help when they see the need.
I'll be honest. I felt a little inspired. I thought to myself, "Why, I'm going to do better tomorrow!" The whole idea of her home seemed like an episode of Leave It To Beaver. The idea of being able to create such a beautiful, peaceful refuge for my family is certainly appealing, and so I promised that I was going to do just that.
Yeah, it ain't happenin' around here so much. And it's not because I don't try. Aaaand the whole thing can leave a person a little discouraged and wonder one of two things: 1) Is it me who messed this all up? or 2) Is it my kids?
I don't think either of those questions are very healthy.
The thing is, this isn't the first time that this has happened. There are certain blogs that I find admirable, and reading them gives me good ideas and thoughts of how to improve- but they sure do seem perfect: perfect chore system, perfect routines, perfect grades, and of course, perfect ever-lovin', smilin' children who go along with it all. Part of me is screaming "What is wrong with us?" and the other part (that doesn't scream, because good mothers don't, remember?) is quietly pondering about how wonderful it all sounds and if I only tried harder I bet I could create that too.
Here's what I think I think. (No, that's not a typo- it's honesty. My husband will attest to the fact that I sometimes think out loud to decide what I think. And eventually I might think myself into thinking something else. . .) I am not insinuating that those other moms I spoke of are lying. Or even presenting themselves falsely. I am quite aware that there are a gazillion mothers out there that have their lives waaaay more pulled together than I do. I believe there are mothers who have a special talent of communicating and teaching their children in a way that promotes kindness, obedience, and harmony in ways that I, unfortunately, have not yet mastered. I KNOW that there are many mothers who are more organized with both their time and their homes. They have a knack for setting up routines and schedules that help their homes run smoothly and keep their children on task. I admire all of these abilities. I really do!
But. Those abilities are not mine. My house is most often untidy. My children sometimes (as in someone does this at least once a day- even hour) argue with me and disagree with the rules I set. I know they love each other, but sometimes I can't tell. Their rooms are unclean more than they are clean. Their instruments are unpracticed more than they are practiced.
In one of the blogs I read, the mother wrote, "I take homemaking seriously". I believe she does. She seems very talented at it. And today, amidst the after-school chaos that ensued despite my best efforts to avert it, I had to remind myself that I take homemaking seriously too. Motherhood and being a homemaker is absolutely the most important priority in my life, along with my marriage.
But. That doesn't always mean my efforts are automatically rewarded. While I have great kids, I may not see the fruits of all of my hard work in a minute-to-minute way. And I'm afraid that if I expect that based on what I perceive from others, I will be disappointed, overwhelmed, and discouraged. Perhaps I would even quit trying, because. . .to be honest, I work really hard at it, and if "she" can do it, but I can't, then maybe I'm failing and what's the use?
Number one. I hope that because my kids sometimes do naughty things and I record it in a way that helps me to laugh about it later, I do not seem like I think bad behavior is funny. Because it's not. But also? When I step away from the "I can't believe my child just did that!" first moments of yet another parenting "crises", it helps me to see the humor in things. I want to be able to laugh and realize that we're doing our best. I don't want us to take us too seriously. In the words of one of my favorite ladies, Margorie Hinckley,“The only way to get through life is to laugh your way through it. You either have to laugh or cry. I prefer to laugh. Crying gives me a headache.”
Number two. I have to believe that while I may not always see immediate results from what Courtney and I teach, our hard work and diligence will one day pay off. I love the following quote from Elder David A. Bednar, from this talk that I have been pondering lately,
In my office is a beautiful painting of a wheat field. The painting is a vast collection of individual brushstrokes—none of which in isolation is very interesting or impressive. In fact, if you stand close to the canvas, all you can see is a mass of seemingly unrelated and unattractive streaks of yellow and gold and brown paint. However, as you gradually move away from the canvas, all of the individual brushstrokes combine together and produce a magnificent landscape of a wheat field. Many ordinary, individual brushstrokes work together to create a captivating and beautiful painting.
Each family prayer, each episode of family scripture study, and each family home evening is a brushstroke on the canvas of our souls. No one event may appear to be very impressive or memorable. But just as the yellow and gold and brown strokes of paint complement each other and produce an impressive masterpiece, so our consistency in doing seemingly small things can lead to significant spiritual results. “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great” (D&C 64:33).
Anyway, let's not quit. Let's not think that everyone else is doing it perfect, or even more- let's not think that anyone has to do it perfectly (even our children!). Let's just do our best- our very best, while remembering that all of those moments of hard work are little brush strokes that will one day combine together to create a beautiful masterpiece. Not today, but someday. Let's be more diligent and concerned with what is happening in our homes.
But let's laugh, ok? Like Sister Hinckley, I much prefer laughing to crying.