A Year of Habits, no. 13
I have such mixed feelings tonight. Soccer season is now in full swing at our house, increasing time in the car and at parks all over the place and restricting time at home to keep things running. I feel a sense of disappointment in myself for not having the house fully under control by now, but nothing can be done about it except to keep trying.
March was a rugged month. I’ve had all ten of us at the dentist for cleanings and exams, sealants and fillings. The time spent at the dentist in addition to time spent driving to and from schools to check children out and back in have all cut significantly into my usual housekeeping and laundry routines. Who knew that my own dentist appointment would kill all productivity for five days before the antibiotics finally made a difference? It’s been a month spent adjusting to new work arrangements for my husband and the stress that comes with every learning curve presented by a new job. We’ve had unexpected expenses, children in emotional meltdown, and dozens of unforeseen mini-emergencies with several of our children. I keep telling myself that there’s a reason I lost ground instead of gaining ground. Just as March is the month when you can see weather for all four seasons of the year in a single day, our lives have felt all over the place as well.
The experiences we had in March reinforced the importance of my goals; indeed, I feel increasingly urgent about them. The reality of March was that I had to be a mother, and part of being a mother is doing what needs to be done right now. We had a lot of “right now” needs.
And so part of me thinks that it makes sense, that it’s ok. Another part of me wonders if I’m just making excuses. Part of me feels so sad that it’s April and I have nothing substantial to show for my efforts. And part of me says to press on, give it more time, keep working and look back later for signs of growth. I’m trying to silence the first three thoughts and give full reign to the last. It is, after all, the only productive thing to do.
In all of this, I also look at the month and realize that I’ve learned some really valuable lessons. My heart has been tested. My hopes and dreams have been refined a little bit by the difficulties we’ve faced. I am more grateful for simple things. I have more appreciation for how hard my children are trying to be good, for how hard some of their challenges are for them. I have more appreciation for answers to prayer, even to those prayers spoken as I open my mouth in response to a child’s distress, thinking “I have no idea what to say right now, please put the right words in my mouth.” The words have come. Tears have come as well, lots of them. I feel more humble, more dependent on God. My faith and confidence in Him has grown. I can see His hand in my life, and even in the things I really don’t want to deal with. I’ve learned lessons about preparing our children to have experiences with Christ’s atonement as they negotiate their relationships with friends and peers. I have learned more about how essential it is that we never withhold compliments and praise from teenagers. I’ve learned how desperately they sometimes need to hear a positive word, any positive word, from any adult they have contact with. I’ve been a mother on her knees asking God to please bless someone, anyone, to notice something good about my child and say it to them. And I’ve wept with gratitude when that prayer was answered. I wonder how many other mothers have prayed for this same blessing, and resolve to become someone who can be trusted to compliment people freely.
As much as we’ve been stretched, I’m aware we’re immeasurably blessed. I know people who have been dealt terrible blows in the past month. I have wept for them and felt sobered by the relative ease of my circumstances. This week brought a number of opportunities to serve others. It feels good to have done it. I got to spend more time talking with a good friend. We had sunshine for 3 1/2 days this week, more than we’ve had in a while (never mind the fact that it snowed last night and then went from winter to spring three or four times throughout the day today). I did a better job of preparing our meals early in the day. In fact, I did a better job all around in the kitchen.
March is over; April begun. Another week awaits my best efforts. As a family we got to watch General Conference which never fails to inspire and direct. Life is good. I am grateful for all I’ve learned and anxious to learn more. Like everyone else, we have some things in life I have no solution for, and I wonder how they can possibly work out. But it will. It always does. I hope that whatever I need to learn this week can be learned without so much disruption to the maintenance of home and family. But whatever comes, we will trust the Lord. As my husband said to me last night, “He has a plan. Let’s let Him work it.”
Have a great week.