"Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely."

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Feb 21, Friday

These are the things on my mind right now, thoughts swirling around, intertwining, and fighting for my attention…

I read a quote today from President Hinckley: "We should work at our responsibility as parents as if everything in life counted on it, because in fact everything in life does count on it.”

This thought underscores something I have been thinking about lately.  I am not a terrible parent, and in some ways I am a fabulous mom.  But in other ways, I stink.  I lack self control at times and yell – something my own parents never did!  Often, I find myself simply not knowing the wise way to handle a situation, or what kind of consequence would actually teach my kids what they need to learn.  The whole goal is to guide and teach them to become capable, successful, emotionally intelligent, hard-working, responsible, respectful adults, right?  Just like any other parent, I want to give them the best of what my parents gave me, and much more.  I want them to be better prepared for life than I was in certain areas.  I want them to want to do the right things for the right reasons.  But I often find myself at a loss.  How do I handle this situation, or that one?  And more often than not, I don’t have time to think it through or even ponder it, because there are 50 million things pulling for my attention – things and people that cannot be neglected!  However, in light of this quote from President Hinckley, I feel that I must focus myself more on improving my mom skills and tuning myself into the real needs of my children.  I guess I have never been great at multi-tasking.  It comes naturally to some, but not to me.  How do I concentrate on so many vital things?  Impossible.  However, I WILL make this a higher priority.

Another thing on my mind – health.  I started to make significant progress in 2013, but lately have dropped the ball.  We’re not all sitting around eating twinkies, mind you, or even eating fast food.  But I know this is an area where I have been slacking – not out of laziness, but maybe out of exhaustion!  I can do better.
I want to be prepared.  Self sufficient.  We are so far away from this goal in almost every conceivable way, although I suppose we are better off than many because of the small preparations that we have already made.  I just don’t know where to begin. It is absolutely overwhelming to me!  One of the most significant dilemmas I face in this realm is food storage.  Food that stores well is mostly crap – or at least lower quality than what I want to feed my family.  I am ok with us all living on sub-par food in an emergency situation!  The problem is that you are supposed to rotate the food…and eat it regularly.  What to do?

Order and organization have never been my fortes.  But it is slightly ridiculous how much organizing (and cleaning) I really need to do.  Why am I typing this right now?  Good question.  I need to get my buns off the computer and start cleaning like a mad woman while the baby is asleep!  My problem in this area is that I never seem to manage more than the bare minimum.  IF I am able to keep the kitchen clean, the floor semi-vacuumed, and all the stuff put away, or mostly put away (including laundry) – even for just a short while -  that is a small miracle.  So I never really make it to the organizing, because I never get past the cleaning first!  Deep cleaning is preceded by surface cleaning, right?  I literally do not know how I will ever make progress on cleaning out the garage, or even just a closet, when it takes all of my best efforts to simply “maintain.”

These are just the largest, most pressing concerns on my mind.  There are at least a hundred more, not the least of which is this decaying society.  And I am so incredibly concerned about our freedoms being snatched away…because our government is absolutely, unabashedly, out of control! I want to do something to fight it!  But I literally have no clue what to do…and the aforementioned responsibilities weigh so heavily on my mind that there is no room for more.  

Keeping one’s head above water is a full time job, especially when you want to create the best for your family.  The best health, education, knowledge, spiritual understanding, purpose and happiness – the pursuit of these things for those you love most literally requires all of your focus and energy.  In fact, it requires more than your best.  You need God’s help.  And I suppose that is what this all comes down to.  I will not be swept away by the tide of my own overwhelm caused by innumerable to-do lists!  And I will not be swept away by my own feelings of inadequacy in the face of so many solemn responsibilities!  I will live deliberately.  I will push forward and not waver in my determination to create the life the Lord expects me to live and create for my children!

However, we need each other.  I need your ideas and suggestions, and I suppose I may have something to offer that you need too. So please, share your insights about any of the above mentioned concerns… I would greatly appreciate it. 


michellemcpherson said...

Michelle, I just love you! You have such a great writing style and even though I don't have kids right now, I would totally trust any advice you would ever give in being a great mom. Your kids personalities are one example of what a great job your doing! So fun to hear what they come up with, they seem so smart too!

Unknown said...

Dear Michelle,
I loved your comments, and your cry for help.
We are not on earth to keep a perfect house, but we do try to keep an environment conducive to the Spirit. That means working at cleanliness, but with little children, it is not a keeper!! The children are the focus, not the house. When the children grow up and leave home, then you can organize to your heart's content (until your grandchildren come!)
You are teaching your children how to live their lives by how you live yours. If they push until you yell, then apologize to them for yelling, while pointing out to them that their actions bring about consequence,too. Teach them to listen to the Spirit, teach them to pray often, teach them to have quiet time during the day, where they don't have TV or even music, just a book or a toy. When they do something "bad",or have questions about people or their lives; instead of just giving them the answer, have them go and talk to Heavenly Father about it, and then come to you and tell you what Heavenly Father told them. (You will need to listen carefully to the Spirit yourself, {sometimes they don't ask, they just report what they think you might want to hear}, send them back to really talk to Heavenly Father) You will feel funny at first, but this is an area you will truly receive a lot of help from the Lord as you teach them to take their problems to the Lord. It is astounding how clear their answers will be, how deep their understanding.
Problems that puzzle you regarding your children's spiritual, emotional, and physical needs will be answered in the scriptures. Pray about the problem, read your scriptures at your allotted time, and I promise that answers will be revealed to you for all your family's needs.
I love to be organized, and when the children were little and focused on disorganizing everything around them, I would choose a drawer, or a small area to clean and organize each day. I would clean it and feel so good that at least that small part was done. Often it was the only thing I could organize in a day. Life is long-term, live it that way. If it takes 6 weeks to deep clean everything or even 3 months, who cares? Sure we would like to be able to do everything every day (and Satan is really okay with that attitude, because it prevents us from enjoying our lives), but really, we are only asked to live our lives close to the Spirit, and be guided by those promptings we receive. Righteous living is such a clear example to our children of how to live their own lives.
Also pray about how to make your food storage something that your family can eat and thrive while doing so. You will truly receive answers to absolutely any thing you need in this life.
We love you a lot Michelle, and we are so proud of your efforts, so proud of the joy you take in your husband and children. We are glad to have gotten to know you while you were in the ward at BYU.
Our prayers will join with yours to help you find solid answers to all your daily needs. If you have questions about whether or not you are doing a good job at life, just look at your "fruit"- God gave them to you because He trusts you, and knows you will love them and give them a good example, and train them to seek Him, to be obedient and loving. Take heart, you are doing better than you think you are, and you can become like Him, one step at a time.
Bernice Prigmore

Wendy Ray said...

What a joy to wave across cyberspace from a boat that is so very similar to yours!
I know I don't need to remind YOU that being a Mom is about more than keeping things looking pretty, or to enjoy the beautiful moments among the not-so pretty surroundings... you're one of MY heroes on those things!
And I have little advice to offer by way of organization because, like you, every time I make any progress beyond what MUST be done each day, something huge happens (seriously, like a miscarriage. Huge things.) and everything is worse than ever for weeks.
But if you ever find yourself in storms that threaten to swallow you, when your boat has poorly patched leaks and you've been bailing for hours and hours and you're too tired to row and no one seems to be helping, maybe I can put into words a few thoughts that have saved me from sinking... so much so, that I would choose the storm with its lessons, hands down, over any pleasure cruise (after the fact, of course: if we could see clearly during the storm, we wouldn't seek the only real Help there IS).
We wives and mothers do a LOT of waiting, don't we? You and I struggle particularly with waiting for things to be in order, easy to find, easy to delegate, easy to prepare and easy to share.
Thankfully, our Father in Heaven, who knows and loves this desire in us, isn't looking in frustration at the messes we're not handling perfectly. It's really possible that He could have made housekeeping easier, made our husbands a little more aware and helpful during their free time, made healthy food prep less time-consuming, taught us a tip or two earlier on, or simply made us more talented at multi-tasking!
But He didn't.
And we can trust Him in that.
Because far more than our comfort, He is working for our growth, our journey to become as He is. So fighting against the test can be such a distraction and a waste of energy.
In one of my biggest storms, I had been holding my temper as well as I could for a LONG time, but unbearable kept becoming worse much faster than my patience growing.
I had once studied the book of Job during a terrible trial and it made me feel even worse. During this trial, I grabbed the OT Institute manual to supplement my primary lesson prep, and it fell open to Job. The irony almost made me laugh and close the book, but I decided the Lord is just too easy on me and it couldn't possibly make things worse.
Later that day, at the peak of unfairness, in a moment that could have been a gaping wound forever, through the thoughts on Job, I was given a sobering revelation: "you're not mad at your husband or your children. You're mad at Me for not making your life easier."
And it was the truth! I had been fighting all the uncomfortable situations in my life (mostly centered around chores) and trying to throw blame at my weaknesses or the people around me, when deep down I was mad at Him for not babying me the way my Mom would under the circumstances.
My frustration with Him "justified me" in yelling, falling into bed when I was too tired to pray, etc., etc... Tiny deviations from conscience that didn't change His love for me, but absolutely kept me from feeling His love.
I realized in that moment I can trust Him, even when nothing around me seems right. I no longer needed to fight against Him or my husband just because I didn't understand what they were thinking!
I can build from here, in His strength, the relationships that are so dear to me, and together we can tackle all those decisions on how to spend our energy and resources to God's Glory.
He will teach me to be a perfect housekeeper AND He will teach me what that actually means. And while I wait for that growth, which will probably be slow, my mind will be so open to wisdom from others: wisdom that I might not need right now, but that others might learn because I have learned... it's a beautiful plan, really.

Wendy Ray said...

Two other thoughts, then off my soapbox and off to the kitchen!

I know some people (my Mother-in-law included) who absolutely excel at multi-tasking. I stand in awe at what they can do. But there is a price to that awareness that closes their minds to other things sometimes. There are others I know who never will multi-task well and are not very organized, but have a gift for things of the heart. When I need help cleaning my kitchen I might not call them (we wouldn't get anything done and the kids would still be tearing the house apart while we had a wonderful visit), but when my children or I have a broken heart or a spiritual victory to share, I know who would listen.
Everyone's gifts are a huge blessing. The things we're not good at have a purpose we're taught about in scripture as well.

And last, a quote I have in the most cluttered part of my house: "smart people HAVE clutter. It's nothing to be ashamed of, but it does need to be dealt with."