Finally, my much awaited (if only by me) thoughts on Conference.
I'm sure it will come as no surprise to most of you that Elder Ballard's talk was the one that spoke most to my soul. Most of the LDS blogs I have read since Conference at least mention his as being one of the favorites. For those of you that may not be LDS, if you are a mother at all, and especially one of young children, it is an excellent talk to read and one from which women of all faiths can learn.
The thing that struck me most about his words, was the advice to live in the moment. To enjoy the journey, realizing that once we have "arrived" we will long for those moments when our children were young. To value the doing more than getting it done. This really spoke to me, because I really feel like I have lost that ability somewhat since we have lived in Cedar City. Our lives are so full of other stuff (another thing he said to avoid) that I don't feel like I am enjoying my children the way that I used to. I have moments. Just not nearly enough of them, I'm afraid.
But even though I have so much more on my plate than ever before, I should still be able to keep my children as my first priority. I try, but don't always succeed at this. But I learned from Elder Ballard that I should not compare myself to mothers who have a different situation than I do:
"There is no one perfect way to be a good mother. Each situation is unique. Each mother has different challenges, different skills and abilities, and certainly different children. The choice is different and unique for each mother and each family. Many are able to be “full-time moms,” at least during the most formative years of their children’s lives, and many others would like to be. Some may have to work part- or full-time; some may work at home; some may divide their lives into periods of home and family and work. What matters is that a mother loves her children deeply and, in keeping with the devotion she has for God and her husband, prioritizes them above all else."
He then gave several keys to "reduce pressure and enjoy your family more."
Many of the things he mentioned I feel I do well. I have always known that if I don't allow myself a creative outlet, I will be a terrible mother. Maybe you don't need a creative outlet, but every mother needs some sort of outlet. For me, photography, scrapbooking and singing have been the ways I keep my sanity and remember who I was before I was a mother. Who I still am. I think that is very important. Even though from the moment I had Bria it meant I would forever be a mother, mothering won't always be the same. My responsibilites are very unique now as my children are still young. If I allow myself to only be defined by my motherhood, I imagine I would be pretty unhappy once my kids are grown and married with children of their own. I also believe that remembering what I love, learning new things, and refining my talents will ultimately help me to be a better mother. I hope my children will see the things I do and want to try new things themselves. I hope that they will understand that it is a commandment from God to nurture our talents, no matter which stage we happen to be at in our lives.
But this brings up the point of overdoing. And this is where I struggle. Where I have always struggled. This week I have really tried to put my kids absolutely first, even if that meant I didn't get something else done. And you know what? I've been happier, and have gotten even more accomplished than usual.
Another favorite quote from the talk, having to do with my above thoughts:
"I am impressed by countless mothers who have learned how important it is to focus on the things that can only be done in a particular season of life. If a child lives with parents for 18 or 19 years, that span is only one-fourth of a parent’s life. And the most formative time of all, the early years in a child’s life, represents less than one-tenth of a parent’s normal life. It is crucial to focus on our children for the short time we have them with us and to seek, with the help of the Lord, to teach them all we can before they leave our homes. This eternally important work falls to mothers and fathers as equal partners. I am grateful that today many fathers are more involved in the lives of their children. But I believe that the instincts and the intense nurturing involvement of mothers with their children will always be a major key to their well-being. In the words of the proclamation on the family, 'Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children' "
I have thought a lot about nurture in the past, and what that really means. I have written my thoughts on it here. In short, what I learned is that nurturing our children is a huge responsibilty. Huge. And I am recommitted to doing just that. Life in Cedar City may not be ideal for my family, but it is where we are and there isn't much I can change about it. The one thing I can change is my priorities and how I choose to divvy them out.
And the biggest thing for me is going to be learning how to not waste time doing unnecessary things. Sometimes I feel like everything I do is completely necessary, but I know that isn't true at all. I've been working on it, and have a long way to go. I need to get back to my original goal for the year, which is simplification. I've done some good things, but now I need to hyperfocus on simplifying priorities.
I am so thankful for General Conference and the opportunity it always gives me to think about where I am in my spiritual progression and what I am doing to be better, or as the case may be, what I am not doing. I have a special spot in my heart for Elder Ballard particularly, as I was once able to kneel in a circle with him in a living room in Nauvoo and listen to him pray. I know he is truly a man of God. That was witnessed to me then, and I can never deny that. How wonderful it is that we have these men on earth to lead and guide us, and to teach us the things we need to know to survive this life and go on to better things someday.
And now, I go to live in the moment and find joy in my children.