Sunday, September 25, 2016

The "Why" of Motherhood

It is a question that almost every mother has heard almost every day and at least more times than they can count on one hand: "Why?"

"H, can you put your dish away?"
 "Why, Mom?"
"So it can be clean when we need a clean dish."
"Why does it need to be clean for us to use it?"
".... So it doesn't make us sick from it being dirty."
"Why would it make us sick from it being dirty?" and so on and so forth...

"We can't go to Grandma's today."
"Why, Mom?"
"Because we need to do chores."
"Because our house needs to be clean."
"Why?" etc. etc. etc.

"No you cannot have a cookie five minutes before we eat dinner, B."
(This one should be imagined in a loud, screaming, 'toddler tantrum style' voice) "BUT MOM, WHY CAN'T I HAVE A COOKIE FIVE MINUTES BEFORE DINNER?!"

"It's time for bed."
"Why?!" followed by a highly dramatized flopping to the floor and kicking of legs.

my three excited children so that you can imagine faces along with those conversations ;
) H age 6, B age 2 (almost 3) and M age 1 month

As children try to understand the world around them, they ask a LOT of "whys". Sometimes my babes ask me so many "whys" that my head actually hurts; I know my answers are important and sometimes the fog of exhaustion that I occasionally live in makes it hard for me to come up with the perfect answers.

A few days ago one of my children came up with the answer to a "why" without me even intentionally answering him. I had all three kids in the car. The morning had been crazy and I was feeling frazzled so I decided to listen to some General Conference talks (these are talks given to us by the leaders of the church I belong to regarding the Savior, love, patience, etc.). The Savior was mentioned in this specific talk. We had been listening for only a a minute when H asks

"Mom, how does Jesus Christ talk to us? Can we hear him?"

I could tell that he was very concerned about finding the answer to this, his little eye brows were furrowed and his eyes were full of questions.

I explained to him that there were different ways that we could hear the Savior.

I told him a few different ways the Savior can speak to us and went on to relate to him that one way was through our leaders, family members and friends around us who can be inspired by the Holy Ghost to speak to us words of encouragement or direction that the Savior would have us hear; I explained that a great opportunity to "hear" the Savior's voice was through our Prophets and Apostles during General Conference. I expressed to him that this was why so love and cherish taking a break from normal life and sitting down and listening to Conference every 6 months and how excited I was to hear Heavenly Father and my Savior speaking to me through our Prophet and Apostles.

Historically H and I have had many power struggles regarding General Conference: but I have been determined to make General Conference an absolute priority and so we have "pushed ahead" (sometimes through tears). And so what H said next struck me a great deal:

"Oh. Now I know, Mom." He said "matter-of-factly".

"What do you know now, bud?" I asked.

"Well now I know why General Conference is so important and why you make me watch. It's because Jesus Christ is the most importantest. And I'd like to hear from Him. And if that's one way we can hear Him then I guess I can try really really hard to try and listen to General Conference and not try and run away when I get bored."

Right before my eyes, H had discovered the "Why" of something. I don't imagine that he will manage to sit still for all 10 hours of conference - heaven knows that task is even hard for me, the 25 year old, to do. But once he understood in his heart the "why" of the tasks that I asked of him, he was far more inspired and energized to complete the tasks.

This experience brought to my mind a quote I heard in a women's meeting a few years ago when Dieter F. Uchtdorf spoke about the question "Why". For those that do not know, Dieter F. Uchtdorf is a leader in the church I belong to (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). This is what he said:

"We focus on what the Lord wants us to do and how we might do it, but we sometimes forget why... 
While understanding the “what” and the “how” of the gospel is necessary, the eternal fire and majesty of the gospel springs from the “why.” When we understand why our Heavenly Father has given us this pattern for living, when we remember why we committed to making it a foundational part of our lives, the gospel ceases to become a burden and, instead, becomes a joy and a delight. It becomes precious and sweet.
Let us not walk the path of discipleship with our eyes on the ground, thinking only of the tasks and obligations before us. Let us not walk unaware of the beauty of the glorious earthly and spiritual landscapes that surround us."
Little H had been focusing on "what" I wanted him to do, but rarely understood or considered "why" I was asking him to do it.

"So, what does this have to do with Motherhood?" you might ask. Well, lately I feel like it has everything to do with Motherhood.

Hunter and I were just recently blessed with the arrival of our sweet baby girl, M, one month ago. She is wonderful in every way we adore her sweet personality. She very much feels comforted and calm when she is being held by her Momma or Daddy; sometimes I find that she needs loving and holding and rocking with no break at all.
My husband is also a farmer - a life style that I absolutely love, but one that also requires a great deal of long hours during the harvest months.  Having a new baby is already an exhausting and soul stretching task before also having a husband as a farmer during harvest at the same time, plus a new baby who only feels comforted snuggled up in my arms, plus two older boys who need love and help and comfort too. Needless to say, it has been an even greater "soul stretching" experience than I have ever personally experienced.

We have been tremendously grateful to loved ones, friends and family who have offered meals and much needed time of tending our two older boys. I really don't know what I would have done without that support. Our hearts have been full.

But I have still found myself at some points feeling filled up with one thousand emotions - sometimes feeling angry, irritated, irrational and most of the time, close to tears. There are so many things that are required of me to do in the role of Motherhood - things that my Father in Heaven requires me to do: feeding food, washing clothes, cleaning a home, grocery shopping, teaching littles to pray, teaching littles to read scriptures, feeding a demanding baby every 20-45 minutes. At times the tasks that build up and those negative emotions and exhaustion can feel like a thick, "spiritually blinding" fog.

Then one evening while I was cuddled up with my two boys at bedtime, I was listening to a podcast from a Mom of many. She described how strongly she felt that her "mission" in life was to be a mother to her children. She described how she felt that there was nothing more important that she could have been doing than nurturing and teaching and loving the littles in her life. She described how she knew that because this "mission" was so important she knew that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ would not leave her without help that she needed - They would literally strengthen her and lift her to complete the task.

As I listened it felt as if a heavy fog was lifting from my "spiritual eyes" and I remembered the "why" of my motherhood. I felt her words in my heart. The world would have me feel as if I am missing out on a whole lot by choosing to be a Mother and with all the "whats" and all of the "hows" it is so very easy to forget the "whys" of motherhood. My Motherhood is not just "To Do" lists or a number of diapers changed, laundry loads washed, dried and folded or meals made.

It is so much more than that.

So WHY is my Motherhood wonderful and important?

Because Motherhood is loving and being loved back; it is teaching about the Savior and learning about Him at the very same time; it is helping a boy grow into a man, a girl into a woman - men and women who have learned to love God and know deep, deep in their hearts that He loved them first. Oh, what a place our world would be if we each knew without a doubt how tremendously God loves us and if we also loved Him as much as we could - it would change the world.

Why is my Motherhood wonderful and important? 

Because these little spirits, so close from Heaven, teach me far more than I could ever manage to learn any place else - and definitely far more than I could ever manage to teach them. And I know that they will change the world if I can manage to do a few things right.    

Just as my little boy will still have his struggles to watch 10 hours of General Conference even though he discovered the "why", I know that I too will still have "foggy, blind" days where I struggle to remember the "why". I am not perfect. But remembering "why" has given me strength and helped me to have the patience I needed when I needed it most...

Like the time in  a quiet night only two weeks after M had been born. B had woke up 3 times and had demanded to be comforted by no one but me (I think he was feeling displaced). H had a nightmare and was wanting a cuddle. M was wailing her little newborn heart out, I'm sure having some growing pains from being farther from Heaven than she had ever felt. Hunter helped me all that he could but in all reality many of the tasks were not things that he could assist me with and all he could do was reassuringly squeeze my hand. I needed desperately to remember the "why" . B woke for the 3rd time that night and I could feel the "fog" surrounding me; I could feel my angry tone rising. I said a quick and desperate prayer and before I even finished I was reminded of a million "whys" and I suddenly felt so much love for B that I felt strong enough to be patient.

This journey of Motherhood is so much more than it can sometimes appear to be in the monotony of exhausted and soul-stretching days.

"My dear sisters, seek out the majesty, the beauty, and the exhilarating joy of the “why” of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The “what” and “how” of obedience mark the way and keep us on the right path. The “why” of obedience sanctifies our actions, transforming the mundane into the majestic. It magnifies our small acts of obedience into holy acts of consecration."
- Dieter F. Uchtdorf

May you ever remember the "why" and always find the majesty and beauty and exhilarating joy of Motherhood.

my first daughter, myself and my remarkable momma, who always makes "remembering the why" look so easy
"All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother."