Most of our kids wake up early every morning—even on weekends. In practical ways, I’m glad for their enthusiasm for a new day and their motivation to be up and going. The idea of “sleeping in” sounds nice, but it never works well for me. For the last couple of months, my alarm has been set at 6:30 am, but I have never actually used it to wake up. I’m usually awoken at least a half hour to an hour earlier by the sounds of Rick and the kids beginning another day. Something I am working on improving is my morning attitude. I have bad dreams often. They’re usually not so scary—just stress-filled. They’re usually about things like Rick forgetting to tell me he has invited the entire ward over for dinner or I’m running late getting kids to school and there are so many dishes piled in the sink that I can’t make their lunches or I’m trying to leave an event that I have been at with the kids and I keep finding important things thaf belong to us that have been forgotten and I end up with more bags than I can carry and I’m still forgetting things. You know, typical mom stresses, I guess. So, when I wake up each morning, I rarely feel rested. I have a lingering sense of not being able to keep up. When I realize I’m awake, I go over in my head what I need to do for the day and tell myself, “You got this!” I don’t even think this phrase is correct grammar, but I say it out loud most mornings before I roll out of bed. After I have been up and going for about 20 minutes, I feel energized and ready to go, but I loathe those first anxiety-filled minutes. This doesn’t happen every morning, but it is true of most mornings. I’m sure I’m not crazy and many people feel the same misgivings when beginning a new, full day.
Another thing I do every morning that helps with my morning attitude is listening to LDS General Conference talks while I shower and get ready for the day.
Recently, I listed to a talk by the late President Hinckley from April 2004 entitled “To the Women of the Church.” In his talk, he addressed with appreciation and gratitude many of things that fill up so much of my time. Even though his talk was given over 13 years ago and he wasn’t speaking to me directly, I felt like he had a good grasp of a lot of the things that I worry about keeping up with.
Here are a few things he said to the women around the world as he described our many responsibilities.
“You are companions—the very best friends your husbands have or ever will have.”
I do try to be a happy, positive, loving, helpful wife but fall short often.
He continues, “You are housekeepers. That doesn’t sound like much, does it? But what a job it is to keep a house clean and tidy.”
That’s a true statement. I know many women have experienced that dumbfounded feeling when their husband comes home and asks, “What did you do today?” You look around at the mess and try to list what you did and it seems like you might as well have taken a 3 hour nap for all you visibly accomplished.
Dishes and laundry never go away—never. Laundry even follows you on family trips!
A few weeks ago, I tried not to laugh at myself as I took picture after picture of Andrew helping me in the kitchen. The problem wasnt that I couldn’t capture a decent representation of his cuteness. The problem was that I didn’t want the pile of dishes in the sink or the clutter on the counter or the floor to appear in the picture with him.
More from President Hinckley: ”You are shoppers. Until I got older I never dreamed of what a demanding responsibility it is to keep food in the pantry, to keep clothing neat and presentable, to buy all that is needed to keep a home running.”
This is the phrase that first grabbed my attention when I listened to the talk. Not many people truly appreciate the shopping side of mothering. When I was younger, I loved shopping—any sort. I liked to go grocery shopping with my mom, clothes shopping with my sister, and when I could drive independently I liked to drive 2 hours to Idaho Falls just to go shopping. Now, however, after 18 years of shopping with a baby, toddler, or preschooler always with me, shopping brings me very little satisfaction. It is a seriously overwhelming chore that is often met with criticism from my family when I don’t get what they want when they want or need it. If I buy something they don’t like, they ask why I bought it. If I buy something they do like, they ask why I didn’t buy more of it. If I forget something, they’re annoyed. When we run out of something important like ketchup or toilet paper or milk or bread, it’s my fault. One day a few weeks ago when I was trying to get groceries with Brooklyn and Gavin, a lady sarcastically commented, “Well, you’re a saint to take those two kids shopping with you.” (As if I had a choice). After her comment, I decided to use pictures and videos to document how saintly I actually am.
I’m not sure if the video will come through, but it happened shortly after the “saint” comment. Gavin and Brooklyn enjoyed several happy minutes opening and closing the sliding door on the cold drink refrigerator.
After Sprouts, we headed to the next store where I was to buy about 30 boxes of the kids’ and Rick’s favorite cereal that was on sale for 99 cents. (You can bet Rick asked me later why I didn’t buy more)
Can you imagine standing in line for 20 minutes with two antsy young children while the cashier chats with the lady in front of you? I’m glad the two friends were having such a happy, loooong conservation, but found myself more and more impatient to get through the line. You should know I am not exaggerating the wait to get sympathy. Twenty minutes is a very long time for anybody to wait in a grocery store line, let alone young children. At first, I asked the kids to not touch the gum or candy, but as the slow conversation continued, I let them rearrange to their hearts’ desires. I also let Gavin hide in the small space between the candy and conveyor belt. He probably stashed a few packages of gum in a hard-to-reach place.
At the next store, things weren’t nearly as stressful because they had “car carts.” Gavin does not sit in normal shopping carts very well for very long, but car carts keep his attention as long as Brooklyn doesn’t try to take his seatbelt.
Phew! That’s just one grocery shopping trip!! There’s also clothes and shoe shopping, makeup requests, bathroom and household supplies, yard maintenance, school supplies, and the lists of needs goes on. I am so thankful that modern technology allows me to do a lot of shopping online. Amazon Prime and Walmart’s free shipping on purchases over $35 have saved me a lot of hassle around town, but I still have to find the time to sit at the computer to complete that shopping. It’s tricky to fit it in among the unceasing dishes and laundry. President Hinckley was right about the monumental task shopping for a family can be. But there’s more:
“You are nurses. With every illness that comes along, you are the first to be told about it and the first to respond with help. In cases of serious sickness, you are at the bedside day and night, comforting, encouraging, ministering, praying.”
We have had our share of sicknesses and other medical emergencies, but nothing too serious lately. I count our blessings there. I’m good at assessing the kids’ medical needs and feel pretty confident in this area. This surprises me because as a child and teenager, I was a little woozy when I saw other people’s injuries. After many years of practice and a decent number of unusual hospital stays for the kids, I feel I could breeze through nursing school without too much difficulty or passing out. President Hinckley goes on to address another area in which I am spending an abundant amount of time:
“You are the family chauffeur. You are driving your children about on paper routes, taking them to athletic events, driving them on ward outings, hauling here, there, and everywhere as they pursue their busy lives.”
This has been a big one for me lately. I said in another post that I spend at least an hour in the car each day getting the kids to an from school. Fall sports have just started. After a summer of not having the kids in any sports, camps, or lessons of any sort we felt it was time to let them be involved again. Sean is playing soccer (and loves it). He has practice twice a week with games on Saturdays. Andrew is playing soccer and basketball. He has soccer practice once a week and basketball twice with games for both on Saturdays.
Ricky is playing flag football with the school team and basketball with an AAU team. He has football almost every weekday and basketball twice a week with Saturday games. Phew!! I am so very happy they are on teams that don’t have Sunday practices or games because it truly is a day of rest for us.
Gavin and Brooklyn are very patient about the extra time in the car because this means they also get to play on the sidelines.
I do worry about making sure we have time together as an entire family. I tried to remedy a little of our lost family time last Saturday by insisting that our entire family attend Andrew and Sean’s soccer games. Malayla was not happy about sitting in the hot sun to watch the boys play. I do feel it’s important for the kids to support each other. There’s nothing more exhilarating than to make a goal or an interception or free throw and turn to see your sister or brother happily cheering for you. It’s nice to see your mom, but she’s almost always there. I wish our older kids could catch that vision. I know it’s no picnic to sweat in the sun or sit on uncomfortable bleachers, but it really does contribute a lot to family unity to support each other in activities.
As often as I am overwhelmed by the amount of work to be done each day, I am also grateful to know that I have the capacity to do it. I have a healthy body, a clear mind, and the ability to receive spiritual direction and inspiration that allow me to do all that is required. It is a blessing to serve my family and know that even mundane tasks done with joy and persistence can bring eternal blessings.
I love President Hinckley’s words of encouragement:
“My dear sisters, you marvelous women who have chosen the better part, I stand in great admiration for all that you do. I see your hands in everything.
Walk with pride. Hold your heads up. Work with diligence. Do whatever the Church asks you to do. Pray with faith. You may never know how much good you accomplish. Someone’s life will be blessed by your effort.”
I know this is true, and that’s why every morning I tell myself, “you got this!”