The other day I put on some music and danced with Kaylee. Then I watched her dance. At first, we were just having fun, getting exercise, and being happy. But then, I saw my daughter turn, and as she spun around, it was as though I could see her face age, her baby fat fall away, and a glimpse of her soul peeked through for just a moment. I held my breath, as for just that brief instant, I saw the grace and beauty of an angel. Her beauty was so powerful, that in that single moment, I was touched forever; a part of me will never be the same.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
“The more we know of Jesus, the more we will love Him. The more we know of Jesus, the more we will trust Him. The more we know of Jesus, the more we will want to be like Him and to be with Him by becoming the manner of men and women that He wishes us to be, while living now ‘after the manner of happiness’.”
Neal A. Maxwell, "Plow in Hope," Liahona, July 2001, 7
Sunday morning, I woke up early prayed, read scriptures, and got myself and the kids bathed, dressed, fed and in the car. I made Kevin some toast and woke him up by giving him breakfast in bed. I told him I loved him, and missed him. He glowed and smiled in a way I hadn't seen in awhile. I was feeling spiritual, and I stayed calm and spoke to the kids with the Holy Ghost as a conduit, so they listened. Through every obstacle, like Kaylee refusing to wear shoes, we sailed through it, the Holy Spirit and I, and we kept my focus on the eternal perspective. We got to church about 5 minutes early.
I didn't fret or let my light be diminished about whether or not Kevin would show up to church. I only felt love for him, not even a smidge of resentment or judging him harshly. Sacrament meeting was about---not judging others. I did have to take the baby out several times. We are not perfect, after all. At one point the kids were fighting over the only toy we brought in. I took it and them out to the car. I put it in the car, hugged them, and said we were at church to feel Jesus's love in our hearts, not fight over toys. They seemed resigned.
Kendon found that seeing other babies in the hallway was much more interesting than sacrament meeting, and kept pulling on me as I sat down again in Sacrament meeting, and saying, "Get UP!" I held him close and rocked him, and whispered that I loved him. Eventually he settled down and I was able to sit through the remainder of the meeting.
Rewards for staying Calm
Kendon went to nursery, climbed into a chair and sat with his arms folded. It was amazing. Usually he cries and hangs on me, or at least whimpers, and I have to sneak out while he's distracted. Not today. He looked straight at me, and smiled as he folded his arms reverently as I left. In fact all the nursery kids were sitting in their seats instead of playing with toys. They have some really good teachers, and I also believe the little ones can feel the Spirit.
Instead of Reacting out of Anxiety, Using the Holy Ghost
The second hour of church, Kaylee was really struggling, and wouldn't go in to primary. (It was a difficult morning for her.) She looked really tired, or sad, like she was stuffing down some feelings. I looked at her with spiritual eyes, and could see something was bothering her. I sat down on the floor with her in the hallway, and asked in a calm voice what was going on.
She finally muttered that she had a bad dream last night. I asked if she wanted to talk about it. She shook her head no. Never before has she declined to tell me a dream. She usually loves to go on and on and imbelish her dreams, even the bad ones. I tried to get some details from her, and got out of her that she was hurt in her dream. She lay her head on my lap and stared into the distance, looking very sober and sad. I prayed silently. I told her that no matter what, Mommy would always love her, and that Heavenly Father and Jesus love her and are watching her. I told her she was just a little girl, and shouldn't need to worry about anything. No matter what, me, or daddy, or another grown-up like Sister Sunny would make sure everything will be okay.
She looked up and saw a picture of Samuel the Lamanite. She asked about it. I told her the story. She asked over and over how Heavenly Father protected him from getting hurt. I told her that Heavenly Father wouldn't let Samuel be killed because he still had work to do for Heavenly Father. I told her that none of us can die until our work is finished. After we've finished our jobs to do for Heavenly Father, He may let us die, and that's okay, because he will take us to be with him. I said that as long as we stay close to Jesus Christ, He will take care of our spirits, and our hearts. We won't be scared, or alone, because He will be with us, just like He was with Samuel. We don't have to worry about if our body gets hurt as long as Jesus is taking care of our spirits. We got up then, and went into my Sunday School class. Kaylee told me after we got in that she felt better and was ready to go to primary. She left her shoes with me, and went. I let go of the need to keep up appearances, put her shoes in my purse, and went to Sunday School.
Refusing to be Embarrassed
After church, I met with three women I'd asked to participate in a Relief Society activity. We had a meeting about what I've asked them to do, and all of us felt the spirit. All of them saw this a an opportunity to grow, and as we basked in the spirit, the kids ran in and were being rowdy. I quietly shooed the kids out, without losing my temper, and told the women that I had read words of prophets saying that it is possible to feel the spirit even when little children are being loud and rowdy, but if an adult loses patience with the children, the spirit departs. They all agreed, and we spoke of how precious children are. I told them that the most spiritual event in my life by far happened with kids literally running and screaming all over the house. I felt that truth fill my soul, and they felt it too.
My kids came back in and were being irreverent, and running, but the spirit still did not depart. Eventually, the kids mellowed out a little, as we stayed calm. One of the sisters spoke of how she never grounded or sent her kids to their room. She said that she instead had them sit at the kitchen table until the bad feelings went away. She said it helped both of them, because they were still around eachother, and when they are alone, they just stewed and the bad feelings get worse. Her kids all turned out well, and are now parents and have told her that they never wanted to rebel because she treated them like they were angels and they couldn't bear to disappoint her. I told her I wanted to try that, because I lock my kids in their room, and they hate it and I hate it. Another said that her parents were the same way. They treated her as though she were an angel, the light of their life, and she never wanted to disappoint them. I felt like I needed to learn from them, and use their insight in my own parenting. Kids have missions from Heavenly Father. If I keep the spirit in our home, they can feel what missions they are to perform.
Tough Love Can Still be Soft Love
The kids were wild because they were hungry. We got home and I made some lunch. We cheered when we saw Kevin, and ran and hugged him. Kevin had a headache, and was not feeling well, but he felt loved, and was happy to see us, and came up and ate lunch at the table with us. (Though the reason he didn't come to church was because I was not there to tell him where his good pants were, which tells you how behind I am on the laundry. I don't take responsibility for his choice, but I do see I can be accountable for my part.)
Kaylee complained that she wanted cereal instead of homemade burritos. I didn't let her move me, and refused to give her cereal, but in a calm, cheerful way. I told her later, with love in my heart, that the reason she doesn't get to chose her food all the time, is because she's still a little kid, and she doesn't always understand about food. Grown-ups know more about food and our bodies, and what our bodies need to stay healthy. I said I need to choose her food until she's a grown-up and will know enough about things to choose her own food. I of course try to teach her about nutrition, but it's a work in progress. She tried only one more time to sneak into the cereal, and I, still with love in my heart, allowed only Peter to eat the cereal, because he had eaten his burrito. I cheerfully told her that when she ate some healthy food, she could have a little bit of the sugar food. I explained that she must eat more healthy than sugar foods. (The burrito, was ground up kidney beans with black beans and cheese mixed in, wrapped in a tortilla. It was pretty darn healthy.) She had this look of happiness on her face, even as I took the cereal away. They love it when I stay calm AND keep my promises.
Kevin had a migraine. He was miserable, and asked me to sit with him. I told the kids that daddy had a headache, and we needed to be quiet, and I sat with Kevin that afternoon, and read scriptures while he slept or moaned. I brought him water, a cold pack for his head. The kids were very good and quiet, and left him alone. At one point, I heard Kaylee tell Peter, "Daddy is very sick, Peter, you have to be quiet....He's probably dead." I assured them that Daddy would be okay.
The Root of 'Discipline' is 'Disciple'
The kids started arguing over some trains. Kaylee has been feeling extra protective of Kendon lately, and thought she was defending him, and was mad at Peter, who was hogging the trains saying, "I want to play all by myself!" I followed the prompting of the Spirit. Kaylee kept telling me, "Mom, will you please just pack up the trains, Peter isn't sharing with Kendon." But I said no, I wanted them to practice playing together. After several attempts of letting them work it out on their own, I had to go intercede.
I took Peter in my arms, and rocked him. I spoke gently of Heavenly Father's love for him, and my love for him. I told him about his brother and sister, and how much they love him. I explained that when Kendon tries to take toys from him, it's not because he's trying to steal them, it's because he wants to play with him. I said, "Peter, Kendon wants to be your best buddy. Can you be his best buddy?" We talked a little about how to play together, and Peter was still whiney and unreceptive. But then Kaylee and Kendon came over, and started handing trains to him, and I praised them, and told Peter, "you see? Kendon loves you way more than that train. Kaylee loves you more than that train too! Pretty soon, Peter was sharing back, and I praised him, and said, "see? you love them much more than trains! We all love to be a happy family, more than we love toys, don't we?" All the kids agreed, and each of the kids ran and hugged me, and told me they loved me so much. After that, they played well together, and eventually lost interest in the trains, and focused on eachother.
At the End of the Day
I tidied up and put in some of Kevin's clothes to wash for the next morning. I noticed at 11pm that he had no socks for the next day. So I stayed up late washing laundry. I set out his clothes for the morning, because he'd told me he had extra work to do in the morning, and I knew he would be pressed for time. So at 2am, I had all his clothes, including socks, set out for him. It felt like the perfect end of the perfect day.