You feel like you are the only one who is snapping at your kids and the only one with goldfish crackers smashed into your carpet. You feel like you are the only one with kids who don’t listen or who seem to be bickering non-stop and the only one who forgot about a meeting that you should’ve been at or something for your kid’s school project. Sometimes you feel like a lousy Mom and everyone else has it all together. You’re the one with a kid screaming as your dragging them out of the store. You’re the one who always has more laundry in the basket, whether clean or dirty, than you do in the dresser drawers. You’re the one with a to-do list the size of Texas and only a few things crossed off. Sometimes you feel alone and cumbered with the so many roles you carry and sometimes downright stressed, overwhelmed, and frankly not like the Mom you thought you’d be. You may feel that way at times. I know I do. I have felt like the only one and yet time and time again I am reminded that I am not. Maybe all of the descriptions above don’t fit you to a tee but you could take away a few and add a few others and still another slew of women would join you in the battle.
I recently had a conversation with a good friend and neighbor about how we often forget that others are real and we are determined that they have it all together. She said that she would think that our home was pristine. Well, she was wrong. :) As we type, behind me sits a room waiting for me or someone to come a long and bring it back into order and a similar scenario rings true for almost every room in the house. On another occasion I discovered that someone thought that I listened to Church music and only church music every day of the week. When they found out I rocked out to the radio while doing dishes they were surprised. I too was surprised at how I am perceived. Church music every day would be great but that is not the real me. We like dance parties at our house. If we think we know the kind of Mom that lies behind the doors of each and every home, we are mistaken. We are all real and we are all trying but none of us is the perfect wife, or mother, or woman.
Today, I had the opportunity to sit in Relief Society and listen to a lovely lesson. I am in primary and it was nice to have a spirit-filled adult driven lesson (I do love primary but it was nice today:). I ended up making a comment about how today, Mother’s Day, can be a day full of guilt and we can be too hard on ourselves. I talked about how we are not the only one and we need to recognize that everyone else is real, we are all human, and no one has everything all together and perfectly in order. We are all trying and we all fall short sometimes. I shared portions of the conversation that my friend and I had had. As I expounded on this idea I felt how much it resonated with so many other sisters in the room. There were tears and there was no question that many had felt the way I described. We need to be real with ourselves. We need to realize that we are doing just fine. And that so-and-so down the street is just as real as you and sometimes they feel lousy and frustrated and completely behind and rundown just like you do.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland ( “Because She Is a Mother”) gave this encouragement, “Do the best you can through these years, but whatever else you do, cherish that role that is so uniquely yours and for which heaven itself sends angels to watch over you and your little ones. Yours is the work of salvation, and therefore you will be magnified, compensated, made more than you are and better than you have ever been as you try to make honest effort, however feeble you may sometimes feel that to be.”
All we need to do is make an honest effort. Sometimes I think that things are too hard to get done with 3 demanding little ones but I don’t give it my best effort and some things fall short. In saying that we are all real and we all struggle I am not saying we should justify our behavior as mothers or let things slide that really matter because so-and-so struggles with that too. We do need to try our best. We shouldn’t join in the comparing that sometimes goes on among women but we can recognize that no one is perfect and not beat ourselves up over our imperfectness.
President Gordon B. Hinckley continually counseled, “Do your best.” And then he added: “But I want to emphasize that it be the very best. We are too prone to be satisfied with mediocre performance. We are capable of doing so much better” (“Standing Strong and Immovable,” World Leadership Training Meeting, 10 January 2004 [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2004], 21).
So on this Mother’s Day, recognize the good that you do. Recognize the good that others do. Recognize that you’re not perfect and that is okay, just try your very best and you will be “made more than you are and better than you have ever been”.
This is just as much counsel to me as it is to anyone else. My hope this week as I am down on my knees picking up the goldfish smashed into the carpet, and trying to hold my tongue when I feel close to snapping, and dragging my 3 year old out of the store screaming, and trying to make our dressers fuller than our baskets, that I can remember that I may not be perfect but if I am trying my very best that angels will be watching over me and my little ones. I hope they feel invited because I need them and so does so-and-so down the street.
Happy Mother’s Day!