This morning was rough. After a really rough Christmas season and two weeks with bronchitis, little sleep and the accompanying physical pain of fibromyalgia, I woke up this morning with no motivation. My stomach wheeled at the churning thoughts of everything that I needed to accomplish and an overwhelming weight settled on my spirit.
"I can't", I thought. "I just can't." I can not get up at 5am this morning and make sure my 4 CF kids get their treatments and meds. After a tiring night trying to make my 14 year old feel special on her birthday with her father gone and her brother vomiting from one of his severe migraines, I was especially hopeless.
My mind went through a list of the expectations I had of myself, as though to confirm that it really was impossible to accomplish everything I had been set to do. I can't be the Wolf den mother for 11 boys, primary chorister, bishop's wife, mother, college student, volunteer, visiting teacher, homemaker, supportive sister, daughter to parents in poor health, and Christlike all at once.
I turned to my scriptures, like I always do, for perspective on the morning. I needed 'strength beyond my own'.
I read some great quotes in our upcoming Gospel Doctrine lesson on righteously enduring. It validated the presence of a depressive spirit and counseled us to hang on and look with faith toward a day when we would be blessed for our steadfastness. (As I type this, I feel a sweet assurance I didn't feel at the time, although I did recognize the truth in the statement. I feel a sweet, healing presence now.)
I rolled out of bed and to my knees, the only thought that stood out in the many pleas that came to mind was that I would be able to do what the Lord expected of me today. I could not ask for the strength to do what he would do if he was here, because he is so much stronger than me, so perfect, but I could ask that I be able to do what God expected of me - knowing all my weaknesses, my pride, my offended heart, my physical pain, my fears - after all of that, to do what He knew I was still able to do with his assistance.
I felt a little assured and went out, determined that I would do my best.
My determination lasted about 15 minutes.
It only took one petulant look from my 5 year old when I told her I was making a Bento Box for her sandwich today to break all my resolve.
She doesn't like Bento Boxes.
I can't figure out why.
It was going to be my way of feeling like a good mother.
Of showing my kids and the world that I care about them.
It was cheap.
It wasn't what she wanted.
I wasn't what she wanted.
I wasn't good enough.
My fear, perhaps my greatest fear, I felt, had been validated.
I got defensive and angry.
"Well then, maybe you don't get a lunch at all until you can appreciate what I make."
Not a bad sentiment, but it was said with an angry, resentful and defensive heart.
And I realized that I had just self-validated the thought that I was found wanting, in my ungracious response to my child.
I had failed.
I tried to hold back the tears, but the disappointment was too great. I was so disappointed in my own weakness. And Satan whispered that my tears would bring my husband more concern and unhappiness. That I was failing and hurting him too. Satan is a jerk. And I believed every whisper.
But Satan can't hide all truth.
My wonderful husband was concerned, but he still wanted a kiss goodbye before he went to work.
My emotions stabilized a little during the drive to school as the spirit worked overtime to bring to mind successes, quotes, hymns, counsel, and other comforting thoughts and truths, pulling from hours and days of accumulated study and effort on my part and an eternity of other's concern and service. I listened with my heart to these soothing influences,which shows an improvement in and of itself to times past, when my self-defeat would have drowned out such gentle persuasions.
And we got to school.
Thank heavens for 1/2 hour commutes.
I needed every moment of that time to reach a place where I could appreciate what was to follow.
We pulled up to the school and I haven't spent the drive in a tirade. (A touch on my thoughts reminds me that not long ago just getting to school in this vehicle was considered a miracle, and we never did really find the problem, but. ..here we are.) And even though we are late, I can honestly wish my children a good day and blessings. I see my 14 year old leave the car, not with the tears she left the house with, but with a smile to accompany her birthday cupcakes. My 11 year old pops out of the car with a smile. My 5 year old still has some petulance, but is willing to be goaded into a half-smile. And my sweet 9 year old boy still needs a practice spelling test.
I am able to gently coach him through studying, then a test, on which he gets 100%. And as he leaves the car, with confidence and a cheeky smile, he says 'Bye mom!'.
And that was the moment.
The moment I realized that the humble word 'mom', is the best title ever.
Anything else I do or don't do. Anything else I succeed or don't succeed at. My husband and children, my own personal stewardship, my family - they are the most important thing. They are the sweetest blessing and reward.
That word, 'mom', as spoken by a 9 year old boy, encompassed so much meaning. Trust that I loved him, that I would be back, that he was safe, that all was going to be alright. All that hope and comfort and assurance was brought to him through having parents. Through having a 'mom'.
I was enough.