Sep 1, 2013

Love Conquers All

Painting pumpkins almost a year ago
Today, as I sat in church, tears streamed down my face....out of gratitude.  Lets start from the beginning.  I went to church (which is 3 hours long) today with my 3 little children.  My hubby had to work and was out of town.  That happens a lot.  He works so much.  I feel so bad for him.  But that's another story.  Anyways, I'm at church and both of my boys start screaming and crying at the top of their lungs.  So I quickly swoop them up in my arms and dash out into the hall, trying not to be a disturbance to others.  Taylor followed right behind.  Once in the hall, I tried to force my son Lincoln into a chair and told him that his bad behavior was not ok.  Another girl (young, like 14 yrs old)seeing that I had my hands full, tried to come up and help me....but that didn't go over so well.  So I ended up walking outside and letting the kids run around playing hide and seek (close by where I could see), while I talked to this sweet young 14 yr old girl, who has actually been through a lot...also another long story that I won't go into detail about.  After the first hour was up, I had to drop my two oldest off at their classes, which they love.  Then I went to the class that I teach every Sunday.  I teach 8 year olds, and let me just say, when I began teaching them, it was rough!!!  I have a few kids in my class that can be challenging, and at first I didn't know how to handle them.  But over time, I have started to figure it out.  The first eye opener was when I saw how another lady responded to their bad behavior.  She didn't yell at them, or even talk sternly.  She dealt with them very calmly.  Previous to that, I was talking sternly with them.  Kind of like the way I talk to my 5 year old when she is in trouble.  The "challenging" children did not respond well to that.  Once I realized that I didn't need to get angry or stern with them, class has gone a lot smoother for me.  Anyways, today, one of my more "active" children was crawling around on the floor and really disrupting my whole class.  I had already asked 3 times (very calmly and patiently) for her to get back to her seat.  She was not responding, so I spoke sternly for her to get back to her seat.  She then went back.  After class, we go into a larger room where kids form the ages of 8 to 12 sit and learn together.  The "active" child sat next to me.  Lets just call her Anne.  During class, I looked down and saw "Anne" picking at her dirty little foot, trying to get a sliver out.  In all honesty, my very FIRST thought, was, "ewwww, disgusting....doesn't this child have manners?".  And then as quickly as that raced through my mind, another thought came.  I remembered my childhood, and how carefree I was.  I ran around all summer barefoot and dirty.  And I'm sure I was the "active" child in church.  In fact, I KNOW I was when I was 12.  My poor teacher!
Well, my heart softened.  I realized right then and there, that I needed to embrace who she was, instead of scolding.  Don't get me wrong.  I know there is a time and place to have fun and crawl around, and I know that we should be somewhat reverent at church.  But at this moment, I felt the strongest urge to put my arm around her and tell her something kind.  I looked over at her, a little unsure of what to say or do.  At that moment, she was bent over in her chair with her head on the ground, so I tapped her on her back.  She sat up quickly, with a guilty look on her face, sure that I was going to scold her for fooling around in her chair.  I put my arm around her, and told her how grateful I was that she was in my class.  And I really meant it.  Tears started pouring down my face.  I whispered in her ear that I was sorry for being stern with her in class earlier.  While tears were streaming down my face, I thought of the Savior, and how He feels about little children.  I am sure He would have treated them with love, instead of scolding them.
Most importantly I also thought about my own children and how I parent them.  I think I've mentioned this before (here), but sometimes I find myself being concerned with how others are judging me as a mother, and as a teacher at church.  I get too concerned when other adults give me that know the look.....the one where they are thinking....."look at her (me), she sucks as a parent, her kids have no respect for her and are soooo disobedient!"  Or at least, that is what I am assuming "they" are thinking when they give "the look".  I'm sure my own ideas of how a child should behave, and my own feeling of inadequacy plays a big part into the assumption that other people are judging me.  But I also know, people do judge.  I do.  I hate to admit it, but I do.  So many times, I've had to take a big bite of humble pie, so to speak.  Because I make a judgment on someone else, and then later realize that I shouldn't have judged since I was going through the exact same thing with my children.  Funny how that happens!
Anyways, I've realized something profound today.  It's definitely not the first time I've realized it, but it hit me hard today.  Like a hammer pounding a nail into wood....I feel like Heavenly Father is teaching me OVER and OVER again (to gently remind me) to be patient, and to not worry about how others are judging me as a parent.  I know that a child's worth, and how they feel about themselves is so fragile.  I hold my children's self worth in my hands.  I can either crush it, or make it blossom.  Obviously I want to make it blossom.  I know that children mostly learn out of love and gentleness.  There is a time and place for talking sternly and disciplining, but I DEFINITELY don't want to use those tactics out of fear.  Fear of what others may be thinking about me, as a parent. 
I've realized that I am getting a lot better at this.  I realize more quickly when I am acting out of fear, and try to put myself in check.  To make myself realize that it does NOT matter what anyone else thinks.  When I was out in the hall dealing with my LOUD son Lincoln earlier at church, a woman was watching me.  I could not tell what she was thinking, but I was embarrassed.  But then quickly I reminded myself, that it does not matter.  I have nothing to be embarrassed about.  I cannot control my child's behavior completely 100% of the time.  It's NOT possible. 
 In all honesty, all that matters is what my children think about me.  All that matters is that when my children are going through a hard time, whether in elementary school or high school, or beyond....that they will want to come to me to talk about their problems.  That my children will trust me no matter what.  I want them to be my very best friends.  My husband, and my children mean more to me than anything else on this earth.  As it should be.  As each day passes, I realize more and more how much I LOVE being a mother.  It is an awesome responsibility.  I really do think it is the BEST "job" anyone could ever have in this life.  Motherhood can mold a woman into something beautiful. 
So with tears streaming down my face, I thanked God for giving me another reminder from this sweet little girl "Anne", about humility, patience, and grace.  And you know what...."Anne" sat quietly beside me the rest of class.  It was a small miracle.  Love really does conquer all.


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