Family has always been important to me, more important than anything else. As a teen I would rather spend time with family than with friends and I had a hard time getting used to missing birthday parties or family outings because of a conflicting work & school schedules. Now that I have a small family of my own and have chosen the career of a full-time mother at home, I feel a deep sense of gratitude and peace because I have the privilege of always being able to put family first.
During this Christmas season I have been pondering even more upon the importance of family life, as well as thinking of ways that I can improve upon myself as a mother for the year 2014. I have been wondering about my role as a full-time mother, wondering what my priorities need to be when teaching Squeeker and how I can make our home a safe haven for our family. I'll admit, I've also been looking for a bit of edification regarding my decision to stay home. Here are some things that I found, which I think are deeply profound and have strengthened my resolve and focus as a full-time stay at home mother.
These quotes and thoughts are all from LDS.org. I am of the LDS faith, also known as a mormon, but I hope that no one feels marginalized or judged while reading this blog. I only desire to share some beautiful words I have found, which have provided much illumination to me, and do not desire to exclude anyone not of my faith. I personally view being a mother as a sacred work, one that I constantly look toward our savior and heavenly father for help to accomplish.
"Motherhood consists of three principle attributes or qualities: namely, (1) the power to bear, (2) the ability to rear, (3) the gift of love. ... This ability and willingness properly to rear children, the gift to love, and eagerness, yes, longing to express it in soul development, make motherhood the noblest office or calling in the world." "She who rears successfully a family of healthy, beautiful sons and daughters, whose influence will be felt through generations to come, ... deserves the highest honor man can give, and the choicest blessings of God." - President David O. McKay
"Beware of the subtle ways Satan employs to take you from the plan of God and true happiness. One of Satan’s most effective approaches is to demean the role of wife and mother in the home. This is an attack at the very heart of God’s plan to foster love between husband and wife and to nurture children in an atmosphere of understanding, peace, appreciation, and support. Much of the violence that is rampant in the world today is the harvest of weakened homes. Government and social plans will not effectively correct that, nor can the best efforts of schools and churches fully compensate for the absence of the tender care of a compassionate mother and wife in the home. ...As a mother guided by the Lord, you weave a fabric of character in your children from threads of truth through careful instruction and worthy example. You imbue the traits of honesty, faith in God, duty, respect for others, kindness, self-confidence, and the desire to contribute, to learn, and to give in your trusting children’s minds and hearts. No day-care center can do that. It is your sacred right and privilege. ...Of course, as a woman you can do exceptionally well in the workplace, but is that the best use of your divinely appointed talents and feminine traits? As a husband, don’t encourage your wife to go to work to help in your divinely appointed responsibility of providing resources for the family, if you can possibly avoid it. As the prophets have counseled, to the extent possible with the help of the Lord, as parents, work together to keep Mother in the home. Your presence there will strengthen the self-confidence of your children and decrease the chance of emotional challenges. Moreover, as you teach truth by word and example, those children will come to understand who they are and what they can obtain as divine children of Father in Heaven."
- Elder Richard G. Scott
"One apparent impact of the women’s movement has been the feelings of discontent it has created among young women who have chosen the role of wife and mother. They are often made to feel that there are more exciting and self-fulfilling roles for women than housework, diaper changing, and children calling for mother. This view loses sight of the eternal perspective that God elected women to the noble role of mother and that exaltation is eternal fatherhood and eternal motherhood." "Mothers in Zion, your God-given roles are so vital to your own exaltation and to the salvation and exaltation of your family. A child needs a mother more than all the things money can buy. Spending time with your children is the greatest gift of all. With love in my heart for the mothers in Zion, I would now like to suggest ten specific ways our mothers may spend effective time with their children." - President Ezra Taft Benson
President Benson goes on to explain 10 ways mothers at home should spend time with their children. I will list and briefly explain them here:
1. Be at the crossroads. This means that we should be there for our children when they are coming home and leaving home, there to see them leave for school or on dates and there when they return.2. Be a real friend. This includes listening, really listening to them. It also includes talking, joking, laughing, singing, playing, hugging, and crying with them. Try to have one-on-one time with each child.
3. Read to your children. President Benson quotes the poem "The Reading Mother" by Strickland Gillilan:
"You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be —
I had a mother who read to me.
4. Pray with your children. Remember, "Out of the mouth of babes... hast thou ordained strength" (Ps. 8:2). There have been times in my life when I was at a complete loss for what to do. I felt like I had no one to turn to and I didn't know how to fix the problem I had in front of me. During those times, even during the years when I claimed agnosticism, I would feel myself pleading within my soul. To whom was I pleading? Myself? The universe? I know now that heavenly father hears our cries, even when we don't believe he is there. I believe it will help our children in the long run to teach them that we are never alone and our father in heaven will always hear us through the chaos and darkness of life.
5. Weekly family home evenings. Family home evenings are an intricate part of the LDS faith, because our religion is centered around the importance of the family unit. Once a week we gather together as a family, making sure not to schedule anything else on the same evening decided by the family, and take time to feel the spirit within the home. Family home evenings are about teaching each other principles of our gospel, but also about playing together and building relationships together through meaningful activities where everyone is involved.
6. Be together at mealtimes as often as possible. This was difficult to do even when it was just my husband and I, but I know it is possible because I have seen big families do it. Talking together during dinner and sharing our experiences of the day keeps us tightly knitted together.
7. Read scriptures together daily as a family. I believe that by doing this we will bring increased spirituality into our homes, especially when family members discuss what has been read and try to apply it to the family as a whole and individual family members. When people question our values, why mormons don't drink coffee or alcohol, why we get married in temples, etc. The answers all reside in the scriptures and the best way to support each other in our beliefs is to go to the source and better understand why for ourselves. This enables children to feel strengthened and sure as they live their lives according to the principles the family reads about in the scriptures.
8. Take time to do things together as a family. This includes activities like birthdays, picnics, trips, dance recitals, little league games, school plays, etc. and has to do with making them special memory building times where as many family members are present as possible. When we are supporting each other in all of the activities we enjoy as individuals, we will respect and love each other more.
9. Teach your children at home. President Benson says that it important to learn to recognize the best teaching moments, like at mealtime, while driving children to their activities, at the foot of the bed at the end of the day, anytime when we feel like our child needs some added knowledge concerning their life experiences. President Benson said it best, "Mothers, you are your children’s best teacher. Don’t shift this precious responsibility to day-care centers or baby-sitters. ... The Church cannot teach like you can. The school cannot. The day-care center cannot. But you can, and the Lord will sustain you. Your children will remember your teachings forever, and when they are old, they will not depart from them. ... Mothers, this kind of heavenly, motherly teaching takes time—lots of time. It cannot be done effectively part-time. It must be done all the time in order to save and exalt your children. This is your divine calling."
10. Truly love your children. Most women are pretty amazing at this the moment they find out they are pregnant and it is the only thing listed that I don't think I need to actively work on. It is because of the love I have for my daughter that I sought out ways to serve her better in the first place.
So, in my mind this time of year 'Tis the season to be family' more than anything else. This is why I'm re-prioritizing and refocusing on being the best woman, wife, and mother I can be. One small step at a time.