December 13, 2012

Reflecting on the Year

I like the ending of a year and the starting of a new one.  I like to think back over what has happened--the good, the bad, the unexpected, and decide what I could do better.  I love making resolutions and picking my "word of the year."  I don't actually follow through very well, but I think the exercise still has merits.

The most important lesson I've learned this year is that I've been feeling much like a 15 year old girl.  Weird since I didn't feel like a 15 year old girl when I was one.  I never, ever worried about what other people thought until recently.  I was content to do my own thing, in my own way, in my own time.  I was supremely confident.

Crises in confidence should really happen in your teen years and not your 30s, but I've never liked to do things like other people.  :)  In essence, I stopped trusting myself and my instincts when it came to parenting and educating my children.  There are so many nay-sayers.  So many people who have opinions about how others do things.  So many anti-homeschooling sentiments.  So many "you are not a good mom" comments.

It is especially hard to feel like a good mom when you add an unexpected pregnancy to being RS president and homeschooling five kids.  You don't need other people telling you that you aren't doing it right.

So . . . the first and most important lesson I learned this year is to stop listening to outside voices.  I am the mom.  I cannot and will not do it perfectly but nobody on earth knows and loves my children like I do.  I have stewardship over them that entitles me to inspiration that will not be given to anyone else.   Besides that, I am the mom I can be right now.  I haven't left, I get out of bed each day, I love my children, and I do my best.  That's all I can do so it has to be enough.

The second thing I learned this year is that people remember the negative things you say much longer than the positive things.  I am a very open person and will talk about the problems I have with my children and other areas of my life.  I think this is usually helpful as pretending our lives are perfect or easy can prevent someone else from feeling okay with her life.  It is hard to create a supportive environment without allowing that you have difficulties too.

However, this can really backfire.  I have shared problems that I have had with one of my children and now that is defining her in a way.  People don't hear me saying, "Things are a LOT better now than they were a few years ago."  They just remember the stories I told several years ago.  They don't see the progression, the change, the fluctuations in my life and the life of my family.  I need to allow others to see that my life is "normal" and I'm not some supermom so that I can be supportive of my sweet sisters (in the church, in the community, in my family) without projecting a negative image onto any of my children.

And lastly, my children are better than I think they are.  I adore my children, don't get me wrong, but we did have a few rocky years with one of them and that made the whole gig feel really hard.  Lately things have been so much better and easier but I am still braced for hard so I haven't appreciated the change.  My children are more obedient than they used to be.  They are less destructive.  They are becoming more thoughtful and kind.  I need to treat them with greater respect and love and expect good things from them more often instead of focusing on the times when they still behave (surprise) like children.

And eventually I do have to admit to myself that I'm having another one.  I've thought about names, I picked out a quilt top, I have to get up 6 times a night to use the potty, but I'm still in denial that there is going to be another little person in my home.  Needing me.

I think my word for the year is going to be: acceptance.  Accepting myself, accepting my children, accepting the miracle of a new life whenever it is given, accepting imperfection, accepting change.  Accepting the grace that the Savior offers freely.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  I hope your year is full of good things to accept.


  1. good word. good thoughts.

  2. Excellent, introspective post. It made me think back on how my confidence as a mother has changed...As my children have grown older, I've been facing new and different challenges, but I have two little ones who I don't have to "experiment" with -- I know what to do from past experience. Whether anyone thinks I'm superwoman or super-crazy, I finally don't care...It's taken a loooooooong time to feel that way, though. A lot of the reason my confidence has changed is because of my husband. He's never questioned me or thought I was crazy or made me feel insecure with my mothering skills. He's always been incredibly supportive and made me feel like I can do anything. It's refreshing to not have to wonder what he thinks of me. :)

    Sorry for the ramble, but I just really appreciated your thoughts and they got me thinking... :)

  3. I am an early 30s mom of four who is about to start homeschooling. Naturally I reached out to the internet for some mentoring:) as a newly called (and overwhelmed) relief society president I gave been especially drawn to your posts on latter-day homeschooling. Thank you for your honest approach and excellent example. I seriously worry when people assume I can"do it all" because it's such a tough standard to live up to. And frankly I've become acutely aware of what people think of me now, and I hate not meeting their expectations. So your post is a breath of fresh air. Thank you!