Monday, May 17, 2010

Seemingly Small Acts

Sludging through the daily grind of life--school schedules, sports schedules, lessons, church responsibilities, and more--we often seem so busy I wonder if my children are soaking up the things that matter most each day. Important habits, such as scripture reading, praying, fulfilling family responsibilities, serving and helping each other, often get rushed through or even pushed aside as we run to keep up with everything else. Yet these are the activities I want my children to pay the most attention to, because in the end, they are the only things that really matter.

In an effort to drive this point home, I find myself constantly working to make these seemingly small acts each day become the heartbeat of our very lives. Still, I often wonder if I'm succeeding at all. Most days it seems I'm not, but if there's one thing motherhood is teaching me, it's that our children are watching and learning from EVERYTHING we do, even--and maybe especially--when our influence on them may be nearly imperceptible. I sometimes feel exhausted from that pressure because I certainly can't and don't set a perfect example at all times. But the good news is my children are soaking up more of the good than I ever suspect, and to me, that's one of the miracles of motherhood. It's one of the ways God makes up the difference. Since we can't be perfect moms and get it right all the time, He enhances the effect of our positive influences on our children when we are trying hard to do the right things. And I have to believe these are the experiences that will shape my children and make up for the many times I blow it.

This past week we experienced a morning that proved this point to me. I had been working hard all week on carrying out a few large responsibilities. By the end of Wednesday evening, I found myself with a migraine headache, so sick I could barely get myself to bed. Every thought I had or move I made shot sharp pain through me head and left me feeling sure I was going to throw up. I took some medicine and crawled into bed, praying for a miracle since I knew I had to teach preschool the next morning, as well as meet some other commitments.

Somehow I made it through the night, although quite miserably. Morning found me finally able to rest a little deeper, and I thought to myself that if I could only sleep in a bit then I might be able to actually get out of bed and make it through the day. The problem was my husband had to leave early for a meeting at work and could not stay to help me. That left only my children, and although I wanted to believe they were up to the task of fixing themselves breakfast, getting ready for the day, and accomplishing the morning routine in time for school, I admit I was a bit skeptical. In fact, I didn't even dare ask them to try. I just kept willing myself to get out of bed, only to find myself falling sound asleep again.

I finally awoke with a start and realized it was 8:00. My older children needed to be leaving to catch the bus soon and I wasn't even sure they'd had breakfast yet. Just as I was throwing back the covers to slide out of bed, all four of my children appeared at my bedside. They were dressed, had eaten breakfast and were all ready for the day. Even better than that, my 10-year-old had organized family scripture reading. My eight-year-old was speaking to me in soothing tones as he rubbed the back of my neck and back and asked me if there was anything else he could do for me. The beds were made, the teeth were brushed, and they were ready for family prayer.

I was amazed and humbled and grateful. Wow, they're getting it, I thought. In fact, it seemed they'd gotten it. I began to wonder if they needed me at all in the mornings since they had accomplished all of this 10 minutes earlier than usual. That's when my eight-year-old told me to fold my arms and close my eyes so he could pray for our day. My bedroom became a sacred place when his simple words included a humble plea for me to get feeling better. Tears filled my eyes as my four sweet children each kissed me, hugged me and told me to have a great day. I was overcome by the love and compassion and service they had shown me, and as I lay there in bed a little longer, I wondered when and how they had become such thoughtful, loving children.

That's when it hit me. It's who they've been becoming all along, and I just hadn't fully realized it. I'd been so adept at noticing the weak spots in our family, I had failed to grasp how effective our daily righteous habits had been on teaching my children goodness. Now, I'm going to be quick to say that my dear children have a long way to go. They certainly aren't always so thoughtful as they were the other morning, nor are they always so efficient and loving. But I believe our efforts to fill our lives with important habits like scripture reading and prayer and service make more of a difference at the end of the day than we could ever imagine. It's a lesson I hope to not soon forget.

And I've been thinking that maybe, just to give them extra practice, I'll be sick a little more often!


Julie Thurgood Summerhays said...

What SWEETIES!! I have no idea if my kids could do that - I have to say that I kindof doubt it, but you did too right!! I hope you are feeling better - I feel like I haven't seen you forever...

Taffy and Tony said...

Lori, I often wonder as well if the things I'm trying to teach each day are sinking in. Thanks for giving me hope that over time, they'll get it. I think I'll keep plugging away--with that hope in mind.

Glitzy Glass said...

Beautifully written! Thank you for sharing that with us. It is funny how each of us in our own way find things that we believe are not working at all- but infact- God is watching out and loves us.

Parker-Delgado Family said...

Lori, what a beautiful memory. It is wonderful to have those moments as a mother that you can see progress, when you feel like there is something that you must have been doing right. I loved what you said about God being there to make up the difference. Thank heavens He is. We do all we can in every aspect of life and then he makes up the difference.