Wednesday, March 21, 2012

My Most Important Function

As part of the portfolio I was asked to complete for my nomination as Young Mother of the Year, I was asked the following question:

On a daily basis, what do you feel is your most important function?
What a great question! I pondered it deeply before I wrote the following response:

My most important function each day is this: to help my children know of my love and God’s love for each one of them, and to help them develop daily habits that will lead to righteous decisions so they can reach their fullest potential, for I truly believe that decisions determine destiny. There are many nights I go to bed with the realization that I did not get the house work, laundry, or other tasks done that seem important to daily living. It’s easy to feel discouraged or guilty. But then, I remember that I read scriptures and prayed with my children that day, and I told them I loved them many times and hugged them and kissed them and I listened to them. That’s when I know my day was a success—because I did the most important things.

I truly believe the way to teach is by example. It’s easy to nag my children about what they should and should not be doing every day, but I know my actions speak louder than words. Thus, I begin each day by personal scripture study and prayer. Our faith is the foundation of our lives, so if I expect and hope my children to develop their own faith and depth of character, I must show them the way. Of course, I make mistakes, and of course I am imperfect, but they see my daily effort, and I have to believe it’s making a difference.

We live in a world of shifting values and great uncertainty. It’s a time when our children are faced with important decisions nearly every day, even from the time they are young. They must know who they are as children of God, have a strong sense of belonging and self worth, and know that no matter what happens out in the world, they will always come home to parents who love them, forgive them and want to do all they can to help them. So, it is my responsibility every day as a mother to help my children gain this sure knowledge—one day, one example, one moment at a time. Such is each new day’s quest.
Since I wrote that response, I have thought even more deeply about the question and have analyzed just how well I am actually following through with that task each day. After all, it's easy to say I believe these things to be what is most important each day, but actually "practicing what I preach" is really the challenge. Our family happens to be right in the middle of our busiest time of year: tax season (my husband is a tax accountant), club volleyball, comp baseball, preschool, and much more. It has not been easy to balance everything on a weekly and daily basis without losing sight of what matters most.

Finally, last week as I was driving home from St. George where my son had played in a baseball tournament, I had some time to really think. I was feeling an urgency to rush back to a volleyball tournament in Salt Lake my daughter was playing in (I just happen to be one of the coaches and felt doubly responsible to get there as quickly as I could), and the questions came to mind, Am I doing this right? Am I living what I really believe? I truly think that one of our greatest challenges at this time in the history of the world is just plain busyness. It keeps us from feeling grounded and at peace, and it keeps us from taking care of our most important functions each day if we are not careful.

I offered a silent prayer as I drove, asking God to help me remember each day what really matters and to not get sidetracked, promising I would work harder to sift through each day's demands and make sure my most important function preceded all else. Prayers like that often are followed closely by a test. And so, this morning, it came. A phone call to substitute teach at the elementary school. Something I love to do, something I need to do to keep certified, something that forces me to drop my children off to someone else for the day. I told the caller I would try to find someone to take my kids so I could teach, but then I hung up the phone and I looked at my five-year-old, who was trying desperately to get his laundry put away so we could spend time together we had planned, and I knew in that moment what I had to do. I had to say no so I could perform my most important function today--letting my child know he was more important, following through with my promises to him.

It was not easy calling back and declining the offer because I wanted to help this person out. I even felt a tinge of guilt for not doing so, knowing it can be difficult to find a last-minute substitute. But when the phone call ended, and I grabbed my little guy's hand to go play a game with him, the feeling that overrode it all was . . . peace. And gratitude that I can choose.

Today, my most important function was staying home. Tomorrow it might be something else. But whatever each new day brings, it will always be to put my family first, to show my children and husband in every way possible that they are what matter most. If I can somehow do this, then I hope and believe I can look back someday with no regrets. And that is my goal.


Bryce & Charly said...

Hi. I just stumbled on your blog and had to post a comment on what you just wrote. I love hearing other mothers describe the way I feel and want to live and your comment reminded me that that is exactly what I want to strive for each day with my 4 young regrets and everyday is precious!

Casey and Tami Parry Family said...

Your posts are always so uplifting and inspiring to me. They motivate me to work harder and become more. Thank you.