Thursday, November 8, 2012

An Extraordinary Mother

I heard a quote once that has stuck with me ever since. I guess it's more of a personal standard to measure behavior by than a quote, but either way, it's powerful, and it seems to come to my mind in moments of great need and remind me of who I'm trying to become. It is one simple question:

 "What would an extraordinary person do in this situation?"

That's it. Nothing earth-shattering, yet so profoundly appropriate and soul-searching. I can't even remember where I heard or read these words, but they haunt me on a regular basis because I believe this one question can help shape character and mold decisions that will ultimately determine one's life course. At least, that's what this question does for me. Why? Because I want to be an extraordinary person--not by the world's standards, but by God's, as I believe they are two distinctly different things.

I think life presents us with plenty of opportunities to grow or shrink intrinsically through the choices we make. We find ourselves in situations that require self-mastery, patience, understanding, integrity and so much more. We ultimately always have a choice of how to behave under our given circumstances. We can give into our natural tendencies and exhibit inappropriate behavior or we can try to overcome those natural inhibitions and become something much more--someone extraordinary. That is my goal.

As a mother, I have found myself in difficult situations on a regular basis. These situations make me want to scream or throw a fit or slam a door; they make me feel like manipulating my children, coercing them into doing things my way, using fear and power, rather than love and patience. It's very easy to give into these tendencies because, after all, they come without effort. But then a little voice in the back of my mind forces itself to be heard:

 "What would an extraordinary mother do in this situation?"

This question demands I change my perspective and my behavior and become so much more--a mother who really listens, a mother who exhibits patience and faith and love in the most difficult circumstances, a mother who leads and trains by example--a mother who is extraordinary. It's my constant quest.

Nine months ago, I was chosen by the American Mothers Association as the Utah Young Mother of the Year for 2012. What an honor! What a title! What a joke! Seriously. Mother of the Year? Me? It was something I joked about often, especially in times of complete and utter failure on my part to be the kind of mother I felt my children really deserved. And now, here I was, the state's representative of motherhood and all it entails. I shook my head in disbelief often, wondering how it happened. Then, I finally decided if this outstanding organization was going to name me "Mother of the Year," I had better start living up to it.

I have found myself often over the past nine months thinking to myself, "Wait--what would the 'Mother of the Year' really do in this situation? How would she handle it?" And then I would take a breath, pray for inspiration and move ahead more carefully, weighing my words and my actions, striving to lead my children with love and empathy, rather than frustration and coercion. I have failed over and over, but I have also conquered at times. Most importantly, I have felt myself becoming more like the mother I really want to become--an extraordinary mother. I have miles and miles to go, but the journey is rewarding, even if it is long and bumpy and filled with detours at times.

The thing is, I am hoping and striving to raise extraordinary children--not in what they accomplish, but in what they become. As I notice trends in the world and I become aware of attitudes and practices that are opposite from the core values and standards we believe in, I realize how necessary it is for these dear children of mine to be able and willing to stand up for unpopular but moral standards, to exhibit self control and bridal passions in order to avoid harmful addictions, to follow God's laws regardless of the consequences--to be extraordinary.

And so I must somehow become extraordinary myself. How does one become extraordinary? That's what I'm trying to figure out. I think it must have something to do with denying oneself of all the attitudes and behaviors that are negative (such as nagging, hollering, throwing fits, etc.) and developing those qualities that God Himself exhibits--patience, forgiveness, empathy, integrity, self-control and unconditional love. It cannot be conquered in a moment or a year or even many years but is the quest of a lifetime.

And it is my quest.

Because these children are everything to me.

And if I do happen to one day become extraordinary in any measure, it will be because of them.


Casey and Tami Parry Family said...

I loved this post Lori! Love the reminder that it is truly a LIFELONG quest and that we shouldn't be so down on ourselves for our failures but continue on in doing the best we can to become what He wants us to become.