Lessons in Motherhood: Try again Tomorrow

This morning I’m sharing a Lesson in Motherhood from my good friend Chelsea. She is one of the ladies that people just love. And totally look up too. And she is filled with wisdom far beyond her years. Some of which, she’s going to share with us all today!

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When Rhonda asked me to do a guest post on motherhood, we were at the end of a couple of pretty rotten days.

Days where I just seemed to have no patience whatsoever. Where I’d hollered and flown off the handle (repeatedly) and my children had been following suit– being impatient with each other, hollering, flying off the handle–which was making me even more upset. Negative spiral, you get the picture (though it’s not on instagram).

A post on motherhood? My first thought was, well, I better shape up so I have something lovely and touching to share. Better put on a ruffly white house dress and smile at my baby in a garden full of perennials praising my motherly prowess with their blossomy nods. (You know the kind of paintings I’m alluding to right?)

And then I thought nope. If there is anything I know about motherhood, it is that there is no such thing as a perfect mom. I know a lot of you get close, but for the majority of us I think we all have bad days.

In a great talk by Boyd K Packer where he compares physical self -reliance to emotional resilience, he said: “Teach our members [and I’d insert mothers] that if they have a good, miserable day once in a while, or several in a row, to stand steady and face them. Things will straighten out. There is great purpose in our struggle in life.”

Does that mean I should yell at my kids? No. But it means a rough day can be just that. A rough day. And tomorrow can be better.

There’s been a few times when I have felt us headed towards one of those grumpy days. I’m usually still in a housecoat, the children have found some leftover late night TV snack Ben and I had and have snuck it downstairs as their “bwek-fist”.

Maybe my special needs child was up all night, or my baby, or my 4-year-old wet his bed, or my 5 year old had a bad dream…or ALL of thee above! For whatever reason we’re off to a bad start. I have stopped in my tracks, balled up my fists, thrown back my unshowered head and called out “RE-DO!”

We all go back to our beds and pretend to wake up again. I come in and in my best sugary mom impersonation greet my children to the pretend new day, ask them lovingly how their sleep was and they smile at my little charade and probably wonder why they got such a crazy weird mom.

And then we pray and read scriptures and eat something other than Doritos and sometimes the day still spirals away from us again but sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes we just needed to try again. Which is what I want my kids to learn. They can always try again. They can always repent. It’s never too late.

As the Anti-Nephi-Lehies, who in the end gave up their lives to stay true to the changes they made when they were converted to the gospel, expressed: “And I also thank my God, yea, my great God, that he hath granted unto us that we might repent of these things, and also that he hath forgiven us of those our many sins … which we have committed, and taken away the guilt from our hearts, through the merits of his Son. And the great God has had mercy on us, and made these things known unto us … because he loveth our souls as well as he loveth our children; therefore, in his mercy he doth visit us by his angels, that the plan of salvation might be made known unto us as well as unto future generations. (Alma 24:10)

The plan is Christ. For Christ to make it possible for us to grow. For Christ to take away the despair of wrong doing and allow us the hope of change. And there is nothing I hope for more than for me and my kids to believe in Christ enough to change. Linda K. Leavitt wrote a children’s book she hoped would “inspire and help unlock the power within to break negative cycles” entitled “A Touch, A Kiss and a Hold”.

When my mother in law gave it to me for Christmas I bawled as I read it because it’s sweet little rhyme (aren’t bedtime stories that rhyme so much easier to read with a tired mommy brain?) spoke to one of the deep desires of my heart– for my kids to be better than me.

It goes like this:

“When I was a little child

Most days I was meek and mild,

Hardly ever was I wild.

But sometimes there were those days

When I really had to have my ways.

 Then mom’s voice got cross as she would scold

And I felt bad and sad and wished I’d told,

“Mommy, I just need a touch, a kiss and a hold.”

Instead I kept it all inside

Or ran to my bedroom where I cried.

Then I thought to myself,

“When I grow up I’ll never yell.

Instead, tender words of love I’ll tell,

I’ll treat my children very well.”

 

Then I grew up and became a mom

When straight from heaven my babe had come

And each day I would play and laugh and hum.

My baby grew into a child.

Most days she was meek and mild,

Hardly ever was she mad or wild.

But sometimes there were those days

When she really had to have her ways.

Then my voice got cross and I would scold

And she felt bad and sad, but bravely told,

“Mommy I just need a touch, a kiss and a hold.”

 

She did not keep it all inside.

We both hugged and we both cried.

Then I thought to myself,

“I have grown up, I must never yell

Instead, tender words of love I’ll tell,

I’ll treat my child very well.”

 

Then she grew up and became a mom

When straight from heaven her babe had come

And each day she would play and laugh and hum.

Her babe grew into a little child.

Most days she was meek and mild,

Hardly ever was she mad or wild.

But sometimes there were those days

When she really had to have her ways.

Mom’s voice grew soft, she didn’t scold.

Her child felt glad not sad, and sweetly told,

“Mommy, we just need a touch, a kiss and a hold.”

Then mom and child hugged very tight.

They knew they’d done just what was right.”

 

On days when I don’t do the right things I cling to the hope that if I can show my children that we all make mistakes and help them understand that how we deal with those mistakes is infinitely more important than the impossible attempts to never mess up.

I remember a good friend saying once that bedtime was when her and her kids forgave each other. I love that. I often go into my kids rooms (sometimes after I’ve shouted them to bed with threats and “That it! I’m done!”s) and stroke their hair as they (finally) drift off to sleep and say “was mommy a little mean today?” to which they always answer so honestly, “Yes.” Then I tell them I’m sorry and that I will try harder tomorrow. Sometimes we even say a little prayer together. And then I always ask, “Do you forgive me?” And again, their honest, easy answer is “Yes.” As they roll over to fall asleep, and I leave the room with a tear or two rolling down my still unshowered face.

I hope one day my children are better parents then I am. I hope they will learn the power of forgiveness. That through my example they will know that the atonement is real and that we have to grasp on to the merits of our Savior because our own attempts so often fail.

 Parents often express the fear of “messing up “ their kids. I believe this is inevitable. It is just part mortality to mess up and be messed up. In a fallen world, we all fall down. Yet, as long as we point our children to Christ, He will lift them up. Will heal them. Will make everything okay.

As Alma the younger taught his sons (one of the many parents in the scriptures who had to deal with making mistakes themselves and then dealing with their kids making mistakes too) “Preach unto them repentance, and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ; teach them to humble themselves and to be meek and lowly in heart; teach them to withstand every temptation of the devil, with their faith on the Lord Jesus Christ. Teach them to never be weary of good works, but to be meek and lowly in heart; for such shall find rest to their souls. – (Alma 37:33-34)

Just like at the end of those long, cranky days, when I receive much needed forgiveness from my little kiddos at their bedsides, there will come a time after this mortal “long day” where I will stand with my family before my Savior and we’ll all know perfectly the failing and mistakes of my lifetime, but just like with my sweet kiddos, I will be able to ask, “Do you forgive me?” and He will say “Yes.”

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Wasn’t that awesome and so so encouraging?? Wonderful, wonderful lesson for us all.
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3 thoughts on “Lessons in Motherhood: Try again Tomorrow

  1. I so needed to hear that today as I am having a very bad day with the kids. It’s reminding me of a saying I’ve read, “Sometimes hope comes when you say I will try again tomorrow” (not sure on exact wording).

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