Saturday, May 3, 2014

Sins of the Mother

I don't trust technology.
Many of you know that about me already.
In fact, when I was still teaching, I actually had the reputation of being the woman most likely to have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Especially where computers are concerned.  I still maintain that my No. 2 pencil never once got sick with a virus or crashed and burned, rendering everyone around it helpless and stupid!
But some technology has turned out to soften even a reluctant geezer like me. Resist as I may I must admit that the DVR has made some amazing things possible. For one, I actually OWN copies of Disney animated films!  Imagine, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty right there on my bookshelf next to Mark Twain's masterpieces!

And now I can study the talks of the prophet and the apostles in a way not possible before. Those good old record, pause, and "Play it again Sam" features mean that I don't miss a word or musical note of General Conference. I can even go over and over those messages that I'm sure were meant just for me. You know the ones.
The ones where Heavenly Father is trying to tell "just you" something.
Sadly, in my case they always seem to be a call to repentance.

Well, conference was held recently.   It was amazing as usual.
And by this time I've lived in the light long enough to know that without a doubt conference topics are what's been on Father's mind. I no longer question whether the things being asked are too simple to really make a difference. This is what Father wants His children to work on. And our lives, and even the world, can change for the better if we listen and act.

This Conference He asked us to be kind, especially in our own homes, and to have hope even while burdened.  I know there's a good reason for that counsel.  An eternal reason.

Think for a minute what it would mean if every soul on earth were kind and had learned that kindness at home.  What could that do?
Well, all sorts of wars, big and little, in houses and countries, would stop I think.

And what if everyone alive knew that an apostle of Christ had said that the hardest challenges they face were the very things that were making it possible for them to grow and move forward?
What if those who struggle with heavy burdens knew that it was the "load" that would make the difference?
Would life change for them if they understood that they'd been blessed by adversity and not cursed by it?
Hope lifts. Would that help them bear up under what was theirs to carry?

So, after numerous replays, I've learned, among other things, that I'm supposed to work on being kind to the people in my own home.
This was one of the messages meant just for me.
No cross words are to be spoken to anyone living in my house. Only kind ones.
(How about mildly impatient and annoyed? Is that unkind? What about exasperated and at wit's end?  I'm thinking about that.  Give me a minute.)
Sounds easy enough, right? You wouldn't think it would be that hard.  Being kind. After all I do love my family more than life itself.

It's just that they can be so difficult!  Unreasonable even.
And they relentlessly persist in doing the stuff that they do.

My oldest daughter Kimberly, parent of 7, four of them currently teenagers, came over the day after this last conference in despair over her own mothering skills and the kindness issue.
Apparently she'd been called to repentance over this very same thing.  I told her not to worry, that those messages were meant for me, but she insisted they were for her.
She's so often unreasonable. It's a trait left over from her childhood which I remember vividly.
Anyway, it seems she had wanted to strike her 15 year old daughter after a particularly difficult Sacrament meeting which ended with said teenager, certainly old enough to know better, punching her little sister hard in the stomach for no apparent reason.  Kim knew it wasn't right to want to smack someone you love, but nevertheless, there you are.  Smacking was in her heart and what she wanted to do most at the time.
Helpfully, and in my kindest mother voice, I told her how wrong she was and that she really needed to work on patience because smacking is never the answer. All the while my mind was drifting back to the time when I was still trying to be kind and patient with my own kids.

I remembered the usual enlightened disciplinary technique I used with our son.
It involved chasing him around with a wooden spoon in my raised hand, ready to beat him with it should I ever be quick enough to catch him.
Because occasionally I did, (this was a long time ago remember) when he grew a bit older and wiser, he would stop running abruptly, turn around, grab the spoon, break it in half, hand it back to me and continue running. I realized I needed a better way when one day while I was trying to make spaghetti sauce there wasn't a wooden spoon in sight.
Next time he needed correcting I reached for the broom instead, which afforded a longer reach anyway. As usual he turned around in the middle of our little race, grabbed the broom to break it until I yelled frantically, "Don't!! That's a new one!" He handed it back politely and kept running. This worked well for years.

With Kimberly I believe throwing a shoe was the usual loving disciplinary method of choice. But she was quick and my aim poor.
So, for the life of me, I don't know where Kim gets her impulse to smack a wayward child.

Strange that I don't remember wanting to chase and beat our two youngest. They came along later.
Perhaps they were better children.
Or perhaps I'd learned something by then.  Or maybe I was just tired.   It's something to think about.
I don't recall ever throwing shoes at them either.
And oddly, I have noticed that both of them are unusually peaceful people.
I'd better think about that too, I suppose.
But not right now, I feel a headache coming on.

So.  I'm supposed to be kinder.  No harsh words.
Especially to my own family who so often seem to deserve some harsh words.
But apparently Father says that even when they're who they are, doing what they always do, I'm required to be kind to them.  Even then.
Somehow this will help make the universe a better place.
I'm thinking.

Okay, what if everyone on this planet walked out their doors after experiencing only kindness in their own homes?
Kindness from every single person under that roof.
What if they learned it from the cradle? How far would that go?  Would it change the world?
I'm thinking about it harder.
You think about it too.