I’ve written a bit over the years about mothering as a mission. I coined that phrase when I realized that I needed to put the same amount of effort, faith, and prayer into being a mom that I had put into being a full-time LDS missionary. When you choose to serve a mission, you basically throw your self into 18 months or 2 years of the unknown. It’s a giant leap of faith, trust, obedience, and sacrifice.
As hard as missions are, they’ve got nothin’ on parenthood. (Talk about the unknown!) But being a missionary prepared me for this gig in countless ways.
Basically I could narrow down the lessons from my mission like this:
On my mission I learned to:
LOVE THE PEOPLE
DRAW UPON GOD’S POWER
Doing those things required work, but honestly, they came naturally. When you pray dozens of times a day and dedicate nearly every thought to the needs of others, it is easy to love. And, when you realize just how small and helpless you are, you can do nothing but rely upon the power of God. You understand what it means to be an instrument in His hands.
I’m ashamed to admit how often I forget to apply these two practices as I parent.
But this week I remembered.
This week every last member of our family got a nasty stomach virus. For most it was fast and furious, but dear Clara has struggled with it all week. Today, as stripped yet another bed, washed her barfy hair again, wished my husband weren’t gone on a Saturday, felt sorry for the isolation illness brings, loaded the bajillionth load of stinky laundry, and sat and smiled at Clara while feeding her probiotics and applesauce, I remembered.
There was no time for selfishness this week. This week was rubbing children’s backs in the middle of the night while they painfully endured. This week was holding and consoling and loving and smiling. It was frustrating not to accomplish more on my list and maddening to be away from visiting relatives, but that’s the whole point. It wasn’t about me.
As a missionary, it was easy to love the people of Ohio because I knew this one thing:
God sent me to them.
And, even though children do plenty of things that don’t feel loveable, it’s easy to love them when I remember:
God sent them to me.
As all these thoughts came together this morning, as I spooned applesauce into my baby’s mouth, I thought: I should feel depleted, exhausted, annoyed, frustrated, just over it. But I felt renewed, hopeful, even joyous because I knew that I was no longer mothering with my power. I called upon God’s power every minute of every day this week and He blessed me abundantly. There is so much peace and gratitude in my heart when I feel His strength in me.
I can’t think of a clever conclusion to this post and my toddlers need a bath. Thanks for listening.