When Austin was a toddler, I used to make myself crazy worrying about his eating habits. I tend to be a little hypoglycemic, and I think Austin has this trait as well. Whenever I am irritable, Greg looks at me and says, "When was the last time you ate something?" If I think about it, it has usually been a long time. Austin is also incredibly susceptible to food, and starts acting very naughty when he hasn't eaten or if he eats the wrong types of food. When he was a little toddler, we were at my parent's house, and he was acting particularly crazy and naughty that day. After countless attempts to discipline him, I realized that he was probably hungry. I fixed him something, and tried every game in my hat of tricks to get him to eat. (It never fails - when he really needs to eat, and is incredibly hungry, he fights it so much!) I'll never forget the look on my sister's face when she observed him after he had eaten. He was a totally different kid.
Anyway...I really made myself crazy trying to get him to eat. My doctor suggested a couple of books, and they changed my life. (Yes - I am one of those people. Whenever I have a problem that I cannot seem to solve on my own after several failed attempts, I research and buy a book.) This book pointed out that it is not my responsibility, as a parent, to get my children to eat. It is my responsibility to provide food for them and thereby give them the opportunity to eat. I DO NOT have control over getting food into their mouths, chewed, and properly digested. I DO have control over offering them several, healthy choices. Although I still get worried at times, my life has changed immensely by realizing my responsibility.
I've thought a lot about this lately. I recently realized that Austin is actually closer to being a teenager than he is to being a baby. As I listened to Conference, I realized that my responsibility is to love my children and teach them the gospel. I am not responsible to ensure that they learn it and follow it perfectly throughout their life. I get so stressed out over Family Home Evening because it appears like my kids could care less. They don't seem to listen, and they love to either goof off with each other or see who can make whose life more miserable. I had this epiphany that all I have been asked to do is hold FHE. I am supposed to take this time to teach my children, but I can't FORCE them to listen and learn it. That is their responsibility. Just like with the food situation, I have been asked to provide a loving environment in our home where the gospel is lived and taught. If I try to force it on them, I am not longer following Christ's example. Taking away one's agency is Satan's approach, not Christ's.
I thought Conference was filled with talks addressing the need to treat other people with more love and kindness. Of course, I was very touched by Elder Ballard's talk on Motherhood. I felt his love and genuine concern for all of us "young mother's." I was also extremely touched by President Monson's plea to those whose hearts are broken, whether by their own sins or the actions of others. He pleaded with these people to come to Christ and embrace the gospel. He then explained that it is our responsibility, as imperfect, flawed members of the church to reach out in love and support to those that are suffering. I sat there, watching this talk with Austin and Macy both on my lap, with tears streaming down my face. I was astonished and amazed that, once again, this was a testimony that the Lord knew me and my family. Horrible events had happened earlier that morning, and here was the Prophet of the Lord, addressing these events and offering answers just hours later. My love and appreciation for this man, the organization of the gospel, and the tender mercies of the Lord deepened immensely.
This next part is a little cheesy (you've been warned):
I've also been thinking about a line in "Because of Winn-Dixie," the book that Austin and I just finished reading. One of the older characters offers advice (this is set in a small town in the South, and this is a very wise, although uneducated character): "There ain't no way you can hold on to something that wants to go, you understand? You can only love what you got while you got it." Obviously, I apply this to my children because this is my season of life right now. We can only love them while they are with us. Hopefully, we will show them enough love to help them through their trials and temptations after they leave our home. This is exactly what Elder Ballard said when he talked about the "formative years" of our young children. However, I think this can apply to anyone. For example, I watch my parents struggle with their ailing parents. I guess they can only love them while they're here, because they won't be here for much longer.
These are just my thoughts. I function much better when I concentrate on my responsibilities and focus on things that I have control over. As always: I pledge to show more love to those around me. I pray that they accept my love.