Monday, April 7, 2008

My Responsibilities

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.


Krainich Family said...

The part I love of the quote is "You can only love what you got while you got it". Though my love for James does go on into eternity, I can only show him my love while I had him. I live in fear that something else will happen to one of my other children. I have to live in the moment and love what I got while I got it in case something ever happens, I know I didn't waste anytime fretting on the "what if's". And truly loved them while I had them. . . does any of this make sense?

Paige, Lorin & Polly said...

I also worry about the "what if's," so it's good to know I am not alone!

That was one of my favorite talks as well - not just because it told husbands to give their wives a break & take over sometimes, but because it had a great message. Lorin is pretty good at doing his fair share - as long as it's not a dirty diaper. :)

I am glad you made the analogy with food. Lately, Polly has been taking bites & then going to the trash can & spitting everything out. I get so annoyed! I guess if I make her lunch & she's hungry enough, she'll learn to swallow...

Emily said...


I think that is exactly what was meant by the quote. We can only show love for people while we have them around. Of course, we never stop loving. But I get so crazy and wrapped up in all the things my kids should be learning and how they should be acting, when the most important thing is that I show them that I love them while they're here with me. You are always so great at reminding me of that. It's so true - everything could change in the blink of an eye (or faster). Thanks!

Lindsay said...

I feel totally on the same wave length as you. I remeber someone said in conference, Don't try to control your children. I just thought, I need to let go and do MY best as a mom and basically everything you just wrote (which you wrote so beautifully by the way).

I have these feelings with Jameson, he is such a strong personality and tends to go against the grain and do just the opposite of everything! It's very frustrating and I've often thought that he's going to always be on the wrong path! But I also need to remember that if he does, then he does. I just need to be the best mom to him and teach him what is right and after I've done that his choices are his choices. Thank you for you wonderful thoughts!

Anonymous said...

Great thoughts! I couldn't agree more, and what sticks out to me the most is that if we do teach our children the gospel they will come back if they stray. That is a wonderful promise that has been made, if we do our best to teach them all that we know and believe, they will come back. I too felt that all I have to do is put the opportunity before my children by holding FHE and family prayer and making my home gospel centered.

Kimberly Porter said...

I loved this blog entry, Emily. It was exactly what I needed to read as tears were rolling down my face. I loved the talk Elder Ballard gave as well. I cried during that whole talk, too! My husband kept looking at me oddly but I was just so moved by the spirit!

My sweet Josh is only 2, but right now is at a point where he refuses to fold his arms during all prayers and runs around crazily during FHE--fighting it. In my prayers last night I was asking for an answer to help Josh better learn how important prayers and FHE were and to feel the spirit. Your sweet blog entry has reminded me to continue teaching, not giving up and (hopefully) the learning will come.

You are such an insight and a blessing to me! Thank you!

Andee said...

You have such good thoughts. I think I know how you feel, even though I don't have older kids. I already worry about things that like you said are out of our control. But that really is comforting to realize we just need to do our part and give them all the love we can, and then there's a point where they have to make choices. I can't let it get me too depressed when things go wrong. Well, I have a few years before I'm really faced with that kind of thing. Anyway, emily thanks for sharing and strengthening all of us!

Colette said...

Emily, thank you so much for sharing this. I have been struggling and worrying so much about Leyton's eating habits. I never put it into perspective that my role as his mother is to make sure I offer him good food to eat. I can't shove it down his throat and force him to eat it. Thanks again I have really been stressed about this a lot lately.

Jen said...

Ditto!! So perfect! You always say so well what I try to say but it sounds like this:
blah blah blah wahhh wahhh blah blah waaah.
kissy kissy.