As a mother of five children, I constantly turn to the Lord for help and support. I have learned that the key to any success I experience as a mother is to live the way the Lord would have me live.
Early on as a mother, I struggled with myriad emotions. I spent much of the time feeling exhausted, discouraged, and overwhelmed. Well-meaning friends gave me advice, and I spent hours reading articles and books on how to adjust to and cope with the demands of motherhood. However, I became even more discouraged when the general solutions seemed to include having few children, focusing more on myself, and engaging in activities outside the home.
Then I decided that instead of looking for the answers in magazines and books, I would start reading the scriptures with a focus on finding the answers I was seeking. The most helpful ideas came from studying the examples of mothers recorded in the scriptures as well as the perfect example of Jesus Christ.
I pondered the stories of women who had been barren, such as Rachel, Elizabeth, and Sarah. I pictured the joy these women must have felt as they were blessed with children. With gratitude, I realized that children are a blessing to be cherished. These accounts of mothers in the scriptures increased my desire to enjoy my time at home with my children rather than leave them in a quest for personal fulfillment outside the home.
As I studied the Savior’s example, I realized that He did exactly opposite of what the world advises mothers to do today. As He labored to preach the gospel, He must have reached points of exhaustion and discouragement. At one point, the Savior’s disciples tried to make things easier for Him by discouraging people from bringing young children to Him.
“But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto [His disciples], Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:14).
After studying the life of Jesus Christ, my goal as a mother became to have my children come to the Lord and also to me—to give them the time and attention they deserve, even when I’m not quite feeling up to it. As I have worked toward developing this kind of atmosphere in our home, I have discovered several ways to encourage my children to come to me—that is, to feel a stronger sense of understanding, peace, and comfort in my presence. Moreover, the following points have helped me to more successfully respond to the demands of motherhood.
The first thing I do is make a conscious effort to change the way I look at motherhood, especially during stressful moments when a child is crying or covered in dirt or refuses to obey. I try to think eternally, remembering my role as a mother in the eternal scheme of things. I’ve found that my children somehow sense when I am seeing things with an eternal perspective, and our interactions are more peaceful and patient.
When I feel tense or pushed to the breaking point, I ask myself what the Lord might do in a similar situation, and then I follow what I think His example would be. Usually this requires adjusting my goals or priorities to match those of the Savior. Switching gears is hard, but having my children come to me in moments of upset has enriched the love I feel for them and for motherhood.
I’ve learned that in tense moments, sitting down with my children gathered around me can be calming and peaceful. Sometimes I hold each child and tell them one at a time how grateful I am that Heavenly Father sent them to my husband and me. Together we read books and scriptures or sing Primary songs.
Often I bear my testimony that Heavenly Father wants me to be their mother, and I promise them I will always try my hardest to do a good job. I remind us all that we can be with Heavenly Father again, as a family, and we talk about how glad we are to be together.
As I bear my testimony to my children, the Spirit often softens my heart and I feel a stronger love for my children. I feel my burdens slowly lift as I look at life and my children with an eternal perspective in mind.
I try to include my children in whatever I’m doing. If I’m cooking dinner, I may give everyone a job in the kitchen. My children love to sweep, vacuum, put away clean dishes, wrap potatoes in aluminum foil, and help out in a number of ways. Sometimes when I’m preparing a lesson for Primary Sharing Time, the children will engage in a similar activity, such as cutting figures out of their coloring books. We enjoy the feeling of working together, side by side.
I have found that prayer has greatly increased my ability to cope with the demands of motherhood and to enhance my relationship with my children. There are times when I want to lock myself alone in my bedroom for a good cry. When I feel this low, I pray for an increase of patience, understanding, and love toward my children. I pray for guidance and specific ideas that will help my children come to me and all of us to come to Christ. Sometimes when I pray, I am blessed to feel confident and capable; other times I have a particular idea come to mind. I always feel strength from my Savior, buoying me up and comforting me.
Reading scriptures, studying the Savior’s life, trying to do as He would do, and praying for guidance have helped me be a better mother. And not only have these actions improved my mothering skills, but I’ve experienced a greater joy in being a mother as well. I look forward to spending time with my children, and I’ve found that the key to any success I experience as a mother—or in any other capacity—is to live the way the Lord would have me live.