Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Noticing vs. Comparing

When you have more than one kid, it's really easy to notice differences in their development and personality. For example,

  • Jane's teeth came one at a time, but Steven cut 5 teeth in one day. 
  • Steven can take about 10 steps with his walker at 10 months, but Jane was cruising down the halls at 7 months. 
  • Jane can be shy when she meets new people, but Steven loves to smile at everyone. 
  • Steven will eat anything, but Jane mostly likes candy. 
  • Jane has green eyes and Steven has blue eyes. 

These are differences, but that's it. There is no judgment or comparison attached to them. I never think, "Steven is a better eater, therefore I love him more." or "Jane walked earlier, therefore she is smarter." 

Jane loves playing this game with words or pictures too. She will say, "Mom, see the same and see the difference? They both have blue shoes but he has glasses and he doesn't have glasses." or "See the difference? Park. Parking lot." 

That's the difference. PERIOD. There is no "therefore a park is better than a parking lot" or "therefore the person with glasses is better because glasses are cool." 

Why is it so hard for me to do the same when I notice difference between myself and others? 

I think it is because I have never made the distinction before between noticing and comparing. I guess I didn't realize I could just notice a difference without deciding which was better. And so I've tried to not notice... which is obviously impossible in some cases. 

"Oh, I didn't notice you had bright pink hair" or "I didn't notice that your house is 20,000 square feet and has life size lions on the entrance gate" or "I didn't notice your accent." 

Of course we notice! But, there is nothing wrong with noticing. Differences are fun; it's what makes life exciting! But the danger comes when a comparison is attached to it. 

Depending on my mood, these comparisons can easily swing either way. For example,
"She had all of her kids without an epidural, therefore she is so much tougher than I am and probably has a stronger bond with her babies!"
"She had all of her kids without an epidural, therefore she's crazy. She doesn't appreciate modern medicine and was probably way too tired after labor to even bond with her babies." 

Both of those conclusions are ridiculous and have nothing to do with reality, but when I see things as a comparison, I come out the winner or the loser. I either build my self esteem in an unhealthy way or I destroy my self esteem in an unhealthy way. 

I need to learn from Jane and learn from the way I see my kids. 
  • She only feeds her kids organic food. PERIOD. 
  • They send their kids to private school. PERIOD. 
  • They homeschool their kids. PERIOD. 
  • She doesn't use facebook. PERIOD. 
  • She's tall and thin. PERIOD. 
  • They have twelve children. PERIOD. 
  • She sells cute crafts on the side, is a great cook and volunteers in the community. PERIOD. 
None of these things have anything to do with me, the way I look or the way I do things. I'm trying to do what is right for me and my family and I can just assume everyone else is doing the same without having to prove that my way is right or feel bad that it's not. 

I can notice and appreciate differences without having any "therefore..." statement attached to it. Don't you think that's the way God sees us? He loves us and our differences. PERIOD. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Just Be a Mom

A few days ago I had just finished switching a load of laundry and I was listening to a voice mail from my dad and kind of ignoring Jane. She pulled on my leg and said, "Don't talk on the phone. Just be a mom!"

The phrase, "Just be a mom" has been ringing through my mind since then. In one simple phrase she captured my most important role in time or eternity. And yet, how often I allow other things distract me from truly being a mom.

Last weekend this powerful reminder came from a prophet of God as he spoke of the importance of marriage and family, "many things are good, many are important, but only a few are essential."

Being present with my children, teaching them the gospel of Jesus Christ, and loving and serving my husband are essential. Clean laundry is important, ironed laundry is good, but only a few things are essential.

It's okay, and even necessary, to have other interests, hobbies and activities outside of motherhood. But, those things should never detract from what is essential.

Last night Jane put me to the test.

I was making dinner in the kitchen and she was playing with a stuffed animal on the couch in the living room when this conversation began.

Jane: "So Mom, what are you up to?"
Me: "I'm making dinner."
Jane: "Oh. Then what will your second job be?"
Me: "I'll probably wash the dishes."
Jane: "Oh, okay. Then can your next job be to laugh with me on the couch?"

How could I pass up such an offer?!

The dishes are still in the sink, but they don't mind being neglected. I'll get to them and nothing was lost.

But had I chosen the dishes instead, as I too often do, Jane would mind being neglected and the moment would gone forever.

Only a few things are essential.