This is my lovely family. I’m biased, but I think they are the cutest things that ever walked the earth. Just because they are standing here in line, don’t suppose for a moment that this photo opportunity arose spontaneously or by easy cooperation (the phrase “herding cats” comes to mind). Of course, this is only part of the picture–what we see in blogs, on Facebook, or even in day-to-day interaction always is. But it depicts in some way the colorful, varied personalities that come together to make our family.
I know God cares about families–about keeping them together, functional, and happy. It takes work on our part too (just like setting up this picture!), but what in life is more important than this? A happy home is not about appearances or outward successes but, through prayer and devoted action, learning how to take care of and support each other.
At a recent church conference, one theme that stood out to me was the important balance between striving to improve and accepting where we are. (While stagnation is unsatisfying, impatiently forcing or expecting change all at once can be detrimental too). One speaker suggested asking in prayer for inspiration about how to improve our lives, just as the young ruler asked Jesus in the New Testament, “What lack I yet?” (Matthew 19:20). Going through this exercise, one small change I felt inspired to make was not being on the computer when my kids wake up, but rather greeting them with my full attention. When my first children were young, this was never an issue. Now, with the majority of communication and information being digital, it is difficult not to get pulled in (and pulled away from much more important aspects of life). A few days later, a friend also sent me a related link: http://www.handsfreemama.com/2015/10/07/break-this-habit-to-create-more-time-goodness-in-your-day/ Even when I’ve just made a short trip to the grocery store, my 2-year-old’s routine greeting upon my return is running to me with outstretched arms saying, “Mommy!” and then giving me a big hug. It makes me feel so loved and happy. I want my greetings to be that clear in communicating to my kids how I value them.
I had to laugh when recently I came home to find one son playing the euphonium on the porch (first day of band!), my toddler running around our front lawn in a T-shirt and a droopy diaper, another son out feeding bologna to Mr. Snapping Turtle who lives in a bucket under the eaves, and another carrying a big backpack running out the door with dad to be driven to a campout. And that was just half of them!
Life can feel like a circus, not only for the antics going on all around, but more because of the balance required to stand gracefully through each day.
Not long ago I saw a performance given by Circus Juventas (a Twin Cities-based circus school), which included amazing displays of balance, flexibility, and coordination. Two performers balanced on large bouncy balls, walked while rolling them slowly forward, and even jumped rope on them. I noticed how their feet made continual adjustments to maintain center. I could relate. As a mom, I feel like I keep balance by maintaining a flexible responsiveness to all the forces at play. Based on my appraisal of changing needs and context, I make continual adjustments to my inward plans and expectations. Also, on a more personal level, I am making continual adjustments to myself. Thankfully, we are not alone in our daily balancing act–the Lord is there. “I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up” (Doctrine & Covenants 84:88).