Every June my husband and I used to go to the Parade of Homes that was held in our county. I liked to see the latest in home design and decor and fantasize about the home I would have some day. These homes were decorated perfectly and had new appliances and looked great because there was no mess and no one’s stuff “decorating” the house. Usually I would come home and feel dissatisfied with my house. I would be irritated that my house didn’t have the latest garbage disposal or the best stove or endless cabinets to store things in or a beautiful couch fitting into an overall decor scheme, and of course there was lots of “evidence” of people living in our house. When I really thought about it I realized I had a nice home and nothing had changed but my attitude. It didn’t have the latest and greatest but it did have many nice features and was in a good neighborhood with great neighbors. My solution? I quit going to the Parade of Homes and decided to be happy with what I had.
I recently had a conversation with one of my sons-in-law. He was telling me that he wished my daughter, his wife, was a little more conscious of household duties like doing the dishes and laundry. He works full-time and she’s a stay-at-home mom with two kids. She’d rather make great meals (she loves to cook), read and play with the kids (they don’t have TV), sew fun things and volunteer at her son’s school. She agrees with him that she should be a little more aware of household duties and recognizes that households run smoother when orderly. This was a great opportunity for me to talk about the concept that no matter who you’re married to there will be things you don’t like about them and you can focus on those things or rejoice in the things they do well. For example, my husband is man of many talents and great virtues but he is very messy in his work areas and our bedroom, and he’s usually not really present when I’m talking to him but he is honest, kind and thoughtful. I never have to wonder if he’s telling me the truth or not. He calls me during the day just to say hi and I know he loves to spend time with me. I know he would give me his last bite of food if we were in a dreadful situation and he would go without eating. He’s loyal through and through. He fixes things in the house quickly and if I want to change something like flooring or paint he usually cheerfully does it. He actually makes goals to improve himself and works on them and I love and adore this man. I can focus on the wonderful things about him or I can get upset that his socks are on the floor again. In some ways, when I focus on the socks on the floor it’s like saying I expect him to be perfect, that I’m not allowing him to be human. Yes, he probably should pick up his own socks and put them in the hamper but I recognize that all of the good about him far out weighs the bad and when I focus on the bad neither of us is happy in our marriage (unfortunately I know this from experience). The amazing thing is I never hear him complain about me, and there is plenty to complain about. He doesn’t tell me what I do wrong or what I need to change about myself. He loves me as I am, which is paradoxical in some ways because since he never criticizes me or points out things that I do that are not great, it makes me want to improve myself and to be even better than the person he thinks I am.
One Monday evening, when we were doing Family Home Evening, we were singing “I am a Child of God.” My eight children and my husband and myself were singing but each one was singing in a different key, different pace and different style. Some finished before others singing with great volume and flair while others were singing softly at their own pace, and some were actually singing the song the way it was written to be sung. It created a great, amazing cacophony. As I looked around and listened to the sound it occurred to me that this was a perfect analogy for my family. We were all singing the same song-our family goals are basically the same, but each one is singing the song in his or her own way adding to our very imperfect choir, his or her sound. Each voice is valued and important to the choir just like they are to our family. We love each one of our children and his or her unique personality and value the contribution they make to our family, even if sometimes one of us is singing off key!
Recently I had the opportunity to witness the birth of my newest granddaughter, something that I find absolutely amazing and inspiring! Last year when my daughter let me be there when her daughter was born I found the event to be incredibly touching, beautiful and spiritual. I had always been at the other end of the baby business and even though I have 8 children, had never seen one born. It was so amazing that I wondered how I could convince my other children to let me be present at future births. When my son and his wife announced they were expecting, I asked my son to ask his wife (she wasn’t feeling good so she wasn’t present) to just consider the possibility of letting me be there. Since she’s a very private and reserved person, I wanted to give her time to think about it. He went home and called me back in a few minutes and said she would love to have me there. I couldn’t believe she didn’t even need time to think about it because if my mother-in-law, even though she is a great person, had asked me that I certainly would have wanted to think about it. Our newest addition to our family is now 2 weeks old and she’s beautiful. Her parents sit and just watch her breathe. They are in awe of her and already their lives and priorities have changed because of their willingness to serve her with unconditional love. So to my daughter-in-law I say thank you! Thank you for putting aside your privacy and allowing me to graciously share this moment with you. Thank you for becoming an important part of our family, one who we love. Thank you for loving my son, thank you for being you.