*for the about 1% of my readers who don’t know, I’m a Mormon – which means I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Twice a year we have the opportunity to have a General Conference where we listen to talks given by our Prophets and Apostles. With the wonderful internet, this two day conference can now be watched in the comfort of our homes, instead of dragging our kids to 8 hours worth of church over two days. This post is about my conference experience October 1 –2.
The time was about 11:12 (or 12 minutes into this 8 hours of religious instruction). I was alone – Hubby still flying, In-Laws still driving to come. Just me and my 3 children. In the past 12 minutes, my older two had already become bored with the 7 different activities I had planned, I had broken up 3 fights, changed a diaper, and was now carrying my 20 month old like a football up the stairs as she kicked and screamed at the top of her lungs.
Conference can be fun.
Fondly, I cast my mind back a mere 7 years. Back to when I still sat every conference with my parent’s family, tieing quilts, my notebook close by ready to write down all my thoughts and feelings. Conference meant peace, instruction, time well spent in service and family.
That was not today. As I lugged ‘Lil up the stairs, Girly-Lou still sobbing from the bite she received at her sisters mouth, those memories of conferences growing up overwhelmed me. Even with two younger sisters, I never remember MY mom dealing with screaming children. Even growing up with 20 or so nieces and nephews, I never remember MY sisters dealing with this many fights and sobs in conference.
“What am I doing wrong here?” I asked myself. “I’m sure my sisters broke up fights, but in spite of everything I do, my children are not happy. They haven’t grasped the joy that this weekend should be. Why? What more could I do? Is there a point of even trying anymore?”
And there, standing on that stair, I received one of the largest outpourings of the Spirit I have ever had. I was overwhelmed with the sweet feeling, that today again brings tears to my eyes. My sacrifice was acceptable before the Lord. It was important, these things I was trying to teach. It was good that I tried to show my children how wonderful listening to the words of God is. That eventually, they too would find conference an uplifting experience. It may take years, but the seeds I was struggling so hard to plant, would eventually take root and grow, and my children would someday thank me, like I thank my Mom for showing me how to live and listen to the Spirit.
Being a Mom is tough work. There is SO much that MUST be learned at such a young age. There’s the regular stuff – how to get dressed and tie shoes and make beds and clean up after yourself. There’s the mental stuff – letters and numbers and how to be nice and manners. There’s the spiritual stuff – that you are loved by God, and the Atonement, and not to lie, and all of the wonderful things to remember. The younger you teach ALL of these things, the better off your children will actually remember and believe them. It’s a lot.
But I had forgotten one important part. I wasn’t actually alone. That these things were all important to their Heavenly Father too. And if they were important to Him, then He would help me if I would only ask.
So I did.
First, I gave up on ‘Lil. When she gets super ornery, the only thing to help is a big dose of Elmo. So, with her on a different floor of the house happily watching on the portable DVD player, the rest of us could actually hear what was being said. I paused the stream (love that feature!) and explained to my children, again, just why we were listening. Informed them that I had prepared activities for them, but if they didn’t like those activities it was up to THEM to keep themselves quietly entertained. I reminded them of our treat bowls (inspired by this post), and if they were not quiet enough to hear the words, they would not be able to pick anything out.
One hour later, when my in-laws arrived, they came to a fairly quiet house. My children were all paying attention (to their level), and I actually knew what was going on.
It was one of the best Conference weekends I’ve ever had.