This is gonna be a long one. I can tell. ;)
I used to think (up until fairly recently) that since most of our problems, as individuals, are rooted, or can be traced back to things that happened to us as children, that if I could only be the best mother possible (aka: nearly perfect), then my children would grow up with hardly any problems to overcome in their lives. They would be so nicely put together and confident that things would go easier for them, and they could see the world, and themselves more clearly.
Let's go over this logic:
Perfect Mother = Children with no problems.
First of all, there's no such thing as a perfect Mother. Oh, I can give you a whole list of them that come really, really, really, really, really close...but even they...I don't wanna say it....ugh...yes, even they have their shortcomings.
Also, people are people with individual daily choices and freedom. They decide who they are! They decide if they will DECIDE to overcome any issues in their life, or give in to them. And of course not all problems come from childhood.
The real revelation that came to me was this. Maybe I'm not a perfect mother because my children are supposed to have some problems. WHAT? SAY WHAT?? People aren't supposed to have problems...or are they?
Let me tell you a quick, and very true story. You may have heard of the Biosphere 2. A huge dome was built in Arizona and they put all sorts of plants, animals, insects inside. I don't know everything about it, but there was a lot of research to benefit from it, and I think one reason it was created was to see if people could survive in a biosphere like this one on another planet. Say the Moon or Mars.
(Please forgive my poor grammar. This late at night I'm not paying much attention to it.)
So, people lived in this sphere with all the plants, trees, creatures and their little farm for two years.
They noticed something really interesting when everyone emerged and they took a look inside. A certain species of tree would flop right over. Just completely fall for no reason. WHY?
Because there was no WIND in the Biosphere! It had no opposition for it to brace itself against, and make itself stronger! Here's an interesting tid-bit, the type of wood on the tree that helps it brace itself and get stronger is known as Stress Wood/Reaction Wood. Hmmm. Mull that over for a while. Reaction. I love that.
One of my favorite movies is The Iron Giant (currently Rowan's favorite as well). My favorite line from the movie is this: "YOU ARE WHO YOU CHOOSE TO BE."
I can't tell you how much it irks me when I hear people say in regards to their negative attitude, or their gossiping mouth, or disregard for others, "Well, that's just the way I am. Get used to it."
Indicating that they have no choice over who they are. They know what they do is wrong or hurtful, but they don't care enough to change, and even expect others to accept them and even love them for "who they are." Irks. Totally irks me. (Can you tell I like the word 'irk'. probably 'cause it doesn't feel like a real word, but hey my spell checker thinks it is!)
Anyway, back to being a Mother. To put it mildly my first born (a red-head) is stubborn, and loves power struggles. Up until about a year and two months ago she and I were doing great together! Still had struggles, of course, but I felt pretty good about our relationship and the structure of our day, and in general just being a Mom. But at that point I was about 3 months away from having our second child and I just couldn't play as much, or be as enthusiastic about her or what she was up to. Frankly, I was a big old crank. I was super crabby because I hadn't gotten a good night's sleep in 6 months, and I was huge, no, really HUGE! My pregnancy clothes barely fit. And for the month of May she and I stayed at my parents house (a state away) while my husband went to work in Texas for just over a month. So I was basically a single, very pregnant, very big, and very-addicted-to-pastries mother of a stubborn toddler. In another house, 12 hours away from my house. I was not a very happy person, or pleasant to be around. She got a little crazy and spoiled over the summer, but once we got back home (with a new baby) things seemed fine....until November. Sometime in November she went from being so confident and happy (she would just wave to me and say 'bye' when we dropped her off for nursery) to being clingy, having more outbursts, and I'm sorry to say she has had meltdowns where I had no idea what I was going to do. Seasoned Mothers know what I'm talking about. Where you are borderline crazy and you think "this must be hell", but at the same time you love them so much you are still considering their emotional welfare and wishing you could just hug them and cry over them. All the while telling yourself "If I throw something right now, it will teach her to throw things." But your soul is split in half! So much anger/frustration and so much love competing. If any men are reading this, just be thankful for that 'awful day at work'! (not to mention the new baby crying in the background because her screaming woke her up) double whammy!
But I am making this all sound so terrible. Forgive me. Obviously it is not like this ALL the time.
Yesterday was a day like that. But after nap-time (when she finally went down) I decided that she and I don't get enough one-on-one time. So, after she got up we went to get ice cream. And we had fun!
I LOVE her smiles, I LOVE the say she says "No, thank you." in her cute, high voice. I LOVE that she is so polite, and that she delights in sharing (usually). I LOVE that whenever I say 'Ow.' she comes running over and says "You okay? Here, 'tiss" (aka: kiss) and she'll kiss it "all better." I LOVE that she loves to be outdoors, I LOVE that she is a great big sister. I LOVE how excited she gets in the morning to wake up and have cereal. I LOVE that she sings so well, and that she is so smart. I LOVE HER!
So, let me try and tie this all in together. I know things that happen to us in our lives can condition us, especially when we are children. We the most influential at that age. And each and everyone of us has imperfect parents who parent imperfectly, so we are bound to have things to overcome as we grow older. But what if those 'things', 'problems', 'bumps in the road', 'having a hard time dealing with different stuff in life', were actually blessings? For our benefit. Because like the wind to the trees, the stress wood, no, the REACTION WOOD, problems help build us stronger. We can decide if our REACTION is to give in to the wind and bend, or to react by making ourselves stronger. Fighting that wind and making the best of it! If it is true that 'problems are blessings', then doesn't that make me, an imperfect mother, a blessing-giver?
Here's some new logic:
Imperfect mother = stronger little-child-trees that won't bend in the wind
BUT what about building that 'Reaction Wood'? How will my children know how to do that?
By me not throwing things, by teaching through love and the best example I can muster, and especially, most importantly by teaching them to follow the one who is THE PERFECT EXAMPLE.
Our Savior Jesus Christ. By his words and example I can teach them the proper REACTIONS to have, even when I struggle.
Last equation, I promise. I love non-math equations!
Imperfect, but trying mother, using Christ's example and teachings = strong children who know how to build reaction wood to be strong, through her struggling example and Christ's perfect one
Paired with a husband/Daddy with the same attitude and we're unstoppable! Right? :D
I'm sure this seems obvious and rather silly to some of you reading. Guess what, in a way it is to me too! This principle is something I have known almost my whole life, but when you're in the thick of it (war with a toddler) you just can't think clearly, and I love getting a new perspective on a foundational principal I already know. It opens up so many more channels off of that subject for me to learn more.
Here's from my midnight philosophies to yours.