Sunday, January 31, 2010

There is light at the end of the tunnel

The light is now visible at the end of a long metaphorical tunnel. Any faithful church going family with very young children knows just how long that tunnel can feel.

My children are still quite young. We sit in the Relief Society room for Stake Conference. This is a room reserved for "families whose children may become restless during the meeting." All the parents look at each other mouthing the words, "may become!" then snicker. Our children are still young enough that they could be described as restless any time they are awake.

Stake Conference used to really intimidate me when I was a young mother of a baby. It's a two hour long meeting full of droning speakers punctuated with the occasional hymn. Of course if you don't have children this meeting can be very spiritually uplifting where the speakers do anything but drone on and on. They speak with power. They inspire one to be better in efforts to come closer to the Savior. But small children's myriad of activities, snacks, toys, and wails successfully drown out any inspiring words.

Heath and I have refined our strategies to endure Stake Conference with small children. Today I felt prepared and organized. I created less than half the coloring sheets and activities I usually arm myself with for these meetings. I handed things out one at a time, expecting the kids to finish what they started before giving them another piece of paper. In the past I have printed off 10 or more gospel related coloring sheets for each child and stapled the packet together. They were given sole possesion of the crayons which inevitably ended up all over the floor. Five minutes after the meeting started I would hear, "I'm all done, Mommy! What else can I do?"

That will never happen again if I have anything to say about it! So the kids got things one at a time and I held the bag of crayons. It's hard to say if my organization and discipline is what bred today's success or if my kids are getting older and are learning what is expected of them, or a combination of the two.

Gwen sat on Heath's lap calmly coloring or looking at books. He took her out twice to walk around and let off steam. This is big because a year ago we had Stake Conference on her first birthday. Heath was in the hall with her for about half the time. I had her in the hall the rest of the time. It was very frustrating. Especially since the hall seems to be such a social gathering. I'm actually trying to pay attention! Can we gossip later?

Parker colored, drew pictures, practiced writing his name, and read stories. When I could tell he was starting to get restless I held him on my lap. He loves to sit on my lap and have me play with his hair and rub his ears. I whispered in his ear how proud I was of his reverence. He beamed.

Gavin sat quietly working on his Article of Faith word searches. He colored. I love watching him color when we have Family Home Evening or some other gospel related activity because he takes his time and does a really nice job. When he was finished he asked for another coloring sheet. I told him I didn't have any more so I gave him a piece of graph paper and told him he could draw or take notes. He loves to take notes during Sacrament Meeting.

This is what he wrote. The paper is really thin so what he wrote on the other side is coming through.

He asked what else he could do. I told him to turn the paper over and draw a picture or write why he knew Jesus loved him. He wrote the most beautiful testimony. I teared up at his solid testimony that Jesus loves him.

I will type what he wrote.
Why I love Jesus!
I know that!
I love him!
He loves everyone!
Lots of things say that!
That one day I'll visit him!
I know it.
We love each other!
Lots of people love him!
He's important!
He died for us.
What a payday for a mother. For the last several years my children have been in some state of infancy. I have probably spent more time in the hall with a baby than I have in class. I have heard story after story of grandparent types talking to young mothers bouncing a baby on her hip in the hall. The kind words said to the young mother are always along the lines of, "You are in the right place. Don't ever feel like it's not worth it to get dressed up and come to church just because your baby needs to be taken out into the hall." I have been the recipient of this advice myself. The words don't always feel helpful at the time. It can be hard to get up, get a family dressed in Sunday best, wrestle through Sacrament Meeting, only to spend the rest of the meetings in the hall for some inadequate independent study. But it is worth it. Being consistent and faithful is worth it.
My kids have a strong testimony of their Savior. They have a strong testimony of prayer. They know they are children of God. They would not know these things if Heath and I had not taught them through our example.
For all the mothers out there who feel like they are dressing up to have social hour in the hall with all the other mothers with babies . . . for all the mothers who wonder when their children will ever allow them to hear an entire talk ever . . . there is light at the end of the tunnel. I haven't reached the end of my tunnel yet. But I see my efforts paying off. Hang in there. It does get better.

5 thoughts:

Becca Jane said...

what a fun post to read! Church is such a joke for us right now....but nevertheless, we go with smiles, scrubbed faces, and Cheerios!!
I thought about you today as I posted about Allie's latest hair-do! So fun!!

Becca Jane said...

what a fun post to read! Church is such a joke for us right now....but nevertheless, we go with smiles, scrubbed faces, and Cheerios!!
I thought about you today as I posted about Allie's latest hair-do! So fun!!

Becca Jane said...

oops.... :)

Dawn said...

How precious. It does pay off to keep up the attendance even when it seems like a futile effort. When I taught primary it was easy to tell which children came weekly and which were not consistent. Not by the marks on the roll but the behavior. The same thing applies to scripture reading. I am looking at missing a month of Sundays for surgery and recovery and I know I will greatly miss the fellowship and the Spirit I feel at church. I hope that testimony makes it in to the family scrapbook.

Cannonball said...

Kids are amazing...it is weird to be out of that tunnel. Wayne and I were discussing this yesterday--it was so nice to be able to sit and enjoy conference. Our kids are at the point where we don't even have to bring stuff for them...Ally did bring her own bag of tricks, but it was simply a notebook and pencil and a Articles of Faith game. Keep up the good work! What a great testimony!!!