The story begins with an evil hobgoblin who invents a mirror that shrinks all reflections of good magnifying negativity.
The literary imagery paints a really great picture.
"... every bad and good-for-nothing thing stood out and looked it's worst. The most beautiful landscapes reflected in it looked like boiled spinach, the best people became hideous, or else they were upside-down and had no bodies. Their faces were distorted beyond recognition, and if they even had one freckle it appeared to spread all over the nose and mouth. The demon thought his immensely amusing."
I laughed at that freckle part because being a freckled gal myself .. as a kid, I actually felt they look that way at times ;)
In short, this hobgoblin gathers the negativity across the world, flying higher and higher until he drops the mirror and it's pieces shatter. Splinters lodge in the hearts and eyes of the people below. Namely, one boy named Kay. Kay and his childhood playmate, Gerda, begin experiencing troubles from the effects of this mirror splinter as Kay begins to reflect not so appealing qualities. Out causing mischief one evening, Kay gets whisked away by a snow queen who freezes his heart. Gerda spends the rest of her life searching for Kay ... hence the "tale of seven stories" part. When she finds him as an adult, her genuine embrace of love brings him back and melts the frozen mirror shard for good.
That's the gist ... if you're really interested, you can read the whole story here.
Up front, I'm not an expert at motherhood. Recently, in searching for answers among articles and self help parenting books, I've just loved reading, "If you want to see ... blah, blah, blah, blah .... it's best to start when your children are young."
And I laugh.
Cuz I'd really like to know where the books are for those of us late to the party ...
Today in the quiet of the morning, I turned as usual to this perpetual stack sitting on my bedside table.
I read about the qualities of mothers. I studied the responsibilities of mothers. I made a list of what more I'd like to inspire as a mother to these children of mine from this favorite beautifully written document.
Credit for this cute copy is here.
As I sat back and looked at the list I'd made, one thought popped into my head.
"Mirror what you'd like to see Reflected"
I knew that. I did. And I do. But sometimes, I forget it.
Ever heard a child say something and cringe because you recognize that it sounds just like you? Ever say something yourself and feel like you've turned into your mother?
Isn't it crazy how our children will reflect back the absolute best and worse in us?
If you self degrading-ly laugh at personal inadequacies, even in jest, even if they're true ... is it any wonder that the dark of night has you laying awake worrying about a child with low self esteem? Can't really tell a teenager to obey the speed limit, yet fly around pushing ten above the law and then be surprised at a first ticket. Want respect? Be respectful. Kind words? Use kind words. Want appreciation? Be appreciative. Wishing for responsible, reliable, finishers? Be a reliable, responsible finisher. Looking for optimistic youth? Fight like the dickens to keep those pessimistic thoughts to yourself.
The list could go on. Mine did.
They are their own people. I get that, too. Children come here with personalities and traits already established to work with. But hopefully, they'll want to mirror the very best reflections because it's what they know.
I remember my father saying during a visit to me with my first little toddling two year old, "If you want her to pick up her toys, show her how, do it with her, and then encourage as you watch her do it." I remember thinking, "Yeah, that only works until she just doesn't ... and whose got time for that?"
... cuz I was a really smart twenty something mother ;)
But in time, the hope is what we mirror will take over. Better make it good.
Sometimes, our children won't follow suit no matter how much effort we put behind the good we are trying to see reflected.
Sometimes, we make mistakes as parents and shock our children by the mirror of our own inadequacies.
It's never to late to change things up if there is a need.
We have to rely on the only tools a mother has in her bag of tricks. Faith, hope, repentance and forgiveness go a long way.
Mirror what you want to see. Have faith that those things will be reflected. Hope for the best to come. When it doesn't, hope that the best will take over because you set the stage. When you fall short ... because, by golly, though you are trying your best to teach patience, yet you loose your own ... acknowledge imperfection, know how to say "I'm sorry", and most importantly -- teach those children that the true beauty of the Savior's atonement is that it works for moms, too.
This morning as I read this little snippet:
"Now this was the faith of these whom I have spoken; they are young, and their minds are firm, and they do put their trust in God continually."
I could not imagine anything in this world more awesome than to have children whose "minds are firm". So, putting my trust where I know it belongs, I'll pay just a little more attention to the reflections the little pieces of my own mirror make.