"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in."

-- Robert Frost

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

because their mothers knew it

"When the real history of mankind is fully disclosed, will it feature the echoes of gunfire or the shaping sound of lullabies? The great armistices made by military men or the peacemaking of women in homes and in neighborhoods? Will what happened in cradles and kitchens prove to be more controlling that what happened in congresses?"
 -- Neal A. Maxwell

I made the mistake of opening up my calendar this morning to reveal the last three weeks of summer before school begins.

I got that overwhelming "roller coaster feeling" again.

That ominous,

tick - tick - tick 

upward into a looming senior year for a first child, accompanied by a heart pumping

have i taught enough - have i taught enough - have i taught enough.

I just know it's followed by that gut seizing here - we - go whoosh of here - THEY - go, as big things send each one out on their own successively quicker than I can wrap my brain around.

 I've reminisced much lately on an observation made in India of the amazing women I met there and also some of the perspective reflected on them.

Without exception, one of the first questions asked in conversation was always, "What do you do?" to which I would answer that I was engaged in raising seven children.

I would return with, "And what do you do?" and always, her face would light up and she would say, "I, also, am a Mother!"

Our guide who'd become like family, took us on a tour of a site riddled with religious symbol and statue upon statue or god and goddess-like replica. Each had a name, a story, a back ground. He knew them all.

"How many are there?" I asked.

"At this site?" he said, "200 or more but within the various religious sects, innumerable. Within my own, about 500."

"Do you know about them ALL?" I asked astounded as he nodded affirmatively.

I silently marveled at his extensive knowledge and couldn't resist asking, "Did you receive some sort of religious training? Do they teach this in school? How in the world, did you acquire such a vast understanding? It's simply amazing!"

To which he tilted his head and looked at me a little funny, then smiled …

"My mother taught me!" then a brilliant grin, "And my wife teaches my children!"

I let that wash over me for a minute, feeling a companionably silent admiration for a woman I had not met but felt suddenly analogous to.

"That's a big job," I said more in reflection of overwhelm than observation.

"She has the biggest job in the world," he replied nodding. "What is important to her, she makes important to my children. She will deepen our religion. She will make our education important. She will teach them to succeed or our family will loose hope."

I've thought so often since, of this woman on the far side of the world from me, raising several children in a one bedroom, dirt floor, ground level apartment facing the daily challenges of a camp stove to cook on, pestilence to hold at bay, and routine flooding from monsoons requiring fortification and rebuild of that structure.

A life riddled with physical challenge yet deeply focused on the constant need to fortify and a rebuild the most basic building block.

Her family.

That calendar today reminded me of my own need to give this upcoming year a little more attention. Time to start thinking once again on those things that are important to me that I hope will be important to them. Especially as some are in the last leg of the journey here.

So I pulled out my favorite little go-to book that brightens my imagination every time I read it. It's dog-eared and marked up with handwritten lists shoved between it's pages. An icon from the 70's you just gotta love ;)

And it's not very big but it's chocked full of so many good ideas that make me think. That over loved cover says, "Making Your Home A Missionary Training Center".

That's a reference to the preparation of the young men and young women who head out into the world to serve as full time missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

But I tell you what … it's awesome for any mother of any religion wanting to send her children out into the world ready to be well rounded contributing adults.

It's a pretty straight forward book and maybe that's what I love about it. I'm not a very deep thinker but I love little common sense gems like this:

Boy, does that make me feel like less of a meanie mom when I say no to some things!

I absolutely love this:

I love to do for my children. But I don't love to be the last man standing. There's a lot packed into that little thought. Like teaching them to look outside of themselves, seeing needs, serving in families, and not taking others for granted.

This one was written for exercise, but doesn't it go for everything? If you love it, make it important and so will they!

I adored the whole chapter on manners. It reminded me of "etiquette nights" my dad would call for dinner. How we'd laugh as he'd show us the improper way to eat soup, or watch as we unfolded napkins on our laps.

It made me think on dinner conversations and topics I'd like to see.

And made me cringe that I'd not yet pulled out that red checked Betty Crocker cookbook with the "table settings" section in the back like my mom did, and teach my kids how to properly place a knife, spoon, and fork or fold a cloth napkin.

I'm a firm believer in this:

We attended everything our siblings were doing as a kid. It was hard. I watched my mom struggle with littles, but it meant so much that everyone came. I remind myself of the same thing every time I stand in the back with a child hoping to hear that solo or catch the score of the game.

And this, that taught me that I want my children to stretch more:

There are so many useful skills to develop. Oh! If only there were more time ;)

I found a couple of lists I'd written and shoved into the pages of the book. Some, we've gotten better at. Some, it's time to renew and make time for.


Prompt handwritten thank you notes.
More frequent journal writing.
Development of public speaking skills.
Responsibility with meal planning.
Balancing of check book registry … a real lost art.
Typing skills
Manual research skills
Poetry memorization

The list could go on and on. 

Mostly, what is important to a mother will be important to her children. Once again so well said by Elder Neal A. Maxwell:

"By the power of her example and teaching, her sons learn to respect womanhood and to incorporate discipline and high moral standards in their own lives. Her daughters learn to cultivate their own virtue and to stand up for what is right, again and again, however unpopular. A mother's love and high expectations lead her children to act responsibly without excuses, to be serious about education and personal development, and to make ongoing contributions to the well-being of all around them".

The biggest job in all the world.


  1. Wow--I love what your guide said!

  2. Found your blog via Shawnee's blog post link today…so happy to have found you. You take such gorgeous photos!! I really loved this post and the snippets you shared from the Christiansen's book. I'll have to try and find a copy of it online.

    1. Jennifer, thank you for stopping by! So nice to "meet" you ;)