It’s funny what becoming a mother can do to you. When my son was about 6 months old, my husband and I watched a movie one night. In the opening scene, a mother is breastfeeding her baby at an outside café. Long story short (and frankly a bit less gruesome), a shootout occurs and the mother is caught in the crossfire and passes away while her baby continues to breastfeed. As a breastfeeding mother at the time, this affected me greatly and I started crying. Not just silent tears either, so that my husband wouldn’t think I was weird, but uncontrollable crying; the kind where it’s hard to speak and even breathe. I didn’t know where this was coming from! The scene never focused on this mother and baby and perhaps I am even the only one to have noticed it happen, but it affected me to the core. I was heartbroken, devastated. Being a mother has caused me to be sensitive to things that others may not even notice. Being a mother brings tears to my eyes and a smile to my face.
My own mother tells me all the time, “Now you understand how much I love you,” and I think to myself, “that’s not possible! It’s not possible for anyone to love their child as much as I love mine!” Well, it’s crazy to think that it IS possible and not only that, but our Heavenly Father loves each one of us even more than I love my own son. Another thing I often think is, “how am I supposed to have another baby and love him as much as I love my son, Max? Again, it’s just not possible!” Our Heavenly Father has millions…billions of children and He loves each and every one of us the same. How do I know that? How do I know He loves me as much as he loves my husband or my son? My son, who’s only a year and half, who’s so pure in heart and probably closer to Heavenly Father than even I am? I know it because I feel it every time I pray. I can literally feel His love for me as I communicate with Him, and I know that same love transfers over to each of us.
Lately I’ve been finding myself telling me son, rather often actually, “I’m busy. I’m busy. Go play with daddy, I’m busy.” But honestly, what could I possibly be doing that’s more important than my son? I find that my son throws tantrums a whole lot more when he asks for my attention and I don’t give it to him. I find that it’s when I’m on my computer that he decides to pull all the DVDs off the shelf because even at this young age, he’s desperate for my love and attention. Now, I’m not saying that we need to give all our full, undivided attention towards our children every second of every day…that would drive us all mad! But we do need to pay attention to the needs of our children every second of every day. We know our children best and we know how much of our direct attention each of them needs in order to thrive. Some children need more and some not as much. Max is probably about half and half. He does a really good job at playing by himself and at other times he just needs a really good cuddle. So by paying attention to his particular needs, I know when it’s ok to do my own thing for a bit while he does his own thing, and I know when I need to just put down that computer, get down on ground level with him and listen to what he needs and play with him.
There’s a song I love called, Just a Homemaker that states, “Every woman is a homemaker no matter what else she might do. And if we don’t watch out the world convinces us that there are better things for us to do. So remember this profession is the best thing you can be. And if right now you have to add another one, remember this one’s top priority.” And you know what? It is and should be our top priority. Our children are the future, as we’ve heard many times. However, at the same time I have found that when I take care of myself first, then I do a much better job at taking care of my son. I get to a point every once in a while where I just need a break! I just need to go out and have an hour or two, or a night even, completely void of my baby. And I used to feel really bad having these feelings and I used to push them aside, thinking I’m a horrible mother to have these thoughts. But you know what? I, and my husband too can attest to it, have come to realize that when I come back from my break, I am more kind and generous and more willing to serve my family and give them the love that they deserve. Just because we are mothers, we can’t completely forget about our own needs. Just as we know how much attention our children need to thrive, we know what we need to do for ourselves in order to thrive and be better mothers, and we can’t ignore that or feel bad about that.
Max and I had a really rough start in the months after he was born and I had some really bad postpartum issues. And these last few weeks as well, as he’s grown into toddlerhood and begun asserting his independence, to put it nicely, have been really rough on me. I’m a stay at home mom and my husband goes to school full—time. Our families are both in California and the only friends I have close by are the few I’ve made in this ward. However, that being said, my husband and I only have one car, so Max and I are usually stuck inside with limited resources most days of the week. Really, having a toddler, you can only come up with so many activities to keep entertained. There’s another song that has always been a great comfort to me during my particularly tough times. It’s called He’ll Come Home with You. And it’s kind of long, but it goes like this:
She’d just gone across the street to see the neighbors
But as she turned to go back home the thought was there
Like a wave that rolls and turns, the loneliness returned
Leaving in its wake a feeling of despair
She stood looking at her house, each window lighted
And knew behind each light a child with many needs
“I just can’t go back tonight,” she thought, “I’ve given everything I’ve got”
Then looking up she made this silent plea
“Could I please come home tonight, for just a little while?
In the morning I’ll be ready to come back
But I’m tired of the strain, of the loneliness and pain
Could I please come home to find the strength I lack?”
Though the air was undisturbed, still she knew her prayer was heard
For she felt her loving Father say these words
“My child, you can’t come home tonight, for if you did it would be too hard to return,
But though I can’t let you come home, I will not let you be alone
Just give your burden to my Son and the light you need will come”
Then take His hand and as you do you’ll find His strength will carry you
You can’t come home tonight, but He’ll come home with you.
What a powerful message. I sometimes feel like the mother in this story, particularly on those days that just seem to never end: Days when naptime feels like it should be bedtime already; those days where everything just seems to go wrong. Where it’s the end of the day and you find you don’t even need to change into your pajamas to go to sleep because you’re still wearing them. Days when the tv is your only salvation. On those days I find myself asking the same question, “could I please come home tonight?, for just a little while? In the morning I’ll be ready to come back.” And always I receive the same answer, “My child, you can’t come home tonight, for if you did, it would be too hard to return. But though I can’t let you come, I will not let you be alone, just give your burden to my son, and the light you need will come.” You know the Footprints in the Sand poem where there are two separate footprints and then there’s only one and Jesus Christ says, “Those are the times I carried you”? Well, these days I just mentioned are the days we need to hand things over to our Savior, to take HIS hand and allow Him to give us the strength we need to carry through.
In spite of all the hardships I encounter, I would not trade this profession for the world. Being a mother is the greatest calling I could have possibly received. Every time I look at my son, I realize just how blessed I am. He is such a sweetheart and spontaneously gives me hugs and kisses all the time. In fact, I find it quite ironic that when I got pregnant, Bryan wanted a boy so badly that I think he literally willed our baby to be a boy, yet Max is the biggest Mama’s boy there is. Heavenly Father has entrusted these precious little souls to us and the best thing we can do for them is to teach them the gospel and be examples of righteous members of the church so they have the best chance of returning back to Him one day. I’m so grateful and lucky to have such a wonderful husband who loves and supports me and allows me to be able to stay at home with my son.
Brothers and sisters, and mothers in particular, this is my testimony that I leave with you; I know that when I get down on my knees and pray, Heavenly Father is right there with me. He loves me. I know he would never give any one of us a trial that is too hard to overcome. I know that when we give our burdens to our Savior Jesus Christ, that His strength will carry us through. That is why He lived and died…to take upon Him our burdens so we don’t have to go through this world alone. We can’t go home tonight, but He WILL come home with you.