It was titled "Holiness in Motherhood."
I'll admit right here and now, although I was well aware that was a topic I could definitely benefit from, I was a little more excited for the sessions about how to deal with your "difficult child" or how the heck to be more organized.
But I'll also tell you right here and now that that "Holiness in Motherhood" session was a gem that has changed my mothering.
So I have to share my notes and thoughts, because I figure other mothers could use this stuff too. (My mom and I also wrote an article about it for some publication a while back, so some of the following is from that.)
Jen Eyring, (who is a role model of a mother and has seven (!) kids) led the discussion. She pointed out that "Holiness" is a "constant remembrance of the Savior" (according to one of our church leaders, Elder Christofferson). And I have to say that when I do remember the Savior in my mothering, I am a much better mother.
“No one wakes up in the morning and says, ‘I want to be unholy today’ Jen said,” but the path of least resistance can certainly take us there. We must make holiness a conscious choice.”
We can all agree that there are quite a few days as a mother that just don’t seem exactly "holy." When we’re coping with a three-year-old whiner, a nine-year-old procrastinator or a teenager who may not speak altogether kindly to us, motherhood may seem more like a test of endurance than enduring holiness.
At some point in a mothering career almost every mother says, “I just wish I were more spiritual. I feel guilty because I don’t read the scriptures as often as I should. I am so exhausted that I often fall asleep during my prayers. Sometimes I just feel that there’s no time to be holy!”
But if we change our mindset we will realize that the whole concept of Motherhood IS holy. Holiness can be found in things as small as preparing a family dinner, things as mundane as continual loads of laundry waiting endlessly to be done, and in things as simple as a two-minute discussion with a child on the way to soccer practice. Holiness can be found in all that we do as mothers as we let the Savior into our lives.
The part of the session that hit me the most was this:
In preparation before the retreat Jen contacted a few other mothers who were coming and asked them to choose one thing that they could do to generate more holiness in their mothering and put it into practice. They were to report on their findings at the retreat. When things got tough she suggested that they ask themselves, “How would a holy woman handle this?”
One mother chose getting her children out the door in the morning with a spirit of calmness. One chose to express her love as she buckled four kids into their car seats in the car. (I loved her report as she talked about how she took time, even just the one or two seconds it took to buckle each of them in, to look in each one of their eyes and tell them that she loved them.) Another mother chose to create more holiness at bedtime. The result of just keeping a focus on holiness during those stressful times was sweet and clear: each mother discovered that "holiness in motherhood" is not only about reading the scriptures and having family prayer. It is about time and focus and slowing down and patience and all the other good things that come along with the details of Motherhood.So I took all this to heart after the retreat and sought to find more holiness in what I do. As I did, I realized I found the holiness in the moments. Just like that mom who trained herself to relish those moments as she buckled her children in their car seats, I noticed more how my children beam when I praise them for sharing or for figuring out a new thing on their own. I stepped back and relished the fact I got to read to them each night and that if I tried, I really could find a minute the midst of the busy afternoon rush when they got home from school to just sit down and look into their eyes and listen to them.
Yes, the holiness is in the moments where I take a minute to step back and see things as God may see them. And I realized it comes with training myself to see it, and remembering to look for it amidst all the mundane, regular things we do. Because holiness is really part of them all.
May we all take the time to rejoice a little more in our “holy calling of Motherhood.” Because man alive, even through the chaos and the spilled milk and the stinky diapers and the whining we really are so lucky to get to be here. Right here, right now.