I'm reading a great book right now, great in that it is well-written and chock-full of fantastic ideas, but also great because it is bringing to mind many of the other little tidbits I've packed away in my memory over the years. "Building a Home Full of Grace" is written by a family - mother, father, and their five children, a culmination of more than 30 years of experience building a home and family.
More than anything, I have been reminded that my role in this family is wife first, then mother. Although I will always be mother to my beautiful children, I have less than 20 years in which I am living with them, where they are directly in my home. After that period of time, the goal is that they will "leave" their parents and "cleave" to their own wife, start their own family. Sad as it is to consider, I will then move into a secondary role. I realize this is the circle of life, and would not want to interfere by trying to cling to my boys when they should be stepping into the role of head of their own family.
And, what this is all a reminder of, is that James and I will always be a family together, here in our home. This is not the time to neglect my marriage in favour of raising my children. It is an easy rut to fall into; babies and toddlers and children demand so much attention because of their dependent nature.
And so I am remembering to be sure to date my husband, make time for him without the kids, support him and praise him and build him up in any way that I can. With my patience so short these days, and the boys driving me up the wall, I found myself resenting our business, James' work which demands so much of his attention. I found myself trying to get him to change something in his day, positive that the problem could be solved if only he would do something on his end.
Then, blessed by the book I have been reading and by some timely inspiration during Stake Conference on the weekend, I realized that I was going about it all wrong. Complaining and arguing and pushing someone else only tires you out; it is usually a fruitless exercise. True change comes from within. I realized the one who needed changing was me.
So I sat down and made three lists. The first was a list of the situations that appeared to be irking me. Then I went down that list and looked past the surface irritations to the reality and truth behind each one. Finally I looked for a way in each situation I could adjust my own attitude and do some small thing to show my love and support for my husband.
My list, of course, is personal, but here is an example of a situation that many women, especially stay-at-home moms, might come up against.
He is working all the time.
He loves to spend time with us and would much rather be hanging out with his wife and boys than working such long hours.
Make his favourite meal after an especially hard day.
Give him 30 minutes to unwind before bombarding him with the problems I need to share.
I was excited as the list of ways I could support James grew longer and longer. And I was excited to be able to start implementing them. I realized that as the primary parent in the home, I am the primary person who determines the atmosphere in our home. What a responsibility! Like it or not, my attitude is most likely to determine my home's atmosphere. And attitude is catching - if I'm short-tempered and irritable, then it's much more likely there will be negative feelings and attitudes all-around. But if I can get my chin up and try to speak softly, kindly, and supportively to everyone, then it's much more likely the atmosphere of peace I find so elusive will be much more pervasive. It's a huge responsibility and task - and one I know I won't always be up to. But as I consider the important role of wife that I am filling, I realize that I can't let it wait until the kids are older/grown/out of the house/business is slower/tasks are fewer. Because if (and that's a BIG IF) I ever do get to that point, I might turn around and find myself staring at someone I hardly know any longer.
And so I have opened my eyes to a huge role as a stay-at-home mom that I never realized I had before - that of supportive wife to my beloved husband. Likely it is one of the best examples I can set for my own kids, one of the best ways I can be the best mom to them: by demonstrating how sacred I hold this holy calling of womanhood I have been blessed with, inspiring each of them as they grow into young men, husbands and fathers one day, too.