This post may be more appropriate for Mother’s Day, but it comes from thoughts I’ve had lately, as well as a dream I had last night that left me feeling so grateful to be a mother.
Have you ever heard the phrase "What-e'er thou art, act well thy part"? It was inscribed on a castle in Scotland where President David O. Mckay, the ninth president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, served his mission as a young man. It became his life motto, and I first heard it while reading about him several years ago. I’ve loved that saying ever since, and it passes through my mind often as I’m doing tasks related to the different roles I carry. Currently my most demanding (and likely, most important) role is that of a mother. Often the weight and sacredness of this role gets to me and I start to doubt myself and my abilities, and wonder if I really can “act well” my part. When this happens I begin to look around me and recognize the greatest blessing I have been given in helping me overcome these doubts, and that is the example of others. I’m blessed to have a countless number of good examples of motherhood all around me. My own mother and mother-in-law, are of course people I always turn to for advice, but equally helpful are my friends and sister-in-laws (who are also my friends). They are young mothers like me, and they help me learn how to be a good mother through their actions. I interact with them often, so I’ve seen the good and the bad in their parenting, and I know that like me, they are not perfect. But they each have their own parenting strengths, and it’s those strengths that I watch and try to emulate. I’ve never actually told these friends that I appreciate their examples, I know I probably should. But until I do, I want to remember the things I’ve learned from them so I’m sharing it here. Some of them don’t read my blog, some do. Some of them may recognize themselves in what I’ll say, and some of them may have no idea that I look up to them. And whether I’ve mentioned it in my list below, I recognize that I have something to learn from all of the good people in my life.
I have a friend who never raises her voice to her children. I find this absolutely incredible! She can convey disappointment and sternness to her children (when necessary) without yelling. Yelling isn’t effective anyway, but it’s a common response for most people (me!), and she manages to suppress this.
I have a friend who is the epitome of a loving mother. She listens patiently to the things her kids tell her, and genuinely laughs at the funny things they do. She never speaks badly about them, even when her children aren’t around. She always recognizes the good in each of her children.
I have a friend who seems to never run out of patience. She has some fairly stubborn kids, but she knows how to manage them and can outlast them because of her endless supply of patience.
I have a friend who is excellent at really playing with her kids. In their home they have lots of toys that encourage imaginative play, and she’s right there alongside them playing out these imaginary scenarios. And when they go to a park, she’s on the slides and the swings and the monkey bars with them.
I have a friend who fights for her kids. She knows the good they possess and makes sure her children always know it about themselves, even when others try to emphasize the negative.
I have a friend who just seems to understand how to raise a proper human being. She knows effective discipline and the life lessons kids need to learn. She also knows how to balance that with love so that she can maintain a good relationship with her kids.
I have a friend who carries out fun traditions for her kids, even if it creates a lot of extra work for her.
I have a friend who is just starting out as a mother, but recognizes every day what a blessing it is to be a mother. And she has the ability to laugh at the frustrating things that might make other mothers cry.
I have a friend who recognizes teaching moments when they occur, and because she’s prepared herself ahead of time, can utilize those moments completely.
And I have a friend who teaches her children the joy in serving others, because she truly delights in serving.
It would be easy for me to look at this list of qualities that my friends possess and turn it into jealousy, but jealousy is a useless emotion. It does not inspire me to become better; it only makes me feel bad about myself. I know that I have my own strengths, but I also have many weaknesses. So I use this list to inspire and encourage me, and to remind me of my goal:
“What-e’er thou art, act well they part.”