The baby is up early to breastfeed. I drag myself out of bed and retrieve baby girl from her room. I feed her, change her diaper, and put her in the bassinet to go back to sleep.
I lay back down in bed because, today, I deserve to sleep in. You see, my husband has been working sun-up to sun-down for weeks. I have been doing it all on my own with the children and I am exhausted.
It’s now about 9:00 a.m. I can hear the baby stirring. I really don’t want to get up and face the day. The boys have been up for a few hours – in and out of my bed. I didn’t REALLY get to sleep in. I get to the kitchen and the boys have helped themselves to cereal (I’m okay with that today – they can have a good breakfast tomorrow). I pour myself some granola and scarf it down before needing to feed the baby again.
While I feed the baby, my five year old slips on the wet floor. (Why is the floor even wet?)
Soon after, my three-year-old tells me he peed his pants. (Oh! THAT is why the floor is wet! Gross!)
I should exercise but the day is already getting away from me so I’ll just do it tonight. (I’m not going to do it tonight.)
I hop in the shower while the baby sits in the bouncer and the boys come in whining about numerous things. I just want some peace! Why are they fighting so much? Why am I so tired and so grumpy?
I recall the day I first held my son in my arms. Everything changed that day. I was not just Randi anymore, I was now “Jude’s mom”. And soon I became Maxwell’s mom and then Penny’s mom. Becoming a mother has truly made my life infinitely better. But today – today is terrible! Why?!
I’m sure anyone that reads this would have the simple answers for me. I know the answers too. I do, but in that moment, when I’m SO tired and I’m so overwhelmed, I don’t always remember.
It’s Saturday morning. I can hear my baby waking up in her room.
I get up and retrieve this sweet, precious, miracle from her crib.
Penny’s bedroom wall is painted with flowers that I drew and painted by hand. My husband and I spent hours perfecting this floral wall for our soon-to-arrive baby girl. For months I dreamed of our daughter sleeping in her room under her bird mobile, surrounded by flowers and butterflies.
Today, my dreams are real and my baby is every bit as perfect as I knew she would be. I am so thankful that all of this is real.
I feed my baby and I notice her. Those ears are perfect. That chubby little hand grasping my finger! This morning baby girl takes her time eating. By the time she is finished, I can hear my boys stirring. I put Penny down for her morning nap.
I say my prayers and sneak into the kitchen. I turn on the scriptures on my phone. I open the shades and let the sunshine in. I scramble some eggs, put some bread in the toaster and place a bowl of fruit on the table. The boys run in. “Mom! What are you making us?!” They are so happy just to see me up! My five-year-old, Jude, says “Mom those scriptures are talking about Ammon! We learned about Ammon in primary!”
The rule in our home is that Mom always says the prayer at breakfast because I honestly need to ask for help. Every morning that we have breakfast together I pray for the Spirit to be in our home and in our hearts. I pray that we can have the ability to accomplish our tasks and that we can be kind to one another.
Today I’ll exercise. I pull out my yoga mat. Two little boys are peeking around the corner with their mats in hand. “You can join me,” I say. I don’t enjoy exercising, but having those little boys join me makes it pretty entertaining. In the shower I pray in thanks. Today is a good day. The light coming through my bathroom window is especially magical. That scripture this morning was exactly what I needed to hear.
Today, I am even going to make dinner!
Now what is the difference between these two days? The small and simple things I chose to focus on!
In the talk entitled, “By Small and Simple Things” by Susan K. Bednar, Susan says:
Come with me to my busy life as a young wife and mother. Elder Bednar was enrolled in a demanding doctoral program at Purdue University, far away from our families. We had an energetic two-year-old — energetic is kind of a mild word for the way he was — and a very young baby, very little money, and hardly any time to spend together as a family. As we struggled to balance family responsibilities, the rigors of school, and Church callings, I became more and more overwhelmed with my duties as a stay-at-home mother and wife. Many of you may have experienced some of these same emotions and frustrations.
After considerable pondering about my situation, I asked my husband for a priesthood blessing. I was promised in the blessing that if I would exercise, get more sleep, eat regular meals, have meaningful prayer morning and night, and engage in more purposeful and consistent scripture study, I would receive the physical and spiritual tools to better cope with my circumstances and the discouragement I was feeling. The reason I remember this blessing so clearly is because afterwards I thought: “Doing this is going to solve my problems? These are typical ‘Sunday School’ answers.”
Sister Bednar then spoke about how she rationalized NOT doing all these things. We all could – I sure do. And in this day and age, there are loads of articles, memes, and stories about how HARD it is to be a mother. This media complains about how moms never get time for themselves and how motherhood is such a thankless job. Moms sacrifice SO much! I let those thoughts influence me sometimes, and when I do, I rationalize NOT doing the things I know I should do. I decide I’m going to “give myself a break.”
Isn’t it funny, though, how it’s not actually a break when you leave out those small and simple things?
“By small and simple things are great things brought to pass” (Alma 37:6).
I have to share a funny little experience from the other day. I was complaining to my husband about my stress. I told him I need to learn how to manage my stress better. The next day he brought me home a pamphlet with big letters that said, “STRESS MANAGEMENT.” I laughed pretty hard but then I sheepishly opened up the flap. I wanted to see what was inside! I opened up the pamphlet and guess what it said?
Exercise & Stretch
Spend time with those that you love
I told my husband, “Sweetie… I already know all these things! This pamphlet gives me nothing!” And then he so sweetly asked, “Are you DOING those things?” I was put in my place.
I know that sometimes we appear to simply be “housewives.” In a world full of so many grand definitions of success, making peanut butter sandwiches and sweeping the floor three times a day doesn’t seem like much. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and tired. But when we make the choice to change our perspective, to remember why we became mothers, we realize that the little things we do for ourselves and for our families make a big difference.
Amidst the around-the-clock baby feedings, floor mopping, and sandwich making, what is it that we are working for? For me, it is exaltation. I want to live again with my Heavenly Father & Mother and my Savior Jesus Christ. And I want my family there with me.
“By small and simple things are great things brought to pass” (Alma 37:6).
What “small and simple things” should I be doing to achieve my greater goal of exaltation?
In a General Conference talk given in April 2016, President Monson suggests three choices we can make that will help determine our destiny:
1. Choose to build up within ourselves a great and powerful faith – a real faith, the kind of faith that will bolster our desire to choose the right.
2. Choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong.
3. Choose Christ.
I can testify that prioritizing the right “small and simple things” makes a big difference. I am so grateful for the guides we have been given to help us remember what to prioritize: a living prophet, the scriptures, prayer, and revelation. We can’t do it all by ourselves, but we CAN do it all through Christ.
By: Randi Gardner