Tuesday, October 26, 2010

On Mothering

I believe that, as women, we are born with the innate desires to nurture and nest.

I also believe that, as women, we are born with the innate flaws of perfectionism and comparison.

I've been struggling recently with my extremely busy life.  I never feel like I'm "on top of it," and rarely to I think I've accomplished much in a day.  Most of that can be attributed to the shortage of hours in a day and an impossible-to-accomplish-it-all list of chores to be done.  I go to bed each night and tally the unaccomplished.  The moments of neglect. The instanced I fell short.  The times I procrastinated or slept in or avoided or hid.

Most of all, I've felt powerless to change it all.  I had no idea how to reorganize my life.  Me.  A woman who prizes her organizational skills--disorganized.  These feelings have led me to avoid exercise, increase junk food of all species, stay up later than I should and sleep longer than is needful.  It's a spiral, isn't it?  You think that sleeping in will give you more energy, but it just puts you behind for the day.  That handful of candy corn will boost you for the afternoon, but it just yields guilt and further indulgence.  Exercise?  That just takes too much time, yet when completed, it boosts endorphins for an entire day.

The irony of this situation is that life really couldn't be better.  My kids are doing great.  Finances are as good as they could be in this economy.  I'm healthy (although heavier than I wish).  I'm happy.  I just feel like I'm out of control.  And I hate that feeling.

I've been thinking about this a lot, and three recent posts have directed me where I need to head from here.
Pam recently attended a Power of Moms conference in New Hampshire.  One sentence in that post struck me "Mothering is my passion and my profession."  I'm a professional.  A professional with 20 years of experience, to boot (and if you add up all the kids' ages, it actually totals 72 YEARS, plus a few foster kids).  Would any CEO dare lumber through their job every day, hoping that the right tasks would present themselves, no schedule or plan of any kind, aside from naptime from 12:30-3 and dinner at 5:30?  I need to start acting like the pro.  Because I am.  And fitting everything in during a week takes planning to avoid the guilt at the end of the week.

Jen recently posted her thoughts on budgeting.  Not budgeting money, but budgeting time. She said, "I do so much, but I could do so much differently.  Really, the possibilities are endless."  This is true.  We all do so much.  But are we doing the things that really matter--the essentials--or just "things"?

Then today, Paige listed many of the demands placed on her as the mother, whether self-imposed or not.  And she linked to this talk by Julie B. Beck. And this was exactly what I needed to kick-start my reformation.  She said, “Sisters, . . .  there has to be some prioritizing. I was taught years ago that when our priorities are out of order, we lose power. If we need power and influence to carry out our mission, then our priorities have to be straight."

So, instead of bouncing aimlessly and purposely through the latter part of my day (unlike my Costco run this morning), I took most of naptime for a little self-evaluation.  I followed Sister Beck's advice.  I made three lists--the essential, the necessary, and the nice-to-do. 

I followed Jen's advice, and I wrote out a schedule of my time--with plenty of flexibility for my kiddos and their lives--listing first the essential, then the necessary, then the nice-to-do.

Then, I looked at it like a professional, as per Pam's pen.  Is this doable?  Yes. Can I accomplish this? Should be able to. Can I stick to it? Hope so. Will it put me more on top of things? Eventually. And most importantly, will it be best for my family?  We'll have to see.  I just know that I can be better at this mothering thing.

After I've worked out a few of the bugs and tried this system, I'll post the results.  The best thing about this struggle?  I know that Heavenly Father wants me to succeed in my profession.  And with Him in my corner, if I consult with Him, we're unbeatable.



  1. Jenny you didn't need the Power of Moms..the Power of Moms needed you! So many of the women I met this weekend, including myself, would have benefited greatly hearing your thoughts on Motherhood. Don't be so hard on yourself right now..enjoy that baby..you KNOW how fast she's going to grow up and that to-do list will still be there. xoxo

  2. Yep, I need to obviously read all those links you put on there and figure out prioritizing my time as well. 'Cause I know I can certainly be better at this than I am. However, I won't lie, it made me feel a teeny bit better that YOU aren't in total control, and you eat handfuls of candy corn. just sayin.

  3. K just pointed me here. She congratulated me on the link. You flatter :) Obviously, this has been on my mind, too. I think it is the Fall and feelings of gratitude and blessings and then self-examination. Good luck and eat a candy corn for me... cause if I ate one, i'd eat them ALL!

  4. Being a mom is the most important job in the world.

  5. Such a great post...I've been so struggling with the balance and perfectionism of late. Even with time during the day now, I struggle to get it all done. The tasks are never ending...and I really don't have a plan! Off to click away on your links.

  6. Really appreciated this post... been reading your blog for a while. Had a down/out bit with the same feelings... still putting things together in my head, kicking the devil's mindgames to the curb where they belong and learning to trust my Father and who He wants me to be/what He wants me to learn... focusing on that will help take my eyes off of comparing myself to everybody else... major pitfall. Thanks for the honest analysis.

  7. I think we all go through seasons where we struggle with this very thing.
    Taking time to prioritize and trying to get the most important things done first seems to help me.
    I love looking at motherhood as a profession. It is, after all, the most important job in the world.
    Thank you for this post and for all you do to enlighten and inspire us.
    As my third grader would say...You Rock!!
    Enjoy the day

  8. I could just eat her up...that sweet baby!
    Great links....we are professionals in one of the hardest jobs ever. But how lucky we are for sure!
    Thanks for the encouragement here!

  9. Oh Jen, your post couldn't have come at a better time - I've been feeling the same way since summer's end - I look forward to reading thru those links and seeing how I can dig myself out of this rut ... looking forward to following your progress as my inspiration ;-) Thanks for sharing ...

  10. You know what's really funny...I was feeling the same way and had to rein myself in because I thought I was "too happy". Can you believe the irony? I felt like I needed to accept the happiness with humility instead of being giddy that things were going well. I don't feel the need to walk around disguising my happiness, but I feel like if I get too out of control that something bad will come along to check me. Does that make sense?
    I used to take on way too much (volunteer wise) and I'm happy to say that I don't feel guilty telling people no anymore. Even if I don't have other plans.

  11. That little Evie is just so darned cute!

    And I like the concept that you're a professional. It's true. If motherhood isn't a profession, I don't know what is!

    Great thoughts, Jen.


  12. Great post Jen, I've been thinking along those lines too- and I don't even have 8 kids as reason not to be more organized. I love reading about you and your mothering skills- you're like a far away mentor type person, if there is such a thing.

  13. I am so where you are. I run and run and have nothing to show for it. I love that talk from Sister Beck. It has helped me. I loved how she talked about Prime Time and how we need to make sure that we are available during that time. I can do that. It means preparation, but I believe if we take our plan to the Lord, He will bless it. Learned that on my mission.

  14. Mothering has always been the profession of which I've been proudest. I think that's why I enjoy reading your posts so much - the joy comes through. Sure there's lots of other stuff, but it's all real, and I've been there and I enjoy revisiting! I went to work after my youngest was in high school and even then worked around her schedule. So I'm never going to go to the top of this second field or retire with a fat pension, but I know that I was really good at mothering and that there's nothing I can't do because of the things I've done as a mother.

  15. I like the direction you're thinking is going. And I most especially liked the 3 separate (but sometimes equal) lists. Every once in awhile I think we should allow ourselves to do something on that "Nice to do" list - even if it trumps a "have to" item. A little choice for yourself is good for the soul.
    You'll soon have your groove back. You're just that kinda girl. Don that scarf! It'll make you SASSY! I'll be in Mesa Nov 5-7. It'll probably be whirlwind (it's Hayden's birthday) but we'll see...

  16. What a great post...I'm almost where you are but not quite since I lack the experience you have. It's really amazing how becoming a mom can make you feel disorganized and as if you can't control what's going on in your life. Every now and then, when I do manage to keep up with all the demands of being a mom and wife, I take a teeny tiny break and then all hell breaks loose and I find myself trying to play catch up again. It really is a never ending cycle. I still think you're an amazing mom for having held it together for so many years and after having so many kids. I don't know if I can ever pull it off the way you do.

  17. Thank you, I feel exactly the same way. So much to do, so little time. I'll have to write up a "time budget" too and see if I can't get in more of the essentials. Maybe I'll have time to do that after Halloween?

    Missed your class yesterday. Zanya threw up on the way and I had to take her home. But then she was fine the rest of the day. Ugh. Lucky she didn't throw up 5 minutes later on your carpet :)

  18. We just bought a new home. Not only have I only been to the store once in the last month but I still have boxes. My husband has been working working working. Some days I am glad for the financial security. Other days I'm completely irate bc I'm so exhausted. I feel like I'm rushing from one place to another constantly, so how to remind myself that the days are short and few and they'll be grown and gone in no time. Yesterday I deemed myself unable to have the patience for any more! Today I'm ready for more:-) thanks for your post. I'm not alone !!