Friday, May 7

My Straight and Narrow Path

Monday through Friday I bundle the kids up to head out for school. Socks, shoes, coats, and backpacks with papers, lunches, snacks, and drinks. We walk the same sidewalk routes to and from McKay's kindergarten and Easton's bus stop. I could walk it blindfolded now. Today it got me thinking about the straight and narrow path.

When we leave in the morning, we have to go up a slight hill that's too much for them to ride their bikes up. I feel like a momma bear emerging from her cave after a long winter with her cubs. Sluggish but determined.

Sometimes we all ramble at our own pace, sometimes we stay together. Sometimes we even hold hands just for the comfort of each other's company.

Sometimes they want to run, but hardly ever all at the same time which has me second guessing who I should keep up with and how much leeway to give to the child in front while I bring up the rear. Moments like this make me wish Ryan was there to help, to guide, and mostly to enjoy. I know I can manage on my own, but it's so much better with him. Always better with him.

Sometimes we stop to enjoy the spot we're in, like the coy pond, or we're tired from the journey but eventually the promise of home prompts us onward.

Sometimes we totter, balancing on the edges. Because the journey is often slow, I have to remind myself not to because two or three little people are watching me.

There are hidden dangers around every turn. Sunken driveways and garages. Corners where cars might not see my little ones coming. If I'm not watching carefully, one or more will try to cross the road without me looking first. If I'm not watching carefully, one wants to wander in the big open road because she can and she sees no danger. But I know there is danger there. My tone determines her willingness to comply with my plea to get back on the straight and narrow. Demand or persuade? All in my tone.

Sometimes there are detours where the grass and flowers sway in the breeze invitingly.

It grows high and once they've wandered in, they look up at me wondering if they can make it back because it takes more effort than they want to exert. Again, my tone makes all the difference but sometimes I have to go rescue them, and their teddy.

Sometimes we walk, sometimes they ride. Usually they ride because I haven't planned enough time to let them experience the walk and I want to control the pace and their path. Better preparation on my part would negate the need for "The Pace" and my "control" of it. The path? Agency, darn it. And bless it - depends on the moment.

Our straight and narrow path home. Eternal life. Their path. Mine.

Mine is motherhood and I'm in the baby pool eying the big pool warily but with great anticipation. Sometimes I wonder what I got myself into and at other times, I'm overwhelmed at how wonderful it is!

Eve's story in Moses and Genesis has sat with me since January but even further back to that Political Science class at BYU. Eve and her decision to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. She could have stayed forever in the selfish ease of the beautiful Garden of Eden. She had everything we wish for in vain. She had Adam. They talked with God and were taught His Plan. Life was good, real good! But there was something missing and it required action. Eve led that time. Her action with unknown consequences - some great, some terrible. But she and Adam persevered. Together.

Recorded in Moses 5:11, upon reflecting on their life, she gladly said:

"Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all obedient."

I always knew I wanted to be a mother but had no illusions it would be smooth sailing. I am the oldest of ten children and saw my fair share, often with safe distance. But I've kept a mental catalogue of images of my own mother in her moments of peaceful fulfillment: holding one of her own new babies in a quiet moment of bliss; being gathered into a kiss by dad after work; having one of the little kids lather and rub her feet with lotion; seeing one of us kids achieve something we'd worked for with pride; enjoying uplifting friendships with other women; witnessing sons and daughters be married in the temple for time and all eternity; learning new skills of dizzying sorts; sewing tiny beading to a smocked baby blessing dress she'd made; and rocking a brand new grand-baby with her special touch.

I know my mom has walked Eve's path. I've seen her go through some of those great moments in life. But I've also seen the messy ones. And some really hard ones that made me ache and cry for her. Remember those shining moments. They come. They are gifts.

The errand of angels is given to women
And this is a gift, that as sisters, we claim.

Like Eve, mom and I - we claim the gift. I claim it. It is not a burden, a prescribed role, the result of Eve's original sin although many choose to see it that way and I fall into that trap now and then.

Heavenly Father's Plan is for us to return to Him. It's not easy, often not glamorous. But worth it.

I believe all God's daughters are called to motherhood regardless of marital status or bearing of children. By that I mean, we are called to develop the attributes of a nurturer with Christ as our example. As I work at it, I feel fulfilled in moments of transcendent clarity. I know I am doing what I was put on earth to do, to learn. I felt that nurturing instinct as a young girl, as a teenager, as a college student, a working gal and now as a wife and mother. The role of a Christlike nurturer fits whatever our status in life may be.

Nurturing - it is a gift and when I claim it, I know that I am becoming a better version of myself.

Elder Russell M. Nelson said in a beautiful talk entitled "Woman - Of Infinite Worth":

"Feelings of worth come when a woman follows the example of the Master. Her sense of infinite worth comes from her own Christlike yearning to reach out with love as He does.

When her husband, children, grandchildren, nieces, or nephews return from a day marred by the world's rude realities, a loving woman can say, "Come to me, I will give you rest." Wherever she is can become a sanctified place, safe from the storms of life. Refuge is there because of her ability to nurture and to love unconditionally."

I claim the gift. The gift, as sister of Zion . . .

"to do whatsoever is gentle and human,
to cheer and to bless in humanity's name.

How vast is our purpose, how broad is our mission
If we but fulfill it in spirit and deed.
Oh, naught but the Spirit's divinest tuition
Can give us the wisdom to truly succeed.

As sisters in Zion, we'll all work together;
The blessings of God on our labors we'll seek.
We'll build up his kingdom with earnest endeavor;
We'll comfort the weary and strengthen the weak.

Because I've seen my mother do it, I know I can too. Because I read of brave women in the scriptures who did it, I know I can too. And my sisters by birth, by friendship, and through books and blogs, they inspire me to no end daily so I know I too can do it. That is one reason I love to celebrate Mother's Day.

When visiting Venice with my parents recently, and more specifically the lace making on Burano island with mom, we came across this little old woman displaying her artistry.

Mom and I marveled at her quick movements producing many intricate tiny stitches on her hand made pattern to create a large beautiful lace panel. If you didn’t see her in action, you’d have never known or appreciated her attention to the threading and pulling of each detailed stitch, the hours of labor to produce a completed piece. I even took video of her for awhile, mesmerized.

So much like a lifetime of womanly nurturing, the beauty is in the details. One shopkeeper showed us the difference between the delicate, layered stitching of handmade Burano lace in contrast to that done by other masters of the craft or modern machines. Burano lace is distinct and when I looked for it, I could tell the difference in the finished product.

When I've reached her age, I hope my nurturing instinct is honed to an artistic craft like her lace making. My attempts now are a bit messy, sometimes forced out of a feeling of duty. I'm learning as I go by following others' example, following the Spirit's promptings, and often being humbled. Yet my daughter is already absorbing, already nurturing her doll or teddies and learning to give kisses for hurts she's given. My sons too.

I can do this, I must. I must be, I want to be a Mother Who Knows with A Mothering Heart.

My little crew. As they approach the home stretch, it's down hill and they like to run. Home doesn't come into view until they're at the very end.

But home it is, through the gate. Home Sweet Home.