Sunday, February 19, 2012

What I Am Learning As A Mother

        Before I get into what we have been doing I wanted to take a minute and share with you what it is like doing this on a day to day basis.  It is not all roses and sunshiney days :)  95% of this trip has been absolutely amazing, but I have had a few recent days where my kids were driving me nutty.  I felt like we were all a little on edge.  There has been very little down time and I think it started to get to the children.  We are either home schooling or at the orphanages-- often not getting home until 9 pm.  We are then up again early for seminary.   It is also hard for the children because we are 8 people living in a 2 bedroom condo that is a 10 min walk to the beach that we never seem to get to.  The beach is not the reason why we are here, but it is a tempting lure sitting there in the background!  So, on Saturday it was nice to go to the beach with the orphans and have some great down time. 
          During those harder days, I did a lot of self-reflection.  I called for a family "pow wow" and we had a little family council.  We talked about what was going well and what we needed to change or improve upon.  This humanitarian trip is such a gift for our family.  It will most likely never happen again, so I did not want us to waste time here frustrated or disappointed in how things were going.  We talked about the importance of a positive attitude and how one person's actions or comments can change the mood of the entire family.  Matt and I talked to them about how we did not want to have to be there every minute making sure they were doing what they were supposed to be doing.  (We have had some issues with one in particular not doing their schoolwork.)  We talked about how important it is to make efforts with their sibling relationships and respecting mom and dad.  No more grunts or heavy breathing when it is scripture time or when they are asked to help!  I tried to stay positive, but I also needed them to know that just because we are not home does not mean there is a free ticket to have no chores or no homework, or not act the way they have been raised.  Sometimes I feel like they have never been let out in public before!  I think part of that is because they have their friends here and so manners and social moray's have sometimes been thrown out the window. 
           We set new goals as a family and we all decided we wanted to do better.  I have such a testimony of family councils!  A little while after that meeting one of my kids came up to me and apologized.  He said, "Mom, I can see why you could be frustrated with me.  I am sorry.  I'm going to do better."  It was simple, but so sincere.  We have not had one problem since-he is doing his homework with out being asked!! It's a miracle.  The next day the other one came and apologized.  He said that he was walking home from eating and he looked at how he had been behaving and he was sorry.  Now mind you, these were minor things they were doing, but it was enough to cause some frustration.  The last couple of days after our pow wow have been so great.  I'm so proud of my kids and I have learned once again how important it is to gather and discuss how things are going in our day to day life.  And secondly, I've learned how important it is to set specific goals with each other.
              Now, I have had need to apologize as well.  When my kids are off, I am off.  When my title has been turned from mother into referee I get worn down.  It takes me awhile to figure out why I am crabby.  It's kind of like when you are making dinner, helping with homework, finding soccer cleats, and holding a crying child all at the same time.  You suddenly realize one of your other children has been saying "mom" for the last 10 minutes and you finally hear it and answer them.  Or there have been other circumstances when one of your kids is making a really annoying sound while you are trying to talk to someone.  All of a sudden you say to yourself, "What in the heck is that sound!!" That is how I feel sometimes when our family is not quite in sync.  It takes a couple of days, and then I finally can step back and see what is causing all the fuss.  That is when it is time to regroup and start fresh.
             I started to feel overwhelmed and that whole "This is not going how I planned!" feeling was creeping in.  But, when those feelings come, it does cause me to look at my own mothering skills and see where I need to improve.  I am the first one to admit to my children that they are going to have to forgive me as much I forgive them and that I am trying just as they are.  What I need to improve upon, or get divine intervention for, is knowing what to ignore and what to correct.  I find it impossible sometimes to know how much to get in the middle of things.  If I wanted to I could correct them all day long.  Do not burp, brush your teeth, stop bothering him, do your homework, go to bed, do your chores, clean up your room, don't say that word, be nicer to your brother, sit up in church, sing the hymns, pull up your pants, bring your food to your mouth not your mouth to the food, don't throw ice at people 3 floors down, don't write on your brother's face while he is asleep, change your attitude...just writing that makes me tired of hearing my own words.  I don't want to control my children or be after them all the time, but I also want them to have manners, to be kind, and know what is appropriate.  Ehh!  Now that I am conscious of it, I have done so much better at letting the little things go.  When I do have to correct,  I talk it through and remain calmer.  We both walk away happy instead of angry.  4 days down 25,000 to go :)  Although refining ourselves is painful, when we make progress and rely on help from above, it is attainable.  God wants us all to be better and He will help us get there.
         We went back to the Holland House orphanage this week.  We were so excited to get back to those kids from last year!  This orphanage is a little different.  It is an orphanage and day care for abused/neglected/single parent homes.  It is free and there are many that take advantage of it.  We were hoping that the same people were there!  We pulled up and I did not recognize the ladies working there.  Then one of them turned around and we both just smiled.  She came over to me and hugged me and I hugged her and she cried in my arms.  I have never had such a sweet welcoming reunion.  I seriously just love her.  She has a heart of gold and it was so great to see her again.
Mook--the most kind hearted lady!
At this orphanage we help with feeding and showers and changing, but we also just play with them and hold them.  They crave to be held.  Many of them, though they have a parent, are starved of affection.  These children are so precious!

We make beaded necklaces, we color, we play with dolls, we hold them, we play with animals, we do crafts.  You just want to scoop them all up and take them home with you.  I love watching my kids interact with them.  They instinctively play and communicate without words.  They get them to laugh and joke around.  It makes my heart happy.

        This little one was sad the whole time.  She just sat there waiting for her mother to come on her moped.  She did not want to be held or play.  It broke my heart.  A child's love for their mother is endless and unconditional.  No matter how bad the circumstances, children always need the love of their mother.
       This is the sweetest story!  Last year this little boy Urn was one of the orphans.  He had to watch all the others leave and go with their parents while he stayed behind and lived at the orphanage.  Mook told me that he had been adopted by this women 6 months ago!  LOVE IT.  Can you see that smile on his face?  This is what he was looking at...
These were some of the children that live here.  He was not trying to say, "Ha ha look you have to stay here and I get to go."  It was an innocent child so happy and grateful to get to speed away on a moped with his very own mother!  Look back at his face-it is priceless!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Allyson-

    I found your blog originally from Sarah of Clover Lane and then came across it again through the Power of Moms website. I just wanted to thank you for sharing your journey and lessons learned. What an incredible person you are! I am so inspired by your mothering and your service and the things you're sharing on your blog. Thank you for finding spare minutes to share your stories with the blogging world!

    (PS- As I scrolled through your blog I realized your family lives in Eagle- I graduated from Eagle High almost 12 years ago. Small world!)