Motherhood has taught me something that never occurred to me before I had kids: I don't know everything. (Go ahead....laugh.)
I distinctly remember a conversation with a co-worker on this subject just days before Zachary, my oldest, was born. I remember where I was standing in the office and which large maternity top I was wearing. Mike, one of my bosses and a seasoned parent, said to me, "So, are you nervous?"
Thinking he was referring to labor and delivery, I said, "Eh...it's just a day. I think I can handle it." (How cocky is that?)
He countered, "I meant being nervous about being a parent for the rest of your life."
I should have known in that moment that I wasn't prepared.
As a first-time parent I did a million things wrong. And now, as a four-time parent, there are simply more opportunities to fail. As my children are quick to point out, I make mistakes all the time. Raising kids throws into sharp relief my many weaknesses, both as a mother and a human being. This parenting business is hard work. The pay days seem few and far between. But then there are moments of clarity, glimpses of success, and I find the strength to carry on.
Like any journey, I find the way is easier when I have a roadmap. Two particular things are guiding my parenting right now. The first is an address given by Julie Beck three years ago at LDS General Conference called "Mothers Who Know." I don't remember feeling particularly moved when I first heard the talk. But in the last year I have gained so much respect and admiration for this remarkable woman and mother that I have read everything I can find by Julie Beck. Her words are guiding my life.
The other is a statement President Ezra Taft Benson made in General Conference in April 1988. He said, "When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives. Our love of the Lord will govern the claims for our affection, the demands for our time, the interests we pursue, and the order of our priorities. We should put God ahead of everyone else in our lives."
As a mom, I feel like I don't know much -- but I know enough. I know that being a mother is a noble calling. It is an opportunity that demands my best effort, my greatest resources, and, most importantly, my deepest faith. I am blessed to have heavenly support in my daily duties. Even the most mundane chores are elevated when I choose to serve my family with a happy heart and an eye on the prize.
What is that prize? Eternal life with God and my family. Eternity is a lot longer than a day. It's time to get prepared.