Recently, I talked to one of my friends about the hardest part of teaching our young children. We decided that the hardest part of teaching our children is that we are still learning ourselves. Our children see our mistakes and follow our own bad examples. It is so hard to teach our kids what they need to learn but realize just how far we have to go ourselves.
That’s the big secret of parenting, and it’s the same whether you are a homeschool mom like me or a stay-at-home mom like my friend, or a mom who works outside the home as some of my other friends: none of us truly know what we are doing, and we all make mistakes!
There was no owner’s manual to guide me, or a “mom switch” that made me into a mother. I’m still the same person I was before my oldest was born, and I still have a lot to learn. This is the hardest part of being a mother.
When I am down on my self, my husband often asks me, “Well, who do you think you are? Of course you can’t do it all yourself!”
He gets it. God is the ultimate one in control.
There is only one way that any of us can get through motherhood. There is only one way for our children to turn out alright, despite the super difficult days. That way is through the grace of God.
In some respects I consider myself a secular homeschooler: I follow curricula for most subjects that do not have religion integrated in to the lesson plans.
That said, I’m not a secular person. We do start each day with a devotional verse, and we end each day with family scripture reading and family prayer. Even more importantly, I’m finding myself on my knees, begging for guidance and direction and forgiveness every single day of motherhood lately. It’s not even about homeschooling much of the time. It’s about being a mom. I don’t know what I’m doing. I am not the mom I want to be. I am not the teacher I want to be.
But, through the grace of God, I can be.
In Covenant Motherhood, Stephanie focuses on the many ways that we emulate Christ through every act of motherhood. In her chapter about grace, she says:
Jesus made people’s meager offerings be just enough because of their faith. When He fed the five thousand, He didn’t whip up a meal out of thin air, though He certainly could have. Instead, He gathered what the people had, and then He added to it. He made it be enough. … I’m sure He could parent my children much better than I can, but He allows me to do it because I learn how to be more like Him in the process. And even in all of my inefficiency, He helps me do His work. (page 80-81)
Sister Sorensen then quotes from the Bible Dictionary. Here I quote it more fully.
The main idea of the word is divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ.
It is through the grace of the Lord Jesus, made possible by His atoning sacrifice, that mankind will be raised in immortality, every person receiving his body from the grave in a condition of everlasting life. It is likewise through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means. This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts.
I love this reminder that we all have access to the grace of God. We all need it, and we can receive it.
In the April 2015 General Conference, Elder Renlund was telling the story told the story about a strong energetic young missionary named Curtis learned an important lesson. His companion was weaker than he was, and he felt frustrated to see, once again, that his companion had gotten off of his bike to walk beside it. Curtis was frustrated.
Silently, Curtis expressed his frustration to God. What a chore to be saddled with a companion he had to drag around to accomplish anything! Moments later, Curtis had a profound impression as if God were saying to him, “you know, Curtis, compare to me the two of you aren’t all that different. (from “Latter-day Saints Keep On Trying”)
I have thought about that story many times since I first heard it. As I was complaining to myself about the behavior of my children, it occurred to me again: compared to the Lord, I am not all that different from my children!
Sister Sorensen ends her chapter on Grace with this:
We are mothers. We are enough. We are everything our children need in order to become all they are meant to be … with [the Savior’s] help. However we fall short, He will make up the difference. (page 85)
That’s all I can hope for. I’ll do the best I can at mothering, at homeschooling, and at being a Christ-like woman in this day and age. And then I’ll fall to my knees and pray for grace to make up for all the ways I have fallen short, for I know there are many.
These thoughts are reflections on the book Covenant Motherhood by Stephanie Dibb Sorensen. Order the book on Kindle at Amazon (affiliate link!) or Deseret Book (not affiliate link). See also Teaching in the Savior’s Way