Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Higher virtue: Truth or Peace?

If you've ever worked in customer service, you know the expression: "The customer is always right."  Let me put it this way: "The two-year-old is always right."  Here's the catch: I have two of them, and they can't both be right. 

It started as newly verbal one-year-olds, the arguments.  Frequently, in their car seats in the car.  Barely able to form coherent words, much less sentences, they would argue the finer points of the name of a truck, what "M" is for, or on whose side of the car they are sitting (mama's or daddy's).  One son (we'll call him Ham), would argue for the pure joy of provocation.  The other son (let's call him Shem), argued for Truth, Capital T Truth.  It would always end in tears, almost always in screaming.  It was amusing for awhile.  We would eavesdrop from the front seat, amazed at our sons' precocious ability for debate, and occasionally interject somewhat helplessly when the crying became too ferocious. 

However, as reasoning skills advanced, so have the arguments.  Yesterday it was over letters and numbers. 

Shem (gleeful in his knowledge): 1, 2, 3, Yay, 3 is a letter! 

Ham: 3 is a number.

S (agitated): No, 3 is a letter. 

H: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8....

S: No, no, stop saying that!! (crying now) 3 is a letter!

Me (to Matt): Uh, truth or peace?

Matt: Shem, there are letters and there are numbers.  1, 2, 3 are numbers.  A, B, C, D are letters.  Yay, aren't number and letters neat! (OK, probably not quite that cheesy, but you get the idea.)

S: hysterical crying, NO, NO, NO, NO!!

H (singing): A, b, c, d, e, f, g...."

S: total breakdown.

Parents: distraction attempts from the front seat: So, Christmas, who's excited about Christmas?

This scenario is a daily occurrence.  Often now, the argument is not even with his brother, but with me.  Colors, I give room for interpretation.  Truck names, you got it, you probably know them better than me.  But some things?  Some things are just wrong.  Am I doing my job as a parent to say, "Yes, okay, good job" when my son is clearly wrong?  Is this justified in an attempt to keep the peace?  I confess.  I pacify.  I agree, not wanting a full-scale fall-out over the fact that this small red fruit is called a strawberry and not a cherry.  Peace prevails. 

Matt summed it up yesterday, oh so philosophically: You cannot have true peace without truth.

Yes, yes, and okay Shem, that's a letter. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Sabbath rest for mamas

My day starts with an alarm clock ringing.  Gotta get that shower before the little people wake up or I'll be behind the curve all day.  Then mix up the pancakes and hurry to their room to change diapers, give morning hugs and kisses, and bring them downstairs to start the day.  Yes, this is my Sabbath rest.  Bathtime can get interesting, and the floor will inevitably need to be swept after the breakfast crumbs settle.  Today we are expecting friends for lunch (yay!), which means a little kitchen prep work while I wash the dishes.  And so on and so forth.

Is this Sabbath rest?  I've tried to practice Sabbath as a rest from the work of the week.  As a student, from studying and reading.  As an employee and wife, from work, cleaning, and grocery shopping.  But as a mama?  Do I take a break from changing diapers, washing sticky hands, reading books?

Clearly the answer is No!

So, where is my rest?

I've had Sundays when I struggled to wash and dress two small ones, braved the cold as I pushed the stroller to church, and hauled car seats up the steps, only to sit in the nursery and do what I would've done at home ... I wondered, isn't Sunday supposed to be restful?

I've had Sundays when I've felt resentful of my children's demands, believing that this was my time to be doing something "spiritual" and self-enriching, and that they were preventing me from knowing this kind of Sabbath rest.

I've had Sundays when I've thought - forget trying - and threw in an unnecessary load of laundry and started dinner for Monday... because what is the point anyway of pretending that Sunday is any different for a mother?

I've had Sundays when my burdens have been surprisingly and undeservedly lifted by a caring husband, by a surprisingly long nap, but a mental shift that can only be credited to the work of the Spirit.  I've had Sundays when I've treasured the long hours to spend with my children without the nagging obligation that I should be finishing (or starting) a chore.  I've had Sundays when friends sitting and talking and playing with my children has brought lightness to my spirit that I would have missed without the privilege of taking a Sabbath rest. 

People, I don't have the answers.  Every Sunday I wonder and I try to work it out.  But if I have learned one thing, it is that our Sabbath rest is not to be a spiritual cover-up for selfishness.  And I need to fight that selfishness every day, Sunday included.

May you experience rest and joy in our Savior on your Sabbath this week.