Saturday, July 20, 2013

7 Lucky Years

Today was Anny's 7th birthday.
World's cutest 7 year old

Mesmerized by the candles

Making a wish!!

Go Anny!!!
We have now completed 7 lucky years of parenting.  I know they're lucky, because I'm told that all the time.  I've been told over and over we're so lucky to have such great kids.  But I'm going to let you in on a secret- it wasn't luck!!!  DH suggested against writing about this, but I have a very small circle of readers, so I think it's safe to reveal our secret.  Are you ready?  As I said before, we weren't "lucky".  The truth is, our kids are aliens.

It's true!!!  All 3 of them.  Aliens.  "But wait!!!!" you say.  "If your kids are aliens, then that means......."

Yes.  Also true.  My husband and I, are aliens.

I was reflecting on that truth today, while at Chic-Fil-A for Anny's birthday lunch.  It was raining on and off all day, so we decided to visit the only restaurant within at least 20 miles with an indoor play place - the new Gulf Breeze Chic-Fil-A.  I was reminded again that we are aliens as I watched the children in the play place.  There were other kids there, but they were nothing like mine.  They were screaming, pushing, shoving, climbing up slides while others where sliding down, pushing toddlers to the side if they were in their way... and all this with no parents in sight.  It came to me, clear as day- we are aliens.  My children in no way resemble those other children.  I can't say if I resembled the parents, because I didn't see them there.

I have to admit, I always knew I was an alien.  I noticed as a child, I was different than the other children.  I wasn't any smarter, or more beautiful, or even more interesting than them.  I was, however, different.  I have only recently discovered why.  My parents raised me with the same alien methods I use with my own children, and the same can be said for my husband.  (And aren't we both lucky to have found each other!!!  What are the chances that two aliens are to cross roads?!!!)

While I am still slowly discovering those alien methods, and have much to learn, I know my parent's "alien" style of parenting was solely focused on two basic ideas.

1. We are children of a Heavenly Father who has blessed us with knowledge of the right way to live and be happy
2. Because of that knowledge, our parents know we are capable of great things, and expect nothing less

Let me share an example of this philosophy in action.  At church, we begin with a congregational meeting, where everyone sits as families on the pews.  This meeting is approximately an hour long, where we partake of the sacrament, sing hymns, and listen to prepared talks given by members of the congregation.  My alien children, are quiet and reverent for this hour.  My two year old is still learning, but he gets better every week.  How do I keep my children quiet and reverent, sitting still for a full hour?  Setting aside that they are aliens, I apply the above principles.

We have taught our children of their sacred heritage.  Every week we have Family Home Evening, where my husband or I teach them a lesson about the gospel.  We sing songs about our Savior, Jesus Christ, we bare testimony to them that He loves them.  Every night we have scripture study.  We read scripture stories to them, and pray together.  They sit reverently, listen to the stories, and take turns reading or giving prayers.  They know from regular lessons, prayers, and loving testimony from their parents, who they are.  They understand when they are in church, that it is an important time, where we give of ourselves to Heavenly Father.  We pray, we sing, we listen.  What we do at church is very similar to what we do at home.  Our children recognize the Spirit they feel in both places, and it helps them to be reverent.  That's applying above principle number 1.

As for principle number two, they know we expect them to be quiet and reverent that hour during sacrament meeting.  We know they can do it.  We know they are capable of sitting still, listening, and thinking about why they are there, and why it is important.  They know if they are not reverent, that we will be disappointed in them.  We will be disappointed, because we know they can do better.  We know they did not live up to their best.  We know they made a choice to act differently than they were taught.

While in college, I again felt that lonely reminder that I am an alien, as I started student teaching, and then again as a new teacher in my first classrooms.  The commonly over promoted idea was not to push children too hard, or expect too much.  Too often I heard the phrase, "They're only 5th graders, 1st graders, 6th graders, etc."

I felt so differently from my peers.  I didn't think my students were "only" anything.  I saw them as wonderful children capable of great things!  I thought, "they're 5th graders, so I know they can do this!"

My teaching philosophy revolved around encouraging children to stretch their minds and abilities as far as they could, to try new things, and if they made mistakes, to try again.  I believed in my students, I knew they all could work hard and do great things. I never gave them excuses for why they couldn't, I gave them reasons to keep trying until they could.  The most satisfying moments I had in teaching, were when students struggled to work hard on something, but saw the task to the end, and then knew they had accomplished something impressive.  You could see it on their glowing faces!!  Sometimes they'd show a look of surprise, like they didn't know they were capable of such high achievement!  But I knew.  I always knew they could do it.  

So, I must ask, to my faithful few readers- are you an alien too?  Do you too find yourself setting high expectations for yourself and your family?  Do you know somewhere deep inside you, that you and your family are of great worth, with a divine heritage, and therefore capable of great things?  Do you expect those great things from yourself and them?  Do you feel sincere disappointment in yourself and them when goals are not met, yet also unfailing faith that improvement and new progress are possible?

If that isn't you, if you are not an alien, then change!!!  Believe in yourself and your family.  Don't make lists of what you or they can't do and why.  Decide that you can, because you're incredible.  Recite that daily to yourself in the mirror, and then go tell your husband, your wife, your children, your friends.  Tell them you love them, you know they have amazing potential, and even on the worst days, where they stumble and fall over and over, that they are still worth getting back up and trying again.  Find yourself saying phrases like, "I can.  I will.  I must."

This post has gotten too long, and even my few devoted readers have probably faded out a few paragraphs ago.  I apologize.  I can be long winded when it comes to something I feel strongly about.  I'll end with this quote from former prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley,

"I feel to invite every woman everywhere to rise to the great potential within you.  I do not ask that you reach beyond your capacity.  I hope you will not nag yourselves with thoughts of failure.  I hope you will not try to set goals far beyond your capacity to achieve.  I hope you will simply do what you can do in the best way you know.  If you do so, you will witness miracles come to pass." 

You know what you can do, and are capable of.  Deep down, you know.  You have a loving Heavenly Father who made you, and knows you can.  So do it.  And look for the same in your children, and those around you.  It's really not that  alien of an idea.      


  1. Yes, it's true. You came here from a place far, far away. And at times I suspect that you feel like you would like to go back.

  2. Wonderful piece, Lizzy. You give this extra terrestrial mom real joy.

  3. I was hoping you were going to post a Birthday Post, Anny is SO Beautiful! =) I also LOVE your post, I have never really thought about it the way you put it but I guess your right, we are aliens in this crazy world we live in. Love you!

  4. Oh Liz! I need you back in my life!! I'm glad at least I get to read your blog. This is a wonderful post and I needed the reminder. Love and miss you lots!