Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Don't forget to give her winter

I have so many reasons to smile and be thankful. I have a devoted and patient husband, two healthy and happy children, an amazing extended family, my health, an understanding of and love for my religion and the many ways it has guided and strengthened me, a roof over my head and food in my fridge, helpful friends and a warm and inviting ward family, and countless other things. While I recognize, acknowledge and express gratitude to my Heavenly Father each day for these many blessings in my life, they do not free me from daily challenges and frustrations. And unfortunately, I've been feeling especially low these last couple of weeks.

While talking with my mom recently, she reminded me of a poem she shared with me years ago. When I read it this time, it hit home and I found myself getting quite emotional over the message it conveyed. Perhaps it's because I am a mother now, who has already witnessed my daughter enduring a challenge in her life, knowing just how difficult it was but still allowing for it because I knew it was necessary for her growth.

A couple weeks ago during our young women's mid-week activity, we talked with the girls about preparing for motherhood. We had a guest speaker who at one point asked us each to list attributes on a piece of paper that our own mothers had and/or attributes we hoped to one day possess as mothers. Here are the things that stood out to me which I am still working toward achieving, even 5+ years in:

- Love them unconditionally
- Nurture them
- Show affection
-Teach them the gospel
- Teach them good habits and manners
-Teach them the concept of hard work and responsibility
- Give of your time
- Listen to them
-Allow them to practice agency
- Set a good example and truly practice what you preach
- Be willing to apologize when needed
- Pray for them continually
- Practice tough love
- Don't give them everything they want
- Laugh

As we discussed these things I was once again reminded of the poem my mom had just shared with me. I felt impressed to share it with the girls, so I did.

Prayer for a Daughter

God of men and God of nature,
Shape my daughter like the seasons.
Give her all the song of springtime
And the subtlety of April,
Generosity of summer,
Warmth and all the sweet fulfillment,
And the sparkling wit of autumn,
Color like October hillsides.
Lest her charms may be too many,
Give her something of the winter:
Stars and distances and silence,
Courage of the open spaces,
Wisdom of the waiting branches,
Don't forget to give her winter.

- Esther Wood

Yes! Of course we want our daughters (and sons) to have the song of springtime, the warmth of summer, and the colors of autumn.  BUT!  We also know that they need something of winter. Just as we mothers watch our children suffer due to unfortunate circumstances or poor choices, our Heavenly Father watches us endure life's challenges and hardships. And while He wants to free us from the pains and protect us from the evils, He knows that without them we can never grow.  And without growth, there's little purpose to our earthly life.

One point my mom made after sharing this poem was that winter can be beautiful. In fact, Salt Lake, where she lives, had just received a fresh thick coat of snow, and she talked about how gorgeous the tree branches looked and how the white powder glistened on the ground. Yes, trials are not always beautiful, but from our trials come the greatest beauties out there: growth, character, a greater perspective, a deeper appreciation, peace, empathy, and even sometimes a certain indescribable fondness of the memories those trials provided.

Looking back at last summer when Neil and I were apart for 3 months, I now find myself smiling. While during that time I often felt miserable, uncertain, inadequate and lonely, I now recognize the many ways in which I grew; ways I never could have otherwise grown had it not been for the "winter" of that summer.  And, believe it or not, I honestly do look back at those 3 months with fondness.

As I face the inevitable cloudy days of life, I try to focus on the rainbows that I know will follow. I am grateful for a mother (and father) who gave me winter and who have helped me understand its importance. I'm a better person for it, and I hope I can be a strength to my own daughter as she faces her winters.

1 comment:

Cristi said...

I needed this. Thank you.