Mostly positive attention for my kids
Listening instead of lecturing
Compassion and love
Setting a good example
Apologizing for my mistakes
Guiding and helping more than punishment
Always keep a respectful voice
Yelling is only for emergencies
Setting clear limits and rules
Teach children what is right and what is wrong
Never, ever help my children do the wrong thing
Lots of wholesome recreation and time together
Gentleness, meekness, kindness, and mostly love
Good parenting is two things: first, love and compassion (mercy). Second, setting limits and teaching right and wrong (justice). You need both working together.
I was at a friend’s house a few weeks ago and our kids were playing with each other. It was hot and her kids had gotten out the hose. She had a sliding glass door in the back, and it ended up that they sprayed the hose into the house.
It was a moment of chaos, but I have so many of those moments myself, so it felt so nice that I wasn’t alone. Sometimes we imagine that everyone has it together better than we do. But they don’t. We all have those moments of chaos, and it’s not something we need to hide. It’s something we can share, because we have all been there.
We have moments like these:
A kid punches his brother in the face
A toddler spills shampoo in the carpet
A kid drops and breaks a phone or a tablet
Every single toy in the entire house is not where it belongs
Dirty clothes get mixed up with clean clothes and they are all on the floor
We end up late and behind to important events
A kid throws up on vacation
Our kids cry for absolutely ridiculous reasons
We forget to respond to texts and messages
Everyone wants to talk to us at the same time
We lose a small child
Our kids are screaming or we are screaming
Disasters happen like huge messes and neglecting important things
Life gets messy and chaotic and we are all in this together. Sometimes it’s better to show someone your chaos because then they know that they aren’t alone.
I was having a conversation with my brother today, and he asked me something about the future, about what I think would happen.
I basically said that I had no idea, because the world changes. And sometimes we don’t even realize all the changes that are happening until we look back at them.
Forecasting is more like trying to be a fortune teller sometimes. It can be incredibly inaccurate because it rests on the premise that the future is going to be like the past. We assume that trends will continue and we project without being able to know the unexpected.
Things make sense when you are looking backward. Things sometimes don’t make sense at all when we are looking forward.
Population forecasts, stock forecasts, housing forecasts, weather forecasts, climate forecasts: they might be right, but they could also be very wrong. Things may change, things we don’t expect. Trends change.
So I’m optimistic, because I’m a lot happier that way, even if the forecasts seem like doom and gloom. The world might end tomorrow, but I really doubt it.
I am a white female and I was raised in a religious and conservative town that has now grown to a large suburb with a lot of tech jobs. I have lived in northern Nevada and eastern Wyoming and quite a few places in Utah, and I have never left the United States. I can’t get away from my experience and where I came from, and I don’t want to, but that also comes with certain biases that I can’t get rid of. I have had a lot of privilege and opportunities in life, like scholarships and financial support and free housing. In some ways, my life has been really easy. In other ways, it’s been sort of difficult. My life is unique, and while I can try to understand others, I don’t really know what’s it like for them.
I don’t know what it is like for a lot of people out there. I can try to learn the best I can, but I don’t know what it’s like to be black or Mexican or be raised by a single parent. I don’t know what’s it’s like to be a refugee or what it’s like to be evicted from the only home I have. I don’t know what it’s like to have disability or to look different from other people. I also don’t know what it’s like to be rich.
I can’t get rid of the privilege and blessings I enjoy. I have a certain viewpoint from my experience, and it’s not necessarily right all the time.
I can say that I’m not racist or homophobic or prejudiced, but that’s not really true. I don’t want to be, but I can’t get away from my own experience. Sometimes I’m not sure what to say or do. Sometimes I think or say offensive things. I don’t mean to. I work on learning more about other people and other experiences, but I can’t ever fully understand. I can listen, though. I can learn a little bit more. I can keep working on it, but I’ll never be perfect.
Sometimes we view the world from our own viewpoint and not realize that we can only see one part of the picture in our own framework.
My DNA is very European. I come from ancestors who immigrated from places like England and Scotland and Germany and who came to the United States and settled here. They are basically are the winners of history in a way: they fought and they won. But that means there were losers too. I don’t know what parts of history were right or wrong; it just happened. And I can’t change what happened, even if it doesn’t always follow the same values people talk about today.
I’m not ever going to see the whole picture of life, but I don’t want to be the sort of person that thinks I’m right because I’m coming from my own experience. Sometimes I’m wrong. Sometimes I can’t understand why I’m wrong. But I’ll keep learning and working on it anyway.
Sometimes we think, because we are privileged and have certain opportunities, that all other people enjoy the same thing. But they don’t. Some people have it a lot harder than we do, and while we can easily judge them and determine how they should do better to fix their lives, usually we just don’t understand yet.
You can’t really understand unless you experience and live through something. So we don’t have to be competing against each other; we just have to help make room for each other and help each other out, and sometimes to ask how to do that when we don’t really know how. We can have empathy and compassion by trying to understand the best we can and realize that it will always fall a bit short.
I have some really great children that I love a lot. But they make mistakes. They are old enough to know when they haven’t done the right thing. But they are still learning, so their instinct is to hide.
They don’t like to tell me when something goes wrong. (I can tell by the screaming sometimes.) They sometimes give me the right answer instead of the one that is actually true. (“Did you brush your teeth?” “Yes.” “Your toothbrush is dry. Go brush your teeth.”)
Kids like to hide things like gum and candy wrappers. They will lie about what happened and say they didn’t do it when they really did. They don’t ask permission and they sneak and they hide. I think this is pretty normal for every kid out there. I know I did it.
But this behavior, while it seems childish, can continue on and on. We all are guilty of lying, sometimes more often than we think. We hide and sneak. We try to save face and appear better than we are.
I was thinking about how when politicians and powerful people get into trouble, I often hear the words “obstruction of justice.” They are doing the same things as my children: hiding candy wrappers, telling falsehoods, and trying to appear like they are doing the right thing when they are not.
It’s hard to tell the truth. It’s really hard to admit when you make a mistake. It’s hard to always ask for permission. It’s hard to live with integrity, where you don’t have anything to hide.
I once broke a computer at work years ago. It was a huge mistake. And I had to tell them about it. So I did, even though I was a bit scared. But it turned out just fine. Everyone makes mistakes. It’s when you don’t admit the mistake that it really becomes a problem.
I know my husband, as a manager, would much rather his employees talk to him about the mistakes they make instead of just hoping it goes away. He’s had multiple employees damage vehicles without admitting any fault. They all get found out, and it would have been so much easier for them if they would have admitted what they did when they did it.
When we tell the truth and admit our mistakes, frankly and honestly, we feel better and we are able to move forward. We usually can’t hide things very well. They resurface and they come up. But if we just admit what we did was wrong, we apologize, and we work to make it right, we find ourselves happier, in control of our life, and more able to develop good relationships and help others.
People actually think higher of those who admit they are wrong. We try to hide our shame sometimes so people will like us, but in reality, the effects are the opposite. Vulnerability is a positive thing, not negative, and we would all do well to be more forthcoming about fixing our mistakes instead of hiding them.
Sometimes the most powerful people haven’t learned this lesson. I’m trying to teach my kids: telling the truth is so important. I am often much more supportive and gentle when my kids admit a mistake than when I find out on my own. When we want an increase of love, we do that by seeking help in confessing and fixing, not in hiding.
Last post, I talked about struggles with mental health. When I have struggled, I have often prayed, sometimes in desperation, asking over and over for help. And there have been often times when I didn’t feel anything.
I wanted the peace of the Spirit so many times, and I couldn’t feel it. Recently, I read the book Silent Souls Weeping, by Jane Clayson Johnson, and in the beginning of the book it talks about how people who are struggling and afflicted with depression and other issues sometimes can’t feel the Spirit. The book mentioned an analogy where there was electricity coming in, but the switch was off. The Spirit is like the electricity. And it is still there, but sometimes I have been unable to feel it because the switch was off.
I think sometimes it’s like noise: my brain gets so incredibly noisy sometimes with racing thoughts and overwhelming emotions that I literally can’t hear anything else. I can’t hear or feel the Spirit, even though it is still there.
Sometimes I have felt like I was all alone. But I was never really alone. And the Lord has helped me in the ways that I really needed it, through very small and simple things.
Now, I don’t have all the answers. Sometimes I wanted help that wasn’t there. I simply wanted healing and peace that didn’t come. It was really hard without a reason.
But other times, people have called or texted at the exact right time. My children have been protected from harm. I’ve been able to do things beyond my capabilities.
I’ve received priesthood blessings that have not only provided comfort, but have literally calmed my mind. I know that others have prayed for me as well when I have been struggling. My mom and my husband especially has been a huge support. One time, my mom came and helped clean up the cereal that was spread across my entire house. My husband has fixed meals and put the kids to bed and even taken time off work to help me.
And throughout this all, I am so grateful for the commandments that have helped me live my life without further complications. I had a happy home growing up. I have never tried alcohol and drugs. I always knew my values and the direction I wanted my life to go.
And I have relied on my Savior, Jesus Christ, knowing that he can heal me, and he can heal those that I have hurt along the way, especially my children and my husband. I know there is always hope in him.
I used to get in downward spirals of despair, thinking that there was no way out, that there was nothing I could do and I was worthless and beyond saving. Things just hurt sometimes. But when I remember the atonement of Jesus Christ, it shuts down those downward spirals and helps me come up again. Because I am never beyond saving. I am never beyond hope.
I know that know, more deeply than I did before. I can return to my Lord over and over again, and he offers healing and peace.
A few months after the birth of my third child, I was diagnosed with Grave’s Disease or hyperthyroidism, where my thyroid was working too hard. Medication worked really well, putting me back to normal with no side effects. I went into remission and then relapsed two and a half years later, but medication worked again. Overall, it’s mostly a minor and uninteresting part of my life.
But that’s not my only chronic health condition, and the second one is a lot harder to talk about. It’s been around a lot longer and it’s been a longer journey to diagnose and treat. And I hesitate to talk about it to people. I have mental health problems; specifically I deal with bipolar 2.
Quite a few years ago, I went to the doctor and mentioned depression and I was put on antidepressants that didn’t really work. One other doctor was simply dismissive, and none of them really asked that much about my symptoms. I set out on my own to try to fix myself, reading books about cognitive behavior therapy and other sorts of therapy. I exercised and tried to make friends and live the best life I could. But I really just wanted the issue to go away. And I thought it would go away, if I was strong enough and worked hard enough at it and my life was in the best place it could be.
The depression never really lasted that long anyway. The older I got, the more I wondered if I was really dealing with depression. I would read about bipolar or borderline personality disorder and sometimes I wanted there to be another name out there to describe how I was feeling.
When I looked back at my journals, I could see an instability in the way I felt and dealt with life. Some days and weeks were normal and good and happy and I felt like myself, with the normal ups and downs of living. But then sometimes those ups and downs would be exaggerated and all over the place. There were days when I could do so much, focused and motivated. But then I would try to repeat those days, and I couldn’t. There were days when I did very little, falling down into sadness and discouragement. And there were other sorts of days too: days when I would get extremely irritable. Days when I couldn’t really function and it literally felt like my brain simply wasn’t working. Days when I screamed or ran away or wanted to hurt myself because of the mental anguish I was feeling.
It has been really hard lately, and the last few months have been some of the most difficult in my life. I would search things and search things, trying to figure out what to do. I wasn’t depressed. I wasn’t manic. I was just not right some of the time and I didn’t know what to do about it.
And then I found a picture that sort of showed how I was feeling. It looked like this:
I read about bipolarity being a spectrum disorder. I read about people who felt like I had.
Every morning, I was reading mental health books, writing gratitude and doing therapy exercises, and I started meditating as well. One meditation I listened to talked about going and visiting my older self. And so I imagined talking to an older version of myself, and I told myself that I didn’t have to do this alone, and that I could go and get help.
So with finally understanding that I wasn’t alone in how I felt, I didn’t need to isolate and hide my problems, and that I really did need help and couldn’t fix it by myself, I finally called someone.
I went to a psychiatric nurse practitioner and I got a prescription for a mood stabilizer. I read about lifestyle changes that I could make that would help me more. I went to my mom’s house for two weeks to be around more people and get my feet underneath me again, since I had not been very functional.
And things are helping. I’ve finally accepted that this isn’t going to just go away, but I can deal with it too the best I can and seek help from others.
My conclusion in all of this is that if you are dealing with depression or anxiety or something that you don’t understand at all, you’re not alone. It’s okay. It doesn’t make you a bad person and there is help and hope ahead.