I'm a little worried this post is going to come off as self-righteous. That is completely not my intent. I am aware, sometimes painfully aware, of my imperfections and short comings. I simply want to show what worked for me in hopes it can help someone else and by writing it down, it actually helps me keep it up...
School is starting up again all over the place so I thought I would write a quick list of the ways I survived my daughter's first year of school. It can be a bit tough some days watching her walk into school at 7:45am and then picking her up again at 3:00pm knowing that I will never know every single thing that happened to her as she spent those hours away from home each day. Who said something mean to her? Who said something inappropriate to her? Was she nice to others? Did she goof off in class? Did something break her heart? Is her teacher able to give her the attention she needs? Does she have friends?
Don't get me wrong, I am not super overprotective (or at least I try not to be). Most days are fine. I do trust her and know that she is a good girl and I have faith that she will have happy experiences more than bad.
But this scripture is brought to my memory quite often...
"Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
"Wherefore, take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day..." (Ephesians 6:11-17)
With this in mind, there were days I had to go down my check list to make sure I had done all I could to help my daughter put on her armor before she walked into school each day. Here is my list...
1. Did we have family prayer before school?
2. Did we have family scripture study before school?
3. Did we have Family Home Evening this week?
4. Did I let her know enough that I love her and adore her and that nothing she ever does, or doesn't do, will ever, ever, ever change that?
5. Did she eat a good breakfast and get some vitamins so that her brain will work well?
6. Did I express my complete confidence in her ability to learn and grow and understand?
Now, before you start thinking, "No one is that perfect!", let me assure you that you are correct! :) Not all of these things happened each morning or each week and most of the time I was on the verge of just forgetting all of it. But somehow I found the strength to accomplish all of this despite the tremendous opposition of stressful school mornings. Let me explain...
1. Family Prayer: Most mornings my husband and I are doing our best to corral our two over active children together long enough for a prayer. Sometimes this corralling included yelling and sometimes the corralling continued to take place even during the prayer. Our prayers were short and sometimes hurried and sometimes I would think, "We don't have time for this! She's going to be late!" But then the Holy Ghost would say, "Let her be late then. Prayer is more important." Thank goodness he was able to get through to my stressed out mommy brain on those mornings. (BTW - she was never late, never. Prayer works miracles!) Prayer is VITAL!! Armor on? Shield of Faith up? Check.
2. Family scripture study: This would take place around the kitchen table while we quickly shoved food into our mouths. It consisted of us reading a few verses each day and me saying, "Did you hear what Daddy said?" (usually because it seemed that they weren't paying attention at all) They were then usually able to tell us one thing that Daddy said and so I didn't push it. My fear is that if I expect too much out of this time, it will stop all together and that would be a tragedy. Maybe this is the wrong philosophy but for now, it works and so I'm not going to push it. We'll add more and more verses to our study as the children grow older. Not all families can do this before school, but we must find a time to do it. Armor on? Helment of Salvation in place? Belt of Truth secure? Sword of the Spirit ready? Check.
3. Family Home Evening: Refer to my post "Onion Tears? I Don't Think So." and know that this is by far the activity I struggle with the most. Even so, it happens more often than not and I've rededicated myself to making sure it happens without fail. Armor on? Breastplate of Righteousness secure? Feet shod with the Gospel of Truth? Check.
4. Good breakfast with Vitamins: I've done a lot of studying about our brains and how to help them function at their best. A good breakfast (not a lot of sugary cereal) with a children's multi-vitamin is my way of doing what I can to help her have an easier time learning in school each day. I do want to mention, however, that our pediatrician said that even cereal for breakfast is better than no breakfast and that carried me through on the mornings cold cereal was the only plan that worked (which happened more often than I had hoped). Physical body taken care of? Armor on? Shield of Faith up? Check.
5. Confidence and Unconditional Love: I don't know any other way to say this, as I've said it before, but I have grown to view unconditional love for your children as a vitamin, antibiotic and/or vaccine helping them to protect themselves against the fiery darts of the adversary. My husband, who is a therapist, sees people in his office all day, every day, who did not get this vaccine as a child. I do not say that lightly.
The only knowledge we can give our children that is of greater importance than knowing and trusting our love, is teaching them to know and trust the love of our Savior and our Father in Heaven. I cannot be with my children wherever they go, but our Father CAN and WILL. Our children must know this to their very core. Hearts filled with courage? Armor on? Check!
If I could go down my check list, checking each item off as "done", then I knew I had done all I could and the rest was in our Father's very capable hands. I could rest easy and trust Him to take care of her - after all He was her parent long before she was sent to me.
There are so many other items that could be added to this list and each family may have their own personal items to check off each day. As I've been typing this I keep hearing the words, "Mother's Who Know" run through my mind. It is from an amazing talk given by LDS General Relief Society president Julie B. Beck. She said:
"The responsibility mothers have today has never required more vigilance. More than at any time in the history of the world, we need mothers who know. Children are being born into a world where they “wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). 1 However, mothers need not fear. When mothers know who they are and who God is and have made covenants with Him, they will have great power and influence for good on their children" President Julie B. Beck
Our Father did not send us here to fail. He sent us here to learn and grow and improve ourselves so we can one day, if we so choose, be like Him. He is doing all He can to help us succeed. He is our Eternal Father - a perfect parent. By following His parental example, we can help our children (His children whom He has put in our stewardship) find joy and peace and hope in this world and even more in the world to come.
By the way...doing these activities each day not only helped my children put on their armor, it helped their mother put on her's as well. :)
2015 Update: I now have two children in school. One going into 3rd grade and one going into 5th grade. I home schooled my oldest last year. It was a wonderful experience. I loved being with her every day. I loved that we could incorporate the Gospel into all we did. I loved the amazing field trips we were able to go on that public schools just cannot afford, nor have time for because of testing demands. I really loved it all and I am a big supporter of home school.
My oldest is going back to public school this year. She isn't too excited about that but I will be going with her as I will have a job at the school where both of my children will attend.
Sometimes, the Lord has plans for you and your family that were not necessarily your own plans. I know our Father in Heaven supports public school and home school and the answer for each family and even each child is different. Our Father in Heaven has an individual plan for each of us and that plan has different steps along the way and different places to be and different experiences that need to be had in order to help each individual fulfill their own personal mission on this earth.
All is well and I'm interested to see what our Father has in store - good and bad - for my little family this year. As long as we are keeping His commandments, I have faith that eventually all things will work together for our good.