I was looking for a book, and as always when looking for something, I found something else. The book I found was ‘Beginnings and Beyond – an anthology of poetry’ by Carol Lynn Pearson, one of my very favorite authors. ( I have written about her and quoted her here and here and here.)
A few years ago we hosted a youth fireside, where brother and sister Zwick, who were then serving in the area presidency, spoke to the youth gathered in our home. I don’t remember much of what they said, but I do remember sister Zwick’s excellent object lesson (That I am still waiting to use with my Sunday School class, so I won’t give it away here. :-)). As they were leaving, I reached out for sister Zwick’s arm and asked: We have a teenager who seems to be slipping through our fingers. I feel like I’ve tried everything. When do I stop pushing? She looked at me, and I don’t know if she could sense the urgency in my voice or the desperation of my request. She patted my arm, smiled and said: ‘You don’t push. You pull.’ And then they were gone.
I thought about it for days and weeks. And to be honest, I was a little affronted. Hah! What did she know? That was just clever rhetoric! Pushing, pulling… same difference!
And then I read this poem:
The minute the doctor said ‘push’
I did, and I’ve got to stop now
Because you’re eighteen
Think of something else
– Carol Lynn Pearson
And I wept. It still took some time before I stopped pushing, and started pulling instead. There IS a difference. A BIG difference. Sister Zwick was right. Which brings me to my other Motherhood Mantra:
I f I want to have any hope of ever influencing my children to move in what I consider to be the right direction, I need to make sure I am building bridges, not burning them. They need to know of, and feel my love for them. It’s easier when they are small and easily distracted. ‘You scraped your knee? Look at that cute dog over there!’ Heartbreak and disappointment and mistakes – all grow in magnitude and severity, at the same rate as their limbs and hair…
Finding the balance though, between being a total push over and a manipulative witch is a process. A long one. I mess up miserably some days. But as long as I haven’t given up, I haven’t really failed.
And the story isn’t over yet.