Today I was putting George down for his afternoon nap. He was already in his crib, snuggled up and having a drink before he went to sleep. As I was folding some blankets to go put them away I glanced over at George and realized that we hadn't prayed that morning. So I knelt down at the side of his crib and began to pray.
George doesn't get super involved yet, but he is silent and watching me as I pray. I began to thank Heavenly Father for the good morning we had experienced together. After the girls had been laid down for their naps a little bit earlier, George and I were able to hang out in my bedroom before he was ready to lay down. We sang songs and played on the bed. It was a nice, happy, uninterrupted moment with each other. Because the girls were asleep, George had my full attention and I had his. There was no TV, no toys, no games, just him and me in a sunny bedroom, hanging out--and I was so grateful for it.
I continued to pray, thinking back on the morning as I did so. Earlier George had been playing with the video baby monitor, which he's not supposed to do. I explained that it wasn't a toy and took it from him and he got upset (you know, two year-old. It's fun times). I was holding Maren on my knees at that moment and George sort of swatted at her at which point I immediately said, "We don't hit. We don't touch people like that. We're soft," and I grabbed his hand and showed him how to softly touch Maren. "Soft," George said, and he reached back again and touched Maren softly. I knew that he was struggling with his new sisters and still didn't quite get why they were there, and so I asked in my prayer that we all be blessed in this transition to a family of five, especially George. I prayed that he be comforted as he struggled, that he could learn to see the girls like Heavenly Father sees them, and that he could come to see them as the blessings they were, that one day the three of them could be best friends.
I felt a strong, warm feeling as I prayed, and I knew that through this small and simple prayer I was opening George up to an understanding of the Atonement. That even in our struggles with life changes like new siblings that may leave us feeling stressed, we have a loving Heavenly Father who provided a Savior that knows exactly how we're feeling and is there to help us carry that burden. That's definitely not what I said as we prayed, but I saw that the simple things I did say were a basic example of a larger knowledge of the Atonement: pray to your Father in Heaven to ask for help when we're struggling to be better.
It was such a cool realization that, hey, these little moments do a lot. I can show George a love for Christ and his sacrifice with simple things such as prayers for help to do what we need to do. That's cool. The Gospel is truly beautiful in its simplicity, and I'm grateful that as a parent it is taught in simplicity as well. I guess it's something I've always known, like in Jesus and His example as he taught with things like parables and such, but I guess I had never really applied that to parenting. My parents taught me a love for the Gospel through example. My mom taught me to serve by involving me as she made lunch for the missionaries. My dad taught me the importance of listening to the Spirit as he heeded to those promptings himself. My parents didn't sit me down in front of a white board and drill scripture into my head, they taught me by keeping the commandments themselves.
That moment, praying with George--a prayer that I offered at the last second after realizing I had spaced to do it when we woke up--I learned a lot about how I want to be as a parent. I don't expect myself to ever be perfect, but I do know that as I continue to work hard to be better then I also feel better. I know that when I'm not farting around my time, when I'm actively involved with my kids, when I work hard, that's when I feel happiest. I know that when George is right there with me during the day, working alongside me as I teach him how to pick up, or when we're running outside or just singing a tune together over lunch, that's when he's happiest too.
And hey, George just woke up from his nap! So here's to everyday being a day that I can work hard to be better not only for myself, but for my kids, because that's where the learning really takes place--in the home, watching Mom and Dad.