Saturday Night. 9:15 p.m. Just got home from a Halloween Party and I am trying to get my kids in bed. We are doing our Family Scripture Study and this is the conversation.
Me: "...they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord..." (2 Nephi 5:20)
Blake: What does it mean "they were cut off from the presence of the Lord?"
Me: (thinking to myself - What? You are actually paying attention??) Well,( I begin slowly, carefully choosing my words) they were not listening to Jesus anymore and so they were not able to feel His love for a while. (Uggh! Did I even answer that right? I know how to answer these questions for a teenager, or a class, or an investigator- but my 3 year old?)
Riley: I don't hear Heavenly Father or Jesus. Will I be cut off?
Me: (oh no!) No, sweetie, we are always trying to be good listeners to Heavenly Father. You are a good listener.
Riley: But I don't hear Him.
Me: Well, we hear Jesus with out hearts. Can you close your eyes, and be very quiet? Then you can feel His love in your heart. (*sigh* I did it. That was perfect, now my daughter will have a chance to feel and identify the Spirit! I am awesome.)
Riley: Nope. He is still far away in Heaven.
Me: (what? that isn't what I was expecting)
Blake: When I die, will I go to Heaven?
Riley: Then you can hear Heavenly Father and Jesus and you won't get cut off.
Blake: I don't want to die. (tearing up)
Me: (oh crap! what do I do now?)
Me: Blake it is ok. You will not be cut off from anyone. Heavenly Father loves you so much.
Blake: I don't want to go to Heaven. Mommy, I just want to be with you!
Me: Don't worry, I will be there too. And so will Daddy and our whole family. We will all be together with Jesus.
Riley: Is Daddy going to die?
Me: (seriously?? it is 9:15 p.m. why are we having this discussion right now- after a Halloween Party- when your dad isn't even here to help me! why are we even awake right now!?) Sweetie, everyone will die someday, but we get to be together forever. So we don't need to be sad tonight. (preparing to launch into the 4th discussion and start teaching about the sealing ordinances of the Temple... of course, I taught the discussions in Malagasy- so the kids probably wouldn't understand any of it)
Blake: Well.... can I have some more candy?
Riley: No, Blake, it is time for bed! Let's pray, I'm tired.
Me: (...... speechless......)
Blake: I love you mommy.
It is now 9:45 p.m. on Saturday Night and I am in shock. Not sure whether to call that a pass or fail - guess it is just survival. If nothing else it was pretty comical.
I am starting to really understand how much of my job as a mother is being a Teacher. I remember as an EFY Counselor they would constantly remind us to be alert to "Teaching Moment" - little golden opportunities to teach, testify, or uplift one of our youth. They counseled us that these moments would rarely come in a classroom or from a pulpit. But from walks on campus, talks in the cafeteria, or late nights eating pizza. I have told myself as a Mother that I will need to be on the look out for these moments- someday. (who knew that someday was today?) I have reminded myself that no matter the effort I put into teaching my Sunday School kids the scriptures, or sharing the Gospel with my neighbors- if I am missing the "Teaching Moments" at home- I am missing the mark. Most of us have heard David O. McKay's quote "No other success can compensate for failure in the home" (p.s. after scouring the internet all night for a reference to the talk where he said those profound words I just discovered that President McKay was actually quoting someone else - J.E. McCulloch to be exact, which led me to this blog that I really enjoyed- who knew?). I have always liked that saying and usually tied it to careers or other success we might see unrelated to our families. But tonight- I realized that it is any success. Whether I am the best missionary, the best Sunday School teacher (which I totally am... cough cough), or best anything- if I am not the best mom- the rest of it will hardly matter.
This post has a Part II.... I know, I have never done that before. But it is late- and I have a lot of thoughts that follow this.
For now, I will go to bed picturing Blake's innocent little teary eyes saying how he doesn't want to die and me wanting to kiss him and squeeze him and tell him that he will be fine and he will never die. But that isn't true, and I can't tell him that. I can tell him- he will always - always- be mine. And he will probably look into my eyes... and ask for more Halloween Candy.