Monday, April 7, 2008

Conference Weekend

This past weekend the words "Conference" and "weekend" seemed to me like a complete oxymoron - like "calm winds" " or "holy war" or "great and terrible". I've quickly learned that JB and I are in opposite camps in the way we observe conference. I grew up either attending conference at our stake center, or watching as many sessions as I could tolerate on TV, or quietly playing so that my parents could listen. JB grew up listening to conference on headphones, while doing "projects" with his Dad around the house. I won't tell you how we spent Saturday but will give you a two word clue: MULCH and TOPSOIL. By the end of the day, I was exhausted and frustrated and I felt like I had "missed" the majority of the Saturday sessions. I could have gone inside to listen, but the kids were outside and getting in the way, so I felt the need to either entertain them or help with the work. Conference used to be such a relaxing, edifying, uplifting experience for me, and this time around it was as bad (if not worse) than my worst Sunday (another oxymoron).

Sunday brought "indoor projects", which required the kids to be again out of the way, and I found myself frustrated with EVERYONE and totally unprepared for Conference. It also didn't help that both kids and myself have colds (allergies?), Yaks is cutting some molars and none of us slept well the night before. Even after projects were wrapped up, it was still so distracting for me to try to answer the kids' questions, mediate the sharing of markers, play-doh, etc. while still trying to listen to the speaker. Boo did enjoy the choir numbers (she thought the BYU girls wearing black on Saturday was totally unacceptable and thought they should have worn "pink" instead. I'll let someone know.) and both kids would automatically say "amen" at the end of the talks.

By the time Elder Ballard and President Monson stood to give their talks, I was sitting at the kitchen table coloring with the kids. They left to play downstairs, but I just sat there and colored, tears welling up in my eyes and feeling like a total failure both days as a mother, as a wife, and as a "saint". They were wonderful talks, but I felt like I could have gotten "more" from them, had I been more prepared or communicated better or something.

This morning I started prepping our FHE lesson: Hold to the Rod with this fun little Tree of Life Game, and I got thinking about the Rod of Iron and the journey to the Tree of Life. I think the most difficult process once we are on the path is the "enduring to the end" and "pressing forward" portion. Often I find myself spiritually "tired" and I want to set up camp, or at least just take a rest for a while. I look around at others' seemingly effortless progress and I feel inadequate and "weak-link-ish". Then when I feel like I've fallen short with even the simple things I have been asked to do (ie: Watch Conference), I feel like and even bigger failure and that I'm dipping my toes in the river of filthy water or taking the scenic "strange road" tour! I think the hardest part for me is to think back on my life on the times when I was spiritually strong, when I was a tireless leader, when I was making great strides towards that great goal. Those times seem so long ago. :(

But, I'm determined to keep on pressing on. Although I didn't get to watch every talk, I've made it a goal to watch every one this week during naptime (thank you, EyeTV). I also need to do better and make time for more meaningful scripture study and prayer. I'm anxious to hear your favorite talks and insights that you received. I'll catch up to you soon! Slow and steady wins the race! (oxymoron)


Heidi said...

Now isn't this amusing. Just the other day Dave said to me, "Do you think we are failures because we don't prepare FHE the way Amy does?"


On The Go Family said...

Ames, sorry to hear your weekend was such a bummer. My husband and I grew up respecting conference in very different ways also, so I know the inner turmoil it can cause.

This weekend was pretty peaceful for us (I think Goose's illness was a blessing in disguise because she was so lethargic) but normally our conference weekends are just as hectic and tumultous as the one you described.

Hang in there -- there's a time and a season for everything. The Lord knows the desires of your heart and He knows you would have rather glued yourself to the couch all weekend and listened reverently. I'm sure He is proud that you chose to sacrifice, be a peacemaker, and take care of your kids and husband.

Though I heard most of the talks, I can only remember a few. Like you, I can't wait to watch the reruns and get them in printed form so I can really take them to heart.

Amy said...

NOOOOooo, Heidi and Dave, you are not failures! Good reminders, Gomom. Thank goodness for re-runs. Whatever did we do before them?

Tim said...

Woh, Ames! Take it easy on yourself. Consider the alternative: "Jane and Ben got into a nasty fight, which I wasn't there to stop, but at least I was able to hear Elder Bednar speak." Ditto to comment from "on the go family," the use of new media (Elder Ballard) has enabled the gospel to reach anyone, anytime.

Sarah said...

I too wish that I could have heard more, in uninteruppted silence...but, compared to your weekend, mine sounds like a breeze. I agree, too, with "on the go." The Lord knows that you wanted to be listening better. I find it so interesting how Elder Ballard found it necessary enough to focus an entire the entire worldwide church...about motherhood. About the reality of how Cheerioes fall off of church benches, how if/when dad's take over for a night they will find themselves bending, twisting, picking it is a rough job that needs to be appreciated more. Certainly you are NOT the only one in the frustrated "I feel like I am doing it all alone" boat. Hang in there. You are amazing...and I am certain that (even though you don't feel like it now) your little ones will remember you trying to keep them busy while the conference was playing on the tv.

p.s. what an awesome brother to remind you to "take it easy on yourself."

kthom said...

Oh Amy, come try to listen to conf. at our house, we're trying as well! It will get better each year as the kids get older, I promise. The boys just know that we are listening to "church" and we need to be quiet or go upstairs. My sweet friend and Primary pres. made a packet for each child to "use" during conf.chalked full of activities, Jack couldn't get enough and actually sat and listend for a good 45 minutes or so. Cole was in and out but they're getting the jist....just think of how much better October will be..happy thoughts, happy thoughts :) xoxo

love.boxes said...

Just that you are trying so hard and want to do the right thing so much means you get %100 credit in my book. Do you think Elder Ballard got anything out of sacrement meeting while keeping 6 children quiet? If he did, he's a better man that I am Charlie Brown... but when his kids grew up.. they knew how important it was for him to be there.

Scott and Maggie said...

It will get better, I promise. My kids - now 6 and 8 - actually sat and listened to conference around the kitchen table with us (we have to do it on the internet). For the first time in many many years I was able to watch all four sessions. I particularly enjoyed Elder Bednar's talk on prayer, and took copious notes to work on getting my children to understand and say more than rote/memorized prayers.

I have stacks and stacks of conference "activities" that I have saved up over the years, if you want them or want references to them. I hope (double cross my fingers) that the kids will listen just as well next time.

By the way, thanks for the Iron Rod link. I hadn't seen that one.

Dianna said...

Life as well as learning is about the small morsels we savor and relish. Those little ones you have are so fun and challenging, but they grow up so fast, and pretty soon you will be wondering why they can't come over and interrupt your conference watching.

Shelese said...

Amy, you're the best. I appreciated this post so much and related to it a lot.

I chalk this scenario up as one of those cruel tricks in life... we spend years feeling guilty for not wanting to watch all four sessions of Conference, so we work and work on it until finally we learn to love Conference and then we actually hunger and thirst for it and can't wait til it comes each spring/fall... and then what happens? Our lives change and it now becomes virtually impossible to watch it no matter how bad we want to.
Cruel trick indeed. :)