Lately my brain has been foggy.
Like, really foggy.
And when it gets like that it feels velvety good to go clean out the fog. So I feel extra lucky that last week I got to go to a motherhood retreat with some of the most inspiring women know.
Thank Heavens that foggiest of brains came when it was time once again for the motherhood retreat that takes place every other year 🙂 (The first time I went was back HERE, and the second time was HERE.)
Like I said back in one of those posts, a Motherhood Retreat is kind of like getting your very own “instruction manual” on how in the world to tackle this job of mothering. You know how you get instruction manuals that are thick as Texas toast for things as simple as a blender? We need one of those for motherhood! After all, these sweet beauties we call our children are the most important (and also most confusing) things we’ll ever have in our care. And there are ages and stages and heart-wrenching and heart-souring adventures to go along with it.
How soothing it feels to discuss those things with mothers dedicated to being deliberate in how they do it.
That’s where Motherhood Retreats come in.
And guess what? Anyone can do them! We can gather a group of like-minded women and make it as simple or as extravagant as we want, but make it an opportunity to refocus on how to become the kind of mother we want to be. It can be in someone’s home or at a fancy hotel for a weekend. It can be formal with speakers or it can just be based on topics for discussion. Sometimes it’s much easier said than done though, so luckily for all moms everywhere my sister and her friend who started this whole whiz-bang idea years ago and now have formal Motherhood Retreats all the time. To check into details about those amazing things click HERE.
Ok, I digress, but I sure get excited about this stuff…can you tell?
I feel so passionate that Motherhood is soooo important and worthy of being very deliberate about. (See back HERE, and HERE, and, well, most of the posts in this blog…a whole list of them is HERE.)
Ok, really back to the point: I feel so incredibly blessed to be part of this group of wonderful women. These girls are the ones who plan each year:
And as busy mothers we know that is no easy task, right?
I’m SOooO grateful for Monica and Darcie!…and for Susan in the middle who has hosted most of these retreats and adds so much insight from her perspective as a more “seasoned” mother.
The retreat happened to fall on my birthday. We celebrated early and it was great, but Dave still felt the need to send a little momento (even though I told him I did NOT want to bring attention to me being OLD), but I must admit he is pretty sweet.
The theme this year was “Our Homes: the new MTC” (I’m not sure that’s the exact wording, but I loved the gist of it). The MTC, for those who do not know, is the “Missionary Training Center” where boys and girls, (or maybe we call them men and women when they are 18 and 19? …in my old age they seem like boys and girls to me:), go to get trained to serve full-time missions for our church.
Recently the age has been lowered (it used to be 19 for boys and 21 for girls…I had to wait ’til I was 21 to go all those years ago!) and so really, kids can leave right when they leave the walls of their home.
And that’s something they need to be prepared for! But whether they serve a mission or not, we need to prepare these kids of ours for the world out there. I am a believer that there is so much good in this world of ours. It is a beautiful place. But I’m also very aware of how things are changing, and changing a lot. Values are getting blurry. Kids are growing up so fast. Technology is taking over. Life as we knew it growing up won’t be the same for our kids. And I believe whole-heartedly that we need to train our children to shine and stand up for good and light. They may be faced with some tough stuff in life no matter which direction they choose to go. I believe kids can weather anything if they have a strong foundation.
We need to help them build that foundation in what we teach in the home.
We only have these kids under our roofs for a finite amount of time. I’ve always known that, but it is hitting me all too clearly now that I have kids going into their last years of high school next year. I think to myself all the time, are they ready? will they know how to cook and feed themselves in their own apartments? will they be able to keep things tidy? will their hearts reach out to those who need them? will they know how to work? will they know to look UP when they have to make tough decisions? and most important to me, do they know, like REALLY know, that God loves them.
Even more dearly than I do?
So needless to say, I loved the theme of this retreat.
We talked about each of the “five facets” we want to help prepare in our little “warriors” that we want to prepare for the big world. I could go on and on about this, but I’m just going to list the highlights from each discussion we had to make these things more concrete in my mind and to share.
SPIRITUAL LIVES OF WARRIORS
Teach children to recognize the spirit in their lives. How it feels. And teach them of the enabling power of the Atonement. I loved the story one of the moms shared about her son, who was struggling with something. She gently reminded him that although she cared with all her heart, she couldn’t fully understand how he was feeling. But Heavenly Father would. And He would help if he would ask.
We talked about how everyone arrives to their own spiritual conviction in their own way, through their own path. We need to help our children find theirs.
This discussion made me glad we do “Fasting Club” around here. Oh how I hope these children of mine will be able to understand the gentle promptings they have in life to be compassionate and to make good decisions. We are so lucky to have that direction and guidance from above if we will listen with our hearts.
PHYSICAL LIVES OF WARRIORS
“One of the most important parts of missionary work is work.” Isn’t that so true of life in general? If we know how to work things come together. (Lots of thoughts about hard work back HERE and HERE. for some reason I’m kind of endeared to those posts.)
I loved this discussion…so many good ideas on how to help kids get enough sleep, how to teach them the beauty of eating well, getting enough exercise, etc.
EMOTIONAL LIVES OF WARRIORS
We talked about how important it is to teach kids to do hard things and to fight their own battles when possible. We talked about how to get kids to recognize their emotions and deal with them in a positive way.
Which of course reminded me of the “Repenting Bench” (or “Fighting Bench” as I like to call it:) (More about that at the end of this post back HERE.) I LOVE that method of helping kids deal with outbursts of emotions.
It also reminded me how much I loved how my Dad would sometimes take me aside when I was a moody teenager and say “Let me tell you what I think you’re feeling…you see if I’m right.” The miraculous thing was that he was always right on. He had enough compassion to really see into my heart and to help me recognize my feelings and how to deal with them.
SOCIAL LIVES OF WARRIORS
Help kids learn the lost art of looking people in the eye and having actual conversations rather than gluing their eyes to their social media! I think this one is so huge. Dave and I really do try to have our kids talk to adults any time they can. It’s amazing how scary it can be to them! I get it because i was SO that way when I was their age, but come on guys, adults LOVE a kid who cares about them!
I mean, who doesn’t love it when a polite kid will shake their hand, or seek them out after a party or even just being at your house and look you in the eye to thank you? I LOVE when kids will turn around and smile and wave when they walk in their front door when I drop them off, and how sweet is it when kids will wait for the Mom to eat before they start eating at dinner? Do our kids know how to give compliments?
We talked about practicing asking good questions using “Table Topics.” We talked about taking that even a step further by having each child at the dinner table ask a question built on the answer given to continue the conversation. I got inspired to have Max and Elle read “How to Win Friends & Influence People” (and me too). Someone also brought up “How to Behave and Why
” which I’m ordering today.
We talked about creating formal situations for them to practice in (interviews, Family Home Evening helps…). When my children go out into the world oh how I want them to know how to really care for others and to be able to win hearts 🙂
MENTAL LIVES OF WARRIORS
We talked mostly about how to help kids mentally in a spiritual way. Memorizing scriptures as a family, having kids help teach a Family Home Evening, have kids work on specific things (one of the things I LOVE about the Personal Progress program).
Katie led this discussion and it was fascinating because she taught us about Clayton Christensen‘s “Extreme Questioning” technique (you have an entire discussion only asking questions to really understand how someone is feeling…loved it). We could have gone on and on about this but it was time for dinner:
…which I had to take a picture of because it was so beautiful.
(They hired this amazing girl to come cook for us this year which, when you split between 20 people was sooo worth it!)
I wish I had her contact info. to recommend her to everyone I know because wow, she knows how to cook! (Thank you Sarah!)
Between the formal discussions we got to partake in the beauty of where we were (Coronado, CA).
(LOVE LaDawn’s bike in the front…she was lucky enough to get a teeny one 🙂
I didn’t think to take a picture until we were packing up at the beach, dang it…
Isn’t Katie so cute though with her little pregnant belly? She will have that baby any day.
Love that Vanessa.
I only get to see most of these girls every other year so it’s so great to have a chance to get caught up.
This is how most of the discussions looked:
This is where most of us slept:
Is that a cool room or what?
Have I mentioned how awesome and gracious and generous the Gilberts are?
This was our view at night:
The last day we talked about “A Legacy of Anguish” and I’m going to have to come back to talk about that another time because it is too beautiful to squeeze in here and this is already too long and I am late for a meeting 🙂
I’ll just end this little novel by saying Man, I am thankful for Motherhood.
I came home and looked at each of my children in a different light and with a new twinkle in my eye. Sure, they roll their eyes with more systems and ideas I have come home armed with wanting to implement from all the inspiring things I learned.
But those eye rolls come with a smile.
Maybe deep inside, their huge spirits crave being more deliberately prepared for life after our cocoon here at home gives them.
And maybe their hearts, with Dave and my blood pumping through them, can feel how deeply we want to help them shine.
This parenting gig is the most important job we will ever have. How incredibly blessed we are to get to push and grow and learn with these sweet children entrusted into our care.
I always love that your retreats and vacations bring you to Coronado, my backyard. It makes me appreciate this lil gem even more! What a wonderful motherhood treat!
What a great retreat!! Please share in more detail when you can about all the topics. I have How to Behave and Why…and even better by the same author is Manners Can Be Fun. I will be checking into How to Win Friends…right now 😉
I have been listening to your sisters podcasts online as I do my work around the house. I really enjoy them and I learn a lot from them. Thanks for sharing the things you learn with the rest of us.
I hate that they are using your picture https://www.facebook.com/1061thetwister
just wanted to alert you so maybe you can get it taken down.
I agree with you, values are getting blurrier by the day and although I'm not yet a mother I worry about how I'd like to raise my kids in the future. I'm sacred about the power of technology and the increasing loss of identity it causes. I want to kids to be free of that and happy. I'm not a Mormon but there are some points I think are pretty good.
You know Darcie too!!! WOW, great minds think alike:)
One of my favorite places in the world- Seahaven!
I too have had many a great discussion sitting in that living room and many late-night giggles in that bunk room.
I only wish I could be there for your retreats because you have some AMAZING people in this group, including my incredible SIL Katie and one of my very best friends Emily. Katie always passes on the great info to us though so I feel like I at least get that benefit. Glad you got a pic of her about to pop!
Especially loved your theme these year. Our homes ARE the MTC and we have to prepare these cute kids before they leave. Thanks for sharing!
Great stuff Shawni! Love it! Let's go further on that last topic in March!
I love hearing the things you are learning because as a young mother I love seeing your example! It helps prepare me for things to do as my kids get older and things to start now!
Love you Shawni!… and the way you view and capture the world!