Back in January I was so inspired by my cousin-in-law Kara’s new “word” for the new year. She wrote a post about it here and explains it beautifully. She picks a word each year as sort of a theme and tries to live it throughout the year. I got all motivated for 2008 and decided to pick out my own new “word.” Mine is “Be Still”…well yeah, it’s two words, but you get what I mean. And now I want to live it even more fully in honor of our late President Hinckley, who, at least in my mind, coined the phrase. I’ve just always loved those simple, specific words. “Be Still” in my mind is so perfect because when we are “still” we can feel, sense, be things we couldn’t if we let the commotion of the world get in the way. And let’s face it, when you have five kids there’s a lot of commotion going on. I’ve had great ambitions to get up earlier, have a little “still” meditating time, have things laid out better the night before, etc. I had a little talk with Dave and the kids and told them when I start to get frantic when I’m late for things (which occurs tragically regularly) that they should remind me to “be still” and remember what’s most important. Dave just thinks a better phrase for me for the year would be “be on time,” but I’m ignoring his sarcasm and going for being “still.” (yes, I’m late a lot…I know it’s horrible but I just am).

Well, since the new year hit, and I’ve taken “be still” to heart, I feel like frustration has taken over in full force. How can I “be still” when I’m so darn frustrated? Things get so busy, I get so overwhelmed, I get in late, frantic mode, and even if the kids remind me to “be still” I’m already in the thick of the frustration and it’s tough to get rid of!

I get frustrated that after months and months of my front door handle falling off every time someone tried to close it, it finally just quit today and we can’t open the door at all. It’s a funny thing that you don’t really appreciate having a front door until it’s unavailable.

I get frustrated when I’m trying my darnedest to talk and no one can hear me above the chorus of commotion.

I get frustrated that my girls bawl like the world is coming to a halt when I brush their hair. Well, all except Elle. But that makes three girls howling every morning. That’s enough for a good migraine.

I get frustrated that I can’t keep a pack of gum or a tube of lip gloss in my purse for more than a day.

I get frustrated that I’ve come to the realization that some doctors really don’t have any idea what they’re talking about and I have to figure things out without them.

I get frustrated when I try to carry too much in from the car and end up dropping a trail of things along behind me.

I get frustrated when the gym parking lot is packed so I park super far away and lug Lucy and my water and my car keys and my purse as I maneuver Claire through the parking lot to get to the front desk only to realize I left my gym card in my car and I have to go do it all over again to retrieve it. And then the class I want to go to is jam-packed by the time I wait in line at the child care forever to check the kids in.

I get frustrated with Grace’s ingenious excuses that keep getting better and better as to why she can’t go to sleep each night when I’m just totally worn out and want to go to bed myself. (No, I don’t think Lilly the Hamster can crawl up the edge of her bedspread and start biting her head in the middle of the night. Yes, Lilly has demonstrated brilliance at escaping her cage, but we’ve got a fortress of “twisties” for locks keeping her from escaping again, and I just don’t think climbing a bedspread on to a bed is in her repertoire of talents.)

I get frustrated when I’ve spent all day long doing laundry and I notice the laundry baskets are filled again.

I get frustrated when I’m trying to drive four carpools in different directions and I’m late and I have kids in the car who won’t put their seat belts on or who “have” to put them on by themselves but really can’t find the buckle. I get frustrated when the commotion in the car is so loud I can hardly hear myself think. And then I notice I’m pretty much going to run out of gas at any moment.

I get frustrated when no one listens to me when I have dinner ready and I’m trying to get them to come to the table.

I get frustrated that I can’t stretch myself thin enough to cover all the needs of all my kids. I know they can learn from each other, and that’s great. But I want to read, practice music, talk, listen, do homework, “be there” for each one of them and realistically I simply cannot do that every day with every child. It’s just not physically possible. And that frustrates me, because I feel like I should be able to “do it all.”

I get frustrated when I’ve picked up the seventh pair of shoes or dirty socks that have been strewn haphazardly around the house, right in the walkways, even on the counter sometimes.

I get frustrated when I’m in the middle of lecturing my kids and I realize they’re staring off into space and what the heck do I think lecturing is really going to do anyway…even if they weren’t staring into space? I guess it’s just frustrating to keep picking the wrong parenting tactic for various situations.

I get frustrated that Claire and her friend for some reason decided to put lip gloss in our spray bottle I use to do the kids hair in the morning. So when we’re scrambling to get all the morning stuff done and everyone’s hair is sticking straight up my trigger finger gets sore from all the squirting trying to get a couple drops of water out (amidst the hair-brush-howling). And I get so frustrated I keep forgetting to buy a new squirt bottle at Target.

My mom always says it helps to imagine yourself as the “eye of the storm”…if you can just be calm while everything is whirling around you you’re in good shape. But I’m not the “eye.” I’m whirling around like crazy with everything and everyone else. I’ve got to figure out how to make it “controlled chaos” instead of complete mayhem around here. And then I’ve got to “be still” and know that it’s ok. Tomorrow has to be better. And then I’ve got to go look at my kids while they’re sleeping and let their sweet expressions and quiet, gentle breathing turn my heart to mush again so I can start all over loving them to pieces in the midst of the storm that’s coming tomorrow. Because, despite all the frustration and not having the ability (yet) to “be still” amidst the mayhem, there’s nowhere I’d rather be than right here. Right now. Storm and all. Because it means I’m a mother. And a wife. And I’m blessed beyond what I ever thought possible.

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  1. I hope you don’t mind that I came across your blog through your parent’s joyschool site. Thank you so much for this post. I really needed it today. When everything seems to be going crazy around me, I will take your two words to heart–be still. So simple, yet so good. Thank you!

  2. I LOVE your words, “be still,” and need to implement them more in my life too. You described everything so perfectly I was just nodding my head in agreement. We went to a Love and Logic parenting class last night and I too am determined to stop the lecture thing. Good luck to both of us because as we both know…easier said than done.

  3. Sounds like my days, but I also adopted the “Be Still” attitude this past year with the stress of my littlest one and the other 4. I get up early every day, even when tired because if I have the quite time to organize the morning, clean a bit and get ready, everything is off to a running start, I also try to take 20 minutes of quite time before they come home so I can breathe before the storm hits. That way I am ready for them and calmed down. This has helped me tremendously, I am always tired but a lot less frazzled and yes, I am late too. It just happens with 5 kids, who cares.You are a great mother, Lucy is yours for a reason.

  4. Wow. I can’t tell you enough I much I appreciated reading this entry. Every day is total chaos and I find myself “talking very loud” quite a bit. I have found that closing my eyes, counting to ten and taking a deep breath helps me into the “calm” of the storm. We have also made a decision in our family that each kid can do *1* thing. Piano, voice, pom/cheer, dance and baseball. One for each kid. It’s still chaos, but a more managable chaos.
    I hope you don’t mind, but I think I need to copy you and make “be still” part of my life right now.
    Oh… and about the gym… I had to quit Lifetime for that very reason!! No where to park, long lines…too much craziness! Come to MountainSide!! 🙂
    And one more…in the craziness of today, I had to get out of my house. I took my 14 month old to the new mall to play on the toys outside. It was really pleasent. I would LOVE to have Lucy and Lyndee meet and play there some time! We could swap “chaos” stories 🙂

  5. K, so now you have me crying! Beautiful post! I love your sweet tribute to President Hinckley and making it a new year’s resolution. I have a lot of the same frustrations, just on a smaller scale, only having two kids. Well…. sometimes 3. HAHA! Especially laundry, noone listening, and the hair thing. I really like “Be still”. It works hand in hand with something I would like to work on. Thinking before I speak! Among many other things. I am late to everything too. I love your mom’s analogy about the eye of the storm. Interesting, how we as mothers can really control the balance of our homes. I do love looking and snuggling with them when they are asleep. You’re right tomorrow is a new day. Keep your chin up and I am glad you are enjoying life despite the chaos. When I read your posts, I always love how you bring everything back to that balance. Loving these pictures. Sorry the lengthy comment. Long post…long comment. 🙂 ~Christine

  6. You know what? I think it’s a part of motherhood to be busy and stretched, sometimes thin. I feel stressed out a lot, often times over things I can’t control. Like whether my neighbors heard my kids cry all day (they did), or whether my check is going to bounce. This year I guess I adopted the word, “Oh well.” Not very inspiring, I know. But it’s done the trick for me.

    My kids cried all morning, and my neighbors are probably annoyed. Well, “oh well.”

    My kids stalled all morning, now we are late. “oh well,” I did my best.

    The list goes on and on. My point is, I just kind of realized that the things that make me stressed are the things that don’t even matter. I’ve learned to give myself a break.

    Sometimes my kids stink. oh well. Sometimes, often times, I’m late. Oh well. I have no money in the bank and I’m stressed that we are never going to get out off debt. Oh well. Right now there is nothing I can do. And this won’t always be the case.

    Someday my kids will be grown, my house will be quiet, and all those times we were late, or messy, or whatever, will not matter.

    So for this year, do your best and the rest is oh well!

  7. thank you for that. we all get frustrated throughout the day, and it often helps to vent it out every once in a while. hopefully, that helped.

  8. those are great words to live each day by. Especially when there are moments in our lives where we have no control over the events in our lives and we just have to “be still”…. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I love your deep thoughts blogs.

  9. What does it mean when I feel like that sometimes and I only have ONE kid! I’m in trouble! I still want more but good thing they are coming one at a time! Thanks for passing on the “word” idea.

  10. You always seem “still” and calm to me. Your post was a great reminder to me that we need to try and slow it down a little in this fast pace era we live in. Thanks for your motivation and realization that we are all feeling and doing the same.

  11. Thanks so much. I feel like I know you and your family after reading so many of your parents books 🙂 I know you wrote this post four years ago, but I just came across your blog tonight. thank you for being a real mom. I have four young kids and I'm determined to try again tomorrow 🙂 Thanks

  12. I don't know if you get notified on posts this old, but I just found this post and LOVED it!

    It totally describes how I feel much of the time. (And from the other commenters, it sounds like this is pretty normal for mothers.) I get worried that my kids will look back and only remember me as being stressed and in a hurry all the time. All of the examples you shared I totally relate to and was just nodding my head the whole time. When you actually write it out it's almost humorous. 🙂 But in the moment it's usually just frustrating.

    Anyway, I love the motto "Be Still" – I think I'll try to adopt it. And even if I don't become perfect at it, at least I will be more conscious of it.

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