My mother died one year ago this month -- on Easter Sunday. And every day since, I've thought, at one time or another, "That's something I would have told my mom." There are some things you tell your mom because she's the only person on earth who'd be interested. And there are some things you tell her because she's the only person on earth who wouldn't think you were bragging. You know what I mean?
Anyway, she was one of the most Christian people I've ever known. And she was a GREAT mom.
But I when read through her journals after she died, a recurring theme was, "I'm not doing enough."
She and my dad raised five children. She got her Master's Degree when I was eight. (That was back when she was the only mom in the whole world with a Master's Degree. That's what I thought, anyway.) She was PTA president, Relief Society president, and vice-president of all activities her kids got involved in. She sewed almost everything we wore. She made three square meals a day. When we were teenagers, she went back to work and taught part-time at the nearby university. And later, she worked full-time as a kindergarten teacher.
And she wasn't doing enough?!
So you'd think I would have written that idea into a song back then...but I didn't. I didn't have that idea until a few weeks ago, when I called my daughter to read her my original Mother's Day lyrics. Which started..."Like an angel..." And though many moms really are like angels to us, the lyrics might have been a little over the top, i.e. "Mother, you're perfect."
After I finished reading the lyrics, Rebecca said, “So I don't love it." Followed by, "And I don't relate to it."
She has two little boys and I could hear them yelling in the background. "Today I don’t feel like that kind of a mom at all. On days like today, I just want to know I’m doing enough.”
And I knew that was THE idea. That rang true to me. Of course it did! My mom felt that way. I felt that way. And now Rebecca feels that way.
And so, I enlisted her help. And together, we wrote, "More Than Enough." This is only the second or third time in my life I've collaborated on a song, and I loved every minute of it. (Even the 5 hour phone conversation we had one night. From 10:00 pm to 3:00 am. Yikes!)
I think we all know where that "I'm not doing enough" feeling comes from. It certainly doesn't come from our children. Because they only really need a few basic things from us. And so, as I worked on the song, I intentionally included my own list of most important things Moms can do for their children. Well…besides feeding them. :)
- Spend time with your kids. As much time as possible. (Walk by my side / Read me stories at night)
- Listen to them. A lot. (Stay by my side / Hear my stories at night)
- Teach them to love God and serve Him, and that He loves them. (Teach me to trust in God’s love.)
- Make sure they know YOU love them. (Give them a hug, maybe two, and you say, “I love you.”)
- Pray for them. (How you pray for my every need)
- Live the gospel of Jesus Christ, as Elder Jeffrey R. Holland says, “as conspicuously as you can.” (But all that I know of faith and of kindness and love and strength, I learned just by watching you every day.)
And now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking parenting isn’t that simple, and you’re right. But these six things go a long, long way. Even when life gets complicated and children are difficult. In fact, there were many times when I was particularly worried about a particular child, and I would pray and the answer was always the same: "Just love him."
I wanted something grander or more sophisticated or more original than that. And I'd go back and plead and pray some more. But the answer was still, "Just love him." And occasionally, I'd "hear" this: "He's my child, too. And I'm watching over him." That was always tremendously comforting to me. And that knowledge helped me be a compassionate and patient parent. At least sometimes. :)
*One last thing about the song, in case you were wondering: I left out the word ‘mother’ for a few reasons. For one, I couldn’t decide whether to use -
Mother (too grown up and old-fashioned)
Mom (too casual)
Mommy (too young sounding) or
Mama (too Reba McIntyre)
And the other reason was because I know many children are being raised by someone other than mom. And I wanted them to be able to sing to their Dad or their grandma or whoever that person is.
So if you’re singing the song or teaching the song, and you feel like it needs the word "mother/mom/mommy/mama" or some other version of that word, feel free to insert that word in the song.
In the end, it just seemed fitting and childlike to sing, “I think you’re doing enough.”
PS: When you watch the video, you’ll see that both times the children sing, "I think you're doing enough," there's a picture of a young mom holding a baby. That's my daughter. I put that picture there because at that moment, she was doing enough. The dishes and laundry and professional goals and church work and community service and helping your neighbor and PTA and Pinterest and decorating and shopping and everything else put together can’t replace holding your baby. Just sayin’.
I'd love to hear your thoughts about the song when you get a minute.