The Penny

Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.

[Sunday, November 6, 2011]

Being Happy Now


Today's Relief Society lesson was on President Uchtdorf's forget-me-not talk. One of the things that was discussed was the importance of being happy now. I thought back about seven years, when I learned that lesson. I cried as I shared what I learned with Laynie--one of those interpreter sidebars. ;)

For four years, I was a nanny for the best child on earth: Morgan. For the last year, I also took care of the sweetest, easiest baby: Carson. I loved them dearly. (Still do.) However, I was getting rather burned out. Young mothers know this feeling. Breaking up fights, teaching kindness, settings limits--raising kids really takes it out of you. The days seem to drag, one turning into the next in a blur of hungry tummies and poopy bottoms.

I worked all day, and I hid down in my little apartment in the evenings. Spending your days with a four-year-old and a one-year-old can be exhausting.

And then I went back to school to finish my education.

Going back to school was the right decision, but it turned out to be more difficult than I expected. That first semester, I cried so often for the children I had left behind. Two thousand miles away! I remember sitting in the temple one time, just sobbing. I was really missing "my" children that day. Sometimes it seemed physically painful to be apart from them. I realized that I had made a huge mistake.

When Morgan would want to be with me in the evening, her parents would tell her, no, Annie needs to rest. When Carson would try to get through the gate to come downstairs, his parents would stop him. I appreciated their thoughtfulness.

I realized that I had not made the most of my time with the children. Walking around the BYU campus, sitting in class, or in my room at my mother's house, Morgan was often on my mind. I would have given anything to have an hour with her.

I had gone back to school in January, and I went back in April to take care of Morgan and Carson again. I stayed for the summer and enjoyed my time there so much. And me tell you, I made the most of the time with them. When Morgan's parents began to tell her no, it is Annie's rest time, I would tell them to let her come to me. I allowed the kids unrestricted access to me.

That summer was one of the best times in my life. I had learned the secret of happiness: enjoy was you have. Enjoy the people and places for what they are. Do not spend your time thinking about tomorrow or wishing things were different.

Nothing had changed about the children. The tummies were just as hungry, the bottoms were just as poopy, and the fights were just as frequent. But somehow the days did not seem so long. Or I enjoyed their length. Despite the challenges, I enjoyed every day.

And that is how I learned to be happy now.