October seems to be the month of scary movies and hideous monsters. I personally don't like scary movies. Sadistic psychopaths and haunted houses just don't uplift, inspire, or encourage me in any way. Why would I want them in my life?
Don't misunderstand, I know there are plenty of sickos out there. I know there is real evil. Those things are fairly easy to recognize and avoid. I have found that the most dangerous evils are the ones that are disguised.
For example, when I first became a mother I wanted the best for my kids. I wanted to do a great job and I was somewhat confident in my ability to achieve this goal. I had what I considered an adequate knowledge of human development and child care. I could change a diaper, read a story, snuggle. Anything I didn't know I could easily find out from books and magazine, friends and family, doctors and other professionals. No problem.
Reality was different. I remember sitting in the doctors office, so proud of my beautiful baby, how much he had grown and what he could do. The doctor began asking me questions like "can he pick up a small object like a raisin?" I didn't know, I thought he was too young to have something that small. "Can he go up stairs yet?" I don't know, I keep the stairs blocked. "How many times a day does he have a bowel movement?" I don't know, I don't count them.
I left the office feeling like a failure. Apparently there were all kinds of things I was supposed to be doing and keeping track of but I wasn't. It didn't get better over time. When that same child turned 4 I went through a similar humiliation. The doctor asked if her could draw shapes, cut with scissors, and jump on one foot. Each time I stared at him blankly. Who gives scissors to a 4 year old? I felt like I had been studying for a math test and was given a spelling test instead.
As I shared my mothering experiences with other moms, I found I was not alone. They were equally frustrated with whether to let their child cry or run to them every time they made a sound. Should they use store-bought baby food or make their own? How often should you bathe them, feed them, let them nap, take them outside, keep them inside, sing to them, read to them, give them quiet time, let them play on the floor, keep them off the floor, play with them, let them play alone, soothe them, teach them to self soothe, teach them, let them learn for themselves...Should I go on?
You know what I am talking about. Every suggestion has a counter suggestion. Every expert claims to be right and if you do it any other way your child will suffer...permanently. If you let your child cry for a few minutes they will never learn to trust. If you don't they will never move out of your house. If you feed them the wrong thing or too much or too little or too soon they will become morbidly obese or become anorexic. If you scold them they will have low self esteem and become criminals. If you don't they will become spoiled and self absorbed and wind up in jail.
I could understand why so many people called parenting hard. In fact more and more say it is too hard. Who needs the hassle? Who wants that kind of responsibility? It is much easier to go to college for 8 years and become a doctor.
What I have learned is that this kind of confusion is one of the true evils of life. I believe that there is really a devil, a being who wants to destroy every happiness for mankind. Latter-Day Saints have long been cautioned to protect the family. We have been told for decades that Satan wants to destroy this sacred institution and have been given clear guidelines on how to protect it. But he is cunning. That slippery serpent uses every trick to weaken and disable families. If he can't keep you from having a child he will make you so confused, so frustrated, so AFRAID, that you won't do it again. He will manipulate you and play on your insecurities so that you have no idea what is right. You may end up doing nothing, bringing about the very failure you wanted to avoid. THAT is truly something to fear.
Now that I have scared you to death I must tell you that there is hope. The best way to combat fear is to face it, acknowledge it, and learn to recognize it.
One way I battled this enemy was to cancel my subscriptions to parenting magazines. They confused me and made me feel guilty. I have not regretted it.
Another way I battled this enemy was to talk with other mothers. Some of the best advice comes from mothers of older children who can look back and see what worked and what didn't. I also talk to other moms about what I am going through. Not only do I get good advice, I find that I am not the only one feeling that way. I am encouraged and strengthened. Fear seems to be magnified when you are alone.
I also rely on the one person who can give me the most accurate advice, Heavenly Father. It has taken me a long time to learn this and I still forget sometimes. I will read books, look on the internet, talk to other people, trying to find an answer to a certain problem. In frustration I think "who else can I ask?" That soft whisper says "have you prayed about it?" Duh! Who else can tell me how to help my son learn math or why my daughters are fighting so much.
Life is so hard these days. Confusion abounds, fear pervades, filth and wickedness surround. Yet we don't have to partake of any of those things. They are the enemy and we can overcome them. We are superwomen!