Sometimes I observe women—at church, the grocery store, the park playground. And single or married, what I most often see is a plethora of the “Mom Stance”—hands on hips, furrowed brow, and NO SMILE. It plagues us all, this serious business of daily living. Even Sister Julie B. Beck shared in a talk from the 2010 Women’s Conference that as she lamented what she could do better, her daughter said, “You could smile, mother. You could smile.”
So what would help us smile, get the joy back, and feel juiced about life as a woman, wife, and mother?
Be yourself—your best self. Why are we women so consumed with looking sideways for approval? Sister Patricia T. Holland says, “The Lord uses us because of our unique personalities and differences rather than in spite of them. He needs every one of us, with all our blemishes and weaknesses and limitations.” Ask Heavenly Father to help you see your unique strengths and abilities, without comparing yourself to the Neighbor of the Size-2 Waist. Sister Chieko Okazaki once recalled coming to teach in Utah from Hawaii. Being of Japanese descent—and it not being too long after World War II—she was concerned about possible negative reactions. Sure enough, the principal called and said three parents asked for their children to be withdrawn from her class. She didn’t stress, get mad, or eat cheesecake. Instead, she played to her strengths. Making a bright fuscia-colored dress with matching bow, she stepped out confidently onto the playground, gathered her awe-struck class, and loved them like her own. Later the principal said that the three parents had asked for the children to be reinstated.
Find a personal purpose or passion. Women are natural creators, and we’re even encouraged to be so. Find what you like to do. If you don’t care to scrapbook, don’t do it!
No 11th commandment says “Thou must delight in doo-dads.” Whether it’s painting, singing, photography, or raisin-jewelry making, find what brings you joy, then share it. One friend recently emailed me that she is participating in the New York City Marathon this fall, pushing the wheelchair of a disabled friend. Elder M. Russell Ballard has counseled us to “find some time for yourself to cultivate your gifts and interests. Pick one or two things that you would like to learn or do that will enrich your life, and make time for them. Water cannot be drawn from an empty well, and if you are not setting aside a little time for what replenishes you, you will have less and less to give to others, even to your children.”
Have fun! When was the last time you remember having non-productive fun? I was invited to speak at Brigham Young University–Hawaii for their Education Week. My husband and I decided to take our high-school graduate son for his senior trip. Out of all the amazing and fantastic things we did together that week, his favorite experience was “when you and dad and I were getting tossed in the sand and the waves.” He reveled in seeing us have fun (also known as teenage recreational torture).
What makes you laugh and feel happy? Maybe it’s a no-chores Friday, ending housework at 5 p.m., or actually swinging on the swings with your children at the park (and telling them to pump their own legs!). Delight in the day. Find the perk and you’ll find the joy. One day while walking out of a bookstore I heard over the intercom something like, “Fresh, hot blueberry scones, right out of the oven.” I was there before you could say melted butter. And it was absolutely scrumptious—so tasty that I had to call my husband as I drove and share that it was the best scone in the world (and so sorry that I hadn’t bought one for him, but there would be nothing left). Forget being a martyr and start having more fun in daily life.
This week, give one of these tips a try. Joy is a conscious choice—if we look for it, ask for it, and delight in it, we will find it, and often. And usually in the most simple and delectable of things in life.
Connie Sokol is a mother of six, presenter, and author of Faithful, Fit & Fabulous. Enjoy her blog and tips, and share your thoughts at 8basics.com.