Sunday, May 5, 2013

Small and Simple Things

Sometimes, if we don't laugh, we'll cry, no?
I have been reflecting recently on the Book of Mormon scripture found in Alma 37:6, "by small and simple things are great things brought to pass..." 

My life right now consists in struggling to help Baby G get through full feedings and full naps.  The poor thing is tongue-tied.  

The small piece of extra tissue connecting his tongue to his mouth translates into inefficient and long feedings, frustration, and exhaustion, which then effects his naps and his whole day.  Luckily, it does not affect his (or our) night, as his circadian rhythms seem to be connected to the   sun - he has slept well at night since birth and has amazingly slept through the night for the last six nights.  

His exhausting day schedule has, of course, become mine, as I am his source of food.  

I so often do not have time to do those things--mainly, read my scriptures and pray for long stretches of time--that bring me peace of mind (thus my posts have dwindled to once weekly), let alone be "productive" as I have previously defined it.  This has caused me frustration and at about week two or three, I found myself actually resenting my sweet little boy.

Knowing this was not right, I desired to change but could not find the normal time to think and ponder properly through it.  My husband provided me with a priesthood blessing in which I was instructed to focus on the small things.  Though simple, they were of great import and would yield many blessings.

In my discombobulated state of mind, it took another couple of weeks to really understand what this meant.  My world had shifted.  I wasn't Lorianne Updike Toler the constitutional legal historian, doctoral student, and wife who happened to have a child that fit perfectly into the breaks of those roles.  I was Lorianne Updike Toler the mother and wife who was a constitutional legal historian and doctoral student in whatever bonus time she could find.

I began to realize that every feed and each 20-30 minute period getting him to go to sleep was, in those moments, the most important thing I could be doing.  I needed to be present, attentive, and cherishing each of those moments.  These small and simple things would yield great things now - a peaceful boy, a peaceful day, and, although it shouldn't be the goal, maybe even time to write a blog post or write an email to an NGO in Libya.  Any "extra" time I had to myself I should consider a bonus, but I needed to submit to this new role and way of life.

Even, I discovered this morning, my prayers and scripture reading need to change.  Instead of expecting long stretches of meditative time in which to think about all I am grateful for, all I need, and my many friends and loved ones in need (doesn't it seem like everyone is in some state of crisis most of the time?), my prayers needed to become small and simple.  Micro-length.  Help me and Gideon to get through this feed.  Help me to be patient and enjoy the moments coaxing him to sleep.  Please bless my grandma.  Please bless my sister.  Etcetera.  I could split up one five minute prayer into 25 ten-second prayers.  The lessons from my birth experience of getting through one contraction at a time have thus begun to tutor me in new motherhood.  One feed, one nap at a time.       

The same needs to be true of my scripture reading and other personal spiritual study.  I can start memorizing individual verses and listening to conference talks while I nurse.

Perhaps Gideon's tiny little physical impairment is a striking analogy: just as his tongue - such a small and simple thing - can wreak havoc in our lives, small and simple efforts to get in full feeds and full naps can yield peace and even consistent schedules.  

When fed properly, he may be the cutest thing I've ever seen.


  1. Beautiful! As a first time mother in my mid-thirties" (though I have no idea if it would be any different had we started younger) it amazes me how many of my expectations of parenting and mothering a newborn have had to change, how much slower my pace, and how narrow my focus.

  2. What a great post! As mama's we have to grab every chance we get to praise, pray and meditate. Even small minutes while tending our children.