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The power of acceptance: Living in the present enables moms to find heaven around them

By Mary Anne Stewart

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, Oct. 14 2013 4:44 p.m. MDT

Editor's note: This is an excerpt from the book "Deliberate Motherhood: 12 Powers of Peace, Purpose, Order and Joy" (September 2013, Familius)

On the night of Dec. 31, 2006, my three children and I were driving home from my parents’ house when my then 7-year-old daughter, Olivia, looked beyond the seat in front of her to the valley ahead. “The world is a treasure box, and the lights of the city are the treasures!” she exclaimed.

That same night, my 5-year-old son, Isaac, prayed sincerely to have a really good dream about eating a life-sized chocolate egg. And Grace, my 3-year-old, asked me again if I would please change her middle name from Emma to Alyson. Such typical expressions of children were also expressions of hope in their new, uncertain world.

As 2007 began to settle upon me the next day, I reflected upon the difficulty of the year behind me, and hesitated as I considered the year ahead. I solemnly recognized that I was not going to be the mother I had been in the past. I was not even hopeful about becoming the mother I imagined in the future. I was only capable of being the mother I could be in that moment — single, working and attempting to create a life beyond survival.

With all my focus on not drowning, I had forgotten my strength — both in my body and my mind. And I failed to identify the life preserver floating right next to me. I noticed it for the first time and took hold, letting the waves of acceptance crash around me. I felt peace, as I gave up all the unnecessary flailing. It was my New Year’s gift to myself.

Sometimes I feel I am being tossed upon a sea, a raging tempest of obstacles surrounding me, barely able to catch air at times. And yet, the storm occasionally calms just enough for me to catch a glimpse of the horizon ahead. The view is not crystal clear, but it is visible enough to keep me moving forward. My sweet children are my jewels, like the city lights of Olivia’s perfect world, or the stars that seem to stare down upon us like angels and protectors during lonely nights.

I do not have the power to stop life, but I have the power to breathe and let life go ahead of me for a moment. I can resist and risk drowning in the storm, or I can let the waves cleanse me and move me forward. There is always a choice, and anything but acceptance will surely lead to greater hardship and loss.

I accept these treasures, this journey, this view. I accept whatever it is I can give right now.

Olivia once said, “It feels like we are in a dream, and if we’re real good, we’ll wake up in heaven.” I hope I will wake up every day recognizing the heaven that is around me right now.

The collection of stories featured in "Deliberate Motherhood" is compiled by PowerofMoms.com, an online community founded by Saren Loosli and April Perry, a “gathering place for deliberate mothers” that serves more than one million moms across 134 countries.

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