I asked my daughter tonight if she wanted to have her personal prayer with me or by herself. We discussed praying out loud versus praying with our thoughts. She said, "But, how does Heavenly Father know what you are saying if you say it in your head?"
I said, "By the Holy Ghost, remember? Heavenly Father knows everything, even our thoughts."
"Oh no!" she said, "Sometimes I have evil thoughts. Sometimes I don't want to listen to you. Sometimes I want to be mean. I thought I only knew I was thinking those things!"
I told her that it was okay, everybody has bad thoughts, even me. She smiled and said, "Mom, did you have bad thoughts when you were a little girl like me?"
"Of course." I said.
I told her about a few of the times I disobeyed my mom when I was little - and the things I was thinking at the time. Her favorite story was about the piece of toast I left on our new piano bench while I practiced playing my pieces. It left a permanent and perfect toast-shaped stain on the beautiful wood. My mom questioned me and my siblings. I lied and said it wasn't me. She didn't know who to believe, so no one got in trouble for it. Only years later when I was in college did I confess.
My daughter seemed super content while listening to my stories.
I don't want my daughter to think I am perfect, or that she has to be perfect. We are innately hard enough on ourselves, without greater expectations than necessary. This is why I love the gospel so much. I want my daughter to know that we are works in progress, that she can find happiness in making mistakes, repenting, learning, having faith, becoming wiser and better, and moving forward with hope. And most of all I want her to know how much her Heavenly Father loves her - unconditionally.
I had a dream the other night about a cat. I was working desperately, trying to get rid of the cat. I tried everything I could, but the cat clung to me, scratching constantly. (This was more like a nightmare - I'm allergic to cats.) I was quite perplexed by the dream after I awoke. It was clear to me that something in my life was threatening my peace and comfort, my happiness; but what, I was unsure.
After the conversation with my daughter tonight, I thought again of the dream. I think the cat may represent just that: unhappiness. The question now becomes whether I will choose to be happy now, or if I will allow my happiness and faith to be encumbered by unnecessary doubt and stress. Will I allow the persistent scratching and uneasiness until in the end the triumphant, immovable clawing cat becomes a part of my being.
I don't think so. I'd rather just be happy.
Plus, I'd rather be able to teach my daughter how to be happy - by personal experience, of course. I want to have a story about how I survived these years with my husband in medical residency - a few good stories that will make her smile just like she did tonight.
(An important side note to the dream: my husband showed up and helped me get rid of the cat. Maybe another lesson for me is to allow my husband to help me choose happiness now, rather than try to do it all by myself - like usual - since I have trained myself to "do it all" because, let's be honest, he is usually at work.)