Sunday, August 14, 2016

To Live

This was written after I read an article by a former abortion clinic nurse whose life was changed and healed. I share cautiously as my understanding of abortion procedure is limited and I don't have the heart to learn more details, nor the stomach for it. Certain assumptions are made and hopefully the message is clear if the knowledge of the writer is faulty.

   There was a pulling. First a slight tugging. Sort of a gentle, tentative, testing pulling. Then more firm pulling. 
She really didn't like it.
   The warm comfort, so familiar, was disrupted as the cold  hardness on her feet pulled...demanding and insistent. It became painful.
   She thrashed around looking for comfort, to escape. Then the cold and a bright light above her shone down as she reached frantically for the warm protection of her mother. Her tiny hands and arms moving without strength.
"This one looks great."
A tremendous pressure and slicing pain consumed her. Her heart cried out in fear and pain. She longed for Gloria.

   The little girl danced impatiently. Her mommy and daddy had gone to the hospital and she couldn't wait until they came home.
The sun shone brightly outside but she couldn't even play, there was too much to think about. She knew from her little friend, Kelly, that there were blankets and clothes and bows and even some not so fun things like crying and waiting for stinky diapers to get fixed but she was willing to put up with anything just to finally have her baby sister. 
No one had told her directly but she knew. Everyone knows that when Mommies get big round tummies and feel yucky and tired that there's a baby in there. Kelly's mom had acted just the same as her mommy and she was always putting her hand on her tummy. Gloria hadn't quite worked out how you got the baby out of there and Kelly didn't seem to know either, but it didn't really matter.
  She had prayed and prayed ever since she was little and had asked her mom and dad for one for her birthday but she never thought  she would really get one! They must be planning to surprise her, she thought. Daddy was always talking about how much things cost and he said babies were too expensive. She had heard them talking about how much her Academy would cost next year and Kelly had told her that they were always buying something for her baby so Gloria was surprised they had changed their mind.
   But Melanie had come to babysit her and she heard them give a number for a hospital stuck between "macaroni for dinner" and "Remember to brush her teeth, okay?"
Kelly said her mom went to the hospital to get her baby out but Gloria never expected it to be so soon, she thought it would take much longer to grow her baby and Kelly's mom had been much fatter.
She settled down by the window to wait and would not be coaxed away.

  She had said she would. She had to stick with it. There really was no other choice. When she thought of Gloria she wished there were some other way and dashed away a tear from her cheek with an impatient hand. This had to be.
   There was no use thinking about it anymore. Don't think about how tiny Gloria's hands and feet had been or of her pleading for a baby sister.
   They didn't even know if was a girl. The ultrasound tech had asked, hesitantly, for he knew their plans but still was so used to parents hugging and exchanging joyous looks over such news that he couldn't help but try. She had wavered and almost looked but Jack had been firm and decisive. 
"No. just check the organs and gestational age" and the appointment had moved on. Courtney wondered if she had spoken it might changed his mind somehow and again cursed herself for not saying something....the right thing.
   She steeled herself and pulled the conversation back, reliving his words. "we really can't afford another one. We're maxed, Courtney! Who gets pregnant on the pill? You almost died with Gloria and I'm not going through that again. It's not worth it ...and besides,the fetus will be used for research , just think of how many people will be benefitted. To us it would be just a burden but it could bless so many people." 
 So many thoughts had played through her mind as he spoke.
  That they had decided on one child was true, but she hadn't realized at the time how much joy she would feel with Gloria. The doctors had been very worried about her but her OB assured her that a second pregnancy had a low risk for the same complications. Placental abruption in labor is rare and unlikely to happen twice. Cesarean delivery would not likely be needed in subsequent pregnancies. At the time she had brushed his assurances off, for they were only having one, anyway . She had waited too long to have her tubes tied, her dislike of hospitals and doctors after her scare in the delivery room was marked and she still had nightmares. 
All of Jack's reason's were not insurrmountable  but the one thing she couldn't, wouldn't risk kept her in her chair in the waiting room. 
   His recovery had to be considered. He was finally stable and functioning. He had promised to be faithful to her, his meds seemed balanced and he was much more patient with Gloria . His PTSD seemed under control but she knew how little it took to set him off. He hadn't gotten out of control with his anger for months and was finally acting like the husband she knew he could be and she wasn't willing to sacrifice that stability for anything. If this baby was his idea or he were excited that would be different....
   If there was one thing childhood had taught her it was that parents should scrifice to stay together . Gloria needed a mom and a dad. She knew how it felt to be abandoned and she wouldn't let that happen to Gloria. 
 Her hand rested unconsciously on her stomach. She had struggled, even with Jack's ressurance that his friend would perform the procedure. He knew him from his time in the military and the man had offered to help him when he heard about their situation. Still, she felt far from comfortable with this man she had only met once. The memory came unbidden of Gloria , a look of peace and wonder chasing quickly through her eyes- quickly hidden so that Mommy wouldn't know she knew and her chubby little hand reaching tentatively for her stomach and then drawing back as she caught her mother's eye. It had broken Courtney's heart. The reason, the real reason she had waited so long was still there at home, waiting. The reason she had prayed to ..someone...for another way. 
   And she remembered her prayers as a little girl that God would bring her Daddy back. She had prayed for years and then she had finally decided that God must hate her because he never did. 
But Gloria had whispered so softly, so quietly, next to her Mommy asleep on the couch. She had put out her hand so carefully next to her rounded belly and the words, "Thank you, God" had crept from her mouth. 
Courtney coud hardly breathe, surely God couldn't deny her little girl. Surely a way would open for her to have a husband who loved her and Gloria could have a father and Jack would change his mind .... But she knew inside that he wouldn't change for she remembered what her hesitation had caused already. When he sensed her reluctance he had frightened her with the intensity of his anger. It had been a long time since she saw that look in his eye and she knew she didn't have the courage. It was Gloria's baby dream or her life of happiness, security and opportunity. Gloria ws just too young to understand  what was at stake here. She would understand better when she grew up, Courtney told herself. She was so young, only four, and she would forget. She had to. A deep breath and Jack's hand on her elbow renewed her resolve to keep her safety and security as she made it from the chair to the door that led beyond the waiting room. 
"You're 28 weeks?"
The nurse eyed her.
"That's right." A dark weight settled into her chest and she walked forward into the inevitable.

   Gloria listened to Melanie on the phone with her boyfriend. 
"Yeah, I'll be home in a few more hours. No, she's having a medical procedure done but she'll home tonight. Okay, see you then. Bye."
She wondered at the strange ways of adults. Why don't they just say what they mean?  Maybe they were just trying to keep the secret of her surprise. 

Quietly, with no notice from the busy world outside and a crowd of busy professionals just doing their job and hiding any sorrow they might have felt , Gloria's hope died on the table.  She never had any name spoken, though what name she was given by a little girl may still live inside her heart if not forgotten in the clouds of experience and emotion that comes with living. Her perfect beautiful light left her pain-filled tiny body. 
   It was divided, separated by professionals plying the tools of their trade in providing a perfect brain her, a liver there.. 
"Don't damage the wares, slice carefully  for with your soul you pay your way."

Don't hate me
  The doctor executioner
   The nurse holding tiny dead hope in pieces
   The deliveryman carefully, quickly juggling the expensive wares of death
  The mother, trapped in dark patterns, trading hope for endless regret, with deep eyes full of longing that find only visions of tiny feet and perfect hands she'll never hold.
The father running from his demons and responsibility ,inability and pain.
Don't hate me. Help me.

Forgive me for judging- 
the outsider looking in who thinks you don't care because only a monster would kill their child, not understanding that no one will judge more harshly than one's self.
Forgive me for thinking that if I walked your road I would have done better.

  Love me 
I am a person 
Protect me 
Give me a name
Give me a voice
For though someday I may move mountains, sing the songs of the heart, save a life or be the greatest love of someone's life, today all I can do is love you. 
Please love me.

Congratulations!!!!...........The Post that Got Lost Til Now

For those of you who read my blog- I should have thrown you a bone and announced that we're expecting. But being my reticent self ( that's the one that you never hear about as she's only in charge when it comes to how much I may have spent on the Rue21 sale or the details of my  inner workings or any personal information that you tell me that you don't want shared. ) I was trying to wait until I had to tell anyone.... If someone asks me point blank though I am prone to truth telling so the word had leaked out a bit.
Ahem. That was the good news!! You should always start there. The rest of the news is that I am currently on bed rest and time will tell if I get to keep this one. Having been pregnant a few times before ( seven to be exact)  you might think that this is just part of the experience but I have had no prior experience with bed rest and its a good thing. For if I had the baby train might have stopped at an earlier station.
Whining is unattractive (hence matching my hair and the state of my bed currently) but I've little else to do for the moment so you're welcome to close the tab or scroll down if it really bothers you.  My family doesn't get to hear it because I'm dependant on them for food, movies, music books and other favors so I've reserved that for the internet.
I haven't got the skills for this. I know how to cook, clean, garden, paint and sew. I don't know how to just sit. Maybe if I had an entire season of something (UPDATE: I actually have about three of them now, thanks to my helpful FB friends - these fun show do not fall into the following described catagory!) I want to watch really bad I could manage it for a day or two but frankly most tv is just garbage anyway.

I am so well rested that I can't believe it. I take a nap every day and wake up at six and seven.......and squeeze my eyes closed til eight just to make the day shorter. I listen to kids yelling at each other or giggling hysterically while I can hear stuff crashing or water running........Restful.
I think "Confined to Bed" would be more appropos.

**Though I ended up losing the pregnancy, the following is still true.......

So if you are lonely or need someone to say something nice to you because everyone you're interacting with today hates your guts and you don't want to go eat worms? I'm your gal. You're awesome and doing better than you think. If you don't believe me, just call me and I'll talk you into it.

To God, Sincerely.

Dear God,
   When I left Your presence I was looking for beauty. I wanted a beauty like you had, inside of me.
Why did I think I would find it here?
    I've found heartache, pain, suffering. I've found bitterness, hatred, loneliness. I've found sorrow, tears, betrayal and hopelessness.
  I've found myself watching others suffer without any means to comfort them. I've found ignorance and it's victims slowly swirling like silt as the pond of life empties slowly and inevitably away.
And I've shouted again and again to a seemingly empty sky "WHAT IS THE POINT?!?!?!"
I've done the right thing.
I've done the wrong thing.
I've confused the two of them too many times.
  And still, something drives me forward. This feeling that there has to be something, something better.
And at times I feel the warm glow of  You, burning brightly and sometimes my lips part at the right time and that warmth comes out of my mouth.
And one day, I realized that to see the beauty in the world around me, I had to see it inside me first.
And that changed everything.

                          Love Always as Best I Can,


I would give everything to know you.
Except my time.

I would stand up for you no matter what was being said because I love you.
Unless they called me names and shamed me for being "too good".

I would give food and clothes to starving, cold and homeless people.
Unless they deserved being homeless and cold and starving because they drank alcohol or used drugs over better choices.

I would serve my neighbor who is lonely and misunderstood- except that her house smells funny and she has too many cats and a poor command of language and I'm too uncomfortable.

I would turn the other cheek but those people on the internet are just idiots who don't understand how wrong and stupid they are.....unless I point it out.

I would be forgiving of others if they would just be sorry.

I would be friendly and kind to strangers if I just knew for sure they were trustworthy and wouldn't turn around and stalk me.

I would seek until I found if I knew what I was looking for.

I'd be a true Christian if I ever ran out of excuses.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Wherein I Try Something New

Once Upon A Time
There was a mother. No, not just any mother but a very specific kind of mother. The kind of mother that is me- and believe me you can't get much more specific than that. And this particular mother has always been rather busy and independant. Not necessarily that she was always productive, because that's not always synonimous with busy, as you well know. She didn't usually sit down because if she did she would fall asleep. For her body knew that she only sat down and stopped moving if it were midnight or perhaps church and those are both good times to take a nap. If my bishop or RS President were ever to read my blog they can enjoy the confirmation of their suspicions that I might not be deep in contemplation. This is  why I will probably enjoy many years as ASL translator so I'll stay awake by  talking in church ALL THE TIME.
  This is the thing. (besides the fact that my contrary keyboard has decided to be italicized- that's an entirely different thing) 
I don't know how to just sit. I finally learned how to meditate if my mind is having it's own experience and the body is quiet for thirty to ninety minutes I can handle that. Finally, after a year and a half of practice. 
But apparently this amazing feat of Zen experience was insufficient for my growth and experience and I find my self on bed rest. Only get up to pee and bathe kind of bedrest. Don't twist or pull or use any core msucles kind of bedrest. No yoga in bed or leg lifts or weight lifting kind of bedrest. 
Just grow a baby and hold still kind of bedrest.
I don't recall ever having complained about being busy. I'm the one that does it to myself. I like a clean house, food that not only do I like but is somewhat healthy, freshly painted walls (love painting!) and grass growing in my yard.....instead of weeds. I love taking old junky furniture and painting it. I love sorting through toys and clothes and giving a bunch to I can go find more great deals on something new and different. I like change and I like making something look better, different and interesting. I willingly admit I have complained about having a dirty messy house or yard but that's a Mom thing that just comes with guys turning off lights all over the house- it's a reflex.
I didn't pray for patience. I promise. I have prayed for many things and I may well have uttered some heartfelt plea for something that is directly tied to this experience but it wasn't for patience. 
I will admit that the first week of bedrest was harder and things have gotten easier. And there are people who would kill to just roll over and go back to sleep when it's seven-thirty instead of getting up and going to work. They aren't wishing they could lace up their running shoes and plug in their earphones and head out the door for a three mile run as the sun comes up. There are advantages to taking a nap whenever you want to as long as your sleep mask is on, earplugs in and door safely locked and barred. I have never napped so often and have experienced insommnia for the first time in my life. It's great- I have a great deal more compassion for anyone who can't sleep. I would love to never experience it again.
I have been the recipient of more meals, house cleaning and kid sitting than in all my other new baby phases combined and I'm so grateful for all the help.
But I  have been  served more by my seventeen year old daughter than anyone else in my whole life except my own mother. She has taken over the cooking, cleaning, garden, yard and kids. She has gotten up in the night with sad kids and got them down for naps in the afternoon just in time to save both of our sanity. She has requested, cajoled, threatened and cried but mostly yelled in frustration as she got 5 other children to get up. sit up to eat, get dressed for the day, for church, for parties, for friends. She has gotten shoes, jackets, diaper bags, clean hands and shirts all out the door at the same time as the little bodies they go with and managed to holler out, "Bye, Mom, love you!" in a happy tone of voice. She has sung sweet little songs under her breath to a very cranky little boy who just wants something at 4 a.m. but has no clue what exactly that might be. She has figured up how much I would owe her if I were paying her to babysit and then laughed ...and laughed. She has smiled when a friend asked her if she wanted to have kids after the last 42 days of being the mom.
She has made special meals for me to meet my high protein demands and managed to practice her musical instruments every day through most days. 
Though I do not recommend it as a great way to get a vacation (no one in their right mind would pay money to get a back ache, and be assaulted by small children without any  warning several times a day and have to watch your two year old swing your favorite baritone Uke above his head  while you resist the temptation to jump up and stop him while yelling desperately for his big sister, would they?) I have certainly learned a lot about what kind of mom my daughter will be. And I have to say, I'm very proud of her. 
For the last ten days as she had to do the outside chores with her dad on a trip to Texas I have come to dread the time she is gone outside as that leaves me undefended  and I have a better idea why my little kids freak out when they can't find mom for thirty seconds. 
I've never been much of a crier and rarely find myself feeling lonely because I always took a minute to feel what ever is going on and then get up and go do something about it. Until i found myself entirely dependent on someone else for everything and where there is no other option but patience  and nothing to do but wait. Happy or sad, tired or rested and entertained or not - laying here is the option. I am so excited to meet this baby !.............and for Shaylee to come put in a new DVD.

*My cursor is freaking out..... no idea why! It jumps all over the screen so I'm not editing. At all .
My OCD is going wildand arguing with my inner English teacher. Good times* 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Mom is great at Math or How Three Turned Into Six

To My Dear Friend-
    How was your day today? As you are a mom, I'm pretty sure it was crazy in some way. Your children are so cute and fun and full of life. I remember when I had three kids and my hands felt really full and my brain felt really fried. Those little people have a way of eating up your everything.
I remember sinking to my knees in my toy strewn bedroom and saying "Heavenly Father, I'm really tired and maxed out. I want to have as many kids as You would have me care for, but can I have a break?" My parents had eight children and I knew the blessing of family. My extended family on my mother's side were so close and made me want that experience for my children. It is a commandment given by God and though my church teaches that the number of children a couple chooses to have is between them and God it has been made very clear that having children is essential and should not be put off or limited for selfish reasons. I was not thinking that me not having any more children just then was a matter of selfishness but rather self preservation and I was so relieved that I felt very calm about taking some time before looking to have more.
We bought an indoor dog and loved her like our baby and four and a half years passed before I had another child. In this time I had a few experiences where I learned more about how this "more kids" thing might play out. I had an experience where I felt strongly that we should adopt. Not a passing "Gee, I've got a spare ten thou and I think pregnancy is the worst idea ever so lets give it a try" kind of experience but a direct and unmistakable kind of experience. We went through conventional adoption processes right up to the time we felt strongly to move to a house with one bedroom. That was not a typo. Three kids sleeping in the living room for three years. There are not words to describe  the joy, happiness and sheet volume of this living experience. I knew that we would be ready to move ahead with this new phase of our lives when we had a little more space. During that time I read several books by Sarah Hinze and a blog post by another woman whose name I have now forgotten that really changed the way I looked at adoption before. I had been instructed to learn about spiritual adoption and I thought that meant the spiritual action corresponding to a sealing experience here on Earth.(Sealing a family together in a covenant before God is an ordinance performed in our temple) My attention was finally drawn to an aspect of the commandment to care for the least of these, these whose lives never really began. These whose parents had not kept their agreements, who had because of pain, deception and darkness,  not provided them the lives they had promised. Who had through abortion terminated their lives and stolen from them their opportunity to fulfill their mission on the Earth. The picture I had in my mind (it looked remarkably like a Mormon ad, I'm embarrassed to admit) changed from one of the selfless sacrifice of a birth mother ( bless their hearts- every single one of them) and the joy shared by all who love these little people who come from hard situations , perhaps in foster care or suffering from medical conditions or poverty in another country, to one of the desperation and longing for a body, a mother, a home, a family. A picture of ones forgotten in the rush to pursue goals of wealth, education, fun and pleasure. Promises made and broken  and not even remembered. There are many women who feel a longing that they can't quite supress for someone missing, for empty arms and they can't explain why. Don't think that there isn't someone on the other side wondering if you will remember promises made, who long to fill those arms and be with you. I felt that I had fullfilled my promises when I had my first three children but when I expressed a willingness to have more I learned a whole new perspective. With each subsequent child my husband and I have had the opportunity to make a new agreement before the experience of pregnancy ever began. We felt prompted to take a foster parenting training but never did get to the last class addressing attachment. I prayed to recieve help in completing the training but was told that we had done all we needed to. As years have passed I've recognized patterns and symptoms of emotional trauma more often found in adopted children. I've found help and comfort in remembering the training and my parenting has imroved as I've recognized I am dealing with emotional/spiritual beings who have reasons to distrust and doubt the sincerety and safety of others. I've been reminded again and again of the wise words of Inigo Montoya, when he states that "I don't think it means what you think it means." For some weird reasons I can always remember "Princess Bride" better than Scripture references, what can I say. I hope I can still go to Heaven.  I have prayed in the past for eyes to see the forgotten, alone and poor. I had a deep desire to love those the Savior commanded us to care for. I looked around for those whom I could serve and I have found an opportunity here and there to make a dinner, to tend someone's children or to smile and compliment someone having a hard day but it wasn't until I asked that I saw those who have no voice. Those who wait for arms to welcome them to this world of experience. Those whose hope has been lost when they were rejected, feeling unloved, unworthy.
So I can't tell you my dear friend, nor should I, how many children to have. That is between you and God. I can't tell you what your physical, mental or spiritual capacity is, how much you can or even should handle. I can't even explain to you how I have managed to do a good job with six children because I don't feel that I have. I can only tell you that my life has been blessed more than I can explain. My life has been changed in ways that I haven't expected and some ways that I don't really even understand. I am still tired, I frequently feel fried after a week of lousy sleep with children who have been sick and I still wonder about my mental capacity (daily, if you were wondering) but I would do it again in a heartbeat. For the least of these have shown me the face of God.

                     With much love,

I recognize that there are many wonderful women who can't bear children, who would if they could. I see many women who are doing an amazing job of mothering a few children and I am not shaming anybody at all, ever. I am sharing my experience and really cannot begin to tell anyone the "right" way to mother, the right number to mother, the right age to mother or that they should have twenty children. Most days I would throw a grand piano at anyone who would dare suggest that I could handle even one more and I felt this exact same way when I had one...and two...and get the picture. I have once or twice contemplated asking God to stand a little closer so I could get Him in range so I could launch any musical instrument close to hand but by the end of the conversation the love I felt was enough to get me into compassion -peace-love and violins are expensive mindframe  and I felt confident that it would really be okay. Which is how I came to have six kids. Ask and ye shall recieve.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

I have often wondered....a lot of things, really, but this one thing has come to the front again and again. How does God expect any person to become a parent and be any good at it. How He knows they will become parents is pretty well established and it seems to be working great for a good portion of my friends and family. There are definitely some who are now or have in the past struggled with infertility- and my heart goes out to them. I definitely have no idea how that feels. At all.
But the part where they (parents) are any good at it is the part that has me shaking my head in wonder.
First of all, there really is no training available that really does parenthood justice. It helps if you are an older child in a larger family or a younger child of a larger family and prolific siblings who provide material for study but in the end it turns out that all you really walk away with is a little more realistic expectations of how much baby poop stinks and how many dishes a big family can make in a  short period of time. Because, really, have you noticed that children sleep really well through babies crying, they aren't bothered (much) by noise if that is what they are used to - and they don't worry about all their siblings growing up and going to jail. Or if they do, it's a fleeting and perhaps at times even a hopeful one if regarding an older brother they deem a menace to society that should be locked up to preserve their Barbie's lives.....or heads....or whatever you call what Barbies' have.
I became a parent at a young age and I'm grateful that I learned to spell early on in life because that's really the only thing that has felt orderly in my life since. There are few times that I remember peaceful silence in my house in the past seventeen years with the exceptions of those times that all the kids went with Dad to feed cows or everyone was napping at the same time and that creates a magical equation for the unique parenting style I like to call "Interrupted Parenting".
This is a method were the mother spends a lot of time trying to recall the page number she is on in the child rearing book she is trying to read while nursing and re-reading parts that she finally recognizes after a few paragraphs and skips ahead hoping to guess close since the bookmark was knocked out of the book when it was bumped off the arm of the chair she uses for feedings. Because once you get that baby latched on you aren't going to go looking for it, Heaven knows.
She soon advances to cooking, cleaning and paying bills punctuated with baby crying for attention in the background of every call which confuses the heck out of those stupid automated machines who love to repeat "I'm sorry, I couldn't understand that. Please try again."  There would be silence for a moment and emboldened, Mommy starts again,,,,just as baby drops the favorite toy and begins wailing. Nevermind the wait of twenty minutes, at this point Mommy would kill for a live person to talk to who can guess what you're saying in the moments of silence.
Being interrupted is difficult so she becomes an expert at waiting until baby is sleeping to do anything possible and after bedtime she catches up on anything she missed and decides that she didn't really need sleep anyway.
If she's blessed she might have several more children close enough together to make certain that one child will interrupt the other child who is having their story read while Mommy is nursing and she is off the hook of ever having to finish that book about how to get babies to eat, sleep and poop in some sort of intelligent fashion that allows for uninterrupted showers or whatever but she doesn't really care that much anymore because she doesn't really know what showering alone is like anymore anyway. She has learned that at least if baby is buckled into their car seat in the bathroom and is sleeping when the shower begins, at least you know if there is crying it isn't because Daddy forgot to watch out for the fast two year old and he isn't smothering the baby with too many kisses or a blanket or anything and she can relax through the crying as she showers as fast as humanly possible. Though she sometimes wonders if showering is really necessary- there are tribes that don't, and they don't do much laundry either.......hhhmmm.
She advances over time to the the stage where she doesn't really notice the frequent punctions of "Mom! Mom!" as much anymore as she ties the shoes and buttons the pants as she  cleans while on the phone and dispenses drinks with almost telepathic ability, only rarely giving the cup to the wrong child or kissing the boo-boo on the wrong elbow. But she can't seem to remember very many things for very it the fact she hasn't had a full and uninterrupted night's sleep in almost twenty years? Or maybe that she hasn't had a thought process without interruption in almost that long?  When her spouse takes her out for a rare evening away and she either sits in silence and can't think of anything to say that doesn't involve the children or she can't stop talking because no one has listened to her all day it may seem strange to someone who speaks to one person at a time in an organized fashion- maybe even with a secretary to run interference and prevent interruptions. It may seem odd to someone who hasn't ever had a group of children sit and stare at them as they are trying desperately to zone out enough to hear themselves think taking bets about what's wrong with her until a little impatient one takes her face in between both hands and yells "Mom! I want an orange!"
Several days ago I was trying to print four pages of financial statements off the internet with my phone. The phone was not defective, the printer was not defective or even out of paper. It took me an hour. I called a teenage boy down from upstairs, out of the bathroom and in from outside at least four times to finish his chore of sweeping the floor, dialed a number for another so he could call a friend, helped another child with four math problems because it couldn't wait- you know, URGENT math- and helped a toddler down off the sofa so he wouldn't jump on his sibling who was sitting smashed up next to me watching me push "Print". I also answered several questions from other children and called someone to get the toddler a drink. And change his stinky diaper for me. No I didn't pay them any money or favors, I reminded them they get groceries and clothes and don't pay rent. It was discussed but I held firm. My husband called me a little later and asked if I were finished printing them off and when I told him I had just barely got them, he wondered aloud (silly man)" What were you doing that took so long?"  I am considering going on vacation alone - perhaps to take part in a sleep study, where I could get paid to sleep without interuptions and leaving him home with the kids to find out what I was doing. They say women need more sleep because they use so much of their brain in so many areas at the same time. I wish it were possible but more sleep has yet to materialize. My parenting plans have been quite impressive in the past, the times that I remember what they are and they usually last just long enough to create hope in my bosom before they get interrupted by chicken pox, winter, morning sickness, accidents, emotional upheaval, travel or death. So I conclude that God intended for parents to love their kids and mess them up all at the same time. If that weren't the plan He would have made sleep a part of the equation. Or maybe the solution is hiding in one of those books stashed so carefully under a chair somewhere. I hope it's not any further back in the book than chapter one........
* Completely random sidenote- I was only interrupted ten times while typing this the first ten minutes that is. My toddler is jumping off his bed and landing on the floor which happens to be right above my head. Over and over. This doesn't count as an interruption. I don't have to do anything about it unless I adhere to a system of child training. I seem to have lost the book that explains that one.

Monday, May 9, 2016

To Be A Mom

I'm a mom, a very mormon mom. And it's the best and hardest thing I've ever done. I'm not unusual amongst my peers for that sentiment, for there are many wonderful moms in my church. We take being a mom very seriously and devote much time, energy and effort (not to mention lesson time ) in our women's organization focusing on our divine calling as mothers.
I have a confession. This won't be heard by my bishop nor will I likely announce in my women's group. Today in church we celebrated our mothers and their selfless sacrifices and devotion, every word reverential and respectful and the phrase "All I ever wanted was to be a mother." was said a number of times. But not by me.
"Being a mother wasnt all I ever wanted"
There, I said it. I love babies and before I ever wore a bra I liked children and thought people who didn't like children were crazy. I come from a quasi large family- 6- and there were a number of families of that size in my town and there were at least three I can think of with twice that many.
I always wanted to have children, but that wasn't the only thing I wanted. I wanted to travel and see many parts of the fascinating world we live in. I wanted to learn how to sword fight, play the accordian and speak other languages. I wanted to read, write, paint, sew, design homes and ride horses.
Sometimes I even wondered if I wanted to bear children. Maybe adoption was the way to go- a physiology class was enough to convince me that perhaps squeezing a baby out of the tiny orifice in my nether regions was likely the worst idea I had ever heard- long before I realized that our human bodies are amazing and wonnderful and that there are indeed many ideas that are far worse!!  (drugs, breast augmentation and the piercing of certain body parts were not on my radar yet!)
I knew some of my limitations with regard to patience, kindness and attention span and that created in me a curiosity to know if I were even capable of not misplacing any possible offspring, though I wasn't overly concerned since I wasn't exactly sure how any of the ladies I knew did it either and their kids seemed safe enough. I kinda figured guardian angels had some important role here- (they do!)
I then entered High School. A place where my observations of the opposite sex clarified my doubts that I would ever want to live in the same house with one of those masculine nutjobs if I didn't have to (with my elder brother, I most definitely had to, and it was an experience I both enjoyed and abhorred depending on the day and knew I didn't have the intense desire to replicate for life).
I liked a number of those masculine nutjobs and enjoyed their company quite a lot but a close look at their habits and hobbies and understanding of their interest (or lack thereof) in being helpful with small children, clarified in my mind that marrying, much less reproducing with one of these beings would be a headache, perhaps the biggest headache imaginable.
I wasn't wrong. I wasn't right either but I can tell you that the choice to marry a masculine nutjob was not as hard as I thought.
So how does a girl who liked kids and loved babies and had a great many other plans for her life (at least preceeding a family) get married at age seventeen and have six children?
I met a guy that neither liked sports nor had any interest in a large family.  He said two - I said eight, just to bring a little balance to the perspective. I was kidding. He was the cleanest person I ever met and a good cook. He said not much and didn't commit to something unless he really meant it and he didn't hesitate to speak his mind. I knew marriage would be a headache ( I watched Princess Bride, I knew full well that "life is pain").My parents are wonderful people who have loved and served their whole lives, giving their best for their family and I watched them closely as children do and realized that being married was going to be inconvenient, expensive, annoying and try the patience of a saint. I knew I wasn't a saint.
But I also knew that there was something in that man that I met, something that made me feel alive, something that to me felt  like coming home. He had something that awakened in me a memory I hadn't even made yet and I trusted my intuition long enough to get to know him. For to really know     someone is to love them- and I wanted to know him. I sought the Lord in prayer and made the best  and hardest decision of my life and married at seventeen. Not because I didn't have any other options or plans, not because I was afraid to go out and find life and live it to the fullest. I married because I couldn't betray my heart and live with that regret.
And it was and is an experience that I wouldn't change. We as a couple sought the direction of God as to when to have a family. The details of those conversations are none of anyone's business but ours. Not that people didn't offer their own brand of busy-body business minding but the timing and number of my children was God's timing and the results of our obedience as a couple. Certainly not based in an over-inflated belief as to our ability as parents, our confidence as to patience and our possession of it, nor our impressive pocketbooks. The doubts in my head by far out matched those of skeptical family members. But if my mother had her doubts, she never spoke them to me, for which I am grateful. My mother has stood by me and helped me kindly and gently meet the challenges of childbirth, sickness and skepticism without ever discouraging me or critisizing my best efforts

I have learned that I need to climb that mountain, buy that accordian, take a break, even take a vacation to be me, not only a mom but a person who has hopes and dreams and lives them. So that my children see that I am happy to be a mom, a wife, a musician,  a world traveler and a writer, even. Sometimes. So that my kids see that sometimes I don't feel happy and what I choose to do about it.
Because I am more than my ability to produce a baby - though if you want to list having pushed six humans out of a hole that size without medication, in a resume, I think you should get credit for sheer guts, personally! A mother isn't only someone who gives everything for her family- I believe she is someone who knows herself better because of her family, someone who gives herself- her best self- to the life experience that a family lives together. That woman who mothers gives her experiences and love and wisdom and these things come from a life lived. My plans changed but they were exchanged for richer experiences. Sure, there are some things I haven't yet done- small children need their mother's presence and that is the highest priority, but I have lived many of those plans with my children,  they see that anything is possible because families support us in our hopes and dreams, mothers too. My kids have watched me make time for things that challenge me, scare me and inspire me. I hope they see that life is not something that you do until you have kids but rather something that goes on no matter what and we find the joy, the lesson and the rewards.....together. Not one of those mothers that said today, "All I ever wanted was to be a mom" meant that they don't have hopes and dreams and talents and fulfilling lives- just that they didn't put something else at the top of their list. They are all amazing women.
All I ever wanted was everything. Everything I need to learn, grow, experience and love.I have traveled (some), I have learned several languages, learned to sew, play accordian....and violin, baritone uke and someday maybe even the bass after I inherit a million....or earn it. Someday I will paint a beautiful painting but for now I am loving painting furniture.  I've sewn beautiful gowns and quilted insanely large handpieced works that no longer match the homes I've decorated......because I redecorated - and I've not learned to sword fight. I don't want to anymore. I became a good shot instead. Ha, eat your heart out, Indiana Jones. I've ridden horses and can't get enough time to please me but my kids got the the love and a dad who is horse poor (13 might be enough....maybe) and he teaches them to shoot and sword fight, and someday I'll ride to my heart's content. And I have learned that I do like children- my own much more than anyone else's. I do love babies, and the exhaustion that comes from not sleeping for what feels like years ( ha, because it is!) makes you realize that far from wishing that they would never grow up, you are actually happy to love each stage and let them get to that magic age where they sleep (3,4, case someone here is hoping to hear the answer to that question, it can also be never but they learn to be up alone without you ).  And you look back with joy in remembering those soft and sweet first moments, days, months of that child's life. I've learned that your children will teach you more about yourself than you can imagine- and to know yourself is the greatest gift.
So when you look at a mother you may see a woman doing her best- if you can't see it, look harder.
I didn't only ever want to be a mom, I knew I wanted that but I also needed to learn what else I  wanted to be. God has shown me the miracle of His Grace in giving me everything I ever asked for in a better way than I could imagine. It's not "either/or" but simply "And".