A Celebration

9 05 2011

Today is Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day and I have a long, emotional history.

Today I thanked God for the blessings of motherhood. My son was one of the primary children who ran front of the chapel to sing to their mothers at church today, and I smiled proudly and even got a little teary.

Eight years ago the primary children came into Relief Society to sing. I left the room so my sobbing wouldn’t ruin it for the other women.

I didn’t hear any of the speakers at church today, as I was trying to avoid any goldfish cracker-related incidents.

Seven years ago every word spoken across the pulpit seemed to add to my burden of grief and anger.

Today I am a mother, but I remain ambivalent about Mother’s Day. It’s lovely to be celebrated. Belgian waffles? Yes please! Flowers? I certainly won’t stop you! Yet Big G’s usual meltdowns (two sobbing, screaming, end-of-the-world tantrums) seemed magnified today, because he was ruining my day.

Whoops. That’s not what I intended to blog about. Back to my originally planned thoughts.

Each Mother’s Day seems to bring the same message at church: a woman doesn’t need to have children to be a mother. Every woman can influence a child’s life. Every woman can have a “mother heart.” (That last one actually sounds creepy and Edgar Allen Poe-esque if you haven’t read the reference material upon which it’s based.)

This year I decided I don’t like this message. I understand what they’re saying, and I understand it’s a comfort to many women and, at its core, an eternal truth. Just hear me out before you start stacking the wood around the bottom of the stake, okay? It just feels like this constantly reinforces the concept that a woman’s worth is measured by the influence she has on children. “It’s okay if you don’t/can’t/won’t have kids. You can just love other people’s kids!”

I’m probably projecting.

Being a mother is wonderful. It’s the best, most difficult job I’ve ever had, but it’s not who I am, and it doesn’t define my worth.

Today I honor women.

I honor the women with living children. Women with one child, women with a dozen; women with partners and women who travel the road on their own.

I honor the women whose children are no longer with them. Women who held their babies in their arms and women who held them only in their bellies; women who still hear the echoes of a toddler’s laughter and women who know the anguish of outliving their grown child.

I honor the women who long to feel life grow within them. Women who go to endless doctor’s appointments and women who endure invasive medical procedures; women who take medications and women who cry each month when their dreaded period arrives.

I honor the women who have made the decision to bring peace into their lives and stop fertility treatments.

I honor the women without partners whose ovaries ache when they see a beautiful baby.

I honor the women who live full, happy lives and harbor no secret desires to give birth.

I honor mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, aunts, nieces, cousins, granddaughters, and friends.

We are women, and we are worthy. Not because we’re beautiful, strong, brilliant and caring (though all of that’s true). We’re worthy simply because we are.

And you, over there? The one reading who’s thinking this applies to women you know but not to you?

Pay attention here:

You’re so very worthy, and I love you very much.





Unforgettable

3 05 2011

Sometimes an element of cheese creeps into Mormonism that brings out my snarky side. I know! Try to contain your astonishment.

A couple of weeks ago I was typing the ward bulletin and ran across an announcement for an upcoming activity that provoked this tweet:

I may have also turned to Car and told him I’d rather shoot myself in the foot than attend this activity.

Fast forward two weeks. A member of the Relief Society presidency tracked me down at church and pinned me down with the look. If you’re involved in any sort of organized group—religious or secular—that relies upon volunteer efforts, you know the look. It’s the “I’m about to ask you to do something” look. I’ve been on the giving end of the look enough times that I try to be amenable to whatever request is made. Also, the ability to say no is not exactly my strongest quality. You might have noticed that about me.

Anyway, this was the look of “Please do the music at this special activity in a week and a half. Oh, and can you work up a musical number?”

Dude.

A few things:

  1. Someone in my ward is stalking me on Twitter.
  2. Or possibly they’ve bugged my house.
  3. Apparently if I don’t want to attend, I really will have to shoot myself in the foot.
  4. Clever move, God.
  5. I’mma need me a roofie to forget this one. Anyone?

Car saw me looking through my music and raised an eyebrow. “You know that activity I said I’d rather shoot myself in the foot than attend? They asked me to do the music.”

The man smirked. And chortled. There might have even been a slight guffaw mixed in. I’d call him a jerk, but let’s be honest—if the roles were reversed, I’d be on the floor, helpless with laughter. This is why our marriage works.

So, my friends, it appears next week I’ll have an unforgettable night. I know you’re every bit as excited as I am. I’d live stream my musical performance, but gosh darn it, it’s in the chapel and I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t be kosher. You’ll just have to use your imaginations.

On second thought, don’t do that. I forgot for a minute what a bunch of pervs y’all are, and I don’t want God to smite you.

You’re welcome.





Diversity, Baby!

28 03 2011

Car was still out of town on Saturday, so I decided the boys and I would cruise past the Krishna temple to get a peek at the Holi Festival brouhaha. The Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple (that’s a mouthful)  website explains it thus:

In India, Holi announces the arrival of spring and the passing of winter. The festival breathes an atmosphere of social merriment. People bury their hatchets with a warm embrace and throw their worries to the wind. Every nook and corner presents a colorful sight. Young and old alike are covered with colors (red, green, yellow, blue, black and silver). People in small groups are seen singing, dancing and throwing colors on each other. Though liquid colors are used in India (where it’s warm) we prohibit them, as we don’t want anyone to catch cold on account of the festival. Dry is better for photographs as well.

There will be musical interludes, the lighting of a bonfire, burning of an effigy, and the throwing of dry colors on friend and foe alike.

Take a moment, if you will, to admire my restraint, as I’m not going to comment about the writing in the preceding paragraphs. I merely share it for informational purposes.

Ahem.

We drove by the temple and saw all the people covered in dye. The boys thought it was fantastic and Big G spent the entire ride waving though his open window at the crowds. It was like his version of being parade-float royalty.

Being the fabulous mom I am, I realized it was a perfect opportunity to teach my children about religious diversity.

Me: Wasn’t that cool? That’s called the Holi Festival. It’s how the Hare Krishnas celebrate the beginning of spring. The Hare Krishnas are a different religion than we are.

Big G: Oh.

Me: We’re members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, so we don’t celebrate the beginning of spring like that.

Big G: We celebrate with stamps!

Me: Huh? No. We actually don’t really celebrate the beginning of spring at all.

Big G: Yes we do. We celebrate with stamps!

Me: Okay. Fine. We celebrate with stamps.

I don’t even know where that came from, people. All I can say is given the choice between stamping a card or burning an effigy, y’all can probably guess which direction I’ll lean.





This Will Not Convince Big G Baptism is a Good Idea

22 03 2011

“Mom, I don’t want to get baptized.”

Big G whispered that to me during sacrament meeting two months ago. My initial reaction was to say, “Oh, you’ll get baptized, and you’ll like it!” I’m a fantastic mom like that. After all, parenting isn’t about letting your kids make choices—it’s about making sure they do the right thing. Besides, he has two and a half years to get over his fear of being dunked in the water. I’m sure he’ll be fine. (For those unfamiliar with our practices, the LDS church baptizes children at the age of eight. We also practice baptism by immersion.)

I told Big G he had quite a while to prep for baptism. His reply? “I still won’t want to get baptized.” Sigh.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that dragging a kicking and screaming 8-year-old to the baptismal font and asking Car to hold him underwater probably isn’t the most positive way to begin his official membership in the church. I know! Check me out, being all level-headed.

Still, there are things that could make baptism more frightening.

Tonight I was looking for something to make family home evening a little more interesting (an activity, drawing page, craft…seriously, anything) and I came across instructions to make a baptism bag for a child. The purpose of this bag is to help the child understand the importance of his or her baptism.

And, as best I can tell, to scar the child for life:

Wait…maybe Van Gogh was just making a Baptism Bag but lost his nerve!

The child psychologist is going to love me.





And There Was Much Rejoicing

6 03 2011

Today is the first Sunday of the month. To those of you who aren’t Mormon, it’s probably a Sunday like any other. To Mormons, it’s Fast Sunday. This means two things: we fast (thus the name) and our usual sacrament meeting is a testimony meeting.

The fasting is pretty easy to explain, especially since I’ll let mormon.org do it for me (Score one for lazy blogging!):

Once a month, God asks us to fast, or forego food and water for two meals. If there are issues with health or age (such as the very young) fasting can be modified to fit individual circumstances. But fasting without prayer, some say, is just going hungry. We pick a specific need or question we have and pray for help while we fast. … The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sets aside the first Sunday of every month as a time when members are asked to fast. We are encouraged to make a fast offering on these days, which is a monetary donation (at least equal to the value of the two meals) that goes to help the poor who need food or shelter.

During the testimony meeting, members who feel prompted to do so share their testimony with the other congregation members.

So there’s some Mormon background for what’s really a simple anecdote. What can I say? I like to be thorough. I also have some concern for a few of you out there who claim your only exposure to Mormonism comes from watching Big Love. This does not count as exposure to Mormonism. Modern-day polygamists are not Mormons. Ahem. Sorry. Had to get that out of my system.

As a general rule, the first hour of church (before the kids go to their classes) is more an endurance challenge than a faith-promoting experience. I spend most of the time shushing one kid, stuffing goldfish into the gaping maw of another, passing around crayons, and mediating fights over Hot Wheels.

So when Car leaned over during testimony meeting and said, “Little G says he wants to go pee in the potty,” I didn’t think twice about whisking him off to the bathroom. Is he potty-trained? Heavens, no. Not even close. But if he expresses interest, I’ll get that boy to a potty and I’ll party like it’s 1999 if even a drop of pee makes it into the toilet. Which is what happened this afternoon, in the middle of church. I clapped my hands, told him how proud I was, and made the biggest fuss I could possibly make in a church bathroom.

We went back to our seats, Little G filled with pride over his accomplishment. So proud, in fact, that he had to tell daddy about it.

Right then.

In the chapel.

During a lull in the testimony meeting.

Very loudly.

“DADDY, I PEE IN THE POTTY! I PEE IN THE POTTY, DADDY! I GO PEE! I PEE IN THE POTTY!”

*Title ideas Meredith and I batted back and forth (mostly hers):

In god’s bathroom
Everybody pees
All god’s potty-trained children

All Things Bright and Potty-Trained

And so god said, let there be potty training!
And so it came to pass that there was potty training

And God saw that it was good

And on the 768th day, there was potty training.
And God said, Let there be urine.

Let there be wee!

And there was wee. And it was good.

Yea, though I walk thru the valley of toddlerdom, I shall fear no potty.

In the beginning, there were diapers.

And thou shalt love thy potty with all thine heart

There shall be no potty before me!
No, there shall ALWAYS be a potty before thee!

Honor thy mother & thy potty

Thou shalt not lie down in diapers

In feast & in famine, in dry diapers & in wet

Seven fat cows, seven thin cows, seven wet diapers, seven potty pees

And thou shalt keep the potty holy

And possibly the funniest thing Meredith has ever said to me:

 

Let My People Wee!

 





Goodnight, My Angel

6 02 2011

Wherever you may go
No matter where you are
I never will be far away
~Billy Joel

Little G was in rare form at bedtime tonight. He screamed. He thrashed. He kicked. He even earned himself a time-out by whacking Big G on the head with a Hot Wheels car.

Then finally…to bed. And oh, the crying. Such a mean, terrible mom, to take him to bed. (Side note: As I’m headed back, Car says, “Good luck with that.” Dude. Not cool.)

We got to his bed, and he had his pillow pet, his Thomas train, his blanket. He was all set. But he kept moaning the same word over and over.

“Broken. Broken, mommy. Broken.”

“What’s broken, baby?”

“Broken. Thomas broken.”

Finally I understood. Thomas is a remote control engine and, strangely enough, I neglected to send the remote control to bed with him. How terribly forgetful of me.

“Thomas is sleeping, baby. He needs to sleep at night, just like you.” Seriously, people, I was congratulating myself for that stroke of genius.

“Thomas broken! Broken! Thomas broken!” And he started sobbing.

“Oh, honey. Thomas isn’t broken. See? He’s just tired. He needs to sleep.” I turned Thomas on his side and tucked the blanket around him. Then I leaned over and kissed Thomas on his little plastic nose. (Mom of the year!)

“Broken. Thomas broken.”

“In the morning, he’ll wake up and you’ll be able to play with him. But first you both need to get some sleep.” At this point Little G was starting to tire out. He burrowed a little deeper into his covers, put a protective hand over Thomas, and finally fell asleep.

This all got me to thinking…how many things do I cling to that I think are broken?

I spent years wanting children. I clutched that dream tightly to my chest, sure I was broken and would never see the morning when it would come true. It was a very long night (in my jumbled up metaphor), but the morning arrived and I have my two boys.

I was talking to a friend last night, someone who feels hopeless about the future. I firmly believe she has a Heavenly Father watching over her, whispering (as I did with Little G), “Honey, it’s not hopeless. You just need to be patient and wait for the morning.”

Little G only has to wait through the night for Thomas, but I’m sure to him it feels like an eternity. Sometimes we have to wait weeks, months, even years…but the answers come. We find out things aren’t broken as we thought they were. Still, it feels like forever, because we don’t know how long it’ll be. It’s like that whole weird thing that happens when you’re driving to an unknown location—it always seems to take twice as long to get there as it does to get home. The distance doesn’t change—just our perception.

Jeffery R. Holland gave a phenomenal talk titled “Broken Things to Mend” in April 2006 General Conference. He said, “If you are lonely, please know you can find comfort. If you are discouraged, please know you can find hope. If you are poor in spirit, please know you can be strengthened. If you feel you are broken, please know you can be mended.” He then shared this poem by George Blair:

In Nazareth, the narrow road,
That tires the feet and steals the breath,
Passes the place where once abode
The Carpenter of Nazareth.

And up and down the dusty way
The village folk would often wend;
And on the bench, beside Him, lay
Their broken things for Him to mend.

The maiden with the doll she broke,
The woman with the broken chair,
The man with broken plough, or yoke,
Said, “Can you mend it, Carpenter?”

And each received the thing he sought,
In yoke, or plough, or chair, or doll;
The broken thing which each had brought
Returned again a perfect whole.

So, up the hill the long years through,
With heavy step and wistful eye,
The burdened souls their way pursue,
Uttering each the plaintive cry:

“O Carpenter of Nazareth,
This heart, that’s broken past repair,
This life, that’s shattered nigh to death,
Oh, can You mend them, Carpenter?”

And by His kind and ready hand,
His own sweet life is woven through
Our broken lives, until they stand
A New Creation—”all things new.”

“The shattered [substance] of [the] heart,
Desire, ambition, hope, and faith,
Mould Thou into the perfect part,
O, Carpenter of Nazareth!”

Those last three stanzas? Yeah, that’s the hard part. Fixing Thomas in the morning will be a magical process. Ta-da! A remote control! Mom fixes everything! Mending a broken heart? Restoring faith? That’s where our Savior steps in. But having patience…boy, oh boy. If only we had an easy way to learn that.

Still, I figure Heavenly Father and Jesus have way more power than I do, so if I can make Thomas work in the morning? They can fix the other stuff.

So let’s go sleep, shall we?






Wordless Wednesday – Gigolos Have Tight Class Schedules

2 02 2011





That We Might Have Joy

16 01 2011

Last week I stayed home from church with Big G, who was all yucky with pinkeye. The big problem with pinkeye is while it’s highly contagious, is doesn’t exactly make its chosen host less energetic or more apt to, say, sleep an extra 3 hours in the middle of the day. (What? A mom can dream!)

Right about when church would have started, Big G said, “I’m such a clever boy. I get to stay home and play with toys!”

Dude.

“Big G, the only reason you aren’t at church is because you’d infect everyone around you. You’re contagious, not clever.” Of course, then I felt bad for telling my child he wasn’t clever, so I had to amend the statement. “I mean, you’re a very clever boy, but not because you’re staying home from church.”

I know. I’m pathetic.

Still, the gloating continued. He went on and on about how clever he was, and how he got to play with toys and watch shows instead of going to church.

I did what any (mean) mom would do. “Sure! Let’s watch a show!” I turned on the TV and changed the channel…to Music and the Spoken Word. If you’re too lazy to click the link and don’t know what that is, it’s a weekly 30-minute TV program with music by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and a spiritual message.

Big G was not well pleased. Score: Clever Boy: 0, Mean Mom: 1

The message on Music and the Spoken Word has been on my mind all week. Here’s an excerpt:

Anytime is a good time to think about the purpose of our life, to assess where we are and where we’re going. But we definitely seem to do more of that at the beginning of a new year, as we make resolutions or set goals to do things differently. In the process, we might consider this counsel from American writer Leo Rosten: “The purpose of life is not to be happy. … It is to be useful, to be honorable. It is to be compassionate. It is to matter, to have it make some difference that you lived.”

I’ve had a hard time reconciling Rosten’s counsel with 2 Nephi 2:25: “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” (That there’s the Book of Mormon, for them what aren’t LDS.) After all, if the scriptures say men are that they might have joy, why is an LDS program quoting someone who says the purpose of life is not to be happy? Yes, I recognize that we probably won’t be happy if we aren’t useful or make some kind of difference. I can concede that point. But still, men are, that they might have joy. It’s right there in black and white!

I think this is part of the problem with my chronic depression. I can’t understand why I’m so sad when it says right there men are, that they might have joy. It doesn’t make sense. It’s not fair. I’m supposed to have joy, dammit! I’m useful, I have a purpose, I make a difference. Where’s my joy?

I’m not saying my life is utterly without joy. Certainly I have joyful moments, times when my soul is full of love and light. Is that what the scripture means? Is “they might have joy” a transient thing? Not so much a nonstop merry-go-round of joy, but more a roller coaster of joy?

Now I have “Roller Coaster of Love” by Red Hot Chili Peppers stuck in my head, but with the word “joy” instead of “love.” That’s a) completely inappropriate and b) not going away anytime soon.

Also, is this joy something we have to earn, or are we entitled to it simply by our existence on earth?

Lots of questions tonight, not a whole lot of answers. Sorry about that.

The one answer I did come across was (go figure) in the scripture footnotes for the word “joy”—it cross-references to “Man, Potential to Become like Heavenly Father.”

Maybe that’s the ultimate answer. In this life we get the roller coaster of joy, and if we can tough it out, “be useful…honorable…compassionate…matter…have it make some difference that [we] lived,” then we get the real deal—the happiness that sticks around.

I certainly don’t have the answers. Do you? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Unless you’re going to be a jerk.

I realize it’s a big jump from violated plastic animals to ruminations on the nature of joy in this life, but what can I say? I’m complex like that. Shut up. You love it.





Life + Service = Joy (Supposedly)

14 12 2010
I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
I awoke and saw that life was service.
I acted and behold, service was joy.
~ Rabindranath Tagore

Another in a string of difficult days. This day, however, had a catch—a friend from church had a baby last week, and I promised to take her dinner. So despite the fact that my deepest desire was to curl up in a ball and cry, I gathered up the necessary ingredients (I even made an extra trip to the store!) and went to work. Not a particularly difficult recipe—a low-fat spaghetti carbonara of sorts—but still! I planned in advance! I chopped! I cooked! I tempered eggs! For a woman who has difficulty getting out of bed, this is business of the calendar-marking sort.

I’d told her husband I’d have dinner there at 6:00. I packaged everything up and managed to get over there by 6:08. Epic! Honestly, people. Less than 10 minutes late, with a homemade meal. I wanted a fricking medal.

Except…the lights were off. No car in the driveway.

I knocked tenatively. I waited patiently. After all, there’s a new baby in the house. I don’t want to disturb anyone. But…I have food! Warm breadsticks! Spaghetti carbonara! I knocked again.

Nothing.

They weren’t home. I’d talked to the husband less than 24 hours earlier to arrange the time, and nobody was home.

I drove home, sure that as soon as I got there, I’d receive a frantic phone call: “We’re so sorry! We got stuck in traffic but we’re home now and we feel so terrible!

Nothing.

I walked in the house, told Car we apparently had extra leftovers, and started crying.

And that makes me angrier than anything else. Because I managed to suck it up and make a fabulous meal—enough for them and us—and now I’m such a wreck I can’t even enjoy my part of it. I can’t even bring myself to call them to find out what happened.

So being the mature adult I am, I collapsed in a heap of tears on my bed. Fortunately, I have a husband who gently nudged me toward the kitchen. I even managed to call the new parents.

Not helpful.

I understand people can be absent-minded, especially with a new baby on the scene. That said, let me offer a bit of advice: if you happen to discover you stood up a person who brought you a home-cooked meal, the words “I’m sorry” really do work wonders. Also, the absence of those words kind of convince me you’re an ass. Just something to think about.

I just need to keep telling myself…it’s about the service, right? The intent? The fact that I’m completely awesome? Having the boys eat the same thing for dinner as Car and me? So it can’t be all bad.

Right?





I Gotta Be Me

22 11 2010

Y’all, I found out my bishop (lay clergy, for those of you who aren’t familiar with Mormonism) reads my blog. At least sometimes. Or someone gives it to him. I’m not really sure which it is. All I know is he mentioned something I wrote when he was talking to Car.

Oh. Um. Hi, Bishop!

Funny thing, though. If I were a better person, or at least a different person, that fact would spur me to change my blog, wouldn’t it? To stop swearing, to try to be more positive…to be less me?

But I’m me. Writing something different wouldn’t change that. All it would do is make me angry and bitter. And really, does anyone actually expect me to change? Where do I get that assumption from?

I’m rambling, I know, so I need to stop and pull my thoughts together. Deep breaths. Must make sense.

Okay. What I’ve got going here is the basic assumption that somehow my blog is, at its core, a thing that could cause offense. Because of that, when I find out my clergy reads it, I assume he could be shocked by it, and therefore I should change it, but by gum, I’m not going to change it, because my blog is a piece of who I am.

Wow. Lots of assumptions there. And to think I’m hurt when other people make assumptions about me.

So at this point perhaps I’ll just say I’m flattered you, any and all of you, read my blog. I’m delighted you return to read my thoughts. I love that you laugh and cry and get angry right along with me. That you love this blog? Well, it feels like you love me. This blog is me.

Writing this blog is more rewarding and enriching than I ever imagined. I’m sure it’ll evolve and change as time passes, but hopefully that’ll happen naturally. If you ever see me make changes because of some knee-jerk reaction, leave me nasty comments, okay?

Well, maybe not nasty comments, exactly. That would make me sad. Perhaps comments infused with gentle guidance.

Shut up. I’m a delicate flower.

Jerks.