Good Enough

8 04 2014

You’re so much more than good enough.
~ Sarah McLachlan

Thursday night we had the first rehearsal for this year’s Listen to Your Mother show. Did I mention I’m doing that again? Because I totally am. I know.  I honestly can’t believe I was chosen for a second year in a row, but apparently the casting director is suffering from some sort of brain-wasting disease, because there I am on the cast list.

Anyway. It was my first time meeting this group of women—over a dozen smart, talented writers—and even though I listened to my favorite nerve-soothing Pandora folk music station on the ride over, my heart couldn’t quite decide if it wanted to reside in my throat or my belly as I knocked on the door.

I was the third woman to arrive, and the other two seemed perfectly nice. We made small talk and waited for the others.

And then the fourth woman arrived.

“Hi, I’m Jenny-” I started, and she cut me off.

“Oh, you don’t have to introduce yourself. You’re like a celebrity to me. I know who you are,” she very nearly gushed.

Wait, what? A celebrity?

Apparently this woman, who appeared perfectly sane, is some kind of…fan of my writing? I was flabbergasted. Actually, I still am. I mean, I enjoyed the Listen to Your Mother experience last year, but I certainly never expected this sort of reaction.

Which brings me to the point of my post. I know—logically—so very many things about myself. I know that I’m smart. I’m fairly certain that I’m funny. I have a gift for writing. I’m musically quite talented. I could keep going, but you get the idea.

But I believe I am fundamentally flawed.

Now, if you were to ask me if good old Bob down the street has something fundamentally wrong with him, I’d be the first one to tell you that we’re all children of God and God doesn’t make mistakes.

I cannot apply this logic to myself.

I faced this room full of women who are smart, gifted, funny, and talented on so many levels, and I felt…less than. I felt like no matter what I said, no matter what I did, it would never be good enough, because I will never be good enough.

I will never be a good enough mother.

I will never be a good enough wife.

I will never be a good enough person.

The next day, my newly-discovered fan sent a friend request on Facebook. Her profile picture showed a smiling face with a hand held up next to it, and on that hand was written, “I’m Imperfect & I’m Enough.”

Enough.

The thought struck me in the shower (because let’s admit it, all the best inspiration occurs in the bathroom)—maybe, just maybe, it’s not about being good enough.

Maybe I just need to accept that I’m enough.

I’m definitely imperfect. I’m far from good enough. But I am enough.

And you, out there reading this? This applies to you as well. You are enough. Whatever is going on in your life, wherever you are…you are enough.

Thanks for hanging in there with me. It means more than I’ll ever be able to adequately express.

xoxo





For Maggie

15 10 2012
Unable are the Loved to die
For Love is Immortality
~ Emily Dickinson

Dear Maggie,

Today would have been your 12th birthday. I’ve decided you probably would’ve been a chatterbox and I’d nickname you Magpie. You’d probably hate it.

I hope you wouldn’t hate me.

Your brothers know about you now. During the last year I’ve told them all about you. Little G asks where your house is and when he’ll get to meet you. I think he’s a little bit too young to grasp the whole death thing, but Big G gets it.

When we had to put our dog, Tigger, to sleep a month ago, I told the boys he went to live with you. I hope that’s true. It made them feel a lot better. It made me feel better.

Today I bought balloons.

As the sun was setting, our family went outside.

And then we released the balloons in your memory.

We watched them float away until we couldn’t see them anymore.

Years ago I bought a little candle and decided it would be your candle. It’s not expensive or beautifully packaged, but it’s yours.

Tonight, after everyone was in bed, I burned the candle and I thought about you.

Twelve was a hard age for me. I suppose it is for everyone, really. I try to imagine what life would be like for you, but I just can’t. It was much easier for me to conjure up an image of you as a baby, a toddler, a little girl. But a preteen? I’m at a loss.

It’s been a good day today. Your dad bought flowers for me and I had lunch with your aunt. Dad and I carved pumpkins with your brothers. I haven’t even cried…until now.

Twelve years is a long time to miss somebody.

It does get easier, but it doesn’t go away.

Time to blow out the candle. I miss you, baby girl.

Love,

Mom





Firetrucks and Piñatas and Stitches…Oh My!

1 05 2012

Four years ago this happened:

And it was pretty amazing.

On Saturday we commemorated the occasion with a little party.

And it was pretty memorable.

You know it’s a good party when, less than 30 minutes into the festivities, this happens to the birthday boy:

Yes, I took a picture. What? I had to text a crappy cell phone picture to my doctor sister-in-law to see if she thought he needed stitches. SHUT UP.

No, it wasn’t a tragic piñata-related injury. That would be a far more interesting story. It was a “my child has a giant head that throws him off-balance and his foot caught on the carpet and sent him flying into the corner of the door frame” injury. Not as cool, but he still ended up with four stitches for his fourth birthday. Good job, Little G!

Of course, no kid wants to miss his own birthday party, so Little G opted to have some bacitracin and a bandage slapped on his gaping head wound. After all, there were presents! And cake!

And a piñata!

When everything was over, we packed up and went to the doctor, where my brave almost four-year-old didn’t even cry when they injected the lidocaine into his forehead and stitched him up.

Oddly enough, it really was a good day.

Now he’s four.

And it’s pretty amazing.

 





Emptying the Baby Trousseau

3 03 2012

This started out as a hand-written note (yes, people still write those), but then for some reason I felt compelled to turn it into a blog post. Maybe someone out there needs to read it, or maybe I’m just a raging narcissist. You be the judge!

Before I ever got pregnant, I expected to have girls. I had good reason—Car’s brothers had only managed to spawn two sons at that point. (Even now, we contribute 1/3 of the Smith clan’s naturally-born grandson population.) Then I got pregnant which, as you know, didn’t go very well the first three times. However, in two of the three pregnancies I lost, we knew the gender: girl.

With girls on the brain, I did the natural thing many a baby-hungry woman has done: I bought baby clothes. If I saw something ridiculously cute on sale, I snatched it up. I filled a Rubbermaid tub with clothes fit for a princess and dubbed it my “baby trousseau.”

After my third loss, the baby trousseau was discreetly tucked away along with other baby-related items. Friends would have babies and I’d buy them gifts, but obviously I wasn’t going to take anything from my bin—that was stuff for my baby.

Four years passed, and I was finally blessed with my miracle baby, who just happened to be a boy.

My brother’s wife had a baby—the first girl on our side of the family. “Oh, she would look so cute in this outfit I have!” I said, and with a little pull at my heart, I opened up the big blue bin and found something perfect for my new niece.

Three more years, and another miracle—again, a boy. This time, a strong (very welcome) feeling that my childbearing years were over.

Little by little, my baby trousseau has dwindled as my acceptance has grown. Last week I opened it up to find a gift for a friend and discovered I’d reached the last of the items from my blue bin of princess clothes.

Emotions are funny things.

I have no desire to keep girl clothes at my house. I’m thrilled I’ll never have another baby. Yet here I sit, weeping because my baby trousseau is now empty.

Still, that bin can now be filled with rocks and cars and Legos (and skinny contortionist boys). I doubt it’ll stay empty very long.

I won’t be the mother of girls in this life, and that’s okay.

I’m the mother of boys. It’s not at all what I expected, but it’s glorious.





How Can I Keep from Singing?

17 10 2011

11 years ago my life was in ruins. I don’t say that to be dramatic—I came fairly close to death, and when the physical crisis passed, my soul ached so much I wasn’t sure I still wanted to be alive.

11 years ago I’d lost my perfect baby girl and my heart was broken into so many pieces I didn’t think I’d ever find them all, much less fit them back together.

Each year I await October 15 with no small amount of trepidation. I once burst into tears in the middle of work because I couldn’t open my container of yogurt. It’s a day filled with tears and haunting memories (and soggy food). I brace myself as best I can, but it’s kind of like putting up a wood fence to protect myself from an oncoming freight train.

This year I’ve had bronchitis in the weeks leading up to Maggie’s birthday. I finally started to feel better…which meant I was well enough to work my 10-hour shift. That meant I’d be tired AND emotionally unstable. Dangerous combination.

When I woke up in the morning Car had gone to the store and bought me a rose. He was making coffee cake.

Work was busy in the morning, and I didn’t have time to think about anything. When I finally sat down I checked the online classifieds and found the perfect bike, for an amazing price. I emailed it to Car, who then arranged for my parents to watch the kids and made a 3 hour round trip drive to buy it. My day ended riding a grown-up trike with a built-in kid seat (big enough for both boys), listening to Big & Little G squeal with delight.

Because i love it so, behold The Bike!

At church today, Little G wandered over and climbed into my lap. He wrapped his arms around my neck and let me rock him for quite a while—a rare occurrence, now that he’s 3. As I rocked my youngest and looked at my oldest, sitting next to me and lining up his cars in neat little rows, I got a little weepy.

I had a moment.

In that moment, I realized something amazing: losing Maggie was a horrible tragedy, but dwelling on the sadness of that event would be so very ungrateful of me. Is it okay to be sad? Of course. But I’ve been so richly blessed in the last 11 years. My boys aren’t a replacement for Maggie, but they’re miracles and I cherish them. (I almost typed “I cherish every moment with them,” but we all know that’s a load of crap. I definitely cherish them, though.) Because of my religion I have a strong belief that Maggie will be part of our family again, and I’m grateful for that. I have a husband who’s stuck by me in situations that would’ve driven away any sane lesser man. I have a home, a job…heck, I even have a 14-year-old low-rider labrador retriever.

I ask you, how can I keep from singing?

My life goes on in endless song
above earth’s lamentations,
I hear the real, though far-off hymn
that hails a new creation.

Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear its music ringing,
It sounds an echo in my soul.
How can I keep from singing?


*No, Google! Bad Google!

***How can you keep from singing lyrics? Try humming! Ba-dum-ching!

****I totally killed the whole uplifting vibe thing I had going there, didn’t I? Sorry about that.

*****Here, I’ll fix it: Yay! Life is great! I’m so blessed! Bad things happen, but I’m grateful for all of the good in my life!

******All better? Coolio. Carry on, then.





Wordless Wednesday – A Little Pomp, a Little Circumstance, a Little Romance

18 05 2011





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.