Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Waiting for Summer

It’s late January. Snow patches still line the roads. Temperatures still require coats, and mittens, and hats. And there is still a fairly good chance that an extra ten to fifteen minutes of time will be needed on any given morning to clear snow or scrape frost from our van windows before I can drive the small posse of children that live in my neighborhood to school.

I saw two robins yesterday – which always excites me with the possibility of a spring; but winter’s reign will likely last for weeks (if not months) yet.

Our little family doesn’t actually mind the weather too much (after all, the kids new Christmas sleds are still itching to be used, and there’s hot-cocoa in the cupboard – always waiting eagerly to be made). Still . . . we are all, quite definitely, waiting for summer.

Or, perhaps, I should have said Summer.

A slight difference that -- a capital verses a lower-case s. But, a tremendous difference to us. An eternal one. Because, while most summers will come and go in our lives in much the same fashion, this particular Summer will come . . . and stay.

For sometime, on or around July 29th, we expect to see summer personified: warmth and brightness, laughter and charm, yellow summer hair and blue-sky eyes all wrapped into a real, live, and tiny human.

Our soon-to-be, permanent, and very own Summer.

I’ve been waiting for her. For five plus years I’ve been wondering when she’d be coming. It’s such a relief to know she’s finally on her way. . . .

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Back Yard, Front Yard . . . And Beyond.

“Mom?” Jesse asked, as he wandered into the kitchen. “When I grow up and I’m a dad, can I build a house?”

“Sure,” I replied. “Maybe you could build one for you and your family to live in.”

“Wait,” Jesse said. “What?”

“Well . . . you know . . . like if you marry someone and have kids. Maybe you could build a house for you guys to live in. . . .” Sensing continued uncertainty, I added, “And I’d come visit you all the time.”

“Ummm.” (Hesitation.) “But I’d still want to come to this house a lot.”

“Of course! Whenever you wanted. It might just be fun to build one for your family too.”

“OK,” Jesse agreed. And then: “Should I build it in our front yard or our back yard?”

Someday my kids will be ready to explore every inch of their worlds. They will head out on adventures. They will pursue dreams. They will find people and even give birth to people who they will anchor themselves to as securely as they were ever anchored to me. They will stretch, and push, and go far beyond the limits of their childhood lives. . . And they will be ready to head much much further from me than . . . our back yard. (Or even our front yard.)
And, as I watch them do it, I’ll cheer. I’ll be so grateful they are finding their way. I’ll be happy, and proud, and excited, and amazed! And also . . . maybe . . . every now and then, and just for a second, I might feel the tiniest bit . . . lonesome. Lonesome for the little folks who, once upon a time, couldn’t imagine themselves further than a back yard away from me.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Working on weakness. Well, one anyway.

I don’t suppose it’s lies – the sides of me that the outside world sees. The blog world. The Facebook and Instagram world (and, as I type that, I can’t help but picture my kids reading “Facebook and Instagram” one day and laughing like I am talking about 8 tracks). I don’t think it’s half-truths that friends, and extended family, and ward members see.

It’s truth. Those good parts of me are real. They are the best and, I think, truest parts of me. The parts that want most of all to shine out with constancy.

But . . . there are other parts. Less good parts. Parts, sadly, saved for those who matter most – those who love me best and won’t quit admiring or loving me because PMS quite literally wreaks havoc with my patience, whining kids occasionally make me snap, and too many night-wakings make me wholly unreasonable.IMG_2992_edited-1

Those aren’t parts of me I am proud of. But I do see, now and then, that it is good we come all bundled up with weaknesses. I’d like to be perfect all of the time. I hope to keep getting closer. But the struggle getting there? I suppose it’s part of what this life is all about. It makes it easier to be humble. It makes it easier to have compassion. It makes it easier not to be too critical of others. (There’s not a lot of room for “holier than thou” when you are struggling with your own shortcomings – or, at least, there shouldn’t be.)

I’ve been working, valiantly, on improving one of my weaknesses lately -- a part of my behavior that is so habit and so natural, that changing has been hard. So hard.

I keep failing. Doing better. Then not. Over and over. So much failing.

I’d somehow been under the impression that it just took determination and commitment . . . and I’d pretty much fix that part of myself . . . well, immediately.

And each time I didn’t? I felt so worthless. So panicked that change was impossible. So unworthy to ask for forgiveness when heaven knows, I’d asked plenty before.

I prayed and plead with things like, “I need to see that I can change. I need to know people can change so I can give others hope.”

I looked up the scripture about weaknesses that I knew would tell me they could become strengths. And it did tell me that. But it told me something else. Something I’d never paid attention to the hundreds of times I’d read that scripture before.

Ether 12:27
. . . I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

It was that whole “my grace is sufficient” part. Sometimes, when something speaks right to your spirit, you understand it more personally, differently, than you did before. Tears sprung to my eyes. It felt like it said this:

“It’s not OK to be content staying weak. It’s important to change. And you will be able to change. And I will help you. But it won’t be immediate. You will fail often getting there. Luckily for you . . . my atonement isn’t just a pleasant idea. It’s real. What I did? It’s enough. It’s enough for you to keep asking for forgiveness and keep improving. Again and again. For how ever long it takes. My grace really is enough. Lucky you. How about quit being so ashamed to ask and keep using it?”

I already knew the atonement was real. I knew Christ paid the demands for perfection that justice insists upon. But . . . I think I kind of felt like that was . . . the first time I made a mistake. The first time I was weak. Once I knew I’d messed up? Well, I couldn’t expect forgiveness again, could I?

Turns out I can.

I feel so hopeful. So excited that this part of me that is weak . . . I really think will become strong. I already see it getting better; becoming easier. But I think it will still take lots of work. Lots of trying. And lots of grace. For the first time I feel like I really understand what “not relying on my own strength” means. What “doing something with the Lord’s help” means. It doesn’t just mean my own determination. And it doesn’t just mean Him taking over and making it easy for me to do. It means some of both of those things. And it means having someone who will keep working with me and letting me start fresh every time I need to until I get it right. Until it is a strength.

What a lucky thing.

Lucky for me. And lucky for these little people of mine (who deserve a pretty great mom).

And . . . in less “spiritual and life changing” news: This coming week I am determined to quit lazily only snapping with my cell phone, and to get more pictures of the four kids who are off at school all day (not that the two youngest boys aren’t plenty adorable to see lots of pictures of, mind). It may take a little work with Goldie. Notice how she is shunning the Daisy paparazzi as I braid her hair? She does that. Silly girl.

Also, I know kid bragging can get old pretty fast. Don’t fret. I’m sure these six will all have their own share of weaknesses and strengths. Some things will be easy raising them. Some things will be hard. Those things will be different than the “easies and hards” other parents face. Heavens, they will be different among each of my own kids.

BUT, indulge me in one easy: Abe.

He is so responsible. He is always where he is supposed to be. Always doing what he is supposed to be doing. I am constantly getting emails from his teachers about millions of upcoming projects and assignments. I am forever supposed to be checking the school district’s “portal system” to make sure I am aware of and helping him with everything he should be caught up on. It stressed me at first. But I soon discovered I didn’t need to bother with any of it. Abe simply is aware of and on top of everything he is ever supposed to be doing or have done. Always. If I ever do stop and look, he has far more done than necessary.

We had an appointment with his school counselor the other day to plan out his classes for next year. Upon opening his information and grades, she gave a little gasp of “Oh! My!” A good gasp. A gasp like, “I didn’t realize we were dealing with one of those kids. The kids everyone wants to be dealing with.” I really just genuinely like that oldest boy of mine so so much. Not just his reliable nature. His whole person. Who he is. I really like all of it.

There. Bragging done. I’m sorry. My other kids are all pure bad. Does that help? (Heehee. Just kidding kids). There are plenty of hards in mothering. It’s nice that the hards, in each of my kids, are mixed in with lots and lots of “easy”..

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Nursing a Cold

I’m sitting alone on our couch (Mike having headed out of town for work for the night). The lights are turned low, and I’m bundled in a blanket. I have a pillow and a laptop on (appropriately) my lap, and I’m listening to A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera sing Say Something . . . on repeat (it’s maybe a kind of blue song, but it’s quiet and pretty – fitting with my bundled up, quiet, and husbandless night).

I’m sniffling, repeatedly; and occasionally stopping to blow my red nose with what should be nice tissues, but is, instead, a rather rough roll of toilet paper. It’s not sadness, mind. It’s simply a head cold that began creeping around on Monday – toying with my sinuses, needling at my muscles – and then swung in greedily and fully today.

Five of the six kids are in bed – Penny having claimed Mike’s vacant spot in my own bed for tonight (just as Goldie did last night). Abe is in the loft above me working on a few last bits of homework before heading to bed himself. He just called down, in a voice of nervous worry, “Mom? Are you . . . OK?” It was all that darn sniffling. He was certain I was crying and seemed relieved to discover that I was perfectly happy and only wholly unable to breathe.

There is plenty that could be done around here. Plenty that should be done. Laundry that needs folding. Pictures that want loaded onto the computer. Library books that need stacked nicely in a corner. Cans of food that need carried downstairs to our cold storage. A large children’s tent that needs folded up and put away -- it nearly takes a degree in rocket science to fold it so that it fits back in the small round bag it came from, so I’m rather proud of myself that I can typically manage it. Tonight, however, I’d rather not.

Motherhood, it didn’t take me long to discover, doesn’t make allowances for silly things like sickness. Kids go on needing fed, mess goes on being made, diapers go on needing changed, and piano lessons go on needing driven to.

This isn’t an end-of-the-world sickness. More of an annoyance. The kind of annoyance that would enjoy being coddled and wrapped up in bed all day, but can sulkily manage with not being. Still, now that the hour is late, and the house is quiet, I’m going to coddle my little self all I’d like. A book is by my side, along with a cell phone waiting for Mike’s goodnight call, a small bag of Doritos are on the table in front of me (hush – no need mentioning that I can hardly taste them), and, well, that song is on repeat.

I’ll check with you all again in the morning. Or, actually, probably not. I’ll be mothering and what not again. For now, I’ll leave you with a few pictures from my cell phone (‘cause remember that part about camera photos not getting loaded onto the computer?). Good night.

Shh. Don’t tell anyone about Jesse playing with the girls’ roominate set. They would be furious. Winking smile

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