Monday, June 22, 2020

Peace With My Little Family

Last Monday I began potty training Hans. (Oh hush all of you who have children out of diapers by age two. The reason I don’t is simple enough: I dread and abhor it so much that I am willing to change diapers for weeks ... and months ... and spreading into an entire extra YEAR rather than face ... one or two tiny weeks of misery. [At some point, however, social pressure begins to outweigh all my balking and recoiling and — with no fanfare, pull-ups, or allowances for nighttime — diapers are cast aside. And the miserable job gets done.]) 

Anyway, in two days Hans had it down — even at night (which is the bonus of waiting till your kids are the last of their age to use a toilet I suppose), but, despite the speed with which the job was done, that initial Monday was a disaster. And after tantrums, and refusals, and it appearing, for a time anyway, that all the remainder of life would be nothing but toilets and bodily waste, and just after cleaning up the worst kind of potty-training accident, and finally settling into bed, ... Goldie came up to inform us that Mette had thrown up. On herself. And her bedding. And down the side of her mattress. 

It was not a glamorous 24 hours. 

And all of that type of exhaustion (what does one even call that type of exhaustion exactly?) has felt extra draining amidst the mental and emotional exhaustion occasioned by far too much access to the tumult and shoutings going on in our country right now. It would be lovely if things could simply be about right and wrong. But there are complex agendas, politics, opinions and emotions attached to every bit of it. And there are good people I love — with vastly different feelings — all pulled at odds with each other. And I have felt at odds as I’ve grappled with how to keep relationships full of love and free from contention while still allowing myself to develop and hold to my own reasoning and leanings.

I’ve been reading over Henry B. Eyring’s talk from our last general conference as well as his October 2008 conference talk. He speaks, prophetically really, of a great day of unity coming; of the Lord’s people becoming more united (not more divisive) even as conflict increases in the world; and of the Lord finding a united people when He comes. 

It is my constant question in prayer, my constant study, and my constant plea to understand how this is possible. And how on earth I personally am to manage it (when I’ve failed probably fifty times in the last week alone). “Help,” seems to be my constant heavenward breath. “Don’t leave me to this on my own. I don’t know how to do it. I can’t.” 

It reminds me of Neill F. Marriott saying, “Independently forcing ourselves to have humility and trying to make ourselves love others is insincere and hollow, and it simply doesn’t work. Our sins and pride create a breach—or a gap—between us and the font of all love, our Heavenly Father. ...

“Only the Savior’s Atonement can cleanse us of our sins and close that gap or breach.”

Anyway, amidst all of this struggling — the world raging and the media demanding everyone be up in arms at all times — I find myself (at least when nobody is throwing up or having bathroom accidents) finding such relief in and appreciation for the simple routines and joys within my own little home. It doesn’t remain untouched by the world or its concerns. And it shouldn’t. But these small things: falling asleep against Mike while watching an episode of American Pickers; finding Starling’s small toys and balls shoved in the pots-and-pans cupboard when I go to make dinner; Goldie rushing to the rescue — with cream and sugar (and experience) — during Penny’s Zoom-ice-cream-making Young Women activity when Penny accidentally missed some crucial direction and was about to despair; Anders singing addition problems out loud to himself to the tune of “Come Thou Fount”; hearing the three older girls laughing over one of them having just changed the name again of their sisters' group text (names like: “We Have a Tradition of Not Doing That” or “What Excellent Boiled Potatoes”); or Abe and Jesse drawing battle-challenges on one half of a sheet of paper and then leaving them for the other to draw his reply.

These small, easily unnoticed things feel somewhat like flinging myself on the stone steps of some medieval church and finding sanctuary. It’s just so nice to have bits and pieces of my life that are circled about and set-apart for us to just breathe and be.

I often sing the younger kids a little song at bedtime. Usually a lullaby or Primary song. Mike, on the other hand, sings them … "The Devil Went Down to Georgia." (You all know that song, right? "The Devil went down to Georgia. He was lookin' for a soul to steal. He was in a bind 'cause he was way behind and he was willin' to make a deal" And so on. If you aren't familiar with it, you ought to Google the lyrics. But if you can't wait that long to know the "deal", well, it was made with the fiddle player Johnny and it went something like this: "And if you win, you get this shiny fiddle made of gold, but if you lose the devil gets your soul".

Anyway, the other night, as Mike began the song for Summer, she got a mischievous look in her eye and said, "Dad, what if you make the devil win this time." 

But no, Mike told her. "Johnny always wins."

I liked that. All of it. Partly because it was funny. But mostly because … Johnny always wins. Which seems just the thing to remember right now. And just the thing I am more capable of remembering when I'm focused on the happenings in this little family. 

To end, here are a few pics from an outing to Willard Bay a few weeks ago.

I liked this series of faces from Abe.

Penny drifting off to sea with Starling.

Jesse was determined to catch a Seagull. For some time, he and Abe had high hopes that they would manage it by putting pizza on a towel draped over Abe. When the seagull landed, Abe would swoop it up in the towel and … wah-lah! Unfortunately they failed. But we have it on mediocre authority that such a thing has been done before.

This picture makes me laugh.

And that's about it!


Linn said...

I love you so much. Seriously...this post. I just love it so.

And seriously, can we meet at Willard some afternoon/evening? Can you imagine our children playing and us talking and our husbands becoming best friends?

Oh let it be so.

Owlachi said...

Those battle challenge drawings are truly amazing!! I love that Abe interacts that way with his little brothers. He's pretty darn cool in those sunglasses too! :)

And please. No excuses necessary for the timing of toilet training. Anyone who braves that task AT ALL deserves 1,000,000,000 bonus points. PER CHILD.

Owlachi said...

Oh, for crying out loud. Owlachi is Marilyn. Signed into Malachi's account for some reason.🙄

Nancy said...

It WOULD be a dream (and especially if half my children weren’t intent on drowning most of the time and we could genuinely relax)!

Nancy said...

I have earned quite a few bonus points for various things of that nature over the years. But I am still trying to discover how I cash them in!

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