Seasons: #momfail

11.6.2015 Me, messy hair and month old foster son (he’s since left us) in front of my plate collection.

I did it again today. #momfail. Forgot to check the school calendar to notice the kids didn’t have school today. Yet, I hustled them out the door with a hastily counted 100 day collection of buttons from the jar, bellies filled with mandatory breakfast,  and reminders to please stay for reading club. Dropping my four year old foster daughter off at care for the day I get the overdue notification that drops like a rock.

“Mom, the bike racks are empty.”

Oh. no. 

I’m due at work in 30 minutes, a 20 minute commute, and two kids who now have nowhere to be for the day. I thought the scrambled 100th day of school collection was my mom fail of the day. Ha. This is now it. #momfail

I’ve always been prone. Often been guilty. Locking the keys in the car.  Locking myself out of the apartment while the toddler was napping inside it. Locking the keys and the baby in the car while it was running. All fine moments in my parenting career, but hardly the pinnacle. I’m reaching new heights all the time. I’ve seen some mothers recklessly tossing around the term to describe baked goods that didn’t rise. Entry level, folks. These greenies are hardly reaching their potential. There’s so much more to come. Forget to feed the kids, instead of forgetting the baking powder and then we can talk.  

I’m not a bad mother, nope not at all, but sometimes there are a lot of plates to spin. Some have been handed to me. Some others I’ve freely selected for myself. Big and little, fanciful and hefty. I have quite a collection. I’m willing to stretch, to contort myself to try and keep them all going. Dropping them occasionally doesn’t mean I can’t balance: it’s evidence I’m still learning. Realizing that maybe I need a little more practice and preparation to keep my act together. Or maybe if I can’t manage it comfortably after all, to scale the show back.

So what if my kids see me falter? They sure aren’t seeing me fail. I can’t be deemed a failure when I’m not failing in the long term.  I’m still getting up and going. Maybe I forget a few things, but I’m not finished off.

My kids won’t recall all the days I remember it all, hot breakfast, homemade lunches, and helping in their classrooms. They will remember these chaotic moments and how we dealt with them as they inevitably come; how we laughed and picked up the dropped plates together.

That’s just the season I’m in. It’s busy, it’s chaotic, and it’s really wonderful.*
*At least that’s what the notary public who visited my house last week told me. Walking out the door with my 30 year commitment in her hand, she wistfully smiled at my life, my fails and wins, and plate collection display that reminded her what she once had, and begged, enjoy it.  

Go ahead and share your best attempts that fell flat. Make me laugh, that’s the best remedy for this “seasonal” syndrome. 

Peculiar Treasures: Barriers? We Don’t Need No Stinking Barriers!

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A 7 year old boy found his neighbor’s sister – lost for 65 years! – using his mum’s ipad and facebook account. Huzzah for technology bridging the divide!

What happens when a town gets together to talk silently to a guy in his own language.  Loving ads put to good use, in breaking down barriers.

President Uchtdorf shares his memories and experiences with being a refugee, and urges compassion for (and by) all, regardless of borders.

Stuck facing the same old bedtime books or recommendations roadblocks? Break the field open with great reads for the little people in your life (and you!) with NPR’s Book Concierge, a brilliant resource (and help to add to your TBR pile) of all the best books of this and past years.

What’s the time where you are? Go left of normal clocks, or the erratic sundial, with a clock that tells the time using flowers.

Groundbreaking publications by women in the Church History Department, all starting with the intriguing job described as “a unicorn in their field”, is cause for celebration and study.

Upping the ante somewhat from what your skull shape or handwriting says about you (or someone you want to know better), copy in text and get an analysis of their personality. (I admit, I did it about myself, using my own blog posts – it was right in some things, including that I am unlikely to click on ads!)

If one day you’re going to write a book, create that website, design that dress, make that bookcase, one day… then you’re in serious idea debt. You’re not alone though, and you can pay it off.

First Draft Poetry is by Kel this week, inspired by the flower clock.

Meadowsong

I have no green thumb

no inclination to grow one beyond

a love of mint and chives…

But I tell the time by the things I have tended

To love deeply

(Quarter past 2, my knobbly, freckled adoration of my gaptoothed neighbour)

To cry over

(17 past midnight my first dog, buried, 1:47am the plot twist I didn’t see coming)

To learn the hard way

(cracked hours pass without a heartbeat, centuries in the pauses, people suck and kindness burns)

Crops and harvests and sowings

(giants newborn to always)

That I tended there,

Then,

Now,

Still,

Breathing deep,

Fresh mint on my fingers and tongue.

Sabbath Revival: My Heavenly Heaven

Today’s visit to the Segullah archives takes us way back to February 2008, with this post by anniegb.  

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I often hear others longingly talk of the Celestial Kingdom. We believe this is the highest kingdom in heaven and that those who are worthy will live there forever with our families. Does anybody smell a rat?

Heck, I ain’t going there. I’ve been a mom, and while I love my children, I don’t want them living with me eternally. They can visit. My husband sure deserves a reward for putting up with me all these years–eternity with me just doesn’t seem rewarding. But if he insists, I’m okay with it. The poor guy.

After I meet Jesus at the gates and shower Him with praise and gratitude, I assume I’ll have a life review. I want to understand where I went wrong and maybe where I didn’t go so wrong. In heaven, I’ll be able to make the amends that have eluded me on earth and kept me from enjoying all the gifts I’ve been given here. (I realize this could take quite awhile.)
After that, I’m going to party! When I get to my heaven, I’m going to fly all over the place. Like a bird (I already do this in my dreams). I’m will fly to Africa’s beautiful jungles and visit the Taj Mahal and the Himalayas and China and Russia and New Zealand.

Then I’ll retire for eternity in a little cottage in the woods that will have all the amenities of Green Valley Spa, soft white pillows, a gas fireplace, peaceful loveliness everywhere. My personal heaven will have a hot tub and color TV, with wonderful shows that are all G-rated. My heaven will have good food and endless books. I want to meet CS Lewis and Walt Whitman and have a really good computer that never does anything I don’t want it to do. I want to be like the dog in All Dogs Go To Heaven, lying on a soft puffy cloud, listening to soft music, getting foot rubs from ministering angels.

My heaven will have all the seasons except summer. Winter will be short, the snow falling softly only to magically disappear from the walks and roads (In heaven, it always snows on Christmas Eve and Thanksgiving.) No mud in my heaven! Winter will segue sweetly into a long and mellow spring. Spring will end in September with brilliant, crisp, invigorating Autumn. Oh, and we will have the best garden! No weeds or bugs, only perfect vegetables.

My friends and family tell me I don’t understand the Celestial Kingdom. They say they’ll be too busy to visit me. I say they’ll be begging to come sit in my hot tub for a few minutes, to kvetch about their millions of children who just won’t mind and their God husbands. Oy, the grief I can live without! If I’ve done my best, and God is truly good and just, my heaven will be truly heavenly.

 

Seasons of Service

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It’s a funny thing, service for others. On one hand it’s completely invigorating and makes me feel all warm and happy afterwards. But on the other hand it can be draining and a burden and make me a bit of a grump. In my case the burdensome, grumpy part comes before the service, and the happy part comes after.

My years as a Relief Society President were some of my favorite. The best thing was getting to know the sisters in my ward and I loved helping people who really, truly needed help. But sometimes the need for help would come fast and furious and I would race along trying to keep up. I tried to fill all the gaps in the ward and help out in every way I could.

Ultimately when I was released I felt like a worn-out rag. I was utterly spent. The mantle of the calling had borne me along and filled me with light and energy. Once I was released I emotionally hit the ground with a giant thud.

Since that time I have felt like I don’t have to help out as much. “I’ve done my time!” I sing to myself as I pass along the meal sign-ups during Relief Society. There is a time and a season for everything, correct? We hear messages of service over and over. We are the Lord’s hands! But we also hear messages of moderation and not running faster than we have strength. Nobody wants a church full of burned-out martyrs.

This is what I’ve noticed about service: it’s never convenient. It seems to come up when our day is already jam-packed and things are unraveling. When, exactly, is the season I’ve been waiting for when doing things for others will be wonderful and I’ll have plenty of time to help everyone with all their needs? When my kids were tiny I thought, “Oh, as soon as all my kids are in school I’ll be able to sign up for everything!” Somehow things became even crazier once the kids were gone all day.

Here I am, no longer duty-bound to help anyone except the people living in my house. And I now realize that it’s always the season for service. It’s fine to take a break from providing meals or babysitting or giving someone a ride somewhere. Life can throw curveballs that make you feel like you’re one step away from utterly losing it. I totally get it.

Service isn’t just giving someone a ride to the doctor, though. There are so many flavors of service that you can’t sign up for at church. Friendliness is perhaps the most appreciated form of service: sitting next to someone that you don’t know and introducing yourself (I don’t care who you are, that is intimidating!), texting a sister to tell her something that you admire about her, writing a sincere thank you note to someone in your past. Continue reading Seasons of Service

And Yet

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I had a clenched jaw smile moment at work the other day. I stood next to a coworker and tried to make friendly conversation. Like a good game of tennis, we volleyed questions back and forth covering the usual points of work and weather, then the game amped up to family life. I learned she had two kids, and had the first unexpectedly in her late teens. She then asked me how many kids I had. As a single adult, I have had a decent amount of practice with this question. I usually say something like, “oh, I don’t have any kids.” And so, I did, to which she said, “did you just decide you didn’t want any?”

Now I realize this may seem like a fine or benign response, but it bugged me. I was not mad at her; I didn’t think her rude, just – maybe unaware? Her statement held finality in my mind. It implied that my story in the having kids department had somehow ended without me knowing. That here I was waiting for my page to turn and people already knew my ending.

I used to tack on yet at the end of the sentence, but I lost that word somewhere along my way. And the truth is, I still could have kids. I’m not in my 20s, my window is closing, I’d be an “old” mom by Utah standards having kids in my mid to late 30s, but gosh dangit, I’m going to say yet. As much as I tell myself I’m not fazed, I am fine in my situation, that my life will be full if never becomes a reality, and that I have a perfect brightness of hope, it bothers me.

I think I, we, the single, the motherless, really anyone who feels like they may have to bury or surrender any kind of righteous desire has muddied emotions of faith, anger, and apathy. But the last thing we want to feel from someone is pity. And in that moment, it wasn’t my coworker who pitied me, but I who pitied a part of my own story – and that made me cringe.

As a teacher, our department had a rule: don’t accept “I don’t know”, or “I can’t”, or “I’m not good” statements without prompting the student to say yet at the end of the sentence. That one little word can change the story and narrative completely. You see, yet is a very important word that holds layers of the unknown and faith. That one little word can change a narrative or add wonder to someone gazing into any trial. It’s a phrase that almost demands some reliance and a good old ‘to be continued.’ So the next time you’re tempted to end your situation with finality, add a yet or an and yet, and leave it at that and just see what happens.

How does language affect your faith?