Category Archives: Daily Special

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. 

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?

The Divine in Me Honors the Divine in You

When I catch a glimpse of myself doing yoga in the mirror I always look away. Warrior 2 makes my belly bulge over my front leg. That muffin top is never going away; it might diminish in size, but never all the way. It’s held in place by the scars of five c-sections, one cut on top of the other, sliced through layers of skin and fat and muscle.

I do Warrior 2 even though it looks ludicrous. Continue reading The Divine in Me Honors the Divine in You

SEASONS of Salted Perspectives

Teresa Herbs

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? — Matthew 5:13
***
The grey sky drizzled and, despite my umbrella, an hour after I’d greeted a friend for lunch, my clothes preserved dampness against my skin. I didn’t have time for this detour, but I trusted her recommendation and so sloshed my way into the adjacent shop.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. The wall was covered in salt. Salt of many colors.

Salted memories. Salts of possibilities.
***
As newlyweds in a shoebox apartment almost three decades ago, my husband and I pinkie-swore to eat only healthy foods: no sugar, no fat, no salt. (No flavor.) We forced down weeks of unwanted leftovers neither of us wanted (even when fresh-served). Before long, we relented.

Oh, what a difference a few key ingredients made!

Teresa garni

Still, we were on a college couple’s budget, so when recipes called for celery-, garlic-, onion-, or seasoning salts, I balked. Unable to justify their counterparts’ bottled costs, I stirred in chopped portions of the appropriate veggies and tossed in a pinch of salt from a generic cardboard cylinder.
***
When our kids were little, I faced a meal-maker’s dilemma. Granddaddy’s health required strict sodium limitations, but he was a proud Southern gentleman who wanted food with flavor. (Translation: Everything needed a little more salt.) It was up to me to find the wherewithal to make it savour-ful while obeying his doctor’s commandment: Thou shalt not salt.

Shopping took forever. I compared sodium content on every label.

I didn’t have time or space or energy to cook separate meals for Granddaddy and the rest of the family, so I attempted to create palatable foods everyone could be happy put up with. So-called salt substitutes tasted awful. In those pre-Internet days, I experimented with alternate seasonings. The absence of flavor-enhancing salt screamed for the inclusion of herbs and spices, but Granddaddy had no tolerance for anything he called “spicy,” like the meekest of salsas labeled “mild.”
***
I dropped my firstborn off at college and dropped in on a friend from my own college days. Sitting at her kitchen table, I picked up a shaker and asked, “Did one of your kids put salt in the pepper shaker?” If not, I didn’t want to consider the source of the visible speckles.

“It’s natural salt,” she said. “It includes the extra minerals most companies process out to make it look white.”

Hmm. Hadn’t occurred to me that salt — its absence or presence — might have other health-related elements to it.

It cost more, but after following up my friend’s assertions with my own research, I bought it that way, too.
***
In the first months after my husband died five years ago, the flavor of food was irrelevant. If I remembered to eat, I ate. What it was or how it tasted didn’t matter. For a time, I tasted only the salt of my tears, but I stopped noticing that, too. Sometimes people asked why I was crying when I hadn’t realized I was. I knew I had a lot to live for, but life, for a time, lost its savour.
***
A few weeks ago, my thirty-years-ago college roommate — the woman responsible for me meeting my late husband — came to town. We ate lunch at Disney Springs (a complex owned by Walt Disney World but located outside its theme parks). It was harder getting there than I anticipated. Traffic, weather, construction, and mentally reviewing incomplete work tasks meant a stressful commute. I practiced deliberate, calming breathing (… in-two-three-fourout-two-three-four …) as I made my way to our meeting place.

The moment I saw my friend’s face (and soaked in the warmth of her hug), my morning stress slid into the rain-shedding puddle at my feet. Our meal was almost as delicious as the act of catching up in person.

Before we parted ways — she to return to her final Florida itinerary and I to return to quality time with my daughter and tending client projects at home — my friend suggested I take a few minutes for myself, by myself, to browse a few shops — just for fun. She thought I’d especially enjoy one filled with seasonings and spices.

So, convincing myself a few more minutes away from my to-do list wouldn’t hurt, I stepped inside — and came face to face with the inanimate wall of salts that nevertheless spoke to me. I grinned and pulled out my phone, taking pictures (like the tourists around me) of flavor combinations I’d never considered from parts of the world I’ve never been to. “I could make that,” I thought. “I could go there …”

One day, I will.

What are your salt memories? Where might salt inspire you to go?