Please note: the opinions and experiences expressed in this blog post are my own and any statements I make about my personal experience with motherhood are not intended to invalidate or demean anyone else’s. We each have our own journey through life, and as women, we all have our own perspective on motherhood. This is mine.
To begin, I’m going to make two shocking statements: First, I don’t really like little kids. Second, I really hate crafts. There I said it. It’s not that I don’t appreciate little kids – they’re cute and all, and I really love mine, but…I’m not the person who asks to hold other people’s babies or who has a gift for engaging little ones. I certainly respect people who work with little kids. Preschool and Kindergarten teachers should be the highest paid professionals in the country. As for crafts? Hate really isn’t a strong enough word. I loathe all crafting activities. I have no skill for sewing, knitting, crocheting, painting, stenciling, or decoupage and I genuinely dislike doing it. I would rather teach the Krebs cycle than scrapbook. I’m just wired differently.
When I was in high school, one of my only options for making money was babysitting, but I quickly realized that childcare was not my arena of expertise. Playing with Barbies, trucks, Legos, playdough, singing songs, and making up games? Gouge-my-eyes-out-boring. I felt a desperate panic when I realized that I had to entertain the kids I was watching between dinner and bedtime. Taking care of infants was terrifying – they were tiny bundles of need and chaos. I could never discern what need hadn’t been met in order to quell the crying. But I needed the cash, so I did it. When I got a little older and had an opportunity to work in a lab as a high school intern, I fled the world of babysitting with relief. I loved the laboratory – it was clean, quiet, organized, and predictable. I was never required to be creative or engaging to diminutive humans. I was in my niche. Continue reading
his subject comes up again and again every time I’m together with a bunch of moms; do you force your child to keep taking piano lessons even when he starts to hate it and complains endlessly? Most parents were allowed to quit and always bemoan the fact that their parents didn’t make them keep with it. I come from the opposite side: my mother wouldn’t allow me to quit. “You’ll thank me one day!” she loved to say.
I never liked playing the piano. Never. It was not the instrument that spoke to me. I wanted to play the harp. “That’s much too expensive!” my mother informed me on more than one occasion; expensive unlike, say . . . a piano? Because pianos are dirt cheap, don’t you know. Anyway, playing the piano–and eventually the organ–was my mother’s dream. The woman loves an audience and the thought of playing in front of the church congregation every week was her fondest wish. But she had nine siblings and her mom let her quit when she complained, blahblahblah. We all know where she was coming from. So my mother decided that she would force her children to play the piano until they graduated from high school no matter what. They would praise her name for it one day! Continue reading
I just passed the one-year mark of being the Relief Society President in my ward. When I tell people about my job at church, they always have the same sort of response, “what a hard calling!” While I’m sure people have all sorts of definitions of what makes something a “hard” calling, I don’t think they would suspect the thing about Relief Society President that I consider most difficult: being really spiritual. Theoretically I should have been really spiritual for all of my callings. Being the Activity Day Leader, however, didn’t feel like it required me to be in tune with the Holy Ghost quite as much.
Last summer I got a call from the Bishop. “Sister So-and-So’s husband just told her he wants a divorce and custody of their kids. I told her you’d call and talk to her.” SAY WHAT? Things like that don’t happen very often but there are dozens of times that I have to walk into situations that I know nothing about and advise and comfort people. This is why I have to stay close to the Holy Spirit: I need to tell people what the Lord wants them to hear. That’s a big responsibility.
It’s hard for me to be spiritual all the time. OK, it’s hard for me to be spiritual 20% of the time. I thought by this point I would be super into reading the scriptures but that hasn’t really happened. I do read my scriptures every single day but I still have to make myself do it. My scripture study isn’t nearly as in-depth and sincere as it should be.
I have gotten really good at praying, though. That’s the thing that has surprised me the most. When the Lord says over and over again that He will answer our prayers, it’s not like we think. He’s not saying that He’s a genie and now every wish we have will come true. It’s more like, “when you need help, pray to me and I will be there to make you stronger.” That has happened so often. My testimony of prayer giving my life power has grown by a thousand.
Sometimes, though, the harder I want to try to become more spiritual, the less I feel like it’s working. I feel like staying close to the Holy Spirit is like trying to pick up Jello with a toothpick. It’s hard to know how to increase spirituality, but it’s even harder to want to increase our spirituality.
How have you been able to improve your relationship with the Savior? What steps have worked well to make the Holy Ghost a more constant companion? How do you want to want to increase your spirituality?
Several weeks ago a friend posted a picture on Instagram of her four children with their teacher who had helped every single one of them through the Gifted and Talented program in elementary school. I probably shouldn’t have replied how I did, “Lucky you. I only had one of six make it into the Gifted program. I guess my children are a lot dumber than yours.” She was rather shocked at my reply, claiming that I misunderstood her meaning. But let’s call a spade a spade and admit that she was bragging.
We live in a very strange culture of social media. Between blogs and Facebook and Instagram we have an interesting choice that most people have never had to worry about before now: how to present ourselves. The closest we really have come to this in the past was the annual Christmas card. But now we can give people a thoroughly sanitized, filtered and retouched version of the best parts of our world on a daily (hourly!) basis.
I do this. I am not about to put a picture of myself out there that is not super flattering. If I take a shot of my kids and the dirty kitchen is in the background, I repose everyone so the kitchen is nowhere to be seen. I completely fess up to trying to make my life look better than it really is. There. I said it.
“The last time I saw you,” she sighed, staring at an afternoon decades ago, “you were wearing a little shirt with a pocket on the chest, and a nappy, and I took you straight off ya Mum and walked down the back of the yard. We had a look at the animals, and you put ya head down on my shoulder. It was a few weeks until Christmas, and..” she paused, puffing out her cheeks before starting again, “.. ya Mum said she’d bring you back then to get your presents.” She pushed at the tablecloth, straightening wrinkles and bumps into temporary submission. She heaved in a breath, looked up to meet my gaze, blinking against the tears falling into the creases of her face. “I didn’t see you again. I didn’t even know if you was dead. Nothing.”
“Oh I’ve missed you,” she choked out. “I never forgot you. Never stopped loving you. Not ever. Not a single day without wondering where you were and if you were okay.”
This was my grandmother; a woman whom I didn’t even know existed until two months earlier. But I could see my face reflected in hers, and finally had a physical, genetic explanation of where my red hair and curves came from. It was our first weekend together (that I could remember), and we stared hungrily at each other’s face, asked questions and tried to fill in the enormous, bewildering gap of over two decades of life (and deaths and marriages, babies, successes and heartbreak) we had lived without knowledge of the other’s experiences.
Over and over again my Nan would say the same phrases, and still does whenever we talk. “I never forgot ya. Never stopped loving ya. Not ever. Not a single day without wondering where you were and if you was okay. It broke my heart.” I don’t doubt it hurt her. My biological Dad and his siblings have told me of her grief, of their eventual insistence that she not speak of me in their hearing because of the pain it caused all of them. I couldn’t imagine what it meant, or felt like, to lose a granddaughter – the first grandbaby born to the family – in such a sudden, inexplicable and deliberate way. Continue reading