Tag Archives: children

Reflections on the &

th-1747 years old this week. It’s a strange place to find myself. I am definitely not considered young anymore and I am (hoping) that I wouldn’t be considered old. 24 & 13, 20 & 17, 40 & 7. It is a space “in between,” – the “and” of a compound sentence. My life before this time was focused entirely on young children, diapers, meals, cleaning, carpooling, grocery shopping, etc. It was so busy that there was never much time for reflection. Conversely, I can see the future laid out like a long line of train cars. My oldest is leaving home in the next year. Things have shifted. I can feel it in every moment. I am waiting for the day when he walks out the door and the heavy dark void walks in and takes up residence in the corner bedroom. Then, all the children will quickly follow – one by one they will leave until my home becomes one of silence. No one ever talks about being here. It’s a moment in my life where I am curling and crossing in on myself. I am living in the ampersand. Alfred Corn critiques a poem where he runs across the & in the middle of a phrase. He finds it irritating and that the & breaks his concentration. “It sparks a cognitive blip, which I immediately get past, but I’d actually rather not have to go through the process, even though it’s very short,” Corn says. This sounds achingly familiar.

How can the pain of separation be so mixed with happiness? I want my children to move on – grow up – have wonderful lives. But I also want them to stay and cuddle with me on a lazy Saturday morning, talk in the kitchen late at night, or take different characters’ voices while reading fairy tales together on the sofa. I want them to have relationships and jobs and grandbabies, but I never want them to leave my house!

Perhaps John Reibetanz said it best in his poem,
“the plump, open armed ‘&’ waving goodbye
from the end of the old-world alphabet
like an innkeeper framed in doorway candlelight,
farewells swelled with hopes of come again.”

How have you dealt with this “in-between” space in your own lives? What advice can you give a woman to face the future with joy and not longing?

Seasons: To Get (or Not Get) a Pet

I have something to confess that might be heresy.

I’m not a dog person.

While I’ve met several very amiable dogs, none of them have inspired in me the intense need that seeing a fat baby did (still does–but don’t tell my husband). Admittedly, puppies come close. I might even be temped if I didn’t know they got bigger.

Some of them even scare me. I still, seeing a large and strange dog while I’m out walking, have been known to cross to the far side of the road. My mom thinks some of this is due to the fact that my first encounter with a big dog was a Saint Bernard who, when I was 18 months old, bowled me over, stood on me, and licked my face. I think it might be due to the time in fifth grade when a stray dog got onto the playground at school and attacked another little girl, biting her on the head and face. (I know this is a rare incident, but it means I’m wary around strange dogs).

My not being a dog person hasn’t been much of an issue till now in my life: for the first part of our married life, we lived in rented spaces or other people’s houses (hi, mom and dad!). Even after we bought our own home, our kids were still very small. But now we’ve entered the stage of life where my kids are desperate for a pet–and not just any pet. They want a dog. Continue reading Seasons: To Get (or Not Get) a Pet

New Year’s Thoughts on Aging

Magdalena - age 4
Magdalena – age 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

Linda - age 4
Linda – age 4

 

 

 

 

 

The last of the tribe left yesterday. We have had our immediate family (12 of us – including the grandbabies ages 4, 3, 2 and 6 months) in full force or overlapping since the middle of December. There was also an uptick of numbers on New Year’s Day when 23 more extended family members joined us for lasagna and fun in the snow. (By some LDS folks’ standards, the numbers probably seem skimpy – no more than an average Family Night with the cousins.)

It’s a heady experience to see the lyrics of “Sunrise, Sunset” play out before my eyes. As I watch my grown kids handle their toddlers I feel a rush of “As you are, I once was and as I am, you will become” (to reframe Lorenzo Snow’s couplet). I definitely experience tsunamis of joy and ineffable affection.

But I am not naïve. Continue reading New Year’s Thoughts on Aging

Letting Go of False Perceptions

McArthur KrishnaThree years ago, life served up a massive dose of serendipity when I happened to end up seated next to McArthur Krishna and her husband while flying home from work.  

You know how sometimes you meet someone and right away, you know you are in the presence of an extraordinarily special person? That’s how I felt that night about them.  And in the intervening years, it has proven to be more true that I could have possibly imagined, as we have gotten to know each other and become friends.

Yesterday Segullah Editor-in-Chief, Shelah, reviewed the book Girls Who Choose God, by McArthur Krishna and Bethany Brady Spaulding, and if you haven’t read that post, please do so. And then, please buy the book. I’m not kidding. I almost never buy books, but I’m glad I made an exception in this case, and I hope you will, too, because if this book does well, Deseret Books will publish the other books they are working on, and these are all stories that need to be told (Note: In buying this book, you support educational and employment opportunities for young women around the world. All of the authors’ proceeds will be donated to Interweave Solutions.)  

Recently, I interviewed McArthur via phone at her home in India, and we talked about the book and why they wrote it.  

McArthur is a story teller at heart, and she’s exceptionally good at it.  She uses stories to teach, illuminate truth and help people grow in light and understanding.  With a masters degree in Communications from BYU, she co-owned an ideas-marketing business that tells stories focusing on the most important issues facing the world today.  Before I ever met her, I’d seen some of her company’s work online, and had personally been impacted by the stories they shared.

During our conversation, one of the dominant themes that came up was how we all have false conceptual models, or perceptions/ beliefs, that impact our way of thinking and living.  We acquire ideas that may not be true, but they impact and influence our thinking and choices all the same.  

Changing our false models is what it means to live spiritually.  Any thing, any mindset, any habit or belief that gets between us and God needs to be broken down and destroyed in order to continue progressing spiritually. 

One of the reasons Girls Who Choose God is important, is because in the history of the world, few false models have had a more significant negative impact than the belief that boys and men matter more, or are more important, or somehow “better than” girls and women. McArthur lives in a part of the world where this attitude is particularly prominent and impacts daily life for everyone. But it’s everywhere, which is why these stories in particular need to be told. 

When generation upon generation of children grow up with these ideas being intentionally or unintentionally conveyed and reinforced, the cost to society at large is incalculable.  

We are all equally important in the eyes of God.  As The Family: A Proclamation to the World states, we are the children of heavenly parents, a father and a mother, who were equal partners in the creation of our spirits.  And the lack of discussion about all the magnificent, influential females in the story of the world from Eve to the present day, has had the effect of holding many young girls back from knowing that they can grow up to be not only devoted mothers and wives, but also judges, generals, social justice advocates, world leaders, spiritual leaders, business leaders, and endless other roles that lead to being a force for good in the world.  

If the next generation of girls and boys grows up viewing themselves as spiritual equals, amazing things will happen. Marriages and families will be strengthened, communities will thrive. And now is the time for this change to take place. It happens one person at a time, first by recognizing that a false conceptual model or paradigm exists, then intentionally destroying it.

I read Girls Who Choose God to my 15 and 17 year old kids for a bedtime story, and we were touched by the spirit and telling of these stories. It inspired a wonderful conversation with my son and daughter, about the conceptual model prevalent in the world that girls aren’t present in the scriptures, and how that contributes to the lack of parity between males and females, including within the culture of the church, particularly in some parts of the world.  We talked about how this book is McArthur and Bethany’s effort to help break down some of these false ideas.   

If you would like to buy the book, please do.  Soon.  They have fifteen weeks to make the case to Deseret Book that there is a robust demand for children’s material about women.  If enough people want this book, they have more (and bolder!) volumes queued up.

By being humble enough to let go of our false traditions and ideas, the spirit can lead and guide us toward truth.  Being obedient to God, even when it shreds our model, opens the way for good, light-filled ideas to enter in.  God told us to prove all things, hold fast that which is good, and as we do so, we are showered with His gifts.  God’s gifts aren’t just adequate, they’re abundant.  They will fill us with light, inspire our lives, and help each of us to reach our fullest potential.

Talking to McArthur and reading Girls Who Choose God helped me to notice some of the false conceptual models I’ve been accepting, and seeing them has helped me to let go and grow in ways I didn’t foresee.

What are some perceptions you’ve accepted that might not be true? Have you ever had a “lightbulb” insight that helped you to let go and grow in unexpected ways? How have stories helped you understand things in a new way?

Mommy and E

Stand as Witnesses

Orlando is a great vacation destination, but its location at the lower east corner of the United States makes it difficult for the majority of my family and friends who live in the northwest U.S. and Canada to pop over for a quick visit.  My nearest and dearest knew about the difficult life of my son, Ethan, and although they knew and loved him from afar, very few had stepped inside my home.  In the nearly 10 years that we have lived in Orlando, my family has come to visit, but very few of my close friends.  In early 2013, all of that changed.  In January, to my delight, Justine and her family came to Orlando for her daughter’s 12th birthday.  We spent some time together at the temple, went to church, and had dinner in our home while they were here.  They stood at Ethan’s bedside, murmured loving phrases to him, and held his hand.

Andrea and Justine

Then in May, Julie came to visit on her way to Cuba via Miami.  She had known him in Sacramento when we lived there, but marveled at how he’d grown since she saw him last.

Andrea and Julie

A few weeks later, the delightfully saucy Kel messaged me and asked if she could spend a few days with us while on her whirlwind trip through the U.S. from Australia.  She brought the little boys gifts of boomerangs and Tim Tams and a kangaroo pelt for Ethan because he loved soft, fluffy things to touch.  Later, she told me this about meeting Ethan:

“I remember walking into his room behind you, checking out the equipment, and as I turned I saw your face as you straightened. I had yet to see you mother, to see you with your kids, and your face in that moment was so soft and fiery and devoted it choked me up. It was a moment of truth, and I realised again that just being in your house, being in Ethan’s room, was a gift, a vulnerability, and I loved you for it and felt honoured.

‘Hey, Ethan,’ you said, “this is my friend Kellie, she wants to meet you.’

My god, did I.”

Andrea and Kel 3

Heather was also able to make it down from South Carolina during Kel’s stay, and showered us with gifts and lively conversation.  I realized after they left that three of my beloved Segullah friends had met my son for the first time.

Andrea and Heather B

Later that year, as Ethan’s health began to decline, Heather and Nate, Brittney and Andy, and Aaron and Stina all were in Orlando and all visited my home.  These were dear friends, some of whom I had known since college, who stood at Ethan’s bedside, stroked his soft hair, held his hand, and kissed his cheek as he neared his last days on earth.

Andrea and Heather

Brit and Andy

Aaron and Stina

Mosiah 18:8 – 9 counsels us to “…bear one another’s burdens that they may be light…mourn with those that mourn…comfort those that stand in need of comfort… and stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things and in all places…”  It is not uncommon to feel helpless in the face of another person’s tragedy.  Death, divorce, disability – these things and more leave us groping for the right thing to say or do.  Our case was no exception.  Ethan’s disabilities were profound and his health was very fragile, and although my friends and ward members were willing, only a person with specialized training or a nursing degree could give me hands-on help with his day-to-day needs.  What meant more to me during that time in Ethan’s life were the people who came into my home, stood by his bedside, stroked his hair, held his hand, and bore witness to the life that he and our family lived.

Not all problems can be solved.  Not all hurts can be healed.  Not all losses can be restored.  Sometimes it is enough to stand as a witness.