Tag Archives: motherhood

Snakes and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

My husband came in to the office where I was again trying to help one of my high schoolers work on a project. “Christian fell asleep downstairs. I put him in his bed. I’m going to bed too. Goodnight.” He kissed me as quickly as the internal sigh behind those words and left the room.

Another night without reading and cuddles and family prayer. The end of the school year is hard and with a graduating Senior and two other teenagers, my ten-year old was suffering from my lack of attention. I felt the disconnect between us. He was spending too much time in the evening playing video games instead of playing with me. I call Christian my “gift from God.” He is peaceable, pure, tender, funny, and smart. Kindness runs through his veins as his life force. I went in to his dark bedroom lit only by the nightlight that makes blue stars on his ceiling. He was buried deep as a sleeping turtle under the three quilts that stay on his bed, no matter how warm it is in the house. I touched his cheeks and his hair and kissed him and said a prayer. “Lord, I need to connect with my son. I have no time with him anymore. Help me to figure out a way to do this and have some alone time with him.” It was succinct and sincere.

I went to bed late and woke up early. The morning scuffle began and I got them all off to school with hearty lunches packed. I had a busy day planned – exercise, shower, a morning appointment, a visit with my grandmother, a grocery store run, and hopefully squeezing in a half an hour of writing before the 2:00 pick up began. I had barely gotten through the first two when the dreaded phone call came from Christian, “Mom, I’m sick. I have a headache and I feel like I’m going to throw up.” It’s the phone call that shatters all your plans.

I rushed to the school and accessed the situation, “Are you sure you can’t stay?” I asked, hoping. He could not. As we drove, he leaned his seat back and the fresh air cooled his face. I’m always struck by the beauty of his freckles. Color was coming back. Then, it hit me. Amidst all my selfishness I hadn’t seen the tender mercy. God had answered my prayers immediately. I had time alone with my boy. Time I would never have had without this sickness. All of the other plans for that day seemed completely insignificant. We went on a long drive. Miraculously, he seemed to feel better within an hour. We went to lunch. We laughed. We went on another long drive where I got to tell him about the birds and bees. For months, I had been trying to find a time that was perfect. That day it was handed to me by God’s large hand – a day filled with the fleeting plumpness of Spring, heavy with lilacs, lush grass, and snow-tipped mountains. I savored every moment. When I finished explaining and answering all of his questions, Christian looked up toward heaven, raised both hands and courageously said, “Goodbye Childhood.”

Yes, childhood, goodbye.

What are the moments you’ve savored lately with your children?
IMG_5376 (3) our selfie after lunch

A Seasonal Letter

Dear God,

As you know I woke up to snow blanketing the ground again. Seriously? It’s the end of March. Did you forget that whole March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb? Isn’t that in the scriptures? Or are the lamb and the lion just lying down together having a tete a tete in my backyard? I need Spring. I need to feel the pussy willows between my fingers and watch the lawn change to green. The sprigs on the lilac bushes are filled with the promise of my face buried in the coming flowers. Right now I am tired of being in limbo and quite frankly, let’s just get this seasonal change over with.

Remember God, my son leaves home in less than five months. He, like the leaves waiting to uncurl, feels like he is in statis. All the energy is pent up waiting to burst into glorious adulthood. I have worked through most of the grief that comes from separating (that no one really told me would be happening) and I too am anxious for him to start this new part of his life. What will manhood look like on him? Will he carry those burdens as well as his father? You promised that you would take care of him when he is not with me. I’m holding you to it. We are drumming our fingertips waiting for the day when we pack his suitcases.

Guess what, Lord? I think I’m making the “change.” I’m easily bothered, cranky, and cannot seem to regulate my temperature. My children wonder why I am so easily upset. I cannot eat the same foods as I used to. I feel like I’m always in a state of panic. I feel like there is always somewhere I am supposed to be, but I can never remember where that somewhere is. I have cravings. I get cramps like a teenage girl. My skin flakes off. I want to sleep in the nude every night. How long will this last before I feel like myself again? How long until the change is final?

Do you see me visiting with my grandmother in the care center? She is ninety-six years old and all of the six teeth she had left got pulled out last week. We thought you would call her home two months ago when she went into the hospital, unresponsive and full of infection, but you didn’t. You are making her wait. Her children are slowly selling off all of her books and collectibles because they think you will come and get her soon, but you don’t. Her brown eyes do not recognize me when I come into the room. Sometimes she does not know I am there and I will watch her for a full minute in the silence of the room. She looks anxiously at the wall like it might burst open as the gates of heaven, beckoning for her to enter. She too, is waiting for you to come in all your glory, just like I am waiting for Spring –just like I am waiting for the seasons to change.

With love and in patience,

What would you say to God today?

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?

Peculiar Treasures & First Draft Poem

Collage by Linda Hoffman Kimball

This week’s Segullah bloggers’ Peculiar Treasures provide another diverse array of online bits of wit and wisdom.

Denise Stirk offers thoughts on the strong bonds of the shared experience of motherhood. She finds in those bonds both consolation and increased capacity to mourn with those that mourn.

Business leader and author Margaret Heffernan explores the benefits of “conflict”. It’s time to stop thinking of “conflict” as negative. Rather, it can be a loving, creative and effective way of collaborative thinking. In some cases, it’s the only solution to deep systemic problems. What applications spring to mind in your own lives? This piece was the writing prompt for Linda Hoffman Kimball’s 1st draft poem (below).

Salt Lake Tribune columnist Ann Cannon’s shock at an egregious – and viral – obituary from Down Under spawned a fun article. The Australian obituary opened with unflattering commentary on famed author Colleen McCullough’s physical attributes, rather than her writing excellence as the author of the bestselling novel The Thornbirds. Ms. Cannon gave several Utah based authors (including some Segullah sisters) the alluring writing prompt of writing their own obituaries as a good natured protest. Enjoy their results.

For the athletes among us, Business Insider’s article on “Why You Should Run a Mile Instead of a Marathon” provides science and reassurance to those who prefer – but have felt guilty about – running shorter distances.

For a hit of pure delight and creativity watch this “tasty” PES video – and check out the other clever and quirky PES-produced clips as well! You will think about household objects in very different ways from now on.

Author Kurt Vonnegut shares his rejected University of Chicago Master’s thesis that he considers his “prettiest contribution to culture”. He exploring concepts of the shape of stories. I think he’s actually on to something!

And here is a first draft of a poem by Linda Hoffman Kimball. She’s bravely sharing this work-in-progress inspired by the compelling TED talk by Margaret Heffernan.

Healing Powers

In 1956 Dr. Alice’s Lancet article shared her discovery:
At a rate of 2 to 1, children who died of cancer
had mothers who were x-rayed while pregnant.

But the world was in love with the cool new machines,
And surely doctors intent on healing
Could never do harm.

The slaughter of the innocents continued for
Twenty-five more years
Despite the news.

“Openness alone cannot drive change.”

Institutions cannot think.
They are comprised of people
Who find some information frightening,
And the conflict it invokes threatening.

They do not yet see
Conflict as a kind of thinking.
They have not yet embraced
The value of differences
Nor built the muscles
Such thinking requires.

Dr. Alice (the people person)
and statistician George (the reclusive nerd)
danced a passionate pas de deux.

His task – to disprove her theory;
Hers, to prove it right.
They brought their best:
their devotion to science’s highest purposes,
opposite perspectives,
their varied backgrounds.
They were not each other’s echos.

It was exhausting. It was not fun.
It took patience and a lot of energy.
It was a kind of love.

By this tumultuous process
– and the death of a child a week for twenty-five years –
Changes came.

“Openness isn’t the end. It’s the beginning.”

I Hope They Don’t Call Him on a Mission

P and Elder N
Patrick with Elder Nielson, the first missionary he ever met, 1998.

In the greater Brisbane (Australia) city area, if there is a news report of a stabbing, armed robbery, police car chase or drug-related arrest, chances are it’s in the southern suburb of Logan. So, obviously, that’s where my sixteen year old son was called to serve for a week on his “mini-mission”.

Cue parental heart attack, anxieties and worry.

I dropped him off one Saturday morning to the missionary flat, where two elders came out to the car to help with his bike, his suitcase, backpack and groceries. A final “Bye Mum, love you” tossed over his shoulder and I was driving back home, an hour north of where I’d just abandoned my firstborn to the cruel uncaring world. The entire way home I was praying – pleading – with God to make sure Patrick would be well, and happy, and gain something positive out of his mini-mission (and not be mugged, or hurt, or…) Continue reading I Hope They Don’t Call Him on a Mission