Tag Archives: motherhood

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

Guided by the Spirit

IMG_0854Lorren Lemmons is an Army/dental school wife, bone marrow transplant nurse, and mother to a very energetic 8-month old. A country girl from Idaho, she is now learning to love city life in Los Angeles. In her abundant spare time (ha!) she loves to read, write, watch Dr. Who, and eat strange and exotic food. She blogs about books at http://thestorygirlbookreviews.blogspot.com and about everything else at http://whenlifegivesyoulemmons8.blogspot.com.

I listen to the voicemail, tension hunching my shoulders. I’ve been waiting for this call for two weeks, but I’ve still managed to miss it. The HR representative’s introduction seems to last minutes rather than seconds. Finally she says, “I have good news. Bone Marrow Transplant would like to make you an offer.”

My first reaction is joy. This is my dream job – a nursing position in the area I am passionate about, located in a prestigious hospital with an award-winning training program. Our bank account is growing emptier, and my husband and I have been praying that I would find a job for months. The fact that those prayers have been answered with this job is a blessing that I hardly dared ask for.

However, as I watch my son smiling and giggling because he sees that I am happy, I pause. For the last six months, I have been with him every waking moment. We’ve experienced the greatest trials of my life, including emergency room trips, hospital stays, and postpartum depression. Becoming his mother amplifies all my joys, too – my marriage, my faith, the simple beauty of the world, all are more powerful as I experience them through the paradigm of motherhood. How will taking this job alter our relationship? Am I a bad mother for leaving this beautiful baby for a full-time job? Continue reading Guided by the Spirit

100% is Not Available

reading bio sizedSandra Tayler is a writer of essays, speculative fiction, children’s fiction, and blog posts. Her writing can be found at onecobble.com. When she is not writing, Sandra divides her time between four children, a cartoonist husband, a business, two callings, a scattering of friends, a neighborhood, multiple online communities, some hobbies, and a cat.

“Thank you so much for all of your help this year.” My son’s fourth grade teacher told me earnestly as she extended a little gift bag toward me. It was the last day of school and I’d walked into the classroom to retrieve a forgotten backpack. The room was stripped of its purpose, almost barren, with desks stacked in one corner. My hands paused before reaching to accept the gift. Her thanks were heartfelt, and I knew they were undeserved. I’d assisted in a classroom science day and attended one field trip. These activities had been in direct response to my son’s needs, not motivated by a desire to help. I’d filled my time with work, illness, more work, a sibling whose needs chewed through more emotional time and energy than I had to give, and yet more work. The work paid the bills and since I was self-employed, incomplete work paid for nothing. My son had been a trouper, calm and cheerful, until the strain started to show in a dozen little ways both at home and at school. So I had carved out the time to be there for him; helping in the classroom was purely ancillary.

“Really?” I wanted to argue, but the word stuck in my throat, caught by the same emotion that was pricking at my eyes. I got thanks for an effort which amounted to being physically present. Surely effusive thanks and praise should be in answer to a true effort from me, not the bare minimum that I had given. Continue reading 100% is Not Available