Photo Credit: Crooked Pinkie Photography
A few years ago, we were your stereotypical Mormon family: a husband, a wife, and four kids born in a span of six years. Our youngest was five, old enough that we could vacation without a stroller, and starting a PhD program or going back to work were definitely part of my five-year plan.
Then we stepped onto the road not taken.
I was pushed onto it by a force I hardly recognized, and within little more than a year, we had adopted two babies from China.
We are not the kind of people who do things like traveling around the world to adopt orphans. We’re a little selfish. We’re introverts at heart; the kind of people who like quiet, who need down time, who crave creature comforts, like sleeping in on Sunday mornings, and urinating without company. But when the little voice in the back of my mind told me that we should adopt, it didn’t stop pestering me until we had both of our kids safely home. Continue reading
I took a childhood education class a few years back, and the teacher had us take several different personality tests, multiple times (for ourselves, for each of our kids, and for our spouses). As I pondered this new information and what to do with it, Julie talked about how we live in a society where being “well-rounded” is considered a top priority by many. We don’t just want our children to enjoy sports, do adequately academically and graduate from high school and/or college, and learn to express themselves though the arts . . . we wanted them to be successful—often equally; who doesn’t love a straight-A student—in every endeavor. She asked us to think about this; whether it was possible, whether it was worth it, and what we would be giving up for ourselves, our families, and our children, if this was the path we choose to lead them on—the path of being jacks-of-all-trades—instead of allowing them to choose their passion, and supporting them in it.
I’m a dancer and a dance teacher. Ballet is one of my passions and it has been since I was a child. I was in junior high school when friends I had been taking class with for years began to drop out. For many, it was a change of interest, or a financial situation, but for some it was something else. Their parents had decided that their passion wasn’t worth the investment. As one friend tearfully told me, they logically explained that since she wasn’t going to make it a career—because no one does that, really—they weren’t going to pay for her to dance any longer. It was time for her to put away childish things, and focus on that which would provide a safe and useful future by their estimation. To say she was devastated was to put it mildly. It changed the course of her teen years, and not necessarily in a good way. Continue reading
The author of this post lives in the Mormon corridor and owns two pianos. And a keyboard. Because even though her piano skills are Primary-song level, her children must. practice. every. day.
He’s sitting on the piano bench, utterly refusing to play anything. We wait, the piano teacher and I. For twenty minutes, twenty minutes which cost about three dollars a minute, till he decides to play the sightreading. With those tedious practice instructions. And we can finally get to the songs he and I have labored over all week long, hurrying them into our remaining ten minutes of lessons.
At the end of it I feel drained. I wonder if wrestling my ADHD son with piano lessons is worth the power struggles. But he was named after his grandmother, a musician, and when we first started this journey he talked about that. “I’m just like Grandma, and I’m named for her,” he said. “I’m playing the piano and composing music too.”??That was when I knew we had to stick with it, in spite of the practicing battles, in spite of the challenge of helping his ADHD monkey mind to stay focused and still. In spite of twenty long minutes of time without him playing a note. I want him to feel connected to the woman we named him after, my husband’s mother, who he’s never met, and if piano does that, I will keep going.
But I can’t do it alone, helping this wild and brilliant child tame his inner demons long enough to focus on rhythm and notes. The piano teacher who sat patiently beside us, encouraging him, applauding him with sincere joy when he finally complied, she’s a part of this too. Continue reading
When General Conference rolled around last October, I realized that it was the weekend that my children were scheduled to spend all day Saturday with their father. I felt somewhat ambivalent about this. On the one hand, I looked forward to a day of actually getting to hear the talks and ponder them in quiet peace without the stress of trying to help three small children sit through eight hours of talks in a somewhat reverent manner. On the other hand, I do take seriously the counsel to watch and listen to Conference and to encourage participation from our children. During the past decade since becoming a parent I have sought to make General Conference a significant family tradition. I’ve tried special foods, coloring packets, bingo, key words, going for scenic drives, and, most commonly, just requiring children to be in the room doing something quiet and not bothering me. I don’t remember watching Conference much as a child, but I don’t fault my mother for this at all. If watching Conference meant hauling five small children to the chapel by myself for eight hours of viewing, I’d probably opt out as well. However, now that I live in a time and place where General Conference is easily accessible in my home, I try to participate as much as I can. What to do when my kids weren’t even going to be around for half of it? Continue reading
I’ve been working full-time for nearly two years now and the thing I hate the most is the fact that five days of the week I have to get up, get ready, and be out the door by 8:00. Winter, summer, fall, spring—it doesn’t matter. Saturday is still precious, but the impact of one Saturday a week seems to fade when compared to the relentless onslaught of early morning wake-up calls. You would think that I would be used to mornings right now; I’ve been getting up insanely early for years. When I was 11 I got an early-morning paper route. I would wake up at 4:45 in order to have time to carefully fold all the newspapers, place them in bags on my bike handlebars, and ride around the neighborhood delivering them. I only quit the paper route when I started high school and four years of early-morning seminary. Then I went to college and had to wake up early to get to work or class on time; that was followed by my mission, where the mandated 8 hours of sleep every night and regular sleep and wake times were healing after years of sleep deprivation. I had a few years off before having children, and we all know what kind of havoc children can wreak on parents’ sleep. Continue reading