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I Can Be Slow On The Uptake

By Brooke Benton

What makes a quiet afternoon, baby sleeping, kids at school, nondescript in the passing minutes, unoriginal in the weather, seem suddenly a sacred thing?

I think it is the quiet. That it affords me a place to string two coherent thoughts together. That I can feel, without interruption, what’s been pressing against my heart, that I can let it out.

Sometimes my heart aches and I’m not sure why, and so I assign the ache to things: My oldest boy’s tantrums, my brothers in general, the fact that I can only button my stretchy pants (What can I say? It was a fun summer), how the Alison Krauss music trickles gently, but deep into my soul, from speakers above me while I sweep up glitter and dust and granola bits.

Last week, I got home from a morning of fighting errands, only $1 poorer spent on a cup of miniature Nutter Butters for my WILD baby, and only kind of sweaty from it all. Which is to say, I did it, I survived, but then I was exhausted. I neglected the mountains of groceries, put the baby to bed without his usual array of too many story books, and I slipped out of my flats and into my eight-year-old’s flip flops that I plunked around in all afternoon, forgotten about until I looked down, and felt the nip of shock: I wear the same size shoes as an eight-year-old boy. Or he wears the same size shoe as me, his mama.

The subsequent imaginings unfold as they always do: days multiplied by years. What will it be like to have a child I used to hold grow bigger than me? To buy shoes the size of shovels? Someday before I know it, I will have to reach up to hug my little boy, only he will not be my willful little boy, who burrows his head, his grubby hands, his kisses into my middle—he will be a man I worry about differently. But the same.

Is the only thing a parent ever wants to know about their child is that they are ok? That they are happy?

The story of the 90 and 9 makes so much sense to me now, and I find that I spend inordinate amounts of heartache on a particular child, given the day. In August it was my oldest, alone in California with cousins and grandparents for far too long, and who, when we Skyped, burst into tears when she saw me. I wanted to reach through the screen and snatch her into my arms, hold her long, 11 and a half year old body in my lap. Last week it was my sometimes-school-averse son—would the teachers see him, truly, and not just his shoulder slouch of apathy? Yesterday, it was my six-year-old daughter, who I sent off with tears streaming down her rosy cheeks, frustrated by a new cast on her right wrist. “How will I write?” She asked me so defeated, “Will I be able to go potty with one hand?” A few nights ago it was my baby, sick again, in the middle of the night. Again. We sleep on the same pillow, my hand on the punctuated rising of his chest, a shudder as it falls again. I am exhausted in the morning. Then it starts all over.

This is the stuff that brings me to my knees. This is the stuff that makes me understand scripture stories I always thought I knew, but apparently really didn’t. This is life. And for guidance that reveals itself slowly, well, I’m grateful that it’s always been there, that I still get to learn.

Do you have any experiences with understanding a Gospel concept only after you’d lived it? Is that the way it always works?

About Brooke Benton

(Blog Team) is attempting inner om with this writing stuff. Proud to claim four loud children, a patient husband and a fat black cat as family, she feels blessed to be their mommy-- their giver of kisses and baker of cookies. She is ever seeking a good novel and wishing for the sand between her toes, palm trees, the ocean.

5 thoughts on “I Can Be Slow On The Uptake”

  1. I've always had a believing heart that readily accepted gospel principles & commandments, but living life is what has really given me a testimony of the gospel. While I always "knew" on some level that the gospel was true, I have found that my testimony has deepened enormously from having to endure many "trials of faith". Life has given me some graduate level courses in understanding the real meaning of the gospel. While these 'courses' were hard, I wouldn't trade them for the strength and depth they have added to my faith and testimony.

  2. I've come to appreciate the sacred, cyclical nature of time. I am the oldest daughter of an oldest daughter of an oldest daughter, and I held my tiny daughter today and thought of the not-too-distant future when she will cradle her own baby girl. Knowing that my mother had the same tender feelings as she helped my helplessness long years ago, I am humbled, joyful, and a little sad at the inevitable march of time.

  3. A tender nerve has been struck. Not only because my four children are almost the exact same ages as yours, Brooke, and not only because I have those same feelings from day to day. But your musings have driven home the concept of patience. Patience as a gospel principle!

    For me, patience has taken the roll of the salt in any given recipe. Do I taste it? Usually not. But its presence gives savor and depth to whatever I've made, savory or sweet. Living life, and living life on the gospel path, takes patience…patience to wait to see the outcome, patience to heal, patience with myself to see, change, grow and overcome, patience as I learn how to (yet again!) apply the Atonement of Christ to another aspect of my life. Patience with others and their free agency, and patience to simply watch my life unfold from day to day.

    I cannot move the clock forward, nor turn it back. I must be patient and watch my life evolve into what I and the Lord can make of it, together.

  4. Sounds like you are just 3 years behind me. Today my oldest (girl) started high school (9th), my second (boy) started middle school, my third started a school that is a part time school for homeschoolers. My 4th is a preschooler.
    I am homeschooling #3 because I feel like she was getting lost in the crowd. All of my time seems to be sucked up by urgent issues with the other kids. For years I have felt like she needs one on one time, but day after day after day, year after year there isn't enough time for her because nothing is new and she doesn't have issues and she's not a teenager…..the list goes on. So I went drastic. Sure, we had a four year old with us, but it was really nice to spend our first day today. Time blocked out where her needs are actually first priority on my mind and in my actions.
    The oldest two then came home (one at a time) and I spent 1.5 hours listening to them describe their day and doing my "homework" of going over the class rules with them and signing stuff for each class……..if #3 had gone to real school today she would have come home in the middle of it to wait a long time to have her turn.


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