Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Start. Stop. Start Again.

A few weekends ago we had planned to travel to our hometown to visit with family for Kyle's birthday. We planned on leaving Friday once Kyle was finished with work.

I felt lazy about packing that day. Often times when we go on little trips for the weekend, I am in charge of getting everything set and ready to go so that we can leave as soon as Kyle finishes with work.

I intermittently packed throughout the day. Gathering a bit here, a little there. I was confident that when the time came, desperation would force my hand and quicken the work. It was a poor idea. Procrastination tends to go that way.

We loaded up the car and started driving away,  we reached the end of the street when Kyle asked,

"Did we close the garage door?"
"I don't know, you are driving...did you?"

We were too far away to see and so we turned around chuckling. It was totally closed. It always is.

So we turned back toward the highway,

"OH! I forgot my computer and camera!" I shouted. We were still close, so we turned around again.

We finally gassed up and were close to getting on the highway when we realized another thing had been forgotten. The chuckles were getting less and less encouraging and Max started to get worried that we were never going to get to Grandma's house.

Finally, we were on the highway, a good ten minutes out when I had the panicking thought and questioned,

"You packed Max's suitcase right?"
"His stuff is in your suitcase isn't it?"

We didn't want to turn around anymore but this suitcase had both Daniel's and Max's clothing inside. Tired from so many false starts, I propositioned just buying clothes at the thrift store to make due, but we turned around. Max started to cry. Kyle clenched the steering wheel in frustration. The whole scenario was ridiculous.

I couldn't help but laugh. Kyle wasn't amused at first but he has a hard time not smiling every 3 minutes so it was pretty easy to break his scowl.

I joked that this was just like a talk given by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, where at every wrong turn on a family trip they decided to just laugh.

"At least we aren't going to end up in Nevada," I teased.

I know how frustrating life can sometimes seem. Starting and stopping over and over again, for what purpose?

I believe we can choose to learn. I believe we can choose to remember. I believe we can decide to grow, to laugh, to seek the joy.

I don't say this lightly. Oftentimes life is dark and bitter. Sadness and anger enshroud our spirits branching out to offer a dismal perspective of reality.

But there is joy to be found! This joy is all around us. It is within the hearts of our neighbors, our friends, our coworkers. It is within the beauty of this earth, the smile of a stranger, the love of our family. It is the love of our Father in Heaven and it is waiting to be seen.

This joy is deep and powerful. It diminishes darkness and causes us to have the power to move forward, even if it means turning around first.

Friday, April 24, 2015

My Friday Four

This week has been filled with so much whining that I have muttered, "I want to gouge my ears" too many times than I would care to admit. Kids can be really, terribly frustrating but then they snuggle up to you and whisper, "I love you mom." Refocuses your perspective pretty darn quick.

Some favorites from this week

-Used to be deathly scared of the vacuum until about 5 months ago. Wednesday he asked to try it out and has been asking every hour since. Also, doesn't understand that the kitchen floor is best swept than vacuumed.

-Soapy babies.

- His two bottom teeth are almost completely in and he keeps running his tongue over them. It is adorable.

-This child is constantly going; moving, talking, explaining, questioning, arguing. He makes my head hurt and my heart full.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Our Stories

A few days after delivering James, someone came by with some food and with it, a desire to talk. She sat herself down on our couch and I don't remember much because at that point in my life I was on survival mode, must wake up, must eat, must get dressed, eat more, etc. She started in on when she heard that our baby's heart had stopped beating that she prayed that it would be alive once it was born. She explained how she had a friend who went in and the doctors couldn't find the heartbeat and she demanded they look again and low and behold they found it and all was well. She said she had hoped that for me. I wasn't quite sure what to say to that, I think I muttered, "that would have been nice."

I don't remember much else. I obsessed over why she would tell me that story for a long time. What purpose did it serve? What hope or wisdom was to be gained from it at this point? Why couldn't that have been my experience? Why couldn't I have demanded that my child be alive and by some miracle there would have been life. The story has stuck with me, but mainly as a lesson in sometimes people don't know what to say.

A while back there was a post that was circulated on Facebook about some mother whose child had been born still but by some miracle she snuggled it and the child was brought to life and everyone cried happy tears. I don't really know because I never read it. People kept posting and posting it and then a few months would go by and it would circulate again. Every time I saw the familiar picture of the mother, naked and clutching her baby little daggers would shoot into my heart.

Envy,annoyance, cynicism, disdain, hurt, jealousy, why not me? why them?

We hear and read others stories. Stories of healing, of miracles, of faith and love triumphant.

Then we look at our own stories and they look NOTHING like it. There are similar elements: loss, hurt, pain, sorrow, grief, sin, feeling alone, so why can't we all have miraculous stories. Why some?

Why not me? Why them?

Have you heard how every single snowflake is unique and different? It feels overtly cutesy (especially after the Frozen craze) but there is a point I want to make.

If Heavenly Father creates unique and individual snowflakes, how much more thought would He put into His children's lives? We are far more intricate and unique than any snowflake and thus, our lives and experiences will also be specific and individualized. I believe He puts great thought and care into each of our lives, knowing what we are capable of and where we are in need of growth and learning lessons.

This is not to say that God causes hardship and inflicts pain and misery, but I believe He allows for us to experience the reality of a fallen world. We have the agency to take each moment and choose to learn, tailor-made lessons just for our very special snowflake-selves.

I do not know why my child died. I don't know if there is a specific lesson I am supposed to learn.

But I do know that my life, and all the small moments that make up the whole of it, is mine alone. It is what makes me special. It has molded my talents and gifts and understanding. It has allowed for me to learn specific intricacies of life in the way that only I could ever learn it. My brain, my heart, my spirit is different from anyone else and because of that I have something special to offer this world.

We all have stories to share and they all have lessons within them. Lessons that inspire us, lessons that warn, lessons that teach. But we can't take these stories and try to make them our own. The patterns won't match, they won't line up no matter how hard you try.

Each of our stories are full of plot twists that could have the power to drag us down to darkness. But we all have the choice, with His help, to find the sunrise at the start of each day.

There is a common thread among each of our stories; to find the light a midst that darkness.

Friday, April 17, 2015

My Friday Four

Can you believe how consistent I am being with blogging?! Turns out, setting reachable goals works. This week has been weird with sleep (which I am going to blame on some baby teeth coming in) and big on sunshine. I always imagine Winter and Spring duking it out during March and April, each trying to reign supreme. This week it feels like Spring finally won with consistent, warm, sit-outside-and-read sunshine. So with that joy that comes with regular Vitamin D intake, here are things I am loving this week.

-Crusty babies sitting all by themselves (outdoors!)

-This moment last night. Max had adopted that mini Book of Mormon as his scriptures and "reads along." My favorite is when he turns the pages along with Kyle but ends up turning five at once.

-Daniel and I were sitting outside with Max and Kyle doing yard work. I had to run inside to grab something and asked Max to sit with Daniel. I came back to this. 


- (Old pic but a favorite) This guy turns 28 tomorrow! He is my favorite thing of all time. He
improves the quality of life of anyone who is near him (Once though, he worked installing satellite
dishes and when the company called to ask how the lady's service was, she complained that he "smiled too much." So apparently not everyone appreciates his love of life.). So grateful to have found him and been smart enough to hold on to him. Happy Birthday Suckafish!


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Intentional Parenting

I'm tired. I know I could be more tired, but right now my brain feels sluggish and it cuts my patience far shorter and Max will ask for something he knows I will say "No" to (a show! a marshmallow! to push over his brother!), but instead of an immediate reply I find my brain is simply trying to register what he said in the first place. So out trails a, "umm...." and when I finally land on the "no," tears erupt and whines of the screechiest variety are emitted, all because of the pause.

It makes me even more tired.

Mondays look like this around here.

Monday has become my deep-clean-the-house day, the whole time I want to throw everything away and drive off with only the necessities in our car like we did last winter. It was so refreshing to have so little.

I find myself  a midst the cleaning and the yawning wondering if I am doing it right, this whole motherhood gig. It is an inevitable question.  So many Facebook links shared, telling us not to worry we are doing enough, but they also shout out solutions on sleep, eating, discipline, potty-training and it is so easy to feel overwhelmed with the amount of information of what we COULD be doing.

After Max was born, that pressure to be doing it right, not to impress the world, but to raise a happy, healthy, child was overwhelming. The judgement to "do it right," felt intense. Slowly though, and still slowly to this day, I am learning to take a step back from all of the information, the noise, the suggestions and opinions. I am learning to let go of expectations and lean into making choices based on a combination of instinct and intention.

I want to parent intentionally. I desire to move forward, consciously trying to improve upon myself as a mother. This means reading those essays, books, and articles. This means talking to friends and studying things out in my mind at the end of the day. What worked? What didn't? This means thinking critically about how my children interact with the world and how to help them navigate being a positive force for good within it.

To do this, I must trust my instinct, that internal compass (the Holy Ghost) for direction. It is the force that helps me sort through what to listen to. It is the driving factor that keeps me thinking and searching, knowing that I must keep trying to improve.

So, I am tired. But I am not tired because of all the information anymore and the pressure to do it right. I am tired because motherhood is tiring. Mothering with intent and instinct is tiring. That effort to try harder, to learn more, to be a better mother for your unique, individual children is hard work.

I believe that this hard work is worth it. It is worth it because parenting with intention is my effort, and I know His grace fills in the gaps. As I try, He completes, perfects and covers my mistakes and weaknesses. Because not only does He care about me, but He cares about the little ones I am raising as well.

He wants us to succeed.

My mind is refreshed and energized knowing that His love is there to make us whole, that we may return to Him, for that is His intention.

Friday, April 10, 2015

My Friday Four

I used to chronicle a few things that made me happy, that reminded me of the bursts of joy that this world has to offer. I would like to get back to doing that, of taking the time to hone in on what makes life good and sweet. So, things I'm loving this week:

-This boy turning 7 months on Wednesday! That's basically a year old! After that they graduate high
  school! ;)

-These eyes. I have looked hard and deep and there is not a single ounce of color other than blue in
  these irises.

- A haircut that makes going without showering MUCH easier (I went three whole days wearing it
  down! Gross or awesome? To me, totally awesome.)

-Max waking me up one morning to tell me, "When I got scared last night, I prayed to Heavenly
  Father and I wasn't scared anymore!" The reality of raising a child of God hits me hard sometimes.