Sunday, April 1, 2012
A week or so ago I woke up in the middle of the night with the dream I had been having VERY vividly etched in my mind. I had been at the funeral of a family friend, and after the eulogy and usual talk about the plan of salvation, they did something a little different, and opened it up for family and friends to come up and share a favorite memory of the man. I can still remember SO vividly sitting there, wanting with all my heart to get up and share what this man had done for me and my family, and I simply could not. I have a very high water level, and I KNEW I wouldn't be able to share what I wanted to without crying, and I hate, hate, HATE crying in front of people.
So there I sat, like a bump on a log, filled with the yearning to share how much this man and his years and years of service as a faithful Scoutmaster, and a bishop and a favorite gospel doctrine teacher, as well as a good and trusted family friend had strengthened and encouraged and inspired me and my family over the past few decades . . . and yet I could NOT make myself stand and walk up to the microphone.
I was so stirred up by the dream that I got up and did a load of laundry and cleaned my kitchen because I knew I wouldn't be able to go back to sleep right away, and when I told my husband about the dream the next morning, he suggested that maybe I should write the man a note, and tell him all the things I hadn't been able to say at his funeral. (LOL . . . did that even make sense?)
He HAS had a rough year, medically, but as far as I know he is recovering well from all the procedures and operations he has endured, but my husband's words sunk down deep in my soul and I knew it was a good idea . . . So I gave it some thought over the next few days, wanting it to be perfect, and to adequately express what was in my heart, and then life got busy, as it always does, and I put that thought on a back burner, and did nothing about it.
Watching conference for the past two days, as I was squirming from some of the talks, inspired and lifted and touched by others, the thought about sending him a note expressing my gratitude resurfaced . . . and it did so in the midst of me resolving to try even harder to be kind and in tune with those around me, to do more to lift and encourage and strengthen the people with whom I come into contact, and to be better about helping to bear the burdens of mortality of friends and family and extended family and neighbors and even strangers . . .
Yeah . . . at that point, the realization that I had never gotten around to writing the note popped into my head . . .
So after conference was over, our youngest son's birthday dinner was served (and put away and cleaned up from) and our company went home, I sat down and after a quick prayer, I just wrote what was in my heart . . .
I wrote about what a good man he was, and how much his faithful service had touched and enriched and inspired the lives of my family members . . . shared some of the memories that my boys had of him as their Scoutmaster and what they had learned from him on all those hikes and campouts and lessons in church and around the campfire . . . how grateful we were for the respect and admiration and friendship our sons had for and with him, and how instrumental he was in helping several of them serve full time missions . . . how inspired we had been by his gospel doctrine lessons . . . How his knowledge and love and understanding of gospel principles and the Savior had helped strengthen and deepen our resolve to live the gospel and serve faithfully . . . That his lessons were never about showing off his extensive knowledge of the scriptures, but designed to make them come alive and make it all seem more real and even better, more DO-ABLE . . . and how the years he led our ward as a bishop, we had been continuously uplifted and inspired and motivated to serve faithfully and stretch in new ways. I wanted to make SURE that he realized how often the Lord had worked through his efforts to bless our lives -- collectively and individually -- AND that he knew how much and how deeply he was loved and appreciated.
It wasn't perfect, by any means . . . I think it is rather awkward and inadequate . . . but at least I finally wrote it . . . I even walked across the street and mailed it, to make sure that I didn't forget it again . . .
Maybe it will seem weird to him when it arrives out of the blue . . . but I want him to know NOW what a difference his life and efforts and example and friendship has made for us . . . for ME . . .
I don't expect him to die any time soon . . . but I really DO want him to know what his friendship has meant to us . . .
Friday, March 23, 2012
Recently I had a conversation with a friend who shared their bafflement at people who differentiate between 'religious' and 'spiritual' . . . That is a whole big, drawn out conversation that cannot really be condensed into short, concise answers, and those answers might vary according to who was asked, but MY take on the issue is fairly simple (HHAHAHAHAHHA surprised you, didn't I? ME having a simple, short answer to ANYTHING?!?!?) and pretty much revolves around the fact that many people have become disenchanted with organized religion, but still feel some affinity for a higher power and have a sense of 'right' and 'wrong' . . . So saying someone is not RELIGIOUS (no strong affiliation with any organized religion) does not mean that they cannot still be SPIRITUAL (have promptings/inspirations/experiences that FEEL spiritual but do not happen in a church or strictly religious-type setting). At least that is MY take on the matter . . .
I get that . . . even though I would consider (and describe) myself as both . . . I AM a devout Mormon, and my faith means everything to me. I go to church, serve regularly, pay tithing, follow my faith's health code, etc. I do not by any means mean that I am a PERFECT Mormon . . . LOL . . . not at all . . . but my faith DOES mean a great deal to me . . . it RESONATES with me. I do not mind if you do not share my faith or even my opinion of my faith, I just hope -- with all my heart -- that you find something that brings the same kind of hope and contentment and peace and meaning to your lives that my faith brings to mine . . .
Spirituality also means a great deal to me. I try very hard to be kind, to look for good in people, to follow through on promptings and feelings I get that feel like inspiration. Are they always inspiration? Maybe, maybe not. Probably not. And I certainly don't claim to do THAT perfectly, either . . . but again, I try. I really try.
This post really isn't about that particular debate, though (religious vs spiritual) . . . I just had an experience last night that made me remember the recent conversation about it.
I had an appointment to go visit a woman from my church this evening. I am just getting to know her, but enjoying the chance to visit with her once a month. She is a sweetheart of a woman, a single mom whose only son is currently far away, serving a mission for our church, and she is so proud of the work he is doing, and loves to share his letters with me. Visiting her is real treat.
Anyhow, I got ready to go, and told my husband I would fix him dinner as soon as I got back, and ran out and got in my car. It wasn't until I was a few blocks away from home that I glanced at the clock in my car and realized I was going to be way early for my appointment with her. Since she asked me to come right after she got home from work, if I went early there was a good chance she wouldn't be there yet, but it wasn't really enough to time to go back home OR decide to do some window shopping or something.
While I was trying to decide what to do, I noticed that my car was on fumes, so I decided to go get gas, which was about perfect for the amount of time I had to kill before I could go to her home. I didn't go to the gas station I usually go to, but decided to go to a different one that was sort of on the way. No big deal.
I pulled into the station, and immediately wished that I HAD gone to my usual gas station because this one was right near a freeway off/on ramp and was CROWDED. I pulled up to the one empty pump, only to discover that it was out of order, so I had to circle around to another pump, and some little car cut in front of me, stealing the recently vacated pump I was headed for. I backed up and tried for another one, and the same thing happened again, so I finally just pulled in behind some little car, resigned to wait, and figuring that a little car probably has a little-ish gas tank and would fill quickly and be gone. Eventually he did leave, and I pulled up.
After inwardly groaning at just HOW expensive gas is (at this particular station the grade I get was $4.74.9 / gallon), I quickly realized that this fill up was probably going to cost me $100 easily. I said a few bad words under my breath, and as I began to pump my gas, out of the corner of my eye I saw a man a little ways off walking towards the gas station with a gas can in his hand. I wasn't really paying attention to him, I could just see him (sort of) in my peripheral vision and the thought jumped into my mind "You should offer to put some gas in his gas can".
I quickly squelched that thought, I mean, I was already going to have to pay a small fortune to fill my own tank and was grumbling about that . . . Surely someone with a smaller, less thirsty car could help him out. The thought to help him didn't feel particularly like inspiration, more like intuitive logic. Someone WALKING to a GAS station with a GAS can is pretty likely in need of gas, right? DUH . . .
About three minutes later, I wasn't even particularly surprised to hear a soft, hesitant voice say, "Excuse me, ma'am . . . I ran out of gas and was wondering if you could help me out . . . " I turned toward the voice, all ready to smile apologetically and say "I am so sorry, but it is all I can do to keep my own tank filled" when I remembered the thought I had had just a few minutes earlier, and found myself saying, instead, "Well, it will take awhile for me to fill my own tank, but if you don't mind waiting, I could put some gas in your gas can."
He assured me that he didn't mind waiting, and thanked me in advance for my help, while I mentally kicked myself and pondered how to get out of paying for his gas.
LOL. I TOLD you I wasn't perfect.
I finally decided that it wouldn't kill me to put a couple of dollars worth of gas into his can until I glanced at the pump again, and realized that 'a couple of dollars' wouldn't even buy ONE gallon. Since I had just been groaning about what it would take to fill my own tank, the thought of being generous really did sort of stick in my throat like a fish bone, but I kept going back to that thought that had popped into my head before he had even approached me . . . before I even had any idea that he WOULD approach me.
I finally decided that I could/would put ten dollars of gas into his gas can. That wasn't a fortune, though it was more than I might usually offer, and while I was so deep in thought, wrestling with my dilemma, it took me a minute to realize that he was talking to me again.
He asked if he could wash my windows since I was going to help him with gas, and I laughed and said 'oh man, my car is SO dirty . . . clean windows will look kind of funny on it, wont they?" He glanced at my car and smiled and said, "Wow, it really IS pretty dirty, isn't it?" (I have this thing about cars being a daddy job . . . I do ALL the cooking and cleaning and laundering and my house is always -- except for this past week because of the company -- clean and orderly, but my car is always kind of messy because I think if I do all that stuff INSIDE the house, my spousal unit should have to take care of the cars. He, however, disagrees and while he keeps HIS car shiny and clean, mine is always messy and dirty, and one of our smart ass sons loves to write (with his finger) on the back window "If only my wife was this dirty", because he thinks it is hilarious . . . I am less amused).
Anyhow, he seemed to really want to wash my windows, so I finally said if he wanted to, that would be nice, and I would appreciate it. He put the gas can down, and began working on the windows. When I finished filling my car (and yeah, the total was OVER a hundred dollars, which again made me wish I could just give him a few dollars and excuse myself) I asked him, "Do I just put the nozzle in this little hole thingie?" Which brought him scrambling back to tell me he would hold the gas can in case it splashed any gas back.
We finally got a little over $10 in the can, and he thanked me for my generosity, and I thanked him for washing my windows, and he said, "But I haven't yet done the windshield, if you can please wait a moment, I will wash it, too". At that moment a gas station employee came up to him and told him that he had to leave the premises, that they would not allow him to harass their customers. He tried to explain that he had run out of gas, but she just waved away his explanation and demanded that he leave, then walked off.
He looked so embarrassed that I felt bad for him, and after she left, he again asked me to wait so he could finish my windshield. When he walked past me, I said "I am sorry that my tank took so long to fill and that made you get in trouble." Then I climbed in my car, and when he finished the windshield, I smiled and waved and mouthed 'thank you' through the window then I drove off.
I know that was no big deal . . . Ten dollars worth of gas isn't going to make or break me financially. I have no idea who he was or where he was going when he ran out of gas . . . I just know -- with everything in me -- that I was there at that gas station at that time to help him. I don't know how I know that . . . or why I am so sure . . . but I am.
I will never see that man again, and honestly, I probably wouldn't recognize him if I did . . . but that doesn't matter . . . Even my initial crappy attitude didn't matter . . . I KNOW that I left early for my appointment (without realizing it) and saw the low gas light at that moment so that I would go to THAT gas station at that precise time to be there when he arrived.
To ME, that experience was spiritual, not religious . . . In fact, even though I don't understand why, I know that it was significant . . . I guess I know this in the same way I know that I was meant to help him.
All the way to my appointment, I had the SWEETEST assurance -- that I cannot even begin to adequately express in words -- that I had done the 'right' thing . . . and that my heavenly father was pleased with me.
That random, unexpected little experience of helping a stranger out with $10 worth of gas just may have been one of the most spiritual experiences that I have had in awhile . . . I don't know why or even how it was so significant . . . I just know that it was . . .
And I wanted to write it down before I forgot . . . so I am sharing it here . . .
Next time, I REALLY hope that I wont start out so begrudgingly . . .
And after giving some more thought, I realized something very interesting. Had a stranger approached ME at that gas station and offered (insisted?) on paying for MY gas (a substantially more significant investment) the experience would not have been as powerful a reminder that the Lord knew me . . . was aware of my concerns . . . AND that He could trust me to be a blessing in the life of a total stranger . . . THAT experience was absolutely AMAZING . . .
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
So . . . yeah, I am boring.
Big deal. Most of us are . . . honestly. I mean, NOBODY is endlessly witty and insightful and entertaining . . . right? Why should I expect to be any different? I began this blog as an exercise (sort of) after thinking about a part in an old movie ("Bridges of Madison County" or something like that, I think . . . I didn't even LIKE the movie, and never read the book, but at the end of it the woman's daughter and son are going through her cedar chest and discover some things that make them realize that they had never really known their mom as a PERSON . . . just as their mom. That seemed sad to me . . . and I decided that I would try to give my family members a chance to know ME . . . just as a person, not as their mom or aunt or sister or wife . . . just as, well, ME.
HMMMMMM . . . well, the jury was out for awhile, but apparently the 'ME' I was attempting to share is pretty dang boring. LOL.
OK . . . I can live with that. I don't know if I did a very good job of sharing myself here . . . but that is okay. I am aware that there are HUGE reservoirs of boringness in me . . . and sometimes I even bore myself. However, there are also times that I amaze myself, and to be honest, I really DO like being me . . . but my life is not such a thrill-a-minute that I would expect anyone else to want to BE me . . .
And I can live with that . . .
I am NOT, by any stretch of the imagination a finished product . . . and that does surprise me. I have spent most of my life assuming that when people got to 'my age' (which years ago I might have classified as 'old' but which NOW seems quite Spring chickenish) they were less works-in-progress and more polished. Either I am not that aware (always a possibility) or I just don't have it together quite as well as other . . . um . . . 'spring chickens' . . . ish . . . (also a possibility) . . . but I am definitely still learning, still growing, still discovering, still evolving . . . which is interesting (at least to ME), but also a little disconcerting. Fot some reason, I thought all my rough edges would be more polished by now . . . How kind of depressing to think that the people I spent my life looking up to were maybe just like ME . . . mere mortals . . .
Anyhow, be that as it may . . . this is kind of an unexpectedly stretchy time in my life . . . with some hard things happening/going on . . . and I find myself less ready to turn these experiences into Sacrament Meeting talks with the little standard pat answers to my very real questions and concerns. Oh, I haven't lost my faith. Not at all. I KNOW that my Heavenly Father is aware of what is going on AND that He is in charge and has a plan for my life. I also know that He sees a bigger, clearer picture than I do, and that things that don't seem to make sense NOW . . . WILL be understood and probably even appreciated somewhere down the road.
I heard the neatest story in Stake Conference awhile back that has stuck in my head, even though the details are fuzzy and I may not get them exactly right. Still, I want to try to write it down here before I forget it completely.
A woman was out shopping and came across some absolutely beautiful carved wood music boxes. Knowing how much her little daughter would love something so girly and lovely she purchased one for her, to surprise her daughter with on Christmas morning. On her way out of the store, she saw a much simpler, much smaller, and much less expensive version of the wooden music box, and remembering that her daughter was going to a friend's birthday party soon, purchased that for her daughter to give as a gift.
When she showed her daughter the small music box that she could wrap up for her friend, the little girl promptly burst into tears, sobbing "I don't WANT to give this to MaryAnn . . . I want to keep it for ME . . . I have ALWAYS wanted a wooden music box!!!" She could NOT be consoled, as hard as her mother tried to do so. The irony did not escape her mom . . . The girl WOULD be receiving a music box soon . . . a much nicer one than the one she was giving her friend, and yet the girl didn't know about the second music box, and so she was absolutely CERTAIN that the music box she was supposed to wrap up for her friend, was EXACTLY what she wanted.
The speaker then went on to say that trusting in the Lord means JUST that . . . TRUSTING him . . . Trusting Him when things don't go the way you had hoped or planned, and you are absolutely CERTAIN that the righteous desires of your heart are mistakenly slipping away, out of your grasp . . . Trusting that He DOES have a plan . . . and that sometimes when what you want and hope for and dream about doesn't seem to be working out, it IS because the Lord has something much better in store for you . . . You need to trust His plan when he takes (pries?) the small music box out of your fingers, and be willing to be patiently confident that it will be replaced with something even better.
I don't know if my retelling the story makes much sense tonight . . . but maybe that doesn't even matter. Maybe *I* am the one that needed to be reminded of that thought . . .
Yeah . . . I suspect that I really did write all this for ME . . . I may not be as witty or entertaining or insightful as I could be . . . but I want most to be AUTHENTIC . . . and tweaking things to entertain an audience (LOL, like I have one) will interfere with what I want (and perhaps need) this experience to be.
So . . . sorry, but this is ME . . . warts and all . . .
(Um, except I really don't have any warts, honest, but you know what I mean.)
Sunday, February 26, 2012
There is simply no subtle way to put this . . . I am a bona fide, world class weenie . . .
Yeah . . . pathetic, but true . . .
I am just not very brave. PERIOD. For all my love of my pioneer ancestry and my identifying with them and their courage in the face of heartbreaking challenges like cutting off their own leg to free themselves from a frozen river (OK, I may have made that one up) . . . Still, the point is that I LOVE pioneers . . . I am FASCINATED by their courage and resourcefulness and faith . . . I ADORE that I have honest-to-goodness pioneer ancestry . . . and yet I whine if my air conditioning is slow to kick in and I refuse to eat anything that even looks slightly weird (including guacamole and sour cream and cream cheese and a lengthy list of other nasty food items).
I am -- at the risk of repeating myself -- very much a weenie.
My comfort zone is roughly the size of a postage stamp, and it has taken me DECADES to stretch it this far.
I at least am aware of my weenieness . . . and I AM working on it . . . sort of. This year for my New Year's Resolution (which I LOVE love LOVE to make . . . I may be a weenie, but I am a weenie with GREAT intentions) I vowed to do one stretchy thing a day. It could be big or small, but even a teensy tiny stretchy thing counted . . . and honestly, MANY of my stretches have been microscopic.
That has been an interesting journey. Here were are inching towards the end of February, so I have nearly two months of 'stretchy things' under my belt . . . and for the most part they are NOT particularly impressive. I went up and shook hands with an unfamiliar face at church (well, actually I shook the HAND of someone with an unfamiliar face . . . I didn't really think they would appreciate having their face shaken) . . . I smiled at a stranger at the store . . . I gave up a primo parking space without ANY bad words muttered . . . I listened patiently to someone drone on and on and ON about something that had upset them . . . I took the time to tell someone that they looked extra pretty today . . .
Yeah . . . I am not exactly curing cancer or halitosis or taking a stand on world peace . . . but I AM making an effort to being more open to stretching a little every single day in a way that I probably would not have without the challenge.
Last night my stretchy thing was to FINALLY print out my NaNoWriMo story from 2011. I kind of liked my one from 2010, though it is still in the editing process, but I am fairly positive that my 2011 story stinks. For one, I inexplicably went with a genre I have never had a desire to write before AND it is the first time I have written a story for an adult audience. Children's literature is what really fascinates me, and honestly almost all of my favorite books are children's book . . . When writing I seem to find my voice most naturally in a precocious, thoughtful, ever watchful child . . . perhaps because I WAS that child. A long time ago.
So for whatever reason, even though I am NOT a 'lets-throw-caution-t0-the-wind' kinda girl, I wrote a story for adults (NOT to be confused with an 'Adult' story . . . no XXX's for ME, thank you very much) . . . and even while I was writing it I could tell it was bad. BUT I decided that the exercise of stretching would be good for me anyways. On November 30 I validated my 50K+ words and promptly forgot about the story. Oh, I would have put it aside to 'rest' for the month of December anyways . . . because it is MOST helpful to come back to it fresh when you are ready to edit and revise and see if what you have written has any merit, anything worth salvaging to it at all . . .
So in early January, I THOUGHT about reading it over . . . and chickened out. I just couldn't bring myself to do it . . . to face just how truly awful it was. My reluctance was sort of like trying to talk yourself into getting on the scale when you KNOW you pigged out on your two week vacation. You just want to accept the fact that the product is bad without being slapped with the details of the awfulness.
I thought again in late January . . . well I really should read it through at least once . . . and promptly pushed the thought aside again.
Here it is late February, and last night I decided that two months of weenieness (three, if you count December) was enough . . . I printed out all one hundred single spaced pages and committed myself to actually reading it. Oh, this IS -- without a doubt -- VERY raw . . . Like I said, I have never even read through it ONCE . . . in fact in that hectic month, I rarely even reread the last page or two I had written before jumping in to begin writing again.
HMMMMMMMMMMM . . . .
It IS very disjointed. Someone is mentioned in the first little bit that as far as I can recollect never gets referred to again . . . People changes names . . . Sometimes their physical descriptions change . . . Lots of details don't add up . . . and yet . . .
It isn't ALL absolutely HORRIBLE . . .
It isn't GOOD . . . but there are parts of it that when reading it, I suddenly think "DANG . . . I was MASTERFUL at describing that" . . . (Hey . . . if I am willing to face the stink-o parts, I should also be able to acknowledge the parts that aren't so stinky, right?)
This IS stretchy . . . but just like the exercise of writing it was good for me as a writer . . . so is the exercise of facing exactly what I wrote . . .
I mean . . . I am only like ten pages into it at this point (there is no need to get OBSESSIVE about this, after all) but I am pleased. Not because the story is any better at all than I remember it . . . but JUST because I DID write it . . . and even if my 'baby' IS awful homely . . . It IS, after all, MY baby . . .
YAY for stretching!!! I am microscopically less of a weenie today than I was yesterday . . .
Monday, February 6, 2012
Wow . . . I cannot believe that Mother's day(ish) was the last time I posted here . . . I don't even think I have signed in or read anything anywhere since then . . . I guess LIFE happened . . . and -- literally -- almost death . . .
I am still trying process that whole experience. I almost died. I came REALLY really close . . . Maybe I should have died, I don't know . . .
I have had some close calls before in my life . . . lots of trips to emergency rooms for stitches . . . once when I was a teenager I jumped into a swimming pool onto a floating raft, and to my surprise, it flipped out from underneath me and I FELT my head brush the side of the pool, narrowly missing having my brains splattered all over the deck . . . Nobody else around me knew what had almost happened, but *I* did . . . I knew that I had come really close to at best, a very very serious head injury, and at worst, death.
Another time my brakes went out on the freeway when I had a car full of kids. I have NO idea how I managed to maneuver over to the side of the freeway safely, let alone get clear home . . . Again, everybody else knew it was DANGEROUS, but I am not sure anyone else knew that our lives had been spared, but *I* did . . .
Then last summer happened . . .
In the midst of an exciting, thrilling, joyful family gathering to celebrate new love and the start of a new family unit, I was once again tapped on the shoulder . . . or more accurately, I was mugged in the alley with a baseball bat by the grim reaper . . . and when I woke up after about thirty hours during which I have NO idea what happened, except what I have since been told . . . and as I gradually became aware of what was going on, I realized that it had happened yet again.
I don't know why that thought is SO difficult to wrap my head around, even now, seven months later. I almost died. I came really, REALLY close to dying . . . for reals . . .
I have always sort of thought that when it was 'my time' that I would have at least a moment, if not longer to sort of realize I was headed 'out' and to at least briefly look back over my life and see if I was going to be leaving behind any unfinished business . . . any loose strings that needed to be tied off . . . and some sort of split second awareness that 'okay . . . this is IT' . . .
Last summer there was NONE of that . . . and perhaps THAT is the most disconcerting part of it all . . .
But then again . . . I did survive . . . I did wake up . . . I AM still 'here' . . .
But even so . . . I still wonder about that . . .
And more often than I care to note, in the midst of playing with a grandchild . . . or cuddling and reading with one . . . or caught up in the absolute wonder and enjoyment of watching each one blossom and become who they are ultimately to be, I find myself catching my breath and the thought pops, unbidden, into my head "I would have missed this moment" . . . It happens with my precious grandchildren . . . with my beloved children . . . their spouses . . . friends . . . with my husband . . .
I guess what that all adds up to is that while I may still be coming to terms with the experience of last summer . . . I AM -- with all my heart -- VERY grateful to 'still BE here' . . .
VERY, very humbled and grateful . . .
Friday, May 6, 2011
I don't have a photo on my mother on my computer, or I would have posted one here . . .
In another day or so it will be Mother's Day . . . at least here in the United States. I know that Mother's Day is hard for many women . . . hard for women who were never able to have children (and wanted them) . . . hard for women who had dysfunctional mothers who left scars, either emotionally or even physically . . . hard for women who look back over their lives and realize that they made some very poor choices that their children have had to or still may have to pay a big price for . . . hard for women who do not value motherhood for a variety of reasons . . . hard for women who feel like even though they TRY they do not measure up to some ideal mother they imagined they would be or wished they could be or wished they could have had . . .
Yeah . . . basically, I think mother's day is a hard day for a lot of women . . . perhaps ALL women. I have a friend who used to work in retail for decades, who said she would rather work BOTH Black Friday (day after Thanksgiving) AND the day after Christmas than work on Mother's Day . . . She said she absolutely HATED working that day, more than any other because the store was filled with men and adult children, looking desperately for a last minute gift that would be 'good' enough for a wife or mom . . . and women who were frustrated and disappointed and upset with what their families did (or failed to do) to 'honor' them on this special day . . .
I am not one of those who hates Mother's Day, personally . . . despite my own imperfections as a mother (and they are many), and the sometimes flawed and disappointing ways in which my husband and children 'thank' me for all I have done . . . I have learned to LOVE Mother's Day.
I used to feel sad and dissatisfied on Mother's Day until one day maybe twenty years ago I realized that part of what I was feeling was remembering that my own mother had been sad and disappointed on Mother's day. I decided that day that that sadness was NOT a legacy I wished to pass along to my own children. So I totally changed my attitude . . . Mother's day was no longer about what gifts I received or who made what for dinner . . . It was a day in which I simply celebrated how much I loved BEING a mother . . .
That was a real turning point for me . . . Even if I got flowers bought at a grocery store late Saturday night and a card my husband forgot to sign (and that was only on occasion . . . he also did some AMAZING, breathtakingly thoughtful gifts like the time he got our kids -- ages about four to fourteen -- out of bed at midnight Saturday night after I had gone to sleep and they spent FOUR HOURS in the middle of the night weeding , mulching , nourishing, and planting these big flower beds we had along the house in our front hard and then got up early the next morning to present me with dirty gloves and a mud-caked trowel . . . I was SO overwhelmed and touched that they thought of it and were willing to do that). . .
So even if I had to cook my own Mother's day dinner (we don't go to stores or restaurants on the Sabbath) . . . even if my kids chose that day to whine and fight and argue endlessly . . . It didn't matter, I didn't wait for THEM to make me happy . . . for THEM to make me feel like all the sacrifices and 24/7ishness of motherhood was worth it . . .
Nope, I wanted them to remember me HAPPY on Mother's day . . . So I was. And for ME, the way to do that was simply to make it a day on which I celebrated how very grateful I am for the opportunity I have had to bear and raise and nurture my five AMAZING, challenging, incredible children . . .
I have absolutely LOVED being a mom . . . and now a gramma . . . Oh, I don't delude myself that I have done any of it perfectly . . . and when I remember the times I was too tired to listen to a child who had something they wanted to share or turned away from a sticky hug because I was dressed up and ready to go out or lost it with a surly teenager when something deep inside of me was telling me they needed a hug . . . When I remember those times, my heart just aches . . . and I wish life had a replay button so I could rewind things and go back to just THAT moment and do better . . .
But I cannot . . . I cannot go back and erase those missteps and mistakes, no matter how badly I would like to . . . anymore than anyone else can. All I can do, is learn from those times and move on and try to do better . . . I have not been a perfect mother . . . even though I have honestly tried to do my prayerful, loving best . . . I am not at all sure that ultimately that my 'best' will be enough to give my children the stability, the skills, the grounding they will need as they navigate the rapids of their own lives . . . but I DO know that it was a priority for me and that I TRULY tried . . . and I pray that ultimately that will be enough . . .
Oh, how I hope so . . . I really REALLY hope so . . .
Also on this day, I remember MY mom. I cannot even find the words to express how beyond grateful I am for my own mother . . . She died sixteen years ago, and I still miss her every day. I hope with all my heart that I told her often enough how much I loved and respected and admired her . . . I hope she knows how often I remember things she said (or didn't say when I knew she was dying to) . . . how much I cherish that she believed in me, no matter what . . . and that even when my choices or actions disappointed her, that she KNEW that I was capable of better . . .
I am grateful for the memories I have of laughing with her, my sisters and I piled on her bed, laughing so hard we could hardly breathe, when I knew even then, that she REALLY wanted to go to sleep because she got up at 4 am to help my brother with his paper route . . . She was a very intelligent, well read woman, yet she could still laugh and be silly and enjoy the antics of seven active, creative, imaginative children . . .
I have no doubt that my own strong faith was nurtured by hers . . . and I treasure the memories I have of walking into her room late and night and finding her either kneeling at the side of her bed, deep in her personal communications with the Lord or sitting there, propped up with pillows with an open book of scriptures in her lap . . . I no longer remember all the WORDS with which she shared her deep love of the Lord and faith in His dealings except in snippets . . . but I will never forget the powerful witness -- throughout my whole life -- of how SHE found strength and comfort and hope by turning to Him on a daily and regular basis . . .
I miss you so much, Mom . . . and I wish with all my heart I could give you one more big bear hug and tell you how very much I love you . . . and that I will be ETERNALLY grateful for the opportunity to have been nurtured by a woman like you . . .
Happy Mothers Day . . . to all us imperfect, flawed, unfinished products who are daily trying to do our best to love and nurture and teach and encourage our children -- whatever their ages or circumstances -- to be their BEST selves . . .