Thursday, May 27, 2010

End of School Reflections (Ramblings?): Motherhood, Growth, the Atonement....

I really can't believe it's the end of another school year.

I measure my kids' growth not by birthdays, but by their progression in school, so this time of year is always a bittersweet time for me. I am so proud of them and the people they are becoming. By the end of the year, I'm so ready for them to be home and to have a break from the routine of homework and all.

But it's also a time when I come face-to-face with how fast they are growing. It's so cliché, that phrase, "They grow up so fast." But it's so. true.

Sometimes the reality of that cliché nearly takes my breath away. Sometimes it comes close to making me sick to my stomach, actually.

My children are close in age (all born within three years of each other). I love it. They are such good friends. Since we haven't been able to have more children due to my health, I try to just enjoy the unique fact that our children are all pretty close to the same stage of life, so that makes family activities really fun.

But guess what else it means? The empty nest thing will not be gradual. Even as I can't wait to see how they will continue in their path to becoming their own people (it's so fun watching them grow!), another part of me wants to scream: STOP! Slow down!

Each year, I think I savor, value, appreciate, understand motherhood more. While I know I still have lots of room to grow, I have been doing this long enough to see that there has been progress in my personal journey. I get it more and more. I'm less and less threatened by talks about the ideals surrounding motherhood, because I see that it's all a process, and the ideals are essential in the process. And anger at the ideals distract us from the real work and give the adversary power.

The Atonement works, people. It really does. And wow, if there is ever a place where the Atonement is needed, it's in the realm of parenthood. Growth is sometimes so imperceptible -- sometimes so much so that it makes me crazy -- but it is real. Grace is real. Walking by faith bears fruit.

Being a stay-at-home mom for me has been in large measure an act of faith. I am grateful I have the choice to do that, and realize not all women do have that choice. But you need to know that it's not necessarily been the natural choice for me.

But there is lots about seeking to be a follower of Christ that isn't natural. It's a process to learn to become like God. Just because we have a divine heritage and birthright, just because seeds of godliness are within us (and that is truth), doesn't mean that everything divine will come without effort and sacrifice. I think we sometimes forget that. I think women in particular forget that.

More and more, what motherhood means to me is finding more of the divine within me through obedience and sacrifice. No, better said, it's having God reveal more and more of the divine within me -- and in this role -- through His grace.

And every year, at the end of school, I get to reflect on all of that. It both pains me to realize how fast they are growing and how much I still need to grow, and also excites me to see how we are all growing up together.

I love being a mother.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Migraine Madness

Migraines make me feel a little crazy. Like maybe I'm going to lose it.

But I realized tonite that I tend to pray more when I have migraines, or at least think about praying.

It's pathetic, but true. 

I'm trying to be positive here. There has to be a silver lining in the pain, right?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Garage Sale = Miracles

It started off as a lousy day, really. I had a hard time falling asleep (above and beyond the usual -- I didn't drift off until the sun had awakened. Zonk.)

When I woke up a few hours later, I knew I couldn't help with the garage sale. I needed sleep...again above and beyond my usual needs; I was still dealing with the remnants of the icky sinus/bronchial infection I'd had. And so, for the second week in a row, I wasn't going to be there with my kids, helping with their fundraiser.

As usual, my husband was kind and supportive. "Don't you worry about it. You get back to sleep."

I woke up after the 2 p.m. finish time. I was curious to see how they did, so I went over to the neighbor's garage. (Oh, my neighbor. She's one of my living angels. Seriously. I'll need to write more about her sometime.)

My mind immediately started thinking about trying to sell some of the stuff on Craigslist or something. That futon would likely make someone happy -- I mean, it seemed to me to be a steal at $25.

And then I thought, "Hmmmmm. Maybe we could buy it." Wheels started turning.

Long story short, with the help of home teacher and a family friend, we miraculously got it down our bendy staircase. We put it in what had been a craft room for the kids and created a bedroom for #1. He is more than thrilled.

That means #2 and #3 also have their own bedrooms now, too.

(And so does dh. Due to my major sleeping and health issues and his major snoring issues, we don't sleep in the same space. Sad, but true. For the past several years, he's been sharing a room with #1. Now he's got his own space downstairs. He's by ds, so I can worry less. ds still has a parent close. And dh is pretty happy to have a place (old craft table now in the middle of the not-huge room) to spread out all his books. Which means they aren't on the kitchen table anymore. Ahem.) 

Anyway, I could never have imagined what this would do for our family and for my mothering, but I feel God knew. He knew what I needed and what they needed. (And He was so frugal about it, which makes me nearly giddy and, of course, deeply grateful.)

I feel He has helped compensate for things I cannot do very well as a mom, such as teaching them in focused ways how to clean and organize. I have felt much guilt about my weakness in this area, which is only compounded exponentially by the chronic illness issues which have plagued me for years. I can't fully capture here what it has felt like to watch my children suddenly have a stewardship, a place to order and organize and call their own, but it has been a spiritual thing to see something beyond myself happening. Divine intervention came in a wholly unexpected way, compensating for my mortal weakness in this role that matters so much (and where my weakness pains me so much).

Things just clicked. Without being able to anticipate this happening, each child now has a desk (I dare say homework has been more fun for them the past few days) and a CD player (one of those was also a garage sale find, one was a Christmas present from grandparents, one had already been in the girls' room). Should I confess that neither dh nor I knew that #1 loves classical music? He's been listening to it pretty much nonstop when in his room. He's never listened to it before. I have always hoped my children would resonate with uplifting music. Now they each have the means to do that in their own way, without having to answer to a sibling. (Having children so close together is such a blessing, but does have its challenges, and this has really helped with many of those. Just like that.)

Another tender mercy element of this that I'll capture here corresponds to recent inspiration (you know it's inspiration when it just works) to have #3 get herself to bed earlier than the other two (bedtime has been another challenge with three so close together). Now there is no need for #2 to tiptoe in or sleep on the floor in "the boys'" room.

And now, every night, my favorite ritual has even more meaning because it's truly one-on-one. I get to tuck them in and cuddle and chat in more personal ways, in their own little world. They are at an age where that personal space really means something, and being allowed in that space to help them end their day is sacred time to me.

As I stood in my kitchen eating a midnight snack tonite, I saw this on my pantry door, and it really says it all.

Believe it. Look for it. See it. And be amazed.

I sure am.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day

We woke up to the newness of all the rearranging we had done the night before. That will be a post for another day, but it was quite a day yesterday...a sort of fun springboard to a good day today, late night notwithstanding.

My family had set out their gifts on the table, and my daughter included the pipe cleaner flowers she had made a few days ago. I was touched that in all the craziness (and I'm talking CRAZINESS) of the day yesterday, he thought to get a couple of gifts...some favorites, including chocolate covered raisins (one of the few things these days that really tests my willpower) and a bookstore gift certificate. (I may like that even more than chocolate.)

Church was delightful. I have more thoughts on the many scriptural insights into motherhood, but that will be another post, too.

Then we had a great time gathering with my family. My brother-in-law found an email from four years ago where we shared some of our favorites -- and he made the dinner with something from each of the emails of the women there. The main course included a little something for everyone, and then he laid things in front of us as we ate (a grapefruit for my sister, chocolate for me). And then there was dessert (yes, more chocolate).  It was all delicious and a lot of fun.

We enjoyed watching the cousins play and just sitting around chatting about lots of things, from politics to books to old friends to the strangeness of getting older when you don't really feel older.

It was just a delightful day. How was your day?

p.s. I have more thoughts about Mother's Day, and yes, you guessed it, that's for another post. But this one has been written. (Whether that's good or bad is up to you to decide. Or not. There's are reasons I have two blogs, and one is that I know not everyone will want to read such things. And that's ok.)