Monday, January 25, 2010

Bittersweet Sixteen


I feel sorry for my oldest son who will forever have the role of official mommy heartbreaker. For better or for worse, he grows up first and therefore, causes me to stumble upon his every milestone.

This weekend he will turn sweet 16. Every kid looks forward to this momentous birthday, at least here in Utah, as they can finally date and drive. Being a first time 16 year-old's mom, however, I was not on the ball enough to get him to summer Driver's Ed (What? time for that already? Didn't you just go off to Jr. High yesterday, that was a hard day too!) Soo, it worked out well to tell him that he needed to earn his Eagle before getting his license. And, he tells me, that aside from his first date with his grandmother, he has no immediate plans for dating (I'm sure the young ladies in his class have other plans, however).

Still, the ball is now rolling. Our little (actually not so “little”) intact family is about to blossom (that's a euphemism for all my kids growing up, leaving home and ripping my heart out). I thought the hard part was keeping them alive for this long. Turns out that it's even harder to watch them naturally shift from loving to hang out and watch Disney movies with you on Friday nights to actually preferring their friends, or at least their friends' houses where there aren't eight younger siblings clamoring for attention.

To be fair, my eldest has far exceeded my expectations in this regard for many years. He truly has been the quintessential “big brother,” always babysitting without complaint, or being the guy to set up family movie night complete with the “nest” of blankets and pillows for popcorn and snuggling. But the times, they are a-changin'.

No longer will it just be dad and mom in the front seat of the van going cross country with everyone in tow, now we'll have a third driver. Someone new to talk to at 2 am on those lonely, dark all-nighters. This is definitely a good thing and I am actually happy and excited about it! (Can't you tell? I'm smiling, really, I am). It's just that I know that I must also mourn the loss of my children's babyhood.

Yes, there are many more still under my watchful care (trapped because they have no drivers license), but this moment in time represents the beginning of the end of my reign as Queen of Hyper Control. I now officially have to “let go and let God.”

I know the Lord will watch over and protect my firstborn son, as He does all of us. But I hope his first date for a girl's choice dance will understand, if, after taking too many pictures, I recite through my tears, as they get into the car: “I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, As long as I'm living, my baby you'll be!”

After all, she'll be a mother too someday (but not until WAY after his mission!!!!).

Friday, January 8, 2010

MANY THANKS TO MANDY LYON(my cousin!) (LYONSAYSROAR.BLOGSPOT.COM) for sharing the following:

tuesday, june 2, 2009

the family business

It's the end of the school year. These days, the schools celebrate this special event with lots and lots of awards... I'm talkin' LOTS. (At least our school does.) Kaia's Kindergarten class held a fabulous event, filled with cheering and screaming for top achievement in things like never being tardy and generally completing the school year. Very exciting stuff.

Actually there
was part of the program that made the whole thing worth it for me. Her teacher had each child write down what they want to be when they grow up and then draw a picture of themselves doing their chosen profession. And these kids had BIG ambition. (I mean, once you've received so much praise for being punctual- you feel like the sky's the limit, right?) There were football players and soccer players; firefighters and soldiers;pool cleaners and grass cutters. (Seriously! I wish I were kidding... ok, maybe I don't.) I'm slightly embarrassed to admit it, but Kaia's chosen profession just about had me teary-eyed. As we stood outside her classroom, I looked at all the drawings these kids had made of things they wanted to be. And there in the middle, was my little girl's drawing of a smiling woman, wearing a flowery dress, and the caption: "Mom".

She was the only girl in her class that said she wanted to be a mom when she grew up. When her teacher read it out loud in front of all the kids and parents, the kids erupted in laughter and a few of the parents snickered. But she didn't even flinch. She just glanced to the side and flashed me one of those sweet Kaia grins. I don't know why, but it just made my heart happy that that's what she would want. I guess I felt like maybe I've done a few things right if she would want to follow in my footsteps- take over the family business. ;) I think in this world, where the aspiration of being a stay-at-home mom is so often scoffed at, it's amazing that there are still little girls (and some not-so-little girls) that just want to do what they do best... nurture and care for others. That part, to me, was better than any run-of-the-mill award that she received. Her teacher presented her with many of them, but all I could think about was how proud I was of what she wanted to be.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Inner Cheerleader

(this is a repost written 3/2009)

Recently, I began exercising again (since the birth of our ninth child, gravity has hit me pretty hard). I try to do this in the early morning so as not to bother the family, and to get through it without any little ʻhelpersʼ who like to climb onto my aerobic step and watch the show.

A few days ago, however, the four youngest (minus the baby) all came down to the basement before I was finished with my video. They were quite astonished to see me exercising (it has not occurred much in their life times)! Then they began to copy and do it with me (on the step, of course). As the video proceeded, the instructor began to make positive comments, such as, “Great job!” “Iʼm proud of you!” “Youʼre doing it!” “Keep it up, youʼre almost through!” “Just do your best.” Suddenly my 7 year-old looked perplexed. “Mommy,” she asked, “Can they see you?”

Up until that point, I had not thought about how odd such comments are. Of course the instructors on video tapes cannot see me! And yet, I was soaking in all those positive comments and really needing and believing them. “Yes!” I would think to myself, “I CAN do this, I AM making progress!” Funny thing, those positive comments really keep me going during a workout. I need to hear them!

I started to think about my children. More often than not, I am making not-so- positive comments. This I do to fulfill my role as the teacher, trainer and molder of these young ones. Many times I say, “Pick up your back pack and put it away!” “Do your homework,” “Why didnʼt you practice already?” and so on. These phrases may seem somewhat necessary, but they certainly are not very motivating.

What if my video instructor was saying, “Your abs need work!” “Why arenʼt you keeping up with me?” “Have you drunk 8-10 cups of water today?” I donʼt think those kinds of comments would motivate me at all. I am going to try harder to use positive talk with my children. We all need that.

Iʼm sure it works on husbands too! Joseph Smith said, ”When a man is borne down with trouble, when he is perplexed with care and difficulty, if he can meet with a smile instead of an argument or a murmur - if he can meet with mildness, it will calm down his soul and soothe his feelings. . .never give a cross or unkind word to your husbands, but let kindness, charity and love crown your works. . .“

Finally, the great “Instructor” from on High, our Savior, surely CAN see us, though we CANNOT see Him. This is for a wise purpose. However, we can be sure that from His vantage point He is cheering us on. He has gone before us and showed us the way. As we stumble along, trying to keep up with his faultless example, we only have to listen and then we can hear,” Great Job! Iʼm proud of you! Keep it up, youʼre doing youʼre best!”

I alway wanted to be a cheerleader in high school. Now is my chance! We should all tap into our “inner cheerleader” and make sure that truthful, positive comments are the majority of what we say to others. After all, weʼre all just doing our best to get back into “heavenly” shape.

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year's Resolution

As I was taking down the Christmas tree this week, I realized how much I had rearranged the furniture to accommodate it. Not only had I rearranged, but in fact I had actually also removed a desk, added a chair and hung a new picture to balance where the desk had been. That was just in one room. All kinds of other things were affected to accommodate my Christmas decor, and this was a pretty scanty decorating year!

I wondered, why is it so easy to "make room" for my Christmas decorations? Even though it is work and takes time to get the balance just right every year, it is also a joy and so rewarding when finished. I realized that I needed to apply this lesson to my life.

There is a sign on my wall which reads, "Each of us is an Innkeeper who decides if there is room enough for Jesus" (Neal A. Maxwell). I have had it for many years and I place it on the wall each Christmas and yet it was just this year that I really felt penetrated by that message.

By my own admission, I am a workaholic. I love to clean, etc. This is generally a good thing, especially with so many children, but as with all things, can get out of balance. It is so easy to overwork and so easy to justify. Often, I don't even attend movies with my family because it is too easy to put the baby down for a nap and stay home to clean! Instead, I should take the time to get a sitter if needed and just "make room" in my day to be with my husband and children. It is deceptive, because there is always work to be done! If we are not careful, we can talk ourselves out of any other experience because the laundry, dishes, yardwork, scrapbooking, is not all caught up.

As I sat winding up strings of lights, I pondered this. I realized that it was the last day to go see "Savior of the World" (a live musical drama of the Savior's miraculous birth and resurrection) up in Salt Lake. I knew I had promised a friend I would try to see her in it. I also knew that it would be a powerful and sweet experience for my children. Still, I wavered. There was so much work to be done! This was also my last work day before school, etc. started again. How would I ever catch up if I took 5 hours off to do the whole Salt Lake thing? Then I remembered, "make room." In my mind, I actually visualized answering the door and letting in the Savior. Then, I did something VERY uncharacteristic of me (just ask my husband!). I announced that we were going to Salt Lake, without any tickets, to go stand in a stand by line for the sold out show. I called my mom who graciously agreed to babysit the two toddlers. I rearranged some teenager conflicts, I made a fast lunch, I dressed everyone in sunday clothes (and boots of course) and then we dashed out the door before I had time to talk myself out of it!

Would we even get it? I wasn't sure, but I knew that if I made room for the Lord, He would probably make room for us. Sure enough we got there with just minutes to spare. We waited in the stand by line. Miraculously just before the start, we were handed 9 tickets for seats all together. I couldn't believe it, but actually, I could. From start to finish, I was entranced. I loved the beautiful show which so gently, yet deeply portrayed the miracle of Jesus Christ. I left with a more profound witness than I had ever felt before that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. I was so grateful to experience this with my beautiful children.

I was so excited that I called family members on the way home, "Please come and see the evening show! It's the last show until next year, you'll be so glad you did!" Lovingly they expressed how they wished they could, then finished by saying, "There's just too much work to do tonight." I felt numb. I realized how close I had come to missing it too. How close I had come to just "working" through another day without taking the time to "let Him in." I resolved to never let another day in my life go by without taking the time to commune with the Lord.

One of my favorite choral pieces is "Take Time to Be Holy." It reminds me to do just that each day. As we set our New Year's Resolutions, this is one I'll be writing down! As President Ezra T. Benson said, "If you're too busy for the Lord, you're too busy."

Incidentally, whenever I "take time to be holy," inevitably I have a better day as a mother. I had the best time with my children and John in Salt Lake. We even had a quick tour of the Lion House and got some yummy dinner together. Not something I will soon forget. Most likely, had I stayed home to clean, I would have had to clean again next Saturday anyway. I think the kids will remember our outing more than my cleaning!

Likewise, when I take the time to spend a few quiet moments in the scriptures before the kids get up, somehow it gives me what I need to be more patient and loving .

It is tempting to think that we will be happier if we wait until all the work is done before we make time for the Savior or our family, but this is not true. In fact, when we prioritize the Lord, the best things happen! So, this year I pledge to open my door, my heart, my schedule to Him. Thanks to all of you for your great examples! Happy New Year!

"Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace." (E.T. Benson)