tender times

Jul 17, 2020 by

Our Keziah-girl is getting married in 48 days. The emotions are big in all the ways. Joy, grief, longing, happiness, all the things. We are going to miss her fiercely. Her impact in our home is huge. She is loud, hilarious, determined and her presence is always known. She knows just what to say to bring a smile to Fisher’s face or to encourage him to keep trying when life is hard. She can get him to do what no one else can. She pulls her siblings together for games, adventures, and giant work projects – they would cheerfully follow her to the ends of the earth if she asked them to.

And so we cry. And laugh. And savor every moment we get with her. Everything feels precious. Every conversation. Every game. Every meal. Every story. Every prayer. We have about 25 nights left that she will sleep in our home because she will be gone a lot over the next 7 weeks. I want to spend those nights snuggled in bed with her, hearing her breathe, but she would never allow that, so I spend my nights snuggled up with Richard with tears running down my face.

This parenting thing is hard. We give our hearts so completely to these little babies, then we pour ourselves into them, teaching them, loving them, preparing them for adulthood. And then they grow up and leave and a giant hole is left.

I’m so grateful. So deeply grateful to have been granted the privilege of being a mother. Mothering our children has sculpted my soul, enlarged my view, and grown my heart. Reading to them, teaching them day after day after day, helping them discover the world around them, helping them see who they are, how God works in their lives, and who He created them to be has been an exquisite journey. Two of our children have flown the nest, two of our children are still here, finding their wings. And two of our children are still trying to come to our home and may or may not ever make it into our arms.

It’s a tender time.

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thankful & blessed

Jan 31, 2019 by

Full heart today. I have made two kinds of delicious soup, cleaned my house, worked on our taxes, sent my kids to the temple, and spent sacred hours with my girl.

Blythe is in labor with our first grandchild. I have been preparing for this day for pretty much her whole life and now it is finally here. During our hard years of me not understanding her or her needs, I didn’t know if she would ever allow me to be at her births. And for me, a doula and childbirth educator who loves being with birthing mamas with my whole soul, that thought was deeply painful. Many mornings I would do a visualization technique where I would picture her in labor and envision our relationship at that future date. Then I would think about what I needed to do in the current time to have a future relationship that would allow me to be at her birth. It was one of the most powerful ways I was able to curb my harsh words and be the mama she needed me to be.

And now that day is here. Right now. And it is glorious.

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losing patience and finding love

Mar 8, 2018 by

My boy has been grumpy. Grumpy isn’t even the right word for it as it is SO FAR beyond grumpy. Full of mountains of rage? Obstinate beyond all conception? Having never raised a teenage boy before, I really have no idea what is normal. I have wondered if this is some crazy, anger-filled period that all boys go through (and if so, how on earth have generations of mothers survived it?) or if something is going on inside of him that is outside the bounds of normal.

Today is the umpteenth day of the grumps and I almost lost my cool completely and screamed at him for his refusal to do his math and his angry words and dagger eyes. But I didn’t. I calmly explained his lesson to him again and again and again. When he still refused to even try, I told him he could choose to do housework or math. After folding laundry and doing dishes, he finally lashed out at me.

“How many other kids have to have a mom who can’t ride bikes with them? How many other kids have a mom who can’t really do anything with them?”

Oh my. Big feelings right there.

I was a bit tempted to lash right back at him and say “I JUST bought a bike and we WILL be riding together and STOP your whining about how hard your life is and do your math. For heaven’s sakes, you have parents who love you and food to eat and hundreds of Legos and gobs of books and clothes to wear and you live in America and are not in a war zone!”

But I didn’t. I responded with a soft voice and said, “Oh buddy, I know. I know it is hard to have a mama who can’t do all the things you wish she could.”

At some point, I did remind him that I will be bike riding with him as soon as the snow melts and that we are going to have some epic adventures. And then he started crying and said, “What chance is there that you won’t get hurt again when you ride your bike and you will be in bed for another two years? Not very big!”

So fear and sadness are at the bottom of this grumpiness. It doesn’t excuse his behavior, but it sure does give me a window into his soul.

I know my broken body is not the worst thing in the world, not by a long ways. I know our lives are full of blessings and rich with beautiful friendships and awesome adventures. But today I saw for a brief moment how very heartbreaking it is for my tender little boy to have a mama whose body doesn’t work like normal. More love, more patience, more nurturing, that is what this boy on the cusp of manhood needs from me.

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sometimes mothering is hard

Mar 6, 2018 by

Mothering is getting the best of me lately. All these vastly different people with different needs, challenges, and personalities living under one roof is hard. Really hard.

We have still not adjusted to having Blythe back in our home after her mission. It has been almost a year and parenting an adult child is still something I haven’t mastered. There are lots of wonderful moments. And there are lots of hard moments. I love this girl of mine so fiercely, so deeply. Yet, it is hard for me to have a pleasant conversation with her.

Sidebar: This girl is doing amazing things. She came home from her mission, started school two weeks later, started at a college of massage therapy program a week after that, and excelled in her classes. She graduated in December, took her boards last week, passed them on the first try, and is ready to start looking for a job in the massage therapy field. She is engaged to a young man and getting married in April. So many good things going on in her life and I’m so, so proud of her.

And yet, it is still hard for us to understand each other. And it breaks my heart.

Then there are the daily ups and downs with homeschooling. My boy who doesn’t want to do math EVER and at the same time giggles while I read our latest read-aloud, Wee Free Men. The girl who wants to create and build and invent and paint and makes messes all over the place every single day. The teenager we rarely see because her schedule is so tightly packed with gobs of good things. The stomachs that are hungry and the hearts that need to be soothed – it all takes so much of me. It is exhausting and soul-filling all at the same time.

I love mothering. I really, really do. I never thought I would, but I have given my brain and my heart to raising these children well and loving them fully.

But I’m not all that good at it. I’m not a natural and it takes serious effort for me to love and serve and give.

After a rough morning with my boy and two rough days in a row with Blythe, I’m tempted to throw in the towel. To give in and give up and say, enough, I am done.

Instead, I am going to dig deep into the marrow of my soul and remember who I am and who God is and who they are and I’m going to keep on trying to mother them.

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on turning ten

Nov 25, 2017 by

It is the night before my last child’s tenth birthday.

I am sitting here eating leftover pumpkin pie, watching Keziah, Dallin, Fisher, and Annesley play Egyptian Ratscrew and laughing their heads off.

And the tears keep spilling out of my eyes.

This darling girl has been such a gift to our family. Such a gift to my heart. Such a gift to this world. And she is growing up.

Ten has always felt huge to me. I remember when Blythe, my firstborn, turned ten. It seemed so old to me. Past the halfway mark to eighteen. On the countdown side till she would grow up and leave our home.

We have been through this tenth birthday with Keziah and Fisher and it has been hard each time.

But not this hard.

Now my baby, my last precious baby, is turning ten. And my heart hurts so much.

Our cuddling days are numbered. I know I can always hug her, but having three older kiddos has shown me there is a natural end to the daily snuggles that young children so freely give…and that we all need so much.

The pain of saying goodbye to my mothering-the-babies days feels monumental. The tears won’t stop and the ache won’t go away.

Tonight I will hold her and rub her back one last time as a nine year old. I will tell her her birth story and listen to her prayers. And then, I will say goodbye to an era. Twenty-one years is a long time to have small children in our home…and yet, it has gone far too fast.

Annesley Aliyah, I love you baby girl.

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how i love them

Mar 1, 2016 by

Last night in the middle of an ordinary moment, time slowed down and all of a sudden my entire being swelled with love for these people God has given me. I saw them with new eyes and a new heart and could not believe they are mine. Oh, how I love them!

For our weekly Family Home Evening we went swimming with a few other families. I was too sore and feeling too fragile to get in the water, so I watched the splashing and front-flipping (new skill for Annes off the diving board!) and diving from the sidelines. Afterwards we stopped at the grocery store to grab some essentials for the week. Shopping all together is a pretty rare occurence and it was so fun, I decided we should definitely do it more often. Everyone put in their two-cents over which fruits and veggies to buy (Annesley begged for mangos and who can resist a cute little cherub begging for produce?) and we sent kids all over the store to find items and bring them back to the cart. On one of these runs, everyone ended up together and were walking towards me at the same time laughing and joking as they approached.

Time stood still. The light bounced off their faces and I fell in love with them all over again. These people mean everything to me. And sometimes, I forget. I forget how great my privilege is to love them. In the midst of living, I forget to look into their souls and connect.

So last night was a gift. For a brief moment I saw them as He sees them.

And I remembered.

Here they are all in all their delightful silliness over the past few months.

These two love to take selfies (dualies?) together. May it be recorded that Fisher kissed his sister.

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Meditating with a plunger? She left me a whole string of plunger pictures on my camera.

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Sledding down our road on Annesley’s birthday.

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More sledding.

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First day of snowboarding. Oh, my goodness, they LOVE snowboarding.

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Decorating the Christmas Tree.

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Dancing in front of the Provo City Center Temple on President’s Day.

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All of us (minus Blythe, of course!) in front of the temple.

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love makes the world go round

Sep 27, 2014 by

In the midst of all these bad dreams, pneumonia-laden lungs and a body full of faulty connective tissue, I am a mother.

A mother of four beautiful children who need me to be emotionally present in their lives.

We are trying our darnedest to create an emotionally safe home for these precious ones God has blessed us with. Lots of times I fail. I resort to anger and impatience and the poor coping mechanisms I was raised with.

And many times I choose love. And forgiveness. And patience.

And snuggles.

Always the snuggles bring us back to center.

Early in the morning, before anyone else is moving, Fisher creeps into my room with a book and with his sweet blue eyes asks if I will read to him, “just one chapter before school?”

Late at night, after everyone is done moving, Annesley will sneak into my arms for just one more hug and kiss before bed.

And my heart swells with oceans of gratitude that I, the person who never wanted to be a mother, the person who entered marriage as such a broken, angry soul, the person who believed my life was far more important than a child’s life, get to hold these children in my arms and nurture them with my heart.

I get to mother.

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growing up

Dec 5, 2013 by

I forgot to mention my little Annes celebrated a birthday last week while we were at Grandma’s. She has jumped from 5 1/2 (what she has been telling everyone for months when they say she is five – “NO! I am five AND A HALF!) to the ripe ol’ age of six.

Six.

Oh my goodness.

We opened presents that were hidden all over Grandma’s house. Just wait till you see the blue-haired crocheted doll I found for her! She is darling as can be and Miss Annes loves her and has named her Mar-a-dell. I actually have no idea how to spell it, but that is how she says it…with emphasis on each syllable. She designed a mint chocolate ice cream cake with a giant six made out of Oreos on top.

She has been such a silly kissy, cuddly, snugglebug lately. In the past few weeks, as her warm body has lain against mine, I have been brought to tears quite a few times. My little girl is growing right up and I almost can’t bear it. It looks like I will never be a mother of a five year old again. Or a four year old. Or a three year old. Or a two year old. Or a one year old. Or a tiny precious newborn.

I want to savor these moments that are slipping past me ever so quickly – these long days of reading and teaching and cooking and cleaning and repeating myself five gazillion times. I remember the day Blythe was born in crystal clear clarity. And now I hardly see the girl. She is so busy with her studies and music lessons and performances. It is wonderful to see her blossom and grow into herself as a young adult, but boy howdy, is it hard.

And not just because I know our time with her under our roof is coming to an end…but because I can see what the future holds. All of my little babies are going to grow up and get busy and move on. There isn’t any way around it.

It IS a beautiful thing. Mothering these children has been the work I have dedicated myself to for the past eighteen years. My goal has always been to raise happy, capable, emotionally healthy adults who love God and serve His children.

I just thought it would last longer. I thought I would have babies forever and ever.

And now there are no more babies. And no more toddlers. And no more preschoolers. Good grief, I have graduated out of three whole phases of mothering! I really didn’t see it coming. I somehow thought I would always have a baby on my back, a little one in my bed, and a toddler asserting his independence each moment of the day.

But those days are gone. And it is good, it really is, but it is also bittersweet. I can’t help but cry every time I am shopping for clothes for my children and realize I don’t need to go down the baby and toddler aisles. Sometimes I hold up a little romper and hold it close to my heart trying to remember what my children felt like when they fit into that size.

My little one has been six for over a week and she seems so much older. Bigger. More capable.

All I can do is let her fly and become the person God created her to be.

And cry.

And cheer her on.

p.s. Someday I will find my camera so you can see these little cuties. I lost it the night of the one-inch undoing and am desperately hoping it turns up somewhere!

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full days, full nights

Apr 15, 2013 by

The last week has been full of inspiration, friends, food, fun, new ideas, adventures, family, and excitement. It has been chock full of so, so much.

Hence, I haven’t blogged. Blogging requires me to have a little bit of time in a day to type out my thoughts and this week I had time to live fully, but nothing extra was left over for typing.

Monday

My pelvis had been shifting out of place for a few days and was giving me quite a bit of nerve pain, so late in the afternoon I was able to squeeze in an appointment with my chiropractor to put everything back in place. It is always a little frightening to me to have my hip manipulated because I do not want anything to happen to cause more injury to the area. He did a fabulous job and gently worked my hip socket, psoas, IT band, and trochanter till everything was back in their correct spots and the pain was gone. While I was there I asked him about riding my recumbent bike…see yesterday’s post for more on that!

Monday night during Family Home Evening we were treated to delicious cinnamon rolls from our friends, the Thomases. They were thoroughly enjoyed and quickly devoured.

Tuesday

Learning time. Cleaning time. Get ready for iFamily time. More cleaning time. Run to the store and get more chick feed time. Mutual for the big girls in two different places. More get ready for iFamily time.

Wednesday

Seminary. Play practice for Keziah’s Improv class. iFamily fun and teaching my three classes. Get locked out of my car by Miss Annes. Friend rescue to drive to Rigby and get extra keys. Very rushed dinner time for all the big ballet girls. Run the ballet girls to ballet. Rush home to hold a book discussion at my home on The Jew In The Lotus. Learn a lot. Go to bed way too late.

Thursday

Learning time. See the sunshine and no wind and realize there are cheap flats of strawberries being delivered in town today and decide to have a strawberry-park-library-bike shop afternoon. First trip to the park for 2013. Underdogs for Annesley on the swing. Kez, Fish, and Annes playing tag. Lying down on the picnic table in the sun = pure joy. Then a leisurely library trip where we discovered some new books and I felt like a normal Mama Tracy again. Then the bike shop to figure out bike trainers and the awesome bike store owner who let me borrow a trainer for the weekend. Sometime during the afternoon my cousins, Jim and Bev, dropped by our home and invited us to dinner. They were here from Colorado for their son’s college graduation. Blythe was the only one home so she gave them my number and we started working out a plan to see one another. Because of my hip injury and my breast lump the summer before I haven’t been to the family reunion for the past two summers and have SO missed my extended family. After some rearranging of schedules, we were able to work it all out to meet them for dinner. It was wonderful to catch up with them and visit over some yummy food. Jim even treated us – how fun is that?! After dinner we hurried over to a fundraiser for Dando Amor and OSSO, Blythe’s new passion. She is hoping to serve a volunteer mission with OSSO very soon. What an inspiring evening! We were able to learn more about the work the volunteers do, cry over the great need of the children of Equador, and listen to amazing performances of Broadway songs put on by Playmill performers, past and present. It was an amazing night. Blythe was able to meet with the director of OSSO and she has her heart set on serving in Equador for 3 – 4 months. After the performances, we went shopping in the lobby for special things from Equador and Burkina Faso. Keziah bought a darling bag, Blythe found an adorable wallet, and I bought some wire bugs for Fisher and Annes. We didn’t get home till after 11 p.m. and quickly found the two late nights in a row had about done me in.

Friday and Saturday

Woke up as early as I could given the lack of sleep the past few days and packed for the Mom’s Retreat for iFamily. Then, after getting to gym a bit later than usual, I taught gym, thought I was invincible and did two handstands on the vault AND rescued a boy who was going to crash on his head. The handstands were okay, at least they felt okay at the time, but the rescue did me in. I dislocated my shoulder and wrenched my hip out of place and soon had to lie down with ice packs on both regions. As gym wore on, my pain increased, and my frustration with myself went right along with it. By the time Kat and Heather picked me up for the retreat I was ready to be immersed in an ice bath, but I only had a dinky little ice pack to keep switching from shoulder to hip and my right shoulder was several inches than my left. Ouch.

Off to the Mom’s Retreat we went and oh, what fun we had! Kat catered the event and her food creations are always delicious. We had some wonderful presentations on nurturing ourselves as moms, nurturing our family, specific principles we can implement in our homes in our own individual ways to be more effective in our mothering roles, and stayed up till almost 3 a.m. talking and laughing as only a bunch of girls can do. The next morning we had more of Kat’s yummy food and then I did a vision walk with the group and we had a powerful discussion on our roles as women, daughters, mothers, and friends. After a quick cabin clean-up, we started home through gale force winds, lightening, and rain.

I reconnected with my children, took a catch-up nap, then got ready for our evening activities. The girls went to the Symphony to hear Beethoven’s Fifth and an awesome percussion concerto while Richard had a date with Fisher and Annes. I went to Stake Conference and took pages of notes, basked in the Spirit, and felt inspired to more fully commune with God on a daily basis.

What a week. Chock full of really, really good things. But now, I need some days of early bed times to catch up on all the missed hours of ZZZs. I

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healing

Apr 7, 2013 by

I have a experienced a glorious five days. Simply and beautifully glorious.

On Tuesday of last week my friend Jen brought over pizza and love and concern and brightness. It was wonderful to talk to her, hear her children playing, and laugh a little, but I was still mired in darkness, hopelessness, and misery.

That night Richard used his SimplyHealed training to help my energy systems come back into some semblance of order. After what seemed like forever, I was back to a certain level of functioning and was able to actually smile at my husband and have a normal conversation. It was amazing to feel put back together again and feel somewhat like my real self.

Then I asked him for a priesthood blessing. While it is a sacred experience, I have decided to a write a little about it because I want to remember it forever and also share my joy. He said “I bless you with light” and as he said those words, the room and my soul filled with light so exquisite I felt transformed in an instant. Then he said “I bless you with the presence of your grandmother. I bless you to feel her nearby, to hear her tender words of love, and to know the things she knows.”

Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness. Hallelujah! My grandmother is my favorite person in the whole world. I love her so, so much. I miss her so, so much. I know my grandmother is full of light and truth and love. She knows of Christ’s bounteous love. She knows how to treat people with that Christlike love. She knows the worth of a soul. She loves me. I cannot think of any blessing my Heavenly Father could have given me that would have been more precious or more needed.

Afterwards Richard told me the windows of heaven opened and poured light into my soul. He said my father’s ancestors were there and he could feel their presence strongly.

I was surrounded by light. I could feel it coursing through my soul and nourishing each cell of my body. I am so grateful for light. The light of truth and the light of love are exactly what I needed then and need each day, so I am going to do more to ensure I am receiving both.

Now five days later I can still feel the light. It warms my insides and brings a smile to my face.

Light, love, truth: the balm of Gilead for this soul.

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light

Apr 3, 2013 by

“I bless you with light.”

And it came.

And my soul is healed.

And my heart is free.

And my smile is back.

Praise be to God.

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when will morning come?

Apr 2, 2013 by

But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hope apart
As they turn your dream to shame

This is how my nights are playing out the last few days. The tigers, the demons, the whatever you want to call them are here. They are whispering to me all the lies I have ever believed and some new ones I have never entertained before. They are filling my soul with pain and blackness. I feel like my light, my life-giving energy is being squeezed right out of me.

And it hurts.

The sun is shining in my window and giving me hope that I can reach out to the source of truth and light one more time.

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trying again

Apr 1, 2013 by

After two really hard days fighting the you-are-hopeless demons, I am up and going this morning and willing to try again. I can’t really say determined to try again, but I am willing and I am trying and we are having a pretty normal school day.

I had a good talk with my big girls last night and told them how sorry I am for being impossible the last two days. I told them how much I love them and how I have decided to try again to be their mama. We all cried a bit.

This morning was another story though. Deciding to do something and actually following through are two different things.

But I AM following through. We did have morning devotional. We have done math. We have memorized a poem. We have done our temple of the day. I haven’t said anything mean. I am trying again, especially with that teenager that is so hard for me to understand.

I woke up to a pile of balloons all over my door with “I love you” and “You rock!” and “Thank you for all you do for us” messages all over them. Completely unexpected and super sweet.

I still have a ways to go with my sword of truth, but I am getting there. Our Easter services were really wonderful yesterday and I had a good 45 minute sob-fest in the hallway at church with some lovely ladies who gave me good advice, huge hugs, and a bit of humor. Yesterday afternoon Jessica brought me some of her delicious homemade peanut butter cups and invited our whole family to go on a walk by the river. I didn’t want to go and I was not good company, but the sunshine, sounds of trickling water, and watching my children have a grand time and say adorable things did give my soul some healing.

I need to spend more time in my current read, Through His Eyes: Rethinking What You Believe About Yourself and I think I will refocus on my word study of “Promise” throughout the scriptures. I need some truth, some love, and a lot of hugs.

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they’re back

Mar 31, 2013 by

I am plauged by demons. They have been with me a long time, but they don’t rear their ugly heads that often anymore.

During our first three years of marriage they were a constant companion. They whispered in my mind that I would never, ever be good enough for Richard, that I could never be saved by the Savior, that I was deluding myself into thinking I could live a righteous life and be worthy of my temple blessings.

Sometimes I listened to them. Sometimes I fought them off with swords of truth. Sometimes I felt completely insane. Sometimes I knew God was winning the battle for my soul.

Always my husband loved me. Always he believed in me. Always he taught me who God is and how much I am loved by the Father of us all.

After Blythe was born, the demons lost much of their power. I knew my purpose as a mother and my value to my Heavenly Father. I knew and experienced the blessings of being a daughter of God. I settled into my role of mother and wife and sister and friend and gave my whole heart to my children. I came to depend more and more on my Savior and to love His plan for my life. I learned to trust Him and to love Him.

But lately, the demons have been visiting again. They are coming more and more frequently and I am finding it nearly impossible to vanquish them. Today they are here in full force.

Today, on Easter Sunday of all days, I woke up feeling completely bereft of any hope. I am so tired of trying. I am so tired of failing in my role of mother. I am so tired of being so inept at loving these precious beings God has sent to me.

And the demons are winning.

I know the Savior rose again. I know He is THE source of truth, light, and healing. I know only He can give me peace. I know He wants me to return to Father.

But today I don’t know that I can. I don’t know that I have any hope. I don’t know that I will ever be able to figure out how to mother my teenager in love and peace and truth.

Today I am broken. Today I am convinced that I will never deserve my husband, that I am ruining my children, that I am failing at motherhood, that I will never, ever learn how to speak the universal language of Christ’s love and that my family will be better off without me. These are the messages the demons have been sending for years. But today I am listening. Today I don’t have the strength to fight them off.

I need Jesus.

He is the only one who can fix this and win this battle for my soul.

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the answer came

Mar 17, 2013 by

I love my Blythe so much.

So, so much.

But sometimes I forget how much.

Sometimes I treat her like my enemy.

Sometimes I want to give up on being her mama.

Sometimes I want to run away and scream and cry and rage because I cannot figure out how to show her I love her and treat her like I love her and be with her like I love her.

Sometimes I want to cry.

And sometimes I do.

Today at church I cried while I partook of the Sacrament. I poured my heart out to God and asked Him to please help me mother her. To please help me remember how much I love her. To please help me treat her like I love her. To please help me see her as He sees her.

Please, I pleaded. Please.

Then tonight I was working on my genealogy like I normally do on Sunday nights and was playing one of my favorite CD’s, Women of Destiny Volume 2 (Volume 1 is also fabulous) and a song came on that I have probably heard one hundred times.

But tonight I listened. Tonight it reached into my soul and said “This is your answer. This is how I will help you to treat her like you love her.”

And I cried some more.

It shouldn’t be this hard to treat another human being, especially my own daughter, as a child of God. And yet, it is. It is nearly impossible for me to stay in a place of love with her.

But tonight God spoke to me and told me to listen to this song. So I am going to pay attention.

I think I will listen every day.

Some Other Time

By Tyler Castleton

Do you remember when you used to hold her?
How nothing seemed to matter when you held her in your arms?
The memory is fading in the rush of here and now.
It all gets lost somehow.

Do you remember just how much you love her?
How you could hardly bear to see her all alone?
The silent bedtime stories and forgotten nursery rhymes.
Moments you’re sure you’ll find, some other time.

Every chance to love her you save for other days.
The promises you make a child will never go away.

You watch her slowly growing older.
You see her taking footsteps you thought were years away.
And every day you’re farther from what really matters most.
When all you’ll ever need is little arms to hold you close.

Will you learn what love’s about?
Can you still remember now?
You will find this truth somehow.

Some other time is now.

I have such a short time left with her in my home. I must remember how much I love her and what a gift she is to my life. I must treat her as the precious child of God she is. I want to see her as God sees her and help her see that divine creation as well.

Thank you Heavenly Father for answering my heartfelt prayer and giving me a custom-designed answer. It is just what I needed.

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roller coaster

Jan 22, 2013 by

Oy. My emotions are all over the place. I feel like I am on a roller coaster, up-down, all-around. I want this ride to stop.

Yesterday we had a good learning day. I was feeling stronger and more cheerful and the kids are certainly ready for me to be learning alongside them again. Annesley and I read books, played Go To The Dump and Addition Memory, talked about her future life as a mom (hilarious by the way), and had great fun. Fisher and I did math and read and did some geography stuff – he is currently obsessed with mastering all the states, which is perfect since next week he starts taking a class at iFamily all about the fifty states. We talked about decimal points and polar bears and marine turtles. Lots of things. So fun.

Then I had Keziah pull out some of our amazing books from the book box. Throughout the fall I collected some books to spruce up our winter learning. I bought some through Jessica’s book co-op and some from Book Closeouts. I gave some for Christmas gifts, but I kept a stack of them to pull out on bleak January and February morning or to sneak them into each child’s school bin to discover all on their own. Yesterday I decided it was time to pull out the first book, We’re Sailing To Galapagos. They loved it. We all loved it. The artwork, the story, the rhyming, the animal descriptions, the detailed information in the back. All of it is fantabulous. Annesley sang the sing-songy poem for the rest of the day.

So, we read another. One Moose, Twenty Mice by one of my favorite author/illustrators, Clare Beaton. I love what this woman does with felt. We grouped by fives, we counted by twos, we giggled and discovered and had so much fun snuggled up in my bed.

So, we read another by Clare, Zoe and Her Zebra. This is an alphabet book with a child for each letter being eaten or chased or something by an animal starting with the same letter. The children were able to guess most of the animals, but some were tricky and we had to flip to the back to find out the names. Umbrella bird? Never heard of that one.

Again, so much fun. And my heart was full of gratitude for my life as a homeschooling mother. Grateful for my body that could snuggle my children and learn all about animals and islands and seven + eight. Grateful for children who love me and want to be with me. Grateful for my warm blankets. Grateful for books that open up the world to us. Grateful for Blythe’s mentors who have put an amazing play together and brought out the best in their acting students. Grateful for so many things.

Then I fell apart. Again. The falling apart is kind of long…bear with me.

Keziah reminded me that I have GOT TO BUY A PRINTER so she can get her lesson plans printed for her iFamily classes, print out the paper she wrote yesterday, print out my genealogy stuff, and I need to DO IT NOW. I agree with her. Completely agree. But I have this problem where I must know all the ins and outs and pros and cons and every minute detail about a product before I buy it. It is a good thing. It is also a bad thing. A very bad thing. I researched cloth diapers for a full six months, every single day, before I decided on a brand. Same with a car seat. Same with our recently purchased and then crashed to smithereens Subaru. So, I want to make to sure I buy the “right” printer – as if there is one right or best printer…I am deluding myself, here. So, I hopped online to make a final decision on the whole printer thing. I read. I compared. I called Brother International and sat on hold for 20 minutes. I continuously got dropped off my internet service, because we have craptastic internet service, and I got more and more frustrated. Then I decided the printer issue was going to have to wait. I was going to once and for all conquer the internet problem. So, I started searching for a reasonably priced ISP in my area. More frustration. The prices, contracts, and unhelpful customer service people were enough to make me scream.

Sidenote: On Saturday, I had also tried to solve the internet problem and decided perhaps my problem is with my router and not my ISP. Richard’s laptop and our Kindle were no longer able to connect to our wi-fi and so maybe, I thought, the router was dying. I first spent 45 minutes on the phone with Amazon and was asked a gazillion questions about my router that I couldn’t answer because I couldn’t physically get to my router or to my computer where all the information is. I kept explaining that the Kindle was connecting just fine a few weeks ago, but now it is not, but still the cheerful, but unhelpful Amazon rep was unable to help me until I answered gobs of questions I had no way of getting answers to unless I could get out of bed and into my basement. So I decided to call my router company. I got on to Netgear’s website and read all about issues with my router model and finally decided I just needed to talk to someone and explain what was going on and have them tell me if it sounded like an ISP problem or a router problem. So I called Netgear’s “World Class Gearhead Service” and received anything but world class service. I got David, a man who could barely speak English and the English he did speak was so accented I could understand hardly anything he said. David, spoke with a syrupy, condescending tone and provided no service at all. He asked for my serial number, but since I couldn’t understand him and only grasped that he was asking for a number of some kind, gave him the model number. To which he curtly responded, “SERIAL, S-E-R-I-A-L.” Restraining myself from biting his head off, I told him I would call back when I had it. I called to Keziah and explained what I needed and she went and wrote it down for me. I called back and somehow got David on the other end of the line again. I gave him the serial number. He said that wasn’t right either and told me to pick up my router and look on the bottom and find the word serial and read him the number. I explained that I couldn’t do that because I am in bed and I would have my daugher get the correct number and then call back. Once again, I explained to Keziah what I needed and she went and wrote it down for me. By this point, I was done with David. I called Richard and ranted about the whole thing and gave up on solving the router problem that day. When Richard got home, he called the absolutely-not-world-class-service center and got you know who, David, again. He gave him the correct serial number and was informed our router was past its Service Plan and that if we would like to purchase a $99 Service Plan he would be glad to answer questions.

ARGH. Of course we don’t want to buy a $99 Service Plan. We could just buy a new router for that kind of money. We just want to know if we need to buy a new router!!!

End of sidenote, back to Monday.

So, I decided to call some ISPs and get some answers. I finally talked to a lovely man in the tech division of a company that is merging with my company and he explained why my internet signal has been so horrible and gave me lots of information (which I LOVE!) about how it will be improving. He listened to the whole story of connection problems and told me how to do a factory reset on my router and how to figure out if it is a router problem or an ISP problem (I think it is some of both). I wanted to take him to dinner for all his wonderfulness.

At this point, I decided I was going to have to walk downstairs and do the factory reset on the router myself. I hobbled down the stairs and was doing pretty well. I reset the router, unplugged everything, waited 30 seconds and plugged cord one back in, waited another 30 seconds and plugged cord two back in. Tested the Kindle again. Still no connection. ARGH!

I decided since I was already in the basement, I would get onto my computer and figure out my router settings for the list of questions from Amazon. I sat on my kneeling chair and got to work figuring out MAC filtering, access points, and broadcast signals. I started feeling awful. My back started spasming, my left kidney started throbbing (it has been flaring up since the passing out began), and my head felt as if I’d been hit by a sledgehammer. I gave up on the whole fix-the-router plan and hobbled back to my bed.

Once there, I started crying at the pain. I am so, so tired of hurting. My whole body is worn out and at times like this I want to give up and never get out of bed again. Keziah came in to check on me and saw my face clenched up in pain and gave me a lecture on how I should not have gotten out of bed and I should not have tried to sit at the computer. I know she meant well, but it was the last straw. How did I become so debilitated that I cannot even sit on a specially configured kneeling chair? Why has my body betrayed me? When will I stop hurting?

Full on pity party ensued and I cried and ranted to myself and tried to relax and help my back stop spasming. I was so, so frustrated with the technical difficulties of my gadgets, the phone calls from State Farm about the accident, the fact that I only have one week to be back on my feet before iFamily starts, and the lack of money and brainpower and time and control to solve all these problems. Then I put my head back on and told myself that all those thoughts aren’t at all helpful and I am blessed and so loved and I could be much worse off and sitting isn’t all its cracked up to be anyway and surely there are powerful lessons in all of this and my job is to learn them and grow in my relationship with God and stop feeling sorry for myself.

Then I called my techie brother, Cameron, and winced in pain as I laid out the whole story. He thought it sounded like my router is dying and recommended a few options. He told me I should have called him before I did all the above nonsense and he is right. I should have and would have saved myself hours of pain last night.

I didn’t get much sleep because I hurt so bad all night long, but now it is a new day and I going to try to be cheerful and positive and calm. Fortunately for Blythe and unfortunately for me it is her first day of performance in The Canterville Ghost, the play she has been preparing for since October. Richard and the other children will go to all the performances and I am hoping to be strong enough to go by Friday. Today I will miss this important moment in her life and it is frustrating me beyond belief. Last night’s jaunt downstairs showed me I should not try to go tonight. Today I want to scream. Today I want to pound the walls. But instead, I will read to my children, teach them some math, and try to spread the love of my heart into their souls.

When will this roller coaster ride end? I want to stay in a place of peace, but I keep getting spun around into fear and pain and anger and grief and hopelessness.

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a new writer?

Jan 20, 2013 by

I spent today listening to inspirational talks, doing genealogy, and reading to my family. I am feeling much better tonight. I can see that I am not an utter failure and that there are many things I am succeeding at. I will probably never be a stellar homemaker and maybe I need to make peace with that while also trying to implement small things to help me function better in that role. Something to ponder during these hours I am lying in bed.

One success is in the learning of my children. Sometimes I wonder if they are learning anything. Most of the time I am amazed at all they are learning. I don’t stress about writing too much around here. I write a lot and my children see me writing. I read to them from wonderful classics and we discuss them. A lot. But I have never assigned them writing. Around the age of 13, Blythe started writing. Constantly. She takes a notebook with her everywhere she goes and writes and writes and writes. She has many stories she has created along with all of the illustrations, the character sketches, the maps, and anything else that is needed for the story. Quite Tolkien like, that one.

We have grown used to her obsession with writing, but it hasn’t spread to anyone else yet. Until now. Two weeks ago, Keziah asked me to start assigning her a paper every week. I about died of shock. But with a straight face, I promised her I would. Today she asked me to assign a new topic every three days and she asked me if I would assign her to write about different authors. Once again, I promised her I would. Then, she came back and said “Mom, we need a new printer so I can type all my papers out and make them into a book. I want a book of authors that I create. Will you get a new printer?” I told her the printer was on a long list of things on my “to-get-soon” list.

Inside I was shrieking with joy. This girl has never seemed all that interested in writing down her thoughts and yet, now something has shifted. Now she wants to make a book.

So I will help her.

That is the beauty of homeschooling.

Tomorrow is a new day in this journey. Let it come so I can begin anew.

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that awful place

Jan 20, 2013 by

Last night I fell apart. I traveled to the dangerous land of Everything-Is-Awful-And-You-Will-Never-Measure-Up. Have you been to that place? It isn’t on any tourist guides’ maps because no one wants to admit it exists. But it does. It is real. And sometimes I go there. Usually only on the day before my period starts and my progesterone levels are plummeting, which was the case last night, but sometimes I visit for no obvious reason at all.

Well, last night I did more than visit. I bought a house and applied for full-on citizenship.

I tried to convince Richard that I am a complete and total failure as a wife, a mother, a teacher, a homemaker, a meal cooker, a laundry washer, a goal setter, a disciple of Christ, and a body owner. I told him over and over and OVER again how terrible I am doing at EVERYTHING and how I am ready to leave so he can get someone in here who will do a better job. I knew he would say he wouldn’t marry anyone else, that he adores me, that there is no one else he would ever or could ever want, that I am wonderful and amazing and yada, yada, yada. So I preempted him by saying I could just leave and then he would HAVE to replace me. He would have to hire someone to teach our children and cook our food and clean our house and wash our laundry because he loves our children too much to not have someone take care of them. I told him I don’t have the skills or the knowledge or the brains or the SOMETHING to succeed at this motherhood thing and it is just too hard. I need to be my grandma, to have her skills and knowledge and ability to love, but I don’t have any of it and I am so tired of trying to figure it out and failing over and over again.

Then I really fell apart (is it possible to fall apart more?) and said I hated being me. I hate my broken body and my stupid ideas and I am SO DONE with trying to improve and trying to make changes and insisting that tomorrow will be better and I will be better and I will do what I set my mind to do and then failing again. I told him I am ONLY a burden to him, only a liability, that I give nothing good to anyone, and especially not to him. That my stupid body takes all of his money and all of his time and all of his emotions and I can’t handle being a burden to him or anyone else anymore. I cried and cried and cried.

It was a doozy.

This morning I tried to revoke my residency and citizenship in that awful land, but it wouldn’t give me my traveling papers and allow me to leave. Two more hours of nonsense this morning. Two more hours of tears. Two more hours of me hating being in bed for another day and having people take care of me again. AGAIN. I am so tired of all of this.

Then, I decided to listen to this talk by Sheri Dew. I sensed I needed her straight-shooting words and absolute reliance on Jesus Christ.

And it worked. She somehow worked her magic and got me released from the before-mentioned land and back into the land of gratitude and growth and love and peace. She talked about how when she was made President of Deseret Book she felt completely overwhelmed and that after several years she went to President Hinckley and told him she needed to be replaced by someone with the skills and knowledge and acumen that she didn’t have. She presented her case very logically (just like I did) and was sure he would see her point and replace her. But he didn’t. He called her back and said “Sheri, you will figure it out.” Just like Richard said to me. And she did. And maybe I will too.

Richard thinks I am doing a great job. He loves me. He believes in me. He understands how crazy-making this whole being-in-bed thing is. He understands how scared I am. He truly believes I am a smart cookie. He helps me catch of a vision of how God sees me.

Today I am going to immerse myself in that vision and rely on my Savior to keep me far away from that land where I will never be good enough and never know peace.

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inner voices

Jan 17, 2013 by

Just read this article and am now bawling. Read it. Let it sink in.

My children certainly have been suffering from my comments lately. This is a wonderful reminder to me of who I really want to be and what I really want them to hear.

I shudder to think of the things I have said that could be playing on their inner tape recorder.

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my quest – an unexpected journey

Dec 16, 2012 by

Last night Richard and I went on a real life date! We have been planning for at least one year to go see The Hobbit on opening night. Well, we didn’t make it on opening night, but the third night isn’t too shabby for these once-a-year-movie-people.

Having just finished reading the book (check out this lovely hardcover edition for $8.66!) to my family on Thursday I knew the story and was pretty disappointed at all the changes made in the screen version. The movie stretches even the most creative imagination and puts forth several completely implausible scenarios that in my mind diminish the power of the message that a small band of people can work together and change the world…because any thinking person can see that this small band of people (dwarves, really) did not change the world in any believable way, the events are far too incredulous to apply to one’s own reality.

Having said that, I still loved the movie. I loved it for the powerful lines. I loved it for Gandalf’s vision, Bilbo’s courage and simple goodness, Thorin’s determination and leadership, Fili’s and Kili’s open hearts, Balin’s loyalty, Galadriel’s depth of soul, Elrond’s wisdom, and so much more.

Jackson added some scenes to the movie that Tolkien didn’t create in the book and while I know some people didn’t like the additions, I loved them. I think they added a great deal to the story and paint a broader picture for the events of Middle Earth. I loved seeing Dain in all its glory. I loved seeing the evidences of the Necromancer in Mirkwood.

How many times can I say “loved” in this post? Hmmm, I will try to come up with a different word. No guarantees though…my brain is running on fumes at the moment.

One line that jumped out at me was in the beginning of the film when the dwarves and Gandalf are making their plans and trying to get Bilbo to join them. Bilbo listens to the plans with their accompanying dangers and says “You’ve got the wrong Hobbit.”

Boy, did that jump out at me. I cannot tell you how many times I have said, “You’ve got the wrong wife.” That sentiment usually comes up when I am overwhelmed with a task in front of me or with regret over a behavior behind me. Sometimes I just *know* that I am not up to this life of wife-ing and mothering. Sometimes I am scared to give it my best shot because what if I give it my all and fail. Sometimes the whole thing seems so daunting, this raising up of souls, that I want to run away and do something else with my life because I *know* I can’t do it. I never planned on being a mother. I especially never planned on being a stay-at-home mother. I really, really, really never planned on being a homeschooling mother who cares about every bite her children eat, every song they listen to, every book they read, and every life they touch. I never planned this. I never wanted it. I still don’t know if I am up to it.

And that is when I say, “You’ve got the wrong wife.”

Richard chuckles and wraps me in his arms and tells me he absolutely has the right wife and he can’t imagine any better wife for him or mother for his children. I usually respond with a long list of traits that would serve this family better or a long list of people that would make him a much better wife, but he just holds me and encourages me and reassures me that I am doing a great work in a great cause for a great purpose.

And then I wake up and try again another day. Because not only do I know God has called me to this life, I love being a wife and mother.

I think he did pick the right wife, if only because I need him so desperately to be my companion and to teach me about Christlike love, humility, patience, and forgiveness.

Ultimately Bilbo decides to join the dwarf company and aid them on their quest. On the journey he discovers what he is made of and is changed into a new Hobbit. My hope is that just like Bilbo I am changing into a better, wiser, stronger, surer, deeper, humbler woman on my journey. For that is my quest.

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to be like a duck

Dec 3, 2012 by

I want to be like this mother duck.

She leads her children with calmness and surety even though they are being buffeted by the wind and blown head over heals. Often times in life we are knocked down and blown around. As mamas we have some choices to make. We can panic, we can fall apart and stop leading our families, we can give up, or we can be like this mama duck and put one foot in front of the other, hold our heads high, shake off, and lead our children with confidence, faith, and love.

Never thought I would find a mothering role model in a duck!

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these are busy days

Nov 29, 2012 by

I realize my post quality is suffering. I am busy. And I hate that word. I hate the excuse busyness gives people…you know the, “Oh, I can’t, I’m too busy” thing people say whenever they don’t want to do something, but they don’t want to be honest about why they don’t want to, so instead they say “I’m too busy.” Well, I hate that whole thing. I also hate feeling like perhaps I really am busy, too busy. Too busy to have time to sit and smell the roses. Too busy to go exploring with my children.

But, the truth of the matter is, I am pretty booked right now and my time for posting is slim.

I am up to my eyeballs in getting iFamily ready for the new semester and solving all the scheduling issues so I can get the schedule up and website updated, my new callings in my new ward, Blythe’s play practices, Blythe’s ballet classes, Blythe’s Civil War class, Fisher’s scouts, the girls’ new callings, genealogy, resting my hip enough that it doesn’t go into freak out mode like it did last night, teaching gymnastics, reading the book of Alma, reading The Hobbit (and trying to finish it as a family when Blythe is gone 3-4 nights a week and Keziah is gone 2-3 nights a week is proving difficult indeed!), wrapping up Make It For Maggie, organizing Operation Pay For The Hole for Jessica, trying to earn money for two more rounds of Ozone injections in December so I can get this hip all the way better, picking out twelve books for my discussion group for 2013, homeschooling my children, mentoring other people’s children, keeping my house in some semblance of order, feeding my family, paying the bills, and trying to become an expert on the Jewish Festivals for my upcoming class where I will be teaching adults everything about the Jewish Year.

I have a whole schedule in my head that will allow me to get everything done everyday. But it doesn’t work. I don’t get up early enough to make it work. I don’t stop doing genealogy on time to get started on the next thing. I don’t go to bed early enough to be rested. It is all about me and my lack of discipline and that is a painful pill to swallow.

It may be time.

I don’t know.

I will think about it.

Who am I kidding? No one. Not even myself. I don’t need to think about it. I just need to do what I know I need to do. Day after day after day.

And that will be hard because I like to do what I want to do in the moment and not be constrained by any schedule of any kind, even a schedule of my own making.

But I also want to succeed. I want to spend time each day immersed in God’s word, communing with Him, doing genealogy, studying for myself, loving on and connecting with my children, teaching them, inspiring them in their studies, exploring with them, laughing with them, eating healthy, home-cooked food, working on my save the world projects, serving others, and keeping my commitments. I want to do those things without feeling like I am drowning. I want to do them with joy and presence and peace.

And the key is waking up early and using my time wisely. I know this. But can I do it? I honestly don’t know.

It is 10:24. I am going to bed instead of staying up till midnight. That will be the first step.

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angry breast milk?

Nov 25, 2012 by

Oh, my.

Read this Bad Baby Advice and laugh hysterically.

Did you click over and read the whole thing? If not, do it. Now. It is worth it to learn of all the ridiculous advice given to mothers in the past.

This line in particular made me snort…loudly.

Absolutely no night feedings, he wrote, no matter how young the baby, nor how much it cried. “If we teach our offspring to expect everything to be provided on demand, we must admit the possibility that we are sowing the seeds of socialism,” Sackett warned, likening overindulgent parents to Hitler and Stalin.

Socialism? Really? I am as anti-socialism as they come, but how on earth does nurturing a baby and responding to their very real biological needs lead to socialism?????

How about this one:

Several advice books suggested that mothers could harm their babies by thinking the wrong sorts of thoughts. The Sadlers, husband-and-wife doctors who collected their wisdom in 1916, blamed “angry” mothers for causing their babies’ colic. Mothers could also run dry by engaging in “worry, grief, or nagging,” they wrote. In his 1877 book, Advice to a Wife, Chavasse informed mothers not to nurse for too long. Once the baby was past 9 months of age, nursing could cause “brain disease” in babies and blindness in mothers.

This kind of nonsense drives me batty. And when I hear stuff like this repeated to mothers today I want to scream.

Instead of screaming (usually…sometimes I still succumb to screaming), I try to speak to their soul with something along these words:

Listen to your heart. Listen to your baby. Trust yourself and fall in love with mothering. God created you to mother. He will guide you. Your baby needs YOU and your milk and your arms and your heart. Nothing else.

I am so grateful to be a mother and to have had the courage from the beginning to parent with connection and love and attachment and intuition.

These so-called experts can fly the coop.

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even in this condition

Nov 18, 2012 by

I met with my Bishop on Wednesday night for several hours. Actually, it was my old Bishop who has faithfully walked this hip journey with me, not my new Bishop who doesn’t really know me yet.

Anyway, he wanted an update on my hip, and my children, and my Jessica, (he is still Jess’ Bishop), and my genealogy project. We talked and talked and talked.

And then I broke down. Big tears poured out of my eyes as I told him how tired I am of being in pain, being incapable, and being needy. I told him about our desire to have at least one more baby, this little boy who we have been waiting for for so long, and how my research into labral tears and subsequent pregnancies indicates it would be foolhardy and quite incapacitating. I told him how I want to play baseball and volleyball and basketball with my children and how impossible that seems right now. I cried and cried and cried. I told him how silly all of my tears and frustrations are because I CAN WALK. I CAN FUNCTION. I am no longer bedridden. I CAN DRIVE (if I am in my suburban with the seat tilted all the way back and the bottom tilted all the way up). I AM TEACHING GYMNASTICS. I CAN STAND THROUGH CHURCH. I CAN, I CAN, I CAN.

But I still can’t. I can’t sit well at all. I can’t twist. I can’t ride my bike. I can’t play baseball with Fisher. I can’t go roller skating. I can’t be out of pain. I can’t have a baby. I can’t do what I used to do.

And the guilt. Oh, boy, the guilt at having such thoughts. At being so grateful for the healing that has happened, for the miracles that have occurred and still wanting more, still wanting to stop hurting. Sometimes I feel selfish for wanting more.

After I had cried (and cried AND cried), he gave me some words to think about. He said, “Tracy, can you go to The Lord and say ‘I will love you and trust you, even in this condition. How can I mother and bring my children to thee, even in this condition? How can I love them more fully, even in this condition? How can I serve thee, even in this condition? How can I play with my children, even in this condition? Teach me Lord. Teach me to love and serve and accept and be grateful, even in this condition.'”

These words struck deep into my soul.

And I am asking.

And He is teaching me.

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celebrate goodness

Nov 15, 2012 by

Most people carrying heavy loads begin to doubt themselves and their own worth. We lighten their loads when we are patient with their weaknesses and celebrate whatever goodness we can see in them. The Lord does that.

Henry B. Eyring just saved my sanity by saying that.

I need to hear this.

I need to remember it.

I need to do it.

I need to live it.

My children were just as overwhelmed by the cleaning and cold water as I have been. They are carrying heavy loads of their own. I need to lighten their load by being patient with their weaknesses instead of pouncing on them because they are different than my weaknesses. Pouncing is what I did today.

Celebrating is what I will do tomorrow.

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can i please learn to be kind when cleaning?

Nov 15, 2012 by

I shouldn’t post when I am in this kind of mood. I will regret it. At least I think I will. But maybe I won’t. Maybe I will look back in twenty years and laugh that something like cleaning with my children made me this frustrated.

I need to be in bed. I needed to be in bed an hour ago. But I’m not. I am cleaning my house that has been neglected the past nine months since my injury because in a few short days it will be full of Thanksgiving guests and they all need a clean place to sleep and sit and eat. I have kept a pretty good handle on the kitchen and dining room and family room, but boy, howdy, these bedrooms and bathrooms and sewing room have really fallen apart while I have been living in survival mode. And now all those rooms are needed for my family members who are coming to visit.

Meanwhile, my water heater is broken. It has been leaking and giving us very, very little water for months. I have been showering or bathing about once a week for the past many, many weeks and leaving what little water there is for Richard and Blythe who need to shower pretty much everyday. Whenever I take a bath, everyone else in the house gets one as well. It has been interesting. Washing dishes and laundry is a whole different ball game when there is no hot water and pitiful water pressure.

Our new water heater is here and Richard has been working all week long to get it put in…which means we went from very little hot water to no hot water when the old one was removed. Last night he was up till after midnight and it looks like tonight will be a long night as well, but he is determined to get it in and working so he can shower in the morning. He really can’t go another day without a thorough soaking. Blythe was so desperate earlier today that she boiled water in our big popcorn pot and took a sponge bath, then plunged her whole head into the pan. I am pretty comfortable going for days on end without showering and my hair never gets greasy so it isn’t a big deal, but I have to admit that I have missed hot water. Today I was scrubbing down the showers and baths with freezing cold water and I think I will have to wrap them up in a rice pack to get them back up to a normal body temperature. Cleaning filth is so much better when the water is warm!

Anyway, my lack of sleep, high stress at how I am going to get everything done before my family gets here, unmotivated-to-clean children, cold water, and massive frustration at my ability to keep an organized home put me over the edge today. I was not a mother any child would want to be around. I was grumpy and a taskmaster and I think I made every one of my precious children cry. All four of them.

Tonight we had prayer and song and scripture.

And apologies.

And I asked them to forgive me.

And I encouraged us all to wake up new people in the morning, ready to be kind and helpful and supportive.

May it be so.

I don’t think I can stand to be with myself if I behave like this again.

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mothering a-ha

Sep 20, 2012 by

Yeah, I have been at this mothering gig for awhile. But I am still learning things. ALL. THE. TIME.

This week have had some a-ha moments for me.

Lesson #1: Ask them to work for it

Yesterday we ran into Deseret Industries for a ten-minute shopping trip. Keziah needed new Sunday shoes and I was hoping to score an awesome deal on newish Scriptures for Fisher’s baptism present. Annesley say a pencil bag with a giant rainbow on it and a matching ruler, eraser, and pencil sharpener all for the fabulous price of $1.00. She asked if she could have it and I said “No, you already have a pencil bag.” She asked again and I said “No, you don’t need it.” Then she said, “Mom, I love it so much! My other bag doesn’t have a rainbow or a ruler or an eraser or a pencil sharpener with a rainbow on it! I love it. Please let me have it.” I admit, I was pretty swayed by her logic. Her other bag doesn’t have a rainbow or a matching ruler, eraser, or pencil sharpener. It is a super adorable Jessica made pencil bag with her very own initial on it, but it is missing that rainbow. So I said, “Well, how many jobs will you do for me?” Annes responded, “One!” I said, “Hmmm, I think it is worth more than one job. How about five?” All of a sudden the desire of her heart wasn’t so desirable anymore and she put it back on the shelf and said “I’ll keep my pencil bag, I don’t need rainbows.”

I about died laughing.

Lesson #2: Leave them alone

Remember that Lego set we found at DI for $6? Well, it is missing some pieces. Some key pieces. Fisher fell apart this morning because he couldn’t build an airplane without those pieces. The crying and moaning and gnashing of teeth that ensued was surely a sight to behold. He kept saying, “Someone messed up. The pieces aren’t in their plastic bags. There isn’t a set of directions. The pieces are missing! I can’t build an airplane. I can’t build anything!” But, somehow, I kept my cool and told him over and over and over again that I am sorry he is missing some pieces, no we can’t take it back and get a set that works, no, you can’t call papa and tell him to call the store to fix it, and yes, I absolutely believe you can figure out how to build something amazing with the pieces you have. More crying. More gnashing of teeth. More patience on my part.

It has now been about six hours and he just came and showed me a nifty airplane with retractable landing wheels, descent lights, a pilot, and an awesome set of wings. Pretty much a starfighter’s dream plane. He says “Look at what I made mom! Look at the wheels. See I had to design them this way so they won’t move sideways when they land. And look at the nose. Isn’t that cool how pointy it is. And look at these lights. They will help the pilot to land safely. Aren’t they cool!”

Way to go, buddy (and way to go, mama!)

I am so grateful to be a mother and that I get to learn patience and love and wisdom on a regular basis. It is just what I need.

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dependence

Sep 15, 2012 by

Last Saturday I posted about being done with mothering. Well, it has been a week since that horrible night and I have been thinking deeply about my mothering. I have had some pretty powerful insights, which I will attempt to share, but they may or may not be powerful for you.

In Kisses From Katie (which you MUST read. Really. It will transform your heart…I promise), Katie says:

“Remember, God will never give you more than you can handle.” People repeat this frequently; I heard it growing up and I hear it now. It is meant to be a source of encouragement, and it would be if I believed it were true. But I don’t. I believe that God totally, absolutely, intentionally gives us more than we can handle. Because this is when we surrender to Him and He takes over, proving Himself by doing the impossible in our lives.

When I read those words last week, I was changed. Impacted deeply. Taught. Opened. My heart was literally opened to more dependence on the Lord.

In the past year and a half, I have learned that I can’t fix the lump in my breast. I can’t fix this hip. I can’t change many of the things about my life. But God can. God will. God is. I remember the day I miraculously received approval for the lumpectomy. I still have the voicemail on my phone and I listen to it often so I can remember the workings of God in my life. I remember the day back in March when I had the MRI when I was completely opposed to it and could see no way to make it happen. I remember falling apart afterwards in body-shaking sobs because the miracles of that day meant God knew me and loved me – I felt like an itty-bitty baby in God’s hands and knew my every breath came from Him.

But sometimes I forget those lessons. Sometimes I am just so dang competent in my own life that I forget to be dependent on the Lord. I’m a smart girl. I can get a lot done. I can talk to anyone, anywhere and usually connect with their heart. I can type fast, scrub a toilet, lift a gazillion pounds, do a back flip, and hatch crazy ideas. I can help a mama give birth, massage a baby, make food from scratch, put on huge events, and gobs of other things that make the world go round (ha-ha).

So I forget. I forget how utterly dependent I am on Him. I forget that He is helping me each step of the way. I forget that without Him I can do nothing.

And I have done that with mothering.

I have taught parenting classes for years. I know all the “right” answers in my head. I have studied and researched and written and pondered mothering for the past sixteen years.

And there was a time I was doing most of it right. I was loving and patient and nurturing and focused and dedicated.

And then things changed. More children came to our home. I began having health problems. I began our miscarriage journey. I had Fisher and went through a year of hell recovering from his birth. After two more miscarriages and many broken hearts, our business was closed, our income cut by two-thirds, our Annesley was born and our life was changed dramatically. No more lunches with my sweetie, no more evenings to play together, no more Saturdays to work in the yard, just lots and lots of hours of him working hard to support our family. Then, when we finally adjusted the best we could to this new way of life, I discovered the breast lump and went through months of pain and fear (and growth!). Then, we were hit with the hip injury that has caused me such pain, incapacitation, and frustration for the past seven months.

Truth be told, I am worn out. My emotional reserves are gone. I have a wonderful life, I know this and I am so, so grateful for it. But, these last twelve years of physical, emotional, and financial stress have pretty much done me in. If everything is running smoothly and children are cheerful, obedient, and helpful, I can hold it together, but the second that changes, I fall apart. And really, when does it it all run smoothly? You know how you feel after you have been up for 36 straight hours and you are exhausted and hungry and can’t think straight? That is pretty much where I am living now. I am still functioning, still doing good things, still smiling, but my face is creased with the grimace of pain and my heart is struggling to stay in a place of love.

And I think I am finally learning that I must rely on the Lord.

Fully.

I no longer have any of my own strength or my own brainpower or my own willpower. I have given everything I have and there is nothing left of myself to buoy me up.

It is oh, so evident in my mothering. My well of patience is about one inch deep. My well of love is perhaps a little deeper, but it is also harder to find. My well of nurturing is covered over with cement and needs to be unearthed.

And I have finally realized I cannot rely on myself and my knowledge and my dedication to mothering. It is not enough. I must rely on the Lord. I must receive sustenance from Him if I am to mother these precious souls in the way I desire.

Katie continues with:

I have learned to accept it, even ask for it, this “more than I can handle.” Because in these times, God shows himself victorious. he reminds me that all of this life requires more of Him and less of me. God does give us more than we can handle. Not maliciously, but intentionally, in love, that His glory may be displayed, that we may have no doubt of who is in control, that people may see His grace and faithfulness shining through our lives. And as I surrender these situations to Him, watch Him take over and do the impossible, I am filled with joy and peace – so much more than I can handle.

I want that peace. I know He is working miracles in my life on a continual basis. I know He is guiding me and loving me and teaching me. Now I need to give me to Him completely and let Him be my reservoir, let Him nurture me and them, let Him be my everything instead of thinking I am my anything.

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catching up

Sep 9, 2012 by

Yes, it has been a week since I have posted. No time. Not a second to pound out a post. So, now I will catch you up on the happenings of my life.

Sunday:

Church services were wonderful, the Spirit was strong, our ward felt unified, and I tried to share the love of Jesus with my ward members. Then we had Grandma’s birthday party that night. I read stories from her life and shared her testimony of Jesus with our children. Then we ate some delicious rice pudding…recipe coming!

Monday:

We went to Bear Lake for our almost annual sand and swim adventure. We kayaked, played volleyball, built a huge sandcastle, ate lots of food, swam to the bouys, got sunburned, hunted for frogs (and brought said frogs home), and had a wonderful time with my extended family.

Tuesday:

I realized that iFamily was beginning in less than 24 hours so I hurriedly put all the last minute stuff together for my two classes and all my board duties. Then, I started a new learning adventure for ME! I am taking a class from the Ten Boom Institute and Tuesday was our first conference call. Ahhh, it fed my soul! My brain and my heart were challenged and renewed. The best part of all? My dear friend, Heather Burton, is also in the class with me. It was a complete surprise to hear her voice and I admit, I shrieked a passionate hello and frightened all the other class members.

Wednesday:

FIRST DAY OF IFAMILY!!! Yes, I am screaming. It was such a splendiforous day! All the classes went well, children made friends, moms made friends, hearts connected, smiles were shared, and all the Boards’ hard work paid off. My two classes, Hullabaloo and Further Up and Further In, went well. Hullabaloo is going to be a blast. I have 25 children I get to teach new games to each week. This week we learned Cat & Mouse, Crossing the Brook, and Drop the Handkerchief. We had so much fun running around in the sun!

Wednesday evening Blythe’s lifelong dream to take ballet came true as she and Keziah started dancing in their pink tights and black leotards. A woman from iFamily has a ballet studio in her home less than one mile from our home and started a Beginning Teen class after months of my begging and pleading got through to her heart. Blythe danced and smiled and danced and smiled and danced. She has such good form that part of me wishes I had allowed her to do ballet years ago, but it never felt right and now it does, so I am going to try to make peace with the choices of the past. Keziah doesn’t love it the same way Blythe does, but I enrolled her because I think it will give her a good workout, grow some muscles which will help her running, improve her posture, and be challenging in a good, supportive way. She needs to be challenged by someone other than me. So many things come easy for her that when things are hard she sometimes stops trying. It is a trait I share with her and one I don’t feel is serving her well, so this is a small way of rooting it out.

Thursday:

EEEEEEKKKK was how I felt Thursday morning when I realized gymnastics was starting the next day and I had a gazillion things to do to get ready for it. The children read and studied and built things around me while I got everything ready for our first day at gym. It was sooooo long. But it was worth it because gym went really well on Friday. Thursday night we had our adult book discussion at our home on Kisses From Katie. Let me shout it out. READ THIS BOOK. Today. Read it and let your heart be moved to follow Christ with all your being. I love Katie. I love what she has taught me and shown me and given me. I love her example of loving Jesus.

Friday:

First day of gym. Wowsers, was it busy and hard and busy and wonderful and busy and pretty much exhausting. I vowed I would not DO anything. That I would direct and guide, but not move or jump or roll. Five minutes into the first class I broke my promises. I ran and jumped and rolled like a pro. I enjoyed myself thoroughly. It was so, so healing to my soul to be back in the gym with my students and to be able to DO things. For my body to work. And then, I hurt. By the fourth class I was limping and stopped jumping and rolling. My entire hip area was on fire and the pain radiated across my back and frightened the daylights out of me. I felt as if I had stepped back in time five months to when my back ached so terribly I couldn’t move faster than turtle pace. So I made it through the last couple of classes by having my assistants do everything and the pain settled down quite a bit. A few hours later it returned with a vengeance and I spent the evening lying on Jessica’s couch with an ice pack on my hip. Our friend, Jessica C., from Colorado, was here visiting Jess and I, and we ate pizza and laughed and caught up on each other’s lives while the children played Knights and Prisoner and Legos and chased goats for hours on end. Fun times.

Saturday:

Oh my. What a long, busy, wonderful, and awful day. I need to share my thoughts about it in a separate post, but for now I will give you the highlights.

Farmer’s Market for the first time of the year…and last year as well. What used to be a weekly occurrence has become a biennial event. How did that happen? Oh yes, we have been in survival mode for the past 18 months. We bought some of our favorite tortillas, some corn on the cob, and some yummy dipping sauces and sampled fudge, chicken sausages, and bread. The kids found some awesome stuffed lizards and dragons made by the cutest little Asian woman, but they had no money so they just had to window shop (booth-shop?).

Dress shopping for Blythe for her upcoming date..huge success, beautiful gown, and lots of fun.

Huckleberry Ice Cream and playing in Fairyland…another former weekly occurrence that hasn’t happened since 2010.

Temple trip for me. No words for how wonderful it was.

Symphony in the park…great music, great friends, so nice to lie in the shade and listen to our amazing orchestra put on a rip-roaring show.

Children fighting, arguing, whining, complaining, yelling, blaming, and hurting one another…did me in. Last night I went to bed and told Richard I was done with mothering. I was obviously completely failing and I was done trying when the results were oh, so awful. Awful nightmares all night long, broken heart, and no hope.

Sunday:

I am ready to try again at this whole mothering thing, but have come to some new realizations about what I need to do. More later.

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transformation: rules

Aug 26, 2012 by

I am NOT a rule follower. In fact, I don’t think my brain even interprets rules as rules, it seems to interpret them as suggestions or “a possibly good idea, evaluate for yourself”. Often, even the more mention of a rule drives my mind right into “what a stupid rule, why would anyone do that?” or “LUNACY!”.

But I keep wondering if perhaps a few rules in my life might help me. I don’t have a lot of hope that I can change nearly 40 years of rule breaking, but I am going to give it a try (folks, nothing else has worked, so I have nothing to lose here). I have been pondering some rules I could implement in my life that would actually make a difference for me and would not just set me on a self-destruction path of failure. I have been a teensy-bit tempted to make a loooonnnngggg list of everything flaw I have and the remedy for it, but I keep focusing on the 1% principle vs. the 100% devil and reminding myself to start small. Hence, babystep #1 and babystep #2.

Sooo, these are my rules to work on this week:

1. Kneeling prayer at the foot of our bed every night (instead of no prayer or prayer when I am snuggled under all the covers or prayer when I am nearly asleep).

2. Hanging up clothes on a hanger in the closet the second they come off my body (instead of draping them on my bed, bathtub, or hamper).

3. Making my bed right when I get out of it in the morning.

I have a whole honkin’ list of other stuff I need to improve on or completely change, but I am forcing myself to keep myself to these three for now. I should probably only choose one, but I am going to stick with three and see how it works for now.

Why these three things? Well, let me explain. With number one I am hoping to create connection with my husband and with God right before bed. I am really hoping for a side benefit – that my brain will be so focused on goodness and calmness that I will not be tempted to stay alert for several more hours reading or perusing the internet. This will help me get up earlier the next day as well. Number two…well, it is a big problem for me. I almost always take my clothes off and don’t take care of them, which leads to big messes in my bedroom. I am serious about developing some new habits in all areas of my life, but especially my bedroom, and this is a small thing that will bring big rewards right off the bat. Number three is a huge one for me. I rarely make my bed. It never occurs to me to make it. I do, however, love the look the look of my bed when it is made. I think that having an orderly bed will help me stay focused on keeping the rest of my room clean and will communicate a peaceful, calm energy that I need to be immersed in if I am ever to succeed in this transformation.

I have put it out there…now I need to make it happen.

Carpe diem!

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transformation: step two

Aug 24, 2012 by

I did it. I looked deeply into the eyes of my children when they talked to me.

ALL DAY LONG.

I loved it. I could see things going on in Fisher’s cute lil’ head and I noticed how alive Annesley’s eyes are when she speaks. I connected with Blythe’s inner soul. Looking in their eyes led directly to Babystep #2, which I hesitantly posted yesterday with Babystep #1…to speak calmly. I actually succeeded at Babystep #2 as well…at least for most of the day. About 5:00 my voice started rising, but not too bad.

Nevertheless, I am going to keep Babystep #2 as my goal for today and of course, keep looking into their eyes.

Yesterday, I also got my kitchen and laundry room whipped into shape and many loads of laundry sorted, washed, dried, AND put away. Today it is time to tackle my bedroom. Maybe, just maybe, I can get it done and we can go to the lake.

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transformation: step one

Aug 23, 2012 by

Oh my. Can you hear my long, low sigh.

That is the sound of reality hitting me square in the face.

Here it is. I have completely forgotten how to run a home. It has been so long since I have tried to be an effective home manager (and I was never that stellar to begin with) that I can’t even wrap my head around how to do it. Get out of bed at a decent hour? No clue how to do it. Get loads of laundry done, meals prepared, dishes done, floors swept and mopped, carpets vacuumed, dusting done, and errands run? Again, no clue. I mean this. I am lost. I feel like I got my breast lump last April and my life stopped. Then in February when my hip was injured, it really stopped. I mean, I kept doing THINGS, but I stopped functioning like a normal human being. I went into survival mode where only the most pressing, most obvious things get noticed and only the most critical of those most obvious things get done.

Somehow we are still here and we have eaten and have clothes on our bods, but I haven’t been doing it. The kids have made egg sandwiches, pancakes, and pasta for the past several months. Before that, friends brought in meals and on the other nights we ate freezer meals. The yard has deteriorated into something akin to a garbage dump and my bedroom has a meandering path through the piles of stuff that have built up over the past several months.

It is time for a new beginning. A new world where I am up early(-ish) and working on the tasks that my grandmother did everyday…you know, like breakfast, snacks, dishes, floors, laundry, etc. A world where my children know they can count on me.

This feels like a huge transition. I’m not even sure I know how to be with my children anymore. I was in bed for the whole spring and they have played outside for most of the summer. I have been with them for little chunks of time and usually one at a time. Now, we are starting back into our school routine and it feels like a foreign land. My patience has never been so low, my voice so tight, or my inability to love deeply so glaringly obvious.

But I am finally ready to open myself to the learning and growth that needs to happen in my soul so I can go back become the mother they need me to be. Seventeen months out of commission is more than long enough and it is time to start repairing relationships, conquer bad learn new habits, and give myself fully to mothering and home management.

Today is day one of the change. My babystep for today is to look my children in the eye when they speak to me. I want to add another babystep, but I know that is probably a big mistake, but I will do it anyway…babystep #2 is to have a calm voice when I reply. Of course, I have a long list of home management tasks I want to accomplish as well…but I need to remember where I have been these past months and not make my list a gazillion miles long because then I will flat-out fail and what I need is success in small things.

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the inner work of mothering

Jan 26, 2012 by

Mothering is hard. The daily stuff of feeding, washing, helping, teaching, reminding, buttoning up, scrubbing down, tucking in, all of that is hard in that there is never an end. There is always another need. Always another mouth that needs wiped, belly that needs filled, and smile that needs shared. Always. But it is a do-able hard.

Then there is the other part of mothering. The part that is really hard. The inner-part of mothering that is consumed with the hearts of our children. This part of mothering is concerned with the foundations of our children’s souls. Do they know, absolutely know and depend upon the fact that they are children of God? Do they feel competent in their daily lives? Can they push themselves to do hard things? Do they have confidence to work for their dreams? Do they have a passion for something? Is the something good? Do they trust me enough to share their deepest fears? Do they trust their inner knowing enough to get out of and away from unhealthy relationships? Can they keep on keepin’ on? Do they recognize truth and let it be the guiding force in their lives? Do they love liberty? Do they treat others as children of God? Do they have courage? Do they cherish family? Do they know the worth of their own soul?

These are the questions that are the hard work of mothering. They require more of me than I think I have. They require me to give my most nurturing self to their hearts, to be a vessel for God’s truth to flow into them and to not block the path of His love into their lives.

And that is hard. Sometimes the daily jobs get in the way of the inner-working jobs because I can keep myself busy all day long attending to the bellies and the faces and the buttons. But if I do not attend to the soul, then I have not mothered deeply enough…and all of us miss out. Because the inner-work of mothering is not only the hardest, it is also the part that sustains us and feeds us. It is the part that brings us joy deep-down in our little toes.

May I always remember.

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all the mamas

Jan 21, 2012 by

A few months ago I shared a little bit of my miscarriage history during a lesson at church. I was hoping to communicate how healing the Spirit of God is and how even in the midst of my grief, I was able to be comforted.

Afterwards, a woman whom I dearly love came and gave me a hug and asked me if it would help me to know that she has never been able to have any children.

I looked at her so confused and shocked at the question. If I took the question at face-value, then the answer would have to be an emphatic NO! How could knowing that she has never been granted the desire of her heart make me feel better? It just brings more sorrow to my heart that she has never experienced motherhood. It hurts my heart that bringing babies here has to be so hard. In so many ways, it is so, so hard. Hard to conceive them, hard to carry them, hard to birth them, hard to raise them. It is hard and knowing that she hasn’t ever been able to give birth to or adopt one of her own babies just breaks my heart.

If I don’t take the question at face-value and try to read beneath the stated words, I think she might have been saying (in a kind and trying to be helpful way) that I shouldn’t be sad for my lost babies, that I shouldn’t grieve for them, and I shouldn’t talk about miscarriage because there are people who have never even been able to get pregnant at all. I shouldn’t feel badly because, for heaven’s sake, I have four living, breathing, beautiful children who I get to hold in my arms every single day.

I don’t know that that is how she meant it. I know she was trying to help me feel better. But it doesn’t make me feel better to know others suffer also and I don’t believe there is anything wrong with sharing my story, sharing my pain with others so that they might know they have someone to talk to, someone that acknowledges that miscarriage is real and can be painful and heartbreaking. I don’t want any miscarrying mama to feel alone and it breaks my heart that so many do. I want to somehow give babies to all the mamas who want them and have all the miscarriages for the miscarrying mamas so they don’t have to hurt as I have hurt. I want to relieve the pain and suffering of the world.

But I can’t.

We each have to walk our own path and learn our own lessons.

And so this night, I pay tribute to the mamas of the world. The mamas who have yearned and prayed and cried and hollered and pleaded and accepted and learned and doubted and loved and lost. All the mamas who have ever lived.

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chauffeuring

Jan 11, 2012 by

Chauffeuring isn’t always on the top of my list of favorite mothering jobs. In fact, it is often on the bottom. I often find myself dreading the time spent buckled in, stuck in a car when I could be doing other “more important” things. I often find myself focused on the gas and my math-loving brain is constantly computing how much money I have just lost by taking this child to this activity. I often see it as wasted time. When it is late at night, I am often not at all thrilled to be out of my bed and away from my book. When Blythe started sitting in the front seat like a big grown up person, I wasn’t excited to give up my space in the passenger seat. My space for my stuff was being infringed upon and she acted like she owned the seat. I was a little resentful to have to share.

As I have been thinking about mothering and starting to see the end of my in-the-same-house-with-you-as-my-child mothering years with Blythe, I have had a shift in my thinking…and most importantly, my feeling.

I made a decision to make the time I spend driving my children more valuable. This was an intellectual decision and had nothing to do with my heart. It was a “Tracy, turn off the radio, smile at your children in the rear-view mirror, and try to make driving as enjoyable as you can by talking to them” command I gave myself. I started doing just that, but I still wasn’t enjoying it. It was another task I was forcing myself to do so I could be a “good mother”.

But you know what? The purely frontal lobe decision somehow slid right down into my heart and I began to savor this time. I began to talk with my children about important issues. I began to listen to them share their lives with me…listen, with my heart and not just my head. I began to feel the connection that was growing between our hearts…and it changed me.

I still think about the gas costs and my mpg, but now I think, “Yep, that conversation was worth $15. I would pay $15 for those moments with my daughter.” Now I think, “What a beautiful daughter I have. I am so grateful to be able to drive her to seminary and share this time with her. I am so grateful she loves the Lord and reads her scriptures.”

All of this reminds me of the idea that love is a verb. It is what we do, not what we feel…and as we DO it, our feelings change. I am living proof that it works. Living proof that as we behave in a loving manner our hearts will start to feel more loving as well.

What is your bottom-of-the-heap mothering job?

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messing up mothering

Nov 20, 2011 by

Why does mothering have to be so hard? Okay, you don’t need to answer that. I know why it is so hard. It is hard because we are dealing with people. People who we love more than anything and we feel this enormous burden to help them the best we can. People who are learning the lessons of mortality. People who are messy. People who mess up. People who are tired and grumpy and full of hormonal changes. AND I AM ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE AS WELL.

Somehow that sets us up, at least it sets me up, to be too emotional, too easily irritated, too hard to live with.

I remember a time when I didn’t yell. When I, in fact, prided myself on not being a yelling mother.

I can’t really remember that mother.

Lately I have lost my cool far more frequently than I ever thought I would. I have forgotten how to nurture in my old ways.

I need to find new ways. Or find my way back to the old ways.

Or something.

Because the decibel level in my home is not where I want it to be and I can’t bear the thought of my children remembering me as a yelling mother.

Navigating these waters and becoming the mother God wants me to be is the most difficult AND the most important work I can do. I know this. The problem is I feel it so strongly, this divine stewardship for these souls, that I mess up again and again and again, all in an effort to do it right. I think I need to somehow let go of the idea of doing it right…but I don’t know what to replace that with…being loving? Being calm? Being a work in progress? Just being?

For now, I am going to focus on apologizing once again and hoping my children will forgive me and not be emotionally damaged by my outbursts earlier today. An outpouring of love is what we all need…and some hot chocolate.

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systems

Nov 19, 2011 by

Systems are patterns we use in our homes. They are ways of putting some things in our life on auto-pilot to leave room in our brain and schedule for more creative endeavors. They are developed by putting thought into where we want to go and what we want to accomplish and figuring out an effective way of getting there.

I took a class on system development a few days ago and I can’t stop thinking about it. Our teacher insisted that everyone has systems in place and it is our job to figure if our systems are working for us or not and what other systems our homes need to function well.

At first, I balked at the idea that EVERYONE has systems. I thought, “I clearly DO NOT have systems.” But as I have thought about it since, I have realized I do, in fact, have a few systems in place. Just a few…that I had to dig deep for…that I had to have some friends point out for me so I could recognize…that I am slightly embarrassed about…BUT, in the interest of helping any other Non-System Mothers out there, I will share them here if you promise not to laugh.

1. Adams Peanut Butter Storage. Any of you that buy Adams peanut butter know about the oil on the top of the jar and what a pain it is to stir it in without spilling it over the sides of the jar AND how difficult it is to get the oil to mix in thoroughly with the peanut butter at the bottom of the jar. I have a system for this…before you open your jars, store them upside down and the oil will float to the bottom of the jar (which is now at the top) and then when you open it, the oil won’t spill and it will be easy to mix.

2. Usborne Book Storage. Since I sell Usborne books, I have a lot of them and since my children love them so much, they are in use a lot. I need to be able to find them all quickly when a customer comes over or I have a show and it used to take me days to round them all up. Now I have a shelf in my dining room that houses them all. My children know they are welcome to read any of them they are interested in and they can do it anywhere in the house, but when they are done, they have to return them to the Usborne bookshelf.

3. Do-everything-that-needs-to-be-done-at-the-last-possible-moment-that-it-can-be-done-and-have-any-modicum-of-hope-that-it-will-be-done-in-time. This is the system that has governed my life for the last 37 years. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but it always involves stress, lack of sleep, a lil’ bit of craziness, and a general feeling of being a 24/7 firefighter. I never do anything the same two times in a row, so there is no pattern to my life, except the pattern of do everything at the last minute is a pattern…at least I am thinking it must be.

This is why I went to the systems class. I need to change my third system to something else. Something that isn’t so emergency laden. Something that involves forethought. Something that doesn’t involve losing my mind every few days. My system worked somewhat okay when I was the only one involved in my life, but now that I have five family members, several organizations, and many friends who are effected by my decisions, I need to upgrade to a different system.

The problem is I have NO IDEA how. Really, no idea. The things that were suggested at the class were a foreign language to me. I don’t know if I am a lost cause or not, but I am going to proceed forth with the belief that I am most certainly not a lost cause and I can learn how to speak and think in a way that will lead to system development. I will keep you updated on any progress I make.

Surely there is someone else out there that specializes in my third system up above? If so, has anything worked for you to change it?

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unfulfilled dreams

Nov 5, 2011 by

One of the hardest mothering issues for me to deal with is my children’s dreams. I have one child, especially, that has dreams, big dreams, and it seems her hopes are often being dashed. It breaks my heart…especially when I am the bad-guy or seen as the bad-guy who is preventing the dreams from coming true.

She wants to participate in an activity that is super-expensive, takes a lot of time – both for her as an individual and for our family as a whole, and one that we are not sure we want her to participate in. I have explained all of this again and again and again. She understands why the answer is no, but the understanding doesn’t do anything to salve her broken heart.

Last night, she went to bed sobbing…again.

I went to bed full of sadness that I can’t help this dream come true for her.

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dolls in the cupboard

Oct 24, 2011 by

I adore my Annesley. Really, truly adore her through and through. I think I have delighted in her more than I have any of my other children. Maybe because she reminds me so much of myself or maybe because her presence in our family is such a miracle or maybe because she is just so stinkin’ adorable.

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BUT! I am may lose my mind over this one issue.

Pretty silly that an experienced mom like myself could lose my mind over a fairly trivial issue…but it could still happen. I could actually lose my mind!

Here is the deal. She doesn’t put anything away properly. I ask her to put her shoes away and I find them hidden under the snuggler. I ask her to put her book away and I find it stuffed behind the stool. I ask her to put the brush in the drawer and I find it in the laundry room.

It is getting so old.

I know I need to walk with her and hold her hand and make her a velcro child for a while to help her follow through properly…but it takes so much time and everyone else in the house is capable of obeying my edicts, so why can’t this cute little cherub do the same?

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pregnancy and infant loss

Oct 15, 2011 by

October 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. I never knew that until this week.

It is also our anniversary.

Kind of ironic, don’t you think?

Richard and I have lost ten of our babies through miscarriage.

The experience of creating children and then losing them before we hold them has been a large part of the past ten years of our lives. When we miscarried our twins back in October of 2001, we had no idea that we would live that experience over and over in the coming years. We had no idea we would be going through the bleeding, cramping, crying, and raging at the heavens repeatedly. We had no idea we would be able to listen to and support others who are experiencing the same thing. We had no idea how prevalent miscarriage is and how silent our world is about it.

Miscarriage is a taboo subject. People talk about it in whispers. People poo-poo the pain of it and hope it isn’t brought up in pleasant conversation again.

Well, folks, miscarriage is real. It happens every day to families in all walks of life and it hurts, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.

Miscarriage led me down a path of grief, pain, and despair. I railed at God and begged Him to never ever let me get pregnant again if I wasn’t going to be able to mother. I withheld my heart from the joy of life in an effort to protect myself. I turned to anger as a shield. I gave up hope of ever having another child. And then after five miscarriages in the almost two years between October 2001 and July 2003, I turned my uterus over to Him and decided to embrace life and my ability to create life with Richard. I decided to let go of the anger, the judgment, the pain, and to just be.

And then I miscarried again in December and could not understand why. I thought to myself “I have been down the spiritual path. I have let God heal my heart. I have experienced the grieving process and come out the other side with more faith, more submission, more hope, so now what am I to learn?”

I think I needed to learn it for real. To see if I would hold to those lessons I had learned when it happened again. Through the grace of God I did. His grace sustained me and made me whole.

Now we have added two more children to our clan and four more miscarriages.

I am grateful for this path. I have learned much and have been privileged to help others on this same path. I would never have wished to lose our babies, but I can see the blessings I have received through these experiences.

I know that God loves me and works for my greatest good. I know He has a plan for my babies and hope to someday understand exactly what that plan is.

To everyone who has lost babies, please know I am praying for you today. I pray for your healing of both body and spirit and that you will be able to celebrate life once again.

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