- Feelings. Kids have powerful feelings in little bodies. AJ has been very opinionated and independent and tantrumy lately. Basically, a two-year- old. My sister suggested giving him names for his feelings. So now AJ bows his head and slumps his shoulders at least ten times a day, says, “I’m sad”. And refuses to move…. But at least he can name it and at least he’s not screaming.
- Marriage and change. We are in many ways completely different people than we were when we got married. Sometimes, it frustrates me. Change stresses me out, especially when it’s not planned changed and when it’s not me that has changed. And then I remember, that I, the girl who asked for a hope chest for graduation (my parents wanted to give me a laptop), the one who dropped out of graduate school to have a baby, who wanted nothing more than to be a homemaker, is letting the house go, and doing whatever she can to outsource and streamline cooking, to chase the dream of becoming a published writer. I remember that my husband is going in to work 2 hours later than normal two days a week to help me chase that dream. Motherhood still brings me amazing joy and fulfillment, homemaking less so:) Change is uncomfortable and needed and just always there.
- Marriage and sameness. In many ways we are the exact same people we were when we got married. I still am extremely sensitive to violence, sex and language on TV. Several years ago, Justin convinced me to watch the TV version of The Patriot, I made it a half hour in before I was bawling uncontrollably and we turned it off. Justin’s more accepting of this quirk than he was when we got married. Last week when I apologized for not wanting to watch something he just said, “I love you, don’t worry about it.” We can’t ask each other to change or to stay the same. We just are.
- Sports: This is my favorite sports season. Basketball and soccer tournaments. I am still amazed at how much I love watching my kids play, and how much I care about the outcome. Sports have never been my thing. But watching my kids try so hard, learn so much, and be so brave, it’s awesome. I still have never yelled at a ref, but I’m no longer putting it out of the range of possibility.
- Love and Fear: I want to teach my kids to deal with fear in healthy ways. Lately I have been studying fear in the scriptures. It has many meanings there, being scared, awe….The scripture that keeps sticking in my mind is “Perfect love casteth out all fear.” Beautiful. I’ve often heard that we are either acting out of love, or out of fear. But then I stopped. Love of what? Perfect love for my kids only makes me more scared. I have more to lose. No, it has to be love of something else, something bigger, greater, expansive and inclusive of us all.
I started this post on Friday. But a combination of exhaustion (I took a nap at 9 am), watching a couple of extra kids, a primary program practice, hosting a dinner, and a general lack of ability to put my thoughts into words kept me from publishing it. I try to keep things real around here… Since Friday my perspective has shifted slightly. Last night I got to cuddle up with my chica and listen to the words of some of the leaders of our church at the General Women’s Meeting. It gave my soul time to pause and breathe.
- Having a baby is hard. I am reluctant to say that. I don’t want to seem ungrateful. So many long for a baby and are denied the experience, and I am so grateful that that is not my trial. I look at him and my heart fills up with love. All I want to do is kiss him and memorize every facial expression. But… at this point my body has been essentially his for the last 18 months and a slight case of claustrophobia starts to set in. It’s exhausting to make my body physically available for someone else five times a day. And yet – I know I will miss it. After feeding him, he’ll cuddle with me for approximately five seconds and my heart almost bursts, knowing that this is my last. It amazes me that I can feel two such opposite emotions simultaneously for such an extended period of time. No wonder I’m tired.
- I want to be a writer. Write actual books that other people – ones I don’t know- read. Ideas spin around in my head for novels and essays and I need to write them down. It’s something I’ve been working toward for 2.5 years through classes, critique groups, and….writing. At first I was embarrassed to tell anyone my dream. I didn’t have any professional training. But as I’ve learned, and found so much joy in the process, my confidence has grown. The problem is, the time available to write, is when I used to sleep – early in the morning and nap time (so far AJ is a short napper, so a twenty minute nap and then productivity is often not an option). So, I’ve been tired, which has led to resentment and general irrationality. Three times this week tears have leaked out as my writing time was cut short. My goals were coming in second to what everyone else needed from me. I have been praying and pondering about what to do and I had come to the conclusion that I needed to sleep less, get up early more, reach higher. In my view, I needed to make my spirit stronger. I can choose my attitude, so it is totally possible to be tired and still choose to have patience and be present as a mother and a wife. This true, and is sometimes important and necessary. But, last night, while listening to one of the speakers, Heavenly Father whispered to me that it wasn’t my truth, not right now. He told me that I needed to make sleep a priority. I have always found so much joy in motherhood and in homemaking (although not grocery shopping, that is officially the worst). Somewhere along the way my perspective shifted just slightly. I had started to view my duties as a wife and mother as an obstacle to my goal instead of the source of joy that they had been for so long. My goals were worthy, and even inspired. I have felt enlightened as I work to develop as a writer, and along with the whispering to sleep, came inspiration. Ideas of where to fit writing more productively into my day came to me. I felt peace, love, and purpose and I am so grateful.
- The earthquakes, hurricanes, and refugee crises have made me think about service more. I don’t want my children to feel completely helpless when they hear about catastrophes. Instead, I want them to make a plan to help, to do something, anything, even if it is small. In addition to the obvious physical trauma that is affecting so much of the human race, I have been reminded of all the invisible trials that press down on those that I pass by everyday. Sometimes you can’t share a trial with others, it has to be battled out or borne within yourself, but that doesn’t mean others can’t be inspired to help/to lift in some small way. I want to make both kinds of service a deeper part of our family culture. I want it to be something that we instinctively do, something that we think about everyday. We are capable of more. I’ve been compiling some ideas and thoughts on how to teach my kids to be more service minded – which I’m sure will evolve into a blog post soon. I want to teach simple ways to be outward focused, more like our Savior.
- When I think about the people that I love, it’s their quirks that stand out most in my mind. The way AJ will lay his head on my shoulder and burrow into me when I rock him before bed, but only for a second. The rocking chair is right next to his closet door, and the door knob is so shiny he has to try and touch it. The way Josh talks to himself when he’s concentrating, a running stream of consciousness. He gives his letters away in Scrabble every time. How Anna ducks her head and grins when you give her a compliment, and how Max is so particular. His quirks tend to shift and change, but currently, he doesn’t like to use utensils that have already been used. So if I use one fork to cut up his food, he likes to have a fresh one to eat with. Quirks say so much about who a person is.
- I lost my wedding ring at the beginning of the summer. I was painting our bedroom and thought, Justin will be mad at me if I get paint on my ring, I’ll put it somewhere safe. That night I couldn’t find it. I was convinced it had been wrapped up in the plastic that had covered the floor and was gone. The ring that Justin had given me fourteen years ago when we really had no idea what marriage meant, the one that I couldn’t wait to put on and never took off, the one that he’d made payments on for six months, had disappeared. I didn’t cry, instead, a spot in my soul ached. Over the months it was missing I’d touch my ring finger on my left hand and my heart would lurch when I realized it wasn’t there. Then I’d remembered it was gone. Last week, I came downstairs after tucking the older kids into bed to see flowers on the counter, my ring dropped over one of the stems, and a card – Justin had commissioned from Anna – propped nearby. Now tears came to my eyes. Justin had found my ring! (on the highest shelf in Max’s bathroom in case you’re curious). Instead of giving it back right away and giving me a bad time about being disorganized and forgetful he chose to remind me that he loves me. I learn a lot from that man. Marriage is hard, but it also one of the best places to learn charity and forgiveness. These family relationships, the ones that we are committed to day in and day out, soften and strengthen us in so many imperceptible ways.
December 31st: My official due date
December 24th: The earliest possible induction
Name I had picked: Oliver Jay
I wanted this baby out before Christmas. I was done being pregnant. He’s my fourth baby and he felt like he was going to fall out by the time I was 8 months pregnant anyway. Plus the doctor I had been seeing would be gone the week between Christmas and New Years like the rest of the world.
So I ran stairs, and did squats and walked, and I walked and I walked. It got kind of embarrassing. I started hiding when cars drove by because my neighbors thought I was crazy and would shake their heads in sympathy when they passed. They’d offer me a ride and I’d politely decline and keep walking.
I tried everything, I was dilated to a 4, 90 percent effaced, and having regular Braxton Hicks contractions. Finally, with a large amount of trepidation, I gave in and drank a little castor oil (half of what is recommended) and went to our church Christmas party.
By the time we got home I was having contractions every five minutes, although they weren’t particularly strong. But my Mom reminded me of what happened when Max was born (They broke my water and he fell out), so we decided to go in.Continue Reading
** I meant to publish this on Friday, but I had to wait for final edits from Justin – he said I got part of the story wrong 😉 so here’s the official version approved by both of us ***
Last Saturday, April 30th, marked a dozen years since the day I got married. For me, that day was calm, full of quiet joy. I felt safe with the man I’d pledged myself to for eternity.
However, our courtship – isn’t that such a fabulous old fashioned word – was the opposite. Sometimes I cringe when I think of our love story. Really marriage is so much better than dating. Dating is so full of drama, uncertainty, angst…I’m glad it’s over. But in honor of our anniversary here is a shortened version of our love story.
I first saw him after church, the begining of my sophmore year in college. He wore a blue tweed sports coat straight out of Seinfeld and he smiled at me as we left the building to head home. We hadn’t officially met yet, but he stuck in my head. I thereafter referred to him as “the cute guy with glasses” and officially called dibs.
We later officially introduced ourselves in the laundry room of our apartment complex – such a romantic setting – and over the next couple of months became friends.
That October my roommate and I planned a trip to a nearby corn maze and invited several apartments to go with us. I called and invited Justin, adding that he could invite his roommates too. At the last minute, all the other girls backed out. It ended up being me, her and about 10 guys. He likes to count that as our first date. Me, him, and 8 other guys. I don’t count it.
That semester we had a class together. For the midterm we made a bet. Whoever got the highest score had to take the other one to dinner. I don’t even remember who won, I do remember it was close and that we ended up at Macaroni Grill in coordinating yellow outfits, unplanned. **Justin said that I won **
After dinner, we headed to see “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” at the theater and proceeded to act like we were 13. The majority of our conversation went, “So do you like anyone?”, “Yes, but I don’t want to tell you who it is,” in various forms for about an hour, until we finally ended up holding hands about midway through the movie.
As we stood on my doorstep that night saying goodbye he said, “This is going to complicate things,” and then leaned in to kiss me. I was thrilled about the kiss, but it was an accurate prediction.
Over the next year and a half we went in circles. I didn’t think he loved me as much as I loved him, he wanted to date other people, but then didn’t love it when I did. Neither of us really knew what we wanted and looking back we were so young. But through all the drama we got really good at talking to each other and we became best friends.
The summer after we met we spent apart. For almost four months we could only write and talk on the phone, with a couple brief trips thrown in.
For the first 6 weeks I was in the Middle East with my parents and email was the only option. Man, I really wish I’d kept those emails, such great conversations.
When I got back to the States I was in Utah and he was in Arizona. We had a lot of long conversations late into the night. The being apart helped us to discover each other, gave us a chance to miss each other.
It was that summer that he drove seven hours to tell me he loved me, arriving at 3am, and then turned around and drove 7 hours back. He was only there for eight hours but my aunts still managed to surround him and pound him with questions. Which is maybe one of my favorite memories; I’m sure it’s not one of his.
When school started again we started talking about getting married, and the circles began again. I was sure, he wasn’t – well if he wasn’t sure, then neither was I. Afterall, I wanted to be with someone who loved me and wanted to be with me more than he wanted to live – I’d read a lot of love stories in my teens. The circles continued for four more months.
That Christmas I flew home to Saudi Arabia and then on to Thailand. At that point he was more sure than I was. We decided to take the two weeks apart to evaluate what we wanted. So, I decided to pray the entire 36 hours it took me to get home, or at least until I felt strongly one way or the other about whether I should marry this boy, my best friend, or not. Nothing happened. I’ve never felt such nothing after praying, not doubt, not certainty, just nothing. I had a lot of talks with my parents that Christmas break and my Dad said something that struck me.
“Well if you aren’t getting an answer one way or the other, maybe you can just choose. Justin is a righteous hard working guy, you can decide to be with him and that would be great or you can decide not to be and you’ll find someone else.”
Not the most romantic thought but wise nonetheless. At some point in our journey through Thailand I decided I did want to marry him. I made the choice. And I had a wedding dress made while I was there, because…why not. My Dad pointed out that just because we had it made did not mean I had to use it anytime soon.
I was excited and at peace with my decision. After flying all the way from Thailand to Saudi Arabia back to Salt Lake City I bought a ticket to Boise so I could spend a couple of days with Justin’s family and tell him about my decision.
He picked me up from the airport and I told him on the way back to his house that I was sure I wanted to marry him. And he said….that he was no longer sure he wanted to marry me. He was worried that I didn’t love him enough if I hadn’t been sure before.
I was disappointed and a little embarrassed, but strangely not too incredibly thrown. I had made my choice and I was not going to change it unless he decided for sure that he didn’t want me.
Three weeks later, in the early hours of the morning, while my roommates slept, he came to pick me up for a family event. He asked to come in before we left and before I knew what was happening he was pulling out his guitar and singing “Forever” to me. The only thing I remember thinking is, “This is so sweet, he better sing this again when he actually proposes.”
The next thing I knew he was down on one knee. Whatever speech he’d planned was lost on me, I was in complete shock. The only thing I said as I stared at the ring was, “When did you get that?” Finally, my foggy brain cleared and I managed to say yes. ** he claims I never actually said yes, but I did end up with the ring on my finger at some point ***The ring hadn’t been sized yet, but I couldn’t wait to wear it, and wrapped string around the band to make it fit.
Three months later we were sealed for time and all eternity in the Bountiful temple.
After I made my choice in Thailand all doubt left me, I never looked back. After he made his and asked me to marry him I never doubted his commitment. I’ve felt safe ever since.
Marriage is hard, everyone knows that, but Justin makes me more myself. He’s my best friend. We get each other, we want the same things, and we fit. Our love story was and constantly is a choice. Which I’ve decided makes it more, not less romantic.