Sunday, July 25, 2010

Scout Camp


This past week I took the kids up to Goose Lake where Dennis was at scout camp with his scout troop. It was fun seeing my boys have such a great time with the scouts. I was amazed at how the older boys would sit alongside the stream with Camden and Luke and throw rocks into it for what seemed like hours. I realized again that teenage boys and adult men are really just overgrown little boys. I think scout camp is kind of like Neverland for them. It's a time when they can go without brushing their teeth for a week, never wash their hands, fart, burp, and drink all the Pepsi and Mountain Dew that they want to without having to hear about it from their mothers or wives. It's like a week of uncensored boyhood and I think men need to have that from time to time. In many ways boys never really grow up, which is a good thing, I think. Really. I think women would benefit from reverting back to their childhood at times the way men seem to so easily do.

I worked at Maple Dell, a scout camp in Utah, for 6 years, starting from the age of 15. My years at Maple Dell are where many of my fondest childhood memories come from. Having to leave that behind was one of the hardest things about growing up. I still miss it. One of the things I miss most about it is the way we would laugh about things- most of them being really stupid things. I remember laughing so hard that my face would hurt, the tears would stream down my face, and the next day my abdominal muscles were sore. Seeing our ward's scout troop takes me back to my Maple Dell years. I love the scouting program. I love seeing the progression from boyhood to manhood, much of which seems to happen at these scout camps. I'm constantly amazed by how good these kids are, especially in this troop. I wish at times that their mothers could see them in action. They would be so proud.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Redefining

Maybe someone that is good at reading between the lines might realize that the last couple of months have been a sort of redefining period for me. I think everyone goes through these many times throughout their lives, as kids, teenagers, adults, parents, grandparents, etc. Now that I have quit my job, I find myself needing to re-establish a sense of identity that I felt I was close to figuring out before I stopped working. One of the things that I prided myself in -my nursing career and knowledge- has been put on the back burner indefinitely. One of my friends, who is also a nurse, told me that after she quit her job to become a full-time mom felt like she used to have to tell people she met that she was a nurse and had chosen to stay home with her children. She said it has taken her a while to get to the point where she doesn't feel like she has explain it to people anymore, that being a mom is enough. I hope I get there soon.

I keep hoping that this new identity will be a Betty Crocker one- that someday I'll be able to get past the survival mode that I feel I'm in (pulling Lauren out the toilet 20 times a day; keeping the boys from knocking eachother's teeth out; keeping them happy, fed and clean). I keep thinking the day will come when Dennis will be able to come home to a gourmet dinner, made completely from scratch out of food-storage items with warm, homemade bread on the counter, and our kids dressed in clothes I have sewed for them. I hope that someday I'll be able to have self-empowered, confident children from having used the "Love and Logic" principals that I think are so awesome but never remember to use- and that our garden will never have it's produce go to waste because I forgot to go out and pick it.

Earlier this week I went to a Relief Society canning meeting. The longer I listened to these amazing women share their endless knowledge of canning and food preservation, the more discouraged I felt. I don't really care for gardening, canning, sewing and a lot of the skills that set women aside as "Good Mormon Women." Dennis once jokingly told me that I would make a terrible pioneer. I laughed and punched him in the arm when he said it, but I have to admit his harmless joke confirmed one of my many feelings of inadequacies. Joking aside, sometimes in the LDS culture I think it is easy for someone to feel of less worth when those pioneer skills are not your strengths or even something you like. I feel at times like maybe I should can, sew and garden until I learn to like it. I'm afraid that might take a while though.

I think keeping a sense of self-identity through your mothering years can also be so incredibly challenging- especially when you feel you fall short in the areas you think are expected of you. It's hard to form an identity outside of a mold, especially when that mold is a very good one and one that you admire. I have to remind myself constantly that I do have talents and strengths, and even though they may not be the same as other women that I look up to (our neighborhood and ward have an abundance of these amazing women), that's okay.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Crossing the Line

Yesterday I went shopping with my good friend Gretchen. We had some good laughs about our predicament. At many of the stores we went to, on one side of the aisle, you have the juniors section with it's super low-riser, skinny jeans, thongs (not the flip-flop kind) and crazy fluorescent colors- and on the other side of the aisle, you have the misses section with it's mom-jeans, granny panties, and rhinestoned jean jackets. At age 28 on what side of the aisle do we belong? Neither side really feel quite right.

When I'm shopping in the juniors section, I find myself hunkering down, hoping no one I know will recognize me and escort me back over to the other side of the aisle where I belong. Sometimes I don't quite know what to think when a 12-year old girl who has been eyeing me approaches me and tells me she loves my shirt.

Then you have the other side of the aisle, the side I resist, thinking that if I cross that imaginary line that divides the two sides of the store, I'll have to come to terms with the fact that I am in fact a mom with three kids, approaching middle-age.

Ayyy....

As a kid I would day-dream about getting married to the perfect man, getting an education, having kids, and where I would settle down. At times I would daydream about my golden years, retirement, and serving missions. Now that the first part of the daydreams have materialized, I find myself approaching un-daydreamed territory. No one ever daydreams about middle age, the "spread" that inevitably happens, the wrinkles forming around the eyes, the stretch marks, the aching knees, the chronic fatigue and the feeling of distance from the up and coming generation.

Then I remember the conversation I had with my sister on her 30th birthday. I asked her if it was hard for her to turn 30. Without hesitation she said, "No, because I like myself better now than I did when I was 20." How true that is. I wouldn't trade in these stretch marks and wrinkles for an eternity of my twenties because they resulted from the things that mean the most to me in life.

Monday, July 5, 2010

This Cheeky Little Monkey









Sometimes I think I gave birth three years ago to a reincarnated form of my brother Jesse. Who would have thought that the child that looks the most like me acts the most like my childhood nemesis. Things have since then changed between Jesse and me and we have a much friendlier relationship, but I remember as a child thinking that my life would probably come to an end at his hand. Okay that's a little dramatic, but at times he really did make my life hell. Sorry Jesse. Even though Luke in no way makes my life miserable, his personality reminds me so much of my brother.

I'm amazed at Luke's lack of intimidation by authority figures. One day when he was about 2 years old, he did something pretty naughty so I paddled his bum. Instead of crying, like most other kids would do, he grinned at me, shook his head, and wagged his finger at me. I had to laugh. What else could I do?

The other day we went to the zoo and a friend of mine's mom cautioned Luke about some mud he was about to step in. He turned and looked at her with a scowl and in his Mickey Mouse voice, as my sister calls it, he said, "You are NOT the boss!" and stepped in the mud. I was mortified and I told him to apologize. He looked at me and said, "No Mom, she is NOT the boss!" There was nothing I could do to pull an apology out of that kid. Cynthia, my sincerest apologies to your mom.

He's very happy-go-lucky for the most part and seems unaffected by the environment or emotional climate around him. If he wants to be happy, no person or thing is going to change that. His moods are predictable and not a day goes by that he doesn't say something that makes me laugh.

It used to drive me absolutely crazy when I was a kid when my brother would do something that terrorized one of us or that was clearly against our household rules, and my mom would laugh and then give Jesse a hug and a kiss while the rest of us would have gotten punished for doing the same exact darn thing. I find myself doing the same with Luke. He'll say or do something naughty and I have caught myself laughing and kissing him telling him how cute he is when the day before I spanked Camden's butt for doing the same thing.

Luke also loves to seek reactions from people. He'll often say or do something that he knows will set off a chain reaction and then sit back satisfied with a smug little grin on his face as he watches the chaos unfold.

Dennis and I have decided though, that some of these characteristics that drive us so crazy will very well be his best qualities as he moves through adolescence and into adulthood. Luke does not, and never has done things out of pressure or because he knows that's what others expect of him. He does things out of his own choice without attempting to please others. I think these are the foundations of a strong man.

One of the biggest similarities between him and Jesse is his ability to charm anything female that comes his way. I think we have a Don Juan in the making. That kid has me wrapped around his chubby little fingers. The biggest irony of it all, I think, is that I've heard my mom say on many occasions how much Jesse was like her uncle Victor. Now my Luke is just like his uncle Jesse. So I guess that means Lauren has a treat coming her way too?