Tuesday, September 25, 2012

How the fish married the bird

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The other night Dennis and I lay in bed discussing our future goals and where we'd like to end up living in the next few years.  I dream of traveling often, hopping from one adventure to another and living in a large city.  Dennis dreams of living on several acres and reaping the benefits of stability.

I said to him, "You and I are like the fish who married the bird.  No matter where we live, at least one of us, or both will always feel a little like a fish out of water."

Several times since we've been married, people have commented what an odd couple Dennis and I are.  Him, a farm boy from rural Idaho with a big truck and callused hands- and me, a city girl who grew up in Latin America with an insatiable need for change.  I tell people who comment on the oddity of our relationship that while we may not have much in common, we are very much compatible with each other- and sometimes that compatibility is better than commonality.

As we talked the other night, he told me that I had encouraged him to reach outside his comfort zone and to try new things.  He said he had done things and gone places he would have never done on his own.  I told him he grounded me and helped me keep my head on straight.  I've learned (or at least tried) to stop always looking around the corner for the next adventure, and just be grateful for what's in front of me.

But there are times like last Sunday, in Stake Conference when I couldn't help but feel an overwhelming sense of sadness when the speaker spoke of remarkable experiences had with the wonderful African people.  My heart hurt a little when I realized, with an aching pit in my stomach, that I would likely never live overseas again.  With tears in my eyes, I thought perhaps it's time to let go and just focus on just living out the reality that's right in front of me.  And what a beautiful reality that is.

I imagine that Dennis probably also feels a similar ache to think of his treasured childhood days of bucking hay and working on tractors.  He once told me that when the hot summer turns to harvest time, it tugs a little at his heartstrings when he remembers what that time of  year used to mean to him as a child.  He has given up so much to be married to this fish.

What an interesting paradox- to love so much what you have but to still yearn for something.  But the one thing I do know is that I would give up any dream of adventure and travel to spend the rest of my days and eternity with this man.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Another Disaster Averted

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Motherhood is slowly transitioning from being less of a physical obstacle course to more of a tactical mine field.  Although Calista has gone from a sweet and mellow little chubba to a screeching, toddling King Kong, the physical exhaustion at the end of the day seems small in comparison to some of the other things that stump me. There are so many times when I think to myself, "What in the world am I supposed to do (or say) now? What would my mother have done in a situation like this?"

Tonight was one of those nights.  Luke got upset with me when I told him to pick his markers up off the floor and informed me that he was going to live with the neighbors.  Threats of this type have become quite common around here and I've been racking my brain as to how to handle them.  Tonight I decided to try a different approach from what I've tried in the past.  I took him by the hand and told him calmly that I'd help him pack.  He slowed his stomping and even hesitated as I led him upstairs.  This certainly wasn't what he had expected.

He pulled out a duffle bag and began packing his underwear and socks giving me confused sideways glances, still unsure about my response.

Underwear, socks, underwear socks, more underwear, more socks...  Good grief, did this kid plan on packing anything other than underwear and socks?

Camden, who had been watching everything began to tear up and said, "Mom!  How can you just let him leave?!"  And then he said, almost sobbing, "It's almost as bad as if you and dad were to get divorced!"

I read somewhere once that to children, the thought of divorce is often worse than the thought of one of their parent's dying.  I believe it.   Even though Dennis and I rarely quarrel and divorce has certainly never been discussed, I remember those same terrifying thoughts as a child and it broke my heart to hear him say it.  I began questioning if what I was doing wasn't perhaps just a little crazy.  "Camden, you don't have to worry about me and dad.  We will never get divorced.  I promise."  I looked at Camden over Luke's head, pointed at Luke and gave him a knowing wink to let him know the situation was under control (hopefully).

I asked Luke, "Sooo... where are you going to sleep tonight?  They don't have any empty beds so you'll probably have to sleep in their backyard."

"That's okay.  I'll take my sleeping bag," he said.

"Oh, that's good.  That should help keep out the snakes."

"What snakes?" he asked stiffly, with his fistful of whitey-tighties paused in mid-air.

"Don't worry.  They won't hurt you.  Snakes are good to have around because they help keep all the mice away," I said.

"Mice?"  By now he had frozen and was looking down at his bag with an anxious scowl.

"Why did you stop packing?  If you're going to be there before dark you need to keep going.  It's going to be cold tonight so pack warm."

Camden was frantic.  "Mom, what are you doing?!  Luke, don't leave!"

Slowly, with tears in his eyes, Luke turned to me and said, "I won't leave if you'll tell me you want me to stay.  But if you want me to go, I will."

Finally, the wall he had put up was beginning to crumble.

I wrapped him in a hug and said, "Luke, it would be the saddest day of my life if you ever left.  I would be sad for the rest of my life.  Will you stay?"

He melted into my arms but true to his Hawkes genetics couldn't give up the fight just yet.  "But if I stay, I'll never hug or kiss you again, okay?  I'm still mad, you know," he said with his little arms around my neck as he twirled my ponytail with his finger.

"I know," as I brought him in for a tight hug.

"I'll always be mad... really."  Ever the tough guy, he was trying so hard but his iron will was slowly slipping away.  He rested his head on my cheek and wrapped his other arm around my back.

By now Dennis had come in and we talked with him about why Heavenly Father made families the way He did.  We told him that Heavenly Father knew that our family would never be complete unless Luke were a part of it.  We discussed how he had grown so fast and that we could hardly believe he wasn't our little baby anymore.  We are so proud of the little man he is growing up to be.

Then Dennis began teasing Luke about the blanky he carried for so many years- the way he'd stuff it in his mouth, keeping his huge eyes wide open and run his fingers along the silky edge until he found the hole that was in the bottom corner of the mangy, tattered blanket.  Then he'd twirl his fingers round and round in the hole until he finally fell asleep.  Then Luke corrected us that there were actually two holes in the blanket that he looked for.  We all laughed.

We read two chapters out loud from Charlotte's Web with Luke curled up tightly next to me.

Read scriptures and said prayers.

Hugs, kisses, and tucking.

Another disaster averted... barely.

Monday, September 3, 2012

I just popped my own personal bubble

Disclaimer:  I wrote this several weeks ago and have debated for quite sometime whether or not I should post this.  I even posted it and the unposted it a few hours later. It just seemed to go one step too far into my personal bubble.  It seems like such a silly thing to be writing about when there are such bigger things going on in the world. There aren't many other subjects more personal to women than this, but for some reason I feel compelled to write about it.  I apologize in advanced if this in any way offends anyone as it is surely not my intent.  This subject has an uncanny way of offending.  You are forewarned.

When people talk about their prime, I felt like I reached it after Luke was born.  I was 25 and feeling stronger and more fit than ever.  I felt like I had reached the pinnacle of self-mastery in regards to my body and what was best for it.  I was an itty-bitty size 2 but I felt strong and powerful.  While some people close to me told me I was too thin, I brushed it off thinking that while they might think I was too small, I felt great.  

After Lauren was born I instantly felt like something had changed.  The pounds didn't melt off like they had before.  I was tired and worn out.  I felt like I had aged 10 years. Three kids had sunk my ship. The thought of exercising seemed masochistic and food tracking was unthinkable. It seemed I just couldn't get those last 7 or 8 vanity pounds off no matter how hard I tried to work some sort of routine into my lifestyle without blowing up the ship that had already sunk.

Following Calista's birth, just two years later, is when things really changed.  I've struggled to get most of the pregnancy pounds off and I feel constantly in need of a nap.  While that may seem like a small and common thing for mother's everywhere, boy has it been a journey for me.  I've learned more about myself in the last year than I ever have before.  

At first, when the pounds wouldn't budge, I became angry and frustrated at myself.  My body and my own inability to be Wonder Woman had let me down.  I avoided public settings not wanting to show my face still wearing maternity clothes and feeling like the poster child of "girls gone frumpy." I had exercised my entire pregnancy and even ran a marathon during my first trimester... what was going on?  I had prided myself for so long in my self-mastering abilities.  I had always been my best drill sergeant and now that sergeant was MIA.  Not out on holiday, but out in survival mode.  Feeling unattractive both inside and out for not being able to kick this, I found myself withdrawing from everyone and everything.  I pumped a few hundred dollars into a naturopathic chiropracter (who ended up being a bit of a quack), had my thyroid checked, and even joined Weight Watchers.  Nothing worked.  I tried waking up at 5am to exercise which only led me into a cycle of fatigue followed by insomnia.  I tried exercising in the evening but found that the idea of going to the gym after the kids were in bed seemed like sheer torture considering how wiped out I was.  After just a few times of loading up all the kids to the gym to workout during the day, I decided the effort put into going and the cost of daycare seemed out of balance for what it was- just a workout.  I tried giving it a break and not exercising at all and I felt miserable.  I tried a 10 week training program in preparation for a triathlon with not even an ounce of results.  I tried working out with a heart rate monitor, working out on an empty stomach, increasing protein, combining it all... nothing.  

I think what bothered me the most was how much it bothered me.  Had I really allowed so much of my identity and self-respect to hinge on my the way I looked?  Was I really that vain and shallow?  Apparently so. To say I was discouraged would be an understatement.  I didn't feel like I could talk about it with anyone other than a few of my closest of friends since my weight was still within a healthy range for my height and age.   It seems so frivolous and superficial, but I felt so different- fundamentally different for some reason.

Calista is almost 15 months old and while I still weigh what I usually weigh at 7 months pregnant, I look back at the past year in awe and humbled at what I have discovered.  I can see the Lord's hand in this and I know that there were lessons, several of them, to be learned.

I hadn't realized how lax I had become about modesty.  I was slowly becoming one of those women that tried to dress like a teenager, forever pushing the limits.  

I realized how conditional my self-love was on my ability to be thin and athletic.  

I realized how I had gradually prioritized physical fitness over spiritual fitness.  

I learned that while some people are emotional eaters, I am a social eater (I don't know if that's even a real term).  

I learned that I have a dysfunctional "full sensor" (again, I don't know if that's even a real thing).  This girl can scarf down some very unladylike amounts of food and never even feel full.

I discovered how arrogant I had become, without realizing it, in my views of women who struggled with weight.   And now... oh my gosh, I get it.  I feel like I've joined an imaginary club of women who get each other as they struggle to love themselves as they are.

A few weeks ago I finally decided I had had enough.  Looking in my closet every morning with nothing that fit was only leading me into a downward spiral of discouragement and self-loathing.  So I packed away my "small clothes" into a box, went to the store, and bought myself some clothes that actually fit.  I had had it with muffin tops and trying to do the sausage squeeze into clothes that just didn't fit anymore.

No, I haven't lost the weight yet.  I've actually started training for a marathon and have put on five more pounds since I started training.  I wish I could say I had learned my lesson and that I am writing this in retrospect- but no.  I realize I may never reach my pre-pregnancy weight and I'm learning to be okay with that.  I have a feeling though that there's still more the Lord still has more He wants to teach me.

I want to learn to see food for what it is- not a friend, not an enemy or something that needs to be fretted over or manipulated- just a source of fuel.  Period.

I want exercise to become that unconditional friend that I go to because I love it and it makes me happy, not because I'm expecting something from it.

I want to look in the mirror and truly love this body, regardless of it's size or how fast it can run.

I still have a long way to go in all of those areas.

So no, this post does not have a smart little phrase to wrap it up nicely and to give some kind of closure to the subject.  It's on-going and may be for a while.  

All I know is that even when I'm feeling the most discouraged, I thank the Lord for the journey this has been.  It has been humbling, and wonderful, and frustrating, all wrapped into one pudgy little experience.