Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Hardest Part About Being a Mom

The other night I think I may have finally put my finger on what for me is the hardest part about being a mom.  Poor Dennis was on the other end of my "light bulb" moment when it came bright and clear.  He arrived home from work one afternoon and I was in the kitchen making dinner, utterly exhausted.  He asked me a harmless question and when I replied a little impatiently that I didn't know, in complete innocence he suggested perhaps I should have known.  Poor guy didn't know he had just walked into a bear trap.

"I should have known?!?  All day I try to know what's in other people's heads.  The baby starts to cry and I have to go through all the possible options to know what's in her head. 'Is she tired?  Is she hurt?  Is she hungry?  Thirsty?  Poopy?  Wet?  Teething?  Sick?'

"Then one of the older kids starts to throw a tantrum and I try to know what's in his head, 'Is he sleep deprived?  Hungry?  Did he have a bad day at school?  Have I not spent enough time with him lately?  Too much time?'

"Do you know how many times a day I have to do this?  Constantly!  I feel like all I do all day is try to read little people's minds who can't communicate for themselves!  The last one I need to try to read is yours!"

Oh man... poor guy.  Little did I realize that by blowing up like that I was expecting him to read my mind by expecting him to know to not ask me to read his.  Dennis, I officially and publicly apologize for that irrational and unexpected (and probably premenstrual) outburst.  

And then you have those precious moments when your children reach the age when they can finally express what's on their mind and they actually do.  And who would have thought they would want to tell someone like me, so out of touch with the current happenings of the third grade. 

I remember third grade.  Those were tough times in their own way as I began to poke my toe out of childhood and began to step foot into the real world.  It was the year I realized not everything in life was made out of gumdrops and rainbows and that things could get ugly out there.

One of those precious moments came a few days ago during family home evening when the subject of miracles came up.  Camden stated he assumed miracles didn’t happen anymore. 

“Of course they do!  They happen every day, all around us.  We just have to look for them,” we said to him.

His little eyes suddenly filled up with tears and with a quivering chin said, “But why would they happen to someone like me?  I’m just a kid.”  He pulled his knees up to his chest, buried his head and started to cry. 

These are the moments I remember thinking about and dreading when he was a baby- these moments when I knew he would feel self-doubt and anonymity.  I knew they would come, had to come, but even then it ripped my heart out to even think about it.  Every great man or woman has to walk the harsh path of self-discovery at some point, but couldn’t my baby just skip it?

We told him of the time when I was pregnant with him and I started having severe abdominal pain and the series of miracles that followed that led to the safety of both him and me.  We discussed several other miracles we had witnessed that involved each of us in the family.   Heavenly Father loved him enough, this little 8 year old boy, to set so many miracles in place to ensure his arrival into this world. 

I was touched that he would make himself vulnerable and reveal his insecurity to us.  He was telling us what was on his mind without me having to ask.  And while I leapt a little inside at this milestone we had reached, my heart ached as I realized we had reached another. 

As a kid I remember talking with my friends about which superpowers we wished we could have.   At the time I wished I could grow gills and spend hours on end under water swimming.  Now I wish the superpower I had was to let him see into my heart- to feel what it was like when we wanted so badly to have a baby.  The day I told Dennis I was pregnant and the way I thought I would burst with happiness.  The joys of feeling his kicks inside my belly.  The day he was born.  The day he first said “Mama” and the way it was the most beautiful sound I had ever heard.  The first time he walked.  The mid-afternoon naps together when I was pregnant with Luke.  His first day of school.  And every other day that has made the past 8 years so magical.   Maybe then he would understand why it hurts so much to hear him call himself, “just a kid.”

Camden, you are never “just a kid.”  You and the word “just” don’t go together, nor does it with any of my children.  And that punk kid who punched you in the mouth the other day on the playground, he would have never done it if he knew your heart the way I do.

So maybe trying to read little people's minds isn't the hardest part of being a mom.  Maybe it's watching them grow and then fail, and then grow again but stronger the next time around.  And I see them becoming stronger, stronger than they know.

Merrick Reunion-Yellowstone 062-1

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Blog Baby #2

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I'm not sure what it is about photography that terrifies me so much.  There's nothing else like it for me.  I've never loved something so much while being terrified of it at the same time.   Nothing has ever left me feeling more vulnerable, leaving me almost in a state of panic.  Photographing and then sharing what I’ve shot produces more anxiety than anything I’ve ever done.        

From the day I came home with my first DSLR, a little over a year ago, I can't seem to get enough of it.  I started out knowing absolutely nothing but I could spend every hour of every day pouring over photography books and blogs, and taking pictures.  

A few months ago, I decided I wanted to start a photography blog, mostly as a way to keep myself motivated to keep learning and find my own personal style with a goal of posting something to the blog about once a week. 

As I debated whether I could really take on one more thing to take up brain space, which seems to be in high demand and short supply lately, part of me was thrilled at the thought of a new challenge.  I love having something to think about and work towards.  But with just as much charge as my enthusiasm came a flood of self-doubt.  Who in the world do I think I am to think people would actually want to look at my pictures?  I have such limited experience yet even with that limited experience, when I look at my pictures, I pick them apart and find a hundred things wrong with them.  Won’t others do the same?  Will it feel like they’re picking me apart when they do?  I think that right there is at the heart of it all- all of the anxiety and fear.

I worked on the blog for a few months telling only a handful of people that it even existed.  I worked on it slowly and several times almost gave up and shut it down when the anxiety of what I was doing felt like too much to handle.  After completing and assignment a photographer friend gave me to complete and post on the blog, I decided to share the blog post on Facebook. 

I felt like a kid on her first day of school- heart pounding and wanting to puke with nervousness.  But I did it and I was grateful for some of the kind feedback I received. 

I need to do this, not because I think my photography is going to change the world, nor because I think my pictures are anything more than ordinary, but because it scares me to death, and I really hate being scared. 

So on the side bar I have a link to my photography blog.  Feel free to have a look see.