Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Forgetting

Thanks to my brother Percy who last week thoughtfully sent me some interesting articles about "forgetting" that got the concept swirling around in my head.
This is my dad rough-housing with six of his eight children.  I was the baby at the time.


“Mom, I’m awake,” whispers a voice, pulling me out of a fitful sleep.  “Can I play on your Kindle?”  It’s Camden, my oldest son, who can’t sleep past 6:30am to save his life. 

I roll over and look at the alarm clock.  The red lights read 6:43am and I'm so exhausted that my body aches with fatigue.

“Yes, but please take it downstairs and turn down the volume.” 

It was a rough night.  I swear my kids play paper-rock-scissors every night to decide who’s going to be the one to get up in the middle of the night.  Last night it was the baby who wailed inconsolably for well over an hour for no apparent reason. 

Other nights, it’s a nightmare that brings one of them in.  I stumble to their bedside with them and we pray together, asking Heavenly Father to remove the fear from their little hearts and to grant them restful sleep.

But it never fails.  Sound sleep is something from a former life.

To top it off, I have a sinus cold that kept me tossing and turning and blowing my nose most of the night.  I figure it was about 4 hours of fitful sleep that I got- tops.

In a fog, I stumbled around the house getting the kids breakfast, making beds, and changing diapers.  As I kissed the top of Camden’s head before he headed out to the bus stop, I reminded him that we hadn’t prayed together that morning.  He asked if he could offer the prayer and asked God to please help his mom feel better.  Gosh, I love that kid.

I came back into the house where Calista was wailing and Luke and Lauren were already bickering viciously… and it was barely 8am.

Good grief, I thought.  Why don’t moms ever get a sick day? What I would give to go back to bed for the rest of the day…

As the morning went on as I scrubbed bathrooms, read books to the kids, and broke up fights, a thought came to me.  Given my kid’s young ages, if I were to die tomorrow, they would barely remember me, if at all.  I've given the last 9 years of my life to being a mother but I would be no more than a vague memory, a few pictures, and a blog that they might occasionally read to find out about what went on inside my head.  Memories of my own life before the age of 10 are sketchy, at best.

And then I realized, even if I live to a ripe old age, they still probably won’t remember today- the sacrifice that it was to pull myself out of bed and take care of them when every fiber of my being wanted to crawl back in bed.

So all this- cleaning, playing referee, fighting the pounding headachewhat is the point?  What if I crawled back in bed?  They probably wouldn’t remember that either.  Can something they can’t remember hurt them?

As the thoughts raced through my head and the temptation to crawl back in bed grew stronger, I remembered a conversation I had with two dear friends as we went on a brisk early morning walk on Thanksgiving day.

One of my friends asked, “We believe that we lived in a pre-existence where we were prepared and taught things we would need to know that would help us in this lifetime, but we can’t remember any of it. That has me wondering, what is the point of learning something we can’t remember?”

I had just had similar thoughts after listening to General Conference in October and wondered how I was supposed to remember all of the things I learned from them, year after year.  No matter how determined I was to remember, even just the things that spoke to me personally, I knew it was impossible.

 I told her that I didn’t believe we always need to remember.  When we learn something, it’s not remembering it that helps us- it’s the fact that what we learn changes us.   Remembering can be helpful with some things, but it’s the change that is the most important.   

I thought of my own parents and the countless nights they must have tucked children back in bed after being awakened by nightmares, how many holes my mother patched with her sewing machine, how many times my father drove me to parties, how many thousands of hours my mom spent bent over the kitchen sink washing dishes from a meal she had spent hours preparing.  And I can’t remember more than a few of each of those times.  How I wish, for their sake, that I could remember each and every time, and thank them for their sacrifice.  My parents are some of the most hard-working, selfless people I know, and yet most of their sacrifices escaped the notice and memory of others.

And yet, I believe (hope) that while many of their sacrifices have escaped my memory, they have in fact changed me. 

As I reflected on my own situation, I thought that perhaps the things I do for my children are more for my sake then for theirs.  Perhaps I’m the one that needs to remember- the one that needs to change more than they do.  Motherhood is a sanctifying furnace of sorts.  It magnifies every flaw and purges any notion of “I’ve got it all together” out of us.  

While my children likely won't remember today and things we did together, I suppose it creates more of a building block than a memory.  Hopefully it's a building block that changes them into people who know that their mother loves them- that I love them more than sleep.  

So perhaps instead of focusing only on building memories with my children, I should focus more on building change.  Not only in them, but in me as well.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Some random kid thoughts and anecdotes



Collage 2013 116-1I find that in many of the articles I read about motherhood, there seem to be two types of writers.  The first paint motherhood as a land of eternal sunshine and rainbows and perpetual bliss, while the second tend to paint a more dismal picture- one of tattered patience and constant exhaustion.  I fear sometimes that in my attempt to stay real, I come across more as the second type of writer.  I would never want my kids to read back on their mother's experiences and think, "Gosh, we just drove her crazy, didn't we?"

I want my kids to know that they are the biggest joy in my life, but to also know when they face similar challenges with their own children and within themselves, that they aren't alone.   I think one of the most common complaints among young mothers is when they hear, "My kids never behaved that way!" or "With all of the modern conveniences, life is so much easier nowadays for you young mothers!"

I think what most young moms want to hear is, "Oh man, I remember when my kids were toddlers.  They were a handful too.  Hang in there.  You're not ruining them.  This too shall pass and they'll love you for your efforts."

Writing down the little anecdotes, both frustrating and heart-warming help to keep my heart grateful for this time in my life.  I know the day will come when I look back on these days and wish for them back.

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C
This morning I woke up before the kids with the intent to get a workout in.  I really hate early mornings...with a passion.  I feel so tired that my body literally aches, but I know that unless I workout before the kids are up, it just never happens.  Ten minutes into my workout this morning, I heard howling coming from Calista's room so I pulled her out of her crib, sat her on my bed, and turned on some cartoons for her to watch, hoping to keep going.  Within about two minutes, she crawled off the bed and sat on my tummy as I did crunches, thumb in her mouth and watched me with eyes bulging- the way my kids' eyes do when they're tired.  "My goodness," I thought, "she is beautiful."  It felt like I was seeing her for the first time.  Then she layed down on my stomach and drummed her fingers against my chest.  I wanted to melt.  This little girl has a gift of calming those who she's around.

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Later that morning, I made gak for my kids to play with.  I made the mistake of leaving them unattended for about five minutes and came back to find gak splattered all over the kitchen in big white clumps.  Lauren had emptied the entire contents of her bowl and it was everywhere- on the walls and all over the floor. When I asked what had happend, Lauren explained in her best princess voice that she was, "trying to throw it at Calista's butt, but she wouldn't hold still."

February 2013 018
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Camden attends a dual language school and has been learning Spanish remarkably well.  I love to see his little brain try to figure out words and phrases.  He can get quite creative in his attempts.  The other day he was asking me in Spanish for a "maza cacahuate."  

"A what?"  I asked.

After a few giggles, he explained that he wanted a doughnut.  He had used the literal translation of "dough" and "peanut" to make up his word.  I was so proud!

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A few weeks ago we were playing a trivia game with the kids for family home evening.  Their answers were the best.

Q:  What do you call the yellow part of an egg?   
A: A pupil.


Q:  What do you call a children's doctor?
A:  An animal doctor.


Q:  Who was the first person to walk on the moon?
A:  Aliens.

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My little Lauren has had a thing for make-up lately.
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February 2013 002-1
It's easy for me to forget that every word that comes out of my mouth carries an impact.  The other night, I went to tuck Camden in for bed and found him weepy.  I asked him what was wrong and he said, "Mom, do you wish I hadn't grown up?  Do you not like me as much now that I'm older?"

I was taken back and caught completely off-guard by this question.  "Camden, why in the world would you ask that?  Of course not!"

"You keep telling Luke, Lauren, and Calista that you never want them to grow up and to please stay little forever.  Is it because you don't want them to get big like me?"

My heart sank.  I had said that so many times, and jokingly told them that maybe if I pushed their heads down every day, they would stay little forever.  Except I had never said that to him.

I did my best to reassure him that I would always love him, no matter what his age.  I told him how proud I was of the young man he is growing up to be.  But I was afraid the damage had been done.  

He tearfully hugged me and told me that it was okay but I felt awful. There are few things in life that carry heavier guilt than when I feel like I have messed up with my kids. 

That's when I have to remind myself that God made children resilient and very forgiving.  It's us, the grown-ups, that would have it serve us well to turn back the clock and learn from our children.  

I was talking to my sister yesterday and I was reminded through our conversation that motherhood is just as much a refining and learning process for us now as childhood is for our children.