Tuesday, March 19, 2013


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.


Cher said...

oh yeah, totally have had the same thoughts. well not about learning in the pre-existence, that was cool to relate that to mothering. but i think that too, how sad it is that they won't remember any of this. but i will! and i'm enjoying watching them learn and grow and how i can influence that. and i think they would remember if something bad or traumatizing happened. so the fact that they won't remember details means it was a good life. i like thinking that it changes them, whether they remember it or not. good point.

Anonymous said...

Your thoughts about being tired led me to wish we lived in a more ideal community, at least in my mind: one where we lived like a village, and multiple close adults helped eachother raise food, care for children, our parents, the elderly, people with illness... and yet everyone got a bit more of what they needed: sleep, attention, fun, interaction, stimulation. Maybe those of us who are more rested on some days could spell eachother off for a long nap, or a day off, or a few meals. Just fanciful thinking I guess. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Love, Percy

Cristina Crane said...

I love this Rita! Thanks for sharing such great insight!

Kate Curtis said...

I love how honest you are. This is something I definitely needed to read today. Thank you!

Leslie said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts! It is true that we don't remember and thank enough- especially for those who have done so much for us. I assume my kids will remember the things I do for them, but then reading your entry, I realized how much I don't remember of the every day things our parents did for us. I love to read your blog!

Rita said...

I've thought often how so many of the conveniences that we enjoy lead us to become more isolated, especially as mothers. What starts out as a blessing, leading us to indepence and self-sufficiency can instead lead us to loneliness when we no longer depend on others. It's interesting how especially in subdivisions like ours, we live so close to each other, but are mostly dettached from eachother. Yes, some help would be really be nice, especially on days like this.

Nashina and Nate Jagielski said...

Wow...once again your writing is delicious to my brain. It really gets me thinking. I especially loved the line "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." Such a good reminder and inspiration!