Monday, November 23, 2009

Standing on the Threshold

{portrait by my dear friend Chantal}

Tomorrow I will turn 30. I never thought that would happen. Not that I have a problem with it – it just always seemed so far away. In pondering the last ten years, I find myself quite surprised at the wealth of experiences those years have brought.

I stepped into this decade with a brand-new husband and big ambitions. Graduate from college. Have some children. Raise them in Utopia surrounded by friends and family. Develop my faith, talents, and attributes, all in my well-controlled comfort zone. Nothing fancy, nothing complicated.

Well, that lasted for about five minutes.

I did graduate from college and I did have children, but Utopia and my comfort zone went out the window. Detours and U-turns and stop signs were numerous. Highways became backroads and vice versa. Sometimes I think I accidently picked up the wrong map. But what a ride it has been.

In the last ten years I have been to places I never dreamed I would go. I have walked the beaches in San Francisco and Delaware. I have visited the Sacred Grove in New York, and been through the Nauvoo Temple. I have dined with the Amish in Pennsylvania, and caught catfish off the coast of Florida. I have pulled a handcart in Wyoming and a shopping cart in Baltimore.

In the last ten years, my family has grown. Four children, three sisters-in-law, a niece and a nephew. I have also been blessed to find other “sisters” along the way. Women who have taught, served, befriended, and put up with me. Friends I know I was meant to meet.

In the last ten years, there has been a healthy mix of joy, disappointment, hope, frustration, comfort, loneliness, excitement, sorrow, gratitude, anxiety, and love. Trials I didn’t ask for, and blessings I didn’t imagine. I hope I am a better person for them.

Twenty-nine finds me firmly entrenched in motherhood. Trying to find a balance between selfless and sane. (Not that they should be opposites, but I’m still working on that.) Beginning to accept drastically lower expectations in some areas (like shower frequency or the ability to read more than two sentences of a novel without interruption) and infinitely higher expectations in others (patience, charity, and humility, to name a few.) Searching for hints of fulfillment within the hours of frustration. Waiting for the assurance that it is all worth it.

The transition from college student to stay-at-home mom hasn’t been easy. For a while I mourned the absence of A’s and the lack of measurable accomplishment. Nobody cheers when I load the dishwasher, practice the piano, or de-clutter a closet. Motherhood requires a different grading curve. But I am beginning to understand…. Every meal I cook, every load of laundry, every book I read aloud to a child, every homework sheet I sign, every game of Uno, every thank-you note I write, every lullaby I sing, every scrape I bandage, every kind word, every trip to the park, every lesson I teach, every hug and every kiss count for something. Not in somebody’s grade book, but in somebody’s life book. What I do matters. The last ten years have taught me that.

Going into 30, I’m taking these life lessons with me and hopefully beginning with a bit more perspective. No less ambitious, but perhaps more centered.

Part of me knows that the only difference between 29 and 30 is one second’s time. But another part knows that that second is the difference between two eras. The last ten years are stored up, with all of their experiences and emotions, in the person I have become. The next ten years lay ahead of me like an unexplored scenic highway, full of promise, opportunities, and unexpected side streets.

One more step and I will enter that road.

I hope I have the right map this time.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Couch Potato

We've been having a standoff here lately between Mommy and Boy-who-wants-to-play-video-games-24-7. (It should be noted that by "video games," Boy means educational computer games. We do not own a Wii, an X-box 360, a Nintendo Game Sphere or whatever. We don't even own a cell phone.) Every day the conversation goes something like this:

Isaac: "Mom, can I play a video game?"

Mom: "Sure, as soon as you earn it."

Isaac: "Awww, Mooommm!"

End of discussion.

He rarely pursues this argument any further because he knows that to earn the privilege of using the computer, he must a) do his chores and b) get some exercise. (One downside of him being such an avid reader is that he doesn't move much anymore.)

Today's version went like this:

Isaac: "Mom, can I play video games?"

Mom: "No. You've been sitting on your bum all day. I don't think I've seen you move once."

Isaac: "Yes I have. I walked!"

Mom: "Oh yeah? When did you walk?"

Isaac: "I walked to the table to eat some pretzels and walked back here (the couch)."

A total of about 30 feet. I'm not impressed.

But it's okay, because now that brother is home from school, there will be more "exercise" than I can stand.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mommy, Save Me

Oh the joy of having a big sister. :)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Signs That It's Monday

It's almost 2:00 in the afternoon and I haven't had an opportunity to shower yet.

I paid the bills this morning, only to discover that I had put a 42-cent stamp on every letter I've sent in the past two weeks. So if you didn't get your thank-you card yet, that is why. Ugh.

Grace's Fisher-Price minivan is stuck repeating "Potty...potty...potty...potty...."

A headline on the front page of today's newspaper reads "Germany celebrates fall of Berlin Wall." Except I read "German celebrities fall off Berlin Wall." Really, I was close.

The kids are fighting over who gets to put stuff away. Yes, gets to.

My afternoon plans consist of making cherry cheesecake for FHE tonight, and trying to come up with a lesson addressing one of the kids' many behavioral problems without making it sound like said lesson is actually aimed at them.

I'm blogging instead of doing the dishes.

Happy Monday, everyone!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Zoo Went Trick-or-Treating

This year we had a panther, a gray wolf, a ladybug, and a baby monkey.

Not the happiest monkey in the world. (I think he wanted the M&Ms.)

Grandma dressed up as Grandma.

The great Sort and Trade. Notice Jacob's serious expression as he contemplates the Skittles.

At first Grace was deathly afraid of her own costume, but as soon as the concept of "wear costume = get candy" sank in, she was totally on board.