Thursday, February 28, 2013

I wrote an excellent sentence today.

Baby in her hat, to cheer me.
Just one excellent sentence, I think, though I wrote a lot of really-quite-good sentences.

The baby woke up at five this morning, and indicated she thought this was a good time to begin the morning, which wasn't very nice. I fed her, and while I sat feeding her, ideas for the essay I've been working on ricocheted off the inside of my head. I worried they would leave me before I had a chance to catch them.

I changed the baby's diaper, put her in an outfit and a hat that matched. A hat to cheer me up about the early morning. We played with her toys and practiced her tricks and I read her two chapters of Frog and Toad, a book that makes her kick her legs and squeal with delight, which is sort of the effect it has on her father and me. Once we were done reading, she started to twist and fuss and indicated that maybe I was right after all, maybe this was too early for the morning. So I took her downstairs and put her in her swing, and I began trying to catch the tail of those writing ideas.

And then I wrote a lot of really-quite-good sentences. And then I wrote an excellent sentence.

The essay is about my great grandparents, and the sentence is about marriage and divorce and omelets, and it made me remember how good it feels, to get it right. I'm sick today. A cold incoming, and some weird business in response to the antibiotics I took for mastitis. The baby has been sleeping terribly in general at night, so my body is heavy and sloggy and sad, and my house is in a state most unbecoming of a visit from my mother-in-law, who is flying into town this afternoon.

But I wrote an excellent sentence! So the world feels shiny and delicious. It flung its arms out and shimmied and gave me jazz hands, the world did. And I love that feeling. 

I wish for you the same, today. I wish for you something you really love. I wish for you a good solid shimmy from the world.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Baby Shower Idea: Writing and Ilustrating a Children's Book

It's a little amusing to me that I used initials yesterday for our friends' names, and today I'm going to share a good deal of their business, so let's just say now that their names are Kenneth and Emily, and we were friends with them here in Boston, and we plan to be their friends forever and ever.

They are the best sort of people, and they've been trying to start their family for eight long years. I'll let you insert what you know of infertility, and pretty much nod that all of that was involved. And now, to their surprise and gratitude, they're expecting a baby girl in ten weeks.

As I said, they came up last weekend to visit and I threw a small shower, and in what I think must be the curse of a lot of Pinterest activity, I was stressing about making it fabulous. Didn't I need favors and decorations and games and all of that? It turns out I didn't really need any of that, since it was more of a luncheon out at a restaurant, and only a few of us made it. But a few nights before, I couldn't sleep because my brain was trying to think of something we could do, and here's what I came up with: I would write a children's book for the baby, and we'd illustrate it at the shower.

This was Thursday, and the shower was on Saturday, so I had exactly one day to make it happen. I came up with the idea of making it about a dearly-loved grandmother, one that Emily spent a lot of time with as a little girl, so I wrote to Kenneth and to Emily's mom and mined them for as many details as they could think of. And then, in pretty much one sitting, I wrote this book. We didn't end up illustrating it at the shower (but it could have been awesome, right?), so I've been working on illustrations of my own and I'll mail them when I'm done. Here are the first two. [Please keep at the front of your mind that I am not a visual artist ...]

This is Emily.

This is Grandma Joan.

To make the illustrations I used pictures that Kenneth sent me, and modge-podged them onto nice paper using something like this technique, then embellished and added with paint and a fine-point sharpie. I tried to embrace what seemed like mistakes, and didn't worry too much about making them perfect. I think they'll do nicely.

So would you like to read the little story? I'll paste it in below. It's full of real details from Emily's childhood with her grandparents, but the story itself is imagined more or less, though you'll recognize where the idea came from. I'll add a note at the bottom to explain a few things.

Emily and Grandma Joan

 This is Emily. She has very blond hair and exactly thirteen freckles scattered across her nose. Every day her dad puts her hair in pigtails and ties them with big bright bows, and she goes to visit her Grandma Joan and Grandpa Dick.


This is Grandma Joan. Grandma Joan is a short, pretty lady with curly hair and glasses. She wears elastic-waist pants with a shirt tucked in, and she always has a smile on her face. Emily can’t remember ever seeing her wear a frown. Not for long, anyway.


This is Grandpa Dick. Grandpa Dick is very tall and thin with a big forehead. Every day he comes home for lunch and eats tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. He calls Emily, “Emmy,” and sometimes he calls Grandma “Old Battleaxe.” “Hello, Old Battleaxe,” he says. And then he gives her a big kiss.


Emily and her grandparents do all sorts of things together. They eat brunch at a hotel downtown called Little America. They take walks in the Art Garden. And most afternoons, Emily learns from her grandmother how to bake and cook and sew, and how to love her friends and be kind to those who need it most. Sometimes they take the cookies they’ve baked and load into her grandparents’ blue car, and go visit The Two A.M. Club, grandma’s friends she’s had since she was in kindergarten. Emily and Grandma sit on the big couches in her friends’ living rooms and eat cookies. Grandma makes her friends laugh, and on their way back out to the blue car, she holds Emily’s hand.


Emily is very happy, except that she can’t find a baby doll that looks just like her. She’s always wanted a baby doll that looks like her, but she’s nearly eight years old, and she hasn’t found one.

She’s very good at taking care of the baby dolls she already has. She has one with dark, shiny, long hair. She has one with dark curly hair, and one with no hair at all. Several of her babies are blond, but with the wrong number of freckles, or no freckles at all. She gives them baths and they sing along together to The Beatles, and she takes them to pick blueberries and offers them blueberry pie when she makes it with Grandma Joan, but none of her baby dolls are quite the one she’s looking for.


Sometimes she sits in the playhouse in her grandparents’ backyard, listens to the wind chimes on the back porch, looks out at all of the big trees, and misses a doll she’s never met, one that looks just like her.


One Tuesday, when she comes back inside from sitting thoughtfully in the playhouse, Grandma Joan asks her what’s the matter. Emily tells her, “I want to find a baby doll that looks just like me. She should be very blond and wear her hair in pigtails with big bows and have precisely thirteen freckles across her nose.”

Grandma Joan wipes her hands on her apron and calls Grandpa into the kitchen. “Do you think we can find a baby doll that looks just like Emmy, Grandpa?”

“I don’t see why not,” he says.


So the three of them pile into the front seat of the blue car, and go on a searching adventure. They look under the cushions of the big couches in Grandma’s friends’ houses, but there aren’t any baby dolls there, just pennies and old butterscotch candies covered with lint.


They ask the waitresses at Little America if they’ve seen any baby dolls that look like Emily, but they stand with hands on their hips and say they only know of dolls with seven freckles across their noses.


At the Art Park, they look behind all the statues, and they meet wiener dogs named Barney and Gus, but Barney and Gus haven’t seen any dolls lately, just red bones and a skinny mailman named Steve.


On their way back to the car, Grandma Joan says, “Well, Emmy, we better just make one ourselves.”

Grandpa drives them downtown and he sits in a coffee shop while they go to a handicraft store to buy supplies for a perfect baby doll. In the handicraft store, a very nice lady helps them, and as they leave, Emily sees a handsome light-haired boy playing near the door. She thinks about that boy long after they’ve left.


Grandma Joan helps Emily make very blond hair from light yellow yarn. They tie the yarn-hair with big red bows. Grandma helps Emily sew a strawberry swimsuit to match the one she’s worn all summer. Grandma helps her stitch exactly thirteen freckles across the doll’s nose.


Once they’re done, Emily brings the doll to grandpa and he is impressed. He asks her what the doll’s name is.

Emily says, “Alina Joan.” 

Notes: They, of course, plan to name the baby Alina Joan. Emily is a professional nanny, hence the "baby dolls she already has" and the things she does with them. Also, the handicraft store is Mormon Handicraft, and the little boy is Kenneth, whose mother has worked there for 30 years, though the crossing of their paths is imagined. One cool thing is that I guessed on what Grandpa might have had for lunch--tomato soup and grilled cheese--and it turned out to be exactly what Grandpa Dick usually had for lunch. It was lovely to realize I had guessed that right.

Here's to Emily, Kenneth, Grandma Joan, Grandpa Dick, and the soon-to-be Alina Joan.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Bright Baby Quilt for a Miracle Baby

The finished quilt, looking shiny.

I love miracle babies. Henrietta was a miracle baby, of sorts, and now my dear friends, K & E, are set to have one of their own soon. They visited this past weekend, and we had a small shower for E, at which point I gifted her this quilt.

E is the one who taught me to quilt, and I'll just say it is scary business making a quilt for the person who taught you how. I'm generally pretty easy-going about quilts, as E taught me to be, but I was so worried with this one that she'd see all its flaws. She surely will. But hopefully it will be shiny enough to love anyway. Look! Bright colors!

I fell in love with the backing fabric first, and then took about a million years to find the combo of fabrics for the front. Isn't that backing fabric delightful?

I started the quilt during Nemo, the enormous blizzard, and it was a lovely way to spend the day while it blizzed (I made that word up) outside. You need lots of bright coins of fabric on very snowy days, right?

Meatsock helped. He felt it was best to enshroud himself in the bright coins of fabric.

Quilt sandwich. I realize I'm kind of going backwards, here.
Quilt top in the sunlight. You can see more of the patterns I picked in this shot.

It was nice to get back to quilting, even if it was perhaps a bit ambitous to think I could finish it in a couple of weeks. I managed, but next time I'll begin sooner. And really, the true joy of it was to make something for someone so completely deserving. These folks, and their baby on the way, are dear to my heart.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Rattling Around in My Brain: A Room with A View

I have things to tell you and show you and this and that, but golly, I'm exhausted. Busy weekend, and busy weekends are more difficult with a baby, yes? I was reading your awesome comments on the mean brain post, and thinking about you saying, almost collectively, that when you have a small baby, everything is a victory. Brushing my teeth is a victory! An accomplishment!

In a way, that makes me sort of sigh and feel sad about things. But in another way, if it's true, I may have been a bit overly ambitious last week, and, you know, in general lately. Last week I had been sort of praying, asking God, okay, what should I do next, should I attend this function that's not 100% necessary, and I thought He said sure, but this morning I decided that I was, somehow, praying to my own perfectionism, my own high expectations for myself. Does that make sense? I wasn't asking Him at all, because He is so gentle with me, and I was not exactly gentle with myself. And now I feel rundown and cranky and like everything is a real big bummer, which most assuredly means it's time for bed.

And so, though I have things to show you and say to you and I'm excited to do so, I think I'll begin a new series on the blog, a new feature, if you will, of things (from books, movies, poems, music, and the like) that are rattling around in my brain. Maybe if I tell you what's rattling in mine, you'll tell me what's rattling in yours?

To begin, there is this line from the movie, A Room with a View, which, if you have not seen it, you must. Sam tells me it's on Netflix instant streaming, so go forth and stream, my friends. It's also a lovely book, so there's that, but I can't recall if this line is from the book. Does anyone remember?

Anyway, so what happens is this: Helena Bonham-Carter is Lucy Honeychurch (and she plays her deliciously) and she's playing the piano. I tried to find a YouTube clip of this whole scene, but they cut off before the best line, which is really the best line in the whole movie, so I don't know what they're thinking. (Here's the link to the first bit.) But anyway, so she's playing the piano and she's playing Beethoven, and she's playing passionately, and when she finishes, Mr. Beebe claps, and says, and here's the good part:

Mr: Beebe: "May I say something rather daring?"

Lucy: "Mr. Beebe, you sound like Miss Lavish. [The silly overly-romantic lady novelist.] Are you writing a novel, too?"

Mr. Beebe: "If I were, you would be my heroine. And I should write 'If Miss Honeychurch ever takes to live as she plays ... it will be very exciting, both for us and for her.'"

So that's what's rattling around in my brain, and I'm wondering how to "live as I play," so to speak. It's terrifying to let oneself do so, is it not? What do you do passionately, more passionately than you allow yourself to live? And, also, what's rattling around in your brain? Do tell.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Names We've Called the Baby Today

Baby Kitty
Creature Feature
Drooly Vibes
Mulligatawny Stew
Thundette the Barbariette
Vomit Head
Uncle Fester
My Lovely 
Floppy Flop Flopperhead
Young Lady
Henrietta Plum-plum-plum

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Mean Voice in My Head

Usually the mean voice in my head shows up in the evening, when it's almost time for bed. And I start to despair and say really hopeless things, and Sam has to practice remembering that I don't actually think they're true, I'm just exhausted. And exhaustion manifests so much like sadness, for me.

But today she showed up much earlier, while I was getting dressed for the day. I went to get a dress from my wardrobe, and I told Sam, "The mean voice in my head came out early today."

"Did she? What's she saying?" he said.

"Do you really want to know? Like, what she's actually trying to tell me?"

"Sure," he said.

"In the last two minutes, she's said the following: My thighs are disgusting. I'm a worthless human because I haven't vacuumed yet. I should stop blogging because it doesn't matter anyway, it's not really writing. I have neglected to mail x and scan and email y and write to z, and I'll probably neglect to do those things again today, because that's the kind of person I am--flakey and stupid and lazy and bad."

"Wow," he said. And then he showed a picture of fleshy, bloody antelope thighs he found on the Internet. "These are disgusting thighs," he said.

All day I tried to fight the voice. And let me say up front that this ability to identify it as not me, but something aside from my true self that's intruding and telling me lies--this is progress. Saying what she's telling me out loud--that's also progress.

Throughout the day, Sam tried to help me battle by getting me to sing silly songs with him, and indulging me when I wanted to buy vegetables from the grocery store when all he wanted was Diet Coke, and getting me a treat, and kissing the back of my head while I was making dinner and he was watching Baby. But I kept hearing this negative talk: when I put away my groceries, she said, "You have enough to feed an army, now. Who do you think you are, buying all this food? And do you really think you'll roast all these vegetables tomorrow? Yeah. Right."

While I was making dinner, she told me how foolish I was to try to make kale saag paneer on a weeknight, that it was taking too long, that it wouldn't be any good, that I should make a salad to go with it if I really cared about my family's health, on and on.

(I'm interrupting myself to say the kale saag paneer turned out beautifully. My sister Kira, who has awesome taste in recipes, recommended it. I homemade the paneer, and used kale instead of spinach, since we had frozen kale on hand and we're obsessed. The voice in my head was right in saying it was a little ambitious for a weeknight with a four-month-old, but golly it was good.)

After dinner, there was this perfect moment when we'd finished the saag, and I held Henrietta and tried to keep her from reaching for everything on the table. She's just recently gotten coordinated and wise enough to realize she can grab whatever she wants, and dinnertime is absolutely not a moment when she permits us to set her down, so I've abandoned placemats, and I'm constantly moving my bowl and my glass and spoon and everything else that looks shiny and exciting.

I bounced her on my knee, and we distracted her by counting, which we've never really done before, and we took turns counting loudly and slowly, and then Sam counted quickly, like he was counting out the beats of a song, and the baby looked between us with wide wide eyes, taking it in, almost as if she'd repeat the numbers back to us any minute. I sang her the alphabet song, and then "Twinkle, Twinkle," and blew Sam's mind that they were the same tune. Soon I'd feel bad again, and worry about this and that, and begin to despair like I always do before bed, but for just a moment that voice was so far in the background it didn't exist. There wasn't anything I was doing wrong, or anything I needed to be doing differently. There was just my little family around the dinner table, counting loud and slow and smiling.

Tell me, is there a mean voice in your head? Do you have a name for her? I'm thinking maybe I ought to name mine--really establish that distance, you know? Do you have name suggestions? Better still, do you have ways to keep her quiet? What do you do when yours is chattering away? I'd love to hear.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Everything is Already Lovely

I thought I'd do another one of these. This is a compilation of several days--my life isn't quite this shiny all at once. But join me, in the comments, if you're so inclined. I would love to read your lists.

1. Human Interaction. *Walking around the New England Quilt Museum with Sam and Henrietta Plum. Listening to the white-haired woman with a hip, asymmetrical haircut tell us about the ones with sticks (and other strange objects) sewn into them. *Talking with someone at church who seemed genuinely excited to see me. Maybe I have a friend? (!) *Teaching the Young Women at church about choice and accountability. They were smart and savvy and interesting to talk to. *Whispering in HP's ear about Jesus during church.

2. Food. *Ribollita. I used the recipe from this book, which is my favorite book about food ever ever ever. Will probably do a post in praise of that book soon. *Green smoothie with pineapple juice, greek yogurt, frozen mango, and spinach. *Working on recreating The Swami bowl from this place. I'm so close to perfecting it. I'll probably post that too, once I've truly mastered it.

3. God. *Sitting down to write my lesson for church, after having thought about it and studied for it all week, and having it come out on the page easily, as if He was helping me know what to say and when to say it. *Praying for my family whilst chopping veggies for dinner.

4. Goals. *Nearly done with a quilt. *Made a grocery list for healthy meals, prepped healthy meals for much of today. *Blogged. *Worked on essay for publication.

5. Beauty. *The pattern on the top of my fresh-pressed carrot/apple/celery/beet juice, which looked all swirly and psychedelic, like something out of the 70s. I wanted a big long maxi dress out of that look. *The melting snow streaming and glittering off the tops of buildings in downtown Lowell. I stood on the steps of the library and tried to figure out how to capture that image, settling on writing it up in my list. *Newly hung art on our walls. *Gorgeous dresses for HP from Savers. *The sounds HP makes now, loud and happy and sweet. *The snow blowing through the trees out our windows this morning, haunting and clouded and pristine, all at once.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

First Smile of the Morning

Not the first, and not nearly as wide as the first, but close to the first smile of the morning. (P.S. Aren't humidifiers beautiful?)

Sometimes in the early morning, when it's clear that Henrietta is not interested in sleeping in her crib any longer, I bring her into bed with me in hopes of getting a bit more sleep. She nurses while I try to doze, and eventually she nods off too.

After awhile she wakes up and wants to nurse again, and I help her latch, and this time she's ready to be awake for the day. This is how I know she's ready: she pulls off,  and when I look down to see why, and she's smiling at me.

It's my favorite smile of the day. Later smiles are silly and squirmy, but this one is quiet. It's wide and deeply content. She's a strange little creature then, a bald and armless green glowworm in her swaddle. In another context, I'd be sure an alien was sucking the life from me, smiling maliciously. But it melts me when she smiles that way.

I think the official word is that she doesn't yet know there's a difference between the two of us, yes? But she seems to know then. Why hello, she's saying. It's so nice to see you, she's saying. I've missed you terribly.

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Pain of Growing Up

[I'm worried about this post. It's pretty close to my heart. I wrote it weeks ago, but I keep putting off publishing it. And then in quiet moments I’ll think of it and feel, again, like I need to say it. So let's all put on our generous hats, shall we?] 

One Christmas I came home to visit my family and realized that my oldest niece and nephew were growing up. They were twelve, I think, on the cusp of teenagehood, and I realized I was terrified for them. They were (are!) such awesome and good kids, and I was excited for them, in a way, but also scared. That was when the world got complicated for me, and I don't think I've ever quite forgiven the world for becoming so. When I say I was scared for them, I mean I was nearly trembling. It was almost a physical reaction, a slow-motion "Noooooo!" in my head, willing them away from the cliff of further development.

I just got called into the Young Women's program, the organization in our church for girls at just this age—from twelve to high school graduation. And I've been asked to teach the youngest girls, the twelve to thirteen-year-olds. Last Sunday, I went to meet them and sit in on the lesson, which was being taught to all the girls by someone else. And it was an hour of that "Nooooo!" feeling. I kept looking at these girls, and thinking about myself at that age, and looking down at Henrietta asleep in her car seat, and wondering how on earth I could teach them anything worth knowing, how I could avoid destroying their lives. I drove home, singing to the baby to keep her happy, but nearly trembling all over again. It was an upsetting Sunday for me.

I really am worried about destroying their lives. They had this scrubbed-clean look, this fresh-faced beauty. Oh, they are beautiful girls. Physically lovely, but also strong and smart and well-dressed and savvy and compassionate and good. It shows. They glow with it. If there's hope for the future of the world, it must be in (young) women like these.

But I think what panicked me was a sense of their tendency to think in black and white: that there are good people and bad people and categorically good decisions and categorically bad decisions, and if we follow all of the rules and be very good girls, everything will be fine and we'll be happy forever and ever amen.

And hey, I used to be that girl. I used to believe that. I wanted it to be true, and I thought I was being told that it was true, and I lived my life believing it until it became absolutely necessary to change my way of thinking or perish. I was a zealot, my friends. I used to correct the "bad" language of my church friends. When someone once asked me if I'd ever done anything wrong, I told them of course I had because I knew that's what I was supposed to say, but I honestly couldn't think of anything I had ever done that I shouldn't have. I wondered if I was perfect, and at the same time knew that this was a problem, that the fact I was wondering whether or not I was perfect was, in and of itself, bad news. (Sigh.)

Still, I was a relatively happy zealot until the discrepancy between the narrow way I understood the gospel and the way I was beginning to experience the world nearly tore me in half.

So I'm worried. I'm worried I'll muck up that fresh-faced-ness with too much nuanced thinking too soon, and I'm worried they'll someday feel torn in half if I don't acknowledge the complications.

And maybe I'm being too vague now, or maybe you've stopped reading because I'm sounding too liberal, and this is the part I was worried about writing, but listen, here's the thing: 80% of single women in their 20's leave the Mormon Church. Let's let that sink in for a moment. 80% of single Mormon women in their 20's leave the Church.* I found myself looking around at these young women, wondering which of them would leave and which of them would stay, and looking at my baby and wondering what her experience would be, and thinking about myself, and wondering if I counted as someone who stayed, or left.

I stayed, officially. I never stopped going to church, even when it nearly killed me because I couldn't feel anything when I was there and I was lonely and sad and nothing at church helped me feel better. I would have panic attacks in the pews and come home early, but I kept attending.

For me, this was all a bit past where they are now, but when I was going through that transition from black-and-white to more nuanced thinking, I had a lot of blame for what I learned at church when I was their age. I walked around wondering why no one told me that though there's a Plan of Happiness, the details of our individual lives are meant to be unique and God knows our lives will be complicated, and He means for us to do the absolute best we can anyway, and He loves us. Nothing we can do can interfere with that love (though our choices can make it harder for us to feel), and it's a big shiny monumental love, that, if we let it, fuels our lives and makes us strong, regardless of what happens. I wish someone had told me that.

So for the last several years I've been frustrated with the Church, thinking it somehow failed me. But in the wake of that introduction to the group on Sunday, as I've worried about my involvement and wondered how I could help, I've been talking to my sisters about their kids who are this age, and I've realized something huge, something that changes everything.

That black and white thinking? That, to some extent, was me. I mean, religious structures tend towards it, sure. And as teachers and leaders of teenagers, we are obliged to be careful about how we approach significant subjects, and not all of my teachers played things perfectly. But to some extent, I've been blaming the pain of growing up on the Church, and really, growing up is just painful. It's hard to grow up and become who you really are (e. e. cummings said so), and it's pretty normal for kids to see the world in black and white, and I was even more prone to it than your average kid. There's not a lot I can do about how these girls see the world; they'll have to make their own transitions, but I can listen and I can speak to my own experience, and I can tell them about that love, that most significant love.

This is already long, but will you permit me to say one other thing about this? I think part of what I'm worried about is what I'll say if they ask me about my marriage to someone outside the Church. And I can't answer that question in a sentence. I can't really explain in a concise way how I love and value Temple Marriage, and encourage them to head in that direction, and how I also love my husband desperately, and feel like God led us to be together. And maybe that's what I'll tell them, just that, that both of those truths are true, and sometimes that happens.

But part of the answer is also that Sam helped me navigate this transition. While he didn't share my faith, he never belittled it, never tried to get me to be not Mormon, and he helped me understand how to see things with more nuance and still walk around in the world. He helped me grow up. And on the other side of that (am I on the other side of that?), I couldn't bear to let him go. The world didn't make sense without his enormous brain to help me figure it out.

This was just as true last week, when I came home from church wide-eyed, and wondering what to think. I told him about my experience, and he said what I think is true, that God must be behind this, that I'm meant to help these young women see a bit more nuance and be prepared for their future, and that they are meant to help me remember what it was like to be that girl, to get in touch with my previous self, who was very sure of wrong and right.

I like the sound of that. I wouldn't mind visiting that little Deja again. She wasn't at all perfect. But she was good.

*Edited to add "single," which wasn't in the original post. I forgot that was a piece of the statistic, and I'm sorry to have misrepresented. It's still disturbing, yes? I know I just barely made it out of my twenties still active. I've had some questions about it, so go here and here if you want to hear more talk about this statistic. I'm working on tracing it back to its absolute original source. If you know it, let me know.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Of Jobs and Motherhood: Three (Guest Post) Gems

From Cula

All my life all I ever wanted was to be married, have babies and stay at home with them. I did go to school for two years and I received my associates degree in early childhood education just in case my future husband lost his job and I needed to work. 

The truth is that I love this stay-at-home mom gig more than I ever thought possible. Admittedly there are days when I want to throw in the towel but those thoughts are immediately dashed when my children wrap their arms around me and tell me they love me or when we're in the school room and what we're learning finally sinks in and the look on their faces makes it all worth it. 

I detest play dates at parks with other kids. Instead, we spend our afternoons at Balboa Park exploring the museums, doing service projects, seeing plays, or cuddling up on the couch watching an old black and white movie or musicals and learning everything we can. These are things I hold the most dear. Some may wonder how I stay sane being with my kids all day long. My answer to them is that I am lucky enough to have an amazing husband who helps me and lets me have nights and the occasional weekend to be with my friends and just be Cula and not Mommy.

From Elise

I grew up always wanting to be a mom.

And then I had kids. And let me just say bluntly that motherhood does not produce immediate rewards like a job does. There's no paycheck. There's no boss praising your exemplary work. There are no coworkers with whom you can maintain sanity during a long work day. In fact, sometimes, in spite of all your creativity and patience and long-suffering and non-yellingness, your only reward from your offspring is a lengthy tantrum. I really hate those. They happen every day around here.

Anyway. I have worked on and off. I have worked from home and I have worked in an office while the kids stayed at home with my mom. I have always felt a strong pull to return to work.

It hasn't been until I had Rose that the desire to work has disappeared. Somehow, until now, I think I've been afraid of throwing all my chips into motherhood because I feel like I'm failing every day. It's easy to interpret every tantrum, tear, disappointment, lie, defiant act, etc. as a failure on my part to teach or entertain or discipline. And I don't want to fail. I want to succeed. At something. And work is so easy to succeed at.

But somehow, after four kids, my brain snapped and reminded me that I love these little people. And I want to be around them and enjoy their personalities. I don't know why it took me so long to come to that realization. Maybe I've only come to it now because, with four children, working is not really a viable option.

From Dani

I've actually spent a lot of time lately thinking about this-- how did I decide I wanted to be a SAHM? Here I am, four years in and very happy, but how did I get here? Part of it was instinctual, I think, because of our Mormon culture and how I was raised. My parents always pushed the importance of a woman having an education. My mom had her degree (a big deal in her family) and my dad taught me how I could always be successful in life and be a strong woman if I was educated and had options. Through all this, my mom loved staying home with us. She worked part-time on and off to help out a little financially, but made it known to us from a young age that she loved being home and being with us all day. I think that was the clencher for me.

When I started my teaching career, I was loving it. Then within a few months of starting my job, I felt this pull. A desire to start teaching my own kids, very unexpected for me. (I was so young!) Once I felt that pull from deep inside me, I knew I was going to put my teaching career and grad school plans on hold and become a mama. 

For me, the decision to stay home was probably intrinsic, in part. The other part is that I know life is long and putting a few things on hold now doesn't mean they're there forever. I want to treasure this step in life and when it's time to move on, my dreams of teaching and grad school will be there for me still (or new dreams!). Right now my choice to stay home is hard on some days (read: strong willed daughter in the terrible twos), but mostly joyful. I hope every mom finds her joyful place, whichever mix of the cocktail it may be.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Dear Henrietta, this is why I married your father.

[These are all things I overheard him say/sing to you on a single day: February 13, 2013.]

[picking you up] "Come here. I want to talk to you about something. I haven't decided what yet."  

"Let's hold one another. You start." 

[singing to the tune of "White Christmas"] "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas,  and I'll have to wait a long time. When it's time for Christmas, we'll celebrate it on an isthmus ...." 

"The reasons for Christianity are as follows: 1. Jesus 2. Vlad the Impaler."

"Let's put your sock back on and then you can kick it off again, okay, little Syssaphys-y? Syssaphys-ette." 

"Should we listen to the State of the Union address, Kitty? Or should we just take a nap?"

[singing] "Oh my gosh, you are up in the air! Oh my gosh, you have a little bit of hair! Oh my gosh, you're getting eyebrows! Oh my gosh, you're getting eyebrows! Oh my gosh, let's go have daddy's head shrunk!"

[getting ready to play his guitar] "Let's see if you can figure out that in this case correlation and causation are in fact the same."

[when finished playing guitar] "I just thought I'd serenade you for a minute." [He pauses and leans down, as if listening.] "No, that's actually not a cross between Sara and marinade." 

"There's slime all down the side of your face. Let's wipe it off and then ... we'll take a nap!" 

"Oh, oh! I'm sorry that you are young and easily confused. Daddy is old and easily confused."

"You don't have to have [your pacifier] if you don't want it. No one has to do anything they don't want to do. Except for people who live in Russia. Or China."  

[wiping drool] "It's a full-time job just keeping you civilized." 

"Are you a person or a chimpanzee? Please clarify." 

You see, your dad is the most interesting person in the whole world, to me. And he makes me feel like the most interesting person in the whole world. If these words are any indication, I think he'll do the same for you. That, I think, is love. 

Happy first Valentine's Day.



Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Of Jobs and Motherhood: Guest Post from Ginger

Ginger is a wonderwoman. Check out her blog to catch a glimpse of homemaking with thoughtful flair, boys who are wise (and funny!) beyond their years, and adventures in Colorado's wild mountains. I'm so pleased she decided to share her story.  

Chaz and I were still undergrads when Miles was born so two things were not in the budget-- daycare and staying home. I was lucky to have a wonderful boss who let me bring him along and hang out in a pack-and-play or a sling while I worked. I remember how snuggly I had to pull my chair in to wedge the boppy against my desk so he was safe to nurse while I reached over him to type. Around 6 months he was too busy to hang out with me, so Chaz and I staggered our work schedules so one of us could be at home. He was doing full-time school. I had dropped out after a few weeks of the online classes I started shortly after giving birth. At some point I realized that I was continually irritated with my baby whenever he was awake because I needed to be studying and just wanted him to always sleep. When that hit me I dropped my classes and didn't look back. Within two years I had lost all interest in the particular degree I had been pursuing.

In the second year of life, I started working less...and less...and by 22 months, I had quit. However, at the same time, I'd been studying and amping up my own small business that kept me mostly at home. We were still poor and took out our first student loan around that time to help cover expenses for the last few months of Chuck's school. Then our East Coast grad school and work adventures began. For eight years Chaz worked like a dog and I reveled and struggled in life at home with baby after baby after baby.

It is such hard work and so often not fulfilling in the moment. But lately I've longed for it more than ever. As my baby has out grown his sling, my milk has dried up for good and diapers have disappeared, I realize that chapter is simply over. That's it. There won't be another baby to hold until my babies grow up and have babies of their own. I'm still trying to grasp that ten years and four babies have passed.

But I can't look back for long because I've got four bouncing boys from preschool to nearly middle school age. Even with homeschooling, I'm finding more and more pockets of me-time. I'm working more and in a field of interest I'd never found without my adventures with babies. The house is always chaotic, but I have this feeling that in ten more years, I'll be sitting in a half-empty house teaching the last babies to drive while I think back on the hair-pulling, name-calling and exasperating efforts at teaching reading. I assume I won't remember it as having been so bad as it seems some days and I'm likely to be just a teensy bit sad to realize it won't happen anymore either.

It's a good thing something new and exciting is bound to be happening in my little mens' lives though, so I can't linger too much on the lovely days we've had, but can instead soak up whatever fun we're up to then.

Of Jobs and Motherhood: Guest Post from Mariya

Mariya had her baby boy, Ari, a month early (surprise!) the day after I had Henrietta, so our babies are friends. Mariaya is from Ukraine, and I am as elegantly European as she is only in my dreams. Her story is lovely. I particularly like what she says about having "little bits of it 'all.'"

I had been married for about a year when I decided to go off birth control. My decision wasn't motivated by a burning desire to become a mother and care for a child. I was 27 (an over-ripe age for motherhood in the Mormon world) and my aging parents and my husband were ready for a little one - it was just time. In fact, as a teenager I never remember dreaming about getting married or having a baby. All I ever wanted is to find true love and share all its fruits with my companion.

Travel, meeting new people, social and community events, learning - those have been my passions, passions I enjoyed independently. I still had plans to do more school and move down a different career path. The thought of being limited in doing those things scared me. I knew I would love being a mother, or rather I should say, I believed I would love being a mother. That knowledge was based solely on faith and listening to the wisdom of others.

I thought: "Although I don't feel it yet, I know I will once I hold my child in my arms." And it was so. Once I had Ari, I wanted to give him time and love. I know he was my priority and I truly loved taking care of him. He makes me deeply happy, like no exotic adventure would. However, I am still the same person I was before giving birth.  I want to travel, experience beautiful things like concerts and performances, write inspiring things, be engaged in my community and institutions I care about through "work."  And I don't think I'm willing to give that up regardless of how many children I have or how demanding they are. The level of engagement with things I love might not be the same, but I don’t believe that anything, even your children, should prevent you from things you enjoy working on. It might be naive, but I still believe I can have it all. Or at least little bits of “all.”

Ari is three months now and I do have a part-time job.  It diversifies my days and gives me a chance to contribute to a purpose I believe in. It opens another dimension in my identity, which makes me feel like “I am many things (or at least two).” And, I think because of it I am a happier mother. The drawback of working from home, however, is that you don't get to interact and connect with colleagues, which I would really enjoy.

Basically, I am a strong believer that a woman should have a vision for herself as a mother and a wife, but also as an individual. We are individuals and social beings first, and then everything else. And if a woman has that vision, she needs to do everything she can to bring it to life.

And I think this vision as an individual varies greatly for everyone. Some may see themselves fulfilled in an office job, some in the kitchen, some in the classroom, others at home on the couch reading.  You don't necessarily have to work in an office, have a boss (although being accountable to someone really helps), or even get paid, but you have to work. And, by work, I mean do something that is hard, that pushes you to overcome yourself, to focus, to set goals, and do it even when the desire isn’t there. It is work to develop your talents and to not quit what you've been doing before motherhood.

I admire those mothers who are diligent about their independent work at home. They carve out specific time to do their "work." But as we all know, it's tough. This is why many mothers long for a structure, which a job in an office provides. Personally, I see my professional development outside of an office (for the most part), but aside from my desired craft, I might have to go back to full-time work for financial reasons. That’s where I believe that grandmothers, daycares, kindergartens come into play.

So I guess my point is that all mothers should "work" but the definition of this concept can be and should be different for everyone. For certain careers it's necessary to work in an office, and more creative types can find a way to work at home. But regardless of how many children we have, I think we almost have a responsibility to follow our dreams and develop our talents, whether they coincide with our profession or not. And we have to do this not only for ourselves, but for our children who one day might say: "I can do this, because my mother could."

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Adventures in Frugality: Dear Target

Dear Target;

I'm considering the very real possibility that you're evil. Or, in any case, that you and I can't be friends. I love you too much; that's the problem.

Today it was the little dolly you see above. She called to me as I walked by, and I picked her up and thought about Valentine's Day, and how I'd been thinking about getting a gift for Henrietta, but I told myself this was silly, since she's four months old, and will not know a gift from a burp cloth. So I hung her back in place, and carried on toward the humidifiers, which I actually meant to purchase. But I kept thinking about the dolly, and how Henrietta doesn't have a single baby doll yet. She has several bunnies and kitties and a stuffed broccoli with an orange bow-tie I made while I was bed resting, but no baby doll. And don't little girls need baby dolls? I put her back in my cart.

I didn't end up getting the humidifier, since I looked up the one you carry on my phone and it had terrible reviews. I managed to get several things I needed, and resisted the call of countless others, but my total at the register made me sigh.

I should receive a medal for all the stuff I put back and didn't buy today. There should be such medals, though I wouldn't expect you to be the one to award them. Listen: I didn't buy the baby outfit consisting of a white eyelet skirt and onesie with anchors on it, even though that skirt would have been gorgeous with an array of onesies we already own. I didn't get a single dress for me, not even the one that zippered down the front and would have been perfect for nursing. I didn't get the nursing bra with black and white polka dots and lace, nor the stunning blue and white floral ballet flats, nor the additional enormous package of toilet paper, even though you told me I'd get five dollars off if I bought two. And this was just the stuff that was, at one point or another, in my cart. I didn't dare go near the housewares, for fear I'd convince myself I needed a new pair of sheets, or a pair of decorative antlers, or a really pretty tea kettle.

What is it about your stuff, Target? Your prices walk this fine border: not so little I feel I'm buying something insultingly cheap that will fall apart momentarily, and not so expensive that I'd only buy you in dreamland. I want so many things at your store that walking your aisles hurts my feelings sometimes, and yet, if I can manage to escape, I can't remember a single thing I turned down (unless I'm making a list, like today). I'm reaching a point where I may just do more shopping online. I could have steered my browser straight to the humidifiers, and stayed away from all departments that might tempt me into sinful paths.

And yet: I bought the baby doll, and brought it home, and held it out for my baby, and she reached her arms out for it and immediately held it close and sucked on her pigtails, then turned her over and sucked on her feet. Watching her do that was the best part of my day. So maybe you aren't evil. Or at least not entirely so.

Reluctantly Yours,


Of Jobs and Motherhood: Guest Post from Mel

Mel is kind of living my dream: teaching and raising her baby. I think she might be onto something with this idea of our inclinations being a reaction to what we saw growing up. What do you think?

I think sometimes this choice [of working vs. staying home] is a reaction to what we see when we're growing up.  

My grandma was really poor, so she always wanted to work, and she worked when my mom was growing up.

Some bad stuff happened to my mom while her mom was working, so she said, "I will never leave my kids," and to this day has never really worked.

But then when I was growing up I thought my mom got trashed by my dad too much and had no options and no respect, etc. so I said "I will always be my own person and I will always be equal to my spouse," which was something I never thought I saw in traditional LDS relationships.  And that has been what I have chosen. I'm lucky to have an awesome spouse and an easy kid and the talent and opportunities to have a job I love and still be very much the primary caregiver.  I get both right now, and I'm very happy.  But it is very much driven by the inequality I saw in my home growing up.

By the way, your thoughts on this will change over time. For me and my good friend, the conflict peaked when our kids were four months old.  She came to my house when her kid was four months old and cried and cried about finishing her PhD.  My kid was twelve months old at that point, and I was like, "Dude, a few hours away feels great sometimes!"  But I remembered it didn't feel great at four months. (Not saying you'll want a few hours a way at twelve months; It isn't for everyone.) I'm just saying be open to change over time.  Your mom/infant relationship will be different that your mom/toddler relationship.  And that's normal!  

Of Jobs and Motherhood: Guest Post from Laci

I'm in awe of how attentive and fun Laci is as a mom. When I see social media evidence of her adventures with her son, I always think, "I hope I'm half that fun someday." Laci also works full-time, and I love her story. I think you will, too.

I remember when my little boy was born, just four short years ago; my how the time has flown by.  I knew when I had my son I would have to go back to work.  My husband was in graduate school and his small stipend would not support a family of three in an expensive city like Somerville.  I took three months off of work and enjoyed every minute with my sweet baby.  

It was very difficult to prepare to go back to work; I was not ready to leave this helpless and beautiful baby.  We found a friend to watch the little guy for a few months while I first went back to work and until my husband finished the semester, and could be home with the baby in the summer.  

When I first went back to work I was miserable.  The line of work I did was not conducive with pumping and slowly my milk dried up.  I had to give up breast feeding--which had gone so well--after just four months.  

There was a lot of guilt related with going back to work.  In my church community, I didn't even know a handful of women who worked while raising children.  When women from church asked if I was going back to work, they seemed shocked when I said yes.  It was quickly followed up by the "Full-time?" question, to which I also had to reply positively.  Every time I saw a working mom I wanted to ask her, "Does the guilt ever go away?" But the thought of actually letting these words leave my mouth made me feel like a loser and the tears would come straight to the surface.  

Life changed a lot for me, as for any new mother.  I would work, but then come straight home and all my time was devoted to my baby until he went to bed.  When I wasn't working, I was with him.  My social life, which had always been very important to me, was suddenly less important, and I learned to start saying no to things that were asked of me outside of work.  We started getting away more as a family, out of the house, so that we could just have quality family time.  I wanted to create memories and not focus on house projects and my "to do" list.  

As time progressed, I got into a good routine.  I found people I trusted to watch my little boy.  Once he turned one the guilt started to leave me.  I reconciled my guilt with a few things: 

1- I was working to provide for my family, to pay for things that we needed to survive.  
2- As a social worker, I find great fulfillment in my work and find it very important. 
3- I love working. 
4- I need the adult socialization that my work provides. 
5- Working makes me a better mother. 
6- Even though I am a working mother, my little boy still knows who I am and we have a lot of quality time together. 
7- My son and I still have a strong bond. 
8- I can balance work and family. 
9-When I am with my family we are doing memorable things such as exploring, using our imaginations or learning new things.  

So for you working moms with little ones at home, if you feel guilt, you don't need to. You are still an amazing mother.  Don't allow that guilt to bring you down!  

I had to realize that just because I am a working mother doesn't mean I am a bad mother.  I am a damn good mother, to be honest with you!  I am not afraid to say that I love my work and I love my son and that is okay.  I put my heart and soul into my work, and when I come home I put my heart and soul into my son and my husband.  When my son goes to bed, I take care of myself.  This balance works for me.  My son and I are very close; we do a lot of fun things together and I love the things we do together.  I cannot see myself at this stage in life being a full-time stay at home mother; it would not be fulfilling to me.  I would love to be able to work part-time, but at this point that is not an option, so I make the most of the cards I am dealt.

I have learned that as women, we are all different.  Different things work for different people.  Some women love to stay at home, some, like me, love to work and be a mother.  There is not one perfect solution.  We have to respect and support all women in whatever decision they chose.  We need to let go of guilt we feel for how we mother, and just enjoy it.  These little lives are precious and we just have to enjoy every moment we are given with them, because the time goes by so fast.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Digging out of Nemo

I didn't hear about the storm until my neighbor mentioned it Wednesday evening, and then I heard about it everywhere. There were flashing warning signs on the side of the highway on Thursday, and my phone did a special alert bulletin (which I didn't know it was capable of), in case I had missed the memo. But even late Thursday, there was no real sign of it. The skies were blue, though a slightly brooding blue, if that's possible. And everything felt sort of calm, as the cliche goes.

We went out to get a couple of things from the store, and the shelves were nearly bare of essentials. Everyone was hunkering down. We, on the other hand, were buying items for fish tacos with mango salsa--unseasonable fare for the night before a giant blizzard, but oh they were delectable.

Friday passed, mostly in waiting. It was snowing, but not earnestly. Sam kept the fire going, and I started a quilt, and we stayed indoors, thinking this thing wasn't going to be that big of a deal.

But then it picked up, and a few friends posted about power outages (or impending power outages) and I realized, hey, wait, if they power goes out, we're in big trouble. I had meant to think about this earlier, but I hadn't done so in any detail, and Sam had scoffed at the idea of any real trouble and said he had a plan, and everything would be fine. But I realized, with the wind whipping a menacing swirl outside, that we would want blankets and candles and flashlights, and we wouldn't want to stumble around in the dark trying to find them. So after the baby went to bed, I ran around the house gathering supplies, wondering why I didn't listen to myself more, why I hadn't done all this worrying earlier.

I fell asleep, expecting to be woken up by the cold when our power went out, but I wasn't. I was only woken at regular intervals by the baby, and in the morning, good grief there was a lot of snow, and it was still coming down hard. I posted evidence on social media, so I won't repeat everything here, but here's my car, after I had spent two hours digging it out. Before I started you couldn't see much of it, and Sam's car really was completely buried.

I've heard too many stories about men having heart attacks while shoveling driveways (and Sam already has heart problems), so I decided to go out and try it myself.

When I was dressed to go out, I asked Sam, "Do I look like a magical elf?"

"You look like a Russian mail-order bride," he said.

You can see I didn't get very far. I spent two hours, and then looked up and thought, there is just no way. I am just a girl with a shovel, and this is totally beyond me. At which point we called the neighbors, who sent over their boys, who made quick work of it.

But before that, it was just me, out in that snow, developing a shoveling rhythm, listening to RadioLab on my iPhone, and completely in love with the day. The snow was up to my thighs and sparkling, just glittering away. It had been a long time since I had moved my body that vigorously. I was on bed rest for four months, followed by a c-section, so it's been a long time since I could feel that my body might someday be strong again. I've been taking little walks almost daily, amping up my distance very slowly, trying to be gentle with myself. And it felt good to forget about the slow amp, and just use the strength I had, the strength that was buried in me, that I didn't remember I had. When I'd bend down for another shovel-full, it was like ducking my head into a snow cave, and it was so quiet, like I was in the middle of a winter forest for just an instant. There were men in all of their driveways, using their snowblowers, and shouting to one another, and I was just making steady (very slow) progress, one shovel at the time. I thought of this poem, by Billy Collins, called "Shoveling Snow with Buddha." (Read it. It's lovely.)

I kept seeing little flecks of red in the snow, tiny little spots of something, and I couldn't figure out what it was. Was I accidentally scraping the paint from my red car? Was some animal bleeding in tiny drops? And then I realized it was my own red gloves, wearing off bits of lint on the shovel. I felt so good figuring that out, solving that small mystery. I took the shovel and tried to tamp down a giant mountain of snow I had been building, thinking if I did so preemptively, it wouldn't keep falling down into the part I had already shoveled, but this didn't work so well, and I ended up falling into the mountain, whitewashing myself, remembering suddenly what it felt like to go sledding when I was younger, to get very close to the snow in an out-of-control way, and breath deeply its smell. Snow has a smell! I had forgotten.

Just as I was giving up, when the struggle was losing its charm, a fire truck rolled down our street, and four firepeople (men and women) jumped off, wielding snow shovels. They were there to dig out their fire hydrant, but they looked so authoritatively useful that for a sweet moment I thought they might be there to help citizens who struggled with digging out. I stopped and stood watching them, holding my shovel, imagining them wading into the snow of my driveway and helping me get to the bottom of it. It was easy to imagine being rescued, after doing all I could to rescue myself.

Friday, February 8, 2013

On Being Beautiful

photo by the lovely and talented jen gibson, at London Bridge Creative

I'm not beautiful. I mean, I'm not ugly. My looks do nicely enough. But I'm not drop-your-jaw and turn-your-head, look me up and down, holy wow, how-is-that-creature-walking-this-earth?, sort of pretty. I'm okay with that. I don't think I'd like being that kind of beautiful. It appears to be sort of a hassle.

Lately though, I feel like I'm getting a taste of what it might feel like to be that beautiful, though the attention I garner is in its most innocent form:

I have a beautiful baby. She turns heads.

Or maybe it's just that I have a baby, a little baby. And though she absolutely is beautiful, there's something about her being a baby--any baby at all--that softens the world, makes it turn and coo and exclaim and comment.

I walk into a store, and an older woman holds the door open for me, exuding sympathy for my awkward maneuvering, as if she's momentarily projecting herself back into new motherhood by looking at me. She looks down at Henrietta as we pass and I say thank you.

"How old is she?" she asks.

"Four months," I say.

"Oh, she's beautiful," she says.

Some version of this happens every time I go anywhere with her. It happens in the aisles of the grocery store. It happens in restaurants. It happens on sidewalks. It happens in parking lots. When I take walks with her in the afternoon, people come out of their houses to see her, to say hello, to announce oh, how pretty, what a dear little baby, congratulations. And though they often mistake her for a "he" (Is it her melon-bald head that implies a male baby?), it pleases me endlessly to be the object of this sort of attention. I don't tire of it. The world is good to you when you're pushing a pram. It loves you. It calls you beautiful, even if you're not much to look at all on your own.  

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Of Jobs and Motherhood: Guest Post from Eden

Your stories are good. Oh, I love them. Will you keep sending them? Will you consider sending one if you haven't yet? Email or Facebook message them, will you? The comment section is not really adequate space, and I want everyone to see them when I post them. I've revised my paragraph suggestion: feel free to make it paragraphs upon paragraphs! And since I love them, I'm going to put them up as guest posts, if you're comfortable with me doing so. I mean, this is a humble blog, so the idea of guest posts is a little silly. But it makes me happy to think of including your words with mine. (If you've already commented and/or sent one to me, and the idea of your very own guest post is not cool, please let me know.) I also think I'll be posting more than once a day, if you can stand the joy of such a thing. I have a number of these, and they are beautiful, and I want to get them out in the world.

Our first guest post is from Eden. I think you'll love Eden. I do.  

For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to be a mom. A wife and a mom, but mostly a mom. I'm 31 years old and single. The only dating relationship I've had in my life lasted for a month and ended 11 days before I turned 29 because I like dogs. Not lying. His words. Yeesh.

It took me a long time to decide what I wanted to be when I grew up. Because I had already decided (a mom, remember?). Sadly, that particular occupation is not entirely in my control. I finally decided on public health and I'm working at the state health department as the director of Safe Kids.

The more I hear from working moms, the greater my desire is to be at home with kids. Not just any kids, my kids. I hear from co-workers about how their children are struggling in school, in their personal life, etc. and how when they get home they don't have time to help with this, that, or the other because they're exhausted and they have to get dinner on the table. My heart breaks a little more when I hear things like that. I would love to have to be home with my kids. I want to be the one responsible for teaching them values, how to be a friend, how to care for people, how to love others, etc. I don't want anyone else to take that away from me --most especially me.

I guess you could say I'm a frustrated professional. I don't want to be here. I figured out when I was deciding on a Masters degree that regardless of what I chose, my choice would be second (at best) to what I really want.

I'm learning to accept my childless lot in life. But even saying that makes my eyes burn with tears. I want to be a mother so incredibly much that my heart literally aches when I think that there's a very real possibility that it won't happen in this life. I try to remember that I believe in eternity and eternal progression and that a blessing not received in this life can be received in the next. Thank goodness for that.

I don't want it to be thought that I've glorified motherhood into this vision of running through fields of daisies with my kid's hand clutched in mine and butterflies and rainbows surrounding us. I know it's hard work. I know it's harder work than I'm doing right now. I have three incredible sisters and two incredible sisters-in-law, and many incredible friends who give me a glimpse of what motherhood is like (and share a small part of it with me when they trust me to watch over their little ones). And I know it's work. But it's the one job in this world that I would give anything to have.