Love

Life is always worthwhile when you cry or smile.

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When I die the most important thing I would want to say to my family is “I love you and I’ll see you on the other side.” If I was allowed more than one sentence I would probably elaborate on my wishes for them to live good authentic lives.

I would tell them how I hope for their happiness, and I would tell them I would regret not being able to be there for them physically in their times of sadness. I would want them to know that if I can negotiate something with God, I will and I will always be right by their sides watching over them until we are reunited.

The song “Smile” from Charlie Chaplin’s 1936 movie Modern Times is one of my favorite songs. (Did you know the lyrics were added later based from themes and scenes from the original film?) This song brings back a lot of good memories for me. LG gave me some Happy by Clinique perfume for one of our first Christmases together. It came with a CD full of happy songs. We used to lay in bed together listening to the CD. When “Smile” came on it always seemed so appropriate. Those were really happy times, some of my favorite from my entire life.

However while re-listening to this song recently I discovered how the message of smiling when you are in pain is just kind of screwed up. I thought about Michael Jackson and Judy Garland (both have beautiful renditions of this song – go ahead – hit their links) and how their lives came to tragic ends way too soon. I thought about how they both may have lacked the emotional intelligence and/or support they needed. Maybe nobody ever told them it was o.k. to cry? I wish I could have helped them somehow and see them die in happiness, not out of their desperate attempts to escape.

Crying is an important part of life. Without times of sadness we wouldn’t know how much to treasure the times of happiness. We don’t have to run away from sadness. In fact I’ve found trying to run from it makes things much worse. Sometimes we just need to take time to process our emotions. We need permission to cry in our pain. Everyone should have someone in their lives that will just hold them while they cry.

I’m thinking about the pains I’ve experienced in life. They have been my very best tutors. Not all my days have been spent smiling while laying in my bed with my husband. In fact, I would say that I’ve probably had a close equal amount of time laying in my bed alone crying over life’s sadness. (If you read my blog regularly, you know this. I often use this as a place to process a lot of my emotions.)

So, in short, what I am trying to say is. It’s o.k. to cry. In fact it’s as necessary as smiling is for your emotional health. So do both. When you are in the middle of either happy or sad, most of all, know that your life is worthwhile.

I changed the words of the song to reflect the healthier message.
I am not voice-trained so feel free to skip the video, I made it for my family. I love you guys.

 

Home is a Feeling.

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Last week I just got done with the final unpacking. While making dinner Alison Krauss was playing over the portable CD player when LG wrapped his arms around my waist from behind and kissed my neck. The air smelled like apples from my Scentsy lamp but then LG’s familiar man-smell permeated my nasal passages. I took a long deep breathe. Two of our girls were happily playing Rummikub at the nearby dining table and the other two were sitting on the couch watching T.V.

I stirred whatever it was that I cooking on the stove and then turned to LG and gave him a hug and kissed him. The kiss became a longer kiss and then a really long kiss. The girls all started to murmur in objection to our public display of affection. “NO PDA allowed.” We laughed and whispered to each other that we would finish this later in private. I went back to cooking. LG stood close by trying to be helpful but mostly just supporting the cook with his presence.

I observed, “It feels like home.” LG questioned, “Which home? The old one down the street or the one we left in Tennessee?” I thought for a minute and said, “Both.” I pondered on how the feeling was the same even though the surroundings were so different and further communicated, “You know LG, I think home is a feeling, not a place.” He agreed.

No wonder why this is one of our favorite songs.

“There is a certain kind of yearning for home we should never want to lose. Home should be an anchor, a port in a storm, a refuge, a happy place in which to dwell, a place where we are loved and where we can love. Home should be where life’s greatest lessons are taught and learned. Home and family can be the center of one’s earthly faith, where love and mutual responsibility are appropriately blended. Thinking of home with its pleasant and happy memories can make us stronger during our present and future days here upon the earth….

When we have a yearning and don’t know what it is for, perhaps it’s our soul longing for its heartland, longing to be no longer alienated from the Lord and the pursuit of something much higher, better, and more fulfilling than anything this earth has to offer.

After Joseph, youngest son of Jacob, had been reunited with his brothers, he asked them to return home to Canaan to bring his father, Jacob, to him in Egypt. As the brothers were preparing to depart, Joseph said to them simply, “See that ye fall not out by the way.” (Gen. 45:24.)

Might our Heavenly Father have given us much the same counsel as we departed his presence to begin our earthly sojourn?

May our yearning for home be the motivation we need to so live that we can return to our heavenly home with God our Father on a forever basis.”

~Marvin J. Ashton, Oct 1992

Check out this inspiring story of some Mormon missionaries in the Philippines who thought they would never again go home, but were miraculously saved.

I am NOT forgotten.

A little elf arrived at our doorstep this morning. Funny, I’ve often thought of elves as Santa’s helpers. Today I realized how very wrong I have been. Elves are God’s angels on earth. Let me explain.

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Sometimes it’s easy to wonder why God has forsaken us. I try not to dwell in that sentiment when I feel it but I admit that I feel it often. Feeling forsaken has become a way of life for me. I think anyone who tries to live a faithful life must struggle with feeling resentment from time to time. After all, this life is a test. If it wasn’t hard it wouldn’t be a test.I personally always feel pretty guilty when I feel forgotten. I then try to remind myself that once Christ felt forsaken. If he can feel alone then it must be an o.k. frame of mind for me too. I am a huge advocate in teaching people to not be ashamed of their feelings. Feelings are what they are. For too many years I felt shame for my feelings and it got me nowhere but deeper into the dark and then I learned that I can’t control my feelings. I can only control what I do with my feelings.

So, I’m here to tell you that when a woman tries so very hard to live her life in a way that would be pleasing to God and keeps hitting the same brick wall over and over again she feels forgotten. In the past few weeks I’ve had to keep moving forward to keep myself from succumbing to the depression and discouragement associated with my brick wall. My forgotten place is not pretty.

What is my brick wall? I have many, but the one that gets to me more than any of the others is financial strain. I have never known a life without financial strain. I was born under a roof of financial strain. No matter how hard I work or how hard my hubby works we never seem to break free from financial strain. No matter how much we improve at frugality and income-earning it’s as if God doesn’t want us to ever have a better way of life. It’s hard.

LeGrand and I have discussed this a lot. We don’t understand it. We are good people. We are generous. We serve others. We share what we have. We are not selfish. We are not really worldly. We don’t try to keep up with the Jones-es. We don’t have a desire to impress other people with our worldly goods. We just don’t. We give 10% of our income to God’s purposes. We donate additional amounts in money, goods, and time to various other humanitarian efforts. We are honest in our dealings with our fellow-man. We don’t take advantage of other people. We don’t even like accepting gifts from others. All we want to do is provide our kids with their necessities and bless our fellow man, but so often we are left unable to do so because of our economic status.

I can’t complain because I’ve had it worse. Much much worse. I’ve had it so bad that even if I have nothing leftover but a little food in my pantry just being able to pay bills is a blessing I don’t take for granted. We pay our bills. We always have a little leftover and we never go hungry or without a home. However, moving into a basement apartment at 40-years-old with four impressionable children and a defeated husband still sucks. It’s hard. Everyone is left wondering why God gives to others so abundantly but only takes from us.

forget me not

And then a little elf knocked at my door. She said she had a gift from one of the other elves that she knows. She couldn’t tell me who.

This afternoon I opened the elves’ package to a large sum of money.  I could hardly believe my eyes. How do people always know exactly what we need? I mean EXACT down to the penny. I know how God knows, but how do elves know? How do people know? Oh yeah, because they are God’s angels and they are really good at listening and doing.

As I stood counting and recounting and crying and re-crying I remembered the drill. I’ve had this happen so many times in  my life yet I still shake my head in disbelief. How can this keep happening?

I then remembered that God allows me to struggle because He wants to manifest His power in my life. He allows other people to have more because He wants to manifest His power in their life too. He wants us to see how awesome it feels when we understand that we belong to each other . Life is most beautiful when we act accordingly. He also wants us to know the power and love that exists in caring for one another because his power and love is infinitesimally more.

I know these things. I’ve learned them repeatedly. Yet every time a miracle happens I am rendered speechless.

Along with the money, today’s elves gifted this quote along with a beautiful forget-me-not necklace that I don’t think I will ever remove from my neck. (LG said the necklace is for me and the money for him – which is true since he pays the bills.)

I am not forgotten. Ever. And neither are you. Thanks for the poignant and extremely timely reminder angel-elves. Oh, and thank you, too, my loving kind generous Father in Heaven. I’m sorry I always have to be reminded but thanks for your patience.

Lessons from the trail: A Scout Leader

This lesson from the trail occurred a few months back. It was dusk on a perfect-weathered weeknight and I was out biking with my hubby when we crossed a bunch of young men accompanied by their adult church leaders. They were all getting exercise at their own levels of ability. We observed the get-goers first as we were riding in the opposite direction. First was a group of about 10 boys with one pretty fit and younger leader cruising along at an admirable speed. The next four groups were varied in number of boys and accompanied adults but ranged no more than a few minutes behind the front group to trailing maybe five minutes behind. After a few more minutes we then passed the obviously struggling group with some of the younger boys as well as the overweight members of the troop (adults and boys). They were slow, but they were still persisting and seemed to be enjoying themselves and the camaraderie. LG and I discussed our pride and admiration for the whole group (at their varying abilities) as we rode away. We assumed that the last struggling group would be the last but we assumed wrong.

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This photo was taken at the Norman Rockwell exhibit at the Church History Museum back in August ’13. No doubt my husband was having a moment of remembrance to when he earned his own Eagle Scout.

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After several more minutes we came to a crossroad where the trail-users have to yield to the vehicles using the city road. Because we were stopped waiting on the traffic we were able to observe the very last Scout leader with just a single boy across the street. What I observed touched me deeply.

At every road crossing on each side of the street there are a set of narrow passages through gates that keep large vehicles from using the trail. I personally (as well as most others) pass through these gates with ease. Whether I am running or biking, I don’t have to give the narrow passages a second thought. When LG and I ride together, so that we don’t have to slow down, it is just understood that simultaneously he takes the passes on the left and I on the ones on the right.

This day however LG and I both stood still with our bikes as we watched this most amazingly patient Scout leader treat his troop member with great kindness, respect, and love. We had just passed the rest of the troop so we could tell that this young man wasn’t one of the youngest. He was probably about fourteen and looked like a completely healthy capable kid. Yet, upon careful observation it was obvious that this boy must have had some kind of mental disability. From across the street, we watched this pair slowly approach the gate and even more slowly come to a very careful stop.

With an encouraging smile on his face, the leader stood aside and let the boy struggle through the threatening narrow passage. For some reason the boy’s large motor skills created a mountain out of a molehill and he could not get through the gateway while peddling. He tried. He gave it everything he had, but he eventually dismounted his bike (while somewhat animatedly cursing the dang gate) and walked through awkwardly dragging his bike to his side.We took an extra long drink of our water and moved to the side of the path on our side of the street to stay out of the way. The same exact four minute process happened once again on our side of the street and we had a front seat view of one very determined boy and his ideal Scout leader. Thinking back on this is bringing tears to my eyes once again. It was such an inspiring interaction.

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I couldn’t help but find this event metaphoric in my own life. Don’t we all struggle at times in our lives? Sometime somewhere we may have been or will be at the end of the pack. We may be frustrated with a repeated obstacle. We may be giving it everything we’ve got (in fact giving it more than even the ones at the front of the pack) yet we remain peddling way behind. I’ve been there. I’ve wondered, “Why me? Why does it have to be so hard?”

When I get to my next obstacle I will think of this boy and let his determination and courage be my guiding light.

I will also make a very serious effort to be a leader with kind eyes, a patient demeanor, an encouraging smile, and a love bigger than the universe itself.

Loving my Enemy – Literally

I’m a sucker for humanity. I love touchy-feely stories of love, hope, kindness, and self-sacrifice.

I love stuff like this, this, and this.

Contention makes me a little uncomfortable. I can handle it but it just sets my heart at unrest. Because I’m a Mormon I’ve experienced some pretty intense contention directed at me. I’ve been called a bigot for standing for traditional marriage. (I still self-talk myself through one really personal de-friend not because I am hurt but I am sad I may have really hurt someone else with my unwillingness to change my religious views.) I’ve survived an anonymous commenter on my old blog who for years always told me how stupid I was for my beliefs. (She/he is the reason I don’t have commenting open on this blog – I just don’t need anonymous stalkers who are cruel.) I’ve been teased by one of my very best friends about getting magical underwear after attending the temple for the first time. (I flipped her off – not my finest moment. I still love you friend, if you happen to be reading. Glad we can agree to disagree.)

A few years back when I attended the LDS Women’s General Meeting in SLC some anti-Mormons got sneaky and handed out their propaganda inside tissue packets. The attendees just thought someone was doing something really nice by handing out the tissues and were accepting them in droves. The meetings can get pretty emotional when you start feeling the influence of the Holy Ghost and tissues are always a welcome commodity. I am not afraid of a fight. Once I figured out what was going on, I gathered up all the tissues I could find and took them back to the lady on the corner with the wicker basket. I said calm yet firm, “I would never in a million years come and crash your church gathering and hand out crap against your church leaders.” I filled her basket back up with my stack of retrieved tissues and walked away. She was speechless. For the next two hour meeting I sat with a lump in my heart feeling like I should have been more kind. I let her offend me and I should have just showed her love and invited her inside to see what she was so threatened about.

This past Saturday we took our kids back to Salt Lake City for General Conference. Kids under eight years old aren’t allowed to attend and so LG took our older three girls into the Conference Center and I took Caroline across the street to listen wherever we could park ourselves. (We ended up in the basement of the Visitor’s Center in an almost empty theater with stadium seating – Rock on!) There are always a lot of protesters on the sidewalks and we passed one particularly vocal one. He was saying things like, “Your underwear is dirty. You are not saved. You are fools. You are deceived.” You know – the typical. I got a thought, “Go give him a hug.” I chuckled. No way! He was so loud and everyone couldn’t help but give him attention while passing by, there was no way I was going to put myself up for a lashing like that especially with Caroline in tow. I walked on. We watched the meeting and then passed him again while going to meet back up with LG. The thought came again, “Go give him a hug.”

As we sat and waited for LG at the end of the sidewalk I couldn’t shake the impression. Once he and the girls arrived I told LG, “I’ll be right back, there is something I have to do.” He questioned knowing I am never afraid to stick up for myself and probably a little afraid he might have to pick me up from jail, “Alice, what are you going to do? Are you going to get into trouble?” “No,  no”, I assured him. “Just give me a second, I will be right back.” I ran back to the protester with the beard, the Mormon temple clothes wrapped around his wrists and the sign that said, “You are going to hell.” Now a really large crowd had gathered. I chuckled a prayer up to God, “You’ve got a sense of humor, you know.” And then I prayed the hug-receiver wouldn’t hit me. I walked right up to him as an obvious person on the opposite end of his views. Amazingly he quieted. I looked him in the eye and said, “Can I give you a hug?” He looked dumbfounded. As he answered I closed the space to not get fully rejected. He said, “I don’t think my wife will appreciate that.” I said, “How about a half hug then?” I quickly wrapped my left arm around his back and squeezed his left shoulder as he watched suspiciously. I explained, “I try to always follow any promptings that I get and this morning my prompting was to give you a hug.” I’ll give him credit as a human. He wasn’t mean. He didn’t hit me. He didn’t yell at me. He smiled. I smiled back and then returned without incident to my waiting husband relieved that he wouldn’t have to bail me out. It felt good to love my enemy.

I hope God doesn’t ask me to do something crazy like that again, but I hope if he does, I’ll have the courage.

protesterI stole this photo off the internet. Oh internet police, please be kind. I needed a visual to match the story. My protester was right inside that gate on the left. Not shown in this photo…although that kind of looks like it could be him on the right sans his 5 other signs and temple clothes.

Funny side story. Abigail told her seminary teacher about this exchange on Monday and I guess he shared it with several of his classes. On her way home from school a lot of her friends asked her if I was the one who had hugged the protester. I guess I have a reputation as the crazy lady. I guess that is why I can still love my enemy….I can relate to them. I get their craziness and I get their passion. Even if we have polar opposite views, I mostly get that we share humanity and that is a beautiful beautiful thing.

Your Kid Needs You To Fill in This Blank

I tell my kids I love them all of the time, but I rarely tell them them what I love about them. Honestly I hadn’t even thought about it until I just read this powerful post. {Trust me, you won’t regret hitting that link and taking the 60 seconds to read it} The post offers one simple suggestion that the author gleaned from another article. {Isn’t it funny how we bloggers just recycle all the good stuff over and over again?} This time the recycled goods is a jackpot of a fill in the blank for parents.

Now normally I wouldn’t welcome fill in the blanks. I swear that the blank state of my mind (not the blank line on the paper) was the real inspiration for the naming of the “fill in the blank”.  I can’t tell you how many times in my life I stared down at a question on a test and silently screamed, “C’mon brain, fill in the *^$# blank! I know the answer is in there somewhere.” I guess I have finally arrived. It only took parenting for me to have a cinch of a “fill in the blank”. I can’t go wrong with this one.

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Oh, so you didn’t click the link and now you are totally curious? O.k. I’ll tell you, you lazy-linkers, but trust me the other article says it much more articulately. All you have to do is say this to your kids: “I love to watch you _ _ _ .” [Fill in the blank with whatever applies.] See what I mean? It’s a parenting jackpot. You can’t go wrong.

I just went into my photos to find one appropriate for this post and I came up with all kinds of ideas.

“I love to watch you ride a skateboard.”

“I love to watch you blow bubbles.”

“I love to watch you hit your sister.” (O.k. maybe that one isn’t so good, unless you are raising future boxers and then it would be your own personal gem.)

The originally cited article tackled the difference between nightmare and great sports parents. It too is a great read even for the parents with non-athletic kids. Basically it communicates that kids don’t want to be critiqued, they want to be loved and supported. Don’t we all?

I remember one time after I pulled off a significant event at the kids’ school, my husband said to me, “I love watching you in your element.” I still tear up just thinking about him saying that and it was over a year ago. It made me over-joyous that he recognized my actions and affirmed them. With one simple sentence, he perfectly communicated that he was happy to be an integral part of anything I did even if it was just to watch from the sidelines.

Last Saturday while attending my 11-year-old niece’s soccer game I witnessed something really disturbing. A soccer coach belligerently took personal jabs at a 16-year-old referee. He told him he sucked and had no business reffing. He then said, “You have no social skills” among a myriad of other insults.

It’s one thing to tell the ref about a bad call you observed and another thing entirely to verbally abuse a person. Watching this out-of-control coach made me sick to my stomach. After the parents starting joining in too, I hollered from the goal-zone where I was sitting, “Chill out.” A few minutes later as the game ended, the coach walked down my direction and yelled at me to take my “chill out” and shove it. Oh, no he didn’t!! I stood up and called down all the powers of calm from the universe. I walked over to the coach who kept yelling at me to remove myself from his sideline. I calmly said, “I am just a mom here watching a game, I am not here to support either side but the side of the kids. You are being a very bad example to every kid out here. That referee can’t be a day over 16 and I am here to advocate for him.” The parents all started in on me about how bad of a job the ref did, how he is in a role of an adult so he can handle it, la la la. I didn’t even want to be that close to them, they made me sick. I said, “I’m not here to argue. I am just here to be a juvenile advocate”, and then I calmly walked away. On the outside I was a perfect picture of character, on the inside I was shaking like a leaf.

I couldn’t help but think how powerful it would be for every one of those maniacal adults to read the above article about nightmare parents. How sad it was for each of their kids to know that losing a game 6-0 could have the power to turn their parents into insulting and aggressive idiots. After that game not one of them could even tell their kids in honesty that they loved to watch them play because their cruel actions spoke way louder than their words.

Now, I am not here to peg me (the perfect parent) against them the non-perfect parents. We all have dark and light and my dark moment was just three weeks earlier when I railed into my fourteen-year-old after her soccer game for not playing to the best of her ability. As she walked with her dad to his car (to avoid me) after my good licking on the sideline, I felt like crap. I immediately called her and apologized but the damage had been done. We talked later with her and our other girls and they all told me they didn’t need my opinion about everything. I over-critique and they complained that I even over-compliment. The nerve! Ouch. They didn’t know exactly how to tell me, but what they really were saying is this: “Mom, all we want to hear is that you love to watch us play.” Thank you parenting article for making my duty clear and for giving me the right words. All I have to do is fill in one blank for the rest of my life. I can’t wait.

Affection for Dummies

This video about the dad singing the Beatles with his son has been shared a lot by my friends lately. It’s super cute as the toddler screams, “Don’t let me down.” As I watched it this morning I was thinking about how much pressure parents are under to not” let their kids down” in the affection department. Affection can be tricky as each kid needs it differently.

show themI struggle with affection. While I was growing up my mom was overly emotional and my dad wasn’t consistent with his emotions (as he was angry one minute and then trying to give you a hug the next.) I think somewhere I convinced myself that affection was not to be trusted.

As a parent this is problematic. Kids need affection.  I don’t necessarily like to give it and I have four kids who all need it.

Something funny and educational happened at our house last week at Abigail’s birthday party and it taught me a good lesson about affection.

LG (the hubs) is the YM President in our ward. (He is like a youth pastor to teenage boys – for those who aren’t Mormon) One of LG’s boys was at Abigail’s party and was playing in the backyard with the blue hamster ball as shown. Out of nowhere LG took off racing across the yard and tackled the young man who screamed as he saw my 300 pound husband coming in full force. Jeff quickly (and wisely) ducked into the safety of the ball and easily weathered the collision. We all laughed. When LG reappeared at my side I questioned, “What was that?” He answered, “Oh that’s how guys show affection. We have to rough each other up.”  hmm. How would I know that being the mother of 4 girls?

Abigail came home from church the next day relaying how Jeff retold his version of the story. Apparently the terrifying experience had earned him bragging rights in Sunday School and Abigail listened on with pride for her crazy dad.

I put this lesson to use the other night. Abigail is our child that does not like affection. She is especially leery of affection from mom and dad. After a  trying talk over our intentions to limit her use of electronics in the evening hours she was upset. As I walked away from her still sulking on the couch I had a stroke of genius: I turned back and tackled her with a hug. We ended up wrestling for a good 15 minutes. She thought if she could beat me she could somehow win back the privilege of taking her cell phone to bed. It wasn’t going to happen. First of all, she can’t beat me and secondly, if she did she still wasn’t taking her cell phone to bed. At the end of the wrestling match, I felt close to Abigail and she was obviously happy about the physical touch.

Who knew after giving birth to four daughters that my hubby actually does have a son? Abigail needs affection in a way that only guys are supposed to understand. No wonder this mother has been failing. I will be on the look-out for other ways to show love to my girls that I have been missing.

I leave you with a great song. We heard it while out shopping the other day and we all love it. The lyrics embody another good lesson about affection.

Life doesn’t come with a manual, it comes with an imperfect mother.

Watching this video this morning solidified one of the aspects of motherhood with which I struggle. It’s a common theme to be addressed around Mother’s Day: perfectionism. I didn’t think I had it, but I do. While taking this journey to learn more about myself as a mother, it has been brought to my attention that one of the reasons I am often unhappy is because perfectionism is a myth, especially as a mother.

I ran into an old mission companion of mine at the library the other day. I tried to pour  my heart out to her explaining how stuck I am feeling. I said, “I just don’t enjoy being home.” And then I asked, “Are you happy at home?” She responded that she was for the most part and that she just needed her creative outlet and she was good. “I painted a picnic table yesterday”, she said with a smile. “I was good for the day.”

I was like, “Wha–, What?” I just don’t get it. “That’s it? You get 10 minutes of crafting a day, and then you’re good? You don’t ever feel resentful. You don’t have any further ambition that you feel is being stifled?” She looked me straight in the eye and said, “Not really.” I couldn’t tell if she was being truthful. I am sure she thought she was, but I just couldn’t believe the answer. “She had to be lying to herself'”, I thought. I tried to search within myself for the truth. She said, “You just need your own creative outlet.” I said, “I’m not really artsy. I don’t like crafting. I don’t do home decor. I love to write, but it’s all I can do (as I pointed to my 3 year old climbing the shelves) to get out a blog post, which usually takes me less than a half an hour. I don’t feel any kind of release or accomplishment when I do that.”

And then came my answer and I was so glad I had ran into a listening ear. I continued, “If I could sit and write a book all day that may give me some happiness. I also love photography, but it doesn’t necessarily make me happy. I think for those two things I feel like if I can’t sell a million copies or inspire people with my work, what’s the point?”

And the lightbulb knocked me upside the cheek. How ridiculous I sounded! I’m a perfectionist and it’s keeping me from my happy place.

Yesterday I read this beautiful letter from a mom to a child starting school and I had further recognition of my reluctance to admit my weaknesses as a mother and how I am unknowingly projecting that need for perfection onto my children. I loved this line:

We do not care if you are the smartest or fastest or coolest or funniest. There will be lots of contests at school, and we don’t care if you win a single one of them. We don’t care if you get straight As. We don’t care if the girls think you’re cute or whether you’re picked first or last for kickball at recess. We don’t care if you are your teacher’s favorite or not. We don’t care if you have the best clothes or most Pokemon cards or coolest gadgets. We just don’t care.

We don’t send you to school to become the best at anything at all. We already love you as much as we possibly could. You do not have to earn our love or pride and you can’t lose it. That’s done.

We send you to school to practice being brave and kind.

What if the only criteria for motherhood was love? And what if I admit that I will love as well as I can and that it still won’t be perfect? Nobody can love perfectly. If I could change this one little glitch in my motherhood mantra, I believe I could change the world, one future mother at a time. I have four daughters, I owe it to them to learn to be happy being an imperfect mom because really, like the rest of us, that is all they can aspire to be.

Finding Gratitude

So, if you read the about page, you have figured out what this new blog is all about. Basically I plan to chronicle my journey of learning to love being at home. After 14 years of parenting, I still haven’t figured it out. Yes, I’ve figured out some of it, but my goal is to figure out all of it. Ha! Let’s see how long it takes. {forever} I hope you plan on sticking around.

My hubby and I felt strongly that I needed to be home more. I quit my job to do so, which means that we will have to live much more frugally.  We can make it on my husband’s income but to do so successfully it will take a lot of sacrifice.

I don’t like sacrifice. Well, at least I don’t like sacrifice until I realize that it was actually good for me, which is always the case.

To be happy, I realize that I am going to have to look for the good. Find the gratitude. If I can’t find it, I know that I will just be forever stuck wallowing in my sacrificial pity party.

Here is what I found on Week 1 of my new focus on family:

FORCED GRATITUDE (I had to force focus to find it)

By quitting my job, I automatically didn’t feel as rushed. Last Thursday I was able to happily take Abigail her forgotten lunch and spend 10 extra minutes (even though it made her late to preschool) helping Caroline paint her X. Video here.

abgail lunchcarolineX

On Friday night, after a grocery challenged week (because we are trying to stay under budget) Abigail and I made cookies for her to take to her movie night instead of buying something at the store. I noticed myself taking pride in my capability and I really enjoyed the time with Abigail. She is pretty good in the kitchen. Yeah mom!

cookies

Also on Friday night, instead of being bitter that I couldn’t afford to take the girls to the movie while LG was out of town, I tried to embrace a different form of entertainment. We went for a walk around the neighborhood and I fell in love with this view of the girls through the blooms. I also introduced the girls to one of my favorite chick flicks and we collectively admired the strength of female relationships.

steelwalk

On Sunday, I was feeling especially insignificant. My husband got a new calling in church (he is working with the youth) and was focusing on his new assignment. Instead of trying to draw him away as a comfort to my own insecurities, I was able to look and see how blessed I am that he has this new opportunity to focus on his own spirituality. I love him so. This took some serious humility, but it was empowering.

lg

UNFORCED GRATITUDE (happened naturally)

Last Tuesday, after reading of my faith experiment on facebook, a friend brought me 6 pounds of ground sausage and said she wished she could quit her job and she wanted to support me in doing so. Yeah, I cried. It made me feel not so alone.

sausage

Yesterday, Sophia was able to wiggle out of her cast, saving the family $150 at the doctor’s office.

I don’t think things like this are coincidental. I take them as true gifts directly from God.

cast

And just this morning, after overcoming my bitterness by vlogging I gained some insight for myself.

This blog needs to be about me staying vulnerable and honest.

If I can do that then God will let me have it as a tool in my journey.

(Last week, I started this blog, but then realized I was just using it as an escape and figured I would have to scrap it.)

That gift made me especially grateful and happy to be at home cuddling on the couch with Caroline.

caroline

I’m so happy I could find love today.

One day at a time.