Wednesday, January 30, 2008

My Evolution..... (As a Mother of Sons)

Aaron says I have changed, I like to think that I have evolved........
(Any mother's out there who don't have sons or whose sons have not yet reached the age of "true boyhood," you most likely will not relate, agree or understand what I am about to say)

YES, this is a picture of my boys playing with boxing gloves (someone gave them to us last week) and YES, I did personally get my sons NERF guns with suction cup shooters for Christmas, and YES when you come to my house you will see my boys engaged in battle with light up swords we bought from "Zoo Lights" in Tacoma. Most of you who knew me four years ago would probably be shocked at these confessions, because I was the mom who never let my sons play with "those kinds of toys." And I'm a bit ashamed to confess that I thought less of mothers who allowed their sons to play with guns and swords.

So what has changed?

As I look back it wasn't one event but a process of experiences that over time have evolved into an entirely different philosophy. One of these experiences happened one morning while I was reading scriptures with the boys. We were reading about Captain Moroni and the Title of Liberty from the Book of Mormon reader. At that time (a few years ago) it was routine for me to read the story and then take a few minutes to talk to them about what we had read. I had read that story many times before but for some reason on this morning it sunk in deeper than ever before. I found myself tearfully bearing testimony to my young sons that one day they may have to fight in a war and that the Lord
expects them to fight to protect their families and to defend our freedoms. I felt the spirit so strongly that morning and the reality of what I was saying really hit me hard.......there is nothing wrong with fighting-as long as it is for a righteous cause ("In memory of our God, our religion, our freedom, and our peace, our wives and our children" (Alma 46:12).

Another experience that followed shortly after this happened at church during Stake Conference. Jacob was about 4 and Joseph was 3. They were both standing in the breezeway between the double doors at the entrance to the building running around with half a dozen other kids who were also being rowdy while their parents kept them corralled in this "viewing" room. I observed Jacob trying to be friendly with a boy about his same age who didn't seem like a very nice little boy at all. He would scowl at Jacobs attempts and started trying to pin Jacob between the door and the wall. I don't know what was wrong with me that day but I remember thinking I was going to hold back and let this play out. I wanted to see what Jacob would do. Well, the boy continued to be a little stinker and kept harassing him until I saw that Jacob was about to lose it and start crying. As he again pushed the door into Jacob (now trapped in the door jam) I started heading to the scene to intervene but was stopped by what I saw happen next. My 3 year old JoJo, boldly ran up to this older boy and began kicking him repeatedly in the leg saying, "You leave him alone, Jacob's a good guy!!!" And guess what, I let him keep kicking the boy until he let my son go!

There have been other experiences that have happened along the way but what I have learned through it all has taught me so much about men and boys. My boys will be men in less than 20 years. I hope that they will never have to be in a fight or fight in a war or pull the trigger of a real gun. But if they do I want them to be ready and I want them to win. My days of stifling their inborn heroic nature and telling them that "we never fight, or hit" are over. I now teach my sons that they do not start fights or hit people or pretend that they are shooting or killing people. But I do teach them that if they see someone picking on someone or hurting another kid, I WANT them to get in there and stop them. And if it means that they get sent home with a suspension for fighting I will be so proud of them for it.

Playing with guns, fighting with swords and boxing gloves is only the beginning. One day it may be that all those years of "play" will have prepared them to be a good fighter, a straight shooter and an aggressive warrior to fight in defense of their God, their religion, their freedom, their peace, their wife and their children.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Passing of a Great Man

Sunday evening Aaron got a text message on his phone that announced the passing of President Gordon B. Hinckley. In that moment there was a stillness that fell over the house. Although it was not surprising it was nonetheless a startling moment. I remember in a recent conference address President Hinckley stating that he felt like the 'last leaf on the tree'. My heart went out to him as I imagined how lonely these past few years must have been for him without the companionship of his wife. And so even though it is a sad time for us it is wonderful that a man who lived such a good life can now "lay this mortal by" and return to loved ones awaiting him on the other side.

Earlier today I watched a slide show that someone e-mailed me of President Hinckley. As I was watching it, the boys came in and gathered around the computer to watch it too. The tears flowed freely as I watched and listened and remembered our beloved prophet. Jacob (who was sitting on my knee) kept looking back at me every few seconds and Joseph asked a few times why I was crying. I could only manage to mutter between my tears "because I'm going to miss him".

Words cannot express the deep love and appreciation I have for this man. I have felt closer to him than any other prophet. I have loved and admired him for his Christlike ways, for his enthusiasm for the gospel, for his embracing nature and love for his fellowmen. More than any other prophet I think he has done more to reach out to the world and those not of our faith and tear down walls of self righteousness and teach us that we are all children of our Heavenly Father. Whether from Africa or Asia, whether Buddhist or Baptist, Convert or pioneer ancestry. He has loved us all and been a great prophet for our time. How I will miss him!

Below is the link to the slide show:

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Hitting a Milestone

Yesterday we hit a milestone in our parenting journey. Our first child lost his first tooth. I know it may not seem like a very big deal to most people, but as I held this tiny little baby tooth between my fingers I remembered ( all too clearly) the day that I first saw it poking up through the gums of his little 6 month old mouth. My heart felt heavy as I realized that this tiny little tooth was the same one I took a picture of when he was such a little baby boy. Sadly, I remember it like it was yesterday. Just for fun I thought I'd post it here along with a picture of him when he was 6 months old. My, how he's grown!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Sweetest Thing

Before I brought Lauren and Ben upstairs for their nap this afternoon Joseph leaned close to me and said he wanted to tell me a secret. He then whispered in my ear, "When Lauren takes her nap I'm going to go outside and pick her a flower, okay Mommy?" Okay, I said. Then I went upstairs and laid them down for their naps. First, Lauren in her room and then Ben in his. After Ben fell asleep I sneaked out and walked past Laurens room and saw this piece of paper taped to her door with a very "pretty" dried up weed taped to it too. It's hard to see in the picture but there are two hand drawn hearts and in a little 4 year olds handwriting he wrote Laurens name and on the next line the words "I love." Once again my little JoJo has melted my heart. What a lucky little girl Lauren is to have such an adoring older brother. It really was the sweetest thing.

A Good Day....Finally

It's been a rough couple of weeks for me. The kids have been acting up (JoJo shattered our antique glass bathroom door Monday because he "got mad" and slammed it so hard it swung back against the wall and hit the towel rack) and I have been FAR from the patient and loving mother that I want to be. It's so hard sometimes being a mom. Everyday I get up and really try to be a good mom, I pray that I'll have patience with the kids and be the kind of mom I WANT to be instead of that crazy, stressed out lady who would yell at a 3 year old for wetting his pants for the third time in one day. (It is seriously embarrassing when I think about how I have reacted to some things.)

It used to be that most of the time I felt good about myself as a mother and every now and then I'd have a bad day where I felt like I failed. Lately it seems like the other way around and day after day I go to bed at night frustrated and sometimes crying because I failed AGAIN. There's a song by Carrie Underwood called "Jesus take the wheel" that's on my ipod, I listen to it when I'm running. The chorus of that song is my life in a nutshell right now and every time I hear it I get so emotional.

"Jesus take the wheel
Take it from my hands
Cause I can't do this on my own
I'm letting go
So give me one more chance
To save me from this road I'm on
Jesus take the wheel."

The "road" I'm on is this crazy, chaotic life I'm now living because I had too many babies too fast (not intentionally of course but that doesn't really matter now does it).
I've learned that I am not capable of doing it on my own. I really do need the Lord's help in this. I've tried so hard to do it to the best of MY abilities and that's when I seem to fail and quietly cry myself to sleep at night wishing I was a better mom. I have good intentions , and the effort and desire are there it's just humanly (or mortally) impossible for me to handle my day without slipping up and making mistakes.

Today was a good day. It wasn't perfect, I did get angry a couple of times but I didn't lose control or my mind. And tonight I know that I will lay my head on my pillow comforted with the warmth of the spirit and a reassuring peace that the Lord is pleased. He has never let me down, when I follow Him and his promptings and "give up" my will and my ideas of how I think my day should go I am never let down. It's so hard for me to put things aside sometimes because I just want to get it all done and be the best Mom I can be but I can't be my best without Him. How long is it going to take me to learn this!
The dishes from dinner are still in the sink, there is unfolded laundry in the dryer but my children had a mother today who loved them, snuggled them, read to them, played with them and really enjoyed them. It's been too long, but at least I'm headed back in the right direction.