My big sister instincts are kicking into high gear (they've been simmering for a few weeks now) and I feel some pulpit pounding coming on--I just can't stop myself. I would apologize, but that's just not how it works around here!
Several years ago I was serving in the Young Women's Organization with one of my neighbors. Her husband was in the military and deployed or gone for short periods of time quite often. She had four children. Some of them had medical problems. Some of them had developmental problems. But all in all, they were a happy family with problems just like anyone else. One evening, on the way home from Girl's Camp, my friend shared a little secret with the rest of us. She was almost six months pregnant. And they had not told anyone!!! When we gasped in astonishment that she could keep it secret for that long, she said they hadn't told anyone because they were worried what people would think, especially her family, and that they would be upset with her because they didn't think she should have anymore children because her life was hard enough as it was. She and her husband (and God) had other ideas.
She told us that she had gone to our bishop in tears, wondering if they had made the right choice and what she should say to her family. He told her that she had nothing to be ashamed of, that many good people today are willfully not fully keeping their covenants or not understanding them by not obeying the law to "multiply and replenish the earth", a law that is still in full force, and that she should have full confidence that she was in the right, and that the Lord would help her and bless her family for their faithfulness.
Her story really shook me up, especially in that stage of life where I was dealing with the opposite struggle. If there is any kind of lesson Mark and I learned from our years of hoping for a baby, it was that "family planning" is really an illusion that makes us mere mortals think we have a little bit of control of how we want things to be. Babies come when they are supposed to come. I couldn't imagine not sharing that kind of happy news with my family, and I hope that I would always show love and support to others.
I remembered this instance again a couple years ago when Mark and I attended a fabulous Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting through our church, titled "Building Up a Righteous Posterity." We were deeply impressed and inspired, and I would encourage anyone to read through it. February 2008 Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting: Building Up a Righteous Posterity Here is the part that I loved the most. It would have helped my friend feel so much better, I think. This is what was said, in a "conversation" between Pres. Julie Beck of the Relief Society and Elder Oaks and Holland, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
There’s also the ward family. As
we’ve mentioned, in every ward you’re
going to have a spectrum of experience
and challenges. Some of those
women will be able to have children;
some will be married; some will be
widowed; some won’t. In reality there
are a few women who will be able to
have children and have a lot of them.
In that ward family we should rally
around and support those who invite
children into their family. It’s a challenge
to have a large family. I would
certainly hope that no member of the
Church would approach another sister
in the ward and say, “You’re crazy for
having another child,” but rather celebrate
her ability and her desire to have
them and say, “I’m supporting you. Let
me do all I can to encourage and help
you in that.”
I’m glad you mentioned that,
because we do get reports that some
Latter-day Saints criticize other Latterday
Saints for having children. I remember
early in our marriage when
my wife June was pregnant with our
fifth child, a very active sister in our
ward said to her, “What are you trying
to do, populate the world all by
yourself?” And I was proud of June
when she came right back with a
response: “I can’t think of anyone
better to do it.”
And we all acknowledge—Sister
Tanner touched on it—that there are
issues of health, there are issues that
are not materialistic. We’re not talking
about money or political correctness
or deference to society, we’re talking
about legitimate gospel-oriented
things that we watch and measure.
That is all the more reason not to
judge. We teach, we encourage, we
rally, we cheer; within the context of
the gospel we encourage people to
seek that destiny that is theirs.
Today I was reading 2 Cor. 1 and it reminded me that one thing we should be glad about in our tribulations is that we can help others get through theirs with the lessons we will learn. I remember that one thing I didn't like when we were having our infertility issues was when I would do something nice/cool/interesting/fun, such as make a fancy dessert for a family get- together, and I would hear comments like "I remember when I had time to do things like that!" or, "Oh sure, YOU can do that. YOU don't have any kids." I know people mean well, and are trying to make a personal connection, but I always felt like my actions were belittled, that I was only able to be nice/cool/interesting/fun because of my situation, and not just because of who I am and what I like to do, regardless. (And I was right--now I have four kids and I still read fat novels, make fancy desserts, go on dates with my husband, research genealogy, and have time to write long diatribes like this on my blog...)
And now in the opposite challenge, with four kids, three who are quite close together in age, I must admit that I have very much grown to dislike the phrase, "You've got your hands full." It always carries such a reek of disapproval, or at it's best is only focusing on the negative. How about, "You are doing such an awesome job!" or "Look how strong you are!" or even Sister Hinckley's favorite, for when I'm having a bad day, "Well, this family's got a lot of faith...we'll pray you through it."
I've said enough, and I meant what I said.
Hooray for babies!!!
Friday, July 16, 2010
Is there anything more horrific than shopping for new swimwear after having four children? (I know, I know, try it after having five.)
My poor old suit has seen better days, and although it still fits (I am proud to say) it was getting worn quite thin and developing holes. So, after repeating to myself a few times "Swimwear is ALWAYS way more expensive than it should be. Swimwear is ALWAYS way more expensive than it should be" to prepare myself for sticker shock, I bit the bullet, loaded up the kids, and headed to the specialty shops where they reportedly sell modest clothing and swimwear. I had never even been in either shop. Come to think of it, I haven't tried shopping for clothes with my children for years, not since Boston was a baby and crawled out of the dressing room under the door while I was still indecent and I had to throw my clothes back on and sprint down the hall and into Kohl's and search for a baby under the racks.
I didn't last long in the first shop after I realized that they only sold two piece suits that were actually three pieces THAT YOU HAD to PURCHASE SEPARATELY. What a racket!! I told Mark it would be the equivalent of a man purchasing swimming trunks and the liner briefs separately, therefore paying double.
I had better luck at the second shop where there were only two pieces to buy. Even that proved to be challenging, though, because there must have been a lot of women with lower halves like mine (because they were all sold out except in the most freakish of colors), and not hardly any with upper halves (because none of those fit). I'm used to this dilemma--somehow the fashion industry doesn't cater to me--being more of an Audrey Hepburn/Keira Knightley type than a Marilyn Monroe/Heidi Klum. There were a few that I thought would work, in an extremely unattractive yellow and green pattern. They were the only matched set my size in the whole store. (No wonder I have shopping nightmares where there is no chocolate on the whole candy aisle, only DOTS and Lemonheads.)
At this point Leslie was wringing her hands and reminding me that it was almost time to take them to swimming lessons, so I wheeled my bus-like double stroller into the fortunately vacant row of dressing rooms. After some maneuvering I parked it in the large, handicapped room, directed Boston and Leslie inside with the other two, gave some instructions that amounted to "Sit! Stay!", had them lock the door, and rushed myself into the much smaller, much more private, adjoining room. Otherwise known as the Chamber of Humiliation.
I don't want to dwell much on the visual part of those few moments (and I will give you the audio in a minute). Suffice it to say, I want to keep a good sense of humor and appreciation for the physical strain of motherhood. I love what Utah author Shannon Hale had to say on this subject. One of her characters remarks to her husband, "You broke it, you bought it, Babe!" With a sigh, I decided that the swimsuit was good enough. Did it come in gray? Mare sized?
While I was posturing in front of the unforgiving mirror like that old comic strip character "Cathy", utter chaos was brewing in the adjoining stall. At first it was a dull murmur, mostly arguing and Leslie telling someone to quit doing something. Then it escalating into some intermittent shrieks from Cooper and loud protesting from Boston. Next came the out-and-out howling from Cooper, screaming from Macy, and frustrated yelling from Leslie and Boston, followed by slamming doors, pounding feet, and more pounding on MY door. I could make out a little bit of what it was about...Cooper had climbed out of the stroller and up onto a stool in the dressing room. For whatever reason, he decided to stand up on the stool. Boston most likely was pretending to knock over the stool and trying to scare him. Leslie was probably trying to get both of them to return to the "Sit. Stay." position. Cooper realized that he didn't really want to be standing up on a stool next to hurricane Boston in an enclosed space and at the same moment realized that he didn't know how to get back down. Macy started screaming because everyone else was or maybe because she felt ripped off that she didn't get to be out of the stroller, too. Leslie tried to get Cooper down, but when she came close, he concluded that she would only knock him off or drop him, so he screamed even louder and tried to push her away. Boston escaped and ran willy-nilly through the store. Leslie followed at his heels, yelling and trying to catch him as soon as she pounded on my door and told me that Cooper was stuck on a stool. I tried to holler some instructions while frantically pulling my many wonderful, covering-up layers of clothes back on.
I rescued Cooper, chased down children, administered approximately one spankin', apologized to the store's clerk, bought an extremely ugly zuit suit for triple what it should have cost, and drove like a mad hornet (with the radio blaring over the still-screaming children) to swimming lessons, where we were still 10 minutes late.
As I came to my senses a few hours later, I realized that I shouldn't have given up that easily and that anyone who has to subject herself to humiliation at the hands of the season and the fashion industry should be at least able to blow the required amount of money on a swimming suit that she can at least feel relaxed in. I arranged to drop of the munchkins at Mark's office at the end of the day. We swapped cars. He took the kids to the happiest place on earth (outside of California, that means McDonald's) and I took myself and my credit card to the nearest department store. For the next two hours. I even picked myself up some takeout from Zupas on my triumphant way home. I couldn't help it; it was right next to the shop where I returned the original suit.
And yesterday, while I was joyfully splashing in the lazy river with my baby, another mom wearing from the crowded banks of shade umbrellas came up to me to timidly inquire where I got my suit. She really liked it.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
We just held our 4th annual 4th of July BBQ and potluck in our backyard...yesterday on the 3rd. I love living in Utah and don't have to sacrifice much to the sabbath. We even got to watch the huge Thanksgiving Point fireworks show. My brother Duke came with us and wished that we had a little John Phillips Sousa to play in the car on the way there, just like riding in Grandpa's motorhome. It was Cooper and Macy's first time, and everyone loved it. Macy kept saying "Wow!" and "Boom boom boom" (from Mr. Brown can Moo, Can You?) Of course after being up that late, Macy slept in today until 10 and then refused a nap and Cooper is a complete growly bear. Early to bed for them!
Last weekend Mark and Leslie and I intended to go to Mt. Timp caves. They had never been and I've been waiting for years to make the hike because every time I've wanted to go I've been pregnant or nursing and can't be halfway up a mountain. So we had my friend Jennifer come stay and away we went. Unfortunately, I had a brain lapse and forgot that I have lived in Utah for the past dozen years and not in Montana, where nobody else lives. It was so crowded that we couldn't go unless we waited 2 hours for the next available tour. Duh! It didn't even cross my mind that there might be a problem. I was so disappointed I almost cried. After I composed myself a little, we powwowed and decided to try a different hike on the back end of the canyon, called Cascade Springs. It was beautiful and easy enough that we'll be able to go back with the younger tikes. The first part of the hike was through an old forest fire burn site, but the brush has grown up tall between the blackened tree branches, so if we go back I'm going to tell the kids we are hiking in a haunted forest. Very fun.
Also here are some fun pictures of our favorite splash park. Macy was big enough to do it this year and she loved it (as you can see...).
I also like these goofy pictures of my boys in their church clothes. I was trying to take a nice shot for Father's Day or something and I found out that my boys are becoming more and more like their Grandpa Haynes. I can't get a straight smile out of them!