Sunday, March 28, 2010

I am good at other things.

I am not good at many things. These include, but are not limited to:

Making my bed every day
Folding laundry on the day it's washed
Wearing skinny jeans
Decorating the walls of my home
3-dimensional media--most specifically, cake decorating
Keeping up with all the paper
Keeping the kitchen clean for longer than 30 seconds
Resisting cookies
Making sure the house is clean before I go to bed/leave the house/anytime (except when I know someone is coming over)
Returning library books on time
Parallel parking
Singing soprano
Sewing something without ripping out 42 seams in the process
Teaching a child how to ride a bike (Oh, I'll be terrible when it comes time for someone to drive a car!)
Playing basketball
Food presentation
Flower arranging
Knowing how to coordinate shoes/hose/shorter skirts in wintertime, now that it is no longer 1992, and white hose are a faux pas

I have been blessed to associate with some remarkable women. Most of them can do everything on this list and more (Connie really can breakdance), and sometimes it is difficult not to compare my weaknesses to their strengths. We women tend to do that, berating and degrading ourselves in the process. I was raised in a very can-do home and religion where self-reliance is hugely important. For a long time, I thought that meant that I had to know how to do everything myself. My friend, Heather, who was the best neighbor in the whole world, taught me something very profound. As I was lamenting the fact that I couldn't do something well, she shrugged her shoulders and said, "I am good at other things." It changed my life. For the first time, I realized that I didn't need to kick myself for all the things that frustrated me. I have permission to not worry about the things I don't do well--especially those which aren't crucial to my life. I am good at other things. My talents and gifts are uniquely mine, and with those gifts, I can influence my little corner of the world for good. When I can't do something well, I can call a friend. I can trust that Raquel can make a loaf of bread that will actually rise. Sherri can help me plan a fun trip (but I'll read the map). Melanie, Brooke, Syndi and Jana can all decorate my house (please?). School and church teachers can reach my children in ways I cannot. There is no need for me to compare. Learn? Yes. Feel inadequate? No. We all need each other.

So call me if you ever need help doing something at which I excel. My friend once told me that I would be his "phone-a-friend" lifeline on "Millionaire". Don't feel badly about yourself because I am a fountain of useless knowledge. You're good at other things, too.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The things I do for love

First of all, women need more arms. It just occurred to me that automatic doors must have been invented by a woman with three shopping bags, keys, water bottle and a 5-year-old in one hand, while pushing a cart and carrying a toddler with the other. In the rain.

That said, I thought to myself this morning about all of those times I have bent over backwards for my children. Do they even know that I go to the gym for their benefit? So I can run with a child in each arm down the street in an emergency? Or so I can balance a pan full of birthday brownies, three books, a costume, a purse and a three-year-old on my way into the school? Ugh. I wondered how many times I have done things just like this, and how my kids will not understand the effort until they do it for their own kids. By then, all of their doors will be automatic, so they really won't understand. Fine. I remember the time I had three different Thanksgiving Luncheons at two different elementary schools on two different days. Thankfully by then I had given up the idea of actually eating the school's version of Thanksgiving lunch. Nevertheless, I had at least one other preschooler with me, as well as a baby, and it was pouring rain. The lunches were far enough apart in time that it didn't make sense to stay at school the whole time. When I got home from the first one, I told my husband (who works from home) that if he really loved me, he would go to the next lunch. He did. He really loves me. Of course, that particular child has never forgiven me for sending Dad instead. I can't win.

So the question I've been pondering is if my kids really will remember all of the effort. Will the 3-YO remember that I ran back 100 yards to retrieve his Cookie Monster ring on our walk the other day? Will the snarky 13-YO appreciate it when I bring something to school he forgot, or when I look all over town for a specific item for a ridiculously specific project? I don't think they will. And I think I'm alright with that, because as I'm typing this, I actually don't remember all of those times that I said to myself (and to my kids) "Remember that I am the best mom-EVER! You owe me!" I think what I've concluded is that because motherhood is much more of a marathon than a sprint, it becomes an accumulation of many moments, choices, actions and gifts of love. It is Gestalt psychology at its finest--the whole is greater than the sum of its parts--or the sum of all the bags and items I can carry. My children will hopefully remember the feelings involved--that they can rely on me. That I can show them mercy more often than not, while teaching them the importance of personal accountability. That I love them and think they are the best kids in the world. That sacrificing personal comfort and exercising Christlike service for someone they love is extraordinarily important for that love to grow. They still owe me, but I'll exact payment in different ways...In the meantime, I'll continue to go to the gym so my biceps can handle it.

P.S. Thank you, Mom, for handling it for me. I know I owe you!

Friday, March 26, 2010


Whenever someone I meet finds out I have 6 kids, their eyes get as big as saucers. "Wow!" They say. Sometimes that "wow" is awe-filled and congratulatory, and sometimes it is snotty, to say the least. You wouldn't believe the kinds of questions I get asked--as if having that many kids means that my personal space no longer exists (or that I somehow haven't figured out how I got myself into this mess). "Are you having more?" is the most common. I personally think it's a rude question, and one I wouldn't dare to ask anyone but my closest friends and family. What's funny is no one ever asks my husband that question. You see, I think that deciding when to have kids, or how many to have, should be left up to husband, wife and God. It's a very personal decision, and one that often includes much soul-searching, and unfortunately for many, much heartache. So, if you meet someone who has more kids than you think you could handle, please don't ask her if she's having more. It's an invasion of her personal space, just as much as asking someone why she so selfishly stopped at two. See?

Having said that, I have concluded that people really don't mean to be rude. I happen to live in the ultimate Suburbia, where everyone seems to have 2.2 kids, a minivan and a dog--with cute stickers on the back window of the minivan to prove it. I love it here, but I am definitely not the norm. So when someone makes a comment, I've realized that it's because she couldn't possibly imagine herself in the same situation, so she is just trying to make sense of it. That's fine. It's why I can't quite bring myself to reply, "Why do you want to know?", like my husband wants me to do. The saddest response for me to hear is, "I wanted more, but my husband said 'no'". Dumb husband. Foul. That's completely unfair.

Anyway, I love having a big family. It is rarely quiet, and my house is rarely completely clean, but we have a lot of fun together. I love seeing my little people do remarkable things. I love my husband dearly. He is my very best friend, and without him, I couldn't do it. Still, some days are hard, and I will freely admit that I want to run away sometimes.

I never thought I'd write for fun. If you'd have asked me in high school or college, I would have shuddered at the thought. I had extraordinarily fabulous English teachers, and I was taught very well the mechanics of good writing (Mrs. Dann, I apologize for the dead word), but I could never come close to the eloquence I sought. I still don't. But I've learned that I can convey my thoughts, feelings and sense of humor better in writing than I ever could do in speech, so here I am. Just so you know, my Christmas card letters are legendary. Ask anyone.

This is my snarky mom blog. Please join me on my adventure. I would love to hear what you think. I find humor in all kinds of things around me--especially my family. Sometimes I get really pensive and serious, as I hold some ideas and people very dear to my heart. Through it all, I want to be like this very wise woman who said, "The only way to get through life is to laugh your way through it. You either have to laugh or cry. I prefer to laugh. Crying gives me a headache."
Marjorie Pay Hinckley