Oh boy I forgot to hit “publish” this morning.
Dang, over and over each day I wish I could sit down and write down so many swirling thoughts pulsating through my head about life and religion and feelings and parenting and shining and figuring out how to help my kids see the shining and BE the shining…the good and the bad and the ugly. I wish I could huddle into my desk and write about all these emotions I’m feeling right now because it helps me to conceptualize what is happening in life.
I want to write down how it felt to watch the volleyball team win the quarterfinals last night how my heart soared when the crowd ran onto the court in jubilation…and how much I love Max’s high-knee ear-to-ear excitement when something great happens on the court. And how I can hardly hold back the tears when I think about how life is changing. And how it makes me so burst with excitement and sorrow all at the same time. And how Claire and Lucy share jobs sometimes and how Lucy had a fit at dive team yesterday and how Grace and Elle are maneuvering some difficult situations lately.
But I’m LIVING it right now and soaking every second in so writing down what my kids do that is driving me nutty and the funny antics they are weaving into my days to make me smile despite the mundane racing stuff will hopefully still linger in my brain for when I can write it down to help me remember some day.
Remember. One of my favorite words.
But for today a quick sum-up of Mother’s Day.
These guys know how to do it.
At church the men and youth took over all the women’s callings and duties (I usually lead music in Primary), and served us a little brunch.
So sweet and thoughtful.
After church we went on our traditional Mother’s Day hike.
Dave and the kids were a little baffled at first that that was a new “tradition” since we had only done it one year (back HERE). I explained that Mother’s Day and my birthday are the perfect days for a hike. Mother’s Day is right before it gets too deathly hot here in the desert, and January is a pretty darn great time for hikes here in the desert too (back HERE).
They were a little grumpy and a couple claimed they couldn’t POSSIBLY do a hike because their legs were just so very sore. Gotta keep it real that life isn’t rainbows and butterflies over here in the desert 🙂
But I tell you what, once we got in the car everyone perked up.
…and they quite enjoyed the view from the top.
And of course, I had to do the little analogy thing about hikes and life at the top.
You know the one about how life is kind of hard sometimes…we can’t see the top. Sometimes we can’t even see where we’re going or how long before we “get there,” and the journey can seem too long and ominous and overwhelming. But we just have to keep plugging and when we get to the top the vista is amazing and all the effort becomes such a treasure instead of a burden.
Yes, that analogy. I love it.
Life can be rough. Sometimes it takes a village to help one particular person:
But life is so beautiful when you see the independence that grows from the dependence.
My sister (Saydi) sent me one of the most beautiful poems I have ever read.
Maybe it just caught me because it was Mother’s Day and I was thinking so much about my dear Mother, or maybe it’s just pure golden truth, but it was so beautiful to me I feel compelled to share.
The other day as I was ricocheting slowly
off the blue walls of this room
bouncing from typewriter to piano
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
I found myself in the “L”section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word, Lanyard.
No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one more suddenly into the past.
A past where I sat at a workbench
at a camp by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid thin plastic strips into a lanyard.
A gift for my mother.
I had never seen anyone use a lanyard.
Or wear one, if that’s what you did with them.
But that did not keep me from crossing strand over strand
again and again until I had made a boxy, red and white lanyard for my mother.
She gave me life and mild from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard
She nursed me in many a sick room,
lifted teaspoons of medicine to my lips,
set cold facecloths on my forehead
then led me out into the airy light
and taught me to walk and swim and I in turn presented her with a lanyard.
“Here are thousands of meals” she said,
“and here is clothing and a good education.”
“And here is your lanyard,” I replied,
“which I made with a little help from a counselor.”
“Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth and two clear eyes to read the world.” she whispered.
“And here,” I said, “is the lanyard I made at camp.”
“And here,” I wish to say to her now,
“is a smaller gift. Not the archaic truth,
that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took the two-toned lanyard from my hands,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless worthless thing I wove out of boredom
would be enough to make us even.”
Choked me up.
Isn’t motherhood grand?
I’m so grateful for my mother who took on lanyard after lanyard like it was the best thing that ever happened to her, and kept giving, and giving, and giving, and still gives.
Love her forever.
The lanyard is my absolute favorite, especially when my husband reads it in his monotone, deep voice! And guess what? Most of the time it is enough!
One thing I have found very helpful in remembering things as they come to me is using voice memos on my phone. I can record something I'm thinking about while driving or waiting for school to get out and be able to reference back to it later. Might be something you would find handy to be able to go back to when you are ready to write all those things down.
Oh wow! I've never read that Lanyard poem before, but it got me crying (and then I just kept crying because I'm pregnant and I can't help it). So beautiful!!! What a gift motherhood is, and what a gift mothers are.
You've done it again, Shawni! We've never met but reading this post has once again helped put some things in perspective for me. I'm so glad I stumbled accross your blog when my first baby (now toddler) was only 4 weeks old and I was just beginning to learn how to be a mother. You've helped me grow in so many ways.
I have to admit I'm in a bit of a trench right now and it's hard to see a way out. The short version of the story is I have a loving husband and 2 little girls (one is 2.5 years and the other 2.5 months). To say I'm struggling is an understatement. I also might add that I'm the recently called Primary president in my ward with a large primary. To say I'm overwhelmed also feels like an understatement. I just can't seem to find the end of this trench. My husband isn't getting the attention he deserves from me because I'm so tired by the time he gets home each day. My toddler has definitely reached "terrible 2" status. My 2.5 month old is a needy one. She only wants mom all the time and has decided to give up napping all together (only occasional 20 min. naps here and there). I am the type that thrives on routine and schedules and that is all thrown away when you have a newborn that won't allow a routine. I won't even get into the current status of our Primary (that's not the important part here). Maybe you have some golden advice for me and I'd appreciate that so much but for now I just want you to know that your blog helps me so much. This isn't the first time I've been in a "trench of motherhood" and you've helped guide we out. So thank you and Happy (late) Mother's Day!!
Hi J Loves K. The thing that sticks out to me is "My husband isn't getting the attention he deserves" and I am not criticizing you for saying that – any loving partner cares about that. But you are both adults who have committed to raising children, and for this short time in life a sideways glance and smile as you both roll up your sleeves to raise those little humans may be all the attention either of you can afford. As Shawni says, life is long, and there will be plenty of time for attention later. The kisses will mean all the more after you have made it through this rough patch side by side, selflessly just doing what needs to get done. As for the calling, your counselors are there for a reason. Delegate like a diva and let people fail. Instead of taking the traditional approach to magnifying a calling (making bigger – ie ice sculptures and colors schemes and themes), try looking at the only thing that matters – the kids being in a happy environment where they can learn about Jesus. Zero in on that one thing, and set it on fire. You likely were called at this crazy time not to prove to yourself or anyone how grand you can do it all, but to be the example of focusing on only the truly important and bagging the rest. I have learned so much from my presidents who have taught me that. A calling should not be a hardship or strain on any family model that for everyone under you. The church needs more of that kind of example. Hugs!
Thanks Anna! Believe me, I know I'm putting way too much pressure on myself. Thankfully my husband is very understanding I just worry about a lot of things. I'm a worrier, a planner, and a perfectionist. I can't afford to be any of those things with a newborn in the house. But I'm taking it one day at a time and trying to enjoy the few quiet moments. Sometimes I have to remind myself out loud that these girls won't be this little for long and I know I'm going to be wishing these babies back one day. I appreciate your advice thank you for taking the time to reply!
Hi J loves K, congratulations on your new little one. Remember those exhausting days well (I had 2 close together). If you have a newborn and a toddler you have a full time job and bluntly, anyone who expects you do to any more than that is being inhumane. You're overwhelmed because you're being asked to do way too much and I'm concerned from what you wrote that you're in danger of slipping into postnatal depression. If you speak to your doctor or midwife about how you're feeling they'll be able to give you the support you need.
If I understand rightly, you are doing a church voluntary role and honestly, I would say to them that you are unable to continue that at present. If you come under pressure, put your foot down for the sake of your health and your little ones! I'm sure your doctor will give you her full blessing to do this. I'm actually flabbergasted that your church even thought of asking a woman with a newborn to help out.
I'll leave you with a comparison. In my country (UK) most women need to work to support their families but there is is absolutely no way that a woman with a 10-week-old would be expected to work. The people and the government here agree that women with newborns need to rest and look after their babies and you'd still have months to run on your paid maternity leave. Any boss who tried to get a woman with a newborn back to work would be pilloried and rightly so.
Hugs and kind thoughts go your way 🙂
Dear J loves K, I am just sending a little love to you in the trenches!! I think you are right on that you want to give your family all the love and attention you can. It is a delicate balance that is so difficult for a busy mother with small children and a difficult and time-consuming calling! I have two thoughts for you. 1) You rock because you want to put your husband first. Your little girls demand attention and time because they are dependent on you and your husband for their every need (and they have a LOT of them, I know! 🙂 It is so easy to put them first because your husband can take care of himself. I agree with Anna T that he made the parenting commitment too. But that commitment goes on for a mighty long time! And it doesn't get easier. Yes easier physically because children aren't draped on you at all moments of the day when they get older, but not easier mentally or emotionally because boy oh boy, there is always something to worry about and pray your guts out. There is always something to occupy your brain. So, if you "wait" until the chaos is over to give your husband a little attention you may be waiting a long time! But sometimes the attention you give can be as simple as a little text during the day that you're thinking of him or praying specifically for him when you pray together or making a habit of saying one specific thing you really appreciate about him each night before you go to sleep…I don't now, every relationship is different, but the fact that you want to give him more attention means you'll figure it out somehow and you know it's important. I am writing this for myself as much as for you right now to remind me because boy oh boy is my mind occupied with so many other things than Dave right now as Max is graduating on Thursday and my kids all need so many different things as school draws to a close. And sometimes my mind needs a little shift in these particularly crazy times to remember to treat him like the #1 he is. Because oh boy is he ever. I'm so grateful for him! Remember (me and you 🙂 it can be small things, he just needs to know you care.
And 2) the key to a calling like yours, especially in the calling you're in, is to delegate, delegate, delegate. Use those counselors and divide up responsibility like nobody's business. If it's still too much right now, counsel with the bishop and let him know. That's such a rough balance too, because things like that, even though so super busy can end up being such a blessing in hindsight, but you're the only one who really knows, through prayer and maybe talking it through with your husband what you can handle right now and what will work for your family. The Bishop may be able to help you switch things around and get some other people called to help, or may realize it may be better for someone else to take over that calling for now.
Hope that all made sense, just re-read what Anna T said and that is pretty much the same thing, but yes, life is long and it's great to find the right balance so you can make it through. Sending lots of love your way!!!
Thanks so much, Shawni! I just wanted to take a minute and thank you for your thoughtful reply! I know it took some time away from your family to respond to me but I appreciate it more than you know!
I have already taken some of your's and Anna's advice and while I haven't magically changed much overnight, I know things will get better.
Prayer has made an incredible difference just in the short week since my first comment. I realized after taking time to reflect on things, including what you and Anna said, I cannot do this by myself. I'm no super woman and it really is impossible for me do all of the things I want to do for husband, my girls, myself, my calling, and my friends and extended family. But I've resolved to pray for some very specific things when I get up every morning and it has made a huge difference already. I know I'm not doing all this alone and while I still don't do it all as I'd like to, I find I'm happier, more patient, and more aware of what is really important.
Deligating has never been an easy thing for me but I've definitely been doing a lot more of it lately. Sometimes that's still hard and I fight that urge to just do it myslef every day, but I know that's why the Lord gives us counselors and I have some good ones! And I know there are lessons for me to learn through my calling, I don't feel the need to give up just yet.
Finally, I just want to add a comment about my husband. I hope I didn't make it sound like he is adding pressure for attention or anything, he's a good man. He's a great provider, he's so patient and loving, and gives his girls everything he can. These feelings are my own. I know I'm not giving him the attention that I used to and that's hard for me sometimes, but he is so understanding and I need to stop pressuring myself so much. I've always felt the need to put him first because I loved him first, I was a wife before I was a mother. But as I've recently realized, "to everything there is a season". This is my season of young motherhood and I'm so grateful for that. This is also our season of young parenthood together and I'm grateful for the man I chose to take on parenthood with.
Again, thank you so much Shawni! I just wanted you to know how much you've helped and influenced me and I know I wouldn't be the mom I am today without some of your guidance.
(One last side note, a couple of weeks ago I purchased "1-2-3 Magic" that I've seen you talk about several times. I felt desperate to get some help during this toddler phase. My husband and I read the book and this week we've put it to the test. It has already made a vast improvement! I know discipline will always be a work in progress -as with so many other aspects of parenting- but I'm grateful you shared that book with your readers!)
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