Monday, September 28, 2009

A Wheelbarrow, Some Sand, and a Load of Balls

I should know better by now, but this morning I found myself thinking it had been a while since I had caught my children in some sort of disastrous mishap. Subconsciously patting myself on the back, I grinned at the idea that maybe my children are no longer at a stage where they secretly do naughty things or make insurmountable messes.


I took the rare opportunity to visit with my next door neighbor out by the mailbox in front of my home this afternoon, and all the while I was chatting away, my two littlest lovebugs and a neighbor boy made small work of project that took us much longer to clean up than it did for them to accomplish (I've noticed that's how mischevious messes usually turn out). The ironic part is that, although a little voice kept telling me I should probably check on the kids, I could hear them playing cooperatively around the corner of the house, so I dismissed the voice I know better than to ignore, telling myself how lucky I was today that the kids were playing so nicely. Am I naieve or what?

Finally, my older kids came around the corner from school, and sure enough, the first words out of their mouths were, "Have you seen what Regyn and Boston have done?"

A pit immediately formed in my stomach as I said goodbye to my neighbor, and bracing myself for what I might find, cautiously proceeded around the side of the house. The little neighbor boy must have heard my kids tattle because he ran up to me, spouting off excuses as fast as he could, telling me it was all Regyn's idea. Although I was nervous at just exactly what I was going to find, I couldn't help but chuckle to myself. Kids sure learn at an early age to pass the buck, I thought. But then again, knowing my four-year-old, I was also sure he was right--it probably was her idea.

I finally turned the corner and found out what the crime was: a wheelbarrow full of sand now also held 50 dozen golf balls (yes, 50 dozen), a dozen or more baseballs, and even a couple of basketballs. Dispersed alongside the wheelbarrow was a mound of empty egg cartons the golf balls used to call home, crushed into the pavement. Feeling somewhat responsible for the mishap, which probably would not have occurred if I had not been so neglectful--or at least not to such a great degree (I mean, perhaps if I had been more attentive, not EVERY carton of golf balls we owned would have been emptied), I decided to spare my kids my usual lecture and dig into help clean up the mess instead.

The worst part is that the balls were not only emptied into the wheelbarrow but also deeply buried in the sand, and seeing how the reason we have the entrage of golf balls in the first place is for my son's golf ball business, we not only had to dig out each ball to place it in the now-crushed egg cartons, but we had to sort each one by brand: Titleist, Calloway, Nike, etc. Since Regyn was the instigator of the crime, I was determined she would help--the only problem is she can't yet read, so we ended up resorting most of her cartons, only adding to our tedious task. Finally, near the end of our clean-up, that smart little cracker finally figured out that if she saw a "C" on the ball, it was a Calloway, a "T" it was a Titleist, and so forth. Too bad I didn't give her more credit sooner--we could have finished in half the time.

The good news is that Regyn was more than happy to help undo her actions; in fact, she even "pinky promised" she would not be repeating her efforts. "Doesn't that make you happy, Mom?" she asked cheerfully. It was hard to feel happy at the moment, covered in dirt, my nails burrowed with sand, and hundreds of golf balls still to dig out and sort, but I forced a smile anyway.

We finally finished the task, stacked the smashed cartons back onto the shelf, brushed off our clothes and washed our hands. All in a day's work, I thought. But next time I feel the urge to pat myself on the back, I hope to at least take note of the nagging voice inside my head that warns me I should probably check on my "well-behaved children playing so cooperatively" around the corner.

And for those of you who need used golf balls, I happen to know where 50 dozen of them are stored, meticulously sorted by whatever brand you desire--you just may need to brush off a little sand!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Fruit Takes Time to Ripen

Have you ever thought maybe you needed a time out? Just a little break from the routine--a reprieve from the mundane, thankless, draining tasks you do every day? I've often had the feeling that if I could just come up for air, drink in a little sunshine and fresh oxygen, I could dive back into the pool of motherhood I feel I'm drowning in and actually swim on top for a while. Thus, this past weekend, I took a time out. Literally.

I drove to Logan, and with a dear friend and former mission companion, I went to an event called "Time Out for Women," sponsored by Deseret Book. These events have been held all over the country throughout the year for many years, but this was my first experience going. I now hope to make it an annual vacation, as the break was great and the experience wonderful!

"I'll come home a better wife and mother," I promised as I waved goodbye to my husband and children and escaped to my waiting car, leaving them to wonder what to have for dinner . . . and breakfast the next morning. . . and lunch after that. I really didn't know for sure what to expect, but I had a feeling it would be worthwhile. And it was. Although I wish I could share the whole meaningful experience, I've decided to just share one thought I came away with. Emily Watts, a noted speaker and author of many successful, humorous books on motherhood shared this thought:

Fruit takes time to ripen.

Okay, so what does that have to do with motherhood? Well, let me tell you. Let's say our children are the fruit. It takes time for them to learn who they really are and become who they can really become. Some fruit takes longer to ripen than others, and that's okay; either way, every child requires a lot of nurturing, care, and love to become who they were really meant to be (so, if your child seems to be the slow-to-ripen type, don't fret; he/she just may not have hit the ripening season yet--there's still hope).

Isn't that a wonderful idea? I thought so, too. But then, as I kept pondering this metaphor, something else came to mind. Thinking of each of my own four children and wondering about which "ripening" stage each one is in, I couldn't help but picture innumerable experiences we've had together as I worked to nurture and care for each one in helping them to reach their potentials as children of God. And with each experience came the realization of what I learned in the process. I've always hoped to be a light to my children, to lead them down the path of goodness and happiness, but what I never could have imagined when I began this journey, is what they would teach me in the process. Through my experiences as a mother, I have learned more about love, patience, endurance, organization, service, humility, and so on, than I ever thought possible.

So, I'm beginning to realize maybe I'm the fruit. And my children are really the caretakers, nurturing me and helping me become the woman I hope to truly become. And sometimes that ripening process is quite painful--for all involved. Emily Watts noted that during her hardest times with her children, she looked back and found that is when they were ripening the most. That's the beauty of God's plan for families. The harder we work together, the greater the harvest, and during times of deep struggle (weeding), if we keep focused on what matters most and help each other, we will find we have ripened significantly. And one day, I believe, we will become a delicious fruit, and it will all be worthwhile.

Until then, I am grateful to four children who are patiently (and not-so-patiently at times) grooming me and tutoring me, teaching me valuable lessons that I need to learn to one day be fully ripened.

And as far as my kids go, on those days when I wonder if they're simply a "bad apple," I now know I only have to be patient and with the proper care, even naughty fruit can ripen and become irresistible!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Life's A Climb

If I told you my two-year-old is absolutely addicted to the Hannah Montana movie, would you think that's a little crazy? What if my two-year-old is a boy? That's right! My little man watches Hannah Montana a couple times a day, and he knows quite a bit of the dialogue and most of the songs. Although I find myself shaking my head in disbelief that a little boy would like a movie like that so much, I have to admit I quite like the flick myself. Of course it's a little cheesy in parts, but I do think Miley Cyrus is pretty adorable in the movie, and I love the music.

My favorite part, though, is the end. I won't ruin it for those of you who haven't seen it yet, but let me just say, no matter what I'm doing or what kind of mood I'm in, I bawl my eyes out every time I hear her sing, "It's The Climb." The other morning I found tears dripping into my dishwater as the song blared from my television in the next room, and I had to wonder what was wrong with me. Then today, after plopping down on the couch to snuggle with my little one for a moment (watch him jump from my coffee table to my couch and back again is more like what actually happened--the snuggling ended up being merely a dream), I watched Hannah Montana sing that song, and as the tears threatened once again, I realized the reason that song gets to me so much.

It's because it's totally about me.

And, today it dawned on me that it's about motherhood, too. Just read these lyrics: "There's always gonna be another mountain. I'm always gonna wanna make it move. Always gonna be an uphill battle. Some days I'm gonna have to lose (these last two lines are the ones that remind me of motherhood the most:). Ain't about how fast I get there. Ain't about what's waitin on the other side. It's the climb."

Pretty darn profound. I can't even mention the number of times I've had great intentions as a mother, only to fail. Most days are an uphill battle, and there are definitely times when I lose, BUT it's okay. What really matters is that I'm enjoying the climb. And if I ever get so caught up in how fast I'm "getting there" or about what's in it for me in the end, well, I will have missed the satisfaction, view and joy of the journey--the climb.

In the movie, Hannah's boyfriend says, "Life's a climb . . . but the view's great." That's how I feel about motherhood. Most days it takes the best that's in me; some days, I have to simply be content to not lose ground, hoping tomorrow will be better. It doesn't matter who's mastered motherhood better than I have; it doesn't even matter that some days I slip up and fall down the mountain a little way. What it all boils down to is accepting that it's a tough road and enjoying the view anyway.

And the view is definitely great! On those (sometimes rare) moments when we are all in sync and there is peace and harmony in our home, when we are laughing, learning and sharing together, when I hear, "I love you, Mom," then I feel deep gratitude to be on this journey, however difficult it is. When I take a step back and see how much I've been blessed, I realize I wouldn't have it any other way. It's then that I discover once again that no matter how steep or daunting this journey of motherhood may be, the view is truly magnificent, and I wouldn't miss it for the world.

Yes, Hannah Montana has it right--"It's all about the climb."

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Child's Prayer

I have always thought it a good thing that God has a sense of humor, especially since my children at times have offered prayers that have been more comical than humble. And although I would still term their prayers "innocent," I wonder if they have figured they might as well try to manipulate their Heavenly Father, too, as it works so well on their earthly parents! Yes, at times I have found myself chuckling as we've said "amen," wondering exactly what God thought of their petitions. Here are a few examples.

" . . . and please bless that we won't have to eat snakes and frogs when we grow up and go on a mission." (snakes and frogs--where did that come from?)

Nate--7 years old

". . . and please bless that Regyn won't get into my stuff while I'm gone to school today and ruin everything I own." (I love it--Mom's not doing a good job of guarding my possessions, so I'm taking it to a Higher Source!)

Halleee--9 years old

". . . and please bless that we can listen to our moms and dads and that we won't fight anymore."
(Moms and Dads--what, are there more than one of us? And it never fails, this prayer is said either right before or right after a huge fight)

Nate--7 years old

" . . . and please bless we can go to Grandpa and Grandma's today."
(pulling the Grandma and Grandpa card--that's one prayer that probably won't be answered seeing how we have to stay home and go to school).

Nate--7 years old.

" . . .and please bless mom to not scream at us today."
(Oh, the faith of little children. I hope I don't slip up and yell today.)

Regyn--4 years old

And my all-time favorite:

" . . . and please help us to have a great day tomorrow."
(Tomorrow? What about today? Her answer: "I prayed for that yesterday!")

Hallee--9 years old

As much as I enjoy some of the humorous prayers offered in my home, I just have to say how much I love hearing one of my children offer a sincere prayer in someone's behalf. Whether praying for me, or a grandparent, or a person who is sick in our neighborhood, I can't help but think that God puts special emphasis on the prayers of little children, answering them with more urgency than others. I truly believe in the simple, perfect faith of children, and so when my children pray, "please bless Mom to not have a headache today," after seven days of a crushing migraine, I smile with the assurance that maybe today I will be able to function without a throbbing pain in my head.

Yes, I am sure God hears every child's prayer and answers in turn, and I have a feeling He laughs at the funny ones, too!