Friday, October 22, 2010

Unlucky? Maybe. Maybe not.

I recently read a story about a wise man who had a series of fortunate and unfortunate events happen in his life. When good things happened, his neighbors would tell him what a lucky man he was. When bad things happened, they would tell him how unlucky he was. With each comment from his neighbors, he would only reply, "Maybe. Maybe not." The man seemed to understand that good fortune would not last forever, and that challenges often brought blessings. Oh, to be so wise.

Over the past six weeks our family has experienced what many would call a series of unfortunate events. It all began with my sister-in-law's unexpected passing. Definitely an unlucky, difficult experience, one I would never wish on anyone, one I would never choose. Yet, with her passing has come a lesson on empathy, a strengthened testimony in the Plan of Salvation--including the resurrection, a renewed reliance and trust on the Lord, more fervent prayers, more love for my family. I could go on and on. Truly, I have learned lessons I could have learned in no other way. So unlucky? Maybe. Maybe not.

Last week we called an ambulance once again. This time it was for my three-year-old son, Boston. I was visiting my family in Wyoming when he started having signs of croup. He seemed fine one minute, not fine the next. My sister and I gave him a breathing treatment, put a humidifier in his bedroom, and put him to bed. My brothers arrived to give him a priesthood blessing. His breathing was labored and I felt certain it would be a long night. I had no idea. Thirty minutes later I was holding my little son on the front porch in a frantic effort to get him to breathe. He was severely retracting, working tirelessly to get air into his lungs. We got in the car to take him 30 miles away to the closest medical care when it became obvious he needed medical attention immediately. My sister called 911 while I prayed silently for help. The same ambulance crew (except one person) that carried my sister-in-law away only five weeks earlier arrived and off we went to the hospital.

It was a long night of breathing treatments, steroid shots and no sleep as my little son struggled to recover in the same emergency room my brother had just lost his wife in. The reality of it all was overwhelming. Thankfully, this time the outcome would be much better. We made it through the night and Boston has recovered. Of course now we are faced with medical bills we hoped to never have. Unlucky? Maybe. Maybe not.

As I held my little boy that night, I realized once again how grateful I was to be his mother. I wrapped my arms around his small frame and thanked God over and over for this miracle in my life. I knew he would be okay, and my heart was so grateful. Another precious reminder of the value of life itself and of family.

Today, another unfortunate event. My dad rolled a 4-wheeler down a mountain and sustained numerous cuts, scrapes and bruises. Truthfully, he looks like a train wreck. And the 4-wheeler doesn't look much better. He was alone, rounding up some cows. No one knew where he was. Unlucky? Maybe. Maybe not.

My dad has multiple sclerosis. One side of his body doesn't work all that well, and he has to literally drag his left leg around. Ranch work doesn't really suit someone in the kind of shape my dad is in. But ranching is what he's always done. There have been so many close calls. Ones like today, when he so easily could have been killed, or at least broken a limb and sustained more serious injuries. But somehow he keeps coming out of things in tact.

So, tonight, even though I am tired and a little beaten up inside from the battle scars we've received recently, I feel so lucky. Actually, it isn't luck at all. I feel so blessed. Through every challenge, every heartache, every scare, every bad day, there are blessings to be found and reasons to be grateful. And so, even though I miss my sister-in-law terribly and the reality of life for my brother and his children is difficult to bear, my heart is full of gratitude for so many blessings that have come these past couple of months. And even though our medical bills are depressing to say the least, I am so grateful for my sweet little boy who is worth far more than the bills require. And even though my dad is a little beaten up, he's still here, and he's going to be okay.

How can I be so lucky?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Nine Minutes

Another rough day. It seems like I've had quite a few lately. Days when I'm constantly running and yet never accomplishing anything. Days when my children seem especially needy. Days when the reality of certain circumstances in life is all too vivid and painful. Days when all I really want to do is close the curtains, lock the door and sob--without interruption--for as long as needed.

Since my sister-in-law's passing (see former blog post), I've experienced quite a few days like this. It's not that I don't feel peace about it, and it's not that I haven't accepted the fact that she's gone. I guess it's just that I miss her so much, and the pain of it all just blindsides me constantly. Life is good. It's really, really good, and I have so much to be grateful for. But there is still heartache and pain, and somewhere inside of me, I am deeply mourning. And so, if I have any quiet, still moments at all, I find myself in tears--tears of sorrow, tears of gratitude, tears of a thousand different emotions all at once.

Such has been today. A hectic morning, running a little behind schedule, exhausted. Wanting and hoping to be the woman I need to be, all the while trying to hold it together when I know at a moment's notice I may break into uncontrollable sobs.

My five-year-old throws her usual tantrum about having to ride the bus to school. She's begging me to give her a ride instead. I'm holding her hand, walking her to the bus stop, thinking I have allowed her enough time to get over this whole bus problem she's developed and that surely it's time to encourage her to do something she doesn't want to do. But inside, I wonder if I'm being a good mother. I'm thinking to myself, Just drive her to school. She can ride the bus tomorrow. But then comes the opposing voice, But if you drive her today, she'll want you to drive her tomorrow, and this has got to stop sometime. I look into her beautiful blue eyes and I want to tell her just how much I understand how hard it is to keep putting one foot in front of the other when you don't feel like it. I hug her goodbye, blow her a kiss and help her get on the bus. Thankfully, she's smiling as she waves goodbye through the small windows.

Then my three-year-old doesn't want to eat his lunch. He just wants snacks instead. I don't blame him. I don't feel like making lunch, and I could really care less about nutrition right now. But then I realize this has been my attitude for the past month, and it's probably time I become a more responsible parent and be sure my little one is eating something with nutritional value every day. I decide to ignore his crying. I clean up the kitchen while he sits on a stool and sobs as if his heart is broken. Finally, I put my rag down, wrap my arms around him, snuggle him in his favorite blanket and plop down on the couch, holding him as closely as I can without impairing his breathing.

Neither of us say a word. It's like we both know all the other person needs is a little breather, a moment to sit and be held. Finally, I ask him if he would like to watch a movie or read books. He shakes his head no. "Well, what would you like to do then?" I ask.

"Just sit on the couch."

Me, too. I just want to sit on the couch and hold my precious child and cry about everything in life right now that hurts. I allow myself nine minutes to do so. Then, I gingerly prop my now-sleeping son up on the couch and get back to work.

That's all life allows sometimes--nine minutes. And then we as moms have to get off the couch and get back to work. I have to admit there are days when I just don't want to. But truthfully, I'm grateful that motherhood demands more of me because I am becoming someone far better than the person I would be otherwise. And I'm finding that it's often the hard days I end up appreciating the most because they force me to turn to God for help and to take a deep breath and exhibit patience (with myself and my children--and sometimes even my husband) and to simply show love. And through this sanctifying process, I am becoming more like the woman, the mother, the wife I really want to be.

I guess it's just one more reason to appreciate motherhood.