Monday, August 22, 2016

Fried Green Tomatoes

A couple of times in my life I have had an overwhelming feeling that something is absolutely the right thing to do, but it shouldn't be. Does that even make sense?
It is 4:42am and everyone in my family is at home, asleep in their beds, except me. This part isn't new. I have always had insomnia. The reason for my insomnia tonight is entirely new. I am experiencing something  I never have experienced before.
My baby is leaving the nest. I know he will be home. Probably quicker than I anticipate because in a family of six, the schedules consume us sometimes and time goes by too quickly. But herein lies the problem.
Time has gone too quickly.
I know I have done it right. Everyone keeps saying this. "This is a natural step. This is what you want. This is the goal you have been working towards since he was born. This is the right thing to do-to say goodbye and send him out into the world. A successful launch!" My mind knows this. My heart is the one with the misundertanding.
It physically hurts. But it also feels so exhilirating to have him going to a place I adore, to do things I never even imagined doing! I couldn't be more excited for him.
I am also excited about the dynamics changing in the house. Grayson stepping up to the plate to be the sensitive, ever caring big brother. Sawyer, the hilarious brother having more space to be himself without being called to order. I think it willl be fun to watch Sterling come into her own even more than she has this past year. In all of this process (it has been a process!) I have been selfish and I feel badly about it. I have been consumed at times about how this shift, Finn leaving, would influence me and my life.
The other day I saw a post on a friends wall with a picture of her dogs waiting and watching as her son left for college. The dogs could clearly sense the shift. I started thinking about the three left behind and how they must be feeling in all of this and I felt a new sad. It wasn't about Finn leaving it was about the others feeling left behind. I went into to "mom-hyperdrive" trying to explain that it is natural Finn is leaving. All of those things people have been telling me for months. It felt hollow saying it, just as hollow as it felt hearing it. The boys wept. The uglies. It tore my heart and physically hurt. But it also brought me a weird joy. The boys are close. Very close. They argue and whine and fight and say things that are hurtful sometimes. But they love each other. They have worked at it, I have fostered it. It makes me feel like something went right. And still, seeing their tears felt so gut wrenching.
I vividly remember the first time I felt this way. I saw Fried Green Tomatoes in the movie theatre. I was crying because the daughter had died but then the script called for something hilarious to happen and I started laughing. Through my tears, I was laughing. It was disconcerting and comforting all at the same time. My brain didn't know what to release and my heart didn't know what to feel. It seemed entirely unnatural. I feel the same way now. Torn between two powerful emotions.
Then my step-mom started texting this weekend that her 93 year old father was in the hospital. She was saying goodbye to him. He was leaving this earth and she wouldn't see him everyday anymore, She wouldn't have him around to take to the Dollar Tree or to hear his life stories. She knew she wanted him to be released from his pain, but that would bring on a sadness of its own. Her sadness brought my sadness into perspective. It didn't have to mean my emotions weren't valid, it just helped with the view. Finn is still around and still a big important part of my life. Finn is still an important part of my life, I will just access him differently. I think my irrational concern about Finn not being in my life is driving a lot of my sadness.
I shouldn't be this sad. But I am. Sad-Happy. It is the last time the house will be this quiet with all my babies here as my babies. I know Finn will be home at Christmas. He will be his own person even more so than he already is now. I am excited to watch the man he will continue to become. Even if I am watching from  somewhere other than sprawled across the foot of my bed as he relays the details of his day and life to me. Right now I know where all my babies are and I feel safe in their safety.
I will let excitement win in this battle of emotions. I don't want Finn to feel any hesitation or reservation about leaving for school, or at least any more than is natural. He too will have many conflicting emotions over the next week. As we are in Provo prepping for his new life, which involves my exit into the background, he will need my silent support. I need to transition myself and not be "the mom" holding on for dear life to his bed post as "the dad" pulls me away. I'm cooler than that :)
I also saw a post yesterday with the hashtag #chosenfamily. I wonder about this notion occassionally. Would I choose so and so, would they choose me? Sometimes it makes me smile, sometimes it makes me sad. But forever and always I want my children, and right now mostly I want Finn to know, I choose him. I love spending time with him, laughing with him, learning from him. There is some generalization about teenagers-that they are miserable to be around. I have never found this to be true. I think teenagers are awesome. People say, "Oh, it is a hard time when children leave for college, because right as they become cool people, they leave." Finn has always been cool to me. He has always been someone I enjoyed spending time with each day. I like my children I don't just love them. I will miss hanging out with him. I am sure that is part of the sadness as well. A friend is moving away.
It's time and I know. Our relationship if shifting and my role is changing. I get it. Just like teaching him to walk and eat and love and work, this is another role in his life I was born to play from the moment he was born. It's just that the moment he was born feels like yesterday and I'm not sure I have had enough rehearsal time.
I wonder if I have taught him all he needs to know. Do I need to pen some Rob Lowe essay for Finn to "get it all" as one culminating life lesson? I hope not. I hope he already knows the basics. That I love him. That I tried my best. That I love God and that He loves each of us individually.  That all I want for him is happiness, whatever that looks like.
Finn, I love you.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

I Am Lucky

I am the oldest grandchild of 35 grandchildren. All of us called Beth Meacham, Grandma. That is a lot of people and a lot of moments and memories with common person. She just left us and today most of her 9 children (and spouses), most of her 35 grandchildren (and spouses), and a lot of her 36 great-grandchildren will be gathering today to say one final good-bye at a grave site memorial.

I am not. I am here in VA, in my kitchen, listening the the common everyday noises of having a 3 year old and company in town for Easter. It is pretty quite actually. It's peaceful. The relationship you have with a grandparent is different than with a parent. It's less disipline and more fun. Less work, more candy. I think that magical piece of the relationship is was makes all my memories of Grandma so full of rainbows and unicorns. My Book of Rememberance is at my mom's house so I can't stroll through books and remember photos of my grandma, which is all I really want to do today. So instead, while my huge extended family is gathered and Sterling is napping, I want to have my own private memorial of Grandma. She was the only Grandma I really had a daily relationship with for my entire life. My Grandma, for much of my young life, helped raised me. My parents worked full time and she was close and willing so I was at her house a lot. For every snippet of a memory there is a story attached. Maybe one day I will come back and add more context. For now, as a means to put me in my happy place, I am going to share a few stories but mostly spew a stream of consciousness surrounding my Grandma.

  • It's not my earliest memory, but close. When I was 5 or 6 my grandparents driving across the country to pick up my Uncle Kent from Duke University. Whether willingly or begrudingly, they took me along! For a multi-state, multi-day drive they brought me along! I remember sitting next to Grandma for hours on end while she would tell me stories. She had an amazing tale of about the sign that said "Watch for Falling Rocks." She said Falling Rocks was an Indian (she wouldn't bother with Native American, too PC) Princess who was captured and needed to find her way home so everyone was to watch for her and help her home if she was ever found. She sang the Pecos Bill song more times than I can remember. We played the card game WAR no less than a million times. I remember the pleather case that held two decks of cards that sat in the glove compartment at all times. I remember eating at Shoney's and only staying in "Holidomes" (Holiday Inns with a pool). 
  • She would take me to get my shots as a child and promised if I didn't cry she would buy me a My Little Pony. And she did. I couldn't get enough shots...
  • Sitting with her at church as a little child, laying on her comfy snuggly lap (she would be so mad if she knew I were publicly talking about her "comfy lap" but alas...) with her in her faux pearls, clip on earrings, and her dress suits while we watched Gpa sit up front and do the count.
  • Holidays. Christmas. Christmas Eve at the Oak Lane house with a feast and Santa Claus coming visit the children at Grandma's House before he would go out on his magical delivery route. Finishing up Christmas morning and heading over to the Oak Lane house to find the stockings for us that she had hidden somewhere in the house. Making cookies with the cookie press and delivering them to the entire world. Easter. Oh my gosh the Easter eggs hunts she would orchestrate. I remember the ones at Oak Lane best because I was young and it was magical. The tables she would set up of elaborate prizes you could pick if you found an egg with a number in it. None of this Dollar Tree crap either. I'm talking fancy plush bunnies, toys, barbies, huge candy bars, prizes upon prizes. It was awesome!! Halloween. The ELABORATE costumes she would make for me. Oh my gosh. I saw in the mall the other day Rainbo-Brite is coming back. Grandma made me the most insanely awesome Rainbo-Brite costume the detail and layers. Someday I will come back and add photos to the blog. One year she made me witch costume and a matching one for my Cabbage Patch Doll (I was such a child of the 80's). Then we would go trick or treating in her neighborhood and get the homemade donuts from the neighbors.
  • Food. Not to discuss the healthiness of the notion, but for my Grandma, Food=Love. So many of my memories of food trace back to my grandmother. Food she would make that will always be quintessential Grandma: Hershey's Chocolate Triple Layer Cake, clam chowder, potato soup, sweet and sour chicken, chocolate mousse, christmas cookies, chex party mix, peanut brittle, homemade carmels, raspberry and apricot jam, peach cobbler, pancakes and a huge breakfast spread, sloppy joes, potato salad, fruit pizza, chicken salad, and tapioca pudding. It isn't just memories of her making food for me either. Eating cripsas from Taco Time. It is memories of spending hours in the kitchen preparing food with her. Whether for a family gathering of 50 plus relatives, working a catering event with her for her catering company and spending hours cutting fruit and peeling potatoes. Begging her for recipes and her always saying, "Oh, I don't know. A little of this and a little of that..." Food. I sense traditional comfort foods morphing for me over the next little while.
  • Books. Being a little child and her taking me to the public library and letting me browse for house. Reading book after book after book (a lot of romance novels made the list) and how many times did we later on return or check out a book for her? Wendy gets the prize for going most often, but I had my fair share of runs to the library for her. Never buying a book though. That was a waste of money to her. It's why instead of flowers I decided to make a donation in her name to the public library. 
  • Playing. Not always playing with her, per se, but near her. We did play lots of cards, work puzzles, play RACKO and occassionally LIFE if you could catch her with in the most willing of moods. She always had the best toys on hand and playing at her house was every child's dream. Swimming in her pool, jumping on the trampoline, playing in the playhouse. Walking to the children's clothing store she owned because it was down the hill from my elementary school. Trying on the clothes when new invetory came in, hiding in the racks, helping use the tagging gun to put all the hand written price tages on. Even long after her children were gone, keeping her house a Mecca for children at all times.
  • And the rest of the little moments that hold a place, too many to share, but I can start. Years and years of going to Bear Lake and all of those memories, vague memories of Disneyland trips and Capistrano trips, living with her and Gpa right after Wendy got married, living with her with Beth and Alyssa in "the new house", her mocking Joni Mitchell and "singing" her songs when she'd hear them playing on my cd player, teasing Jack for falling asleep and locking himself in the back bedroom on Thanksgiving Day in the back room the very first time she meet him, teasing any and everyone for just about anything, her terrible handwriting that I loved, complaining about people who use bad manners, eating and loving black licorice together (NIBS, of course), that ONE Mother's Day, nursing me while Jack was in CA and my mom was in VA and I was on bed rest for 4 weeks pregnant with Finn, being one of the first to know about and meet Sterling, long talks on any and everything including at a lot of weddings and other events she was catering, watching her clip coupons, watching her sew a million different things mostly for other people, watching her care for so many people-often me, walking to church with her, running errands with her and for her to get a discount on something-somewhere, watching her work on genealogy. 
There are more. So many more. Some private and sacred. Some trivial and ridiculous. But for now, these will do. These will serve to bolster me when I feel sad about her leaving. My friend Carol shared this with me and I like it.

“Many African societies divide humans into three categories: those still alive on the earth, the sasha, and the zamani. The recently departed whose time on earth overlapped with people still here are the sasha, the living-dead. They are not wholly dead, for they still live in the memories of the living, who can call them to mind, create their likeness in art, and bring them to life in anecdote. When the last person to know an ancestor dies, that ancestor leaves the sasha for the zamani, the dead. As generalised ancestors, the zamani are not forgotten but revered. Many … can be recalled by name. But they are not the living-dead. There is a difference.” ― James W. Loewen, Lies My Teacher Told Me

Grandma has joined the ranks of the sasha. May those of us who knew her speak of her often until those who never knew her, know enough to revere her.
Til we meet again, Grandma.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Oh, we are so doing this. Reviving the blog. So no need to relive it all. Jack finished his dissertation. Got a job in Amelia County, VA (read middle of nowhere central VA) and we left Radford. The kids were awesome(ish) about the move. Jack and I had a rough year with him and his new job and me being old and not knowing how to make friends or adjust to a new place. But we turned a corner and are enjoying our new life.
Even though we still need to paint the shutters. Isn't it funny how you move into a place with this huge list of things that "have to happen" to make "your home" but then you get in, unpack, and well, life happens? 
I guess the first time Sawyer spills hot chocolate on the cathedral ceiling (don't ask how), Sterling poops on the office floor, Finn piles the floor of his room with laundry and dirty dishes, and Grayson breaks the garage window with a tennis ball, the house becomes officially, OURS.

My Reunion Tour

So a friend asked if I knew anything about helping her get started on a blog. Honestly, I had forgotten about this blog. Blogs are passe, aren't they? As I cam back to visit I saw most of the blogs I follow have posts no more recent than a year ago, or more. Including ours. It has been well over a year ago since we posted, and before that, several months even. As I was trolling our blog I realized, we started this blog for our family. For our kids mostly. So they can get a feel of who we are as people, who we were along the way. So I am coming back. We will see how long this reunion lasts, but I am going to write. Facebook will eventually be deleted and my journals are intimate, private. This will continue to be where I ruminate on whatever is going on. So kids, I'm back. Passe or not, I am blogging again.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

"Hug a Mormon Today (they're having a moment)"

It's a meme I saw the day Kate Kelly was excommunicated from the LDS Church. I liked the meme. We were/are having a moment.
I wish I could sit in the back of the room, quietly, with my hand over my brow, saying nothing. I wish I could pretend it all doesn't matter to me. That my packing list is more important. That I spent all day driving the NRV to find my son a pair of khakis and he still has none, is the biggest controversy I have dealt with this week. Those are some of my wishes.
But--insert some witty quote about wishes and dreams versus action and roads diverging (probably by Walt Disney or Walt Whitman or someone).
I am sad. Like when you find out someone you love and respect is having an affair. Like when you hear a band you love sing a misogynistic about, oh, pick something. Like when you spend a little more than you normally would on a shirt from Ann Taylor and then the first time you wash it, it shrinks. Just sad. Not like your mom died sad, just in a funk, something-is-not-right sort of sad.
One of my favorite essays from college (yes, BYU) is entitled, "Jesus was a Feminist." It has been a notion I have always stuck to and always will. It's one of the things I love about my faith. There is core doctrine. It will not change. I do not want it to change. It is doctrine not of this decade, or this century. It is biblical. It is rooted in the premise of a man who didn't feel like all the answers were here on earth so he prayed to God and God told him he was right. He questioned. There were all these great things pieces in various churches but the whole truth was not on the earth...and thus the revelations began to flow. We believe in modern revelation and a modern day prophet who gives us continual revelation. Another premise I LOVE about my faith.
Before my diatribe truly begins, I want to tell you where I am coming from on the issue of women and the Priesthood. I believe that right now women do not have the Priesthood. I do not know if that will remain forever the case, but I totally accept that it's what it is now and I am personally fine with it. Quite frankly, in a down and dirty sort of way, the last thing I want is the responsibility of the power of God. I am too busy raising a family, being effective in my job, making a mean caramel pie, and making my little community the best place it can be. Add those extra responsibilities and that would tip the scale for me. I personally have no problem accepting that idea. That said...
I have three sons. I also have a daughter. Those three sons will have wives one day. I truly believe the way "we" are handling the Kate Kelly excommunication is saying a great deal about what "we" think about women. All Mormon women, just like all Mormon men, do not have to think the same thing, act the same way, dress from the same stores and bring the same dish to the potluck. Of course we have to all believe the same basic truths. But there are some things, dare I say MANY things, that none of us know the answer to and to get self-righteous about this one issue is a bit risky in my opinion.
I have been extremely saddened by the responses I have seen from those within my faith about Sis. Kelly's excommunication. Excommunication of a sister who served a mission, married in the temple, believes, has a testimony, and who also has questions. I'm not questioning those who were her Judges in Israel. That's on them and as the wife of an ex-bishop, I know they are well aware of that fact. But I am ANGRY at the rest of "us" who have basically said, "Well, what did she expect?" or "If she doesn't like it-leave!" or "She's just causing trouble." or any other sentiment like unto it. What happened to compassion? When anyone is excommunicated or disciplined in anyway, it is sad. We should be sad. We should not keep saying "It's for her own good." This is not compassion! This is righteous indignation.
I don't know this woman. And most of us talking about her don't know her either, I would venture to say. But I am so sick of everyone seeing this moment as an "I'm right. You're wrong" sort of moment.
My "I'm voting for Obama and I'm a Mormon" bumper sticker is important to me. My identity is deeply rooted in my faith. It is also deeply rooted in other things. I don't agree with everything everyone says in Sunday School, Sacrament Meeting, and every other meeting. It's not expected of me. Moroni tells us God wants us to pray for ourselves and find out if it's true. I think culture and misunderstanding, and false traditions have seeped into everyone's experience to a certain degree.I say all this because I get it that I'm not the traditional Mormon housewife. I'm not a OW member or Molly. I fall somewhere in the middle and depending on the day or the issue depends on which end of the pendulum swings. I worked at the Women's Resource Center in Provo. I know there are Bishops who beat their wives, Stake Presidency members who steal and embezzle, leaders who make mistakes. They are not the doctrine. I have no delusion that every Mormon leader makes every correct decision. But that delusion is also compassion that every leader, every member, is just trying to do the best they can. I digress.
But whenever anyone is disciplined and is sad about, we should be sad about it too. Mosiah tells us we should "mourn with those who mourn, comfort those in need of comfort." Not "stand there shaking your finger saying 'she had to know this was coming...'!"
There. I wanted to say nothing. I wanted to post some vague status on facebook. But instead I'm writing so my children can look back on this moment in our religious history and know what I thought about it all. I think it's sad.
I'm not a writer. I'm not a philosopher. I'm not an activist but I'm not a bystander (even though I wish I could be...). And I want my sons and my daughter to know I have a testimony of the doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-days Saints. And seeing those among us use this as an "I told you so" moment makes me sad.