Category: growing up

Families are Hard Work!

When our relatives are at home, we have to think of all their good points or it would be impossible to endure them.  ~George Bernard Shaw

The family.  We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another’s desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together.  ~Erma Bombeck

Families are like fudge – mostly sweet with a few nuts.  ~Author Unknown

The thing about family disasters is that you never have to wait long before the next one puts the previous one into perspective.  ~Robert Brault

If minutes were kept of a family gathering, they would show that “Members not Present” and “Subjects Discussed” were one and the same.  ~Robert Brault

I’d like to start off this post by saying that I am not offended or annoyed with anybody in my family.  However, today I was reading over my General Conference Ensign and marveling at all of the talks about families.  While each talk was inspired in many ways the speakers often seem to be talking about an alternate reality where all children behave, family quarrels never escalate and feelings are never hurt.  I understand that the brethren have to preach the ideal but still it sometimes amazes me.

Families are hard work.  It is hard to mesh personalities, goals, lifestyles, addictions, habits, interests, etc together.  Maybe some families have members that behave, live and believe exactly the same way but in those cases they probably have been translated by now!  Every family’s challenges are unique, just as every family member is unique. It is easy to judge a family and think their life is perfect but trust me we all have issues and stressful situations.

I honestly think one of the hardest things about families is getting everyone to mesh and enjoy one an-others company.  Growing up I often felt like an odd ball in my family because Megan and Ben shared more common interests than I did.  Then Anna came along and I had a family member who saw the world through a similar viewpoint.  I remember feeling her presence in the family was a comfort and relief.  Since then Megan and I have become super close- talking on the phone most days.  She is my strength.  Ben and I, while still very different, have gained a love and respect for each other over the years.

One of the challenges in my family is unifying a group of siblings that spans 20 years.  My parents have done an amazing job gathering all of us whenever possible and encouraging, even forcing us on occasion, to build our relationships.  I can say with pride that I am close to all of my younger siblings and know our relationships will only grow as they get older.

I’ve often wished that as a young woman I had learned a little bit more about how families really work.  We got a lot about the joy of motherhood, temple marriage, eternal families etc (which is great).  Wouldn’t it be even better to occasionally have a lesson on communicating effectively, resolving conflict, budgeting, stress management, and proper listening?   I think my leaders were sometimes afraid to scare us away from having families and getting married; however, I believe such lessons would do the reverse by providing a context for the stressful situations in a family and giving us tools for making things better.  Once you see that a family can be strengthened  and improved it is empowering!

It is also fascinating to see the weird things that family members have in common.  For instance, Ben and I both love the book Lost in the Cosmos by Walker Percy ( a very weird book but love it).  My entire family thinks Patrick McManus and the movie Better off Dead are funny.  We also love philosophy, reading, Letters from a Nut and the Simpsons (A family in Utah liking the Simpsons-scandal!). My mom and I love debating politics (although she’s come over to my side through the years!). Anna and I love indian, thai food, David Archuleta, and going to concerts/plays.  My Dad and I work together and are both workaholics (bad combination!). Megan and I will call each other when we finish any book and report on how we liked it.  We also both love writing and have always been letter/journal writers. Despite our 2 years age difference we have the unique bond of sharing a room growing up, playing for hours together, going to college at the same time and even going through the temple together.  Sam and Madeline both have my love for games and movies (they honestly see every movie!).  I could go on and on.

I love my family.  As a single person some may think I do not have one but despite living far away my family is involved in my daily life.  I really do talk to Anna, Megan, Mom and Dad almost every day.  They give me guidance, comfort, friendship and most importantly love.  The best thing about my family is that we are open with each other and constantly have intelligent, interesting discourse.  I know I matter to the world because I matter to my family.  Living a single life it can feel like everything is very transient- friendships fade, careers transition, apartments change; but, when I send a card to my nieces or help Sammy with a problem at school I know that I matter and that I am loved.  As crazy as my family can be, I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

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Funny Glimpse into the Past

Here I am with the floppy disk!

Change

Change the poem, change the line,
change the meaning, change the rhyme,
change the outcome change the plan,
change the mood, change the man.

Change your looks, change your smile,
change your going, stay awhile,
change your past, change your time,
change your future, stay be mine.

william greer

Today I was filling up my new bookcase (which despite purchasing 4 bags of books from DI leaves my other bookcases markedly sparse!).  While personally oogling over each and every book- even the ones from my childhood such as the boxcar children and babysitters club- I started looking at my old books from college.  This is always a sentimental trap for me because I look at my college experience as the most defining one of my life.  My mission was the most difficult, college was the most defining.  I know it is such a cliche but I really did find my voice as a young political philosophy student.  All of the sudden I had the words to say what I had been feeling my entire life.  I can recall the first moment of reading Plato (something most would shutter at) as one of the most liberating of my life.  Particularly his teaching on forms- the belief that eternal forms have always existed.  He uses the example of a chair. We know something is a chair because it uses the form of a chair.  Abstract concepts are the same way.  We know what justice is because it fits the form of justice.  There were so many times in my life when I had been trying in vain to describe my heart and to know that this struggle with words was eternal was an ah ha moment if there ever was one!  Since then I have had many ah ha moments but none came with such fluidity as they did in college. Suddenly reading became easy and fun, writing (and even grammar) became a passion and learning new concepts an adrenhaline rush.  This love of learning has never left me and I believe is now one of the distinctive parts of my personality.

Anyway, as I was reminiscing with each old book I came across a book from my Marriage and Family course (ironic that I took 3 such courses I know!) and from inside the book fell out my old floppy drive from college!  What a blast from the past that was.  I knew it was the floppy I relied on because it was black with a green and white label.  I used to put everything on that floppy (everything that would fit that is!).  At the time it seemed more than sufficient for my back up and storage needs.  Looking at it now it has 1.44 mb. To put things in perspective one song on Itunes has 5 mb.  My current ipod has 160 GB.  The flash drive I carry on my key chain has 4 GB and my back up capabilities are over 1 terabyte.  This means that in my personal back up system I have over a million floppy drives! Amazing.

What am I getting with all those bytes- tons of added photos, videos and software space, back up for many projects, and perhaps most importantly thousands of downloaded songs and cds at my disposal. With all that I am only using about 1/3rd of my storage capacity.  It is hard to imagine filling it up but I am sure someday I will.  Perhaps someday I will be looking at my loud noisy back up hard drive and think it is so old fashioned- just as I am with the floppy drive.

That said- I wonder if my life really is any better?  Back then I still had a laptop with music files, software and was completely satisfied.  In fact, I would love to be able to look at this floppy and see what kinds of projects I was working on and items I thought important enough to save.  Most of it is probably papers that I put on the floppy to print at the SWKT computer lab (my printer was notoriously fickle- something that doesn’t seem to have changed much with ink jets!)

Do you all ever have moments like that where a simple item will start you down the reminiscing trail and lead to questions, to pondering?  Happens to me all the time.  Please share!  I haven’t had a comment in a while.  Not since my President Obama post and let’s be honest you guys don’t want me doing political posts all the time do you!!  (Btw, I’ve lost 8 lbs so far on my new fitness regiment but that’s for another entry!).  Thanks for reading.

Mothering

“Her mothering influence has been felt by many hundreds, perhaps thousands of people, and she has refined the role of nurturer to an art form” Julie Beck.

For years quotes like the above would make me groan and roll my eyes.  To many of my Mormon friends this may seem surprising, even shocking.  How could I have such feelings about the divine roll of motherhood? I believe there are several complicated reasons for my unique views going back to my childhood.

When I was 10 years old my mother and father announced they were expecting a baby.   In my young years I was nothing but excited about such news.  In fact, a number of friends mom’s had babies and I was excited to be part of the trend.  My father must have approached the news with more trepidation because he knew what a pregnancy meant for my mom.  While no doubt excited to have more children, my parents knew that having a baby meant nearly-full bed-rest for my mother.   At the time my dad was working to start his own software company and I can’t imagine what the stress must have been like knowing he was about to be both bread-winner and substitute mom for three children.  No doubt there was many a prayerful night pleading to have the strength for his family and this new treasured baby.

Being a selfish child it was hard for me to see my mother in bed- especially in the beginning when she had both morning sickness and bed-rest.  However, there were many positive life-lessons that came from this first pregnancy.  I have memories of my sister and I (at 8 and 10) cooking meals for the family during that pregnancy.  I know that Megan used to make muffins of all kinds (she still does).  I remember when my dad brought home 10 lbs of barbecued beef because we had said we liked it once!  I remember when Ben got mice and they had babies in the middle of the night (that was the one event my mother got out of bed for!).  I remember when I tried to make maui smoothie for my mom and the blender exploded all over the kitchen (thanks to a kind neighbor for helping us with that one!).   I even remember Megan’s baptism with a pregnant Mom in Winter- she did attend that event.

Clearly we learned a lot about working hard, caring for a house, cleaning, and taking care of a baby.  On the negative side I learned that baby’s were hard work.  Hard work that took both of my parents away from my life (again selfish child). This was amplified by our move across the country to Maryland when Anna was a year old.  So now I had to make new friends in a new place while still adjusting to a new sibling.

Somehow I made it through the tough middle school years and was ready to start high school.  You can imagine my mixed feelings when in January of that year my parents announced another pregnancy.  This is when my little brother Sammy was born.  Once again we had to go through the experience of my mother being sick and bed-ridden, except for this time we had to do it with a 5 year old to take care of.  It was a good thing my dad was an independent businessman who worked at home, or I don’t know how he could have done it. I give him a lot of credit for holding down our family during those times.

Still for selfish me, it wasn’t enough.  In my eyes my parents weren’t around for my high school events the way my friend’s parents were- and I blamed it on the care of a baby.  I am not saying this was the right way to look at the situation.  My friends would spend weekends in DC exploring, take trips to the nearby beaches (something we never did the entire time we lived in Maryland), and visit historical attractions.  This was very difficult with an infant and a 5 year old.

I also had a very independent, prideful  streak (and still do to a lesser extent) that refused to admit to any of these feelings or discuss them with my parents.  Instead, I became super active with my friends and felt my family were a bunch of people I couldn’t really relate too.  Luckily for my parents I also gained a testimony of the Book of Mormon at this time so I didn’t rebel the way I might otherwise have.  At the time, Ben and Megan seemed like the similar ones, who longed to be at home.  I just didn’t feel that way. Like many teenagers I felt different, out of place, and even a little lonely.  I wanted to get out and explore the world.  I did what I could in little Middletown but deep down inside I wanted more.  This is where I first latched onto the idea of going to BYU, and I never gave up on that dream. This is also the time when I wanted to move out on my own more than anything else (my mother says I was ready to move out when I was a baby!).

Adding to my feelings was a young womens program (fantastic in many ways) that in my eyes focused way too much on motherhood.  I felt like every lesson was on motherhood and how wonderful it was.  These lessons failed to describe the bed-rest, labor, nightly care, isolation, and hard work baby’s need.  I felt like they were living some different version of motherhood than my family presented.  I grew to resent these messages, even in Conference.  I have never taken well to being told what to do and with motherhood I felt it was the only option presented for women in the church.  Like if I didn’t like or want to have my own babies I was a terrible person.  You can imagine the conflict this created inside me.

As I grew up my testimony of the gospel increased  in every way except for motherhood.  This kind of explains why I was less-than-thrilled when my parents told me they were expecting again the spring before I first attended BYU.  This was my dream and now I was going to be abandoning my mother to pursue my dream.  I knew the road would be rough and I was actually quite mad at them.  I remember Ben being mystified at my reaction- How could I not want another beautiful baby?  Again, it was a selfish reaction.

The next few months were very difficult on our entire family.  My mom tried her best to be positive but with both Meg and I gone she struggled.  I felt guilty and sad for my mom but I think there was a side of me that also felt relief- relief for being far away from the stress and pressure.  In an odd way my first summer in college was a picnic compared to what I saw as the stress of home.  I don’t remember feeling homesick at all. Strange, hah?

Somehow my mother made it through and our family survived.    Of course, now I can’t imagine my life without my siblings.  They are precious to me beyond words- partly because of the sacrifice paid to bring them into the world.  All three pregnancies were crucible moments for our family- particularly for my parents and us three older children.   I feel we are united together in a way the younger three are not.  They have not faced such a struggling time, and I hope they do not have to.

Even with the deep love I felt for my siblings I still had issues about motherhood.  This continued all the way through my mission.  Even today I get annoyed when I feel like the message is shared without any hint at the difficulties.  To make matters worse I felt guilty every time I would hear about how natural and wonderful motherhood was.  What was wrong with me?  Why didn’t I feel that way?Why I am the only Mormon woman who wasn’t crazy about having kids?

After much thought and prayer I finally found the answer that worked for me.  It happened after reading D&C 64:34 which says:

“Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days”

I realized “I have a willing heart”, “I do strive to be obedient”.  I may be different from other women but the Lord loves me for or in spite of those differences. He will help me be obedient in all I do including being a good mother if the time ever presents itself.  He will help me use the skills and personality I have to build His kingdom in some way. I know that is true.

With this revelation and another spiritual experience I will not share,  I stopped worrying about it as much.  All that I need to do is maintain a willing and obedient heart, and  if the time ever comes that I get married and feel a need to start a family, the Lord will bless me with His strength and mercy.   I know that is true!

My sister is such a great mother.

Nothing Unexpected

A few weeks ago my friend Camille did a blog posting entitled Ten Things You Might Not Know About Me.  I have thought about this entertaining post for a while and wondered what my ten items would be.  To be honest, I can hardly think of anything that would surprise my friends.  I guess I am a pretty out-in-the-open person.  Most of my friends know what I like to do, my weird quirks, and my other interests and likes.  I don’t know if that is a good or bad thing?  Maybe I am the kind of person that is reliably simple.  I have never been a big dreamer.  A friend of mine has this bucket list of things she wants to do in life such as visit every state and read the “1000 Must Read Before You Die” books.

I never did.  The only thing I have passionately wanted to do since I was a little girl was graduate from BYU- and I did that nearly 8 years ago.   Yes, I’ve wanted to to get married, have a family and contribute to society for most of my life; however, I was never specific about what type of family, home or career I want.  I knew that I wanted to be dynamic and interesting- make a difference in the world.   For the most part I think I have done that but even today I do not have specific things that I dream about doing or secret surprises about my life.  I don’t know why, I just don’t?  Does that make sense?

The fact that I can’t come up with a bucket list or even a list of surprising things makes me wonder if I am the dynamic, interesting person I wanted to be.  On the other hand, if the world knows your interesting then  does that make you any less interesting?I don’t think so.  I like my life.  For the most part, I am happy and content.

In the end, I can only live my life in the best way I know how. Whether it surprises others is out of my control.

So, here are a few things that are interesting about me.  If a few surprise you all the better.

1. I enjoy jazz music.  I just recently downloaded a singer called Jimmy Scott, and he is amazing.  My new favorite.  Here is one of his songs.  What a voice! He had a genetic abnormality that made his voice never mature.  I think it is beautiful.

01 Anchored By My Side

05 An Evening In Paradise

2. I hate tomato juice.  V8.  Yuck!

3. I am a cheese snob.I hate Velveeta, cheese singles wrapped in plastic, nacho cheese…you get the idea.

4.  My favorite flowers are lilies and orchids. (flowers welcome anytime!) I love pink and purple.

5. I am foodie and have recently become a huge fan of Julia Child. (More to come on that later).

6. I’ve had 3 surgeries in my life.

7. I went to the principal’s office twice growing up, both times were in middle school. Both times over silly things.

8. I occasionally like to watch a cheesy romantic movie on lifetime or hallmark channel- especially with a good friend like Camille.

9. There are more times than I would care to admit that I have almost purchased stuff from an infomercial.  Somehow I always stop myself.

10. I am the one person in my family that is not a good photographer.  I can’t seem to keep the camera steady enough.

11. I think most handicrafts are really dull- sewing, knitting, quilting, even scrapbooking…not for me.

12. I enjoy wrapping presents.  I used to hate it but now it is one of my favorite parts of buying a present.

13. I wish I had a pen pal that I could write juicy, rich, letters to. Sadly I must be happy with my blog.

14. I love kitchen appliances and already have a food processor, kitchenaid mixer, stick mixer, toaster, rice cooker, electric fondue pot, electric tea pot, and crockpot.

15.  I dream of having a nice kitchen with beautiful french pots and knives that really do slice a tomato a centimeter thin with ease.

16.  I want to go to England some day and take the Jane Austen book tour, see all the sights from the movies and her life (and Elizabeth Gaskell while I am at it).  Then I want to take the chunnel and go to Paris for another week visiting the art, cafes, bridges and markets.

17. I hold onto grudges way longer than I should.  For instance, when I think back to my high school choir teacher I still feel a little upset. Silly I know, but she was evil.

18.  I wish I could have nice furniture, clothes, purses and shoes. In reality, I probably couldn’t justify the expenses even if I had the money but a girl can fantasize.

19. If I had money I would install a year round infinity pool in my house.

20. I have a Dwight bobblehead that smiles at me while I work.  My friends gave it to me with love and excitement.  In an odd way it reminds me that I am loved and to laugh at life.

Please make some comments.  Let me know how surprising your life is…

Madeline is 10- A Decade Come and Gone

Madelien

My baby sister Madeline turns 10 today. I can’t believe an entire decade has gone by since she has been a part of our family.  I know it is such a cliche- but really where does the time go?  I remember the day she was born.  I had the unusual circumstance of leaving for college with my mother pregnant.  It was a stressful time for our family as we had just moved to California from Maryland (I know all the way across the country!), my mom had 2 other young children and she had basically full bed rest for the entire pregnancy.  To add to the pressure both myself and my sister Megan went out to BYU at the same time.  This was a surprise for my parents as Meg was only 16 at the time.  ( I was delighted with Megan going to school.  It was like my best friend taking that big step with me).   My parents tried their best to handle everything with grace and cheerfulness but it was hard.  My mom used to call our dorm room and try her best to sound happy but it always came across as pathetic and sad.  It was a very exciting but conflicting time for both of us.

At the end of our Summer term we traveled home for a two-week time period.  I don’t remember when the original due date was but my mom was scheduled to be induced at the beginning of our trip.  It was on a Friday and we debated because it was the superstitious day of Friday the 13th; however, in the end we wanted to spend as much time with the new baby as possible.  Plus, my mom was ready.  Into the hospital she went and later that afternoon she had the baby (my mom always had fast deliveries).  She was a beautiful baby with light blond hair and a button nose. Madeline didn’t have the bleach blond Anna had but was definitely fair.  For the next two weeks we helped my mother as much as we could and took care of the baby.  From the beginning Madeline had spunk and curiosity for life.  I thoroughly expect her to do great, dynamic, exciting things- she has the personality for it.  She always has.

Some may find it odd to have a sibling that I have never lived with for more than a week or two.  How can we be close? Well, I have been fortunate enough to always travel home for visits at every major holiday.  My family has also made it a priority to travel to Utah as much as possible.  I have often heard the younger kids grumble about “another visit to Utah…”  What they didn’t realize is these trips were essential to the unity of our family.  As all of my siblings grow, I know I will continue to see our relationships grow and our friendships deepen.  I am a very communicative person and as cute as little kids are I almost enjoy the more talkative pre-teen and teenager ages more.   I look forward to many more birthday’s with Madeline!

Aside from memories of her original birthday, I have also been contemplating the last decade.  10 years.  It has been 10 years since that big day for our family.  What have I done in that 10 years?  I started to list the accomplishments and if I am allowed to say, it’s not to shabby of a list:

Since 1999 I have:

Started and graduated with my bachelor’s degree from BYU in Political Science emphasizing in political philosophy.   In 2001-2002 I was able to be a teaching assistant for Matt Holland and David Bohn- one of the great honors of my life.

Completed an MBA

Had 5 different jobs (that’s just counting what I do now as one job!)

Lived in 14 different apartments.

Had 29 roommates/companions (that is only counting my sister once who I lived with 3 times)

Served a 20 month mission for the LDS (Mormon) church.

Took at least 4 years of voice lessons (8 recitals)

It’s hard to know exactly but I figure I have been to California at least 40 times in 10 years.

Plus, I have been to Japan, Mexico twice (that’s 2 cruises), Hawaii 3 times, New York City 3 times, Indiana once (aside from the mission), Las Vegas 3 times, Disneyland once, Jackson Hole and more.

Two of my siblings have gotten married and I now have 4 nieces and one step-nephew.

I tried to count but I have lived in 15 wards and had 21 callings at church.  Most of my callings have involved activities or enrichment.  I have served as  a teacher once and this was my favorite calling besides my mission.

Assuming we talked for only an hour a week, taking out 2 years for my mission, I figure I have talked to my mom on the phone for over 400 hours.  In fact, it’s probably double that.  I have similar statistics for both Anna and Megan.   I am so grateful for the time they take to make our relationships strong.

There have been some sad, tough times, but  I am proud of the woman I have become.  Some especially hard times were in 2001 when my grandfather and 2 cousins died, 9/11 happened, and other family crisis erupted in one year.  2007 was also a difficult year where I dealt with depression, anxiety and even a panic attack.  My mission also had many struggles accompanying its triumphs.

I have started a blog, gotten on facebook, and watched far too many hours of movies, dvds and cable (reality tv has become a particular addiction)

I now have 20 cookbooks and have sampled hundreds of recipes while throwing tons of parties- some more successful than others.  I like to think I am a pretty great entertainer at this point, and I hope I have made a few people happy through my efforts.  My personal favorite is the original Barefoot Contessa cookbook and the follow up Barefoot Contessa Parties by Ina Garten.  Delicious!

I have been in 5 book clubs and read countless books. Some of my favorites are Red China Blues by Jan Wong, Delicacy and Strength of Lace by Leslie Marmon Silko and James Wright, Urban Tribes by Ethan Watters, Harry Potter books, Jane Austen books, Elizabeth Gaskell books etc…

In the last 4 years I have become a lover of audiobooks, podcasts and radio programs including Car Talk, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, This American Life and Radio West.  Little things like reading a great book or listening to an interesting program are what make my life great.

My favorite perks of the last 10 years- high speed wireless internet, my ipod, and my DVR (like TIVO). I am still fantasizing about getting a Kindle someday…

Finally, I have had the best friends a girl could ask for.  Particularly when I think of the friends who have persisted over this decade, I feel so lucky.  There are too many to begin naming them.  Suffice it to say, I have had very few moments where I am lonely for a shoulder to cry on or a companion to share a laugh with.

Life is good, and I have much to be grateful for. I have a great life.

Clearly there are some life goals I have not met including losing a significant amount of weight, having a committed relationship, getting married, having kids (girl named Lili, boy named Christian but who’s planning!), getting a down payment and purchasing a home, going back to Europe,catering at least one wedding, earning a PHD, and writing a book. These are all things I hope to be able to list as accomplishments when I write my post at Madeline’s 20th birthday!  They are somewhat lofty goals but as the poet says “every dream proceeds the goal and the dream lies hidden in your soul”.   We will see how life happens.  I have certainly learned a lot in the last decade and can only hope that the next 10 years are twice as fruitful as the previous.  Thanks in advance for your support and help along the way.  It will be a great adventure!

(I hope this post doesn’t sound like eulogy.  I was simply feeling thoughtful about my life. )

Happy Birthday Mom

“I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.” — Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

A few weeks ago I did an entry on my dad for his birthday.  Now it is my mother’s turn for today is her birthday.  Its almost hard for me to write on my mom without it sounding too effusive.  Simply put, she was born to be a mother.  It is her gift.  She’s a natural nurturer- patient, kind and understanding.  Naturally it took me a while to appreciate all she did for me but now I marvel. Some of the specific things I love about my mom are:

1. She is always there for me.  My mom has 6 kids, which is a daunting number by most standards but these 6 range in age from 30 to 9.  Such an age gap requires my mother to balance the needs of older children with kids, single me, a teenager in high school, a middle school aged boy and a young girl.  Not every mother could multitask her mothering as well as my mom does.  Even though I am very independent I still need the care of my mother.   I am so grateful that we talk almost daily on the phone and visit whenever we can.  The greatest thing is that my mom doesn’t make me feel that the time she spends on me is a sacrifice even though I know it often is.  It might be something as simple as asking her about a recipe or a laundry tip, but I appreciate that she is there for me whenever I need it.

A perfect example of my mom’s help and loving nature occurred last December.  It was the day before our tenants were to arrive at our new house.  I was growing increasingly stressed out because a snow storm was preventing furniture movers, cleaners and other people from arriving at the house.  I had a picture of the people arriving at the house without furniture in a construction zone.  By 4:30 I had all I could take, and I called my mom in tears.  Whatever it was she was doing, she dropped it and helped me calm down.  With the help of my dad and mom, we solved the problem and everything worked out. Not everyone has someone to turn to when they are stressed out, and I am grateful for such a blessing in my life.

2. She actually enjoys her children.  This has always been a great trait of my mother.  When other mom’s were counting down the days for summer vacation to end my mom was sad.  She not only loves her kids but genuinely has fun with them.  When I have exciting news, a funny story or a meet a cute guy, the first person I want to tell is my mom.  We used to tease her that she couldn’t tell a joke or a story to save her life but that never stopped her from making the effort!  Both my parents have always set an example  on how to enjoy life- how to accept who you are and gain pleasure from whatever phase you are in.  They are not worriers, moping about looking for pity.  They are happy with their life’s and taught me to conquer challenges while still remaining happy. I have particularly noticed this trait lately as it seems many unhappy people often surround me- people that are miserable with their station in life.  My mother is great at enjoying the journey of life.

3. She is always learning.  My mother has the intellect to be a college professor, a senator, or any other educated profession; however, she decided to be a mother. Defying stereotypes of the soap opera watching housewife, my mom has always been a self-learner.  My whole life she has been up-to-date on current events  in practically every field.  In addition, she is well-read in philosophy, literature, political theory, horticulture, the arts and every other topic.  It took years in college before I took a class that my mother was not only familiar with but well-versed and informed- sometimes more so than my professors.  When we used to get sick, my mother was the first one to the library (or now the internet) researching the condition, quickly becoming a mini-expert.

She was also  great at creating learning experiences for her children.  I remember going on walks and her pointing out trees, bugs, or birds and then describing something interesting about them- how they live, grow, what colors they become etc.  In college I would often call my mother and go over material with her because I knew if I could explain it to her than I knew I understood the topic  well enough for a test.  On such calls the emphasis was always on what I was learning, not on the grade (both my parents have never been grade-focused, which I am grateful for). I used to think all mothers were like this but have since learned to appreciate the emphasis my mom made on learning and improving oneself.

4. She is always sacrificing.  When I was 10 my mother announced to us that she was pregnant.  As excited as we were, pregnancy meant she  would have to go on full bed-rest.  She underwent this trial two more times- making almost 2 1/2 years of my mother’s life in bedrest (not including what she had for us older kids). I can’t even imagine how difficult this must have been.  It was hard enough for our whole family, but it must have been a nightmare for my mother.  It’s one thing to sit in bed when you are ill but for most of the pregnancies my mom felt fine, yet she still had to sit day and night.  This type of sacrifice is emblematic of the way my mother has lived her life- always thinking of others needs ahead of her own comfort.  She has given countless hours of her life caring for new babies, working on school projects with us, making costumes for school plays,  babysitting grandkids, cooking meals, and making traditions special for her family.  In today’s society we seem to think there has to be an equal link between work and rewards.  The sense of sacrifice previous societies accepted has practically gone away- except with my mom.

5. She is a wonderful nurturer.  Again, when I was growing up I thought all mothers were like my mom- warm, kind, sympathetic.  I have learned that she is special.  She knows how to comfort a crying eye- even at the age of 28! She listens better than anyone I know, and she does it while doing a hundred other things.  Her and my dad would read to us every night growing up and then we would say prayers together.  Rituals like these are all about comfort and love for children.  My mother is wonderful at such things.

6. She is patient.  When I was in high school I felt different from my entire family, including my mom.  Thankfully I never really rebelled, but I am sure there were plenty of moments where she was frustrated with my attitude.  I think the reason I didn’t rebel is because my parents were patient with me . They gave me the space to be myself- to figure out what I wanted.  I have never felt that my parents had preconceived notions of who I was to become or what my life is supposed to be like.  They have just let me be me and accepted that.  Such growth requires patience on the part of parents, and my mother is the ultimate example.

It really is hard to write about my mom and make it sound adequate.  Let me just say- she is wonderful and I love her.  I could not have been more blessed. I don’t have any pictures of my mom by herself (probably because she was busy preparing a meal or taking care of a kid!). Here is one of my mom and dad with my newest niece Nelle Lloyd.

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“By and large, mothers and housewives are the only workers who do not have regular time off. They are the great vacationless class.” — Anne Morrow Lindbergh

“I looked on child rearing not only as a work of love and duty but as a profession that was fully as interesting and challenging as any honorable profession in the world and one that demanded the best I could bring to it.” — Rose Kennedy

“My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.” — George Washington (1732-1799)