When I met my husband I was very much a “Utah girl”. I had just taken a leap of faith and moved out with some friends into an apartment in the college city located 30 minutes from my childhood home. I remember at one point while my husband, Ryan and I were dating the conversation of future employment came up. Ryan informed me that he was almost certain he would not be able to find work inside the state of Utah after he finished his graduate degree. I broke down into tears over the mere thought of ever having to move away from “home”. My prayers were answered when, not long into our marriage, he was offered a job located in the city right next to my home town! Continue reading
A time I felt successful as a mother:
It almost feels like I can’t answer that question because I’m still watching my children’s lives unfold. When my children were little, just hearing them breathe at night in their beds, knowing they were warm and safe and at peace made me feel content. Seeing them grow into teenagers dealing with their own gut wrenching issues, I felt heartache as they went through it and joy when they came out on the other side battered a bit (sometimes a lot), but able to continue in forward motion. Now as adults they are lighting their own paths and sometimes it seriously seems they choose paths laden with land mines. Of course, there were first steps, first words, first everything, graduations, all the stuff that brings simultaneous tears and smiles. Maybe I cried the day I saw my grandson born because everything came together in that moment; my son a proud new father, his younger sister a doting auntie. They were united in that magical moment and, perhaps, one of the emotions contained in those gammy tears was a feeling of success.
Strengths as a mother:
My strength as a mom (like all moms, I think) is knowing that within each child is light, intelligence, imagination, creativity, kindness, love, beauty, truth, goodness, and innumerable unique talents and characteristics. Only through white knuckling practice am I gaining strength to focus always on that understanding rather than on what are perceived faults or weaknesses. And I always remember they, too, are the author of their own story. I can only hope to provide insight and a constant, unwavering belief in them.
Keeping my identity:
I am not a woman who thought much of getting married or having children. My identity was never intertwined with that thought. I was an athlete, a scholar, an adventurer, a writer, a coach long before I was a mom. When my children were born, an incredible transformation took place. I didn’t lose my identity. My identity expanded. Initially, I was terrified to be a mom because I did NOT want to continue behaviors that I learned as a child from countless generations of women in my family. I made some mistakes, but I broke the chains of abuse and became a mama grizz, ferocious in protecting my kids even against the male grizz. That became part of my identity that I never expected would exist inside me. Motherhood did not swallow my identity. Rather, it enriched it.
A moment I felt joy as a mother:
Oh! My goodness! So many moments!! Every giggle, all the growing up moments of rolling over, first steps, first words and phrases spoken incorrectly and sweetly, first everythings (except the teen year first everything stuff), graduations, wedding, gammyhood, all the laughter shared on road trips with music pounding out every genre imaginable (even some I had to plug my ears for), every hug, every kiss, every kindness, every homemade card and homemade gift, every everything. But let me share something that happened not too long ago that filled my heart with a different kind of joy. My children stood side-by-side with me when their grandmother was laboring for her last breath. My son sang to her. My daughter cried with her. They were, fortunately, out of the room when the last breath escaped, but they showed incredible love and compassion for their grandma and for me because without them, I would have shouldered that experience alone.
How my mothering differs from child to child:
My children were nearly six years apart (we lost a child in between). My mothering was different because my children were different. They were both really easy going in their young years, but some things happened and my youngest child suffered a major loss. From that point on parenting became completely different, very, very difficult. In fact, I think I have PTSD from it and I’m not kidding. My mothering style became more detective work and social work and grin and bear it or cry and bear it work. My oldest child also gave me some bone chilling experiences after suffering the same loss, but not nearly to the degree (months compared to years and a few occurrences compared to too many to count) as the youngest. Again, it’s so important to maintain hope and project light throughout the entire adventure and NEVER give up on them!
Greatest triumphs/greatest regrets:
Triumphs: (1) Got them both raised; (2) We went on a lot of adventures together, just the three of us. We went to concerts and plays, to wild outdoors places and science places, and all kinds of places. We fixed meals together and ate together (one time we ate at the only open restaurant in town for Christmas dinner…it was a Chinese restaurant) and sometimes watched TV all snuggled up together. We hug and we dream. I know my kids can survive AND succeed: (3) Standing up to protect my kids against someone from whom there should never have been a threat.
Regrets: (1) Those times when I was too harsh or too lenient. Parenting is on the job training. We either learn to be better or not. I’m thankful I learned quickly I wanted to do better.
An event that altered my life path:
My path was bush whacking through a jungle with no trails, which may be easier than thinking there’s a golden path of sorts. As far as parenting goes, no doubt, divorce was the hungry panther in the jungle. It ripped me apart, but like my friend, Pat Benatar, sings, “the deepest cuts are healed by faith.”
Significant part of my story that is important to me:
I taught my children that no matter how heavy life’s events can be, seek the positive, breathe moment to moment until the difficulties pass, find ways to laugh, find someone to help, hug a tree and a puppy, whatever it takes (that is healthy) to realize life IS good!!
Personality traits that have been a blessing or a curse:
- Analytical thinking has been both. It has helped in innumerable ways to find solutions that many thought were not possible. It also can make me seem aloof and my kids have told me more than once when I solved the mystery wayyyy before the end of the movie to stop thinking so much!! They also hate playing Clue or any of those problem solving games with me. However, because of that they also have started paying attention to situational awareness and instinct and they are getting much better at problem solving and at playing Clue.
- My stereotypical red-headed temper has also been both a blessing and a curse. Although I have learned to control it for the most part, it has come in handy when mama bear needed to protect her cubs and used the extra strength. It rarely is helpful when I KNOW I wasn’t speeding in that speed trap area officer.
If I could shout something from the rooftops and everyone would hear, I would shout, “Spend your life making beautiful memories, treating people kindly, loving friends, family, and strangers, doing what you love and loving what you do, and making love with your soul mate.” Why would I shout that? Because nothing else matters.
Twin Falls, ID
Is there an event in your life that altered your life path?
–I can think of three pretty significant events:
- Watching General Conference, a special session of church which is held for our church (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS, or Mormon church)) every 6 months, at a time when I was applying for medical school, and getting the distinct impression that was not the right path. Soon thereafter, I withdrew my application and ended up getting my Master’s degree in Public Health.
- When I had West Nile virus – this came at a time in life where I was not active in my church. I was literally at death’s door, in the neurocritical care unit, in guarded status, and realized that the only thing I wanted, and craved, was to feel like I was ok and right with God. One of the most significant things that kept my spirits up during this experience was kindness, prayers, and visits from faithful members of my church. I had to relearn walking, talking, eating, etc. as I recovered, which gave me a lot of time to think, and I knew I wanted to go back to church. Luckily, my husband joined me, and 4 years later, we were sealed in the Bountiful Temple; to us, this is a very special occasion since we believe it will allow us to be married even after death.
- Having my daughter – I always thought I would be happy to work and raise a child (or children). We have infertility issues, so getting her here was very challenging, and took several years of disappointment, learning about fertility, etc. Eventually we went through in-vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures and were able to get her here! The most surprising thing to me, though, was just how heart-wrenching it was for me to go back to work. It has broken my heart pretty much every morning since. I know this isn’t the case for everyone, and that is wonderful, but it has been the case for me. I’ve learned so much from being a mom, from the importance of family, to the depth of love you can have for another person, to understanding God, who I think of as my Heavenly Father, just a bit more. If I had to pick one event that has changed me, that one would be it.
What times in your life truly tested you, and what did you learn about yourself by dealing (or not dealing) with them?