Two revelations and an explosion...mother's day at the beach

The first full day of our beach trip was mother's day. Eric silently removed the baby from the room so I could sleep in. Then no one brought me breakfast in bed. They know me so well. I passionately hate eating breakfast in bed.

Later, in the midst of the chaos of five families getting ready for church, the boys brought me their presents: a painting of a flower, a flower, a handmade card. I thanked them and hugged them and stretched my smile as far as it would go. Then the hustle and bustle faded back in and I turned my attention to other things.

We went to church right next to a Marine base. Both of the speakers were soldiers. It reminded me of my love of military people, developed in my R.O.T.C. days. At the end of the meeting, each mother was handed a giant chocolate bar. Enough for us to share with our kids and still have some left for ourselves- brilliant.

In Relief Society where there was a lesson on prayer. I remembered something that happened to me a long time ago in Seattle. Brigham was a week old and I needed to take him to his first doctor's appointment. It was probably my first time leaving the house with two kids. Nothing big, but it seemed big at the time. I was running late, and something happened with the car. I couldn't find my keys, or it wouldn't start- I don't remember, except that I didn't have a car to get Brigham to the doctor, and my toddler was probably crying, and I was probably hungry, and sore, and exhausted, and scared to death of how I was going to do this everyday on my own. I guess I figured it out, because I have a memory of sitting in the doctors office eating a peanut butter and honey sandwich later that day.

That night I went to return something to my neighbor, Danielle. We talked on the doorstep for a few minutes, and then she said that she wasn't sure why, but she felt like God had put it in her heart to tell me that they hardly ever used their second car and anytime I needed it, to just ask. In fact, she would be fine giving me a set of keys. I was confused. Clearly my Heavenly Father was mindful of me and the situation I'd been in earlier in the day. But why prompt my friend that I needed her car if it didn't lead to me actually using it? I never did use their car.

As I sat listening to the lesson, the spirit whispered the answer to the question I'd had all these years. I never asked for his help. I was probably too frustrated, too tired and too overwhelmed to even think to pray at that moment in my life. But he wanted me to know he was there, with a plan, ready to go. I think he wanted to bless me. To make my very stressed life a little easier in that moment, but he can't give me what I don't ask for. He won't violate my agency that way. And he is patient enough to wait seven years (almost exactly- Brigham was born on mother's day) for the right moment to teach me that truth.

Then we went home and it was my night to cook dinner. I made cinnamon rolls and one of the glass pans exploded when I set it on the counter. Miraculously there was still enough for everyone to eat their fill. The children all sang a mother's day song and someone put them to bed. I don't know who, just that it wasn't me.

We grownups stayed up late talking, so that it was past midnight when I reached for the lamp beside my bed and my eyes caught on the card little Eric had made me. I picked it up and looked at it, really looked, for the first time. I saw how he had written the words Happy Mothers Day! in pencil and then traced over them in marker, a different color for each letter. There were two butterflies with little M's on their wings (for Mama I think). Two hearts and a carefully drawn sunflower. Inside was a message: Roses are red, Pansies are white, I think that you are such a delight! More hearts, and on the back: Moms Rock! In my mind I could see him at his desk at school, head bent, biting his tongue, carefully drawing, tracing, considering, hoping. I cried myself to sleep, and then the next morning I went and told him how much I loved his card- really told him.

That night I prayed: Please, please. Help me to pay attention. To see. To see past the defiance, the smirking and the acting out, to the lovingly traced letters and carefully drawn butterflies.



That's my friend Cindy's word for coming home after a wonderful vacation and having reality come crashing down on you. Laundry, phone calls, emails, errands, lessons, school, work.... Miss Marley keeps the mood light though- by squirting me with some of Eric's cologne this morning, so that I smelled like him all day long. And Eric entertains me by eating crickets. And the boys, well, all they seem to do these days is fight. My neighbors told me they bought a van when their two boys were this age so they could each have their own bench. I asked them when it got better and they said when the older one got his driver's license. Which didn't make me feel any better.

We had a wonderful week at the beach with wonderful friends, some of whom we hadn't seen in a year. We woke up each morning to sunlight reflecting off the ocean through our balcony window, and fell asleep to the laughter of the West coast contingent, still not adjusted to North Carolina time. Mothers' Day left me with a profound realization about my firstborn. The kids had endless hours of fun on the beach and endless access to snacks and cartoons. Amid runs to the pier (okay so I only made it to the pier once), delicious communal meals, afternoon gospel discussions in the hot tub and quiet moments of reading and journal writing, I found so many inspiring little glimpses into my friends' lives. One inspired me to be more creative in my solutions to problems (by fashioning a window shade from a baby blanket and a coat-hanger); Another reminded me of the sweet joy of using our talents to bless others (evidence of this to come in a future post); Another impressed me, as always, with her unfailing patience and love for her children; And still another taught me the importance of living in the moment and taking the time necessary to care for myself and my family without feeling anxious that I'm missing out on interaction with friends.

In next few days, as I finish sifting the sand from our clothes and towels, I'll be sifting these insights, pondering which ones I'm ready to try and bring into my life, and which ones are best admired from afar for now. I've learned that expecting myself to instantly morph into the good examples I see all around me is ineffective and diminishes my self worth. I need to have respect for my own unique nature and draw from other people only what I'm ready to receive.


No news from the potential job in Atlanta. WE'RE NEVER GOING TO HEAR ANYTHING FROM THEM FOR THE REST OF OUR LIVES! THEY'VE FALLEN OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH! Ahem...I mean, maybe next week?

Brigham has been thrown over by his first girlfriend- because he's too short. He's taking it pretty well.

Little Eric likes his new haircut (oops- I forgot to post pictures...coming soon).

Marley has learned to say 'nice' and to hit.

Big Eric ate a live cricket on a dare. Evidence below:

I really like this (if you can't see the whole thing, click on the link at the top of the box):


The "token goat"

Because the title of my last post was grossing me out every time I opened up my blog (which functions as my google reader page), here is my to-do list before we leave for a week at the beach on Saturday:

1. Clean house.

2. Not scream at kids when they wreck house between the time I clean it and the time we leave.

3. Buy sunscreen and swim diapers.

4. Go to library and check out fluffy beach books.

5. Look for library card which I haven't seen since the last time Marley played with my wallet.

6. Fill i-pod with beachy running/relaxing music (which will most certainly include the entire soundtrack from Wicked, which I saw this weekend, which was so amazing. So if you're vacationing on the North Carolina coast next week and you see a crazy woman leaping over tidal pools and singing Defying Gravity at the top of her lungs, just look the other way and let her have her little moment. Thanks:).

I think I need a little time away. Yesterday in church I didn't have the energy to take Marley out in the hall when she got loud so I gave her my sunglasses, which she broke. Then I gave her the pearl bracelet that Eric gave me for graduation and she broke that. Then, while Eric went to his meetings and I tried to shepherd the kids into the car to go home, little Eric told me that Brigham had just relieved himself in the bushes RIGHT in front of the church. (How did I not notice? No idea.) I sighed and told him it was not okay to do that and that next time he should go across the parking lot to the woods to pee. Then Eric helpfully suggested, "oooor, you could use the bathroom inside".

And I was like, oh- right, do that Briggie!

Definitely time for a week at the beach....