Monday, March 28, 2005

Passage

In order to understand our own passage I think we need to understand the one of the people we come from. This story starts with the past and hopefully makes its way to the present.

I grew up in a multigenerational Mormon (otherwise known as the Latter Day Saints) family. My parents are Mormon, my grandparents were Mormon. About five generations behind me, on my father’s side, my ancestors blazed a trail that started in Denmark for one, in England for the other. Both helped with the construction of what was to become Salt Lake City. One ended his years in Mexico and the other just outside of Salt Lake City. The generations between my pioneer ancestors and me have been devoted Mormons. I will always honor where I came from even though my own passage has caused me to leave the faith in which I was raised.

Thomas Steed

I recently came across my paternal grandmother’s grandfather journal. In it he, Thomas Steed, tells of his trip from becoming Mormon in Worcestershire, England in 1840, at the age of 14 to near his end at 84 years old in Farmington, Utah.

It starts with his parents which he describes his mother being, “of medium size, patient, very religious, naturally kind, open hearted and generous to a fault, giving almost her last crust to anyone in need.” His father (I can’t even think how far back of a grandfather that would make him to me) was “about six feet tall, heavy set (about 200 pounds), powerful, sober, hardworking, honest, industrious, thoroughly reliable. For a number of years he was the night watchman in the town of Malvern, England and later the foreman of the public highway.”

In 1835, when Thomas was 9 years old, his parents left the Church of England and joined United Brethren, opening their home to hold meetings. ‘I was in my fourteenth year and almost a skeptic in regard to the religion of the day. In the Sunday school I had asked my teacher if anybody knew that God lived, and if Jesus was the Redeemer crucified 1800 years ago. He answered: “My boy, you ought not to ask such a question, you ought to believe; I don’t know and I don’t’ know who could tell you!” The same question I asked of a number of other individuals who I thought could know, and received the same answer. That caused me to think that there was nothing in religion, if nobody knew anything about these things, and I made up my mind to have nothing to do with it.’ On my own personal note, I find it ironic that this same spirit caused one of his great granddaughters, me, to leave the faith which brought him to America; the same faith that him and the generations between us were so devoted to.

By no means in my American History class, 13 years ago, did I consider that one of my relatives actually lived what I had been learning. At the age of 18 with some of his Uncles, Thomas Steed, set out for Nauvoo, Illinois from their homes in England. Lying there in the text before me, my great, great, great grandfather was telling of arriving in New Orleans in 1844, riding on the Little Maid of Iowa, perhaps her last voyage, up the Mississippi River until they reached Nauvoo.

Shortly after the murder of the church’s prophet and founder, Joseph Smith. he moved with his uncles and their families along with his new wife to Keokuck, Iowa I think in spring of 1846. There they worked and saved for the journey west. “In June, 1849, the great calamity of Asiatic cholera spread its awful devastations through the United States and was very sever in Keokuck also. Very many were called at a few hours’ warning; a number of our Mormon brethren and sisters were taken.”

With four wagons, nines oxen, five cows, two mules, and one horse all shared by 10 members of his extended family they fled Keokuck and started west. Shortly beyond the Missouri River they joined up with 50 other Mormons pioneers in August of 1850. They traveled the Fort Kearney and the crossing of the South Platte.”


To be continued later………....

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Milkshake Cure

 It wasn’t that my children did anything other than what any other normal child does. Yet, my husband had been on my case earlier that morning because our 2 year old son was up (again) at 6:30 am hungry. He let me know before he left for work he strongly believed children should not be up that early. He was on my case about why I couldn't take control of this and get my 4 year old back to sleep.  After he closed the front door behind himself I thought, "Its's just as simply as that, right? Why is it that 'stuff' always seems easier for him? Why do the kids listen to his commands at first bark unlike the two or three times I have to repeat myself?" I realize now it was me. I was letting his nitpicking get to me; normally when he gets in these moods I can keep it in perspective.

But for the moment I believed he was right and while the morning sun shines through his white blinds  I tried as hard as I could to I pointlessly tried to put a small child back to bed.   At 9:00 am I realized how foolish I was being. Something in my cranium went. I made the emergency call; while tears streamed down my checks and the words trembled from my mouth; I needed my friend, my mentor in this mothering career, "Carole,  I can’t do this!!!!” She was over in less than 5 minutes, still in her pajamas, with her 16 year old son’s tennis shoes on her bare feet.

She listened as I told her my plight. “Why?!?” She offered condolences and told me of when her now 15 and 16 year old boys were my kid’s age. There were moments she thought she would go back to smoking. She said there where days when just another Barney song felt like it could tip the scales, she would pack them in the car for a drive so she could find her way back to reality.

I know it isn’t just about my children. It was my children’s needs and wants, my husband’s and mine came to the intersection of my life and everyone wanted me to make their world be something it was not in that moment. I took some important vows a couple of years back, brought a couple of very special children into the world and now I wonder how am I not going to lose myself, my true sense of self, in all of this?

I don’t have the answers... yet... but I have figured out so far I can’t do it all alone. I still need my dad, my step mom, my husbands parents. I still even need my ex-husbands parents. I am blessed that I have managed keep a good, close relationship with them. I need my sisters to help remind me of who I am. I need my friends, they are helping me become a better person and remind me to have fun.

One of the moms from my mothers group has been offered a really good job. She has been a stay at home mom all of her daughters’ three years of life. As with all moms who go back into the workforce, no matter how long they have been home, it is bittersweet. It is nice to do something for you, which is what employment offers, but losing the time with your child, something you know you will never get back, is difficult to let go of. I realized, a while ago, that I can’t be there for every second and it is unfair to my children to try to. She asked me for some advice about going back and all I could offer up is: it takes a village. If you have kind, loving people who are willing to love your child, not necessarily as you would, but love them never the less, aren’t you showing them the best part of this world? What a wonderful thing to share with your child that there are more people who will love them out there, more than just Mom and Dad. It’s not going to be all warm and fuzzy, and other people will do it their way, and that will bug you as a parent. But there is a difference between being protective and controlling. The most difficult issue for me is fact that other people do it differently than I would. I don’t always agree that my ex-mother-in-law gives my children so much juice and feeds them a ton of ice cream, but really is that something to get upset over? She loves them. She takes the time to get on the ground with them to play trucks with them, something I wish I had more time to do with them more often. So ice cream and juice are small in comparison to the love both of my boys get from her. Yesterday when the boys were at her house while I was at work, my ex-husband took the morning off and spent it teaching the boys the phrase, “I’m going to kick your butt!” Not something a mom wants her little sweet boys running around saying, but my ex also had just spent the whole morning wrestling with them. My little ones were on cloud nine. To hear their joy when I called to check on them more than made up for what phrase they were learning.

On the way home yesterday after a long day at work, the three of us, me and my two little guys, stopped at McDonald’s for a milkshake; I was probably still feeling guilty about being so unreasonable about trying to get them to go back to sleep earlier this week. As we were waiting for our treats I overheard the lady at the counter tell a co-worker “God’s been testing me this week.” I just thought to myself, “he’s been testing all of us this week, sister”. As Kevin, my oldest, took a drink of his milkshake he said, “Mommy, I love you.” I had been forgiven. My child's love is a beautiful thing.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Whole Foods

On my way home today I stopped by Whole Foods Market and ran in to pick just a handful of things up. As I was pushing my grocery cart to the check out, I stopped just as I pulled in. From the corner I noticed an older man trying to cut me off so he could get ahead of me. I was so amazed at the spectacle that I looked at my cart then at the stuff he had jumbled in his hands and said, “Go ahead” a little bewildered. It all made sense when the lady ahead of me who just finished her transaction told the puzzled cashier, “This is my husband, we forgot a few things.”

I live a life full of males, my house is full of them, I work in a very male dominated industry and I have always had at least a few close male friends, which is great, it keeps me in the know for my little guys. Plus, it is not that there aren’t any women in my life, I am very close with my sisters and I have a group of girlfriends.

About the same time my ex-husband came back into my life, before he was even my husband, I had started to spend a lot of time with Frank; the company he worked for and mine were working on a project together that I was assigned to write the manual for it. Frank and I had an easy, natural friendship. This particular time Frank had to take a customer and his wife out see a game of hockey and to the local Chop House, he called to let me know he would like it if I went with them. That night he kissed me for the first time as we were waiting for the shuttle to come and pick us up. When he kissed me it was different, somehow more special than others before and as he held my hand, it felt protected.

When you are walking the line between a friendship and a relationship someone has to take that jump of faith and tell the other how they feel. Neither of us did that, so we fell back into our friendship, nothing was mentioned about the kiss. And I started seeing the man who would eventually become my ex-husband more seriously. Frank and I stayed friends though my marriage. As I was going through the divorce Frank would always tell me how he had written me a couple of letters but never sent it, several times. I didn’t understand if it was something to help me through a hard time or something more. I wish Frank had sent me those letters because then maybe I wouldn’t have lost a great friend, maybe I still would have. It wasn’t until well after our communication slowed did I realize what may have been going on. Maybe it wouldn’t have changed anything, but we will never know. I wouldn’t have thought that older man at Whole Foods today was so strange if he had just said, “Excuse me that is my wife ahead of you”.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Is your heart getting larger with your life?

“Is your heart getting larger with your life?” Pastor Chris asked the congregation last night. He spoke about how life can cause our hearts to shrink if we don’t take a time out and enjoy the things such as music, nature or even spend time with someone who adores us openly. Everyone needs a soul fill up every once in a while to help us enlarge our hearts so that we can show more compassion to others. Here are some heart expanding exercises that he recommended:
*Listen to beautiful music, something that inspires you
*Take time to enjoy beautiful scenery. Look up at the stars at night, enjoy a sunset.
*Have time away, we all need a change of scenery to recharge.