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Happy Mother’s Day

It’s hard to admit, but I remember a time when I wondered if I wanted to be a mother.

 

I thought I lacked the natural maternal desire.

 

It just didn’t grab hold of me with the urgency and excitement I thought I should feel.

 

It didn’t help that I grew up in the women’s liberation era when motherhood was characterized as the most unsatisfying job on the planet.

 

Women spoke of motherhood as drudgery, and the common belief was that there was more to life than just having babies and staying home to take care of them.

 

Who would want the mind-numbing, old-fashioned role of mother when the doors of opportunity for women in the workplace were flinging open, inviting us to experience true fulfillment, intellectual stimulation, and real success?

 

We could “have it all,” so why settle for be strapped down by crying babies with runny noses, ear infections and chicken pox?

 

Surely my life would not be limited to that!

 

But, after I married Doug, I felt like having a family was the next natural step.

 

It just felt right like when you set out on a path and your feet just naturally move.

 

Even though my feet were moving in that direction, I had no confidence in myself as a mother.

 

After Sara was born, a friend asked me how I liked being a mother.

 

I said, “I feel totally incompetent!”

 

She kindly said, “How can that be? You are one of the most competent women I know.”

 

“Not as a mother,” I said. “I have no idea what I’m doing. It’s actually a relief to go to work every day because at least I know what I’m doing in an office. I feel totally out of my element at home with a baby.”

 

As time went on, I became better at it, probably because every time I looked into the face of that baby girl, my heart expanded to a new capacity.

 

Every time I cuddled her, and smelled her powdery body, my worldly skin molted a bit, and my confidence in my ability to be a good mother grew.

 

Actually, my confidence grew because my love grew.

 

After I had Annie, my mom came to stay with me to help.

 

One afternoon, Sara was sitting next to me and I was holding our new little Annie.

 

“Laurie, do you know how much you’re loved?” My mom asked as she watched me with my two children.

 

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“Yes,” I said, feeling grateful to know how much she loved me.

 

“I don’t think you do,” she responded, surprising me. “I don’t think you’ll know how much I love you until you are my age and your babies are grown up like you. Then you will know because you will have loved them for a lifetime. That’s when you’ll know how much I love you.”

 

I see what she meant by that now. Just when I think my heart can’t get any bigger, it does.

 

I’m glad she taught me that while my heart expands to new capacities, it also contracts to new depths as my children experience the challenges of life.

 

When I had cancer, my mom embroidered a pillow for me that said, “Always remember, I am the rock in your garden. You are the blossom in mine.”IMG_2263

 

I try to remember that, hoping to be the rock in Sara’s and Annie’s gardens like my mom has been in mine.

 

I can’t believe there was a time I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a mother because I can’t imagine my life without them.

 

Being a mother has made me a better woman in every possible way.

 

I don’t care what the feminists of my era said, motherhood is the most fulfilling job I’ve ever had.

 

There is a level of satisfaction that comes from career success, but it can’t compare to the joy I’ve felt as a mother.

 

So, as Mother’s Day approaches, I will celebrate being a mother, having a mother, and knowing that the voices of my era were wrong.

 

Motherhood is not stifling, unsatisfying, and unimportant.

 

It is the opposite of all of those words.

 

While I may have believed I lacked the maternal instinct, I found it,.

 

And, I discovered it was more than an instinct, it was a divine part of my identity as a woman. It just got a little buried in the mire of all my other ambitions.

 

It is the essence of who I am.

 

I am proud to say I am a mother. It’s the most ennobling, dignified, and important job I’ve ever had.

English: jkklglh
English: jkklglh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Happy Mother’s Day. I would love to hear your thoughts on motherhood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uncategorized

Milestones and Proud Mamas

Today my daughter, Sara, graduates from college.
This milestone brings to mind so many memories…

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  • When I took her to orientation day at preschool to meet her teacher and classmates, she walked away from me to interact with the other children. She kept looking back at me, surely needing reassurance that I was still there. Then she walked up to me and said, “Mom, it’s time for you to go home now!” I pointed out that parents had to stay. “Why? I’m fine. Just go home and pick me up later.” I told her I couldn’t leave, but I tried to fade out of her sight to help her enjoy her independence. So much for her needing my reassurance.
  • After her first day of kindergarten, I met her at the bus stop, and asked about her day. “It wasn’t anything like I thought it would be,” she said. “I thought I would just sit at a desk and learn, but all we did was play!”
  • When we went to New York City for the first time, Sara was about six years old, and took on the job of calling all our cabs. We couldn’t believe this little blonde child standing on the corner of those busy streets waving down cabs and directing us around the city.
  • When she was in elementary school, she used to slip notes under my bedroom door or put them on my pillow that said, “Mom, this is my schedule for the week.” She had detailed weekly agendas with all her activities and plans neatly written on notebook paper.
  • When she was 10, we sent her to Utah to stay with her grandparents. She sat down and planned out her entire itinerary. She planned to go to the northern end of the state to the small town of Syracuse first to be with Doug’s family, then she would go to my hometown of Springville about two hours away to be with my family. “How will you get from one place to another?” We asked. “I’ll call a cab,” she said. We had to teach her about the small towns of Utah and the lack of available cabs on the rural roads. But, she developed an alternative plan, stoically got on the plane without hesitation, and took off for her first journey alone. Annie and I stood at the gate and cried, amazed at her confidence and poise.
  • We went with Doug’s sister’s family and his parents on a Disney Cruise when Sara was about 11. When we got home, I put all our photos in a scrapbook and asked everyone to write their favorite part of the trip to put in the book.  Sara wrote, “My favorite part of the trip was having my own room key and being able to go all over the ship with my cousins.”
  • When I dropped her off at her college dorm for the first time, I wondered if she might get a little emotional. True to form, she hopped out of the car and off she went. We’d spent several days together before that so there was no need for a big goodbye. I watched her walk into the dorm and felt torn between wanting to sob that my baby girl would be living thousands of miles away from me and feeling overjoyed that she was so well-prepared for her new college life.

I’ve watched her apply these strokes of independence to her life as a college student — detailed day planners and calendars, keys to her own apartment and her own car, sitting at a desk learning, organizing a study abroad to London and traveling throughout Europe. Just like she led us around New York City, she escorted us around the streets and the underground of London. She’s boarded planes, buses, trains, subways, boats, and bikes, and loved every minute of it. She’s made lifelong friends, had her heart and mind stretched in every way, and received an education far beyond what shows up on her diploma.

Now, today, I get to watch her in her blue cap and gown as she marches into the commencement exercises at the Marriott Center with all that knowledge, experience, growth, maturity, and beauty under that cap. And, I get to say, “That’s my girl — the smart, striking blonde in the high heels wearing that pink lipstick. Yeah, that one, she’s mine.”

These milestones are more for the parents than the students anyway, right?

We need our moments to marvel, and say, “See that one, she’s mine!”

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Congratulations Sara!

 

Family

And then there was the Playboy story

First of all, here’s the update on Kelly and his whiskey.

Mom felt guilty and called to tell him his moonshine was really vinegar.

Oh, the disappointment.

“So, why is it that when I tell someone a secret in this family, nobody keeps it a secret? But, you can all keep secrets from me,” he said.

His daughters pulled up my blogs to show just how many people were in on the secret about his fake Virginia moonshine.

“So everybody that reads your blog knows too? Great. What are you trying to do? Write a book about me on your blog? I can’t believe you broadcasted my moonshine story to the world! I’m surprised you haven’t told the Playboy story yet.”

Oh, the Playboy story!

Thanks for reminding me…

Logo of Playboy
Logo of Playboy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After this Playboy blog, I’ll stop writing about him for a while.

Maybe.

But, this Playboy one is just so good…

Actually, it’s really more about my mother than my brother. But, he does have a starring role.

Call it family history.

When Kelly was at that awkward pre-teen age of about 11, my mom took his nicely folded laundry up to his bedroom to put it away in his chest of drawers.

As she organized his stacks of clean clothing, she felt something slick at the bottom of the drawer.  She rummaged around to see what was beneath his clothes, and she pulled out a glossy Playboy magazine.

Her response was epic, unforgettable, and perfectly in keeping with her fiery personality.

She took the magazine downstairs, opened it up, and tore out some of the naked lady pictures, including the centerfold.  She found some construction paper and cut out little circles of paper and taped them over the most revealing body parts.

Later, she called us all to the dinner table.

“Supper’s ready,” she innocently called.

We all trailed in from various parts of the house and sat down for dinner.

I always sat next to Kelly.

I noticed his face quickly turn bright red, nearly purple.

I looked around to see what made him look so shamefaced.

Then, I saw my Dad’s eyes darting from the wall to Kelly, across the table to Mom, and back at the wall.

That’s when I noticed the pictures of the naked women plastered all over the kitchen wall above the dinner table.

We were speechless, motionless.

Mom let Kelly (and the rest of the family) sweat and squirm for a few seconds, and then calmly said, “Kelly, I found those lovely pictures in a magazine in your dresser drawers today when I was putting away your laundry.  I thought that if you enjoy them so much that maybe you’d like to share them with the family so that we can all enjoy them.”

Kelly stared straight ahead of him, not focusing on anything, but maybe the clock above the stove that suddenly seemed to have stopped ticking.

Then, in a firm voice, Mom said, “From now on, nothing comes into this house that can’t be posted on the walls for the world to see.  If you are embarrassed about it and have to hide it in your drawers, it doesn’t belong in this house.”

In his humiliation, Kelly managed to say, “Can we take them down now?”

“Be my guest,” Mom said, “and put them in the garbage where they belong.”

Trying to move past the uncomfortable embarrassment of the moment, Dad casually said, “So, ah, pass the casserole, why don’t you?”

When I told Kelly I planned to blog about it, he said, “Hey, I never looked at another one the rest of my life! That cured me good. And, porn never became one of my vices. I never wasted another three bucks on anything like that ever again!”

Well, at least there’s that…

Some family memories just can’t be forgotten.

Family, Parenting

How to Motivate Kids

A couple of weeks ago, my neighbor asked me to write a blog about how to motivate kids to get good grades.

Report Card
Report Card (Photo credit: AJC1)

She asked me how I motivated my kids.

I had to think about it for a minute to remember, then I squirmed a little.

“Money,” I said.

I honestly don’t know whether our offers of cash motivated them, but we tried it.

Our plan was to push them a little harder to get As. So we paid a premium for As, less for Bs and Zippo for grades below a B.

I’m afraid our system turned out to be about as bad as our allowance plans. They started out strong and waned over time.

This happened to the Tooth Fairy too. She was a flibbertigibbet of a fairy really. I think she didn’t know what to do with all those teeth she collected so sometimes she forgot to do her job.

Cover of "Dear Tooth Fairy (All Aboard Re...
Cover of Dear Tooth Fairy (All Aboard Reading)

One morning we found a note on Annie’s pillow that said, “Dear Tooth Fairy, you should be fired! You forgot to do your job.”

The forgetful fairy quickly flitted into our house the next night and doubled the prize for the little tooth resting under Annie’s pillow.

But, back to my neighbor’s question about how to motivate her kids to get good grades.

Her problem is really not motivating them to get good grades, it’s encouraging them to get the best grades they can. She believes her oldest son is capable of getting straight As. He’s a smart, talented student with outstanding athletic abilities. She’s sees scholarships in his future and believes he should do everything he can to snag the best ones out there.

I remember asking friends and neighbors the same question about incentives when my kids entered high school. Most people told me they rewarded their children with money, phones, video games or promised to pay their car insurance or give them driving privileges. One woman told me if her children got straight As all through high school, she promised to buy them a car.

We didn’t go that far.

Cell Phones
Cell Phones (Photo credit: Scallop Holden)

Others used the punishment system – poor grades equalled loss of privileges like getting a driver’s license or playing video games.

Doug’s parenting theory is that the reason parents give their kids things is so that they can take them away. We relied on that for bad behavior but never really needed to punish for bad grades —  not that they always got straight As, but we always felt they were doing their best, and if their best only got a B or even a C in some classes, we applauded the effort more than the grade. (I honestly hate the grading and testing system in our schools, but that’s an entirely different blog!)

When it came to grades specifically, compliments for good work went a long way. We hoped gushing over the As or rewarding them inspired them to get more As.

Sometimes their best motivation came from their peers. When their friends were high achievers, they wanted to be too. It also helped that they set their sights early on getting into Brigham Young University, a school with high admission standards. Their strong desire to get into BYU spurred them to do their best, and actually seemed to do more than money. (Remember, however, that our money incentive plan went the way of allowance and the lazy tooth fairy…They faded out over time.

I did a little internet research and learned there is a lot of debate on this topic. Some think financial rewards are shallow and meaningless, and that we shouldn’t reward kids for doing what they should be doing anyway. Getting good grades is what they should be doing anyway so there shouldn’t be any further motivation. Others say that monetary rewards are effective and give them yet another reason for working hard.

 

While we obviously want our children to develop their own healthy motivation, sometimes it takes more maturity on their part for them to discover their own internal, personally drive and determination.

Some parents recommended rewarding kids with dinner at their favorite restaurant or buying them the new coveted toy or item they want.

I think the best idea I read was asking kids what they really want. Ask them, “What would motivate you?”

Some kids said a weekend ski trip, a new video game, a ticket to a special event or a special item of clothing motivated them.

What do all of my loyal blog readers think?

For all you parents, what works? What doesn’t? What do my kids think? Did any of our parenting ploys work? For all the college students who can still remember what their parents did, what worked? I’d love your answers and advice.

I’ll be sure to pass it on to my neighbor!

Family

The Joy of Giving

My mom called me last week to see what I want for Christmas.

When asked that question, I instinctively think, “What do I need?”

Then nothing comes to mind.

I don’t need anything.

But what do you want? Mom asked.

Doug’s Dad says you should never buy people what they need.

christmas-gift
(Photo credit: top10things)

Instead, he believes you should give impractical, unexpected gifts.

(Note: This comes from a man who also believes you should fall asleep every night savoring a piece of milk chocolate because “There’s nothing like sleeping with your throat coated in chocolate.” He also has false teeth, so take that into consideration before following his advice.)

Chocolate Kiss
Chocolate Kiss (Photo credit: alykat)

So, what do I want for Christmas that I don’t need?

I couldn’t think of anything I wanted that could be presented to me in a box on Christmas morning.

I decided I wanted my Mom to buy a beautiful wreath and place it on my Dad’s grave with a note that said, “Merry Christmas, Dad. Thanks for teaching me the joy of giving.”

She resisted, saying that wasn’t a “real” gift for me.

But, today, when I talked to her, she told me she gave me my gift.
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She went to the cemetery and displayed my wreath, and will go back tomorrow to attach my note.

And, I believe, somehow, my Dad will know it’s there, and he will appreciate it.

When I was a little girl, my Dad was the Jaycee president.

I thought he was famous because everybody in town knew him and he always seemed to have his picture in the paper.

He also managed to orchestrate the most amazing, magical arrival of Santa Claus I’ve ever seen.

He had him land in the middle of town in a helicopter!

Santa arrives in New Orleans
(Photo credit: U.S. Coast Guard)

One night before Christmas, Dad came home and gathered our family around the kitchen table and told us about the Sub for Santa program.

He had a piece of paper with the name of a family on it and listed the gender and age of all the children and what they wanted for Christmas.

“We need to help Santa this year because this family can’t afford Christmas gifts.”

I will never forget the feeling I had that night as I listened to him tell us about that family.

I loved the idea that we could secretly help Santa Claus and make another family happy.

We all excitedly talked about how we could help.

I went into my room and found a brand new doll.

I wondered why I never played with her.

I decided it was because she needed to be saved for another little girl who might need her more than I did.

I ran back downstairs and showed her to my Dad. He agreed that maybe I’d saved her because someone else needed to have her more than me.

He showed me the little girl’s wish list and said she was my age.

He asked if I could go shopping with my mom to get the other gifts she wanted.

I couldn’t wait. The idea of helping Santa made me want to burst with excitement.

Sub for Santa became a tradition in our family, and one way or another; we always found ways of giving to others.

The first thing my Dad did on Christmas morning was make secret deliveries to people in town who said were “down on their luck.”

We waited for him to come home and then ran into the living room to see what Santa left for us.

My parents taught me that the best gifts are often the good feelings that come from our own giving and not just from the gifts we receive.

I’m happy my Mom agreed to my Christmas request and delivered the wreath and a note on my Dad’s grave.

That is a true gift to me.

And proof that the best gifts don’t always come in a box.