D: Aaa, no thanks. That doesn’t really engender a lot of confidence in me when you say things like that. What if I said that when you were going to get your hair cut?
L: Well, that’s different…
L: Fine. Go to the barber to get your hair cut, but on your way, can you take this trash out?
D: You are such an add-on-task queen. You don’t believe in me ever just doing one thing at a time, do you?
L: Well, you’re going out. You might as well take the trash out while you’re going,
D: What else are you going to add-on to this errand? I know there’s something else you’re going to want me to do while I’m out.
L: Well, since you asked, want to stop at the grocery store? And, who is the movie villain voiced by Douglas Rain?
D: What do you need at the store? And, how am I supposed to know about that villain thing? I hate it when you ask me random crossword puzzle questions.
L: Whatever. You don’t hate it. He’s that Canadian actor that was the voice of that computer. Oh, you know, what’s it called?
D: I have no idea what you’re talking about.
L: It’s a three-letter word from that old space movie. Come on, you know!
D: No. I don’t know. And, I’m leaving to get my hair cut. And, don’t say, “How hard can it be!”
L: Don’t forget to take the trash!
So, in addition to talking and asking unanswerable questions during television programs; I also add-on tasks, say “how hard can it be?” every time he goes to get his hair cut; and I pressure him to help me solve obscure crossword puzzle clues.
I’d like to say I will try to improve in these areas, and that I am not going to ask him anymore questions during TV shows, but that would take the fun out of TV for me. I can’t just sit quietly and not react.
But, I’ve found a solution. Now, I text people and hope it’s less annoying.
And, at least I will promise never to try to cut Doug’s hair with the help of a youtube video even though I enjoy telling him that. I mean, seriously, how hard can it be?
I know I blog about my mom often.
Mostly, because she’s smart and funny and provides me with good material.
But, also, because I love her. A lot. And, I want to remember as much as I can about her.
Writing about her helps me do that.
While we were at the beach in March getting the house ready for the busy rental season, I asked her what advice she’d like to pass on to her grandchildren.
Without hesitation, she said three things:
1. Run. That’s right, run. Runners are passionate athletes and take good care of their bodies. If you don’t like to run, find another physical activity you enjoy and do it everyday. Forever.
While Mom has never been a runner, she is an avid walker. Five days a week at 6 a.m., she meets her best friend and neighbor, Shelia, at the corner and they walk. They often walk home on Main Street and notice everything, including that city has the ugliest flowers in the world in big, bulky pots all the way down the sidewalks. “They’re a mess,” she said. “They never take care of the flowers, and they look a sight.” This is coming from a woman who can’t tolerate one weed in her flowerbeds.
While she loves her morning walks, if she could rewind the clock, she’d run instead of walk. “Start with walking and pick it up a little more every day until you can run. Then, don’t stop. Run everyday. Be passionate about it. You’ll never regret it.”
2. Cut out the junk food, today! Don’t let all the garbage that has found its way into our grocery stores be part of your regular diet. Develop healthy eating habits while you’re young, and keep it up for the rest of your life. Your health is too important. If you eat poorly now. You’ll develop habits that will be hard to break, and you’ll regret it.
3. Pray. Pray. Pray. It’s what’s helped her get through her life’s toughest challenges. You can’t do it alone, she said. Everybody needs to pray. Then, get involved and stay involved in a church. An unstructured religious or spiritual life doesn’t work. You need to be part of a church community.
If we followed her example, there are few other things we would do too. One of them is read. She reads the Salt Lake Tribune every morning, never misses a day. And, she plows through more books than nearly anybody I know. When she tosses off some bit of knowledge that surprises us, someone always says,” How do you know that?”
“I read,” she says.
And there you have it — good, practical advice from a great woman who knows a lot of stuff.
I hope my kids, nieces and nephews will listen up.
It’s been 21 years since I heard his voice, felt his strong hugs, and smelled the Old Spice Aftershave on his cheeks.
What I wouldn’t give for a conversation with him.
Sometimes I imagine him showing up, like when I’m walking on the beach by myself, thinking about him.
As I walk past the fishermen on the beach, I remember how my dad struck up conversations with anybody and everybody holding a fishing pole.
“Are they biting? What are they taking?” He’d ask.
Before long, he knew a bit about everybody and a lot about where the fish were biting, and what bait they were taking.
I try to imagine how a conversation would go with him if I saw him fishing by the shore.
Maybe I’d start by asking whether he’s getting any nibbles on his fishing line.
But, that small talk would not be enough.
I’d probably pepper him with questions that were too big to answer.
You know, questions like “what’s heaven like?” “what do you do all the time?”
I imagine me asking them so fast that he couldn’t answer one before I was on to the next one.
Then, I visualize him smiling and shaking his head at me, and saying, “You still can’t slow down, can you?”
It reminds me of the story about when I was born.
It was October when my mom called my dad from their little two bedroom apartment in Utah to tell him she was in labor with me, and he said, “Now? But it’s the opening of the deer hunt!”
As the owner of the town dairy, Dad had just finished his home delivery route and I’m sure he was ready to start cleaning his hunting rifle or seasoning his Dutch oven for his campfire dinners.
“You can’t have the baby now!” he said. “I’m getting ready for the hunt!”
“To hell with the deer hunt,” Mom said. “This baby’s coming whether it’s the hunt or not, so you better get yourself home now and get me to the hospital.”
Even with the deer hunt looming, he dutifully drove his milk truck back to the dairy, parked it, got into his red Chevy pickup truck and headed back to their apartment to pick up Mom. He helped her up into the cab of the truck, and then hurried her to the hospital for the delivery.
Then he waited patiently in the lobby like a good fifties dad.
At the end of my birth story, he always said, “You were in a hurry to get here and you haven’t slowed down since.”
I’m sure he’d still think I haven’t slowed down, even though I’m always trying.
Aside from knowing what it’s like where he is, I’d want to know how he’s involved in our family life.
It doesn’t make sense that he wouldn’t still be involved.
I believe our family members are closer to us than we know, like our guardian angels.
Maybe God dispatches them to answer some of our prayers.
Jeffrey Holland, one of my favorite LDS apostles, said, “From the beginning down through the dispensations, God has used angels as His emissaries in conveying love and concern for His children.”
He said, “Usually such beings are not seen. Sometimes they are. But seen or unseen they are always near. Sometimes their assignments are very grand and have significance for the whole world. Sometimes the messages are more private. Occasionally the angelic purpose is to warn. But most often it is to comfort, to provide some form of merciful attention, guidance in difficult times.”
I believe my dad’s been around during some of my difficult times to give me some of that merciful attention.
How could he have stayed away during those long months I battled cancer?
How could he have stayed away when my brothers, sister, mom, or his grandchildren have needed comfort?
Elder Holland said, “I testify of angels, both the heavenly and the mortal kind. In doing so I am testifying that God never leaves us alone, never leaves us unaided in the challenges that we face…On occasions, global or personal, we may feel we are distanced from God, shut out from heaven, lost, alone in dark and dreary places. Often enough that distress can be of our own making, but even then the Father of us all is watching and assisting. And always there are those angels who come and go all around us, seen and unseen, known and unknown, mortal and immortal.”
Because of this and my belief that my dad is one of those angels, I can confidently wish him a Happy Father’s Day and know he’s near enough to hear it ,and know I mean it.
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.
“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.”
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.
Happy Mother’s Day. I would love to hear your thoughts on motherhood.