Home Depot and Divinity

As I was walking out of the local Home Depot with a cart full of paint-the-front-porch supplies, I passed a man going in who looked for all the world like Russell M. Nelson.  My first impulse was to run over and introduce myself to him, to thank him for his service and for being such an inspiration to me and so many others, but logically I knew it wasn’t him.  I don’t know if President Nelson shops at Home Depot, but, if he does, it’s not on this side of the Mississippi River, so Spuds and I kept walking towards our car.

While we were walking, pushing the cart, I began thinking about how the man I’d just seen, though he wasn’t a renowned heart surgeon or apostle of the Lord, was still a child of God.  We weren’t really parked that far back in the parking lot, but all of these thoughts just kind of washed over me and into me in a matter of seconds, so I pondered the divinity within that anonymous elderly stranger and thought how wonderful it would be if we all could recognize that in everyone we meet.  I have no idea who that man was, what he has or hasn’t done in or with his life, or anything else about him, but why should that mean I shouldn’t feel privileged to meet him, to shake his hand?  Can you imagine what kind of world it would be if we all greeted one another with a sense of awe and gratitude just because we are getting the chance to meet another child of God?  President Nelson probably gets special, effusive greetings from strangers on a regular basis, and I’m sure that bolsters him.  What if we all got sincerely effusive greetings, whether from strangers in a parking lot or at times of formal introduction?  What if we all met each other as if we were meeting an apostle (or a celebrity, if you’re not into religion)?  I can only imagine how we could bolster each other through such sincere appreciation for . . . each other.  I mean, I’m not saying I should have chased the old dude down and fawned all over him or anything — there are limits of social acceptability and all that — but if, within the limits of what is sane and acceptable, we all greeted each other warmly, in a way that made the other person feel special, important, noticed . . . how amazing would that be?

Very Deep Thoughts to be having in a Home Depot parking lot, but the conviction swept over me to approach each new person I meet with a least a little bit of that awe and gratitude, a little more recognition that I was meeting a child of God, a little more effort towards helping each person feel their importance.  “Why don’t I already do this???”  I wondered to myself.

Then I heard, “Hey,” from a bit of a distance.

I came out of my Very Deep Thoughts to see an unkempt man standing behind the car parked next to mine, but almost standing behind my car.  He and his clothes, beard, and hair looked unwashed, his eyes were glassy and his expression hard to read, and he was standing in place but shifting his weight back and forth, swaying from side to side a bit while smoking a . . . what was it?  Do vape pens come with attached boxes?  I really have no idea, but the smoke seemed to have no smell.  We had been walking down the wrong row and had just barely turned toward the proper one when his,”hey” came from that row over, so I initially assumed it had been directed at someone else.

Again he said, “Hey,” and I realized he might be talking to us.  I smiled but said nothing, because I didn’t feel like shouting across the parking lot, and I still wasn’t sure if he was greeting me and Spuds.  As we entered the correct row of cars and were halfway across it, again, “Hey,” but he didn’t move away from my car, even though we were clearly approaching it.

I said hi, but was getting a thoroughly creepy vibe from this man who was swaying and smoking from some mystery apparatus and standing so close to the back end of my car that I knew he’d be able to reach out and grab one or the other of us as we loaded our supplies in the trunk.

At the moment I thought we were getting too close to what could be a dangerous situation, my phone rang.  I gestured to Spuds to get into the car on the passenger side, the side furthest from Mr. Hey, while taking to Midge about whatever it was she needed to talk about and trying to make it sound like I was talking to an adult.  I loaded the car quickly and then smiled at Mr. Hey as I looked directly at him and squeezed by to get to my door, praying that he wasn’t going to let go of his smoking device and sway in to grab me.

After getting in safely, locking the door, and getting off the phone, I realized two things in slow succession:

  1.  I’d just failed at my brand new resolution to meet/greet new people as if they were amazing and it was my privilege — what kind of awful person am I that I can’t hold on to a goal for, like, five seconds???  That man was/is a child of God, too!
  2. There are very real reasons why I haven’t been doing this it’s-my-privilege-to-meet-you stuff already, and, child of God though he may be, his glassy-eyed swaying with no sense of boundaries and appropriate space was creepy.  Maybe I failed at my resolution, but maybe I succeeded at keeping my kid and myself safe.

My resolution isn’t dead, but I’m also not going to stop listening to my Spidey Sense.  I wish I didn’t have to.

 

 

 

 

Saying Goodbye to Two

Written June 13, 2017

Last night I said goodbye to my two oldest until Christmas.  We took L~ out west to begin establishing residency for scholarship purposes.  She will begin college in the fall.  A~ stayed out west for the summer to live with L~ until her own classes start back up in the fall, and then she will move the two hours south back to Provo.

My mom heart says this is a good plan.  This plan will help L~ acclimate and transition.  This plan means L~ doesn’t just get dropped off at her university in the fall, completely alone, totally away from her family for the first real time in her life.  This plan is comforting.

But this plan?  This plan doesn’t mitigate the effects of having to say goodbye to another one of my kids.  Aside from keeping her at home for college, which we couldn’t do (because she is a very determined and independent person) and wouldn’t want to do (because I remember the joy and growth that come from striking out on one’s own), no plan could protect me and my mom heart.  I find myself struggling with this in ways I don’t remember struggling when we dropped A~ off for her freshman year.

For the past 19 years, I have devoted my life to being a mother.  I know I haven’t been perfect.  I know I have screwed up over, and over, and over.  I know I’ve had expectations that were, at times, too high; patience that was, many times, too short; and love that wasn’t always expressed in the ways they needed to receive it.  All of that notwithstanding, I have devoted the past 19+ years to being a mom.  I gave up a career before I was able to work long enough to really begin establishing a career.  I gave up my budding dream of law school when it was just that – a budding dream, an absolute love of one college law class that made me want to get into the field of communications law at a time, it would turn out, that communications law would be turned on its head by the advent of the internet – because I knew I wanted to be a mother, a stay-at-home mother, and the time and monetary investment law school would take seemed counterproductive and foolish in light of that goal.

I knew that I wanted to be able to accept responsibility for how my kids turned out as adults, whether good or bad.  I didn’t want to wonder if things would have been better had they spent more time with me and less time in day care or with a babysitter.  I didn’t want to be able to blame anyone but me (and, to a lesser degree, my husband) if they seemed to be failing at life.  At the same time, I didn’t want to have to give daycare workers and babysitters credit for shaping my kids into good people, for doing what I felt was, ultimately, my job.  I wanted to do that.  I wanted to be the mom.  I wanted the buck to stop with me (and, you know, their father).  I knew from a very young age that this is what I wanted to do because: 1. My own mother was a stay-at-home mother and I always wanted to be able to be there for my kids and be the influence for good like she was for me and my siblings; and 2. I grew up being taught that this is what God wanted me to do, if at all possible; that being a mother would be, and is, my highest and holiest calling, and I believed it.  I still believe it.

But right now?  I’m struggling with this idea.  I’m struggling, just a bit, with a God who asks me to give up pretty much every independent, individual aspiration of my life and pour it all . . . ALL . . . into loving and raising these amazing people who I then, ultimately, have to give up as well.  It doesn’t feel like there is a lot of justice in that.  It doesn’t feel fair that I have to sacrifice the very things for which I have sacrificed so much . . . sleep, time, emotions, energy, health, aspirations, independence, quiet, financial security (for a time) . . . and the list goes on.

But I don’t regret it.  I don’t regret one moment of it (except for all the times I messed up along the way).  I don’t regret the sacrifices.  I don’t regret the lost career opportunities.  I don’t begrudge the time and energy lost.  It was time and energy well spent, and I know that.  I KNOW it.  I wouldn’t change any of that.  If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t go to law school.  I wouldn’t keep working full time after A~ was born.  I wouldn’t change any of it except for the many, many parenting moments I wish I could do better, do over.

However, right now?  In this moment?  I feel like all of my sacrifice and obedience deserves some kind of happy ending, and this doesn’t feel like that.  This feels like more sacrifice.  This feels hard, and sad, and a little bit lonely.  This feels like heartbreak.  This feels like God expects too much from women.

I know I’m wallowing in the moment.  I know this isn’t actually the end, so I shouldn’t expect it to all be wrapped up neatly with a magical sunset and a surge of happiness.  I am still their mom, and I still have plenty of screw-up mom moments with them ahead of me and, hopefully, plenty of good mom moments as well.  I know I am blessed to be their mom forever, and I could never say the same thing about being a public school teacher, or a journalist, or a lawyer (not that being any of those things is bad).  I know that being a mother is my highest and holiest calling, even if I don’t fully understand why it is I am the one, by virtue of my gender, to make so many unheralded and often derided sacrifices.

Yet, as I wallow, I can’t help but think of the Savior of the world who made sacrifice after sacrifice after sacrifice for those who derided Him.  On the cross he made what we consider the ultimate sacrifice, but prior to that, in the Garden of Gethsemane, he made a sacrifice I can’t begin to comprehend.

I know my sacrifices pale in comparison, as does the loss I am feeling.

I know He understands my struggle, and I know that He loves, truly and purely loves, women, including me, even though I am feeling a little bit set up and robbed by God at the moment.

I know he counts my tears.

I know that someday I will have a better understanding of all of this.

I know that, along with a Heavenly Father, I have a Heavenly Mother who probably also feels great loss as she sends her children off to the school that is mortal life.

I know how blessed I am to be a mother – to be the mother of my children.  I don’t know how motherhood can be so painful and be such a blessing at the same time, but it is.  I know it.  I’m living it.  I love it.

And I know Christmas will come.

What’s Comin’ Will Come, an’ We’ll Meet it When it Does

Those words up there are the title of a blog post I had swimming in my head last night as I was making a much dreaded trip to Wal Mart to buy cold supplies.

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With alll the snucking and snorfelling and trumpeting into tissues that some of my kids were doing, we were running low; and there were more of us coming down with it.  I could feel myself going downhill yesterday, so I knew I’d wake up feeling like garbage today.  I knew what was comin’.  I was right.  It did, and I do.

But people!  There is so much more comin’ today!  Like a new stove, and a new fridge, and a new microwave!  Incidentally, I won’t cook with a microwave, but we can’t leave the old one that doesn’t work hanging above the stove because it won’t match, so we’ve spent hundreds of dollars to buy a matching appliance that will not be used) (but will help with the resale value of the house should we move).  Exciting stuff!  Right?

Why, yes!  So exciting, in fact, that the person who did the measuring for the new refrigerator, a person who shall remain nameless and relationship-less for purposes of this post (speaking of relationships, did you all hear that Brangelina is divorcing?) found that the soon-to-be-old fridge was standard width, depth, and height.  When we picked out the new fridge and this person saw that it was the same standard width and depth, this person, unbeknownst to the other person, made the assumption that it was also the same standard height.

We all know what they say about assuming.

So what’s comin’, what we’ll meet when it does, is a brand new refrigerator that is about two inches too tall to fit under the over-the-fridge cupboards.

The way we see it, we now have two options: send the sucker back and probably pay some “yes, we’re idiots” fee, or raise the cupboards — all of the cupboards — about two inches.  We have 2.5 hours until our delivery window starts, so naturally my grandmother’s china is currently sitting on my bedroom floor, and The Husband is in the kitchen, with nothing but his power tools and ingenuity, trying to raise cabinets two inches all by himself.  We all know this means that ours will be the first appliance delivery in the history of appliance deliveries that occurs at the very beginning of the delivery window, if not earlier.

I’d help The Husband, of course, except I have to write about it all to avoid having some kind of heretofore never experienced nervous breakdown.  I did ask him what I could do to help.  He told me to pray.  Vigorously.  Does typing count?  Probably not.  I don’t think God reads my blog.

Are you there, God?  It’s me, E.

I hear the sound of power tools coming from my kitchen.  I can feel the cortisol pulsing through my body.  I don’t think the fight or flight response was designed to make a sick person want to flee her own house, was it?  I need chocolate.

You know what else is comin’?  What with the cupboards all being raised a couple inches?  Painting.  I’m going to have to repaint the kitchen.  I still have some of the paint from the last time I painted it, so maybe I’ll only have to paint the new exposed swaths of wall.  But still.  Paintin’ is comin’.

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T-1 hour now (I actually did go help a bit), and guess what???  The delivery guys called.  They’re running early.  They’ll be here in HALF an hour.  On the up side, the necessary cupboards have been moved up the requisite space and nothing got broken in the process.  That’s a tender mercy right there, I tell you.  Who knew we, mostly him, could do that that quickly?  On the down side, the necessary cupboards have been moved up the requisite space which means the unnecessary cupboards now also need to be moved so that our kitchen doesn’t give everyone vertigo, and we?  Are not particularly tall people.

Some of the younger kids are rather happy that they can finally reach to get their cups and their bowls.  What kind of parent raises the cupboards two inches shortly after that milestone has been hit?  The kind who doesn’t thoroughly measure for a new refrigerator, apparently.

“Hey, Quinn, how about you go get cups for you and Spuds.  Ha ha!  You can’t anymore, shorty!  Whatcha’ been doin’?  Drinkin’ Miracle-Shrink?”

As I’ve said before, we’re not saving for their college.  We’re saving for their therapy.

But L~ came home during The Raising of the Cupboards, and I gave her a grocery list and my credit card.  So you know what else is comin’?  Chocolate.  And I’ll meet it when it does.

So will Tewt the Newt.