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.

Yippe-ki-Yay Mumble Mumbles

People, we are one pig head short of and two adults over for a William Golding novel.  I swear.  I mean, we have the boys.  Not as many as Mr. Golding envisioned; but two of them, if left unsupervised, could lose all semblance of their humanity in about 3.5 unsupervised seconds.  And?  We have the flies.  Dear heavens to Murgatroid (unless your British like Mr. Golding, then it’s Murgatroyd), we have the flies.

We live in the country, so houseflies, irritating though they are, are nothing new; but last summer?  The population that got into our house quadrupled to the power of five.  Or something.  I’m not math-y; but I am pretty sure these bugs are out for blood.  Or info. Whatever happened last summer apparently just involved an inordinate number of scout flies, many of whom gave their lives to gather whatever intel the rest of the flies needed in order to lay the groundwork for the Fly League Invasion of Entirety, Summer 2016 (code name FLIES 16).  This summer I actually wouldn’t be surprised to find a pig head on a stake in my living room.  It would explain a lot.  For crying out loud, we even have a dragonfly in here right now.  Where’s a maniacal, bloodthirsty band of boys when you need them?

(Cleaning the toy room at the moment, thankyouverymuch.)

We can’t figure it out, this fly problem of ours.  This evening, as he stood with a fly swatter in each hand, coiled to spring at the next unfortunate winged menace to land on the front door windows, The Husband said, “I half wish we would just find a dead possum under one of the boys’ beds, because then we could throw it out and know we’re done with all this.”  I don’t think the husband has read Mr. Golding’s book, or he, too, would have said “pig head” rather than “possum.”  We just gutted the boys’ rooms a week or two ago, however, so that, along with the distinct lack of olfactory putrescence emanating from the upper level of our home, pretty much guarantees we won’t find any rotting animals, road kill or otherwise, under the beds.

There is nothing like a fly invasion in one’s home to precipitate these most unexpected conversations.

“You know what I like?” I asked as The Husband, L~, and I ran from foyer to dining room, window to window, and back again flailing and swatting away.  “I like it when I manage to hit one clean out of the air and I hear it hit the swatter, and then I hear it hit the wall or the window or whatever and ricochet off.  It is just so.  . . .”

“THE most satisfying feeling!” the husband exulted as he smashed a fly against a window.

Egad!  The dragonfly just flew into a wall sconce globe.  I guess that takes care of that problem.  I need to set a reminder on my phone to buy a bug net at the dollar store next spring.

“Yes!  Exactly!  So satisfying,” I said as I swung for another.  “Like, yippe-ki-yay . . . mumble mumble!” (and I did say, “mumble mumble”).

Strange how an overabundance of houseflies can cause me to identify with a fictional character’s satisfaction of blood lust even though I’ve never actually watched the whole movie.  Yes, Bruce Willis and my fly swatter are my home boys, until we get a good freeze, anyway.

After a good two hours of Fly Reduction with Intended Entire Destruction (code name FRIED) activities tonight, I am listening to the ungodly buzz of at least three flies as I type (which means there are probably about 20 still alive in my house).  Hopefully one of our two bug zappers (oh yeah, we’re all kinds of swanky right now with two, yes TWO bug zappers IN. OUR. HOUSE!) . . . hopefully the remaining flies, however many there are, will succumb to a bug zapper after I turn out all the lights tonight.

Yippe-ki-yay, mumble mumbles.

Tewt the Newt doesn’t even want you around.