Tuesday, February 26, 2013

songs in progress

I've been thinking a lot about being a mom, lately. Shocking, no? See, I've been ever so slowly creating books out of old blog posts. I've been working on this since mid-December. Or was it November? I don't even know any more. It's not as simple as importing the posts and hitting print -- I'm reviewing for grammar and spelling, laying out pages, etc. It is incredibly time-consuming. I've done 3 years worth, and I'm working on the 4th. I've come to a few conclusions.

1) I used to talk a lot. I'm not sure if I had more to say, or my kids were funnier (I'll blame them - it's easier), or I just really needed an outlet. Suffice it to say, this project is taking about 100 times longer than I previously imagined.

2) I'm really glad I wrote these stories down. There are some hilarious ones from Donovan from 2008-2009 and I cannot wait for high school graduation or a wedding for me to pull these gems out. I'm also really glad I documented how insane Donovan drove me and how much I hated being pregnant that last time.

3) Between the talking a lot and writing the stories down, I can now say I don't think I'm a terrible, lazy, inattentive mother. I say this, realizing the full irony of working on this book, with Parks and Recreation playing off to the side of my screen, while my kids run around like crazy people and I throw food over my shoulder at them. Let's just say that I'm not always inattentive.

4) I like my kids. They drive me up the wall sometimes, but they are the coolest thing I've ever done. I may need to refer back to this in the teenage years.

I came across a talk from one of our church leaders and this part particularly stood out to me: 
Doesn’t it seem foolish to spoil sweet and joyful experiences because we are constantly anticipating the moment when they will end? Do we listen to beautiful music waiting for the final note to fade before we allow ourselves to truly enjoy it? No. We listen and connect to the variations of melody, rhythm, and harmony throughout the composition. (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Of Regrets and Resolutions," October 2012)
I think sometimes in parenting, it is easy to be caught up in getting your kids to the next step. Or anticipating the next milestone. In reviewing these old blog posts and seeing old pictures of my kids, I have found myself wishing I could visit "those kids" for a day. Their rounder faces, smaller hands, weird pronunciations - I find myself missing them. I look at those pictures on-screen and want to cup their faces and pinch their buns.

I also relived Joel's sister's final battle in the (losing) war with cancer. That was a rough weekend for me. And then I got sick. I think I was so wiped out mentally, that my physical just said, "yeah, me too," and that was that. It reminded me that I don't want to relive a lot of things.

Then I realized that while I'd like to visit "those kids" or "that vacation," there will come a time when I will look at this moment and want to visit the kids at this time. That little revelation made my breath catch. I realized that, in terms of Elder Uchtdorf, in wishing for the song that already played, I'm missing the song right now.

I'm a control freak. Oh, that's not a very nice word. I'm a control...enthusiast. (had to think about that for a minute) I like things in their place and a reliable schedule. But I'm trying to recognize that I'm not always going to know how the song will go or how it will end. I'm trying to loosen up a little. Surprise my kids. Take moments to do things they don't expect. My favorite thing right now is to leave a note in their room after they go to sleep. Certainly not every night. And maybe not even once a week. Just here and there. I'm teaching my kids how to make food, mostly directing them from several feet away, to control(!) my urge to do it for them. I have some days where I go to bed thinking, "Motherhood: Crushed it!" And then there are days I go to bed thinking, "Yikes. Let's not do that again."

Recently, a (wonderfully named) friend posted something on Facebook:
And I sat there with a lump in my throat. First of all, Sarah is a great mom. Second of all, Isabelle will someday regret that this is in writing (which is the whole point of us documenting this stuff). Third of all, I was stunned that Gemma recognized the amount of time we have spent on the couch. Granted, as I later confided in Sarah, some of it might have been selfish on my part, wanting a little nap or missing the other kids or just wanting to breathe her in a little more (see: lazy, #3 above). But I can confidently say that, yes, I always have time to cuddle on the couch. Sometimes it's just five minutes, sometimes it's more. But I realized that if those little moments have added up and she knows that her mom always has time for her and because of that, she wants to be a mom, well then, I've done my job.

I am incredibly grateful that my friend shared that story. She didn't have to. But it meant a lot to me. Sometimes I wonder if my kids understand our conversations. Gemma has been processing getting older, lately. What, like she's turning 40 or something? Here are some of her questions:
"When I'm a mom, will you be my baby?"
"When I'm a mom, will you be a mom and we'll be friends?"
"When I'm a mom, who will be your kids?"
I tell her that I will always be her mom and when she has kids, I will be a grandma and we will be great friends. To know that she not only understands this, but then relays it to her friend? Let's just say that considering it takes 8 requests to pick dirty underwear up off the floor (for ALL the kids, not just her), I find it remarkable that she gets the whole girl-mom-grandma concept.

Now, with that being said, it's time to make calzone. So I'm going to call the kids down here and see what kind of mayhem ensues. It's quite possible we'll end up with a pizza. Or just a pile of sausage, cheese, spinach and olives. Throw some sauce on it, and it will be delicious, I'm sure. Either way, I will enjoy the process, but also the product.


janine said...

Amen! you are a great mom, by the way! I need to do more cuddling.

laura said...

Love this. And I like the term "control enthusiast." I'm definitely going to use that one.

Sarah Burgoyne said...

Your post makes me smile :) You are a great mom and a great friend.

Becca said...

Love this post. All of it. Give me more. :)