Monday, September 24, 2007

A Good Mommy/Bad Mommy Birthday Party

I came across my new almost-friend Sue's blog, Navel Gazing, the other day and had to share her tips on throwing a last minute birthday party for a three year old.

Her tips cover:
*How to make a Ghetto Pinata
*Ensuring a full guest list
*The roles of Tootsie Rolls

I seriously laughed so hard at the description of the ghetto pinata that my three year old wanted to know what was happening.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

because sometimes I worry I'm scaring my sistahs...

Stitches barely below younger brother's eye from toy rake thrown at him (age 4): $15

Remote control thrown across the room and against the wall (age 12): $25

Door to pestering little sister's room torn off its hinges (just last year): I dunno. He hasn't fixed it yet.

Watching maturing 18-year-old pray for his younger brother, learn to temper his anger. take his little sister out with his date and her little sister (and actually have a good time), clean the house-prepare dinner-and do the dishes without being asked, take his not naturally affectionate almost-man arms and wrap them around his mother with a big "I love you" attached: priceless.

in other news: said 18-year-old also just got accepted into BYU. I can't tell you how many days (including just last Saturday) I wondered if it was worth it. I can tell you now. It's worth it.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Cathedral Builder

Let me be honest with you--I seldom read forwarded email. Especially if it has something like "For all my Gal Pals" or "FWD FWD FWD FWD FWD " or "Scroll Down !!!!!" in the subject heading. Not that I don't love getting mail, but I just don't open most forwards. There are a handful of people, whose judgment I trust, that I break that maxim for. My friend, Kathy, is one of those people. She was my Beehive, Mia Maid, and Laurel adviser when I was a teen. She was one of my references when we adopted Jooj. She can send me dookie in electronic form and I will read it. So she sent me this today and I actually teared up. Maybe I am hormonal. Maybe you have seen it before. I don't know who wrote it, but I needed to read it. Enjoy!

I'm invisible.....

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, "Can't you see I'm on the phone?" Obviously not. No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, "What time is it?" I'm a satellite guide to answer, "What number is the Disney Channel?" I'm a car to order, "Pick me up right around 5:30, please."

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude -- but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going ... she's going ... she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a banana clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, "I brought you this."

It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe . I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: "To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees."

In the days ahead I would read -- no, devour -- the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals -- we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, "Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it."

And the workman replied, "Because God sees."

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, "I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become."

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, "My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand-bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table." That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, "You're gonna love it there."

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

The post script to this little forward episode is that the very next email I opened was from my favorite ~J who sent me the link to Mom Jeans. Which contains one of the best lines ever: "Because you're not a woman anymore--you're a MOM!"

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Bad Mommy

Yesterday Jooj kicked me in the face while I as trying to buckle her in the car seat. (The kicking is new, thanks to her and Papi bonding over "Human Weapon" on the Discovery Channel.) As I recoiled from the blow I cracked my head on the door frame. I was filled, for a moment, with absolute rage. And I yelled at her--in her face. Then I lightly slapped her cheek. She sobbed.

I spent all evening repenting--she has forgotten it, I think, but I felt awful. I begged for forgiveness from Heavenly Father for being less than patient with his precious little kung-fu master.

And she head butted me this morning--square in the nose.

Remembering my anguish, I did not slap or yell. I instead let out a "Son of Bitch!"

Is that progress? Will next time I just shake it off and make her some pretend tea? Or will I snap and drive away to Vegas? At what point do I finally overcome the natural inclinations I feel when I am in pain (namely, rage)? How do I get over that momentary impulse and become responsible (read: good mommy) for my actions?

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


I am sitting here with tears in my eyes. Not the same kind of tears I had earlier in the day. Earlier in the day I had some exhausted mommy tears. Tired of the incessant heat (what is UP with the 100+ degree weather?!?!?!?), sick toddler, sleep deprived mommy, hating hubby's new job, "why are there NEVER enough quarters around to get the laundry done?!??!" tears.

Finally made it out to mom's house to get some laundry done. (What a blessing to have family near by!!!!!!!!) Hubby got home earlier than expected. Go out for a fast food dinner. Feeling mediocre. Tears dried up. Come home to a package on the door. A package? A package for me??!!??!!! I don't recognize the return address....

Trip over the mess in the hallway. Add a cup to the dirty dishes in the sink. Sigh at the "castle" in the living room- it's been up for days. Toddler is ready for a dose of meds and I'm ready to wring her neck. FINALLY get her in bed. (I should mention that I usually savor bedtime.) Baby is crying and ready for more momma milk. Fill her tummy and rock her to sleep.

Back to that package!

The tears are back. Only this time they are not exhausted mommy tears. They are overwhelmed, grateful tears. They are tears of sisterhood and motherhood and everything that is right in this world. Tears of love, appreciation and joy in womanhood.

Sometimes I just need to let the tears flow.

From one mother to another: Thank you, my friend.