Friday, May 20, 2016

365 Days

Sadie just minutes before entering the MTC.

Our church is big on preparation. Prepare for your future. Prepare for catastrophes. Prepare for you callings. Be spiritually prepared. We are taught it all our lives.


Sadie was trying to prepare me. Or Someone was.

 From the beginning, my girl was ok to leave me. At the tender age of two, she toddled off, holding my sister Ellen’s hand as she left for a sleepover. No looking back, no tears or requests to ‘come home’. She chatted all the way to Ellen’s house and happily spent time with her, only sad when she was returned to me.

At eight, she went to Girl Scout camp. A week with her BFF in the Utah mountains, making boondoggle and singing songs. Still no homesick tears.

I have let her go over and over. Girls camp. Youth conference. Scout camp. I should have been prepared.

We are all prepared, we Mormon parents. It isn’t like it’s sprung on us. A mission- SURPRISE! We know they’re going. We talk about it as they grow. (“When you go on your mission…”  “Where do you hope to go?) We plan for it. The smart ones save for it. We know it’s going to happen.

But can anything really prepare a mother?

365 days.

Today it’s been a year. A year since I kissed and hugged my girl goodbye.  A year since I watched her walk confidently away. A year since she didn’t look back.

I have longed to be there. To share in her adventure. To watch her learn. To hear her teach and testify. To carry her when she struggles. To hold her when she cries. To cheer her in her joys.

But this is her journey.

The year hasn’t been easy. She has faced rejection, illness, discouragement and even sorrow over the death of a friend. For all these things, I have been a distant observer. Emails offer little comfort or support.

But I have also seen her growth.

My shy girl has become bold. And sassy. She unflinchingly testifies of what she knows and she doesn’t back down. The girl who feared teaching a small Sunday school class,  now bravely knocks on doors, teaches on porch steps, in homes and on the street. She is fearless and confident in her testimony of the Savior and His gospel. She is happy in the face of trial because she knows Whom she serves.

365 days. A year since I’ve heard her laugh. A year since she climbed onto my bed. A year since she laid her head on my shoulder.

 My arms are empty but my heart is so full. My girl has grown into a woman. A Woman of faith and truth. A Woman who leads and exemplifies all that is good. A Woman of Light.

I didn’t need preparation for that.

One year later.
Woman of Faith and Light

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Can You Hear Me Now?

I am so out of practice with this blog-writing thing. I start a post, then erase it. Start another and erase it too. Then I go on other blogs to get inspired and all I get is discouraged because they are obviously not out of practice. 

Here's the thing- I'm going to be in Listen to Your Mother. (Which, if you don't know, is a nationwide show that celebrates motherhood. It's amazing. You should go. It's May 5th.) And, if you go on the site and click on my name, it brings you here. To my blog. My very, very neglected blog. (If my blog was a kid, someone would call DCFS.)  And, though I doubt tons of people will be clicking on my name, if they do, they'll see my sad blog and think I'm lame. 
(I am lame, but I really don't want to have verifiable proof.)

So, I'm trying to get back into practice. 

If my announcement about LTYM seems familiar, that's because I've done it before. Three years ago. It was incredible. Life-changing. (and about seven other adjectives) Doing it again is... scary. What if I'm not funny? This is a real fear for anyone who tries to be funny. Remember Marlin from Finding Nemo?

But, I'm doing it. Because I'm a mom. And what moms want is for their kids to listen to them. And if they can't have that, then they'd like anyone to listen to them. Anyone. 

P.S. Wanna listen to me? And twelve other fabulous people? You won't regret it, promise. You can get tickets here.

P.P.S. You can watch my first video, too. Tired Mom.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Merry Social-Media Christmas

As I scrolled through my facebook and Instagram feeds this morning, I found myself feeling a bit overwhelmed. My breathing quickened, my heart raced and I thought I might be having a panic attack. What was wrong? you ask. (Thanks for asking.) But, really, nothing. Nothing was wrong. Everything was right. So. Very. Right. It was...Perfect.
Yes, I'm talking about the "Christmas of 2015" posts. Holy crap! You all had a great year! And as I looked through all the pics- fancy tables, gifts piled around the tree, beaches, and Disneyland- I realized how lacking I am. I mean, seriously, I suck at Christmas.
But then a little voice whispered (I hear voices, don't judge), "No one's life is like that all the time."
Oh, right. It's the social media bear trap. You know, where everyone posts all the best stuff in their life while behind the scenes they're just as screwed up as the rest of us? I'm guilty of it. Yeah. I delete pictures and crop and filter the ones I post. Ain't nobody need to see my gray hairs and wrinkles! I put up our best and brightest moments, too.
(I'm not in the picture because my hair wasn't done.
And I didn't have a Star Wars shirt. And it's out of focus.Like me.)

So, while I was thinking about all this perfection,and the guilt it creates, I decided I'd give you all a belated Christmas gift--and tell you about my failures this Christmas.

Fail #1- I am over this Santa thing.

It's been 23 years I've had to pretend about Santa. And, no, I'm not a Santa-hater, I think it's great. But after a while, you get tired of having to come up with an explanation about why your kid gets a Nerf gun from Santa when his friend down the street gets an XBox1. Noah (the only one left who believes in the Big Guy) told me a few weeks ago about a gift he wanted-

N-I want a remote control BB8 for Christmas.
Me- Um, ok. Let's look that up. (furiously typing on computer)  Whoa. That thing costs $200. How do you think you can get a gift that costs that much?
N- Uh, Santa.

It took every ounce of willpower I had to not say, "Yeah, Santa? That's me. Always has been. And I don't have $200 for one gift."
Maybe next year he'll find out the truth.

Fail #2- We had help.
Here's a little confession- we didn't have enough money for Christmas. I know, I know, no one wants to talk about money. It's uncomfortable, But I'm going there. We have one income, I'm in school full-time, six kids at home and a missionary out. Big surprise-money is tight. So, we had help. Some very kind and generous people helped with our Christmas. Here's the thing, we all want to give service at Christmas, but no one wants to acknowledge they need help and therefore, don't want to accept it. Hey, people, how can anyone give service if no one takes service??? It's ok to need help now and then, we all do. (And, if you don't need anything, but someone wants to do something for you, let them. Don't deny someone blessings because of your pride.)

Fail #3- My house is not clean.

Nope. We straightened and I made the boys vacuum on Christmas eve, but it wasn't spotless. I don't know when's the last time the kitchen floor got mopped (all this snow? ten minutes and it'd be muddy again). We sat on Christmas morning surrounded by wrapping paper and candy wrappers and paper plates. With smiles on our faces. We can clean later, the mess isn't going anywhere.

Faces like this are more important than mopped floors.
Fail #4- We ate unhealthily.
This probably isn't a big surprise, we all splurge during the holidays, right? But, our Christmas doesn't consist of a fancy-sit-down-tablecloth-and-china dinner. I made a ham. And rolls (Rhodes, because I didn't want all that work). I managed to ruin the "good Jell-o" by forgetting it was in the freezer to cool. It was a bright red mess of glop. I also forgot the veggie tray fixins. So, we had ham and rolls, and sausage and cheese, and candy. I don't think any of us ate a single vegetable all day. (Yet, somehow, we're all alive.)

Fail #5- My kids played video games. All day.
Hello, my name is Julie, and I let my kids play video games.
They all asked for video games. So we let them play video games. All day. Guess what? It was quiet. All day. Yeah, now who's crazy? 

Fail #6- We weren't spiritual.
OK, this is one I do feel guilty about. We usually start Christmas day with family prayer and some reflection on the true meaning of Christmas. This year, I was tired. And excited about skyping with Sadie later. And, we skipped it. And, we didn't lose our testimonies or forget why we celebrate.

So there it is. My not-so-perfect Christmas. Don't get me wrong, I love social media and I LOVE seeing into the lives of my friends. This is just a gentle reminder not to compare our failures to the stuff we see online. Be fair. Be kind. Love yourself a little more. And give yourself a break. You're doing just fine.

                                     Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

49 is Fabulous

Last week was my birthday. It wasn't a "big" one that ended in a zero. All the same, it felt big. Maybe because the one ending in zero is next year. And that zero will have a 5 in front of it. Yes, it's true.
I turned 49.

And honestly, I'm wondering how the hell it happened. No, I'm not kidding, not being glib. I really don't understand how I'm suddenly an 'older' person. OK, maybe it wasn't so sudden. I've been 'older' for a few years now. But, this year, I feel it.

I could blame it on college. I walk around campus in the ant-like crowds and can't miss the age differences. I'm fully aware of the smooth skin and tight everything on those kids. They're overly stylish even in their I-don't-care fashion. They talk about dating and roomates and who just got home from what mission. I walk among them as invisible as a tree--something to maneuver around.

But it's more than my new-found student-status. It's my children getting older, leaving home, having babies. It's the aches that don't go away and the wrinkles that appear and mock my moisturizing routine. It's seeing movie stars my age and saying, "Wow. They've gotten old." and realizing, so have I.

And it's the number.


Over the weekend, the Handy Man and I went 'away'. I know, a few miles down I-15 to a different city may not seem exotic. (It wasn't.) But a couple days with no kids is a vacation in my book. And I had an epiphany--being older is not bad.

We went to a dear friend's reception.(She's my age.) We sat in the beautiful garden, ate the tomato pesto soup and pineapple coconut cake, My friend and her new husband (who knew each other as teenagers and reconnected all these years later) grinned and held hands. Young love may be nice, but this, new love after years alone, this was bliss.

We slept late because we could. We didn't worry about the kids at home because they can take care of each other. We sat in the hot tub, silently intimidating the teenage boys to vacate after just five minutes. We went to the movie in the middle of the day. We ate dinner where we talked about personality tests and where we'd really like to vacation. (Puerto Rico is at the top of the list.)

And as we drove home, I thought about my age. And decided to own it. I've earned the wrinkles and the stretch marks. I've lived through happy times and moments when my world seemed to end. I've raised my children with love and the gospel. I've taught and I've learned, tried and failed and succeeded.

And the thing is, I'm nowhere near done.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Your Mom Goes to College

(One of my classes today.)

Today I started a new chapter in my life. It's called,

Your Mom Goes to College

As my first day at Weber State ended, I realized there are a few things that might happen if you return to school after twent--mffshh *ahem* a lot of years. 

If your mom goes to college she might assume that buying a parking pass means she'll just arrive and find a place to park. When she spends 35 minutes trying to find a parking spot, she might start swearing. A lot. She also might almost hit another car. And then, when she realizes she's already late for class she might just park illegally on a residential street screaming "Screw it! Give me a ticket!" and then run to class. 

She might arrive at her first class ten minutes late. Arriving late might give her anxiety*.  Then she might spend the next hour trying to pay attention to the teacher while also wondering how much her parking ticket will cost.

If your mom goes to college she might search through the crowds trying to find someone, anyone, who isn't young enough for her to have given birth to. She might not succeed.**

She might wonder  if she's the only one whose feet hurt because she wore those damn flip-flops. Because they were cute. Then she might notice that about 89% of the students wore flip-flops. She might try to ignore the fact that the 89% have young-enough-to-be-your-kid, non-plantar-faciitis feet.

If your mom goes to college, she might run to her car after class, prayingthat she didn't get a ticket. She might see a parking meter-maid (who is not a maid, but an old, gray-haired man) just three cars away from her minivan. Upon seeing said meter-man, she might run to her van to get there before he does. Then she might jump in and drive away as fast as possible, laughing and thanking heaven for small miracles.

If your mom goes to college, she might arrive home ready for a nap and hopeful that day two will be less stressful.

*I am a habitually punctual person. Like OCD-punctuality. Being 5 minutes early is late. Being ten minutes late--I might die.

**With the exception of my second professor. His salt and pepper beard comforted me.

(If you don't get the Napoleon Dynamite reference, I highly recommend you to find the movie and watch it, preferably late at night when you're punchy.)