Friday, February 25, 2005

I'm enough for your love

So maybe I'm the only Mormon girl getting revelation through Indigo Girls lyrics, I don't know. But here's what's happened to me last night and this morning.

I think it's because I'm over 30 now and not so brashly confident about myself as I used to be, but the last couple of years for me have involved a lot of increased awareness of my own shortcomings. I don't just mean mistakes and little problems, I mean ways in which my self falls short, in which I am not enough. I'm not a great time manager, I have no self control when it comes to food, I'm kind of lazy, I'm an impulsive word-thrower, I'm a nitpicker, I anger easily, I hold grudges, I fail to follow through, I'm selfish ... I could go on and on.

Most recently this has affected my relationship with my wonderful husband. I slip and let one of these things show, or realize that he has seen one of them clearly, and then I spiral downward. How on earth could he love me, knowing all I am? And then I am worse, I behave worse, I pick fights and it's a big fat mess. Every time he opens his mouth to speak to me I half expect it to be my final indictment. I press him to say more, not knowing whether I want him to reassure me that he loves me anyway or admit that he knows he made a humongous mistake, choosing me. And he will say neither. He's not a guy to be pressed.

Over the weekend we watched Hidalgo, which was overall a pretty stupid movie but worth watching for the sake of seeing Viggo Mortensen all dusty and ... hmmm, yeah. Anyway in the movie the Arabic princess, the very chaste love interest, removes her veil and asks the Viggo character simply to see her, and that's really the climactic moment of the romance.

Mostly that's exactly what I have been trying to avoid. Easier to pass in the night, focus on the kids, hurry through meals together, read or crochet or go online in the evenings instead of talking. Above all, I've not wanted to be seen.

So last night Glenny was over at the church helping set up for tonight's ward dinner, and I stayed home with the sleeping kids and did an exercise video and then put on Indigo Girls while I took a shower, and here's what I heard: big mistake,
a bad choice, a [something] voice sounding like an ache
In my day, not too bad, but too real to go away ...

And I don't know how you show such gentle disregard
For the ugly in me that now I see for so long I took so hard
But I truly believe you see the best in me
I'm enough for your love, and the thought sets me free in you
Got no worries on my mind and I know just what to do
That's to treat you right and love you kind
Thank you ever on my mind
Love is just like breathing when it's true ...

Okay, aside from the possible irony that a couple of lesbians sing the truest and most telling love songs I've ever heard (my other favorite is the older, "Power of Two") ... why did I not see this before, that the main problem is my own lack of trust? That my warped neediness for both love and hatred has been preventing me from giving anything of value to my husband? Why haven't I been able to believe that he could see me, see everything about me and love me anyway?

I should be able to believe that, because I think I see him pretty clearly, good, bad and ugly, and adore him all the same, even more than I adored him when he was a spiky-haired punk rock high school senior in 1989, when I was 15. So maybe what I need to do is treat him right and love him kind, instead of all this crap that's been going on.

And you might think this is the end, but it's not ...

Because this also applies to someone else, another person who can gently disregard the ugly in me, and that of course is Jesus Christ. It's one of those things I know but forget, that I'm enough for His love. And if I'm enough for Him, I ought to be able to trust that I can be enough for my husband, my kids and myself.

Don't know how Emily Saliers would feel about her words being turned for straight love and Jesus, but that's how I do things ...

Monday, February 21, 2005

The "Other Mama"

I was speaking to my sister-in-law about funny things Marc does at daycare that he won't do at home. For instance, he will take any medicine without a fuss from Miss Cynthia, but absolutely refuses to take medicine from me. He will under no circumstances eat any vegetables unless they are the same ones Miss Cynthia makes (Del Monte, by the way - I found out to avoid further dinnertime drama). Little things like this that I personally find amusing.

My SIL, however, told me that would really upset her. She was bothered by the idea of her kids having "two mothers". I guess in a sense, she is right. My children spend about half of their waking hours with Miss Cynthia. They are very bonded to her. She kisses their booboos and has helped them learn to walk and talk. She was there for my daughter's first steps and she potty trained my son. During the Summer (when they stay home with my husband) they will sometimes ask to go visit her. She has been invited to all of their birthday parties.

It shocked me, though, that my SIL was upset by this. The truth is, after going through multiple caregivers, I was SO relieved to find Miss Cynthia. I trust her with my children and I know she is a good, honest, caring mother, but she is also an excellent teacher and probably stricter with them than I am at times. It never occurred to me to be jealous of that bond.

I'm curious as to how other working moms feel about this. Do you ever get jealous of your daycare provider? Do your children have quirks that are different with you vs. her?

Friday, February 18, 2005

Funny, random stuff

My husband is so funny. Funny, funny, funny.

I came into work early today. We had family prayer in the boys' bedroom just as they were waking up. I kissed their sleepy little heads and took off.

An hour later, my dear husband called me on the phone. He was at the gas station, filling up the car before taking my older son to school.

"Did you give Sam his medicine today?"

He was still in bed when I left, dear husband. You will have to go back home and get the medicine.

"Do you know what happened to that mix tape you made for me in 1993?"

No, dear husband. I do not know.

Was I like this when I stayed at home?

Yes, I'm afraid I was. I called him every stinkin' day of the week to find out what time he would be home. Especially when he was a consulting engineer, because his schedule varied so much. But I called for dumb little things, too.

Actually, I still do. Yesterday morning he was all worried about a meeting he had scheduled with his Ph.D. advisor for the afternoon. So I called at 4 pm to see how it went. Oops, he was still in the meeting at 4 pm. That was kind of a faux pas.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could just both stay at home and be able to ask each other these silly questions without interrupting each other's work?

Maybe that's why so many people are trying to do Amway and stuff. When we were newlyweds, someone tried to sign us up. "You could be home with your family all the time," said the would-be Amway boss. "You could be a geologist ... as a HOBBY!"

We say that all the time now. "You could be a writer ... as a HOBBY!"

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Mommy madness

This is worth your time to read.

True for you? Whaddya think?

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Faith and the workplace

I was thinking a while ago about how hard it sometimes is for me to get my Young Women calling done now that I'm working fulltime. (It was hard before, too, but for different reasons.) This made me think that a secondary reason for the Church encouraging mothers not to work outside the home might be a simple workforce issue. Or should I say, a callingforce issue. Without all the at-home moms giving obscene amounts of time to Primary, Young Women, Relief Society, Activities Committee, and other callings, not to mention taking care of children while husbands serve in their own gender-specific callings, whotheheck would run the dang Church? GOSH!

(I think maybe I've watched Napoleon one time too many.)

But another reason occurred to me that is more complex, and bear with me while I think it out a bit.

When I was at home with my kids, I was immersed in a gospel-centric environment. By this I mainly mean that my friends were almost all church friends and my social activities almost all church activities. When I heard an opposing viewpoint on the radio (I continued and continue to be a rabid fan of This American Life, with which I often disagree) it was easy for me to dismiss it because, I knew, all my friends agreed with me. It can be a very insulated life when you're a mom at home.

Not that I have any good excuse for insulating myself so completely. I didn't grow up in a heavily-Mormon area. I went to high school in Pennsylvania and Alaska. Plenty of people disagreed with my beliefs, I know. But those who let that be known were easy to dismiss because they were mean-spirited and rude (Ben Seekins, if by some weird chance you are reading my blog, you have to know that I will never forget when you passed around your "Mormonism's Temple of Doom" pamphlet in AP History). And those who didn't let it be known ... well, maybe I was just too immature to recognize it.

And I've worked before with people who were not members of the Church. But that was in Utah. It was still easy to be recklessly, sometimes thoughtlessly confident about my faith, because that's what it's like to be in a majority.

It's not like that now. Right now I feel like I have to give a lot more careful consideration to opposing viewpoints because I work with and know personally many wonderful, intelligent, caring individuals with whom I disagree on important issues. The last several months have been an adventure as I realize, maybe for the first time, that my beliefs are just plain bizarre to most of the people I work with. We have a new assistant who I'm fairly sure is lesbian. Another woman in my office is the wife of a local evangelical minister. My office mate is secular-Jewish. I've never been in such a diverse workplace, and while I love it, I can also foresee interesting things coming down the pipe as California continues to confront things like same-sex marriage. (And by the way, my own stance on that is not exactly in line with the LDS Church, but it's also not too close to what most gay-rights activists are looking for. I think the government ought to get out of the marriage business altogether and just perform civil unions for anyone who wants them. Let the churches define and perform marriage as they will.)

(In a funny synchronicity, there's an interesting article in the March issue of the Ensign about this. It arrived at my house yesterday, but it's not online yet. I'll come back and link it when it comes up.)

Anyway, I haven't arrived at conclusions about this. Is it good for my testimony, my being in this office? In the long run, I hope so.

What about you? Is your work good for your faith?

And maybe sometime we'll have a followup: is your faith good for your work?

Friday, February 11, 2005

A small dose of Mommy guilt

I've gotten in the bad habit of always just responding to what Ana posts... Figured I should post something original for a change!

I have been really sick this week - I've already missed two days of work and had court this morning plus depositions this afternoon. Very very busy day. I was short-tempered this morning with my children. They were being pokey and grumpy and I was in a hurry. Marc kept complaining he didn't want to go to Miss Cynthia's (their daycare mom) and I was ignoring his grumblings.

Anyway, I picked him up this afternoon and Miss Cyn tells me he's been complaining all day that his throat hurts and he can't breathe. He hardly ate anything for dinner. So I take his temperature and he's got a slight fever. Poor darling- it never occurred to me that he could be coming down with the nasty bug I just got over! So I'm feeling a mild pang of bad-mommy for not being more in tune with his signals.

Food in the meantime

I am ruminating on a post about faith and the workplace. I'm not ready to write it yet.
Homework: Think about the relationship between your faith and your workplace so we can have a good discussion when I get it written!

In the meantime, have some salad. I got a big, gorgeous block of mozzarella from food co-op yesterday and I just had to think of a way to use some of it while it was still sooooo soft and fresh. Luckily I had some ham and pepperoni in the fridge, and a couple of weeks ago I planted a big pot of herbs on my front porch. You know, it' s spring in California. Neener, neener, neener!!!


Chopped Salad of Inspiration

1/2 head greenleaf or romaine lettuce
1/2 c chopped ham
1/2 c chopped turkey pepperoni
1 c cubed very fresh mozzarella cheese
1 c cooked, chilled, drained green beans
2 chopped tomatoes
Other veggies and yummy things if you have them, like peppers, olives, mushrooms ...
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil (more or less to taste)
1/2 tsp chopped fresh oregano

Toss together in a large bowl. Dress with a mixture of

1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Garnish with 2 quartered, hard-boiled eggs.

Some parmesan would be good on top if you have it. Some parmesan is always good.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Blogroll Up

I finally got up the gumption to put up a little blogroll. Scroll down and look in the right-hand column to find it.

I feel like a serious baby compared with some of the excellent blogs I read, especially Times & Seasons (where I was very grateful to receive a link yesterday) but hope you will enjoy reading them, too.

Also on there: Kitti's blog and the very moving thoughts of an adoptive-mom friend of mine, Essy. Essy's Catholic. I learn a lot from her thoughts about submission and relating to God. Her blog is called This Moment. Go read it!

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

A place for working LDS moms ... in the Church

Since I started this job I've been sort of living in a loophole, it seems.

This quote is from President Ezra Taft Benson in 1981. You can find it echoed in many Conference talks since then:

Beguiling voices in the world cry out for “alternative life-styles” for women. They maintain that some women are better suited for careers than for marriage and motherhood.

These individuals spread their discontent by the propaganda that there are more exciting and self-fulfilling roles for women than homemaking. Some even have been bold to suggest that the Church move away from the “Mormon woman stereotype” of homemaking and rearing children. They also say it is wise to limit your family so you can have more time for personal goals and self-fulfillment.

I am aware that many of you often find yourselves in circumstances that are not always ideal. I know this because I have talked with many of you who, because of necessity, must work and leave your children with others—even though your heart is in your home. To you go my love and sympathy for your present, and I hope temporary, situation and my prayers that you will be blessed by our Heavenly Father to compensate for a situation that is less than you may desire.

In other words, we're after an ideal. We want the father to have adequate income to support the family, the mother to be home with the children, the circumstances to allow additions to our families without obstacles of biology or money or marital discord. We want families free from abuse and divorce and early death. So much of what is taught by general authorities rests on that ideal situation as a foundation.

But in almost every talk about this subject -- at least in the last 25 years, which is longer than I've been able to keep track, since I'm only 30 -- there's that loophole, that place where you can look and say, Do I fit here?

I was so sure, when I was waiting to become a mother, that things were going to be ideal. Even when my kids didn't come by traditional means, I never imagined that I'd be a working mom. In fact, just the opposite. I can recall all too clearly many, many attempts at negotiation through prayer. Lord, if you'll just make me a mom, I swear, I will do everything right. I will give it a hundred percent. I will defend my family even unto bloodshed.

We adopted. Almost immediately, my commitment was challenged. When my oldest was about six months old, my former employer called me up, begging for just a few days, maybe even just a few afternoons a week. My first thought was defensive: I've waited five years for this baby! I'm not leaving him with someone else! (In those days, Sam even came on dates with Glenn and me.) Yet the thought of working wouldn't leave me alone. Turning it down wasn't right. Accepting it wasn't right. It wasn't until I hit on the idea, through lots of soul-searching and prayer, of working one full day each week that I found some peace. I did that for a year, with my babe spending his Fridays at Grandma's house, and then we had the money to adopt again. In the meantime, I think I was saved from baby burnout.

Now, with my husband working on a Ph.D., we are once again in less-than-ideal circumstances. We had the choice of sinking deeper into debt or sending me to work. Once this job opened up it sure seemed like a no-brainer, but I still didn't want to take it too lightly. It took six weeks of fasting, praying and temple attendance to decide what to do. My husband, bless his heart, stayed the heck out of it. It was my decision to make and my responsibility to face.

And here I am, working. Living in a loophole. I was so afraid that others, especially women in the Church, would judge me the way I know I judged others when I was in a more ideal situation. But I haven't found that, not a bit. Everyone I know seems to understand. Some people have even expressed admiration that I was willing to "take the pressure off" Glenn while he finishes his long education.

It's a comfortable place for me. In some ways, it will be hard to give it up when a more ideal family situation presents itself. But I hope I will give it up, especially when we are able to have more kids in our family. I think I will.

This all leads me to think that maybe what the Lord wants me to learn is not to obey the rules, but to obey Him. Not to accept without question words on paper or over the pulpit, but to search the depths of my soul for the place in me where His words are heard. Somehow He seems to like to make sure that I don't do things the conventional way, even when I'd be thrilled to do so. I think He wants me to learn to understand when others live a little outside the lines of the ideal family, too. It's not easy for me. But as I find my slightly-unconventional place, I'm learning.

Friday, February 04, 2005

We forgot my son's medicine yesterday

Oh boy, talk about guilt.

It was such a rushed morning; Samuel didn't get out of bed until 7:40 and we have to be out the door at 7:50. Granted, I was up and ready, and I could have gotten him up. But he ... ah, now this sounds so silly, but he looked like he needed more sleep. Anyway, I dressed him, shoved an Eggo waffle into his hand and took him to the bus stop. Poor kid. His teacher called my husband after kindergarten was over and asked if Sam had had meds. Nnnnnnnnnope.

She said she was amazed once more at the contrast. "Everything is exaggerated when he's not medicated," she said. "I tell him to get his crayons from his cubby, and I look over, and the crayons are on the floor, and then he's on the floor."

When my husband told me that, all I could do was laugh. Welcome to the last 5 years of my life -- everything exaggerated. That's one of the truest descriptions I've heard of life with an unmedicated person with ADHD. Everything they do is out of bounds, out of control.

At his afterschool program, Sam sassed the teacher all afternoon, we heard. At home, he broke my umbrella. I remembered when he used to break something almost every day -- clocks, doors, shelves ... it's a wonder we have anything left, really.

I know he didn't feel good about that day. I feel bad that he had it because I didn't do my job properly in the morning. I think it affects how he feels about himself when he can't get his behavior under control.

Here's to a better day today.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

More good food

This dinner took longer than a weeknight dinner should take but it was worth it.

Pork and squash in foil (en papillote if you want to get fancy about it)
4 lean pork chops, about 1/2 inch thick
4 pieces acorn squash (1/2 a small squash or 1/4 a large squash for each piece)
salt and pepper
4 tsp butter
4 tsp brown sugar
4 tsp honey

On each of 4 squares of foil or parchment, place one pork chop. sprinkle with salt and pepper; place honey, sugar and butter on top. Lay squash face down on top and wrap. Bake at 400 degrees for 55 minutes.

Potatoes with caramelized onions and bleu cheese

1 tbsp olive oil or butter
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
4 potatoes, previously baked, cubed
1/3 c crumbled bleu or gorgonzola cheese
salt and pepper

Cook onion and carrot in oil or butter over medium heat until caramelized (brown). Add potatoes and stir. Season with salt and pepper. Heat through. Just before serving, sprinkle with crumbled cheese.

You could use a milder cheese, maybe a feta, if you're not into the stinky stuff.

We had peas on the side.

It was good. My kids ate plain noodles, of course, but I was a happy mama eating this kind of earthy yummy stuff.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Now I don't want to look at it

After all my jubilant basking in the glow of my completed first draft of the university style guide, now that the time has come to revise it, I wish I could run away and never see it again.

Today would be a great day to run away. The sun is shining, the almond trees are beginning to bloom ...

Also, I would get out of the Young Women activity I am in charge of tonight. It's a "Reality Town" to teach the young women about keeping a budget. They'll choose a career, get a pretend monthly salary, and go around to different tables to bank and spend their money. I still have so much to do for it, it's not funny at all. Basically, a lot of copies still to make and the room to set up. The thing starts in three hours. One of those hours is committed (well, semi-committed) to work. Then I still have to go home and feed the fam as well as stop by the food co-op sometime between 6 and 7 to order my cheap natural foods and organic produce. This is the only day for that until next month (March! Next month is March! Man!) so I can't skip it.

Lest this blog become a one-note symphony, I'm overwhelmed. Again.