Joy, week 11

Tonight I feel overwhelmed with gratitude for the intense but wonderful week we had.  It was so many things packed into seven days that I hardly know where to begin.  I sat down this morning to write in my journal and it took more than two hours to summarize the events and what they mean to me.

There were things that didn’t go well.  We didn’t adjust well to the Daylight Savings time change and everyone is living on the brink of exhaustion.  My youngest two literally became nocturnal for several days and for no reason.  The lack of sleep took it’s toll and soon my baby was battling a fever for several days.  Six of us have ugly coughs.  I spent $145 on gas this week to get everyone to their commitments.  We ate fast food for dinner four times.   I didn’t touch my blog.  Basically we were a family running too fast and lots of things didn’t happen.

But lots of other things DID happen.  Wonderful things.  Things I need to remember.

My oldest four children take piano lessons but my son’s schedule prevents him from going at our scheduled time.  His teacher has allowed us to take a temporarily open Saturday slot when we can fit it in and my 7 year old has stepped into our open Tuesday slot so we can keep it.   My son needed to select a recital piece but we knew he couldn’t go on Saturday and I had four hours of driving to do on Tuesday night.  At 10:00 p.m. on Tuesday night she texted me and I drove him over to her house to listen to her play the piece for him, then give him a 20 minute lesson on the first two pages.  I sat there and learned some interesting things about how he learns.  The first time he played the notes he was already memorizing them.  It was fascinating.  We came home at 10:30 p.m. and I thought to myself that we might have just set a record for the latest piano lesson of all time.  More than that, my heart swelled with gratitude for a woman who cares so much about my son and his progress that she would do such a thing.  My heart is still swelling with thanks to and for her.  It was just one of those moments that a mom doesn’t soon forget.

On Wednesday I hosted a casual lunch for five women I’ve known for years.  We all still live in the same general community but are so busy with our families that we rarely sit and talk.   I’ve really backed away from entertaining in the past couple of years so hosting it felt like a stretch for me.  Gratefully I got the house tidy and the bathrooms clean before everyone arrived.  Honestly, the event itself really wasn’t a big deal, but it became a singular thing to me when I did a little math and realized that between the six of us we have thirty seven children.  It was fun to watch the surprise on their faces when I said it, and the slow smiles that spread across their faces.  I feel so blessed to know these amazing women who are raising great families and living lives I admire tremendously.  What would we mothers do without each other?

Wednesday night I also had the opportunity to speak briefly at a Relief Society meeting in my local congregation.   It was a great opportunity to gather with more awesome women.  I go to these meetings and see women who have raised their families and take hope in knowing they lived through it.  I see women just starting their families and feel inspired by their energy and enthusiasm.  I see women who have experienced great loss, trials, and broken dreams who have moved on and made the best of life.  It is wonderful to be with them.  To have the opportunity to share some thoughts about the book Daughters in My Kingdom and to share my feelings about my Savior with them was icing on the cake.

Three minutes after speaking I was running to my car to pick up my husband and son and head to a late appointment we’ve been anticipating for weeks.   It was an appointment that was paradoxical in nature:  surprising yet completely expected, an answer and a question at the same time.  My feelings and thoughts since have been so completely split that I’ve opted not to talk about it, write about it or do anything about it until I can settle in my heart exactly what I’m supposed to do.  It’s like we’re standing here, poised to take the first step that is also the millionth step.  I know so much but so little.  I am so willing act yet so unsure of what comes first, determined to do it right and certain I’ll mess up.  It’s an interesting sort of pause.

That night 10:30 p.m. found us at the In-N-Out Burger drive through so my husband and son could eat a second dinner while I talked on the phone to a friend in need.

Thursday brought more driving, practices, games, scrimmages, lessons.  We went to the local caucus meeting for our local precinct, leaving my daughter babysitting for the second night in a row.  The meeting took more than three hours.  At 10:15 p.m. I walked to my car feeling frustrated by the outcome of the meeting and wondering if voicing my opinion in that setting was worth another night away from my children, another day of homework that hadn’t been done, another dinner I didn’t make, another night when I wasn’t there to tuck the little ones in and check the baby’s temperature.  I did my duty.  I’m glad I went.  But we paid a price for it.  At 11:00 p.m. I was at my kitchen table with my five year old son, making a poster about him for his Star of the Week day in kindergarten.

Friday the week took a wonderful turn.  I went to school to spotlight my little man and he completely ate it up.  I rather enjoyed sharing with his class just how much he adds to our family even though he is child #6.  I told them that he loves practical jokes and his teachers’ jaws dropped when they heard he’s filled his big brother’s bed with baby powder a year or two ago.  The other boys in his class looked at him with new admiration in their eyes and I’m really hoping that no one went home to repeat the joke at their house.  My little guy ate it up.  I love him so much.

My parents flew to town on Friday and my sister and her husband came down from Logan that afternoon as well.  We loved having them at our home.  My children love them so much and while I wish we saw them more, it made me sort of glad that my kids understand what a truly special thing grandparents, aunts and uncles are.   My Mom and Dad were great, picking up my daughter from the Jr. High and taking her for a smoothie “on the way home”, driving to watch my son’s lacrosse practice, wandering out to observe our #6 digging in his garden, tickling the youngest three girls until they were positively breathless with delight.  They listened, watched, complimented, helped, smiled, and generally showered us all with love as if they have no problems of their own that they put on hold to come see us (which they do).  Friday night all the adults went to dinner:  my parents, my sister and brother-in-law, my brother with his wife and new baby, and us.  It was a really enjoyable evening.

Saturday morning was the highlight.  My daughter is singing in the choir that will perform during the General Young Women’s Broadcast for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in a week.  She was up at 5 am preparing for the dress rehearsal and on her way to Salt Lake City by 6:30 a.m.   The rest of us headed up a couple of hours later.  We walked through the doors and the sight of the choir took my breath away.  They looked perfect, so beautiful, like a sunrise.  It was the reason my parents came to town, to support this 13 year old girl of ours.   I feel overwhelmed by the generosity of their trip, the magnitude of their gesture of love and support.  Because children under age 8 cannot attend official meetings in this building it was a singular opportunity to take our entire family, including the little ones, and be there together.  Again, my sister and her awesome husband joined us.  We sat there as a group and smiled and listened and felt happy.  The last hour was a filming/recording session and I loved watching it.  This whole choir experience has been such a great experience.  I’ve learned so much.  I am different simply because my daughter gets to do this.

The rest of the day was a happy blur.  Lunch from Chick-fil-A with another ridiculously large pile of sauces in the middle of my kitchen table.  Kids playing with their Uncles’ ipads.  Some of us ran to our last futsal game of the season, where my little one took a nap in Grandma’s arms and my sister-in-law joined us.  Grandma and Grandpa took my five year old on a special shopping trip for his birthday next week.  All the ladies went to a favorite store (where we were all remarkably good) and to a chocolate cafe for dessert, then back home with pizza in hand for dinner.  Games of Acquire in my dining room.  It was just one of those days that oozes with happiness.

Then, as quickly as it began, it is over and all our guests are back at their homes and it’s our big little family again.  Some of them play with legos, others play Acquire in anticipation of being allowed to play with the uncles and Grandpa next time.  Some of them snuggle with me because it’s been a crazy week and they need a little reassurance.  I went with my daughter tonight to the last choir practice before the meeting on Saturday.  I sat next to one of the dearest, best, most exemplary women I know and just felt so, so grateful.  It’s quite an experience to be in a place where you can sit still, without distraction, for 2.5 hours and have gratitude wash over you like waves on the beach.  I am overwhelmed by the goodness of so many parts of our week.  I came home and got down on my knees to thank God for every one of these people who have been a part of my week in small and large ways, to ask for the Lord’s blessings to be upon them.  My heart feels so tender, so aware that the hard work is worth it, every bit of it.  I am grateful to be a mother.  I am also reminded that the free-flowing setting on my tear ducts tonight might be inversely related to the number of hours I’ve had to sleep.

Now, this report has been a travelogue instead of a report on my goals.  I couldn’t help it.  It was too full.  Here’s a quick summary.

My daily habit of scripture study keeps me going.  Period.  I’m working hard to clean the house and feel like it might be getting better.  I’m dreadfully behind on laundry and what’s clean is piled on my bedroom floor.  Oh well.  I wish I’d been better organized so we hadn’t spent money on fast food this week.  Oh well again.  I’m doing a lousy job of exercising.  I’m writing daily in the joy books I started for my children, which is really a blessing to me.

Some weekly goals fell through simply because our lives couldn’t hold them.  I penciled things in today, hoping to fix it this week.  I met my goal to talk regularly with friends in an abundant way, also meeting my monthly goal to make time for getting together with someone at least once a month.  I managed a few minutes of sewing.  I held my two little girls A. LOT.  I tried a new recipe that most of us liked.  I reminded myself daily of a woman who inspires me to live happily.  Thinking of her made me smile and live with more energy.

More than anything else, this was a joyful week.  It was a joyful week that required a lot of me, but which also broke my heart enough to let the good things really pour in.  I am amazed at the hours I spent basking in the joys of family, friends, and most of all, in the miraculous love that God has for us.  That love is joy.

I wish that kind of joy for you this week.

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