Friday, July 31, 2009

Growing Up

I have one son who is straining against childhood to grow up into a teenager. I have another son who is enjoying all things kid-like and may never grow up. My mom tells me that is typical of kids. (The boys are the almost the same age, my son #1 reminds me. They are stepbrothers who have been single children for most of their young lives.) My mom says you can have one daughter who is boy crazy at age 8, while another one plays with Barbie’s until she’s 12. Every kid is different.

So I look at my two boys and mourn the childhood they are slowing leaving behind, yet I am excited for their future teen and adulthood.

Somewhere along life’s path, I left behind the little girl I was and grew up. I’m the sister who cried (and still does) every dang time I hear the song, “Puff the Magic Dragon.” If you aren’t familiar with “Puff,” it’s about a boy who had an imaginary dragon as a playmate. They had marvelous adventures together until one day the boy grew up and left Puff behind. Puff was heartbroken. Just thinking about that song brings tears to my eyes, because as a child I knew I’d have to grow up one day. As much as I longed to date, drive a car, and run away to college, part of me wanted to stay a little girl forever.

Growing up is an inevitable part of life. I know this. It’s easy to accept when it’s your life that’s moving forward and another thing when it’s your children. I don’t want to miss a minute with my boys. I encourage their imaginary friends, light-saber fights and adventures in the backyard tree house. I want them to ride their bikes through rain puddles and play in the mud. Every scrape and scar is a part of their stories. I hope and pray their childhoods are happy. Like a mother bird I want to give them confidence for that flight into teen and adulthood.

I can’t help but think, is it too late to stop the clock for us grown ups? Can’t we keep a little bit of the child inside of us? Can’t we still believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy and build forts out of blankets? I’ve decided that I’m going to start moving backward now. Maybe F. Scott Fitzgerald had the right idea with Benjamin Button. Age 39 is a great year to begin to grow down (as opposed to grow up.) It’s a good halfway mark in life. When older people say or do immature things, everyone writes it off as old age. If I keep growing younger I’ll be a baby at age 80. That’s perfect. I’ll probably be in diapers anyway.

Monday, July 27, 2009


Most people, especially women, hear the words "mother-in-law" and break out into a cold sweat. Not me. I have been blessed with 2 of the best mothers-in-law a gal could ask for.

My first mother-in-law, Darlene, loves reading mystery novels, like me. She is quiet and soft-spoken (not like me.) She loved me and included me in her family from day one. She was never nosy or judgemental, even when I was young married wife and not-so-smart. She could have easily been upset with me. That's not her way.

I cherish the quiet conversations we've had about life, children, and books. She wouldn't give me up as a daughter-in-law, even when her son and I divorced. She loves me still the same. That has amazed me.

Darlene has struggled with MS for many years and is in a wheelchair for most of the day now, but her happy attitude hasn't changed. She is not angry or upset with her lot in life. She is still a loving wife, mother, and mother-in-law. She is a great example for her family of enduring life's difficulties with a smile.

My second mother-in-law, Rhodell, came into my life by way of my second marriage. Rhodell reminds me of my mom. She is a tiny woman with a lot of energy; a firecracker! She is easy to talk with and a great leader. She and I both love gardening and cooking. Knowing her and her family for my entire life has given us much in common. I'd like to think that if she wasn't my mother-in-law, she'd be someone I would choose as a friend.

She and my father-in-law had a his, hers, and ours family. She was divorced with two small boys. My father-in-law, Lamar, was divorced with four small children. When they married she had six children under the age of five. (Yes, she's a saint and she didn't lose her mind.) She raised Lamar's children as if they were her own. Ten years after marrying Lamar, they decided to have more. I am so grateful for her desire to have more children. My husband is their youngest son.

Rhodell's experience of divorce and blended families has been a blessing my life. She has helped me through many difficult periods in my post-divorce and remarriage life. She is one of the women I know who has been through so much and is willing to talk about it and help others. Talking with her always makes me feel better. She is a great example of learning from life's challenges and never giving up.

So while other women cringe at the word, "mother-in-law," I smile. I am so blessed. Heavenly Father knew I'd need these two angels in my life.

Friday, July 17, 2009

My Ring

I glance down at my slender ring finger and admire the ring wrapped gently around it. The ring is my wedding band and I love it. It’s not the ring I love so much, a ring is just a thing. It’s what it stands for that means so much to me.

My ring stands for the love and commitment my husband and I have for one another. We made a promise before our children, our families, and Heavenly Father to be husband and wife.

It represents the leap of faith we took after both enduring tumultuous first marriages with others and the resulting painful divorces. We were nervous about trusting again, but had faith that Heavenly Father had a plan for us together.

It symbolizes our friendship, which always comes first. We were friends before we fell in love. I want the best for him and he for me.

It means we are a team, working towards common goals. We help one another achieve our goals. We plan a future together as a couple and as a family.

It signifies our being bound together, through sickness and health. No matter what happens, we will be there for one another.

It embodies eternity. We work toward our temple sealing, excited that we will be together forever.

No matter what the future brings we are hand in hand, side by side.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Welcome to Life!

  • I know someone who is afraid to take the plunge, walk down the aisle, get married, take a wife, etc. He sees relationships around him that are challenging, struggling, even failing or failed. One day I told him---welcome to life!

    Life is messy.

    Life is sometimes painful.

    People aren't perfect and neither are relationships. Most people are doing the best they can with what they have.

    Find someone you love. Make sure you can hold good conversations about anything.

    Support each other. Cheer one another on.

    Go for it! Those of us in great marriages know there is pain as well as joy, but it's the joy that makes life worth it.

    One of my favorite movies of all time (thanks to director Ron Howard and writer Howie Mandel), Parenthood (1989), has the great-grandma character talking to her grand daughter-in-law about life being a choice. Life is either a merry-go-round or a rollercoaster.

    The merry-go-round is fun, but it just goes around and around. The roller coaster is up and down and back and forth. It's fast and exciting, and unexpected, just like life. The great-grandma tells the overwhelmed grand daughter-in-law (who is dealing with unplanned pregnancy #4 and her husband quitting his job) she prefers the roller coaster.

    So do I.