Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Motherhood - Chapter 18 - 10 Years

Today begins the second decade in my eternity of motherhood. Yesterday we celebrated my daughter Sabrina's 10th birthday. She was born late at night after a very long and hard day of labor. I was so exhausted by the time she finally took her first breaths. I had no energy to think about how my life had just changed forever. But it had.

I knew my heart had changed in new and wonderful ways as they placed her in my arms. A new and overwhelming loved for this tiny little screaming creature filled me. It came unexpectedly to me. It shocked me how powerful I could love someone I had just laid eyes on for the very first time. But then that is motherhood, and I was just beginning to know its wonders.

I had anticipated that I would still work part time after having my baby. I was a criminal defense attorney and could do much of my work from home. About three months after Sabrina's birth I my boss asked me to go make an appearance in court for him. It was an easy job. All I had to do was go do an arraignment. Basically stand up for the accused client and say he was pleading "not guilty."

I got dressed and got a baby sitter for Sabrina and headed to the courthouse. I met the client and sat next to this accused armed robber waiting for our case to be called so I could say my line and go. Criminal courts are unfortunately always busy in California where we lived then. After a couple of hours I was missing my little baby so badly I just wanted to leave. I wondered if I had missed anything new she was doing. I wanted to see every smile she produced and every funny face.

I thought to myself at one point, "who do I really want to be with, my baby or this accused armed robber?" The answer was clear. It was not my client.

After three hours, our case was finally called and my 10 minute job was done. I called my boss and told him that would be my last job away from home. I luckily didn't have to work for financial reasons, and I didn't want to miss a minute of my growing daughter's childhood.

Ten years and five more children later I am amazed at how quickly time has flown. My baby is now growing into young womanhood. Her sisters are following her lead. And I am savoring every moment of my baby boys' baby and toddler stages. These years we have them in our home are really so short in the grand scheme of life.

In the next decade I will face so many new challenges of motherhood. Ten years from now two of my daughters will out of the nest and off to college. What a short time I have to train them up in all the ways I need to before they are gone.

I was forever changed as a human being 10 years ago. I became a mother. The center of my personal universe permanently shifted. For I was given the greatest, hardest, most rewarding, and sometimes most heartbreaking job known to mankind. I am responsible to teach and train and love and chasten the children of God sent to my home as they have been taught and trained and loved and chastened before the came to my care. It is up to me to let them know who they are, where they came from, why they are here, and how to fulfill their own destiny. Ten years ago I became what I will forever now be -- a mother.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Leaving Home

Today I went to my "home ward." I went to church in the congregation of my childhood to see my parents deliver their last talks as members of that ward family. I knew it would be emotional to hear my parents speak for that final time there. But I was not prepared for the onslaught of emotions that hit me.

Our family filed in just as the meeting was beginning. We sat three rows from the front with few people between us and the pulpit. On our way to our seats we passed by so many people I know and love from both my childhood days and the years we lived in my parents house while they were on their mission in Africa. This was the ward we lived in for my entire pregnancy with Camille, the miscarriage I had before I got pregnant with her, her birth and the first 8 months of her life.

The person conducting the meeting sat down after welcoming everyone and the chords of the opening song "Oh how lovely was the morning..." a song about Joseph Smith's first vision, began. I have such a firm faith in the reality of that event. The witness I received from the Spirit about the truthfulness of Joseph's claim came while I was a teenager attending church in that building with many of those in the congregation.

Suddenly I was filled with the sweet and tender feelings of the Spirit, feelings of love and warmth. Flashes of memories of significant events of my life that had taken place in the room I sat swam through my mind. Early childhood memories of eating Cheerios under the pews, teenage years of seeking and finding my own testimony, talks given as I returned home from college breaks, returning "home" to bless my first baby in the ward I felt was all a part of my family.

And then came the more recent memories of my time living in the ward as an adult. Becoming a member of that ward in a new way, serving the people in the ward and getting to know the new members who had moved in since the days of my childhood. I remembered the experiences I shared with them. How they cared for me during my pregnancy and the birthing of Camille while my parents were away. How they helped me with her on Sundays and loved her along with me. How we blessed her there in that chapel too.

And then I remembered those pews being filled ... filled with people ... people who loved her and more people who loved me and Jon and had never even met Camille as we gathered there in that room for her funeral. I remembered the emotions I felt that day walking into that room and seeing all those faces. It felt like I was attending my own funeral. So many loved ones from all the stages of my life were there to support me in my darkest hours.

And here I was three weeks shy of three years later, and all those same faces were running through my head and the love and support they were then and at other times in my life hit me in full force.

When Jonathan and I moved from that ward and into our current house 3.5 years ago, it was pretty easy for me to say goodbye. My parents were there. I didn't foresee them moving anytime soon. I would still see those people. I would still be at church occasionally when my parents spoke or gave a lesson or something. I would be back.

But this time, with my parents saying their goodbyes, I almost wished I could have gotten up to speak too. To say thank you to all those wonderful people who helped raise me and taught me and loved me and supported me. It was so much harder leaving today than when my own little family moved. And I felt it. Tears that started with the opening song continued till they passed my cheeks and moved down my chest. The tears increased as my parents spoke. My mother's expressions of gratitude to the women of the ward for whom she had fasted and prayed through their trials and who had fasted and prayed for our family in ours. Her powerful testimony of the reality of our Father in Heaven and the power of the Atonement brought further, fresher tears. Then my dad got up and struggled to keep his emotions at bay through the entirety of his 30 minute talk on the value of work (and lots of memories through the years of those with whom he had learned the value of work.) I struggled right along with him. The tears just kept flowing. They did not stop till the closing song had been sung.

My dear friends of the Hacienda ward, how I love you and miss you ... most keenly on this day of parting.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Fun Party

Can I just say that SYTYCD was awesome and my favorite part was the "Prince of Prose" segment on Lil C. I love Lil C. For this year's finale I totally want to have my party goers play "judge" and have each of us pick a judge to impersonate and us give comments after each of the final numbers. I call being Lil C. I am taking notes so I can use some of his own phraseology. I hope I can be both present and absent when I try to represent him and that none of the energy of my impersonation spills out of the cup of my body.

Both my SYTYCD and my Norwex party were such fun and I really enjoyed having everyone here. The treats I made were easy to make and I enjoyed eating them. Hope everyone else did too. We will do SYTYCD every Wednesday from now to the finale at 8:30 at my house. For the next few weeks I will be experimenting with truffles. I made regular Oreo truffles this last week. This next week I will try mint Oreos and then in the coming weeks we will do Nutter Butter truffles.

Come if you can! It will be fun!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Many Emotions

I have so many different thoughts and feelings running around inside of me right now. It is difficult to choose one to post about. So perhaps I will write a little bit about all of them.

Feeling - EXCITEMENT: Reason - See previous post ;). Tomorrow night SYTYCD!!! PARTY my house 8:30 p.m. Treats: Oreo Truffles and Bacon wrapped Dates!!!
Other reasons: Summer is coming. I am actually excited to be able to set my own schedule for our family and hopefully fill our time with some fun, relaxation, and a bit of learning too. I am going to have the oldest two girls learn to type this summer. We have vacations planned to the cabin and Dallas and Utah. I am excited to start a summer reading program with my girls. Lauren's reading abilities are just blossoming and she is really going to take off this summer I just know it!

I am also having a Norwex party this weekend that I am pretty excited about. I am making Oreo Truffles that my friend Emily made for her sister's baby shower. See all about them on her cute blog HERE. (I am seriously loving following her blog. She has so many talents I don't have and I am feeling inspired by her recipes and crafty tips.) These Oreo truffles were SO DANG GOOD. Even Jon loved them and he doesn't like Chocolate things. I am excited to make and eat some truffles and I am also excited to share with my friends about how amazing the Norwex cleaning cloths are. They have pretty much revolutionized my cleaning. I can't believe I can wipe my stainless steel appliances or a window or mirror down with a damp (with just water) rag and have it look totally streak free and cleaner than if I used Windex. Amazing. And the fact that they can clean up after raw chicken and kill all the germs from that... well like I said ... Amazing! If you know where I live, come to my party Friday night at 8 and find out more. Or just stop by whenever before then I and I will show you how cool they are.

Feeling: Nostalgia -- Reason: My parents have completed their move from one house to the next. It has been a week. It is starting to sink in that I can't go "home" anymore. The home I have with my own little family is still home. But my childhood home still always felt like "Home" too. Now it will be going to my "parent's house" instead of going "home" to see my parents. Does that make sense? It is a good change in so many ways but I am still feeling the reality of it set in and that makes me feel nostalgic.

Feeling: Sadness -- Reason: Missing Camille. I have been missing my Camille not for the 14 month old little girl she was but for the 4 year old she isn't. I am feeling the loss of the nows that are not. I wonder about how her personality would feel and how her presence would change our family dynamics. I wonder lots of things.

Today I was thinking about her on my drive home from a quick trip to the post office. I felt this warmth all across my chest as if I were holding one of my babies tight to me in an embrace. I wondered if she were close. A song came on the radio about what it would be like if heaven were not so far away and we could go there for a visit. The singer sang about introducing his kids to his grandpa. I am thinking how I would like to introduce my kids to their sister. How we could all get to know her just a little better if we could just visit for an hour. As I approach our neighborhood I see paramedics and a fire truck with lights flashing leaving our small community. I am taken back almost 3 years and wonder whose life is feeling upside down today? I find out from a neighbor they came for a very nice older couple down the street. The husband has been battling cancer. I send a prayer to heaven for them and wonder what I can do to help. How my kind neighbors must have felt that fateful day 3 years ago when they saw all the flashing lights outside our house... Whew. Heavy thoughts. A general well off sadness is showing off its depths in my soul today.

Feeling: Joy -- Reason: My family. Lauren lost her first tooth yesterday. She is so excited and it brings me so much joy to see her growing and reaching these fun milestones. Noble brings a smile to my face with every cute thing he does (naughty or nice.) Often when he does a naughty thing (like dump a drink or food on the floor on purpose) he will look at the mess and say with pride "I Do That!" Too cute that kid. Harrison is sleeping like a champ and just being the cutest, cuddliest, calmest baby. I get joy just looking at his peaceful, beautiful face.

Annie is learning and growing and amazing me daily with her beautiful mind. She is such a mini me sometimes. The other day I was teaching Sabrina and her that they ought not to argue with an adult when the adult tells them they can't do something. She tells me "Mom, to me it isn't arguing it is just discussing. I am just discussing why I think it is okay for me to do it." That is so me. I have to explain why it is not polite to "discuss" why you think you should be able to do something that an adult has told you it is not okay to do in their house or car etc.

I think I had a similar conversation in college with a roommate who was concerned that one of my roommates and I were always arguing. I was Annie in that conversation explaining to my roommate that the other girl and I were discussing and debating and that we enjoyed that type of conversation and had no bad feelings about it. (Shout out to Ann Melinda! My old debating friend. Still love you more than my luggage!) I find so much joy in this little girls spunk and spirit!

And then there is Sabrina, a girl becoming a young woman right before my eyes. I find so much joy in watching her blossom and grow to be more mature and helpful. She is becoming more responsible and is so good to help out with the little kids when I need my hands for something else (like cooking for my dinner group.) I enjoy spending time with her. She recommended a book for me to read the other day and I read it. It was so fun to be able to enjoy a book my daughter recommended to me. She turns 10 this weekend. Time is going so fast. I am so happy she is close to me. I hope that will never change.

Well I think that clears out the majority of the emotions swirling around inside. Nice to have it out on record.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

One more week!

I have been counting down. I felt it too embarrassing to post this any sooner than one week out. But a week from tonight is a night I have been looking forward to for MONTHS. Don't hate me or laugh at me for loving something so silly so much! I just love watching amazing dance. You know what I am talking about right?

SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE returns next Thursday night!!!

Usually I wait to throw Dance Parties till they get to the voting shows. But this year I am too excited for the 2 hour premiere! So if you know me well enough to know where I live you are invited. Come on over and we will watch some awesome dance auditions. I will be making things to eat. Any requests? Savory or sweet? Both?

Note the date and time: May 26th at 8:30 p.m.
Let me know if you are coming!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Relatable Honesty

Yesterday I watched the second part of James Frey on Oprah. He was the guy who wrote "A Million Little Pieces" and marketed it as a memoir and he actually embellished and fabricated many parts of the book. It was a big controversy about 5 years ago because Oprah picked his book as a book club book and defended him on Larry King etc...

Anyway most of the interview was on what that time of his life was like taking the heat and whether Oprah was too hard on him when he came back to answer what was true or not on her show.

I have said before on this blog how much I dislike lies and how I have a hard time with people who always embellish or just lie about things. So I have never really been a big fan of Mr. Frey and I have never read his Million Little Pieces book.

But during the interview Oprah brought up the fact that in 2007 James and his wife lost a child. I could feel his heart tightening as he spoke briefly about his son Leo who was born with SMA which is incurable and fatal. One of my angel mom friends had a little girl named Mia who also had this. Mr. Frey and his wife had no clue their son was not healthy until after he was born.

As he spoke about his son I could see and feel the emotions he was feeling. It is not an easy thing to talk publicly about your child who has passed away. Oprah asked him if his son's death put things into perspective for him. He said it did. He said that as bad and hard as the public scrutiny over the Million Little Pieces scandal was it wasn't even in the top 200 of the bad days of him life. Then gave examples of what really "bad days" are like the day your child dies, or the day you plan his funeral. And he said the hundreds of days after that ... those are rough days.

After that Oprah asked something where she referred to the time after he recovered from that loss. He didn't answer her question. Instead he said, "I don't think you ever recover from something like that." I am not sure that is a direct quote but he went on to say that he has recovered from lots of things in his life but the death of a child isn't something you "recover" from.

A couple of weeks ago I was talking to someone about this blog and how I wrote my feelings out. She offered that they were my "edited feelings" and it made me think about how much my feelings are edited here. I told her I do not think my feelings are very edited on here. I mean they are expressed in a way I like to see them. And of course I don't write every emotion every time because I just don't have the time to do that. But I believe this blog holds a true sampling of the feelings I have felt over the last three years.

And listening to Mr. Frey I thought it would be good to record my thoughts about his statement about never recovering. Because I think some people may think that I have "recovered" or that I feel "recovered." I cheered when Mr. Frey corrected Oprah on that point. Because I agree. But as often is the case, it all comes down to how you define "recover."

The way I define it and I think Mr. Frey meant it is that you never "get over" the loss of child. There is never a time when that loss stops hurting or that spot in your heart isn't tender to the touch. It is just like the article I posted a link to when my grief was fresh said. The piano of grief that has landed on the stage of your life never leaves the stage. It just becomes incorporated into the play or pushed to the background.

But I do feel whole again - forever altered, but whole. I do not have physical pain about my loss everyday anymore and I do not even feel sad about it everyday in that same searing way. But I do still think about Camille everyday. I do still miss her everyday. And I do still have times when I feel the waves of grief and the shock and loss feel fresher in my mind and heart. In those times, it is hard to breathe. I have to round up my mind back to the place where I can be back in the present and remind myself that I am okay.

These waves don't last hours, usually I can ride them out in a few minutes these days. And they don't come every day or every week. But they have been coming a bit more frequently as summer comes around. Tis the season.

So, at least for me, that is my truth. I am glad Mr. Frey made the correction so others can see better understand what this grief is like. It is good that others know that losing a child is not something to "get over" or "recover" from. It is something you learn to deal and live with. You learn how to keep the show of your life progressing on the stage despite the presence of the piano. And in the best cases you learn and grow because of it. In the best cases you learn to play new and beautiful music.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


"I want a corner piece!" cries Sabrina.

"I want a middle piece!" chimes in Ann Marie.

"I want an edge piece!" adds Lauren.

I sit on the couch smiling as I watch my girls jumping up and down in excitement as Dado takes the Dutch Baby I have made for dinner out of the oven. They yell out in excitement over and over which piece they want. It is a simple moment of joy - a single, solitary memory being made in a kitchen that already holds thousands.

In that instant I realize this simple memory is being etched into the walls of the house we live in making it just a a little more our "home." And I think about yesterday, kneeling in prayer with my family, my parents, and my sister's family in my childhood home for the last time.

How many moments just like this one are etched into the walls of that home? Do the walls remember the hands of my father who helped to raise them up? Do the boards beneath the floor remember my older brother playing on them with his hammer and little homemade car as the house was being born? Do the ceilings remember the countless number of times I sat upside down on the couch pretending to walk on them?

Countless memories of magical moments have been made in that beautiful old home. She has served our family for over 33 years as a place of shelter, a harbor in the storm of life. She has stood as a witness to our lives. She has seen our happy simple moments and felt the tears of our most bitter sorrows. She has felt our anger when walls were punched or doors were slammed. She has joined us in laughter as tricks were played, surprises were made and plans were hatched. She has hidden me in her cupboards. I have danced in her spacious living room, and roller skated in her basement.

This old home has been holy ground on so many occasions. Many of my most spiritual experiences took place within her walls. Angels have walked her halls and aided those who have been suffering within. Innumerable prayers have been sent up from within to call down the power of heaven. This old house had long ago earned the title of "home."

Driving away from that final experience in my childhood home, I feel the millions of memories etched in those hallowed walls imprinting themselves even more deeply into my soul. I can almost hear echos of my own childhood as I watch my children now and those memories of that home flood through me. We will make our own families memories here in this house. It will be to my children what that house had been for me. And I will carry all of these memories from all my houses in my heart no matter where I call "home."

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Who's Who?

Can you tell which of these two is Harrison? I think I know who he looks like. Same mouth. Same nose. Same dark hair. I have been holding him every possible moment and hating having to get up to do anything on my do list. I just want to hold him and enjoy his snuggly self every minute.

Last night Harrison fell asleep on my chest while I was burping him. I sat and rocked him sound asleep for about two hours. I knew I would be tired today for it. I knew I should just put him down and go to bed. But how much longer do I have before he won't sit still anymore? How many more times will I be able to just sit in the dark quiet hours of my house with no distractions and everyone else asleep and just listen to his gentle breathing? Not enough. So last night I just savored the snuggles and sacrificed the sleep. I'll catch up on the missed sleep someday.

He reminds me how precious every moment is just by looking at him. I see so much of her in him. The top photo is Camille. The second is Harrison. Time is a precious thing when you have such precious people to spend it with.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Family Newsletters-- HELP!

I have been asked to teach a class this weekend on keeping in touch with your family through newsletters or blogging. I have never done a family newsletter and neither of our families does one. I am wondering if any of you faithful readers are in a family that does the family newsletter thing.

If so can you PLEASE email me and maybe send me a copy of one of your newsletters? I would LOVE to have several examples to show the class how different people do this.

stephaniewaite (at) gmail (dot) com

Thank you in advance. I have faith that someone out there will email me about this ... right?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Motherhood - Chapter 17 - Mother's Day

When I was selected as Nevada's Young Mother of the Year I was given a packet that included instructions for creating a portfolio. This portfolio was sent to the National American Mothers board for review to help them select a National Young Mother. They had about 10 specific questions they wanted me to answer in no more than one page. One of those questions and my answer I felt was appropriate to share to day on Mother's Day because my answer is all about my own mother.

I love you Mom and I am so grateful for you tireless example and continuing mothering of me even to this day. Thank you for all you have been and continue to be for me! This is for you!

What has influenced your understanding of what a mother and wife should be? How has this affected your life as a mother and wife?
Few things have influenced my understanding of what a mother and wife should be more than the example of my own mother. I find the stellar example of my mother affecting my own life nearly daily as I balance discipline with love, work to maintain my marital relationship, and try to set a tone of peace and love in our home.
My mother had a great balance of discipline and love. She raised five obedient, highly successful children. Much of the credit to our success comes down to my mother’s untiring training in obedience. She made sure that each command she gave us as young children was obeyed. If we did not do as she asked she would get up and come help us obey in a loving way. This established a pattern of obedience in us that has continued throughout our lives. I find myself struggling to do this as well as she did everyday. It is a challenge to get up and help my 5 year old obey when I am seven months pregnant and I have a one year old crying on my lap. Yet her example pushes me to strive beyond my natural resistance and get up and do it.
My mother has also maintained a great relationship with my father in their now 43 years of marriage. She recognized how important it was to keep her marriage strong. She and my father have a very open line of communication and never go to bed angry. She and my father took trips together about once a year without us children so they could reconnect on an adult level. My husband and I have incorporated these things in our own marriage.
Most importantly, my mother set a tone of order, peace and love in our home that allowed her to feel and use guidance from heaven in her duties as wife and mother. I too pray to have this same Spirit in our home daily and work to create an atmosphere of order, safety, and peace in which my family can thrive and live the lives God would have them live. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I need to take more photos ...

I have been LOVING the "mother of the year" stories in the comments to my last post! Please keep them coming.

I recently got a new laptop (one of the perks of having a hubby that owns a laptop store) and it has a bigger screen than I am used to. I have my photos randomly doing a slideshow as the background. Occasionally I like to close all my windows and just watch the photo slideshow. In doing so I have seen some photos that just take my breath away.

Like this one the other day:

This is Lauren and her cousin Charlotte just a few weeks after Camille's passing. Elizabeth, Charlotte's mom, and my beloved sister in law took the photo while they were playing dolls together. Now it is not infrequent that Elizabeth's photo skills take my breath away but this is just a quick snapshot, not one of her masterpieces. What took my breath away was how young and beautiful these little girls looked. This seems like it was just yesterday.

I need to take more pictures. That is the conclusion I came to upon seeing this. It recorded a beautiful precious moment in time. Granted it was a heavy period of my life but this image doesn't hold the heaviness. It only shows the beauty to me. Sometimes when we are living our life we are too close to really appreciate the simple beauty of it. I need to take more photos so that in days to come I can look back and savor the beauty that is today.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

"Mother of the Year"

The Wednesday before I left to Salt Lake for the AMI conference to represent Nevada as the the Young Mother of the Year I had to take Annie and Lauren to a dress rehearsal for dance. I pulled up to the theatre and opened the door to let them out. As they jumped out of the car I saw they had to get into a very long line to "check in" to the rehearsal. And in this long line were lots of kids all accompanied by their moms.

I had Noble and Harrison in the car and a list of things to do at home before my trip. So I pulled out of the parking lot and headed home feeling very much like the "mother of the year" who just ditched her kids at the curb. When I went to pick them up I learned I was supposed to get out and check them in and get a ticket to pick them up. I didn't have a ticket to pick them up but luckily they still let me have my kids. :0)

We all have these moments when we feel we just drop the ball and totally fall short as a mom. These are the tongue in cheek "mother of the year" moments. But they have felt a little different lately since I actually hold that title. Sometimes when I have these moments in public I almost feel like saying, "yes, I know, mother of the year here!" Then I would wait for the laugh and say, "no really I am!" I wonder if anyone would believe me.

Many of us Young Mothers at the conference shared some of these moments when we have felt unworthy of being named the actual mother of the year. Most of them were pretty funny. Anybody else care to share one of those "mother of the year moments?" They are good for a laugh in hindsight sometimes. Feel free to post your "mother of the year moment" anonymously. :)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Motherhood - Chapter 16 - Applause

Friday night in Salt Lake City my father escorted me into a ballroom filled with people in fancy clothes. As we walked the center aisle to the front, I was introduced to the crowd. I sat at a table in the front facing the audience and beside the Young Mother of the Year from North Dakota on one side and from Kentucky on the other side.

After all the Young Mothers had entered and taken their place at the front, the speaker noted that we were the young mothers who represented all those young mothers in our states and around the country (and world for that matter) who were doing thankless jobs every day like changing diapers and cleaning up messes. But as she noted our role as young mothers if so much greater than just these daily tasks. She then asked this audience to rise and give a standing ovation to us as representing all the young mothers everywhere for all they do day in and day out without fanfare.

I sat there, wanting to stand myself and join in the applause, but staying still instead and soaking in the love and appreciation of that crowd on behalf of every young mother. I thought of all the times each of us has been up in the night with sick kids or been sick ourselves and still had to take care of the kids. I thought of all the times we have to disciple kids for their own good and how much we hate doing it. I thought of all the times our kids get mad at us for making them clean or take a bath or come home from a friends house.

So much of young motherhood is important but thankless work. And here was an audience of people saying thank you to all of us with their applause. And so I sat still and soaked it in for all of us and hoped I would be able to share a bit of that feeling with all of you. I wish every mother had the opportunity to get this standing ovation. I hope each mother who reads this will take just a minute or two to sit still and feel of the love and appreciation that was given to you during that standing ovation on Friday night. Turn on the beginning of the Oprah show and close your eyes and pretend it is for you. :)

I was so moved sitting there representing all Nevada young mothers that night. It was one of the most moving parts of the whole weekend. I really wished everyone could feel that love and appreciation, especially in those difficult times of motherhood. And then the thought came to me that every young mother does get a standing ovation every time she loves her children, or teaches them a correct principle, or corrects a bad behavior, or serves her unappreciative child in any good way.

I have no doubt that there is an audience of angels standing and applauding our valiant efforts to raise good and moral children everyday. I hope the next time any of us find ourselves feeling unappreciated or undervalued in our roles of mother, we will stop for a moment and turn our minds and hearts to the greater picture. I hope in that almost prayerful moment we will be able to feel the warmth of that heavenly applause and know we are doing the most important job on Earth. We are caring for and raising children of God.

Monday, May 2, 2011

And the National Young Mother of the Year is...

Shawni Pothier of Arizona and the popular blog 71toes.blogspot.com. We are all so happy for Shawni and we know that she will do an excellent job representing all of us young mothers in her year as the National Young Mother.

I got home Saturday from the AMI conference and hit the ground running with the girls dance performance to attend and a list of things to do. I still am working my way through  that list. But I had such an incredible experience in Salt Lake at the AMI conference and there are several things I felt or learned there that I want to share with everyone. It just may take me a while to get through it all or to it all.

I wasn't sure what to expect going to Salt Lake or how I would feel during this conference interacting with a bunch of women I didn't know. Getting to know new people has been a bit more intimidating since Camille died. It always means questions I have to answer that are not as easy to answer as they used to be (like how many kids do you have and what are their ages.)

But at the end of the conference I can say my favorite part was getting to know the amazing Young Mothers of the Year from the various states. I made so many wonderful new friends that I am sure I will keep in touch with. The Young Mothers I met were inspiring, strong, funny, beautiful women with whom I share so many of the same priorities and values.

I would have been so happy to support any one of them being selected as the National Young Mother. I was so happy with the board's decision to choose Shawni. Her speech was so good with the perfect mix of emotion and substance. And she had an incredible analogy about a hot air balloon ride she took and how the fire of that ride raised her higher. That "fire" is something we all feel and her perspective on it was inspiring.

We each had to give a 3 minute speech on the topic: Making a Difference, Strengthen Myself, Elevate My Family. Mine ... well I cried more and earlier in the speech than I wanted to. But I got through it and gave most of it almost word for word what I had written. It is the first time I have ever tried to give a memorized speech. I felt a little flustered by the time restraint and trying to not cry but I think people felt my message.

Since you could not all be there, here is my speech in you are interested:

Making a Difference- Strengthen Myself – Elevate my Family

Just over three years ago, in a quiet moment of clarity, I received what I believe was divine instruction. I had been struggling to redefine myself in this young mother stage of life. In the past I had been a student, a journalist, an attorney… Now I was a full time mother and I loved it, but still I felt something was missing. What could I do or be now that would help me grow personally and not detract from my mothering?

My answer came with such clarity that I could not help but act on it. I was going to be a writer. And I was going to practice my writing by blogging. That day I created a blog entitled “A Daily Scoop.”

What I did not know then was what a lifeline this blog would turn out to be for me and the difference it would make in the lives of others. You see I did not know that just 6 weeks later I would be writing about my journey through grief after the tragic drowning and death of my youngest daughter Camille.

From the day of Camille’s accident, I wrote begging for prayers on her behalf. I updated everyone on how she was fairing in the hospital. I wrote of her passing from this life to the next. And then … I literally wrote my heart out. 

Everyday for over a year I let the pain I was feeling flow through my fingertips and into cyberspace as I sought some silver lining in the storm of my sorrow. My writing always put my loss in perspective and helped me see all the good in my life. It allowed me to feel a bit of sunshine through the darkness. It strengthened me every day.

And miraculously, it helped others too. I am amazed at the emails I get from readers telling me the difference my simple writings have made in their life. Many have found their own struggles mirrored in my writings. Others have been able to learn some of the lessons that grief taught me without having to experience it themselves.

I have also seen how recording our story has elevated my family. Last year I compiled most of my blog entries into a book. I purchased copies for each of my children in hopes that one day this book would help them better understand and remember this time of our lives and what it was like losing their sister.

After reading some of the book one day, my oldest daughter came to me with tears in her eyes and told me how reading it was like reading her life. One day I hope she and her siblings will see how God held our family in His hands throughout our grieving.

Every person and every family has a story. By recording our stories and sharing them with others we can build bridges of understanding and friendship. We can make a difference in the world. We can more easily recognize the hand of the Lord in our life.  Which will strengthen us personally and elevate our families in faith.