Tuesday, January 3, 2017

My Vocation is Motherhood and It Brings Me Joy!

Inasmuch as I did not receive a diploma for my efforts in my Master's of Family Science at BYU due to some conflicts where the data I was processing and writing about was published before I completed my degree I often have felt like a failure, or that I wasted my education and that I am not good enough. All this changed this past month as I have seen the blessings in my children's lives because of my efforts as their mother.

In December our church choir performed a beautiful Christmas program during our sacrament meeting hour. My sweet Nicole sang a solo of the First Noel. I was so proud of her and felt so much love for her. Now mind you, her singing really has nothing to do with my motherhood, more of her father's training, persistence and encouragement, but she is still my daughter and I felt so happy that she is using her talents to bless the lives of others. But, as I looked up into the choir I saw her standing with some very sweet ten and eleven year old girls who would not be up there courageous and singing their tender hearts out if Nicole had not encouraged, invited and supported them. I also watched as a group of 10 and 11 year old boys sang the closing musical number as she led them and felt amazement that she could elicit such beauty from these boys. In the choir and in front of me I also saw my dear husband, my sweet son Richie and my oldest girl Rochelle. I felt such joy that I don't believe I could ever feel from a career or from teaching college which was my goal that was interrupted.

I also watched this Christmas season as a sweet young man with Down Syndrome came to our home to see Rochelle. She has worked with him for a few years. I saw the love she has for him and the love he has for her. I reflected on all of the special needs children that Rochelle has loved and cared for over the past seven years and of the love and support she has for her Uncle Carl who is autistic. I see their lives changed from her goodness and I feel such joy in my success as a mother to help raise such an amazing child. Everywhere we go people stop her and tell her that she has an amazing smile, that they noticed her on a flight, that she is the most beautiful person around. Her goodness shines through her smile and just receiving that smile lightens everyone's day. I am her mother and gratefully so!

Maddie, Josh and Carter came for Christmas. They spearheaded the kids installing a beautiful laminate wood floor in our bedroom and bathroom. When I came home from work the Thursday before Christmas I heard laughing and pounding and cooperation as they worked together with their Uncle Brian and cousin Olivia to give us this gift. They worked hard and long to complete this. I again felt amazement and joy in having raised my children and the choice that Maddie made to marry Josh who astonishes me regularly with his giving, hard working nature as well as his love and efforts to be a great husband and father as well as brother, son, son in law and brother in law. I was happy to have raised a daughter who married one as righteous as Josh. Having a grandson is a totally different joy for which I am so grateful for in my life. To watch Maddie and Josh work hard to provide a loving, nurturing environment for him brings me joy in motherhood.

I was only blessed with one son to raise and this past year has had some challenges, but I see his goodness emerging daily. I feel his desire to be good and to find himself and to love others and help them along the way. Richie grew his hair pretty long and to be honest I didn't like it most of the time. Once in awhile when it was a certain way I actually did like it. He asked me why I didn't ask him to cut it or complain much about it. I told him I loved him much more than I didn't like his hair. It's true. But, he sacrificed those luscious locks as a gift for me for Christmas. For a week he told me he wanted to take me somewhere for Christmas. I thought it was perhaps a breakfast or a movie or something. It was very sweet and brought me to tears when he took me to his friend's salon and she cut his hair to the style I used to comb his hair as a child! Again, such joy in my career of motherhood. He is a helpful, kind soul and is loved by all who know him. He can crack a joke or make anyone smile, especially me.  I am so blessed God gave me this son to mother.

Then my most challenging child is serving a mission. For 17 years I wasn't sure if this girl would graduate from high school, stay active in church, ever go to college and certainly I NEVER thought she would serve a mission. Her father gets credit for being consistent and calm with her through her most difficult times. I get credit for staying by her side, listening to her endless complaints and whining, and helping her fight through social injustices. But, a dear friend gets credit for encouraging and inspiring her to find out what she can do. Carly herself gets credit for doing that, for realizing she could be successful, for focusing in her senior year with straight A's, for doing well on her ACT, for getting into college and succeeding there and receiving a scholarship for her efforts. She gets credit for preparing to serve a mission and working hard to do that. With Asperger's her whole life centered on her and we perhaps enabled some of that, but through the efforts of many she was able to complete a year of college, and now has less than four months left of her mission. The most amazing blessing from this time of service is that without us telling her a hundred thousand times, she has come to realize she is not the center of the universe. She has realized others have needs and that she can help facilitate fulfillment of those needs. It has brought her joy. It has brought me some shock and great joy.

Why God allowed me to be a mother to these five amazing children is beyond me, but He did and I am so grateful. Through prayer, hard work, persistence and love I have found success and joy in motherhood. It is my career and my joy and I will be forever grateful.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Sometimes Mothering Hurts

I sometimes wonder if I have something wrong with me because I love my children so much and I want to do all I can to help them, but sometimes when they share their pains and frustrations I physically hurt as if it is all happening to me multiple times of intensity than they must be feeling. I wonder if it is just pain of not knowing how to help them, or transference of their pain, but I really don't like it, but I guess I like it better than not being there for them.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Mothering by the Spirit

I think that I often feel guilty for shortcomings, for failures and don't look at what I do that is right in terms of mothering. This week my kids needed me to help with their education plans. One of them dropped two classes to add a practicum. The practicum ended up having requirements that weren't there when her sister took it two years ago. This meant she needed to drop it. She had already given up her spot in the classes. She was able to add one class, but not the other. We looked through available class possibilities and came up with a couple options. These options would make her credit load acceptable for her financial aid, but wouldn't help her progress towards her degree. I prayed. As I prayed, a very clear thought came to me that she should email the teacher and see if he could make an exception to add her to an already full class. She wrote him, explained the circumstances, and he gave her approval to add the class!

Another child will need two classes to fulfill his associate's degree. He is taking the math prerequisite currently, but he got an incomplete in another class last year. He had not been able to make contact with the teacher and thought this grade would turn to an F and he would have to retake the class. As I prayed about it, I had the clear impression that he should email the department and explain to them. I helped him do this and he immediately got a response telling him she is teaching a class this semester and gave him instructions on where she was teaching so he could connect with her. It happens that it was one floor down from a class he has. He went down to meet her, talked with her and she said she will email him the rubric for the only assignment he is missing. Once he completes the paper, she will change his I to a grade!

Sometimes I feel like I am too involved in the education and lives of my children, but these two sweet inspirational experiences have brought me peace in two ways. One, it's ok that I am concerned and involved. Two, I need not feel guilt that may hinder such inspiration.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Defensive Mothering

Pretty much from the time I can remember I wanted to be a Mom. Later in life the thought of marriage became more desirable, but even as a child I wanted to be a mom. I would like to think that I am a great mom, but I think that I am somewhat immature. For some reason I tend to be stuck at age 18 emotionally and sometimes I act that way.

The main thought of my behavior that is bothering me today is that I take anything facing my children so personally and my immediate thought reaction, and sadly, yes, sometimes my behavioral reaction, is that of an 18 year old.

When someone says or does something that offends one of my own, I get defensive. If someone brags about their child or shares some truly great noteworthy accomplishment, I tend to be more jealous than happy for their child. I will think things like, "My kid could do that." "Well, if given the same opportunity, my kid would whoop your kid." Sheez! What an immature approach to sharing parental joys.

It's been one year almost since Richie left for his mission, and this experience has been so helpful for me. I share Richie's letters with family and friends and the parents of Richie's high school friends who are also serving. Likewise they share their letters with me. For the first time in my parenting career, I am feeling great joy in the successes of other people's children and not having the immature, jealous feelings I usually have. When one of his friends has a baptism I rejoice! When they share an experience that shows the strength of their testimony or the fruits of their labors, I am as happy as if it had been one of my own children sharing that experience.

Some of Richie's High School friends who are now out serving missions

I would like to say that I have adapted this same mature attitude with all of my parenting opportunities, but alas, last night one of my sweet daughter's was hurt by her friends and instead of taking a mature attitude about it I seriously wanted to call them or show up on their doorstep and yell and scream and rant and rave and possibly trip and accidentally punch them in the face on my way down!

Oh well, one step at a time!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Missing my Mom

Well, it's almost three years now that my mom passed away. When times have been tough in my life I would call my mom. I can't do that anymore and sometimes I feel so helpless and wish I could just call my mom or go see her and have her hold me. I was feeling that way today. For some reason I looked at one of my extended family websites and saw this picture of my mom holding me when I was two months old and for some reason it brought me comfort knowing my mom would always hold me when I needed it and for a few short moments I felt Mom holding me again.

Picture from May of 1957 of my sister Fredi, brother Rick, Mom and baby me!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Message from Heaven

Yesterday we went to SLC to help Grandpa Turley. When we got to his old condo which he is trying to move out of, there was an envelope that had my name on it. I was alone in the condo, so I opened it and read it. I cried. Of course this is a message written by my mom in Spring of 1963, but to me it was a message from heaven.

I love it!

Side note: I was called Stevie or Steve until I was about 18 and insisted on being called Stephanie. Also, I went to Kindergarten in Draper, UT at Draper Elementary. In 1963 Kindergarten was a summer program, thus the mention of kids being out of school and me about to start school. My mom was in Missouri with my Nickle grandparents. Now, she is with them in heaven, and I am grateful that I was helping my Daddy when I read the heavenly prose!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I am a Daffodil

Friday I was feeling very burdened by troubles and fears. It's been a rough year financially, and I allowed it to all come down on me. I kept crying, and feeling hopeless. It was a snowy, cold day.

When I came home from work, my head down, my heart aching, I looked over to our little flower garden. The tulips have yet to bloom, but all the way to the left were the daffodils which had already bloomed. They looked like how I felt, downtroden, affected by the elements, and ready to give it up.

Sunday, when I came home from church, there had been a little bit of sunshine, some light in the dark and dreariness. As I walked up the steps to enter our home, my eyes once again looked to the left to the daffodils. They had responded to the little bit of light and their heads were upward and they looked like they might just make it!

I thought about how I went to church amidst my sadness and fear and felt the light of the gospel shared through others testimonies, my wonderful youth Sunday School class, and the Relief Society lesson. I, like the daffodils, had responded to light, my head held higher, feeling hope that I too will make it!