Do these not seem like trials to you? That's okay. They are my things to deal with. And as none of them are really things that I can change (except maybe making time to be a little bit friendlier), I guess what I am learning now is patience and cheerful endurance. Scratch that--what I'm supposed to be learning is patience and cheerful endurance.
After getting rid of a lot of my baby clothes a few weeks ago, we rearranged parts of our house and decided that a yard sale was in order. Once I started getting rid of stuff, I just couldn't quit. Out went the crib, mattress changing table and bedding. The double jogging stroller? Gone. The garage sale didn't yield all the desired results so the Goodwill got approximately 57 pounds of boy shoes and clothing size 18 months and smaller. Once I dig out the breast pump it will go on Craig's List too.
And yet, I don't exactly feel like I'm making an announcement. It felt good to clean house. I don't regret sending all of that stuff out into the world to help ease the passage for other little ones and their parents, but I don't necessarily think it means I'm done with children. Plantboy and finally had that really good talk that we have needed to have and just kept putting off. The jury is still out about more children, or at least some things we are keeping just between us, but let's just say we are in a good place right now. A very good place.
Which is why my experience yesterday is especially frustrating.
I walked into the library with Jedi Knight. He will be eight in just a couple of months and he is really starting to look like a big boy. And my youngest, just a babe in arms when we moved here is definitely into the little boy phase. A sister working in the library, whom I've tried with very little success to befriend the last couple of years said, "Your boys are getting so big!"
I smiled and rubbed JK's hair with more energy than I felt; it had been a very long morning. She then exclaimed, "Time to have another!"
I made some kind of strangled, non-committal sound through my clenched and smiling teeth, hoping that no other well-meaning soul standing around us would jump on her bandwagon. She pressed, "Now, none of that! It's just time to not think about whether or not it makes sense and jump in!"
More strangled gurgling, a quick grab of the scriptures I'd come to get, and I was out the door. Here it is, 24 hours later and I'm wondering what I should have said. Or at least what I wanted to say.
"Thank you! For two years I've had this on my mind, and THAT is my answer!!!"
"I must have missed in the last conference talk where the number of children you bear is between you, your spouse, the Lord, and the ward librarian!"
"You are exactly right: faith DOES mean that we are exempt from looking at anything logically."
"I'm already completely neurotic, I'm sure that throwing a baby into the mix will calm me right down."
"What a great idea! When the baby has to sleep in MY bed because there would be no where else for him and my husband divorces me over it, then I'll just come and move in with you. After all, your unmarried daughters and their children seem to really enjoy having you babysit for them five days a week."
Breathing. Just keep breathing.
Maybe this was on my mind when the young women in our ward had (another) lesson on dating this week. Our teacher, thankfully, found a great, recent talk on the subject and focused her remarks on becoming friends.* As I was the only leader in the room who was actually married in the temple or raised with LDS dating standards, the advisor asked me to make some remarks at the end. I told them that I thought it was sometimes confusing to be a young LDS woman. The historical and LDS novels the girls read and love mostly follow the same pattern--girls fall in love at 16 or 17 and are married by 18 or 19 and the book ends right there. Our young women get a romanticized vision of the future in which they meet their RM at BYU by Christmas of their freshman year; a May wedding is followed nine months later by the first in a string of perfect children. There is no thinking about what happens for the sixty or seventy years following the blessed event.
I told the girls that I thought it was so easy to get preoccupied by dating and finding "the one" that we forget to find ourselves. I told them that if they wanted a man who was unselfish, generous, kind and charitable, they would do nothing to prevent the young men they knew from going on missions. I told them that the ultimatum so many girls use on their boyfriends--I won't marry you unless you go on a mission thing--is completely ridiculous, because once they had let their relationship get to that point they were already far too inappropriately serious. I told them that learning to stand on their own was the key to any future happiness whether they were single or married. I told them that I hoped every one of them would someday know the joy of a temple marriage to a righteous companion, but that they needed to remember that their worth was not wrapped up in whether or not they were married, and certainly not dependent on their dating status.
Talk about your unsolicited advice. Please, add your own to the mix--either what YOU would have said to the sister, you know, in your head or what you want to say to my young women as they approach dating. Or not dating.
* I really enjoyed Sister Tanner's talk, but in sharing the experience about her daughter, she seemed to discourage mission and graduate school. While in young Miss Tanner's case, this was obviously the right choice, I get tired of a mission being painted in juxtaposition to marriage. I would love to hear one of these talks about a young woman who decided NOT to marry the guy and went on a mission instead, only to realize that he would have been a disastrous choice, and only her mission could have shown her that. (Do you remember that hokey scene in God's army where that sister is talking to the greenie elder on the beach? Besides the fact that they are breaking about 10 mission rules, that is my favorite scene in a very fine film. She tells him about how the guy "waiting for her" had gotten married a few months before, but that it was okay, because sacrificing him was worth it to know the truth of the Gospel the way he knew it. Exactly.) Marriage and mission are not mutually exclusive. And if a woman doesn't get married, then she will have mission (among other wonderful) experiences to help enrich her life. There is a sister in the RS general presidency right now who is a convert and an RM from South America. Her "atypical" life experience is such a valuable example for women of all ages.