Sunday, February 28, 2010

All I Never Wanted, Part 2

My transition from Pre-Med to something else was a lot less traumatic on me than it was to others who knew me as being defined by my career goals. The license plate on my car even read "MD 2 B" in high school. When I got to college, it might have been easy to assume that Mr. Wonderful would have been the guy with the "PREMED" license plate. That was not to be. He was a jerk, though was the kind that would have made a wonderful heart surgeon someday. Which just might be what's he's doing now....

The real Mr. Wonderful and I started dating December 26th and were engaged February 5th. The question my mom asked when I told her he'd asked me to marry him was, "". When she called to tell her mother that I was getting married in July, grandma asked, "what year?" Thankfully by then mom was on board (as much as I could ever hope for) and said in her best teenage-sigh, "THIS year mother!"

I have no excuse for why we were engaged for 6 1/2 months. I only know that from February, the months of April and May just vanished. But let me tell you that there are 61 days in those two months and in order to get to June, let alone July, you have to live through EVERY SINGLE ONE of them. I've already convinced our oldest that three weeks is all you need to put a lovely wedding together. Long engagements are just insanity incarnate!

Sometimes our wedding video makes its way into the VCR. The kids like to pull it out and see all of us before they were around, and we like to watch for much the same reason. My dear BIL went around to guests at our reception asking if people had any advice for us. We got everything from "Be Happy!!" from sweet Grandma F, to "Never mow the lawn" from my best friends' moms (their advice was to me, siting that if I did it, then he'd know I could and then it would end up being my job. I admit that I didn't listen and was the official lawn mower for a while. Gladly, Mr. W has reclaimed that responsibility as it's always what I list when I'm asked what my least favorite chore is).

Eventually BIL made it around to my mom, whose advice was "finish school!". I know she liked Kurt (the name he goes by when his boots and cape are at the cleaners), but I wonder if she thought we were doomed from the start. At 19 and 21, how much could we possibly know? And a part of me wonders if she had even the tiniest bit of hope that this "distraction" would be short lived... That said, she was as doting a mother as any could be during my entire engagement. She relayed other family members' frustrations ( I was, after all, getting married in a place none of my family could come), but I just don't remember her sharing any of her own. Even now, it amazes me and I think of her as a great example of the love she showed to me during this time.

Four short months after our wedding, we announced to our families that we were going to be parents. I wrote a letter to my mom, now living 1000+ miles away, from the baby, partly because I was too afraid of telling her myself. Obviously now finishing school was going to be pushed back a little...or even a lot.

Baby #1, a girl, arrived just four months after my 20th birthday. Baby #2, another girl, came five days after Christmas, three months before my 23rd birthday. I turned 25 ten days before daughter #3 joined our family. Since those three, two more have joined us ~ son #1 and daughter #4.

My kids think it's funny when the conversation comes around to mom's 'original' plan for her life. The one where I was only going to have one child.... and we laugh about keeping mom happy or else she'll be forced to choose four of them to find homes for. It's a card I'll keep in my arsenal, thank you very much!

So we are a family of seven, who might be still to grow someday (that isn't an announcement). I have been privileged and fortunate to stay home for all but about a year and a half of the nearly 15 that I've been a mother. It's funny, because when our oldest was 14 months old, I went back to work, both to help our financial situation and to reclaim who I felt I'd lost in becoming "mom". I was so proud the day I'd ordered my own address labels! I learn awfully fast though that being away was not all I thought it would be. And soon, I don't think I was the employee I wanted to be, because my heart just wasn't in the office where I worked. I had dropped her off with my good friend that morning.

Part 3 coming soon!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

All I Never Wanted, Part 1

As a little girl, I don't remember dreaming about Mr. Wonderful, that I would be Mrs. Wonderful, or all of the little Wonderfuls we'd have together. In the place of those dreams were ones of pursuing medicine, delivering everyone else's babies for a living, and maybe adding a man and one smaller version of him and me to the house. Maybe. Someday. Later than sooner.

All of my dreams of school, school and more school were suppported by my family, especially my mom, who saw all the potential in me to make what I dreamed come true. And, while she was encouraging me to go that direction, she was subliminally (sometimes not so "sub") encouraging me not to go that other direction.....the one where Mr. Wonderful entered the picture.

Like every teenager, I had my perfect life planned: school until I was 27, then internship and residency and then slip into practicing Obstetrics. Sometimes, when Mr. W would fade in, we would have a business partnership as well as a marriage one ~ he would delivery babies for a living, too. More than looking forward to the casual shoulder brushing we might do in the hallways, I thought of him as the guy on the other end of that hall: seeing patients until it was time to share a car ride home. Unless he was on call, or I was. I was too clueless then to really picture details, even the good ones.

Part of my cluelessness came as a result of my own parents' divorce when I was seven. While I remember a few things about being a nuclear family, mostly I remember the benefits of having two separate parents: really cool vacations with the parent I didn't live with and two sets of presents at Christmas and for my birthday. As a kid, I didn't feel like I suffered because I lived with only one. I attribute that to the amazing job my mom did to make sure we (my brother and I) didn't go without.

And then, at seventeen, all I thought I wanted started to change. As many times as I've told my family it wasn't that Church I joined that brought on the change, really it kind of was. Kind of. I don't think of it as the Church as much as learning to include the Lord in my planning, and coming to find that He had a very different plan for me. Full of things I never knew I wanted.

Three days after my seventeenth birthday I was baptized. A little over a year later I graduated from High School (with Honors and with plans still for college and medical school, etc.). Not quite six months later, while attending church in a Singles Branch, I had what I remember being like a bolt of lightening crash through me as I saw this guy walk in the doors while walking down the hall. I knew I knew him, but couldn't remember from where. It wasn't long before I remembered ~ we'd been in band together back when I was a Freshman and he was a Senior. We'd both been pulled out of other classes to come and play tubas in the marching band. We were around each other a lot that semester, but while I know I played in the band at his graduation, it had been years since I'd seen him.

He kind of did that same "I know you but can't remember your name or why I know you or from where" thing that I'd done and while we might have said "hi" at the time, he had to ask his friend what my name was.

We started spending more and more time together, especially after he had knee surgery and conveniently my car was the one (out of all the girls! ~ gosh, you think I'd have seen what was to come coming. But no ~ totally still clueless here) that his braced leg fit best in. We'd spend hours and hours sitting in front of his house talking ~ about my plans for school and his plans for school ~ and repeat it as often as we were able.

He became my closest friend and we spent a lot of time together, still with all our individual plans firmly in place.

While I remember the day I knew I loved him, I don't remember when "like" turned into "like like". We found excuses to spend time together, and I know I was jealous when another girl walked right up to him, in front of me, and while playing with his tie flitted and flirted her giddy little self around. Hmmm....makes me wonder where she is today. And what her name was. Can't remember that, either. Something surely with an -ie at the end. No, it wasn't Barbie. Or Buffie. Good guesses, though.

But somewhere in there my jealousy came from feeling like this girl was invading my territory. I just don't remember at what point I was ready to stake my claim. Not necessarily the eternal kind of claim, but at least the 'next little while' kind.

There was so much to like about this guy ~ his goodness and the way he treated his mom. Not to mention that at six-foot-five, with blond hair and blue eyes and beautiful teeth, eyebrows and forearms, he was awfully easy to look at. I liked being around him and being separated got to be very very hard.

Other things at the time started to change as well. The first MCAT informational meeting I went to left me with a pit in the bottom of my stomach. What I sort of knew then but definitely know now is that it's the feeling I get when something isn't right, or I am in the wrong place. I started wondering if medical school was the right thing to do, not just if it was what I wanted to do. And it wasn't long before I knew that it wasn't the right thing. I didn't know exactly what would replace it, but I changed my major to Biology/Secondary Education. I felt better and looked forward equally to teaching High School someday as I had to delivering babies (though that was still fascinating!).

More To Come.....

Monday, February 22, 2010

Who I Know I Am

There's a new show coming on in a few weeks called "Who Do You Think You Are?". It's an American take on a British program that examines different celebrities' ancestral heritage. Included on the list of celebrities are Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick, Brooke Shields and Spike Lee.

Spike Lee learns that he has Caucasian members of his family and the trailer shows him, flabbergasted, meeting with a white cousin.

Brooke Shields finds out she has nobility in her blood and she is taken to France where the records show her lineage.

I love genealogy and am inspired by my heritage. It's wonderful to know the family from which I am descended.

As I watched this ad though, I couldn't help but think about the one thing the essence of the show was missing: our divine heritage.

Oh I know that national television is not going to be the place where we hear that we are all sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father, that we are his children, that Jesus is literally our spiritual older brother (and with that, so is Lucifer). I know that.

But, what if one of these celebrities learns they are descended from someone like Hitler or Stalin or Genghis Khan? So much of the show focuses on what it means to have the family that you have, and I had to wonder ~ does it really matter, if instead we know who we really are?

I love knowing that I have a bit of a pioneer heritage. But I also know that cousins to those family members who joined the church in the early days were some who were bitterly opposed to it. Where does my value lie? Is it that I know I'm related to Brigham Young or Abraham Lincoln or Tom Hanks? Or am I less because I know there were others who were scoundrels, adulterers, and the like?

More than knowing the history of who I am, I love knowing that, no matter what that history says, I have divine lineage. There are no generation gaps between me and my heavenly parents. I am first-generation child of God.

And that, to me, speaks volumes about my worth, how I can and should conduct myself, and who I can look to to pattern my life after.

What an amazing thing to have such a simple answer to the often complex question of: Who am I?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Absolute Darkness

A friend of mine, a physicist, has said that there is no such think as darkness, it is simply the absence of light.

This thought, coupled with experience, fascinates me.

A few years ago our family stumbled on a place called "Lewis & Clark Caves" just north of Yellowstone.

A steep hike took us to the mouth of the caves, where we were guided through and down into the earth.

The history was intriguing and we laughed to learn that Lewis & Clark themselves had never even seen these caves, they were just named for them because nothing at the time was named in their honor. "It was before everything and their dog would be named for them," our cute twenty-something guide told us.

As we hiked down more than a mile below the earth, soon our path was lit by modern technology: electric lights and flashlights.

Eventually our guide turned the lights OFF and told us we were now experiencing something called "Absolute Darkness". As we were far enough below the surface of the earth, there was no trace of light that made it this far down.

What has stuck with me was that, in the midst of this phenomenon, my eyes searched for light; they worked hard to find it. They were working so hard that eventually I closed my eyes, in order to ease their efforts in searching for something my mind knew they wouldn't find.

Just like it was a natural reaction for my eyes to search for light, I believe that our spirits long for light as well. It is a natural thing, though so often we shut off or ignore that instinct. But because we are fundamentally spiritual beings, we cannot ever completely extinguish that desire.

As a convert, I know and remember the light that appeared when I was introduced to the Gospel. Questions I hadn't even formally asked were answered. The information the missionaries presented just made sense, in a way that I have since thought was more like I was being reminded and caused to remember, rather than being taught.

Within the light of the Gospel is the sure knowledge of the purpose to life. It is of who we are and why we are here. It is of who we have always been. It is that we have Heavenly parents, who love us and have established a plan, giving it to us through prophets, so that we might have joy and be truly happy here.

Within that light is the existence of a perfect example; a Savior who overcame both physical and spiritual death on our behalf. He did what he did for each individual, not for mankind collectively. And should it have been any one of us who needed his gifts, He would have done all that he did, just for the one.

I remember my experience so deep within the caves in Montana and feel a deep sense of gratitude for the light that is available to me and each of us, if we will just open our eyes.