Our move to Utah was awesome. We are so happy to be here and being with our family is even better than I could have imagined.
But I really miss our Texas family. A lot.
One special part of our Texas family are the beautiful grandmothers who took in our children. We were in our last home for just under 4 months, but this didn't stop these two women from giving our Jonas and Mimi all their love. The night before we left, they brought gifts for the children to occupy them on the loooooooooong car ride home and even tried to get us breakfast and lunch the day we were moving but we were too crazy to even think of eating.
Meet Ola. She is the reason we moved to our last house. Patrick was looking at it without me and came home to tell me about the most delightful woman who lived across the street. He spoke so favorably of her that we both just knew we wanted her as our neighbor and friend. That is a choice we don't regret. She made the neighborhood for us and was a sweet reminder of how good people can be. The only regret we have is that we couldn't stay longer and get to know her better.
Meet Loretta. She wouldn't accept Jonas' reticence and won his affections quickly. He would often "race real fast" when she came by, showing off his running skills, gleefully enjoying her company while she doted on him. Loretta had an uncanny ability to turn Sir Grumps-a-Lot into Mr. McSmiles. Observe.
We love these women. They have impacted and inspired us more than they will ever know.
When we decided to move, we were unsure about what our situation would be like when we got here, so we sold nearly everything we owned (including vehicles), piled the rest of our stuff into a 5x8 trailer (half of it was workout equipment), and took a 5-day road trip to the motherland.
In case you were wondering, a 5x8 trailer is NOT very big.
We may not have taken many possessions with us, but we took a lot of people. Serendipitously, the Boyer children and their Expedition were needing a family to drive them up to Idaho the very same weekend we left. Here's the motley crew:
Everyone told us we were crazy to drive 2000 miles with 6 kids. We kind of thought they might be right, but since we already sold our van, we really had no other options.
We are delighted to announce it is confirmed: We are crazy. Not because we took 6 kids, but because we LOVED having six kids. We've been road trip warriors for several years now, and this was by far one of the most memorable and most fun. We miss you Boyers (and we REALLY miss the third pair of hands named Morgan).
Maybe we can move back just to do it again.
More road trip pics to follow. I promised Sam I would get them up and I had better make good on my promises. It's been so long that she has already forgotten my name.
Texas, I love you. You are one of the many places I call home.
This is where we came into our own as a married couple. We moved away, 1600 miles from the nearest family member. Our traditions were our own to create. We struggled. We clung to each other during a desperate time of infertility. We found a happiness together that the first three years of our marriage could not match.
This is where we started our family. First our Jonas, then our Mimi. Two angels sent directly to us.
This is where I learned to be a mother. That I am a softer person than I could have ever imagined. That my heart is in the right place. That I am not very good at it yet, but that my children know they are loved and that I can experience joy in the mundane, menial, daily acts of family life.
This is where I really started to see my priorities for what they were. What was important. Where I needed to simplify. That I would never be able to do it all and that's okay. That preparing every needful thing is not the same as preparing everything. Needful is not as much as I thought.
This is where we learned life isn't fair. It's a chaotic dynamic of everyone's choices affecting everyone around them. A challenge in mental fortitude, to be sure, but an exhilarating one.
This is where we embraced our health, first learning I had an uncurable autoimmune disorder, then conquering that so-called uncurable disorder. Where we took steps to heal ourselves physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally.
This is where we embarked upon adulthood. Started careers, ended careers, went through a 10-month period of unemployment, worked on a start-up business, faced tax issues and insurance issues and retirement issues, bought a house and an investment property, short sold a house and an investment property, lived in 7 different places. Spent months (and years) searching for the perfect doctors, perfect farms/co-ops, perfect family activities, perfect babysitters, perfect accountants, perfect investment managers, perfect chocolate shops, perfect fajitas... and succeeded in finding them all.
This is where we found best friends, learned about human nature, lost best friends, discovered who we wanted to keep in our lives forever, and discovered who felt the same way about us.
This is where we created our life together. A very beautiful life.
And yet, Texas is where my family will never be.
So we moved.
Goodbye Texas. You will always have the sweetest of places in my heart.
Hello Utah. You have my family, and therefore, my heart.
Young motherhood is a lonely time. There are incredible husbands and fathers, there are millions of women doing it at the very same time, there are play groups, there are girls nights outs, but ultimately, we do it on our own.
No one but you understands your own child. We relate, we empathize, we listen, but we can't really understand.
No one understands the very real challenges we currently face. Not our dear friends, our family, and sometimes not even us. We handle it as gracefully as possible, but there are things that cause me to cry and worry into the night. There are times when I doubt the spiritual promptings and confirmations I've received because well-intentioned friends say, "It's not that bad" or "I don't see anything wrong" or "You're a good mother; it will turn out just fine" or "I don't know why you're worrying about that" or "That's perfectly normal" or "This too shall pass" or... "Your kids will grow out of it" or ...
(And I am most assuredly guilty of uttering or at least thinking all of these statements in regards to other mothers)
No one understands the constant struggle it is to give another child what they need when your other child has more needs than any 20 people can physically and emotionally meet. The guilt that comes along with that, the occasional resentment, followed by the shame and regret for harboring such feelings.
I watched Parenthood for part of the first season. In one episode, Max was recently diagnosed with autism. Hattie (the older sister) is asked to be patient and understand that this particular situation is about Max. Hattie retorts with something like, "It's always about Max. It's always been about Max. Face it. Ever since he was little, everything has been about Max."
This scene haunts my mind several times a week. I can't remember if that's exactly how it went, or if that's what my brain has spun it into, but it doesn't really matter.
Perhaps there are women out there saying, "Yes. I do understand. I am going through/have gone through the same thing." To which I reply, "No. No, you haven't."
I don't respond that way out of disrespect; I recognize I am not the only person in the world to have two children. I am, however, the only person in the world to have my two children.
You see, motherhood is very individual.
There is no one like me, who responds exactly like I do. Another may have similar feelings, but our life experiences are different, which ultimately affects how we process things. The same goes for my children. There may be similarities with other kids; that does not mean they are the same.
If I had twins that were just like my Mimi, I truly believe twins would be easier (as does my husband). And before any of you mothers with twins scoff, saying, "You have no idea how much work it is to have twins!" let me stop you right there. Because you. are. right. I have no idea. Just like you have no idea what it is like to have an anxiety-riddled two-year-old.
And that, in essence, is my point. We can look at the lives of other mothers, assess what they are doing right and doing wrong, and decide what would be "easy" for us and say "I wish I had that." But we don't really know.
Based on my limited understanding of what I think twin Mimis would be like, the physical work of twins appears easier than the emotional work of our current situation. I don't know if it is easier, nor will I ever know.
In General Conference, Elder Holland (?) said perhaps we need these children just as much as they need us. When I heard that statement, with my baby attached for a feeding and my son running around like a maniac throwing train tracks and screaming for strawberries, I said, "I already know that. I know this is what I need to develop long-suffering, charity, and all the other Godlike attributes. But it's haaaaaard."
That's not to invalidate what was taught. My challenges are tailor-made for my specific spiritual needs. And realistically, when my head is clear and I can step out of myself for a moment, I do indeed love this stage of our life, just as it is, challenges and all.
So during this Mother's Day season, my present to myself is to STOP.
Stop judging my situation against other mothers' situations.
Stop caring that other people may be judging my situation.
Stop doubting my decisions. I follow the Spirit and I know it.
Stop being embarrassed or apologetic because of my "strange" choices.
Stop forgetting that there is, indeed, one person who understands. That is one of the many purposes of the Atonement.
Stop viewing things so short-sightedly and underestimating the eternal partnership with God: motherhood.
I think that's a pretty good start. Happy Mother's Day.
Jonas remembers everything. So much that I need to be extremely careful about following through with everything, as consistency is probably at the top of his values list. If I tell him at 8 am that we will water the plants after his afternoon nap, he bursts through the door at 3 pm, blurting "I water plants now" before I can even say, "Hi Jonas, how was your nap?"
If I tell him we are going to a friend's house (who lives 40 minutes away) and decide to take a different route halfway through, he starts whining because he thinks we missed our freeway exit.
When we visited a local bookstore for the first (and only) time, after passing it a month later, he told me which books he read and the bookmarks that he found interesting. He even named the place the Library-Bookstore By Da Hippo Park (there is a hippo at a nearby playground).
Jonas knows when you keep promises, and when you break them, even if they were made months ago.
It's really very hard to keep up with, but I thought I was doing a pretty decent job.
Which is why I was utterly, completely, totally floored when he recounted our last farm experience to me. Back in November, we visited a local farm to see where our meat was being raised and to meet the farmer. Jonas wasn't really saying much more than a few words then, and he hasn't said anything about the farm since we visited.
Two weeks ago I mentioned we were going to the farmer's market, which he mistook to mean the farm.
In his words:
A farm wif a cow an a cluck an a oinky
an I saw da cottadoos (cocka-doodle-doos)
an da trackers
An I ride m' bike
An da chickens
an da gobble gobbles
an I fay wif my cars
wif da chickens
Da big oinkys run
an I fay on da fayground
Der was water
an I frew rocks in da water
an I was skirred (scared)
an I fell down
and it was mud and dirty
an I fayed on a tracker
an Mommy an Daddy an Jonie an Baby went home
I'm not kidding. This is the story he told me, in this order, which happens to also be the order in which all of the events conspired. Five and a half months ago. That's genius, right?
It is as if he's bottled up all of his life experiences in his mind, just waiting for the moment when he his language abilities match his cognitive abilities. His mind is always racing, and when he can share as much as he so clearly wants to share, we may very well have a little chatterbox on our hands.
The things he didn't say that I'm sure he would have if he could get all the words out:
Mimi was adorable, as usual, and got lots of sunshine.
She spent most of the time in Mommy's and Daddy's arms
or sleeping in the stroller.
Some boy tried to take m' bike
So I took it far away from him
The farm itself is phenomenal. It's clean, it's grass-fed and organic, and they're everything I look for in a farm. They process their chickens on-site and welcome anyone to observe or even participate if desired. Their beef and hogs are processed by a local family-owned business that is also very open-door with their facilities. If you are in the area and need some quality meat, Yonder Way Farm also delivers to pick-up groups around the city.
And best yet, visiting is a fun, memorable experience (as Jonas can attest).