09 November 2012

Letters to My Children: General Election 2012


Dear Jonas and Miriam,

On Tuesday, Mitt Romney was defeated in his bid for the presidency by sitting president Barack Obama.

When you study the history, people will tell you why Governor Romney lost:
·    He was too aggressive, he wasn’t aggressive enough
·    He was too moderate, he wasn’t moderate enough
·    He was too soft, he wasn’t humane enough
·    His plan was too strong, his plan wasn’t strong enough

They will have forgotten that an election isn’t only about winning. Strategy is not the only factor in becoming president. They will have attached themselves so strongly to a desired (but unrealized) outcome that they believe if Romney would have just done things more perfectly and crunched the numbers a little better, he would be the 45th president of the United States of America.

An election is not about transforming yourself into the perfect candidate. Yes, you want to fight with a fire in your belly and get your message out. You want to win. But changing who you are for the sake of winning? That is the exact lack of integrity we abhor in the political system.

A candidate brings him/herself to the table. The hindsight saved for everything Governor Romney woulda-coulda-shoulda been would have turned Romney into anyone but himself.

An election is about presenting possible solutions to our country’s real problems. Then, the people decide if it is a desirable option in light of the alternatives. It is about agency.

It was not a divisive election or campaign as many have suggested; however, it did show the great divide between the schools of thought in this country. In the moment President Obama’s re-election was confirmed, it became very evident to me that I am much more different than at least 50% of the population--every other person I meet.

Fundamentally, I believe Americans (generally) want the same things. We want clean air and we want to help the needy, we want equal rights and happy lives. We just have different ways of getting there.

The person we choose on the ballot hopefully sets out to achieve those objectives in the same manner that we would. If that person is unsuccessful in securing enough votes, it does not mean they did it wrong. It means more people didn’t like the idea than did.

Governor Romney ran a beautiful campaign. The man was genuine and authentic. He played hardball without sacrificing his dignity. He represented humanity well and, along with his wife Ann Romney, presented a clearly different option to achieve our goals as a nation.

At the end of the night, the American people decided they did not want what he had to offer.
You may learn in your history class what happened in the flurry of social media. On both sides of the election, political leaders were quoted out of context. Scriptures were quoted out of context. General Conference was quoted out of context. There was much talk of the Apocalypse and of the righteous being rewarded, and all of it was presented as Truth.

This is not Truth, when someone takes Bill O’Reilly’s remarks or Jon Stewart’s remarks, filters them with their own blinders and paradigms, and then presents it as Truth. This is not Truth, when someone manipulates a scripture and presents it as the only way.

Truth is that feeling in your soul that tells you, after you have studied to the very best of your ability, that you chose right for you. You can vote for Mitt Romney, Barack Obama, Gary Johnson, or Popeye and be in good standing with your God.

Truth reveals itself to you in your stillest moments. It reveals itself to you in your rowdy moments too, but you may not hear it as well. Truth is the feeling of peace that washes over you as you watch the very man you did not vote for remain president of the United States, despite the tears in your eyes and the loss in your heart.

People will talk of the winners and the losers in the campaign. But you are the winner in this campaign if you followed your conscience and listened to your intuition. The person sitting in the Oval Office on January 21 is of very little consequence.

All my love,

26 October 2012

A Heart to Heart about Family Life

Our family recently returned from a month-long road trip. We learned incredible things about ourselves and our family unit while traveling 2,000+ miles in our ’98 Subaru Outback.

During our trip, we also spent a lot of time in the homes of friends where I realized something incredibly profound: Our friends are all really great parents.

This is not unheralded flattery. I do not think for a second that any of them are perfect. But their resolve to be the very best parents for their children is inspiring. Undoubtedly, some of their children will make choices that are not optimal, but there was one thing that was very clear: each one loves their children with a fierceness that cannot be matched or surpassed, with the exception of the Savior’s love for us.

Even more striking is how similar they all are: to each other, to us, and to every other parent we know. No matter the tactic used, each family is trying their best. We most certainly don’t agree on every parenting approach out there, but we’re all on the same team.

We are striving to create more joy in our families.

I’ve wanted to revive this blog for a while and it’s finally time. Patrick and I have done tremendous work on ourselves and on our parenting with the desire to be a more cohesive family. My most valuable lesson in all of this?

We can’t do this on our own.

Parenting isn’t getting any easier. We don’t live in a tribal society anymore where everyone raises their children together. That is one reason we moved home. I remember the day when I distinctly realized, “I am not meant to be my child’s only mother.”

So if you will, please mother with me. Tell me the things that work, the things that don’t work, your pains and your joys, your triumphs and your failures.

For several years, I’ve carefully painted the picture of myself that I wanted displayed to the world. It isn’t a dishonest picture; it’s merely incomplete. It’s the same story I’ve been telling myself, truly believing that if I try hard enough, I can be supremely independent of everyone else and do everything on my own. It’s the part of me that is guarded and protective over my extremely sensitive heart, afraid that if I let the real me shine through, I will have no light left for myself.

For the time being, I’m dedicating this blog to a raw and honest conversation about family life. The ups and the downs. And boy, are there a lot of downs. I have finally embraced the idea that being heartbroken is not the same as being ungrateful. Being fallible does not mean I’m setting a bad example for the youth. Being angry, sad, petty, worried, discouraged, or depressed does not mean I don’t have a testimony of the Great Plan of Happiness.

I am finally ready to talk about my Real Life, but not in a complainy sort of way that hides what my heart is really saying. Not, “It’s so annoying that my daughter won’t sleep, I’m so tired” and laugh it off.

More in the way that says, “My daughter won’t sleep and it gives me anxiety. I fear she will never heal because sleep is so crucial for healing. What if she is sick forever because I can’t teach her how to sleep? What if she can never be a normal child? Or have children because she’s too unhealthy? Or…or...or...” 

The spiraling fears that seem so ridiculous when I write them out, but are genuine thoughts that crowd out the very best things in my life. The thoughts that aren't usually at the forefront of my mind, but are a constant buzzing in the background, despite fighting tooth and nail to eradicate them. The real pains of my heart that I can only give to my Savior if I face head on.

I love my children and they thrive when I am transparent, authentic, and genuine. The questions and the answers, the confusion and the epiphanies, the pride and the humility…these are all part of the Real Me. The Real Me is who I want raising my babies, because that’s who my babies want to raise them.

If you are still reading this nearly-defunct blog, please join the conversation. I know you are a good parent, even if you do not have children. And you are the light that I want in my life.

Much love,

04 July 2012

Splash Pad Bday

We held Jonas' 4th birthday party today (a water themed birthday), but I found these cutey photos from his 2nd birthday in my drafts. Looks like we seems to have a thing for water. Oh the fun of summer birthdays!

02 July 2012

Once Upon a Time I Decided to Start Blogging Again

Blog, I miss you. Sure I have that other blog of mine and my journal and my kids' journals, but what about all those other things in my life?

Like when Mark Zuckerberg got married on my birthday weekend and he looked remarkably similar to a Mark I almost married. I felt like I was looking at the wedding-picture-that-almost-was, but had nowhere to share.*

Or when Katy Perry and Russell Brand split and I was sad for days and days.**

Or when Sid the Science Kid officially became more annoying than Caillou (unconscionable!)***.

You see? All this frivolty needs an outlet.

I am ready for a reconciliation. Blog, will you forgive my absence? In penance, here is a story from this evening.

The Littles love to be in the kitchen with me. I sit them on the counter and we cook together, which is great. Except when the counter is dirty. The width is approximately me + one child, so there's not much space to stand.

This weekend I made play fences and pulled one over to give myself some cleaning solitude. Displeased, they were! The fences are easily (and often) moved, but when the intent was decidedly unfriendly-Kitchen's Closed-they felt like victims of mutiny.

Despite the betrayal, I love my new barrier. The whole kitchen was sparkling by the time I opened the gates to the desperate crowd. My sis-in-law made the genius suggestion of using it for the bathroom too. So many possibilities.

Upon entrance and in a rare moment of camaraderie, the prisoners embraced. After having experienced such horrific conditions, the two found common ground and could celebrate the end of their bondage.

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