Friday, May 6, 2011

Mother Dearest

Growing up, I was quite often mortified by my mother who sang in the grocery store aisles, corrected my grammar incessantly ("Stephanie, it is "all of A sudden"), spoke to me in Spanish when I didn't catch half of what she was saying ... and the list goes on. Today, I find myself singing in the grocery store aisles, constantly correcting people when they use improper grammar, and going off to Robby about cases in "legalese" before I realize he doesn't have any idea what "res judicata" means or what a "plea in abeyance" is. In short, I am becoming my mother! How do I feel about that you ask? Privileged and thrilled. I have a long ways to go before I can fill my mother's shoes (assuming I'll even get there), but there is no woman that I admire more.

I have the most amazing mom. Thinking about stories from my mother's childhood, I see even more similarities between the two of us. My mother's parents did not subscribe too much to religion when she was growing up. They were principled and moral people but did not have a particular faith in a specific religion or deity. My mother began investigating various religions at a young age. She went to Episcopalian schools, attended the Catholic church  with friends, went to LDS meetings, etc. She had an independent mind and wanted to learn more about the world and the meaning of things before she subscribed to a certain religion or belief system. She eventually found and joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I, too, while blessed with the truthfulness of the gospel all of my life, had an independent mind from a very young age. At twelve I declared to my mother that I was not so certain that the Mormon church was the only true church and I intended to investigate other religions. My mother asked where I would like to answer: I want to go to a Catholic mass. While I never actually followed through on it, my mother was ready to take me anywhere I wanted to go to settle that internal desire to confirm for myself what was true. I gained an unshakable knowledge that the gospel of Jesus Christ can only be found in its entirety in the teachings and works of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, but how blessed I am to have a mother who did not shut down questions or concerns I have had along the way. Instead, my mother has explored my questions with me. Not surprisingly, many of my hiccups in faith along the way were also difficult points for my mother.

My mother is strong and fearless in her willingness to stand up for what is right. When she was a new member of the church and just starting college, my mother was in a lecture hall where false statements were made about the Mormon church. While many would, understandably, pose only silent objections, my mother raised her hand and corrected the professor on the comments being made. What an example I have had. Observing my mother in her testaments of the truth has given me the strength to raise my voice in defense of what is right.

My mother instilled in me a love for reading (though I don't get to do this for leisure as often as I would like anymore). As a preschooler, I would have "read-ins" with my mom: each of us cuddled up on the couch with one another books in hand. I cherished that alone time.

My mother is a teacher to her core. She never missed a teaching opportunity when we were growing up and it thrills me now to see her with Connor. Just last month, Connor was at my parent's for a few hours and when I picked him up he had mastered circles, squares, triangles and ovals and could quickly identify them in a line-up of shapes. She has sleep overs with grandchildren where they attend "Indian camp" and learn about Native American cultures, watch movies, and make crafts. She never fails to instill a gospel principal in a pupil when give the chance (whether a child, grandchild or one of her high school students).

She taught me to love other peoples and cultures. When she was young my mother cried herself to sleep at night because she wanted to be an Indian so badly (I love that story). That pure love for other cultures and people has never left her. My mother travels more than anyone I know (making it out of the country at least every other year since I was about 10). She has found a way to pursue her passion for traveling while teaching students about art and culture to make it financially possible. Are you as impressed with her as I am?! You should be!

I could quite honestly go on for hours (or at least pages and pages). I am truly blessed to have been raised by such an amazing woman. My mother is one of my favorite people to spend time with and is truly one of my best friends. I am lucky enough to be able to walk to her house from mine in about five minutes and I couldn't love it more. I love that I see her often. I love that Connor knows and loves her. I love that I have pieces of her in me.

There is no woman I would rather be like than my mom.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Perspective is Everything

Have you ever noticed that you can feel out of balance, inadequate, and just plain bad about yourself and your circumstances one day and the next day be on cloud nine? Without extremely significant changes, suddenly life is rosy, you are blissfully happy, and you feel completely content and at home in your own skin and shoes! What is the difference? Perspective.

Today I am having one of those days where my life seems settled and on track. I have a wonderful and loving husband who is kind, gentle, handsome, nurturing and humble. Robby's willingness to put aside his own desires and pride to stay home with our son these last 2 years has been nothing short of amazing. Trust me, it is not easy for a man to stay home with the baby when he would far rather be working himself. However, it made much more financial sense for our family for me to be the one working and for Robby to be home until he enters his grad program this fall. I am so deeply grateful that somehow I found the man who was just the right fit for me. I am one of the few who loves and likes my husband. Robby's sacrifices for our family have deepened our bond, increased my respect and admiration, and helped our family move further down the path to achieve our goals. He is my forever (as cheesy as that sounds). With him, I will be able to attain higher degrees of glory and exaltation. He makes me strive to be better in all that I do and loves me for who I truly am. No pretenses, no pressure to change, no unrealistic expectations. All at once, Robby makes me feel truly loved for who I am and yet at the same time instills a desire in me to constantly better myself.

I have a precious son who lights up my entire world with his smile. I had no idea how ones heart could quadruple in size until I held Connor in my arms for the first time. It is truly awe inspiring how deep the love is between a mother and a child. He is my greatest accomplishment in life and has brought wonderful new dynamic and meaning to our family unit.

What is the difference between today and any other day? Perspective. We are here to be tested, to gain our bodies and to form eternal bonds one with another. Do five pounds or long to-do lists really matter in the grand scheme of things? Absolutely not (well, within reason). :)

I have the perspective of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. This knowledge influences and directs every step on my journey through life. If I hold fast to this perspective, and make sure that my feet are firmly planted on my path, then regardless of life's challenges or perceived problems, I can choose to be truly and happy.