Thursday, February 28, 2013


I dreamed a dream...

When my husband and I were first dating, we were discussing bodily functions. I don’t know why—we just were. That was when he made a very serious claim that went something like this:

“All I know is, when I get married, my wife will never hear me, smell me or see me. And I would hope for the same respect from her.”

And I was sad. Because I knew it could never work out between us, since I was completely unwilling to suffer a stomach ache for the rest of my life.

Of course this “respect” only lasted until the vows were made and it was too late to back out, which is also when I finally let him see my bare feet that were covered with quarter-inch-deep splits in my heels, because of some sort of family skin curse which would likely be passed on to his children. But as I said, too late to back out.

And then after filling the house with mostly boys, the hearing, smelling and seeing became the song that never ends...yes it goes on and on, my friends. Which is why I burn candles.

So as I was thinking about it, I realized that a lot of our lives are made up of unrealistic expectations. Take for instance when I was about four years old, I had a beautiful doll that sat upon my dresser, wearing a dress made of blue velvet. This set my imagination soaring, and every night I would lull myself to sleep with this story in my head:

I was a princess. One summer’s afternoon, I decided to step outside to stand in the middle of my lawn. Wearing my midnight blue velvet gown, fluttering eyelashes and my hair in an upsweep, I opened the screen door of my 1970’s tract house and walked several paces. 

Suddenly, the warmth of the sun became too much for my delicate nature, and holding the back of my hand to my forehead, I fainted into a beautiful puddle of crinoline. Sensing my plight, all of the neighborhood boys came running to see the exquisite princess. And they were bearing gifts. 

Silently they laid the presents at my feet, and then returned to their homes to adore me from their front windows. When I awoke, I gathered up their offerings and went back inside where I could prepare to do the whole thing over again the next day. 

Fast forward forty years. My husband and I decided we were going to get in shape, so we joined a gym. Throwing on oversized sweats, my hair in a ponytail and only just washed the sleep from my eyes, we arrived for our hourlong exertion with Emil, our personal trainer, which culminated in being weighed in public.

Now I don’t know if that’s what threw me over the edge or what, but what I do know is that a radio plays in your head when you’re out cold. And guess what you don’t do when you faint? You don’t suck in. Guess what else? When one leg of your sweats rides up to your upper thigh, you don’t have enough presence to pull it back down. 

Also, your lashes don’t flutter and your lips aren’t pouty and your dead weight is faaaarrr toooooo much for your husband to lift, so he just kind of lets you slump over and shakes you hard, calling your name loudly, which introduces you to all of the people on the treadmills who are watching the show.

This brings to mind the words of a wise, dear man, Gordon B. Hinckley; “Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he has been robbed.”


However, here’s the bright side; while I was coming to, Emil called me Princess. As in, “Hey there, princess. You wakin’ up now? See, Sterling–I told you it would just be a minute or two. CAN SOMEBODY BRING ME A COLD RAG? SHE’S SWEATING QUITE A BIT HERE!”

So you see? Although the circumstances weren’t quite what I originally had in mind, a princess did faint. And I kind of think a cold rag on a sweaty brow could be considered a gift. And the people on the treadmills were a lot like the neighborhood boys admiring me from their windows. ch ch. (Eyes closed, shaking head and  my finger to your lips) It doesn’t matter what you say. I see things the way I want to.

No, bliss is not normal. Husbands emit fumes, wive’s feet are gross and princesses sweat. But as long as we’re willing to toss on a pair of rose colored glasses...or hold a rose under our noses, for that matter...the less offended we will be when we see, hear or smell something we didn’t want to. 

And the faster we lower those expectations, the more pleasantly surprised we can be. Bless our sweaty, stinky hearts.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Last week my child left Utah, flew over 30 hours with stops in Chicago, Belgium, Africa and Uganda before ending up in Ethiopia, where he was surprised to find out they speak Amharic. His words; "My apartment is...gaaaaahhhh! But I'm not complaining, because I have a roof over my head and running water—sometimes."

It's called an LDS mission, and you will all want to sign up for this program that makes boys into men. :) This week's article below:

So guess what I just found out? Apparently, I am the ONLY MISSIONARY MOTHER IN THE WORLD who doesn’t love her son.

That’s right. I am the ONLY MOTHER HE’S EVER HEARD OF who, after kissing her son goodbye at the Missionary Training Center curb, didn’t head directly to the nearest post office to mail his first of 18 packages, so that not a moment passed without him being reassured that yes, the Earth’s axis does go directly through him. At least that’s what was insinuated in our first letter from Elder Bingham.

In case you couldn’t tell by the subtle foreshadowing in the above paragraphs, Chris was just recently wrenched from my arms and thrown like a bag of flour into a big, giant spiritual vat of teenaged boys, processed meats and care packages containing Cheetos and Mountain Dew. Which means that if somebody walked past the MTC and lit a match, well, let’s just say that thing would likely go up in a blaze of methane glory. 

Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes. Now initially, when I received word that I was an epic mother failure, my first instinct was to point a finger. So I told him it was his own fault. Then I blamed all those other women who like to make me look bad. Then I tried to backdate a bunch of letters to make it seem as if they had just gotten lost in the delivery truck, but it turns out you can’t really do that with email. (You might want to keep that in mind for future reference.) 

An hour later, my mother’s guilt kicked in, and I felt terrible about the emotional pain I had caused him (even though I had actually sent him a letter AND a package, he just hadn’t received them yet.) This led me to start bandaging the wound by way of packages made up of completely unnecessary items, like pantyhose and lipstick, because I had them on hand and really, it just seemed vitally important to QUICKLY GET SOMETHING OFF TO THAT KID, you know? 

But then I started thinking, is it really so bad that this child should go a few days without? I mean, here we are expecting him to go two years without games and computers and texting the bejebus out of friends and family, and he’s already feeling the pangs of detox. 

This reminded me of years ago, when my oldest son received his first cell phone, and we took it away on a weekly basis. Just for fun. This infuriated him, but delighted us, because we could see his tendency to use it as a crutch, as we’d already noticed him pulling it out in awkward social situations. And okay, I’ll admit I myself have held a dead phone to my ear on numerous occasions when passing kiosks in the mall, but that doesn’t mean it’s right.

Later on, when our boys had real jobs, we noticed they often brought home sacks of overpriced, unnecessary clothing to add to the pile on their bedroom floor. When we got after them, they asked why. “Why can’t we spend the money if we have it?”

We tried to explain to them what happens in a a marriage especially...when somebody doesn’t know how to tell themselves no, recalling a turning point in our own marriage when Sterling brought home a brand new, shiny black gun that cost enough to cause an argument. His solution? “Go ahead and buy yourself something, Lis. Then we’ll be even.”

Fortunately, I just rolled my eyes at his suggestion. Which is not to say I didn’t go buy myself something anyway. But it was on sale, and everybody knows that if it’s on sale, you can’t afford NOT to buy it. Duh.

I guess my point is, sometimes a lack of comfort leads us to search for solace in places we might not have ever thought to look. No phone in your hand might lead  your mouth and your eyes to communicate. No expensive clothing might lead you to an incredible personality. No controllers, computers and games might lead you to imagining, creating and becoming. 

And finally, no care packages from home might just lead a missionary to drop to his knees, where he is sure to find another member of his family who will always be there with him, even when his own mother cannot.

Besides, let’s be honest; Missionary Mothers can only survive if they lock the memory of that child away in their hearts. Thus, the sooner we pretend they don’t exist, the sooner the lump in our throats will stop restricting airflow. 

Next week, he will arrive halfway across the world as a pale faced, blonde haired, timid, gassy boy in a land of wild gorillas, red bananas and people with smiles that spread clear across a nation. And when this happens, the sooner he forgets himself, the better off he’ll be. 

Bless his beautiful, missionary heart.