Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lilies and Strawberries.

The strawberries.

It’s a good thing that Lily’s birthday is in May because I don’t thing there’s one thing that this girl loves more than strawberries—and so we always manage to have some on her cake. She declared that this year’s cake is her ‘favorite’ and I was happy—with the help of the strawberry field down the street—to oblige. She is turning into such an amazing little helper and the wit that accompanies her voracious reading habit is quite sassy. She was pleased with her birthday ‘swag,’ which included a new watch, books (of course), and a Stanford hoodie (thanks to Erika and Kim—my mom team who pulled off a last minute Stanford Bookstore run for me). I can’t believe that in a year she’ll be in double digits—it seems like she was, only just yesterday, the continually nursing baby (happy for me, though, because while she nursed—I read Lord of the Rings). How fast the time has gone and those quiet days of one baby are gone and our life is a whirlwind of adventure.

Happy Birthday Lily.

I love this picture of Lily laughing at her little sisters as they sing, sing, sing.
Jane was certain that it was her birthday.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Finding Myself.

One of the hardest things about becoming a mother is losing a part of you that you’ll never be again. After Lily was born, it wasn’t the all-night feedings, the nursing difficulties, the sleep deprivation or the constant worry that shocked me. What shocked me was the inability to be what I had, up until then, always been. I had to finally resolve to become a different sort of person, a version of the old me, true—but at the same time—different. As I slowly embraced the new me of motherhood, I also grieved for the old me and while this process gets easier it never really goes away. Now that I’m officially a mother (I suppose that having four kids does that to you), I have almost forgotten what that old me is all about. Almost everything that I do now, involves my kids in some form or another and I complacently allow my old habits and sensibilities to fade slowly away. Sometimes I worry that when my kids are gone, will I be interesting? Can I be defined by something other than Lily, Canyon, Alice or Jane’s mom? I found out this past week that yes, I can.

I found myself again.

Born to schoolteachers, my siblings and I had the fortunate opportunity to ‘grow up’ at summer scout camps. We spent our summers swimming, sailing, boating, tying knots, hiking, and basking in creative outdoor time that began and ended with the rising and setting of the sun. We were dirty, happy, sunburned, and tired. We fell asleep every night, exhausted, as our mother read ‘Little House on the Prairie.’ And we believed in Laura’s life on the prairie…because we were living it. We grew up to become scouters and counselors and we began to teach our unique skills to twelve-year-old boys who were as eager to learn as we were to teach. We learned about hard work, service, and we had a great time. We saw the sunrise over the lake every morning and every night we pondered the milky moonpath on the still water and seemed so close to the stars that we could almost hear their conversations. I loved it. It defined who I am. It gave me confidence and self-awareness.

I was asked, this year, to be on staff at BSA’s National Camp School to train camp Aquatic’s Directors. It is something that I did a few times before I was married and even early in my marriage, but not something that I thought I would go back to. With Dustin’s encouragement I decided to go and after I gathered up a village to help with the kids—I packed my bags and went to Camp Tracy in Salt Lake’s Millcreek Canyon for eight days. I have never been away from my kids for that long and was nervous and emotional to leave. I went, I taught, I rowed, I canoed, I had fun and developed relationships and, guess what, I wasn’t Lily or Canyon or Alice or Jane’s mom—I wasn’t even Marty’s sister (Marty was also there…which is another delightful aspect to this story)—I was me. I had a wonderful time. I was exhausted, yet fulfilled. I came home to a family who missed me and appreciated me. Dustin did a great job with the kids all week. I know that it had to take a great deal of patience and sacrifice for him to work and be solely responsible for the kids after hours.

This was a great ‘break’ for me—an opportunity for me to realize that I can hang on to the old me without feeling guilty. You might read this and say ‘duh.’ But this past week was truly revealing to me and I hope that this revelation will help me to be a better mother and a better wife…because there’s a little bit of the old me still in there and, when it’s time, she’s coming back out.