Day 25 of NaBloPoMo: Married to Amazement
I never could have fully appreciated my own mother and her sacrifices for me unless I had children of my own. I’ve always loved my mom in the way that children love the person who gave them life, but now as a mother I love her as a compatriot. She is a retired general, and I am an infrantrywoman. The battle is for the future of our genetics and our legacy. I take that responsibility seriously, following the code of morals that her parents were taught when they were small.
I can see now that much of my mom’s life was devoted to trying to help me find happiness, often at the expense of her own. It probably wasn’t enjoyable to live in a trailer at the county fair for a week, with careless kids dragging remnants of the pig barn in and out of the tiny space each time they mounted the stairs. I loved those weeks; the snuggling with the clean pigs in their pen, competing after months of practice, the night when she let me run wild with my friends at the carnival. That is one tiny example of many which illustrate what a great childhood I had because of my mother.
I struggle with this, the self-sacrifice for children. She is close enough to me to be able to step in and remind me what it’s all about. And every so often she gives me the gift of a week off, time I deeply, deeply, wholeheartedly appreciate. I come back from those periods with a well of strength that allows me to dig a little deeper, to be a little bit more like the mother I had as a child.
Day 24 of NaBloPoMo: Married to Amazement
When I got married and realized how much TH was gone from home, or working from home, I was confused. This wasn’t the happily ever after story I imagined for myself growing up. Weren’t we supposed to cook all our dinners together and snuggle in for brunch-in-bed every Saturday and Sunday? When I brought this up with my mom she pointed out that her spouse had worked a lot too. In fact, in my childhood community it was standard for the men to work long hours while the wives held down the homefront.
Now that I have children I reflect a lot more on what it was like to have a childhood where my dad worked a lot. Whatever I felt back then, I now hold no hard or sad feelings about the experience. I understand just enough about the world my dad was operating in to see how hard he pushed himself to establish something from very little. He didn’t just work hard physically, he explored new frontiers that expanded his knowledgebase. He took chances and survived the bad years (this is what farming is all about), saw the potential for a new farming method and built up a business with multiple locations, was ahead of the curve in relation to medium/large-scale organic farming, has developed products and gone through the patent application process, is respected in his work community and sits on at least one influential board (maybe more?), is currently exploring the world of produce packing, and has a reach expansive enough that I can buy his organic onions at my local Whole Foods. He would never tell you any of this because he is the epitome of the hardworking humble farmer. I respect him so much for everything he has done and reference his dedication often as I’m thinking about how to live my own life.
My leap from Mormonism was hard for my dad, still is every day. He’s not so into my blogging either. I get that, and we are navigating the transition from adult to child relationship the way all parents and offspring must do. What has been constant through the tumult though, is my knowledge that my dad loves me for me, no matter what. I need that, and it is a gift he has always very generously provided.
Day 23 of NaBloPoMo: Married to Amazement
My sister and I were close as children, the way kids are close. Snuggling one second and bickering the next. She came to BYU early and I was very excited to have her in the same city as me. We spent some time together, but with four years between us we were moving in completely different circles navigating different experiences.
When she got married I thought we would move directly into BFF Married Sibling mode. We could dish about our husbands, talk about what meals we were cooking, and have babies at the same time. The marriage wasn’t what she thought it was going to be though, and as she worked through that we went through a period where we didn’t talk much. I wish I had reached out to her more during that hard time, because I didn’t know much until the end of the relationship, but I confess I let myself become consumed with motherhood and my own life.
It’s been a few years since that time, and now we are closer than we’ve ever been before. We talk daily using the app Voxer and are finding that our views are aligning a lot more as we both make our way toward thirty. I love her, trust her with my secrets, and value the feedback she gives me when I’m working through something. She lets me voice my thoughts about her situations and is very forgiving when I am wrong or insensitive. She is one of my best friends.
I tried to get her to live with me, but she decided to learn a little bit more about the family business instead. Maybe she will take it over one day? I would be very happy to see my parents pass on what they have built to one of their children (it won’t be me, they know I’ve said bye-bye to Central WA for good.) Right now when I take the kids to see Nana and Papa I get to hang out with my sister too, and that’s a pretty sweet place to be.
Day 22 of NaBloPoMo: Married to Amazement
Attaching “in-law” to these individuals feels too distant and sterile for what they mean to me. They are the people who made my husband who he is today, and they’ve shown me so much kindness. They are my family.
We live too far away from each other and I wish we could visit more regularly. I treasure the time we’ve been able to spend with them so far. I worry that my kids won’t have the chance to really get to know them the way all of them deserve to know and love each other. You can love from afar, but it’s hard to form a deep sort of affection, trust, and life-long relationship with someone you don’t spend long periods of time with.
I’d like the kids to spend summers over in Poland at some point, maybe with me in tow if my schedule allows. Wouldn’t that be a nice way to jump into speaking some conversational Polish with our extended immediate family?
Day 19 of NaBloPoMo: Married to Amazement
As I worked my way toward exiting Mormonism I tiptoed into the world of progress/ex/liberal Mormon Facebook groups. There are dozens, geared toward almost any audience you can imagined. I was posting frequently in the group created by the Feminist Mormon Housewives founder, and mentioned unhappiness with our new congregation in the Palo Alto area. A San Jose former-Mormon reached out to me and asked if I would like to be added to a small group for post-Mormon women in the Bay Area, and that is how I was introduced to a tiny troop of women who have become my replacement for the social structure I used to find through Mormonism. I didn’t realize until I left how much I depended on religion to meet my social needs.
This is a group where I can talk about anything related to religion or leaving religion or navigating the world of ex-Mormonism (what underwear are the ladies loving nowadays?) and the audience gets it. There are actually very few aspects of my life that weren’t affected by my decision to exit the faith of my childhood, and whatever I’m going through they are right there with me, 100% supportive. We talk about porn shoulders and cleavage, alcohol, drugs, tattoos, our children being exposed to Mormonism via our believing parents, sex, parenting, marriage, creating new traditions for religious holidays, frustrations, heartbreak, triumph, and everything in between. Today one of the women posted about sick kids and being overwhelmed and immediately there were a dozen responses offering childcare and babysitting and transportation. It feels just like the support found in the LDS church’s women’s organization, but without the guilt and religious overtones I felt oppressed by once I went through my faith transition.
We’re getting together for Thanksgiving, there are regular get-togethers for spouses and families, monthly ladies nights, park playdates, swimming parties, beach trips… Yeah, I know am damn lucky to be a part of a group like this.
I thought leaving my faith would be most difficult because of the ways my decision would intersect with the viewpoints of believing family and friends, but I think moving to a new place and learning how to form relationships outside of church has been even harder. I also have a circle of never-mo friends who rock my socks (you know who you are!) but the post-Mormon crowd fills a special hole in my heart that needed stuffing. (Mmmmm, stuffing. We’re going to have a fabulous time together at Thanksgiving.)