I have done a lot of figurative “staying up all
night” these past two days. As we knelt together by our bed last night, almost too emotionally fatigued even to pray, I said to Lance,“It sure seems like life is designed to make one feel like
“Failure” seems to run like an announcement/declaration across
the bottom of the screen of everything I do
“Failure” flashes every morning when I step on the scale. I am up 10 pounds but cannot seem to control myself; the urgent need to eat accompanies me every waking moment.
“Failure” rips my heart every morning when I feed the sheep. Wednesday evening our Suffolk ewe had two healthy, hearty sons. The twin ram lambs were perfect in every way. We checked on them through the night and periodically throughout the next day. Every time we looked in on them, they had full tummies, wagging tails, and bright, alert eyes. Friday morning I found one lying prostrate on the barn floor; he was alive but barely……and not for long. He died in my arms for reasons unknown.
Why can’t I raise sheep now? When I was young it was so easy. We fed them, bred them, and watched the lambs grow. Now all I do successfully is feed them. Last year we had two ewes; one did not get pregnant and the other gave birth to a single lamb. [Generally sheep have twins.] Both lamb and ewe died; the ewe from a prolapsed uterus and pinched spinal cord and the lamb was smothered when the ewe flopped on it. The year before the ewe we bought from a man in Logan crawled under a manure spreader in the breeder’s pasture and died. [The man has had the spreader in his pasture for years; none of his sheep have ever crawled under it and died.] The year before that the ewe we bought from a local breeder had a miscarriage; again, no lambs. During those two years, our other ewe gave birth to twins each year but, two years in a row, she rejected one of the lambs a couple days after it was born, effectively sentencing it to death. We got rid of her but that did not bring the lambs back. Tired of seeing lambs die, I bought a Soay ewe. [Soays are a heritage breed, supposedly much heartier than the domestic breeds.] The Soay gave birth last week to a single, still born lamb. She did not even bother to lick it off. What am I doing wrong?
“Failure” screams at me when I look at Chick’s grades. Once again he has D’s and F’s at midterm. How is it that he is seventeen and his mother has not taught him how to be responsible academically? And what about his driver’s license? And a job? Surely, as his mother, I should have structured his choices in such a way that he would choose to get good grades, obtain his driver’s license, and find a job.
“Failure” punches me when I look at Tanah’s teeth. Though she had braces, her teeth are twisting crooked again. I cannot get her to wear her retainer.
“Failure” gut punched me at the Parent-Daughter Engineering Day Grace and I attended yesterday. Our first task was to design a three-fingered prosthetic hand, using only 3x5 cards, tape, string, pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, 2 syringes, and a length of rubber tubing, that could pick up a wad of paper. We were given no instructions. Totally flummoxed and very
frustrated, I was no help to my daughter. Surrounded by dads who jumped eagerly into the task, excitedly helping their daughters create masterpieces, all I could do was stare at the pile of materials. Grace was totally on her own.
“Failure” condemns me disgustedly everywhere I look in my house. I see mildew on the shower ceiling, handprints on doors, shoes in hallways, and socks strewn everywhere. My house is not clean.
“Failure” yells at me during my first period class as I repeatedly have to draw them back on task after each demonstration
that I do. They simply talk out too much and the problem is epidemic; everyone in the class does it. I have failed to hold
them to an acceptable standard of behavior.
“Failure” echoes through the vaults of our empty bank account. Since my EHS job dried up, we have had to dip into the savings account every month to make ends meet. The amount of money in our savings account is very finite; we cannot continue dipping for much longer. Why can’t I make due on a one-and-a-half teacher’s salary?
So, lately I have figuratively “stayed up all night wondering what happened to the sun”; why are things so dark? Why am I failing as a mother, teacher, wife, sheep breeder, person?
And then it dawned me………..
Grace and I are working together to earn our Young Woman’s Recognition Award. [An award opportunity, similar in rigor to the Boy Scout’s Eagle, that the LDS Church provides for girls ages 12-18. Mothers are allowed to earn it with their daughters if they desire. ] As one of the requirements I was to read the Standards for Youth pamphlet and pick three areas in which I need to improve and practice the chosen standards for three weeks. I chose gratitude as one of my three areas.
Gratitude brought an end to my figurative night as the realization dawned on me that I am truly blessed. I have food, LOTS of GOOD food. My darling son Chick is incredibly respectful, obedience, and helpful. He tells me he loves me regularly and
never, NEVER rebels. He is a completely good hearted person and I am so grateful that he is part of my life. Sweet Tanah is also a genuinely good hearted person who understands people and goes out of the way to meet their needs. She is talented and funny and fun and she talks to me. I treasure the chats we have. Grace, determined little “Scrapper”that she is, did not need my help to make a prosthetic hand; she took ownership and did it by herself. My house, though not clean,
is generally tidy; my children are not ashamed to bring their friends here. First period is getting better and their noise is not disrespectful, just animated. We pay tithing so the Lord’s promised blessings will kick it someday (soon, I hope!!). I am still struggling to feel grateful for the single surviving lamb—every morning when I go down to feed the sheep I see the lonely little guy and have a good cry—but I trust the pain will fade eventually.
Gratitude brought dawn to me and the more I counted my blessings, the brighter the dawning light became. More reasons for gratitude……..
I took the kids cross country skiing last weekend. We skied up Old Snow Basin road and ate cold lunches (really cold!) on a snow bank overlooking the Snow Basin parking lot. The day was crisp and clear. Though our start was a bit rough (Miles: I hate this, this is stupid, I never wanted to come, I am not going any further), we had a great finish. We skied up for 2 hours and back down in 30 minutes. Miles, and everyone else, loved it. “Thanks so much for taking us,” all the kids said repeatedly.
Third grade drama continues. Miles said, “I think M— just likes me as a friend
now.” Why? “Because she does the poking stuff only once a week.” Thanks for sharing!
Alex, a 10 year old neighbor boy, is mildly autistic. He visits us regularly. Tuesday he sat in our kitchen, facing the corner bird cage, and talked to the bird for about 30 minutes, telling Babs about his school day. About a month ago Miles invited him to attend Cub Scouts. Alex does not have many friends and eagerly accepted the invitation. In fact, he really does not have any friends. Or should I say, didnot have many friends. Now he has friends. He has come to Cubs for four weeks; last week he went even though Miles did not go. This week he and his mother attended the Blue and Gold banquet. The Bear leader (Gabbi Simonson) is truly an angel. She made sure Alex got an award at the banquet. Before and after the banquet, Alex ran wild in the gym with rest of the Cubs, thoroughly enjoying the chaos. Said Alex, “I love your church! I am going to change to your church because you have a gym.” [The Cub Scout troop is sponsored by our church, all the leaders are called from members of our local congregation and meetings are held in our church building.] When I explained
that we do not run around the gym on Sundays he was not so eager to change religions but his enthusiasm for Cubs has not dampened. I am grateful for a son who accepts everyone as his friend and a Bear leader who sees and meets children’s needs.
This week I am taking 90 8th graders on a field trip to the Utah Museum of Natural History and Tracy Aviary so last Monday (President’s Day) Miles and I went there on a reconnaissance mission. [See photos] What a blessing to be able to spend a day with my son.
A couple we know got divorced and Lance spent an hour or so talking to the rejected husband. The poor man is SO
devastated. About the divorce he said, “She did not know what she wanted but she knew what she did not
want. Me.” Repeatedly, since their conversation, Lance has said, “Thanks for staying married to me.” I am so grateful to be married to a man who treasures me.
We have some dear friends (who happen to be my dad’s cousins) who are serving an LDS mission in Siberia. From them I recently learned of a Siberian tradition I plan to adopt. When couples get married, they engrave their names on a padlock, secure the lock on a fence or a bridge, and throw away the key. Theirs is a symbolic act, testifying that their hearts and lives are forever locked together. Look for an engraved padlock on our front fence soon.
Ope! The dawn has come. The sun is shining brightly outside and I must go.
P.S. Happy 24th! Twenty-four is such a great number!!!!!!!!!!!!!