Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Emote Possibilities

I wake up at 3:42 am quite frequently. I call this the witching minute because if I do wake up and it is 3:42am, I know that I am going to be awake until approximately 6:36am. And what am I doing during these 3 dark hours? Reading a good book? No. Organizing my disaster of a closet? Certainly not. Meditating and thinking positive and calming thoughts? No, I always spend these 180 long minutes tormenting myself with"mother guilt". For those of you who need elaboration, I define 'mother guilt' as intense and incubating thoughts which always culminate in the conclusion that 'I am ruining my kid's lives'. Some examples of these arteries of anxiety are; 1. I am not enriching my children spiritually. 2. I am not feeding them enough vegetables. 3. I am not teaching them the values of work and service. 4. They are not involved in enough extracurricular activities. 5. They are involved in too many extracurricular activities.
Last week it was the horrific realization that I had forgotten to give Emmy her fluoride pill since we moved two months ago. I now accept blame for any future tooth issues that Emmy may have. Inevitably, a swelling pit grows from my stomach up to my throat and often motivates my self-committal to phone the producers of "Wife Swap" in the morning because I am sure that any other wife and mother would be a better option for my family.
However, the following morning my feelings of inadequacy and guilt are often washed away in inexplicable blissful moments such as watching my girls skip to school together or spying Ansel roll a worm tenderly between his fingers looking for its ears. Other times my feelings of inadequacy are swiftly swallowed by evil desires to lock my kids in their rooms until they reach adulthood (these wicked thoughts are usually preceded by vehicular bickering). I had no idea that motherhood would be such an emotional roller coaster. But I do now recognize that all of these emotions are somehow tied together and that they are so extreme because of my extreme attachment to these children.
The Japanese have a word — "aware" (not the same as our North American aware) — which accommodates this paradox and in my understanding covers that full range — both the joy and the sorrow of our life. One does not exist without the other. It is the burning and searing illuminations of love for delicacy and the strength of our relationships. Terry Tempest Williams describes this "aware" as a joy and sorrow that we cannot recover from, nor forget.

Ansel received a fairly prominent blow to the eye last week. The helpless and desperate expression on his face amidst his crying needed no words. "Why did you let this happen to me? Make it feel better right now," And how I wish I could make it feel better. At the moment it seemed like a tragic event in his life. But not an hour later he was running to the mirror with beaming pride at his battled black eye. And by the end of the week, he was acting like his scar was the best thing that ever happened to him. I know that I can't keep my children from feeling pain and I recognize that it isn't even my responsibility. I will fail in so many ways as a parent. I fail in so many ways in all of my relationships. This brings me pain which is inextricable from the vast amounts of joy that these relationship bring to my life. I just wish that I could remember this at 3:42 in the morning.

This week I was also reminded that I am not alone in this crazy raising children thing. I have an endless supply of sisters who have stepped in at critical moments and given when my nurturing account has been temporarily bankrupt (I really hate that metaphor). My children have grandparents who would step in front of a train for them (another overused cliche...sorry). They have cousins and aunts and uncles who provide them with a interlocking network of security and love that parents alone cannot provide. Teachers that can teach them what they are hungering to learn and which I certainly don't have the patience or the ability to teach them. I have vowed NEVER EVER to quote Hillary Clinton and so I will say, "it takes a cooperative spirit" to raise a child. Thanks to all who are involved in my life and the lives of my children.

Savanna was among just a few chosen to display her art piece at a show in the downtown library last Friday night. I taught Savanna all that I could in the art department before she was two. Thank you ART Teachers!

Emmy was baptised last Saturday and Grandma and Grandpa Judd were able to come and show Emmy their love and support. They have helped us through some difficult times and have always been eager to be a part of these momentous occasions in our lives. Thank you Duane and Sharon!
My sister Elizabeth and brother Joal have lived close enough to us to almost be second parents to our children. They have undepletable reservoirs of patience and integrity and have made this world a better place. Thank you Eliz and Joal! My cousin Marika started driving at 2:30 in the morning to make sure that she was able to be at the baptism. She is the type of person that can do this sort of thing and make it seem easy and fun. A little bit crazy and a lot bit miraculous. Thank you Marika!
Alexis is Emmy's "twin cousin" because they were born within hours of one another. They jokingly say that they jumped out of heaven together. I don't think this is so far-fetched a hypothesis. Alexis is taking after her mother, Marika, and working miracles as well. She made Emmy a beautiful necklace while driving in the wee hours of the morning. And Savanna. What would Emmy and Savanna do without each other?

My family...such a beautiful terrible wonderful sorrowful joyous train wreck


EJ said...

What a perfect post to read on Mother's Day. Thank you for the introduction of the Japanese meaning of aware. I shall remember this word in those unending wakeful hours of the morning. I love that Ansel was looking for the worms ears... Wishing we were closer...

John Deere said...

In spite of your mother guilt, you are are a wonderful mom. Happy Mothers Day

lazyeye said...

sometimes I wake up at 3:42 from nightmares of you closet too. Oh, that's not quite what you said, was it. Oops.

Anonymous said...

Now list all the good and wonderful things you do and are for your family.

Kaerlig said...

I just found this post today and the timing was perfect. This morning I was suffering intensely from "mother guilt" and sometimes I don't know what to do with those feelings. It is somehow helpful to know that maybe it's normal? for a mom. Thanks!
P.S. You don't know me but Corey was a friend from BYU.