Abraham, Rachel, Soren and Liam. Our life together in Smalltown, Idaho.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Seven Years (and some news...it's at the bottom if you want to skip the ramblings.)

On April 23, Abe and I marked our seven year wedding anniversary. This weekend (a week weeks later, so that Abe would be done with school), we're celebrating. We've checked into a fancy hotel on the Idaho Falls greenbelt and I'm sitting on our balcony, watching people and ducks and geese and soaking in as much precious sunshine as I can. It's a beautiful day--one of the first really warm, sunny days this year--and there's a gentle breeze blowing. Life is good. (For me.) (Right now.) (Don't want to undermine the fact that there are people suffering today and that for them, life might be less good.)

But anyway, I've been wanting to post for a while about where we've been in our life together at each of our anniversaries--and what we did to celebrate. So, since I have a long weekend of uninterrupted free time stretched out in front of me, I think I'll finally do it.

April 23, 2004. Honeymoon. We went to the Oregon Coast. We arrived at our rental cabin on the beach after dark but went for a stroll along the surf anyway. Moonlight glowed on the black waves. A fawn darted through the brush. Shooting stars streamed through the sky. We were deliriously happy. The next day we played on the beach like children; that afternoon we realized we were horribly sunburned. We were in pain, and couldn't touch much, but we still had fun-- went to beaches, visited the Redwoods, read books, held hands. We ate roll sandwiches with provolone cheese and pepperoni. Abe read an entire Narnia book out loud to me. The last night of our honeymoon, however, Abe's sunburn took a turn for the worse. Much worse. We ended up taking him to a hospital in the middle of the night and he spent the remainder of the time completely doped up on pain pills and anti-itch medication. I drove all the way from Pendleton, Oregon to Idaho Falls in silence while he slept. He woke only to (1) drunkenly spray gasoline on a gas pump at a service station, (2) advertise how fabulous his meds were and tell me that I really needed to try them, and (3) snarl at me for hiccuping too loudly. So yeah, our honeymoon pretty much summed up what was to come: euphoria, joy, pain, and long-suffering. And books. Lots and lots of books.

April 23, 2005. First Anniversary. We were living in Wymount--affectionately known as The Rabbit Hutches--one of the family housing complexes at BYU-Provo. We were nose-deep in school and work. I was working at the BYU Bookstore Textbook Information Desk, Abe was working at Liberty Square Apartments as a maintenance man. We were shocked at how much fun married life was. We'd expected it to be more work.

Some of Abe's younger siblings were visiting on our anniversary, so we spent the actual day sitting in our apartment while they mumbled to each other, "What do you wanna do?" "I don't know, what do you want to do?" I threw a little fit-- cried, possibly stomped my foot. My brother Scott and I went for a walk so I could vent without harming any Skousens. When the sibs were gone--a week or so later--Abe and I celebrated our year by pushing both our couches together, throwing all our blankets and pillows into the mix, buying honeymoon food, and having a read-in.

April 23, 2006. Second Anniversary. Nausea. I was pregnant. We graduated from college--me with my degree in English, Abe with his in Philosophy--and moved in with my parents in Idaho. I got a job as the Office Manager at the Domestic Violence Intervention Center (DVIC). After ten long months of unemployment, Abe got a job at Barnes and Noble.

April 23, 2007. Third Anniversary. My sweet parents watched little Soren for a few hours while we went on a date. We sat in a cold breeze by the river and ate honeymoon food. I wanted to go to the library and find books about Origami but the library closes early on Saturdays. We went to Barnes and Noble instead but had to go home early so I could nurse the baby. Abe was still working at the bookstore; I was working twelve hours a week doing finances/grant-writing for the DVIC.

April 23, 2008. Fourth Anniversary. Destinations Inn: Arabia Room. It was the first night I'd spent away from Soren since he'd been born. It was so nice to spend a few quiet hours together--and an entire night without waking up with the baby. Abe was working full time with kids at Harbor House, an inpatient drug-and-alcohol treatment program for adolescents. We had bought our house in Shelley. In a couple months, I would be embarking on another nausea-fest.

April 23, 3009. Fifth Anniversary. Primary Children's Hospital. Our two-month-old Liam was sleeping in an incubator, tubes and wires and beeping things sprouting out of his tiny body. Our friends Mark and Rachel took us out for lunch at P.F. Chang's. As I fell asleep that night spooning Abe on a hospital cot, I decided it was a good way to spend an anniversary--a good symbol of our shared journey through thick and thin. When we finally checked out of the hospital with our precious little baby, we went back to jobs at Harbor House--Abe working with the clients, me maintaining order (part time) as the Administrative Assistant. Abe had begun work on his master's degree in Library and Information Science.

April 23, 2010. Sixth Anniversary. Another hotel vacation. This hotel room had stairs, which I thought was pretty sweet. We spent the weekend reading, sleeping, and shopping. We also made a Powerpoint presentation for a group project for one of Abe's classes. My parents and Briar took turns watching the kids during the weekend. During the previous year Harbor House had closed. I had been lucky enough to be offered a full-time position as the Office Manager at a counseling agency, so Abe had taken over the role of stay-and-home parent and increased his graduate course load. We were both worn out from a busy year--the kids were particularly difficult that year--so we were extremely grateful for the two days of bliss provided by a getaway.

April 23, 2011. Seventh Anniversary. Abe finished his final class two weeks ago and the following week the director of the Idaho Falls library offered him a job. He'll start next week, working three ten-hour shifts/week. This means I'll be able to cut back on my hours and spend an extra day at home each week with our chilluns. The library job is temporary--only guaranteed through the end of the summer--but we hope it will blossom into something more permanent. We're excited--and a little anxious/guilty (<----me) --about the changes, though I think it will be a good thing. I'm already planning how I'm going to spend that extra day with the boys: there will be crafts! and baking! and educational activities! and kitchen dancing! and trips to the park! I couldn't ask for anything more: we've got good jobs, a warm home, lots of yummy food, healthy, handsome children, our own health, family, friends, and time to enjoy it all. (I'm knocking on the wooden balcony right now.) Link
All in all, it's been a good seven years. Not perfect--there have been times when Abe and I have wanted to drown each other like unwanted puppies--but good. I'm looking forward to the next seven.Link

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Mama Mia

When I grow up, I want to be like my mom.

That's always what I've wanted, really. When I was a little girl, my plan for life after graduation was to do exactly what my mom did: go to Ricks College for two years, then BYU, then live the wild-n-free single life for a while, then get married and have babies. I didn't exactly follow that path (I skipped Ricks and got married before I graduated from the Y), but I'm still trying to do things the way my mom has done them.

Mom has just always seemed so put-together to me (except, maybe, when I was a teen, and then even the way she breathed was wrong and completely humiliating). She's friendly. She's smart. She's fun. She's engaged in life. She's been happily married for over thirty years. She's raised four healthy, kind, intelligent, self-disciplined children. She's comfortable with herself and confident in her choices. Who wouldn't want to follow in her shoes?

When I find myself in a sticky parenting situation, I often ask myself, "What would my mom have done? How would she have handled this?" When a holiday comes around, I try to remember, "What did Mom do that made this holiday special for us? How can I do that?" I cook my kids hot breakfasts most mornings because that's the way Mom did it. I won't cut the crusts off Soren's sandwiches because Mom didn't cut the crusts off my sandwiches. I listen to music with my kids because Mom listened to music with us.

The thing about my mom (as a mom) that is most impressive to me is how good she was at striking balance in her parenting: she was warm and caring but didn't put up with crap, she offered support while encouraging autonomy, she was a parent and a friend, she knew when to say "yes" and when to say "no." She devoted a lot of time to nurturing her children but knew when it was time to stop and nurture herself.

I will forever appreciate the positive support my mom has always given me. I don't recall ever feeling like my mom disapproved of me: she might have disapproved of some of my choices or opinions, but never me. I remember occasionally coming into my bedroom to find the bed unexpectedly made and a treat and a note left on the pillow. It was Mom, of course, expressing her love, giving encouragement, pointing out the good things she saw in me. During times when I've felt particularly frustrated and inadequate, she's always been there to say that she believes in me. I remember losing a writing contest in the fourth grade. She knew how much it had meant to me, how much I wanted to win. I sat on her lap and cried, and she told told me about how all the good authors in the world had drawers full of rejection slips from publishers and that I should just consider this my first rejection slip, a badge of honor, really, for an aspiring young writer. When I didn't make the drill team in High School, she left a bag of chocolate in my car with a note telling me how sorry she was, that it was their loss, and to keep my chin up. I called her one morning recently, crying because I was overwhelmed by my children and feeling inadequate to the task of parenting them. That evening when I got in my car to drive home from work, there was mug of candy and a note from my mom: "Believe in yourself, Tootsie. You're doing great."

During my childhood I learned that life can be a good and a joy-filled thing, that I can cope with challenges, that I am capable of doing things that are difficult, that kindness and service are important, and that I should follow my dreams and become the person I was intended to be. My mom cultivated an environment in her home in which she was able to nurture these beliefs in her children. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for my mom (and dad) for giving me these gifts, and--at this point in my life, particularly--I am endlessly grateful for my mom's beautiful example of motherhood. If I can be even a part of the mom that my mom is, I will consider my endeavor into motherhood to have been a rousing success.

Happy Mother's Day, Mama. I sure love you.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...