I have the worst memory known to man, which sometimes leads me to wish I had more pictures with my Mother growing up (this really is my last tangent on Motherhood pictures). She is one of my greatest heroes and I know her only as a teenage-to-present mother since I can't remember the rest (the part I remember is pretty darn good though).
And so, you can imagine how excited I was when I received a prize Christmas gift this year: all our growing-up family slides made digital and put on a CD. Boy oh boy was I excited.
Within that treasure trove of pictures there are some that tell the story of my Mother when we were all young. And I am drawn to them.
But instead of leaving me satisfied, these pictures leave me wanting more. I want to know what my Mom was thinking in these pictures. I want more details of what she was like as a young mother. Sure, she wrote things about ME in a special book she gave me when I got married. She wrote books about Mothering filled with thoughts and ideas she had. But I don't know what she liked, or what she worried about, or how she felt inside, and I wish I did. I am left to wonder how she mothered us day-to-day...the funny things she did, how she talked to us, the stories she told, etc.
Was she kind of quiet and reserved as she seems in these pictures, or was she a spitfire?
(In the above picture I personally think she was thinking: "wow, that Shawni could sure use a hair-wash...")
Had she dreamed of going to Egypt all her life before this next picture (pregnant with her seventh(??) child)? Did she crave traveling the world like I do?
How did it feel to be a Mother of such young children and to be a mission president's wife at such a young age (29). What did she do to mother us day-to-day when she was encumbered with 200 young missionaries as well as a young family?
How did she like traipsing around the world with seven (or more) kids in tow? Did she get frustrated? Did she just roll with the punches and enjoy the ride? Did it give her a rush like I know it would for me?
Did my little brother Noah like wearing that small red velour sailor suit??
How did she feel inside when she had her ninth baby? Did she put us all to work helping out or did she have a tough time prying that baby away from all of her adoring siblings? How did she wait up late at nights waiting for us teenagers to come home and then wake up with a newborn multiple times in the night?
Did she look forward to having babies as much as I did (it looks like she sure as heck did if she was adamant enough to pose for a picture with a fake doll as a baby...and get my Dad to pose with her).
Did she love her fake hairpiece as much as I do?
Sure, I could ask her all these questions and more, but chances are most of the details have faded into the outskirts of her memory by now.
So for my future kids I thought I would steal a great idea from my cyber-friend Julie (who is an amazing writer by the way, and who I think stole this idea from another cyber-friend), and write about things I do as mother, right now.
So, here you go, future versions of my children, in case you ever wonder:
I have taught you how to make cookies to a "t"...and you are all becoming quite good little bakers. I secretly hope you will make cookies and surprise me when I'm gone because I love them so much. (And often you do.)
I have a handful of "hiding places" where I keep a few cookies after we've made a batch so I can have some the next day. You have deftly found all my hiding places.
I'm trying to be better at teaching you to cook real food. Sometimes we make it into a game where we are the chefs on a cooking show and we are showing the audience how to chop vegetables and bring sauces to a boil just so. We make up our imaginary characters and tell about our imaginary families as we cook.
I check on you slumbering sweetly in your beds every single night before I go to bed. I can't resist having a look at your slumbering beauty and making sure you are breathing steadily before I can sleep.
I tell you how much I love your Dad to the point you get annoyed. But it's true. As much as I adore you guys, I try to always put your Dad first, and I think you like seeing that.
I love to read with you at night. It gets tougher and tougher each year because everyone is on such different levels, but I love it as much as you do...and you've realized that I'll read for longer if you play with my hair as we read.
I have a goal to play hymns on the piano each night after we tuck you in bed. Sometimes I'm good at it and sometimes I'm not but I loved it when my Mom did that when I was growing up. From your frequent requests I know you do too.
I hang maps all over the place in hopes that you will please love traveling and adventure as much as I do. I want us to travel the world together. (To understand why in the world I'm so adamant about this click here. I came from the blood of these two travel-aholics for crying out loud.)
I keep trying to get you to love Thai food as much as I do so I make it often. Even though you still turn your noses up at it I'm convinced that if I keep trying some day you'll fall in love.
Not much makes me happier than walking into your room and finding you kneeling in prayer or reading your scriptures...unasked.
I try to somehow weave my testimony into all that I tell you. I want you to know, more than anything else, that I love my Savior and that I'm trying to be like Him.
You never tire of begging for a dog, and I secretly wish we had one too. I'm just too tired to talk your Dad into it...yet.
I get very huffy when I'm mad. And I slam doors.
I always tell you I'm sorry when I cool down after getting mad. And I really am.
I cut our family's hair...sometimes for better...sometimes for worse. I even cut my own hair when I get sick enough of it.
I love beauty. I point it out every chance I get. I hope some day you will love it as much as I do.
Sometimes I'll dance to music with you (especially when we're trying to clean up dinner or do jobs on Saturdays) and you love it. I would never dance in front of anyone else but you...I'm a horrible dancer, and even if you have figured that out by now, you don't tell me so. (Thank you.)
I steal you away from school whenever I can and take you, individually, to lunch.
I have no problem pulling you out of school for a trip, or lunch, or family stuff...I love the motto my parents came up with when we traveled a bunch growing up: "Don't ever let schooling interfere with your education."
Having said that, your Dad and I totally stress doing your very best at school. I always talk to you about "Some day when you're at Wellesley College" (or Columbia or Stanford) and I have hung a Harvard flag prominently in your bedroom, Max. So far the brainwashing isn't seeping in and you're all claiming you'll go to BYU, which I certainly can't complain about. I love BYU. I just want you to know there are other options too.
I have "Fasting Club" with you on Fast Sundays before dinner to try to get you more excited about Fast Sunday and I love to hear what spiritual things you've learned or noticed in the last month.
I come to each of your classes and teach art masterpiece every month. I love art...and I love to be in your classrooms with you.
I used to have a goal to always come in and say prayers with each of you every single night. And I was good at it. But lately I've pulled back a little bit (at least on you older kids) because I want you to make it a habit on your own. It's sad for me but I know it's good for you. When we do say prayers together, though, we always link our arms together. I love hearing your prayers.
I don't get enough sleep. And sometimes you suffer because of it when it makes me grumpy. I'm sorry.
I wish you didn't have to go to school and that we could just hang out all day. Just me and you and Dad. Really. But I'm sure you wouldn't love it since when we ever have a day like that I make you clean out a cabinet or closet or two.
But, most importantly, I love you so much that sometimes my heart feels like it just may burst outside of me when I look at you....even when you have messy faces and sassy attitudes. (Although the attitude thing and things like dumping sand out of your shoes on the freshly mopped kitchen floor sure throw me for a loop ... but I always forgive you.)