Sunday, May 13, 2012

Octo Mom: Mothers Day

Warning:  Hiding my true feelings has never been my strong point. Please don't take offense at this blog, especially if you are a mother. This is just a rant...don't read it if you're susceptible to offense, and don't call me and tell me how sorry you are for me. I'm okay. I'm grateful that I have a place to put my feelings. The rocks in my pockets are slowly being sorted out. Don't make me paranoid about that. I want to able to continue being honest...sometimes it's pretty raw...this is one of those times.

There have been times in my Mormon-dom that I have wished I was a nun. Mother's Day is one of those days. 

April 14, 2012. It's inevitable. It happens once a year whether I like it or not. The great and horrible Mothers Day is coming. That is the one day of the year that, ironically, I remain in the fetal position most of the day.

I acknowledge my ridiculousness. I have started this Octo Mom blog a full month in advance - but I'll wait to post it next month when I can be mature enough to take out all the cursing. Sometimes a good strong blog needs time to mature. Or should I say ferment?

The second Sunday in May is the annual grand pity party. I don't do anything on that day.  N.O.T ...A ...T.H.I.N.G. I don't even shower. I prep for the day, just as if I was buying groceries for a Fourth of July block party. I eat anything I want, I watch violent action or horror movies and I skip church like a delinquent. I haven't been to church on Mother's Day since 1988, when I first noticed the biological clock start it's evil count down. It used to seem that, as the years passed, the clock was louder at church, where EVERYONE is pregnant. At least, the ticking clock had hope back then, though quieter and quieter each year, at least it was still whimpering out it's relentless call right until the end. Now the silence is deafening. The silence of my body in response to every flowering pregnant woman cackles at me in stereo, gives me a big, wet raspberry as they pass by me, sit by me, say hello to me. PLUHPHPHPHPHP!

Those women don't even know how much their very presence makes my ears ring. Maybe I shouldn't tell them so publicly. I don't want them to feel bad...I just need to get my feelings OUT of my system and onto the computer where they can stay. Maybe when they read this blog they will have a new appreciation for their swollen feet, back ache and constant need to pee. Next time they throw up, I hope they remember to thank God for that. But pregnant women aren't reading my blog. They are reading those popular blogs that have crafts and scrapbooking ideas. They are on Pinterest looking for ways to decorate their nursery. They invented Pinterest.

I don't go to church on Mother's Day because the meetings are always dedicated to the grand role of motherhood. Which is indeed, GRAND. And should be celebrated! Your mother gave you life! The role of creator is akin to the role of being God. That's holiday worthy. It's the fact that in the Mormon wards, the younger kids hand out flowers to all of the moms in sacrament meeting. Every single mom gets a little potted plant, or a booklet, or something from the ward... At least that's what they do around here.

Back when I still went to church on Mother's Day, years ago, I would watch the little 12 year-olds, go up and down the pews, flower pot in hand, look at me in confusion, "flower or no flower?" Then they would look at the people around me, no kids... flower. Sometime ago, they changed the rules. I'm told they have the older men hand out the flowers now. EVERY female over 18 gets a flower, mom or not. As if to say, today is female day. Today we are celebrating the fact that you have a birth canal and ovaries whether you use them...or not.

But if you aren't there, Sunday after church, someone will bring it by your house and they KNOW you aren't in church because ever year, I STILL GET the damn flower. It's as if they are saying "we know you weren't in church today because you have issues with your singularity... or your infertility. They don't acknowledge the fact that I might not have been there because I just don't like to be reminded of it so thoroughly all day long. Then you have that flower in your house, all week long until it dies. Because I let it die. My lifestyle does not support plant life.

I KNOW they mean it in the kindest way. I know it!!! I really do! I do not deny them the opportunity - nay the responsibility - of honoring the women in their lives. So I just take myself away from it, instead of adding my negativity to it. But that little innocent flower with all that it represents and all that I have hatefully eschewed it with...makes me want to throw it against the nearest wall. I could plant it. I could water the little thing and let it fulfill the measure of it's true creation. But that would mean that I would be giving my bitterness away...and on this one day a year, my bitterness blanket comforts me. As does the entire pan full of mac 'n cheese that I will be eating while I watch "The Grudge."

I could try to see that it isn't about my inabilities, but it's about my mother and her infinite abilities - she is the world's greatest mom. Then I formally request, that they send her my flower. She will allow it to fulfill the measure of it's creation because that is one of her gifts. There isn't anything that won't grow in her presence. Giving it to me is flower suicide.

It all started when I turned 31. See...there are different kinds of groups in the Mormon church. They group us up by "wards" so we can take care of each other. You can go to a "family ward," where there are...families, kids of all ages, nurseries for the toddlers, and a lot of noise. Or you can go to a "singles" ward where there are no kids. Just single people. Those wards are quiet and everyone dresses up in case your future mate has wandered in that week. There are a lot of activities in those wards to keep everyone meeting people and socially on track. Heaven forbid you fall into the rut of spending your time waiting in line at the Red yourself....on a Friday night...when you could be dancing the night away at one of the many regional singles dances that are held all over the county. I consider those dances "self-inflicted pain" and I believe the church is against anything like that... so I'm still confused about why that archaic tradition is still being observed.

There are also wards for people that speak other languages, deaf wards, college wards (also for singles going to college), college married wards (like for the Rabbit Hutch at BYU) and in St. George we even have "Snowbird wards" for retired people that only live here during the winter.

I digress.

Anyway, when you turn 31, and you STILL haven't found an eternal mate, they spit you back to the family ward, whether you like it or not. See, single men over 31 and women entering the ward at 18...not an ideal combination.  I would sit in that singles ward and watch the 18 year-olds fly out the window, wearing the diamond she got from the 27 year-old "menace to society" (see blog #?) that I wished I was dating. Very disheartening when you are 26 and making more money than most of the men in the ward. (I continue to digress....Apparently, my feelings are strong here and this is another blog for another time.)

So you'd think that getting kicked out of the singles ward would be a good thing, but to me turning 31 meant that I had failed the church, or my parents, or God...or all three! I had tested the system and it gave me an "F." That was a VERY difficult day for me because of that milestone. I've never gotten an "F" in my life. No just kidding....I'm refering to the Turning-31-in-the-Mormon-Church-Without-a-Husband milestone.

My good uncle was my church leader and he had the task of bringing me into his office and telling me 1) how much he loved me 2) how much the Lord loved me and 3) Happy Birthday and by the way you've just aged-out of the singles ward and we are releasing you from your responsibilities and have notified your home ward that you will be jaunting back. He wasn't that blunt. He cried. He knew how bad I felt. He didn't want to have to follow the rules for his own niece. I'll always be so grateful for his compassion that horrible night.

I drove from his office to the local park, which was empty... probably because it was December now that I think about it. I sat in a wet swing and cried for an hour or more, wiping my red running nose with the sleeve of my coat and gripping the cold chains while I called upon the Lord mightily, "How is it done, when is it going to be my turn?" Theme song here. I'm sure He was on the other side of the veil shaking his head at me in frustration "If only you could see what I see, know what I know. Ya gotta gimme a break! I'm working as fast as I can here!" I felt His Spirit gather me in and I calmed down. As usual. Could I endure my celibacy, my loneliness, another day...month...decade? Yes, I could. It was asked of me, and I would do it.

I adjusted my grip on the iron rod and went back home. 3182 blogs later (ten years), I would be kneeling across an alter from the greatest gift of a man I could ever possibly been given. I'm telling you...adjust your grip. That way, when you're blessings are ready... the one's the Lord has been frantically trying to align for you (while you cry out to Him night after night)... your "blessings hatch" will be open and ready for receiving.

Oh brother... Where was I? Blessings hatch?! PFHT!

April 22, 2012.  Today in Primary I occured to me that the primary kids have to sing in church on Mother's Day. Because I lead the singing in the children's portion of our meetings, today I dug out the old standards "Mother I Love You," and "I Often Go Walking." I made a poster while the other teachers were conducting "sharing time"...I can turn out a poster in about 3 minutes. I helped them learn the songs and all the time I was panicking about the fact that I might actually have to come to church on Mother's Day.

The conundrum is...who will lead the kids, if I'm not there? Who will hold up the poster? Who will get all the kids up on the stand? Who will do sparkle hands if they aren't singing loud enough? Will I have to bite the bullet and just show my pajamas...after a long night of crying and feeling sorry for myself? Everyone will know. Crazy Sister Hunsaker's been drinking again....!?!? If only!

May 12, 2012. What's a husband to do for Mother's Day when his wife has recently decided to give up the dream of being a mother? Today Andy did an amazing thing for me. He called my Primary president and told her that I had a hard time on Mother's Day and that leading the kids through those songs might just push me over the edge. She was amazing about it and said she would take care of it, no problem. She got it. I knew she would. So I won't have to be there and I can spend one more year wrapped up in the bitter blanket.

May 13, 2012. Last year, Andy didn't get me a gift on Mother's Day. (I don't think he has anything for me this year either, but the days not over.) I was really mad at him for that. He thought, having deduced, from my hatred of the day, that if he got me a gift I would think he was being cruel. I always want the gift as a token of his love and I want HIM to remind me that I AM a mother. I want him to remind me that he knows the depth of my pain and that it's okay. So husbands - you're damned if you do, damned if you don't. Again, I acknowledge my ridiculousness.

There are a few things the average person can know about how to approach a couple that doesn't have children, or how to deal with a woman that would rather be a mom than anything else, but hasn't been given that opportunity on this earth.

First of all, you don't have to know WHY they don't have children. Maybe they don't want kids. Maybe they are waiting for better times. Maybe they are infertile...all issues that are none of your business. Why do people always want to know? Many times people have said, for lack of something better to talk about, "how many kids do you have? or to compound it, "have you tried having children?" Answering either of those questions is a hot bed of coals for me. What I really want to say is "We heard that you have to have sex to get children and that's just weird to me, I'll have nothing to do with that craziness." Then I'll sit back and watch what happens.

Secondly, if you are a leader in the church, remember that it's tough for women that are single, divorced or infertile, to give lessons on the subject of raising children, improving your marriage or to speak in church on Mother's Day. Most of those women have tender feelings about that issue or simply feel like failures in that area. No need to draw attention to it. Just pre-empt that if you can with a lesson about faith. They know a lot about faith.

Thirdly, if you notice that there are certain women that aren't in church on Mother's Day, abstain from calling them and asking if they are okay. They are.

Number next, if you are a blessed mom with children, when you are around those that can't have children try not to complain about your new baby, or your kids. It may seem like you are telling us how lucky we are to be getting all of our sleep or how lucky we are that we aren't changing diapers, but we would KILL to change a diaper if that little bum belonged to us. I always want to "one-up" people like that and say, "my child is back in heaven where he will never look at porn, cheat in school or be addicted to child is perfect. (Because he is.) But some people would think that was weird. However, it calms my heartache sometimes.

My favorite complaint is from moms that have kids in school. I always start hearing it around the end of May...which is quickly upon us, suckas! " is almost out. I'll spend my entire summer keeping them all out of trouble. Do you teach any summer classes out there?" Better get on Pinterest and find something crafty for them to do...for the next 12 weeks. (evil laugh) I'm going to use the time to clean my classroom, put up new bulletin boards, organize the props and costume closets, write the new student planner, plan four overnight competitions, develop new lesson plans and read a new textbook for a class I've never taught, and somewhere in there, I hope to be able to do some laundry, sell my house and move.

Finally - I have some advice for people like fact, I'll shoot this advice directly at myself:

1. Quit taking offense. People don't know that you can't have your own children. So when they say how many kids do you have, just say "We don't have children yet." And when people that DO know your struggle say "but you are a teacher, you are a mother to so many," don't be offended. Buck up. BE a mother to sooooooo many. Some of them need you to be their mom. Don't think of that job as the consolation prize. Don't be offended when you get called to teach other people's kids. The Lord isn't asking us to do something difficult, he's asking us to help out. Dry your tears and get back to work.

2. And while you're at it, give away your bitterness. (I'll work on that.)

3. Look outside yourself. Realize that others are suffering too. They may have been given children as their personal test. They are sleep deprived and covered in kid juices most of the time. They are constantly teaching too and sometimes they just need someone to talk to someone that has a vocabulary of more than 37 words...just like you do.

4. Celebrate your own mom. This is her day. She put her life on the line, and her formal education on hold to raise you. Her outside shell is like titanium armor. Take a lesson. You turned out! What can you do to make her life easier in return?

Today I honor my strong mother, Kay Shelton, and her incredibly generous gift to me - life. I feel like Abraham Lincoln when he said "All that I am or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother." When we sing "I Often Go Walking" that song could not be a truer sentiment about how I feel about my mother. Maybe that's why I love it so much. It's a song about Kay Shelton. (though I'm pretty sure if she found any clover in her yard, she'd eradicate it's weedy blue head.)

I often go walking in meadows of clover
And I gather armfuls of blossoms of blue
I gather the flowers the whole meadow over,
Dear mother all flowers remind me of you
Oh mother, I give you, my love with each blossom
To give forth sweet fragrance a whole lifetime through
For if I love walking and meadows and blossoms
I learned how to love them dear mother from you.

I'm so grateful today for my courageous grandmothers Mary and Leona for giving me my mother and father. I'm indebted now to my stalwart mother-in-law Christine who gave me her son.

When I look at it this way, there have been so many HUGE gifts to me on Mother's Day. I will adjust my grip today. I will "press forward with a steadfastness in Christ having a perfect brightness of hope."

President Spencer W. Kimball, the prophet of the LDS church in my youth, spoke to us all that grieve our losses and unfulfilled blessings when he said:

"Please know that our Father in Heaven is aware of your anguish, and that one day he will bless you beyond your capacity to express."

If I truly believe that, and I do, I'd better stop complaining about it and get back to work. I have so much to do before then.

Happy Mother's Day, everybody!