Friday, February 27, 2009

Hello My Name Is

I was talking to a friend the other day. A new friend. One who has only known the improved, adult, highly mature Heather. We don't know each other too well, we are actually visiting teaching partners in a new ward to both of us. She mentioned that she read my blog. Yikes! was what I thought in my head. It was actually more of a sound effect, sort of like Ychklheeesh, but that's what it meant. My mind raced through my latest posts. My hair, my pet peeves, my AI fantasies, my clear and utter focus on things of no value. And then taking time to write about those things. And then assuming others want to hear about them, so posting them for general public consumption. It just brought to my attention all of my insecurities regarding my blog. For some reason, I have no problem knowing that people from my high school or college days, or from my immediate family read it. They know how I was. How I still really am. But I'm trying to cultivate an image here. And I don't think my blog is helping my cause.

That being said, I wish I did know who was reading these things. Who do I need to slink past at church without making eye contact? Who do I need to apologize to for being boring and narcissistic and a bad mother? When a stranger comes across it, what do they think of me? When my mother reads it, does she shake her head and feel a little disappointed that this is all I've come to? I've spent my whole life worrying about what others think of me and at age 32, I'm still there. At that point.

But that doesn't mean I can stop. The lid is not going back on this can of worms. I had forgotten how much I love writing. I haven't done it in a really long time, but have always enjoyed it. I'm not saying I am an especially gifted writer, my voice may not be fresh or compelling, my topics not very provocative or even worthwhile, but I love it. It makes me happy. And it hasn't affected the cleanliness of my house or children, my spiritual study, or the balance of life, so I feel justified. (Of course I feel the need to justify myself.) I know you all love it, too, you who keep blogs. They come in all forms and functions, but they fill that need to create, to express, to connect, to record life as you experience it. One of my favorite types of literature is the autobiography. There is nothing like walking through some one's mind with them. You get to see life's reality and ugliness and joy through the filter of a new lens, one still flawed, like yours, but with a new perspective.

I guess the purpose of this post is sort of an apology. (Wow, is that pathetic.) An apology coupled with a request. Apology: I am sorry for being whiny, judgmental, and presumptuous. Although it's worse on here than in actual life because I try harder to keep a lid on it in person. Request: If I do not already know who you are, introduce yourself! Tell me if you have a blog or tell me something about you so I can connect and learn about you. And for the record, if someone asked me to do that on their blog, I wouldn't. So it's cool...

Monday, February 23, 2009

Happy Birthday to Hinckley!

My oldest child is turns eight this week (!), so here's his birthday tribute...
I became pregnant for the first time after Darron and I had been married for 3 years. We were working in Minnesota at the time and when I found out I was expecting, and all other considerations just shut down. I became completely obsessed with myself. Shocking, yes. 24 hours of my day were spent researching (symptoms, stages), dreaming (day and real), worrying (everything obviously), deliberating (names, maternity clothes), drawing (floor plans of nurseries), talking (to any poor soul that asked), and eating and eating and eating. Noodles and red meat are my pickles and ice cream.

Darron and I came to an agreement that he would name the boys and I would name the girls. My method was to read every book and website and come up with pages of options and combinations, ordered and reordered each day. Darron's method was to nix every suggestion I gave him. So when we found out we were having a boy, I had to just sit and wait for Darron to eventually realize his child would need a name when it came time to sign him up for Little League. I waited patiently. In a pregnant sort of way. One night as we were driving home to our house in Riverton, on leave from our Minnesota job, Darron casually pulled out the name "Hinckley". I didn't say much, didn't want to make him think I liked it too much, or he might change his mind, but I loved it. We named him Hinckley, after our beloved prophet Gordon B. Hinckley and Jay, which is Darron's (and his dad's) middle name.

Here in Utah, we pretty much deliver whenever we want. The obstetricians are so overbooked and busy that the more babies they can "schedule", the easier for them. So when my doctor asked if I would like to schedule an induction, I jumped at it. Since then I have learned a thing or two about the risks and complications that can arise from induction, but at the time I was fat, grumpy, selfish, and hungry (always hungry) and just wanted the baby I had waited for 4 years to see. It was a rough go, with many factors involved, but he came out eventually, all 9 lbs, 1 oz., 19 1/2 inches of him. He was baby-blue-eyed, chunky, and had thick black curly eyelashes that are (still) to die for. He was the most gorgeous baby ever born. Pudgy fingers and feet and the sweetest hiney(sp?) you've ever seen. Or squoze.

He came home with an oxygen moniter and I came home with a mess of stitches and not much blood. He had several trips to the hospital to make sure he had developed properly, I had a trip to the hospital to repair some complications from my laceration, followed by a PIC-line antibiotic for another week. The stress and discomfort of pumping and hooking up IVs and recovering in general, made life seem almost easy once I got to take care of him on my own. Blessedly, during that time my mom and husband were there to run the show while I postpartumed for awhile. But oh! The bliss of having that baby! My memories of Hinckley during those first months are so precious I can hardly write them. It's difficult to capture with words the feelings that are so deep and poignant. The overflowing of instincts and eternal purposes in a heart that had been yearning to feel them, yet still so unprepared to receive them ... they hit hard and fast and I just staggered, drunk but joyful, under their welcome burden.

Which makes the next stage of Hinckley's story, my and Hinckley's story, so inexplicable. He was healthy, happy, fairly mellow, easy to take places. But somewhere between then and the age of two, he and I developed an unhealthy edge to our relationship. Looking back, I blame it on my own expectations of him, how he should behave and feel towards me. Looking back, I see how his personality was emerging and reacting to mine, but I didn't know him well enough then to see what I was doing to him. I know it will be difficult for me to write this, to admit this to the world, to people who know me. But even mistakes are part of the story, and although I regret so much this period of my life, it is still a part of it. And painful as it is to admit, part of Hinckley's, too. I don't quite remember what started it, probably my wanting him to do something and getting frustrated when he wouldn't. Which escalated into my trying harder to control him and him rebelling more and more. The next 3 years our relationship was one of fighting, yelling, punishments, crying, tension, much of the time. Few kind and easy words passed between us. I was not the soft place a child needs his mother to be. I felt horrid for how I was treating him and worse as I looked to the future and saw what would be. In my most private thoughts, I would wonder why God had sent him to me. Why would He send a child to a mother so terrible and ill-suited to him? And in that vein, what kind of mother feels this way toward her child? By this time, I had already had Halle, our second, but I felt like I could not ask God for another until I had healed my relationship with the one I had been blessed with already.

Fortunately, God answers prayers. That sentence could be the start of every good story. Through much prayer and pondering and study, I came to be taught the way to mother this little soul. It was a difficult road, unlearning all of the bad habits of the past few years, forgiving myself, getting to know my beautiful, sensitive, trustworthy, loving son. And just as I couldn't tell you exactly when it became bad, I couldn't tell you when it became good again. But here we are. And things are good. Some miracles take time, but they are still miraculous. Especially those which change a human heart. I love our relationship now. Hinckley loves to talk. He's great at it. He loves to hold my hand, kiss me, and let me hug him for a really long time. He won't pull away first. Hinckley loves to make me laugh. Hates to make me angry. Nothing will bring him to tears, frustration faster than thinking I am upset with him. He is good company for one so small. He can be taken anywhere, has always known how to behave in public. He has a long attention span and a good healthy fear of what people might think...! He adores his Dad and his is inseperable cohort in all things automotive, XBox-y, Lego-like, and Star-Warring. Hinckley enjoys drawing, imagining, and creating. He appreciates a good fart. He's a "best friend" kind of kid. He loves laughing and will ask you to repeat a funny story, or re-enact a funny scene until he can't squeeze another giggle out.

Hinckley is an excellent student with a good work ethic. His teachers all love him. Do all teachers say that about all the kids? Well his really mean it. He plays basketball, soccer, football, softball. He learned to ride his bike at age four and has since logged over 30,000 miles, worn out 3 bikes, and is now better on two wheels than two legs. He's a fine driver too, which I found out on Autopia at Disneyland recently. I need to have a talk with Darron, perhaps? Hmm. He loves to pester his younger siblings and tell them what to do. Yeah, that is fun. A great all around boy. Either Darron or I will end at least one conversation a day with "Hinckley's a good kid" accompanied by sober head knodding. Truly.

He has been eagerly preparing to become baptized this year as he reaches the age of accountability. He is memorizing our Articles of Faith and considering spiritual things a bit more deeply. We are so thankful to have him as our oldest child, to blaze the way, absorb the mistakes of parents, and lead valiantly his younger sisters and brother. A blessing to our lives, and will be a blessing to countless others. Of this I am quite certain. Happy Birthday, my darling boy.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Puzzlement

Lookit, does gray hair grow faster than regular hair, or what? My roots (mousy brown meets copper penny) are a quarter inch long today. BUT, the roots of the gray hairs are a full inch long before giving way to the faux red. What gives? When I'm fully gray, does this mean I will have to cut my hair every two weeks? Or is the gray so highly evolved that it is actually absorbing the camouflage, possibly becoming stronger and more resistant, like a virus to overused antibiotics?

It was about a year ago I began to suspect I was going gray. I was 31 at the time, so I suppose it would be normal. And as I only catch quarter inch glimpses (of course--I always color every six weeks, you could set your watch) at a time of unadulterated hair, I don't get many opportunities to notice it. But I had started to see some sparkliness at my roots. Just here and there. As I'd be flatironing my hair, they would catch the light just so. I thought at first that perhaps they were blond. You know, natural highlights. I'd put in enough time and money installing the fake, and now the hair fairy was rewarding my efforts. I'd pull them out for a closer look...hmm... it might be blond, it could be blond, but.....what if....noooooh!!! The thought was just too much. My sister, who lived close by at the time was at my house one day, reading a magazine on the couch. She had been getting gray hairs for several years now and so I knew she would have an expert opinion. I went into the bathroom, located a specimen-- not as difficult as I would have liked-- and pulled it out. I brought it into the living room, walking towards her asking casually, as I held out the naturally highlighted strand, "Erin, do you think this is a---" "Yes." she interrupted, glancing up for a split second before looking back down at her magazine. "Well, wait, you can't see it from there, let me bring in clos---" "It's gray," she said. No hesitation. "But don't you think it could be---" "Nope. You're going gray Heather." And she calmly turned the page.

So that was it then. Who knows how long it had been going on? Does it matter? And it's not like I am upset or depressed, I know folks get older and get gray hair, and not necessarily in that order. It's more disbelief. Like when you discover your first crow's foot. That doesn't go away when you stop smiling. Or when your stomach doesn't spring back after the baby comes out. Or when you realize you can't eat a chili dog, churro, and nachos at the baseball game without serious repercussions in about an hour. I appreciate getting older, I truly do. I welcome the experience, the clarity, the settling down, the not being an idiot 21-year-old. But this aging of the body thing. Goodness. I know this is a normal human reaction. How many people, older than you, parent, grandparent, etc, have you heard say, rather wistfully, I feel so much younger than I am? I look in the mirror and don't even recognize the wrinkled face looking back at me. What does that mean, I wonder? Why do you not hear young people say they feel 80? Is it our cultural obsession with youth? Is it because our fondest memories are of that time? Is it because our hearts really don't age, our souls remain forever youthful?

Gray hair signifies true adulthood for me. Plain and simple. When I had my third child at 29, I felt significantly older. When you have one kid, you're just a couple with a kid. When you have two, you still seem like you're playing around at grown-up. Three? I don't know, that's getting pretty serious. You have a big family. You have to get a special car. A minivan in my case. Which made me feel even older. Young things just don't tool around in minivans, they don't. And then I turned 30. The triple whammy. Not that 30 is old in the grand scheme of life, or even in the short scheme, but when it's driving a minivan filled with three kids and answering to "Mom"... it begins to add up. But still, it was all just older, not adult. Gray hair is adult. Adult like grown-ups. Like my parents. Like my school teachers. Like my doctor. Like a mom who's been married for 11 years, has 4 kids, drives a minivan and does carpool. I'm an adult. An adult with sparkly roots. Which may only look sparkly because I have to squint to see them. Back when I was young, they made the mirrors so you could actually see your reflection. They don't make things like they used to. No one has appreciation for quality anymore. Computers are replacing human interaction! Kids these days don't respect anything or anyone!! I remember when you could get a Hershey bar for a nickel!!!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Birthday to Halle!

It's birthday time at our house! So this post is dedicated to my precious baby, Halle, who turns six today.

My second child, a sweet, docile little angel of a girl was born on February 12, 2003. My first birth, two years prior, had been rough. Long and rough. They decided to induce me a week early, to keep her from getting too big, which was cool with me. I came to the Timpanogos Regional Hospital early that morning, with Darron by my side. We had dropped our oldest off at Mema and Boompa's house, who lived just 5 minutes from the hospital.

The pitocin was administered, the epidural soon followed. (A real zinger that made me feel like an electric current was buzzing through my body.) At around 7pm, it was determined I was ready to push. Two pushes nudged out a wee plump cherub, with dark fuzz for hair and little elfin ears. She weighed 7 lbs 11 oz and was 19 1/2 inches long. She was quiet and sweet. We gave her the name we had previously agreed on, chosen by me, ratified by Darron: Halle Elizabeth. Halle, inspired by the actress Halle Berry, and Elizabeth, after Darron's paternal grandma and my own sister. My darling, thoughtful, considerate sister-in-law went to get me a big sandwich for dinner after, since the only thing they were offering at the hospital at that hour was small cans of apple juice and Lorna Doone shortbread cookies.

I shared a room that night with another new mom and as husbands weren't "supposed to" sleep over, Darron went home. He always obeys the rules. My roommate's husband had no qualms about obeying rules and stayed the night in the recliner, literally two feet away from my head, snoring all night long. In all fairness, we were divided by a curtain. A word about my poor roommate: I heard lots of stuff through the curtain. It was her first. A 13 pound boy. I am not making this up. So I pieced together that the delivery was a little rough. And yes, it was vaginal, for you inquisitive minds. She was so clearly panicked and totally exhausted and overwhelmed, which was exacerbated by her useless parents and husband who kept telling her t0 nurse her baby, he was hungry! She would attempt to feed him with her colostrum, (which I have doubts actually exists), then tearfully ask the nurse to take him into the nursery so she could sleep. 10 minutes later, they would come wheeling him back in --he was screaming like a 4 year old--telling her he was hungry again and she would start again. Her parents eventually left, and her husband immediately checked out for the night, and she was left alone to weep quietly (and try to feed her baby-- with nothing!) all night long. I regret to this day that I did not step out and say something to the nurses. Like make her slug of a husband wake up and do something. Like tell her parents to keep off her back, like give the baby a freaking bottle, like get that poor little girl some antidepressants right now because her road is going to be steep and rocky for a really long time and you are pushing her towards it! Anyway, I didn't, I was completely selfish and got myself out of there as early the next day as they would let me go. My heart still breaks when I think of her.

Anyway--- back to Halle. We brought her home the next day. I was feeling great, so I sat up and chatted, took visitors, hung out. Breastfeeding was a breeze with her, she always was just completely satisfied with whatever I could give her. As I went to bed, that new mom feeling came. You know the one where you start out so excited to go to bed because you are so exhausted, but then you remember you won't be sleeping through the night for a really long time and you feel a little sick? Am I alone here? Well, wonder of wonders, and a portent of things to come, she slept that entire night. A good mom probably would have woken her up because newborns need to eat round the clock, but I'm a little more concerned with myself than others. So in sleeping through the night that first night she officially established herself as the easiest baby ever born and she continued to live up to that title. Halle is the sweetest-natured, most mellow child I have ever birthed.

Halle has lots of love to give and needs lots of love in return. Once you get that, you get her. She snuggles and hugs and kisses anyone within reach. We have had to set rules on who she can and cannot kiss. She is completely indiscriminate. I hope the boys in her life understand this about her. She really doesn't mean anything by it, it's just that she has an abundance of affection in her little bod, and it needs to be expressed. On you, if you happen to brush up next to her, or tell her she's pretty, or sweet, or hello. Halle also loves to dance. And like all proud mamas before me, I know she has a gift. She is graceful and expressive, and quick to learn. She knows she's done a good job if she makes me cry. She'll ask now, when she sees me watch her dancing "Do you have the happy tears, Mom?" And regardless of my answer, I get a hug and kiss and a little purr.

Halle loves school. She actually loves everything, but I'll start with school. She loves it because it involves friends, teachers, learning, singing, people smiling at her, and getting her hair done, all her favorite things. If they passed out candy each day, she would never come home. She is obedient, well-behaved, sensitive, and smart. Halle has a good sense of right and wrong and a diligent conscience. She loves to pray and talk about spiritual matters. She is completely confident that her Father in Heaven loves her (how could he not?). She loves her church class, loves to give talks, prayers, scriptures, everything. She has a gift for memorization and a beautiful clear voice. Halle loves to dress up, wear makeup, jewelry, and flowers in her hair. Her make believe world consists of princesses (mean and nice), queens (always mean), assorted ponies, boys to kiss (thank you Miranda!), song and dance routines, and a general store. Her best friend in the world is her cousin Miranda, who lives a few blocks away and is in the same class in kindergarten. What a lucky girl! They are inseperable bosom friends.

Halle is a beautiful, loving, compassionate, funny, bright, soft, friendly, considerate little girl who adds sparkle and affection to our family. She is truly, truly an angel sent to us to lighten our lives and Darron and I feel humbled and grateful to be her parents. WE LOVE YOU HALLE!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!