Monday, April 26, 2010

She Was Listening...

Fifteen year old daughters and their mothers just disagree.

Caught in the space between little girl and woman - where getting along is so important and yet so difficult, daughters rarely understand why their mothers push so hard or why they ease so little.

Mothers know exactly why... It's because... mothers of fifteen year old daughters remember being fifteen.

Frustrated after an especially charged disagreement with McKay, I desired to express my feelings in a more thoughtful less reactive way. That evening, I wrote what I called -- "An Epistle to McKay" I'm not sure exactly why I chose the format but it took most of the night to finish. I don't even remember McKay's reaction, if any, to the letter.

Recently, when I remarked (frustrated at a particularly difficult situation) that I wasn't sure very much of what I said made significant difference anyway - McKay disappeared - then reappeared with the note I had written her in 2006. She said it was one of her most favorite things.

Unbeknownst to me, my fifteen year old daughter was listening.

-Reprinted with McKay's Permission.-

An Epistle to McKay
April 2, 2006 1:24 am

1. And it came to pass that in the tenth month of the year one thousand nine hundred ninety one years after the birth of Jesus, a proclamation went throughout all the land. The wife of Tim was heavy with child and was burdened much with the burning inside her heart.

2. She had labored much in the preparation for the coming of this child and had packed the necessary supplies to take with her to the appointed destination where this child was to be delivered.

3. And it came to pass that there was great joy in the house of Tim, for he knew that soon his wife would be relieved of the swollen ankles and gastrointestinal upset that had so besieged her for nine long months. For behold he also knew that a child would be born in the likeness and image of God and resembling somewhat the parents entrusted to care for her

4. And now behold, it was not known whether that great day of delivery would yield a son or a daughter into the house of Tim, it was only expedient to know that this would be a special spirit sent straight from God above, whose loving hands would bestow upon the parents a solemn responsibility to love and protect this precious being forever.

5. And what doth it mean saith the mother to love and protect? Doth it mean that I must put aside all my selfish desires and weaknesses and strive to do whatsoever is in the best interest of this child? Yea, and it also must needs mean that I lay aside for a season my own worldly wishes and aspirations in order that I might provide the means by which this child should be clothed and fed and nourished by the good word of God. That whatsoever thing I should do for this child I would do it in love unfeigned never wavering, for there is no one save God himself that shall love this child more than her mother

6. And there is none other save God who had a foreknowledge of this child. For behold this child did kick and poke and hiccup for many months mostly during the dark of night where none else could know. And there is none other save God who could have looked so forward to the deliverance of this baby

7. And this is the manner after which the baby was to be brought into this mortal existence. She would be delivered by a surgeon with exceedingly steady hands who brought her to her mother’s cheek wrapped in white and wearing a pink hat of fine cotton. She would be called McKay which meant she was treasured and loved.

8. And when her mother saw her she wept tears of great joy and was humbled at the blessing bestowed upon her. She hoped for and received a precious gift from God.

9. And it came to pass that when they departed for their home McKay did cry mightily for the space of many hours. Behold her mother did not have the power to stop it save she fed her and clothed her with soft cottons, for only then did McKay cease crying and slept

10. As she grew to be a young woman McKay waxed strong and smart in all manner of sports and learning. She was a thing of beauty and was taught in the ways of the Lord. Her parents sought diligently to teach her to be honest and kind.

11. Oft times she showed forth much sassiness and it must needs be that she was reproved with much sharpness. She did lie to her parents and did seek to disobey the rules. Her mother did pull her aside many times to deliver lectures some of which were exceedingly distasteful to her.

12. And it came to pass that after an exceedingly difficult lecture from her mother McKay did cry out once again in anger. Why must I believe as my parents believe, if I have not faith to know for myself? Why must I be tempted and tormented by the evils of life and the cliques that so try to ensnare me into their mean clubs and carelessly judge and use me? Why must I needs be respectful and obedient to my parents when I feel troubled and do not like the rules they so exceedingly heap upon me? Why cannot I just be free to do whatsoever I desireth, even wickedness?

13. For behold after this manner did she continue to murmur against her parents and so much was her desire to rebel that she did spew forth many angry words some of which did catch and cut her mother so that she cried.

14. And it came to pass that McKay's eyes did wax heavy and did close to slumber. She was carried away in a dream where she beheld her mother with many different types of people surrounding her. Some looked happy while others seemed scary and dark. These people represented all of the people her mother had ever known and all of the experiences she had ever seen. Her mother was trying to get through the crowd of people to the other side where there was a beautiful garden and house with a balcony on which her father and she stood. Her father beckoned come and join them on the porch so that they could enjoy the flowers and the sunset but as her mother tried to get through the crowd some of the people were tugging on her clothes trying to get her to linger. It seemed such an easy thing to get to the garden and the path was straight but her mother was taking a long while to work her way through the crowd of people that held her bound. In order to pass each person trying to hold on, she must look each in the eye and carefully take their hand and set it down to clear her path. When her mother reached her and she felt her hand it was as if they had never been separated. As McKay watched this scene in her dream it became clear that her mother was trying her best to reach her and that her delay did not mean she loved her any less.

15. And it came to pass that McKay awakened from her dream with an understanding of her mother's exceeding love for her. Behold she knew that her mother had trials and weaknesses to overcome. Behold even her mother was not a perfected being.

16. But inasmuch as her love for her daughter was exceedingly strong so also was her desire to protect and care for her to the very best of her ability. Sometimes this meant that McKay would needs be upset with her mother for not allowing her to partake in activities that would be harmful to her or which would cause her to be exposed to more peer pressure than she was able to bear.

17. For behold her mother understood that when she called her retarded it did not meaneth that she was mentally handicapped only that McKay was in opposition to her will and that sometimes it needs be that their heads butteth against each others.

18. Inasmuch as McKay did not agree with all of the decisions her mother sought fit to make, she did understand that her mother was only concerned with her long term happiness and that it would mattereth not in five years that she was not able to attend a movie she was deemed too young for.

19. For behold, what would matter in five years or ten or forever was that her mother loved her with exceeding zeal and fervor. And that she would just as soon lie down in front of a train than see her precious McKay injured in any way that she could have reasonably prevented. But in her wisdom, her mother also knew that McKay was given the gift of free agency by God to choose for herself and ultimately she would have to decide for herself what she would do with her life. Her mother could teach her but she would have to make the choices herself.

20. And so we see that a mother’s love will never die no matter how much the child sassith,and rebeleth and causes headache and heartache...that the love of her mother is unconditional and lasteth forever. Amen.

Behold, I loveth you with all my heart,


Friday, April 23, 2010

How'd All That Stuff Get Under There??

Last weekend I moved around the furniture in our master bedroom. Vacuum cleaner at the ready, I expected to see dust build up and hoped to locate a missing remote in the far recesses under the bed. When I removed the mattress and box spring I discovered... so much more than expected. Certain the impact would be much less stunning simply retold to my family, I decided this one needed proper documentation... and proof I wasn't making it up.

In a perfect world and with the help of a obsessive compulsive domestic employee, the floor underneath the bedroom furniture would be vacuumed weekly preventing the accumulation of dust and other debris. In reality... it is much less maintained, more cluttered and for the purposes of this post...much much more interesting.

I laughed and photographed and then listed everything I saw under our King Size Bed.

I am not making this up.

3 pairs of shoes
9 socks
2 Rand McNally Road Atlases
2 hardbound world atlases
2 shotguns
1 rifle
1 (2009) stake directory
1 roll of purple curling ribbon
1 plastic cup
5 empty water bottles
1 baseball cap
1 elastic headband
2 empty tic tac containers
1 crocheted pot holder
1 nerf gun bullet
1 hair barrette
2 highlighter markers
4 pencils
2 pens
1 ipod cord
1 exercise hand grip
1 phone book missing the front cover
1 bottle of eye drops
1 pony tail holder
1 spoon
4 paper clips
1 pocket knife
1 movie ticket
1 bat
1 bottle cap
1 card board tube
1 fortune cookie fortune
1/2 of a corn chip
1 eye glass case
1/2 a pair of flip flops
1 DVD front cover
1 Knotts Berry Farm Pass
5 green fluorescent air soft bb's
A penny and a nickle
1 Faded Glory jean tag
2 spent bandaids
4 broken pretzels
1 computer screw
1 book
1 pillow
1 eye mask
and 62 gum & candy wrappers

Here's photographic proof.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Beautiful Graceful Thing...

Thumbing through old MTC scrapbooks, I found handouts from a class I barely remember taking -- dedicated to the “Refinement and Beautification of Sister Missionaries”. It was known as “Belle Sorelle” which translated “Beautiful Sister” and was pronounced with the short “e” sound at the end of the second word. Since none of us were familiar with Italian pronunciation nuances and partly because of its ridiculous nature, we called it “Belly Sorelly”

The name stuck.

For nearly every sister involved, it was a reprieve from the exhausting gospel study grind and repetitive Italian memorization exercises the Elders continued to follow in our absence. Since we were all familiar with tweezing protocol for eyebrows and proper blending techniques of foundational make up, it was mostly review. The difficulty was managing a straight face when instructed to rub mayonnaise deep into our scalps, leaving on the natural alternative to commercial hair conditioner for a twenty minute treatment.

Under refined tutelage we learned whether our faces resembled inverted triangles or pears, which shampoo ingredient introduced supplementary protein blends onto the hair shaft and what qualified as a French braid. My personal favorite was the expanded beauty session known as the "Poise Workshop".

After all these years, the complexity of proper handling of hands, walking and ascending stairs escapes my aging memory. Fortunately, archived documents provide the answers.

From the “Poise Workshop”

What to do with your hands...

While Standing: "Let your upper inner wrists lay gently on your front hip bones, slightly off center of your body. You can lightly lace finger tips, thumbs together or place palms together. You can place the back of one hand in the palm of the other, fingers cupped. If you must fold your arms, do so lightly with your thumbs tucked under each arm and finger tips showing. Then stand tall and don't let your back slump."

How to Walk…

The ideal walk is not really walking, it is more like floating. Keep your weight in the middle of your body. Don’t let it shift from foot to foot. One shouldn’t be able to tell by looking at your head which foot is stepping down. Watch your arms. Let them move moderately, but not propel you. Practice daily – and remember -- don’t walk…float.

Ascending Stairs…

You can float up and down stairs as any princess if you remember – “It’s all in the knees.” Never watch the stairs. Pause as you begin to take the first step. Keep your feet on a slight angle. Keep your knees bent and to get the floating feeling... practice walking around the room with your knees bent. Never grasp the hand rail to pull yourself up. If you do these things you will be graceful and it is truly a wonderful thing.

Stunned at the magnitude of education contained in the Poise Workshop none of us imagined there could be more. But, alas there was…Clothing Care, Laundry Tips, Mood Identity, Skin Analysis, Figure Balancing, Foot Fungus Identification, Food Measurement and finally…What to do if we suspected we had toxic shock syndrome.

The refinement obtained by the Elders, on the other hand, remained unclear. Surely they must have been reminded to withhold bodily noises in the presence of investigators, close their mouths while chewing and refrain from lighting anything on fire. Perhaps lengthy instruction in these and other areas would have exceeded retention ability and demonstrations of eyebrow tweezing make up application and hair braiding certainly would not have been appropriate use of their time.

In the end… we left the MTC as Christian Soldiers fortified by white bibles, Book of Mormons, Flipcharts and brand new two sided emery boards. As sisters we were prepared to teach… and preach… and work like missionaries did, with beautification training handouts serving as constant reminder of our graceful potential.

Long Live Belle Sorelle!