Mothering with Migraines

Migraines are my Supermom kryptonite.

The pain itself is formidable. Imagine a knife going through one of your eyes and out the back of your head just above your neck. The pain is not worse than childbirth, but close. For me, maybe it is worse because I have experienced at least one hundred times more migraines than I have had babies.

In addition to severe pain, nausea can come on quickly and suddenly, forcing a rush for the bathroom. If you’re in a car,  you have to master the ability to quickly pull off to the side and hope your kids and other passing drivers turn away.

Light and sound sensitivity intensify the pain and nausea. And then there’s the general brain fogginess. When a migraine is at it’s worse, it’s difficult to communicate. It’s like your thoughts can’t make their way out of your mouth appropriately. “Can you bring me some medicine?” comes out as “I need that bottle of blue and a wup of cater.” This verbal stumbling and brain fogginess occur before, during, and after the pain.

This is not a headache you can just “sleep off” because the stabbing pain that runs from behind your eye to the back of your neck is so relentless and intense that sleeping is impossible. But you try to sleep anyway because you can’t do anything else. You just exist in a pain-filled nightmare on your bed with a pillow over your face to block out any specks of light hoping you won’t throw up again and praying for a cease to the torture. Though medication lessens the pain, it often worsens nausea and brain fogginess while also causing weakness in limbs.

I have had migraines since I was about 12. I can’t count the times I ended up in the school office hoping I wouldn’t throw up in the adjoining bathroom with the sounds reverberating for students and staff to hear.  Once, I threw up in the school cafeteria. I was mortified. I also threw up in a friend’s driveway. Another time, I blacked out on a school field trip while watching a presentation by a radiologist.  People thought it was because the broken bone x-rays on display made me queasy, but it was actually the onset of a migraine.

Luckily, I had very understanding family members, friends, and teachers. But doctors weren’t helpful. My headaches and the accompanying nausea were attributed to hormones, stress, and low blood sugar. The diagnosis was probably accurate, but there wasn’t anything to be done.  Every teenager experiences hormonal imbalances, stress, and raging hunger.  I wonder if it wasn’t common back then to give migraine medication to teens because in lieu of medication I was told to eat frequently, avoid strenuous activities, avoid stress, and carry a pack of Rolaids to help with nausea.  The hope was that after I had endured the pubescent teenage years, my body would calm and my headaches would ease.

High school was rough, but I made it.  After high school, I had a slight reprieve from frequent migraines for about 10 years.  I would get them once in a while, but not too often and not too horrible.  After I had my fourth baby, I started to have them more frequently, but still manageable.

Just before I was pregnant with Brooklyn, I began having horrible migraines again. The first few months of the pregnancy were extremely difficult. But as the morning sickness waned in the third month, so did the headaches. Hormones–they cause so much strife for all the good they do.

The reprieve was nice, but a few months after Brooklyn was born, I found myself knocked out at least once a week. Sometimes I would have headaches for a few days in a row. I was having to call Rick to come home from work to be with the kids because I couldn’t care for them or drive to activities. He was able to help sometimes, but he was a new Bishop and often had appointments, meetings, and responsibilities that precluded helping at home. The older kids did what they could, but it was so hard.

I can remember more than once knowing that Rick had a meeting or something to get to and also knowing that I was in no state to care for the children at home.  From the couch,  I would lie “My headache is getting better.  Don’t worry.  Go to your meeting.”  And he would drive away and I would cry and then maybe rush to the bathroom to throw up.

We have already established that being a mom is incredibly difficult and the tasks and responsibilities are unending.  Kids need mothers who are present, involved, and stalwart.  Nothing can replace the physical, spiritual, and emotional nurturing that a righteous woman can provide a child.  It doesn’t always have to be the mom that provides this nurturing, but when a mom is absent because of death, sickness, addiction, work, or other circumstances; the child suffers in spite of efforts to fill the void.

That void is what I worry about every time I get a migraine.  I know it’s okay to get help.  Hiring a babysitter or asking friends or older children to help with children is fine–even needed.  But I also know, in spite of what others say, my work and influence in my own home with my children are irreplaceable.  It’s disturbing for me to consider how much time I have lost with my children because of migraines.

I also see the flip side.  How much empathy for others have my children learned?  What opportunities for service have they been given because they had to step in and help?  In this way, migraines are a blessing.  I am a very independent person and I like to just get things done.  Being knocked out with a migraine forces me to let others in.  Sometimes the house falls apart around me and the kids watch TV for hours, but other times, they have looked outside themselves and served.

Moms carry a heavy burden, and so much of what we do is not readily observed.  Every mom has challenges that limit her ability to fully serve her family.  These challenges can take many forms.  Migraines are not my only challenge.  Each day I fight against impatience, selfishness, and exhaustion.  The hours in the day are limited and there’s always more to be done than can realistically be accomplished.  These challenges are not limited to mothers–everybody fights against inadequacies and time constraints.  I believe the barriers and challenges we experience daily are intentional.  How else could we learn to rely on the influence of the Spirit to teach us how to spend that limited time and how to act when we are not as naturally patient or kind as we should be?  Without the opposition, there is no growth.  Do I keep saying that?  It seems like every time I write about my life challenges, I come to the same conclusion. I guess the truth never gets old!

Migraines have taught me empathy, service, patience, flexibility, and endurance.  Though I dread them–even hate them, as I do many of the challenges posed to me, I can look back and see small miracles and specific blessings that have resulted from this fight.

Like Superman and his kryptonite, my SuperMom kryptonite requires me to look for solutions, adapt, and rely on the help of others.  And in the end, I am blessed.

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Bishop’s Wife Life

I haven’t written about this before because I didn’t want to draw attention. I worried that my thoughts on the topic may be perceived as bragging. But then I thought about when Rick was called as a Bishop five years ago and how I worried about what it would really be like to be the Bishop’s wife.  I have realized there are thousands of women out there that have the same concerns as their husbands serve in demanding church positions and maybe they can find some comfort in what I write.

When Rick was called, I wondered about many things. How could I be supportive? What could I do to lift his burdens at home? What was my role in helping him to balance his church and work responsibilities with his responsibilities at home? Would I be lonely, overwhelmed, overlooked? How would our children handle the extra demands on his time? How would ward members see me? Would they worry I knew their struggles and treat me differently? How would I avoid and prevent gossip? Could I show genuine love, kindness, and patience when people were inconsiderate about his time–especially his time with me and our children? Could I share the love of my life? Would he be protected from those who would seek to harm him?

I had a lot of worries.  But my overarching worry was, would I be strong enough?  My big fear was that my weaknesses would prevent him from achieving his potential–that I would hold him back in some way.  This fear has always been something that nags at me.

When we were first married, I knew I was marrying a spiritual giant.  Please don’t take this as bragging.  I don’t intend to brag.  He is not perfect and neither am I, but he is good and he is always trying to be better.  I knew that I was marrying a man that would always try to do the right thing.  I knew that he was service-oriented, other-oriented, and a hard worker.  I knew that he would serve in callings that would require his distinct gifts in those areas.  But it didn’t even matter where he was called to serve because I also knew he would serve in any calling with his whole heart.  We hadn’t been married very long before he was called as Elder’s Quorum President in our married student ward.  With that calling, I knew that he would always be called upon to give service in callings that would require our family to sacrifice.  We began patterns when we were young to generate a proper balance–weekly date nights, family home evenings, family prayer and scripture study.

But my worries that I would hold him back in some way still nagged–especially with his call as a Bishop.  I wanted to be the kind of wife that he needed to serve and support him.  I did not want my insecurities or loneliness or neediness to limit how he could serve.

I looked to positive examples anywhere I could find them.  I was constantly searching for examples of women who were successful at balancing the need to support their husbands while also keeping a strong family life. Of course, I read about Marjorie Hinckley and Frances Monson, but I also looked to women who I knew and loved whose husbands also served in demanding callings.  I listened to their kind words of support and advice.  And this is why I’m writing.  I’m hoping women with worries about living life as a Bishop’s wife, or other supportive callings can read some of my experiences and find the comfort and strength they need to move forward.

As I have sat down to write this, I’m realizing I have more stories to share than can be included in one post, so I think I’ll start a Bishop’s Wife Life series of posts.  These are things I avoided sharing while Rick was serving as Bishop because I didn’t want people to worry about me and I didn’t want to draw attention.  I also didn’t want to single anybody out who may have unintentionally hurt me or Rick.  I didn’t want anybody to avoid talking to him or seeking his help because his wife would be mad about the time spent away from her or their family.

We had a lot of very difficult times during Rick’s tenure as Bishop.  And I had a lot of very personal experiences that tested my strength and resolve.  If anything, these things should be recorded for our children and grandchildren because I want them to know that their mom/grandma/great grandma wasn’t perfect, but her challenges helped her to become more perfect.

So, stay tuned.  My writing time is very limited because I do have to keep the rest of my life in balance and my family needs me to get the laundry and dishes done just like they need me to share these thoughts.  But this is something I want to do and I feel like it’s the right thing to do, so get ready because it’s going to get a little personal around here.

Crazy May

After my last two grumpy posts, I thought you deserved some light reading, and I could do with a little light writing.  I promise no negativity in this one.  “All good things!  All good things!” (Frozen)

May is always a busy month.  There’s the end of the school year events–choir concerts, field trips, graduations/advancement ceremonies, and more.  For us, May contains a lot of family events as well.

Our May started out with the kids missing almost an entire week of school for teacher walk-outs.  Maybe you heard about the walk-outs in the news.  I don’t think Tucson was the only place to experience this.  Maybe all of Arizona?  Maybe other states?  I’m horrible at following the news, so I didn’t get involved. I love and respect most of my kids’ teachers and I know they have hard jobs, so I hope the benefits of the walk-out were worth the cost to them.

For me, it was a week of “summer practice.”  It was mostly fun (see I’m trying to be positive here).

The kids played outside a lot and tormented the dog.  Don’t worry, she likes the attention.

They ate lunch outside and swam in the pool.

One day, we went to the Sonoran Desert Museum which is a super cool place that is more like a zoo than a museum.

I was proud of Makayla for getting her Arizona Driver’s Permit the week before, so I let her drive us to the Desert Museum.  She experienced construction zones, freeway driving, mountain driving, and more.  She did very well!

The museum just opened this new Pack Rat Play Area.  It’s cool and creepy at the same time.  

This past month, the cactus plants have been blooming.  I took a picture of my favorite cactus flower while chasing Gavin. Imagine these blooms of magenta dotting the mountainside and roadsides.

We took our signature javelina pictures at the museum exit.

Andrew had two days back to school before he took a day off for his birthday.  He actually asked me, “Can I play hookie on my birthday so I can stay home and hang with my peeps?”

I replied, “Your peeps?”

He nodded his head, “Brooklyn, Gavin, Winter,” a slight hesitation, “and you.”

How could I refuse since he made me feel so special?

Rick surprised Andrew by coming home from work and taking him out to lunch.  They had a great afternoon together.

Do you know about our family tradition of giving all the children little gifts when it’s one child’s birthday?  Gavin and Brooklyn got new goggles.

Andrew was excited about his new fitness tracker/watch.

He loves The Ranger’s Apprentice books by John Flanagan.  The main character, Will, is one of Andrew’s role models.  He’s awesome at archery, has good morals, and wears a camouflage cape.  So, Andrew got a bow and arrow, more books from the Ranger’s Apprentice series, and an awesome cloak.  He has used his cloak more than once to hide and surprise Ricky and it has worked.  Boys are funny!Two days after Andrew’s birthday, Brooklyn went to her last day of preschool. She will be a kindergartener next year! Also, next year I will go from having kids at 5 different schools (if you count Emily at BYU) to only two schools–elementary and high school.

I know I will have to field the question, “What will you do all day with only one child home with you?”

Here’s my answer–the same things I always do. I still have the same number of children to care for as well as other responsibilities. I don’t imagine a life of ease where Gavin and I lay around by the pool eating ice cream and napping. Ok, sure, I imagine it, but maybe for only a day. There’s always work to be done, and people to serve.

I’m happy for Brooklyn and her growth and maturity over the last year. Having a girl after three boys is a delight. She would be a delight no matter where she fell in the mix. I love her to pieces.

And then, Ricky turned 14!!

For his birthday he invited a bunch of boys to a barbecue and pool party at our house. They had a great time playing in the yard. This is a group of exceptional young men. Ricky has great friends and I hope he is a good friend to them.

Later that evening, the older boys got spiffy and we took them to a church dance. It was a first dance for three of them. They had a great time.

In fact, they had so much fun that I took a crowd of them to another church dance last night.

Ricky is a natural leader. He is fun to be around and helps people feel comfortable because he doesn’t worry too much about his own insecurities. He’s good at inviting people. I told him if he wanted to go to the dance, invite as many people as he could and I would drive them both ways (it was at a church building that’s about 40 minutes from our house). He gathered six kids to ride with us and some others met us there. They were so fun in the car–blasting Disney, country, and 90’s hits with the windows down, laughing, and talking. It was good, clean fun.

The day after Ricky’s birthday was Mother’s Day. One thing Rick is exceptional at is spoiling me. He made me breakfast in bed.

But that is not all. He also cleaned the kitchen a million times, made dinner, played with the kids, and handled almost every sibling argument. It was heaven, but I felt bad for Rick because he was completely exhausted and a little grumpy by the end of the day. I think he understands why I think the dinner hour until bed time is the most difficult part of the day, but he definitely experienced the full effects of it on Mother’s Day.

What else? Ricky had his final choir concert last week. He’s the boy at the top left.

Ricky loves to sing and he’s getting better and better at it. Today at church choir practice our leader asked him to switch to bass because there was only one other bass there and we were performing that day. After one run-through with his bass friend singing at his side, Ricky sounded great. The choir director was surprised and asked, “How long did you take piano lessons because your sight reading is fantastic!” He said, “I don’t really read music.” This is true. He did take piano for a few years, but he learns his choir part by listening to the people around him and practicing. He is especially good at matching his neighbor’s pitch. He’s an expressive singer and brings the Spirit when he sings. I love having him in choir because I know the words of the songs he learns and the feelings he has when singing will come back to him when he needs direction, assistance, or comfort. Go to ward choir! It’s so good for you. Take your teenagers. They need it.

And that’s our Crazy May so far with more to come! Ricky is graduating from 8th grade tomorrow, Rick and I celebrate 20 years of marriage on Tuesday, the kids have their last day of school this week, and Sean will go to Cub Scout camp for two days at the end of the month. “All good things! All good things!”

Laugh Instead of Cry

If you read my last post, you know that a storm was brewing in the Mergenthaler household.  Makayla went to bed hating me, school, responsibilities, and life in general. The others were sent to bed without special stories or cuddling because I needed space.

I wake in the morning ready for a fresh start. Gavin walks into my room happy to lay on my pillow while I pray and review the morning’s tasks. I find Sean in the kitchen trying to decide what to eat for breakfast. And he is happy, but not happy enough to take care of morning dog responsibilities.  There’s always an excuse.  His excuses are ok as excuses go–he wants to get his daily piano practice in, tidy his room and be ready for school before taking care of the dog.

So I do dog duty.  And then, I wake up the rest of the kids later than usual.  Andrew’s grumpiness from the night before has carried over.  He also has excuses why he can’t go run the dog around the yard.  His excuses are less convincing–I’m tired, it’s somebody else’s job.

So, the dog chews on my new patio furniture while I wake Makayla up for the second time.

By some miracle, I get the boys to the bus stop on time.  But as I park the car and walk around to help the boys cross the busy street, Andrew says, “Is this bus going to school?  Because if it is, then I’m not getting on it.”  This is said with a partial smile.  And it’s kind of funny, but pulling him out of the car is a foreshadowing of what would happen with Makayla almost an hour later.

So, Andrew and Sean are safely off.  Yay!  I know Makayla won’t be ready for seminary yet, so I take Ricky to school.  Another one down.  Yay.

I drive home to get Makayla.  She will be about 20 minutes late to seminary if we leave right away.  It’s not great, but late seminary arrival is typical for her.  I leave Gavin and Brooklyn in the car while I go inside to help her gather her things.

Upstairs, I follow a trail of water from Sean’s shower to my bathroom.  There she is in her pajamas with soaking wet hair.  I grumble inside.

“Gavin and Brooklyn are waiting in the car. What can I do to help?”

“Nothing.”  She has that defiant, hateful look on her face.  Pressuring her to get out the door won’t help.  So, I go to get the kids out of the car and find a mid-size lizard had come in the garage with the van. Nice.  I haven’t eaten breakfast or done anything for myself yet (typical of most mornings), and now I have to chase a lizard out of the garage and find a way to get a stubborn teenager out the door to school.

As I search for the broom, a list of all the things I had hoped to accomplish that morning runs through my head, “Would I have time to exercise?  Should I work on registering Makayla for her online health class this morning, or do it after the weekend?  The load of laundry I started last night is still sitting in the washer.  With the lack of help last night in the kitchen, the dishwasher needs to be unloaded and reloaded.  I haven’t balanced the checkbook and paid bills yet . . . . .”  The internal dialogue continues, and I get a text from Ricky:  “Can you bring my wallet?”  I think, “Sure, what else do I have going on this morning?” I reply, “Yes.”

I get the lizard out, but Makayla still isn’t ready.  I make myself breakfast and take it out to eat in the car with Gavin and Brooklyn because I think we will be leaving any minute.  After a few minutes, I honk the horn.  I wait.  I tidy up a few things in the garage and the car. I honk again. I wait.

And she finally comes out.  Seminary has about 5 minutes left.

“Do you want me to drive you to seminary or school?”

“Neither.”

I know a fight is coming, so I begin to back the van out so she can’t escape into the house.

“Put your seatbelt on.”

“No.  I want to die.”  Which is translated as, “I really don’t want to deal with life today.”

“Just put your seatbelt on.”

“No.”

Great.  She wants me to pull over and not drive until she’s buckled in.  Well, I won’t do that.  She’s going to school.  She will NOT win this battle.

But she’ll try.  Without a seatbelt on, she begs, pleads, cajoles, insults–anything to get me to not take her to school.  This is accompanied by all that things that are wrong with her face and why she doesn’t want to be seen.  And her teachers are dumb and they’re not doing anything important there and she will not go.  Meanwhile, the car is beeping an annoying alert that the passenger in the front seat is not wearing a seatbelt.

It doesn’t matter what I say in these arguments.  I’m always wrong, stupid, close-minded, and unloving.  I still say the same things, though.  “You can do this.  We all do hard things.” (I’m telling myself this in my head as I say it out loud.  “Not everything in life is easy.  You can’t hide. You’re going to get through the day.”

Meanwhile, I feel pressure building up inside me.  I am so mad at her!!  Why does everything have to be about her?  Doesn’t she care that she just made her siblings hang out in the car for a half hour, that she’s wasting my time, that I was counting on exercising this morning and now I won’t be able to, that I have a huge list of things to do, that we have this same fight at least a few times a week in different forms? I’m so mad!!!!

And then I remember my sister-in-law’s recent blog post where she and her teenage daughter are training for a marathon and it’s not going well:  http://motobees.blogspot.com/2018/04/mind-games-or-should-i-say-running-with.html  They actually changed shorts in the middle of the trail and she threw down her water bottle while yelling at her daughter, “You can and you will!!!”

And I can’t help it.  I snap.  All that anger and frustration building up inside me that would normally come out in tears or yelling or slamming on the brakes so that her unseatbelted body crashes into the dash comes out as laughter.  First, it’s a slight smile.  Then, it’s a giggle.  And Makayla says, “This is not funny.”  And then it IS funny.  I can’t help myself.  I feel a little crazy.  I can’t stop laughing.

She hates me.  We pull up to the school parking lot, and she refuses to get out.  So, I get my ugly, non-made up face and hair out of the car and walk around to pull her out.  She’s a little embarrassed and gets out, but then runs around to the driver’s side and hops in and tries to drive away!  Lucky for me, I had taken out the keys.  I walk around to the driver’s side and pull her out.  More people are arriving at school and she realizes I’m not above making a scene.  She gets out, grabs her backpack, and says, “Thanks for nothing!” as she stomps away.

I’m not proud of this next part because it’s immature, and I should never stoop to her level, but I get in the driver’s seat again and yell in a mocking-Makayla voice, “Thank you for making me a delicious lunch, Mom!  And for filling up my water bottle with refreshing ice water!  I LOVE YOU!!!”

And I turn the key and prepare to back away.  Suddenly she is walking back toward the car.

Uh oh!  I quickly lock the doors.  She is NOT getting back in!

She taps on the window.  “I need my phone charger.” (Yet another thing that didn’t go well this morning.  I plugged her phone in last night, but the cord wasn’t actually plugged into the wall–oops.)

I give her the charger and drive away.  At a stoplight, I see a text from her, “I am going to the office and coming home sick.”  I reply, “That’s going to be a long walk home for you.”

But, she got to school.  After another 20 minutes in the car to deliver Ricky his forgotten wallet, I bring Gavin and Brooklyn in the house and attempt to get going with the rest of the day.  Gavin is crying because he wanted to see the lizard I chased out of the garage and I didn’t show him.  And now Brooklyn is screaming, “I want chocolate chips.”  She can’t have the chocolate chips because Rick purchased special Guittard milk chocolate chips and they are not meant for kids to snack on instead of eating breakfast.  Her tantrum continues for quite some time.  I try to ignore it and go about the monumental task of tidying the kitchen.  But it’s just too much.  Imagine a slightly chubby little girl sitting on the pantry floor crying and hitting the wall because she can’t have her daddy’s special chocolate chips.  I don’t want to laugh at her or reply like a teenage mom, so I take a deep breath and say, “Let’s go play outside.  I’ll even go swimming with you if you let me exercise for 30 minutes.”

The dishes are undone, the laundry is still molding in the washer, Makayla’s health class issue is not resolved, I didn’t shower or make myself “cute” today.

But I had a great morning.  I exercised for thirty minutes (if you count playing soccer with the dog and jogging in place as exercise).  And then I swam in the pool with the kids.  We played until lunch time.

And now that the kids are on their way home from school and nap time is nearly over, I’m girding myself up for more battles, more challenges, and, yes, more blessings.

A Rough Night

Being a parent is the most difficult thing I have ever done or ever will do.  And it’s the best because the blessings come through the difficulty.  Parents are challenged physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally from newborn stage through teenage years and on through adult parenting and being a grandparent.  It starts out hard and it doesn’t get easier no matter what those seasoned moms say as your child throws a tantrum in a public place.  Having multiple children with differing personalities, needs, wants, and challenges of their own compounds the difficulty.  This should also mean that the rewards are also compounded, but it’s so hard to see the rewards most of the time.

I had a rough morning.  Unfortunately, the morning I’m about to describe happens in some variety multiple times a week.  It’s like I’m being beaten with a hammer.  Sure, maybe the hammer is shaping me into a sword, but for now it’s hurt over and over.

I think I need to make this story a two-part post.  This will be the depressing, stressful part.  It will be the post that if you’re a parent, you’ll nod your head in understanding and empathy, but you’ll not actually want to read it because you’ll remember all of the times and ways you have been particularly stressed.  It’s the prequel to the funny one.  So, if you rather not trudge through my therapeutic writing, skip to the next post called “Laugh Instead of Cry.”

My rough morning started last night.  Makayla was angry.  One of the most difficult challenges to parents these days, I believe, is technology–how to limit and monitor media usage so that your child is safe and achieving their potential while also developing necessary skills to limit and monitor themselves.  We have rules and when those rules are broken, there are consequences.  Makayla wasn’t obeying the rules, so consequences were enforced.  I suppose that’s all I should say, except, I’m so irritated by the fact that it wasn’t as simple as it sounds . . . I had to wrestle the phone away, change settings, and be verbally abused as a bad, overprotective, stupid mom.  Fun.

That’s not all, Sean was in need of attention from his brothers, so he tried for that attention by teasing Ricky while he was trying to read a book about his Grandpa.  Ricky and Sean just haven’t been kind to each other lately.  Especially Ricky towards Sean.  Ricky, like any other teen boy, deals with a lot of garbage at school–insults intended to make people feel insecure, inappropriate jokes, disrespect, and unkindness.  The stress of dealing with these challenges comes home with Ricky and soon the same insecure insults, inappropriate jokes, disrespect, and unkindness are directed toward Sean and others.  No parent likes to hear their child called horrific names or physically assaulted, but when it comes from another child in the family in a place that should be safe it makes you sad, angry, protective and potentially violent all at once.  The mama bear comes out, but she can’t attack the offender because she’s also meant to protect the offender.  It’s horrible.

So, while Makayla was glaring, stomping, snapping at everybody and overreacting to any partial disturbance in her space; Ricky was negatively responding to Sean’s annoying attempts at obtaining positive interaction.  And then there was Andrew . . . Andrew hates school right now–most especially this week.  His good friend at school suddenly stopped talking to him without explanation.  Instead of enjoying recess wandering and talking with his friend, he is playing basketball with a group of boys. Because he’s not focusing on that one friend during recess, that friend thinks Andrew has “changed.” Sounds like girls, right? So Andrew doesn’t want to hurt his friends feelings, but he wants to have more than just one recess friend.

The atmosphere in our home was already feeling tense and unhappy with Makayla, Ricky, and Sean; but Andrew added to it.  He was doing his spelling homework which he had put off until the last minute.  He hates handwriting.  It’s challenging for him.  His teacher has required the class to learn and write in cursive for spelling assignments.  So, as Andrew was huffily completing his assignment, he was grumbling, “I hate school.  This assignment is stupid.  We don’t even have a test tomorrow.  I don’t need to know how to spell these words.  Cursive is dumb.  I’m not going to do this.  I’m not going to school tomorrow.”  These phrases and similar ones were stated on repeat.  Sometimes, I tried to pipe in with something positive like, “We don’t love everything we are required to do,” or “Doing hard things makes us better people.” to which the grumblings would continue with increased intensity and directed at me instead of the room at random.

It was a relief when I finally got everybody to bed.  I had this thought–“Are the kids actually more disobedient, stubborn, and lazy when Rick is out of town, or does it just seem that way because when he’s home he helps to bear the burden?”  I’m not sure.  Parenting is challenging, but parenting alone is an especially heavy burden.

I went to sleep determined to start the morning fresh and happy and prayed that the kids would also awake refreshed and happy.  Since this is a two-part post with more adventure to come, you can guess that my hopes for happy, positive, obedient, and helpful children did not come to pass.  To be continued . . .

Home Again

We had a super fun visitor a few weeks ago. Emily took a break from BYU to spend a week at home with us. I know she doesn’t really consider Tucson her home, but her family is here and she’s at home when she’s with her family.

Brooklyn, Gavin, and I picked her up from the airport on Tuesday morning while the older kids were at school. They were so excited to have her just to themselves. Gavin and Emily had a dance session to music from The Greatest Showman. Gavin is always asking me to play “Greatest Snowman songs.” On a side note, I didn’t love the movie. I didn’t like that is was being touted as super family friendly and uplifting. I liked some of it, but other parts left me uncomfortable and wondering if people really Call this uplifting family entertainment. Everybody else in my family loved it, and I like most of the music. Emily and Brooklyn played doctor and went swimming.Emily brought Brooklyn a new dress which she made for her in her sewing class. It was so cute that Brooklyn wore it for family pictures

Emily met Winter. Originally, Emily’s goal was to become Winter’s favorite, but she has too much competition there. For better or worse, I’m Winter’s favorite because I do the most to care for her.

School was cancelled for the remainder of Emily’s visit and most of the next week for a teacher walkout. I appreciated the timing of the school cancellations because we were able to do more together.

We had family pictures taken. I haven’t had a chance to download all this pics, but here are a couple:

We went to dinner at a place called Sauce.

We went to a trampoline park, swam some more, did baptisms at the temple, and played games together.

Having so much fun can wear you out.

I love my family and feel very blessed to serve them every day–even if I get grumpy and overwhelmed sometimes. They’re fun to talk to, laugh with, learn with, and be with.