Untold Good

I had a dream that I was a super top secret government agent who had done “untold good” for our country and saved the lives of many of my fellow Americans.

I had been released from my secret duties because the government had found a replacement so that I could be with my family.

I had a lived a glamorous lifestyle–going to fancy restaurants and meeting with important people. I had a lavish wardrobe and an unlimited budget for anything I might need to accomplish my very important work.

In my dream, I was telling my family and friends about some of the cool things I was able to experience (without giving away any pertinent government secrets, of course).  They all stared at me in disbelief, and shot hurtful comments my way:

“No way, Mom.  Not you.  You don’t do important stuff.”

“That’s ridiculous.  You don’t know any important people.”

“Honey, you don’t even know how to order food at a restaurant without getting flustered.”

“Flip flops and t-shirts are not glamourous clothing.  You wouldn’t know how to put together a professional looking outfit if you had to.”

I was so frustrated in my dream.  I couldn’t believe they didn’t see me the same way I knew myself.  I kept saying, “But I have done UNTOLD good!  I have SAVED LIVES! I am a COVERT HEROE.”

The laughs and jabs continued.

“You’re just a Mom.  You don’t go anywhere.”

“You haven’t had a real job since Emily was born 19 years ago. You don’t know how to be gainfully employed.”

I persisted. “You guys don’t really know me!  You don’t appreciate everything I have done.  I can make amazing split second calculations, plan undercover missions, and read facial expressions to determine if I’m being lied to.  I’m much more than you think I am.”

They laughed and said, “Don’t make up stories to feel important.”

I woke up with feeling sad, frustrated, and beaten down.  It was horrible!!  I often have bad dreams where the stress from my days perpetuates into nightmares where I’m continuously doing loads of laundry or dishes or I have fifty unexpected guests at 2 a.m. and I just want to sleep but I have to make them all food.  This dream was like that, but worse.  My stress dreams usually dissipate after a couple of hours, but this one stuck with me through the coming weeks.  As I write about the dream now, I feel the humiliation and shame in my gut–or maybe that’s the ice cream sundae I just gobbled.

Why does this silly dream bother me so much?

Because there’s so much truth in it!

Now you’re waiting for me to divulge my secret CIA past, right?  I know it seems almost believable based on my laudable physical fitness and incredible mental capacity, but that’s not where the truth is.

The truth is that value and contribution of motherhood to the good of society is frequently underestimated and often mocked both overtly and subconciously–even by moms themselves.

I can’t tell you how many times I have come to the end of an emtionally, physically, and spiritually exhausting day feeling like I have simply run in place while others sprint by without noticing my plight.  I end the day with no evidence for my suffering or sacrifices.  The only thing I can do is go to sleep and hope the next day is a little better and that some of my disappointment and frustration will dissipate as I rest.

On evenings like this, I try to remind myself of what I know to be true about motherhood–that it is noble work–even that I am doing UNTOLD GOOD like I tried to tell people in my dream.  I tell myself that my family is grateful for my sacrifices and even if they aren’t, it doesn’t matter because I’m doing the right thing.

Mothers are the covert heroes of our world.  Though much of our work isn’t glamourous and we don’t have unlimited resources to accomplish our assignments, we do deal every day with important people.  We make amazing split second calculations, plan complicated missions, and can tell when we are being lied to.  We accomplish untold good and we save lives.

When addressing the women of the church in October 2006, President Hinckley said, “Now, my dear sisters, just a word in conclusion. I remind you that you are not second-class citizens in the kingdom of God . . . Without you, our Father’s plan of happiness would be frustrated and have no real meaning. You are 50 percent of the membership of the Church and mothers of the other 50 percent. No one can dismiss you lightly.”

In the same talk he shared and commented on this poem:

You are the trip I did not take;

You are the pearls I cannot buy;

You are my blue Italian lake;

You are my piece of foreign sky.

“Many of you are mothers. You are responsible for the nurture and upbringing of your children. When you grow old and your hair turns white, you will not ask about the fancy clothes you once wore, the cars you drove, or the large house in which you lived. Your burning question will be, “How have my children turned out?”

He tells a story of a young mother of seven children.  Every time I hear or read this story, my eyes get misty because I have felt like this too many times:

“As I turned around to walk back home, I could see my house lighted up. I could hear echoes of my children as I had walked out of the door a few minutes earlier. They were saying: ‘Mom, what are we going to have for dinner?’ ‘Can you take me to the library?’ ‘I have to get some poster paper tonight.’ Tired and weary, I looked at that house and saw the light on in each of the rooms. I thought of all of those children who were home waiting for me to come and meet their needs. My burdens felt heavier than I could bear.

“I remember looking through tears toward the sky, and I said, ‘Dear Father, I just can’t do it tonight. I’m too tired. I can’t face it. I can’t go home and take care of all those children alone. Could I just come to You and stay with You for just one night? I’ll come back in the morning.’

“I didn’t really hear the words of reply, but I heard them in my mind. The answer was: ‘No, little one, you can’t come to me now. You would never wish to come back. But I can come to you.’”

Heavenly Father loves and blesses his covert heroes who are doing untold good in their families and communities.  We can keep moving forward knowing the truth about our divinity and value.  And sometimes, we can surprise our families with our ingenuity, energy, intelligence, and glamour–because we are much more than we appear to be.

Since every good post needs pictures, I hope my niece won’t mind me sharing the pictures we have of her sweet baby boy. I guess I’m a great aunt now? Sounds old.

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Disneyland

My friend, Karitza, talked me into meeting her at Disneyland for a couple of days just after school started. I took Brooklyn and Gavin. Brooklyn had not been and she is at the perfect age. She was a little short for a couple of rides, but rode everything she could. She likes the fast rides the best.

Brooklyn and Aunna were cute together, holding hands through the whole park.

Gavin was a trooper. He loved seeing characters.

Brooklyn was brave at Jedi training. Somehow, she got on stage twice, but I only took pictures of the first time. The weather was very hot–about 100 degrees each day. We were pretty sweaty.

The kids talked about meeting Elsa and Anna all the way home.

Gavin was in awe at the parade.

By the end of the first day, the kids were pooped. On our second day at Disneyland, Brooklyn woke up with a swollen and bruised ankle. She couldn’t remember injuring it. After an hour of limping around the apartment, she determined that she would go to Disneyland no matter what.

As the first hour went by, her ankle must have warmed up because she was limping less and less and not complaining one bit. I knew she would be fine when spotted Captain America and ran after him to shake his hand.

Brooklyn was so fun to be around. Even with a sore ankle and chafing on her legs from all the walking, she was excited about everything. She loved the Guardians of the Galaxy ride.

After getting off that ride, she got to dance with some of the actors.

On one of the slower rides she asked, “When does this get fast?” She is definitely a thrill seeker. She didn’t like the Haunted House because it was creepy. And she didn’t like the villains and big dragon in the Fantasia show. Bad guys are scary, but fast rides are fun.

Gavin was pretty good for a 3-year old. He liked the rides, but got grumpy waiting in line sometimes and wanted to be held a lot.

He loved the carousel and being with friends.

Our trip to Disneyland ended more abruptly than I thought it would. We had planned a beach day for third day, but Rick ended up in the hospital with appendicitis, so I hurried home to care for the rest of the family.

The drive home was stressful without information about when Rick would be in or out of surgery. I got stuck in traffic in Phoenix and spent a lot of time on the phone trying to manage the kids and get a surgeon’s report. I didn’t even know which hospital Rick was at!

Things eventually smoothed out after a couple of days. Rick felt pretty good after his surgery and I got unpacked and caught up on all the things that fell behind while I was gone. I did all that and planned and carried out a family birthday party for Gavin before driving to Provo the following weekend to pick up Emily from BYU. But that’s another story.

Summer Fun

I am behind on updates. I blame the Family Tree app.

When we were in Washington, I found myself with a little more down time than I’m used to. I decided to use some of that time wisely by seeing if I could familiarize myself with Family Search. I know genealogy isn’t rocket science, but it seemed too overwhelming to take on. What if I sat down for five minutes and got sucked in? Hours later, my family would be foraging for food in the wilderness. What if I made big mistakes like a few years ago when Rick was “helping” me update our family tree and turned my Grandpa into my dad?

Though I was afraid to get sucked in or make silly mistakes with unfamiliar software, I have been inspired by President Nelson’s encouraging words to the youth of our church to gather Israel. Family history work is a big part of this. I decided that if I want my kids to do this kind of work, I can’t be afraid of it. So, I dived in.

Guess what I learned? My worries were valid–I get sucked in sometimes and neglect my family, and I make mistakes. But I have also learned that it’s very fulfilling and very doable–even with only 10 minutes a day in captured moments waiting in the car or at appointments.

My favorite thing to do is spend one or two minutes at a time attaching sources to family names on my tree. Sometimes census records show a child I don’t have a record of or a marriage date that wasn’t previously listed. I also like to merge duplicates to “clean up my family tree.” A lot of the merging I do is from dumb mistakes I made when learning how to use the app, but I’m getting better. I’m going to sound like a commercial, but I have to tell you–it’s so easy with the app! I can spend 5 minutes at a time. If I get stuck on something, I take a screen shot to remind myself what to come back to and pick it up another time. I have learned a ton in only a month.

But time is a limited resource and my 10-20 minutes here and there are 10-20 minutes I don’t spend uploading pictures or writing. So, now I’m going to get to some of that.

We did have a great summer. Summer break can be a challenge with lots of kids with a wide age span, but we found a good rhythm just in time to go back to school.

Ricky is funny. This picture has nothing to do with summer except that it happened in July. He’s just a funny guy. And he’s growing a ton! He’s taller than me now!

The kids spend a lot of time outside–even when the weather is hot. Monsoon season is super fun. The heavy rains and thunderstorms are exciting.

They still love their dog even though both Rick and I curse the work that goes into take good care of her–especially since I carry that burden.

At the end of July, Emily flew in for a weekend to get her endowments out at the temple. When I picked her up from the airport, she made me stop at a taco truck for lunch. It was fun having her home to play for a couple of days. They don’t get sunsets like this in Provo. The temple was nice. I was a little sad that she didn’t experience finding family and friends waiting for her in the Celestial room because it was just me and Rick, but it was a good and peaceful experience. She has continued going to the temple each week in Provo and now she can help with more there.

Brooklyn had swimming lessons this summer. A super great girl came to our house for a few weeks in the afternoons to teach her the basics. She is a pretty good swimmer now. Having a pool is such a blessing! We had a few 105-107 degree days that required swimming time to get through. Winter uses her pool all the time.

And just over ten days ago, the kids started school again. I had a hard time getting good “back-to-school” shots. Ricky and Makayla aren’t even in any of the pictures. Rick tried to catch a picture of Ricky one day, but it didn’t turn out well.

I haven’t gotten into a good rhythm with school yet because I took the little ones to Disneyland and then Rick ended up in the hospital with appendicitis. This weekend, Gavin and I are off to Provo to bring Emily home for a couple of months before she goes on her mission. I’m hoping to get settled more in the next few weeks.

I suppose I should share a little about our Disney trip and other stuff in another post. For now, be happy I took some time from my righteous family history work to share an update with you.