Sunday, March 30, 2008

Guilt and Gratitude

It must be inherent that when you are female you feel guilty. We women seem to beat ourselves up a lot more than necessary. We're always either not doing enough, not looking good enough, not skinny enough, not smart enough, not cleaning the house enough, not helping others enough or worried that we've done too much and bothered somebody in the know how it goes.

For instance today I am sitting here feeling guilty (although admittedly only very slightly) that I am not at church. I *did* go to church, but planned on leaving after Sacrament Meeting as Alaina's cough seemed to be getting worse and I figured it would be best not to stick her in Primary to spread it around. We would have just stayed home altogether, but I would have felt guilty about that. Well, enter cough that is getting really annoying, despite trying gum chewing, going out in the hall to get drinks, and eventually just pulling the lid off Lincoln's sippy cup and giving the whole cup to her. 25 minutes into the meeting we decided it was enough, and packed her up and headed home, along with the three little boys for naps! I suppose the reason I feel bad for not being there is that I haven't been in my meetings for three weeks now. I was in nursery last week and the week before, and am obviously home now. Oddly though, I loved nursery and didn't feel the least bit guilty about being there! I did feel guilty for saying "no" when Dallin's nursery teacher called me yesterday and asked me to fill in for her today. I told her it wouldn't work this week, in the back of my mind thinking I should say yes, but wondering if Alaina's whiney day yesterday meant she was getting sick. I guess it's a good thing I said no.

I found myself feeling guilty recently on behalf of a friend. I mentioned a few posts back that an old friend was coming to town and I hoped to get a chance to see her. Well, I did and it was so wonderful to have some time to catch up, even if it was less than an hour. There were a number of people there from the neighborhood in which we grew up, so of course that meant catching up with everyone that I hadn't seen for some time. Most of them knew that I was expecting again, although some were surprised that I'm on #7. I know, I know, it's hard to keep up! : ) So talk was of course about my children and how old they were and the new little one on the way. Things changed when the conversation turned to my friend, and we found out that she was miscarrying. Right then. She was 6 or 7wks along, and had started bleeding just the night before. She was remarkably chipper for someone who must have been physically (not to mention emotionally) uncomfortable at the time. Suddenly I felt so guilty that I was carrying another child and she was losing hers. My heart just ached for her! That was compounded exponentially when her sister then told me that she had lost a baby last year sometime between 16 and 20wks, and that before that she had experienced another miscarriage. Wow. What do you even say to that? Besides "I'm so sorry", which doesn't even begin to touch how you feel for this person and what they have been and are going through.

I've found myself in that spot more than once, and it's an odd feeling. While I am so unbelievable grateful for my children, and more and more so for the fact that I haven't been through great struggles to make them a part of our family, I still feel a twinge of guilt each time I hear of a friend or neighbor who is struggling with a miscarriage or infertility for whatever reason. Knowing the amazing joy that motherhood brings, I would love more than anything to share that with all of my friends and family who long to have just one taste of it. What a perspective on life it has given me.

Aside from the opportunity to have the experience of being a mom, I am so grateful for the appreciation it has brought me. While I have been fortunate enough never to experience the heartbreak of a loss (no more so than my problems in my first pregnancy and presumed loss of a twin-but that is a whole different story), I ache for those who have had to deal with it, especially those who have endured that challenge repeatedly. Watching friends and family deal with the cost and emotional toll of fertility treatments, and medical tests....Or those who have chosen to have a family through adoption-watching them wait and wonder and hope that a birth mom doesn't change her mind...or watching them deal with the disappointment when that does happen and that sweet little baby they have hoped for, waited for and planned for turns out not to be a part of their family... How disheartening it must be! It makes me so very very grateful for the opportunity to be a mother, and to have the opportunity to be pregnant. It has taught me that anything that pregnancy brings is only a small price to pay for a miracle; my new mantra to get me through those harder days. Tired and achey? Small price to pay for a miracle. Gaining and trying to lose lots of weight 7 times over 10 years? Small price to pay for a miracle. Vein behind my knee getting worse? Small price to pay. Thighs and hips ballooning uncontrollably? Small price to pay (well, and thanks to Ben and Jerry's!). Heartburn, morning sickness, sciatic nerve pain, insomnia, leg get the truly is such a small sacrifice to make for the privledge of becoming a mother.

I have been overwhelmed with an amazing amount of gratitude recently for the opportunity to have a family. I hope and pray that those who are so dear to me and long for the same will have that chance. And I take comfort in knowing that even if it is something they are not able to experience in this life-they can have that opportunity in the next. What a beautiful thought that is!

So mothers (and fathers!), take an extra minute to love and appreciate your little ones today. Whether it's the baby that won't sleep through the night, the crazy toddler who won't stop climbing on the table and eating things that aren't really edible, the defiant preschooler, or the older child ever longing for more independence and fighting back against the rules. Step back and see through their eyes, try to be just a big more understanding of their perspective. Love them for who they are, instead of wishing they could be just a little bit more like you would have them be. Do not forget to whom they belong, and where they came from! Gordon B. Hinckley said, "Never forget that these little ones are the sons and daughters of God and that yours is a custodial relationship to them, that he was a parent before you were parents and that he has not relinquished his parental rights or interest in these little ones. ...Rear your children in love, in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Take care of your little ones, welcome them into your homes and nurture and love them with all of your hearts." May we be more grateful for the many blessings and challenges we all face, and the sweet lessons that we learn from them!


justdawn said...

Catey...your perspective on life is just incredible:) It is sad that there aren't more people like you in this world.

Shilo said...

Thanks so much for that post...I needed a reminder like that. It truly is a miracle!

Tiffany said...

What can I say besides Thanks for the thought especially on a Monday morning with a sick baby :)

Kelsey said...

deep breath....deep breath....thanks for the rant today, it was classic :) I just bought baby _ _ _ _ some presents! I'm getting too crazy excited shopping for this little gooer. Now everyone will think "she" has a name. he he

Ashley said...

Thank you Catey! What a sweet reminder on the devine role that we have as Mothers here on this earth!

Snow Family said...

This is Kristi (Crockett) Snow. Do you remember me? Anyway I found your blog through Amy Crowther (a former mission companion) and thought I 'd say hello! I have a blog you should visit if you can. Your children are growing up so fast!