Sunday, May 14, 2006

Remembrance, inclusion, exclusion

Mother's Day is always a mixed blessing. It is when we decided to start our family, with Jessica. We remember her and miss her. Much life Father's Day for me, Mother's Day is such a remembrance of things lost, as well as things gained. I always feel like such a total failure on Father's Day. What kind of man am I if my children died and I couldn't stop it from happening? Yet, I am so pleased with the children that I do have living with me.

Saturday night, both of my daughters had friends stay the night, so this morning we had people in the house. We presented Win with some presents (the Beatles CDs she wanted, a vase, some flowers I'd hidden the night before), I prepared breakfast (waffles for some of the kids, blueberry waffles for some of the kids, mixed fruit [blue berries, black berries and sliced strawberries] with yogurt and sugar on the side for Win) and we went for some walks. Win did almost ten miles this morning, basically one 3.3 mile circuit with each of us.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/14/books/review/14wright.html is about why so many people find Americans annoying. It is also, if you think about it, why some segments in our society find other segments so annoying. "We're not obnoxiously evangelistic, just obnoxiously self-involved " is the take-away from the article. So often, we are obnoxiously self-involved.

Which is how Church ended today. The Young Men came in and gave flowers to their mothers -- and skipped everyone else. That made a definite point, especially following a lesson on loss and death and being excluded. Kind of capped the point.

And yes, today is a day when I would like to just subsume my feelings with a double batch of brownies and a half gallon of ice cream. Instead, I remember I'm allergic to chocolate and stay continent and just feel the emotions instead, caring for those I love.


10 THE SHANGRI-LA DIET, by Seth Roberts (Putnam)

[if you've come for Shangri-la diet notes, click here]

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Stephen

11 comments:

noelle feather said...

I wonder if I'm missing your point about the YM and the flowers...missed everyone else--meaning, everyone should be included?

Today, in the 3rd hour, the Bishopric came to RS and Primary (and YW, I assume) and gave all the "Mothers" and "Sisters" this awesome strawberry cake. It was so good. :)

Anonymous said...

All the mothers should be included, not just the mothers of teen age boys.

You know, a woman has value even if she hasn't had a boy child ...

Stephen said...

I wasn't clear enough. Relief Society finished with a special presentation for mothers. But it turned out to be a special presentation only for those women who were mothers of boys in YM.

Though, perhaps, it may be right that the only mothers who count are the mothers of boys, the rest should just sit there and applaud them.

I'm sad and tired tonight, it has been a rough day. I'll have to think and re-edit, perhaps.

I think awesome cake is better ;)

Anonymous said...

In the United States, Mother's Day was originally conceived by social activist Julia Ward Howe during the American Civil War with a call to unite women against war. She wrote this Mother's Day Proclamation:

Mother's Day Proclamation

Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly:
"We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says: "Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe our dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God.

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

Maren said...

Stephen,

Thanks for stopping by my site yesterday. I always appreciate your comments.

Holidays must be such a tough time for you and your family. I have learned a lot from your blog and the things you share. Thank you.

Tigersue said...

Just one comment, I'm sorry about how you feel, just remember you are not a failure for the death of your daughters. I'm not saying you don't have to feel that way, just tell yourself you are a good father because of the love you have for all of your children and your wife. Your daughters, I'm sure are watching you daily and want you both to know of their love. Your grief touches me so much because you are so eloquent with your words.
You are very right that all mothers should be included, and perhaps even those women that want children soooo much and haven't had the blessing of getting them. That is why mother's day is so hard. It isn't so much the "perfect" mother, it can represent the loss of dreams and hopes. I have really learned to focus more on my own mother, and not on myself as a mother. Makes it easier for me I suppose.

Stephen said...

maren & tigersue

Thank you, I really appreciate your comments.

annegb said...

We got these pathetic, dying petunias in plastic pots with aluminum foil wrapped around them.

One year we got tomato plants in plastic pots. I heartily disliked the guy whose idea that was before he did that and totally quit speaking to him after that. He was such a jerk to his wife.

If I'm ever in a position to have my say, I will pick the program (funny, interesting speakers who only take 5 minutes each, good music), I will pick the gift (something lovely or good tasting) and I will tell the sisters to go home during Sunday School and Relief Society and take a good nap and a long bubble bath.

annegb said...

The men and boys and YW could teach primary and be the nursery.

Maren said...

In our ward, the men do take over for primary and nursery. They usually hand out some sort of small potted plant to all of the women, mothers or not, after sacrament meeting.

Barb said...

Stephen, from reading your blog since about the first of this year, I see how so many dates hold bittersweet memories for you. I agree as you have said that you honor your family when you grieve them. And you never stop loving a child or longing for them in this life.

You seem to have a flood of emotions regarding your feelings that as a father that you should have protected your children. I hope that what I say comes across right. Also, I think you probably know and are in touch with what I am going to say as you have been through the grieving process. Maybe it will help someone in an earlier stage.

Your feeling guilt for not being able to protect your children from things that are beyond your control is to me a lot like the little child who thinks that mom and dad divorced because he or she was a bad little boy or girl. I know even rationale and intelligent people have to grapple with strong emotions that have no basis.

Sometimes there are mistakes made by a parent, a doctor, or a caregiver. And I believe in a loving and merciful God who can comfort parents who made such mistakes. We are human and humans are going to make mistakes as much as our American sue happy society tries to speak otherwise. I am thinking of a woman who was a loving and devoted mother who forgot her baby was in the back seat. She was a woman of faith and in such believed God had a purpose. I am not sure there was a purpose in the loss. This life is filled with pain, suffering, and sorrow, and we are subject to natural law. And if there were a purpose to everthing and life were completely controlled, then I do not think we would experience life as it is meant. There are times when people are protected. And there are times when a loving and over-worked parent can make a mistake such as leaving their child in a car with fatal consequences.

Then, there are illnesses and events that nobody could predict or prevent.

I have a disorder that is driven and fueled by guilt and all about guilt. And I have been met with kindness and have felt God's mercy.

So please do not hurt yourself by blaming yourself. You love so much and your love endures even through the temporary separation.