Saturday, May 13, 2017

Sharing (Mother's Day Edition)

When my oldest turned 18 months old she qualified to attend the toddler class each Sunday for 2 hours at church. That was really my first experience with understanding-- and accepting-- that others would be teaching things to my kids.

It’s silly to think about. Of COURSE others will teach my kids. But it can still be a startling realization, a kind of a recovering from a not-my-kid thing on a very elementary level.


Mother’s Day isn’t easy for a lot of people for a lot of reasons, many centered on expectations. For me, it’s been a day when a huge mirror is placed in front of me, forcing me to see what I’m doing. It hasn’t ever felt like a healthy evaluation, but more of an imposed critique while being forced to listen to stories of Angel Mothers Who Never Raised Their Voices and stuff like that.

I’ve loved being a mom; it was the main thing I wanted to be since I was very young. But Nobody’s Perfect is more than a saying on a Garfield poster (ask your parents). And no one needs help feeling bad about themselves.


So much about motherhood isn’t talked about regularly, or in productive ways. I certainly don’t know all there is to know-- and I have so, so very much more to learn-- but I know more than I thought I would 18 years ago as a new mom.

I’ve learned about different personalities and tempers and emotions; diapers and hygiene and puberty; social triumphs and heartbreaks. Kids eat crayons. They break a dozen eggs on the floor just to see what happens. They get in fights at school. They have best friends and lose best friends. They lie. They love. They learn. They succeed. They question. They bully and get bullied. They thrive. They struggle. They get eating disorders. They move out.

Motherhood evolves, as it should. Kids growing up and becoming more independent? That’s not a shame, it’s not a disappointment. That’s how it’s supposed to go, and that’s how it WILL go, so getting on board with that idea has been something I’ve done my best to be conscious of and work on doing well.

Motherhood, I think, needs to be, in its approach, fluid...not as a way of giving up, but as a way of holding on.


You’ve probably heard the saying, ‘Be the kind of adult you needed as a kid.’ I remember being a teenager and prioritizing that for my future. I’m certain I’ve forgotten much of what it’s like to be a kid-- and today is eons away from what it was Back In My Day-- but I’ve held on to the idea of needing to be an advocate for kids.

When I got divorced, I realized my oldest was the same age-- as in, same number of days old, within just weeks-- as I was when my parents got divorced. I took note.


I’m someone who prays. I pray daily. And I pray for people I love to be supported and feel loved, to know they are loved.

Many people are included in my prayers by name, and the past several months have seen a solid pattern in the names I include. Sydney, Quinn, Clara, Emma, Taylor, Rae, Jensen, Andrew, Brittany, and Avrey.

And Betsy, Cindi, and Daneen.

Some of those names are those of my kids. And some of those names are those of my husband’s kids. And some of those names are those of the other moms of all those kids. I pray for all of them. I think of all of them. I want the best for all of them.

I’m a mother who shares kids with other mothers. All these kids are at such different ages and stages, being fluid within Motherhood is critical to being able to know how to best relate with each.

My kids’ stepmom loves our kids, and she brings a lifetime of her own experience to teach them what she can, just like I do.

I love my husband’s kids, and I know I’m not their mom-- they’ve got a mom who loves them. My own dad never remarried, so I’m unfamiliar with that aspect of what they’re experiencing. My goal right now is let them know in any ways I can that I love their dad, and I love them, and their dad loves them.

Having your parents get divorced is hard. Being a mother who feels like she has let her kids down in any way is wrenching.

That list of kids up there? I want them to know they’re loved. I want them to know they’ve got an army of parents who love them, which is SO GREAT! I never want them to feel excluded or left out. With time I think they’ll come to know the intricacies (and the legitimacy and acceptability) of differences in parenting amongst all those who have parental roles in their lives, and see the benefits there.

And that list of moms up there? I want them to know they’re loved. I want them to know they’ve got any number of kids on any given day who at their core just want to know they’re loved by all their parents. And I want them to know that I, as another mother in this village, will reinforce that to each of those kids as often as circumstance presents itself.

This Mother’s Day is the first in a new chapter of a lifetime of Mother’s Days. The only expectation I’m evaluating is my own, of myself, to continue to commit to set aside what needs to be set aside, and to say and do what needs to be said and done, for the sake of the kids knowing they’re loved by their mothers.

Image: Justin Hackworth Photography

Monday, April 24, 2017

A Hamilton Wedding Gift from Jason Lyle Black

Jason Lyle Black is a friend I met just last year. I want to tell you more about how talented this guy is, so I will, but first, with his permission, I share with you this super thoughtful wedding gift he sent to John and me:

THANK YOU, Jason! How very kind and thoughtful of you to take the time to put this together, record, and send to us. Thank you.

Jason Lyle Black, YouGuys. He is brilliantly talented (oh, was that the guy you saw playing the piano backwards on Ellen? Yes, that's him), as one would have to be to not only play so well facing the piano, but also to play it backwards and upside-down. We've seen him in concert where he takes requests from the audience via text message, which I like. He's an award-winning performer, he's professional, he's fun, he's great.

I'm a believer in supporting talented people who are also thoughtful. So if you're not familiar with Jason's work (or if you are), check him out on YouTube, and also check to see if his tour this year reaches a town near you. We're looking forward to seeing him again in concert at the Sandy Amphitheater this summer.

Thanks again, Jason! Your choice of songs to put in this medley was spot-on.


Monday, March 27, 2017

Riding Bikes

Once I rode a bike.

I mean, I'd been riding a bike my entire life. But even as a kid I looked forward to when I could ride the bike I had been taught I was meant to ride, the right and best bike to ride, the bike that would make me the cyclist I was supposed to be: the bicycle built for two.

It would be easy, now, to criticize my younger self for how quickly I hopped on that bike. It would be easy to say I began riding that bike when I was too young, not ready, or with reckless abandon, but what good does that do? I got on that bike.

That bike requires the work of two, it should go without saying. I remember, early on, doing a lot of pedaling but not a lot of steering. I also added a seat, and rather quickly. The most difficult part of that-- or any-- bike I've ridden was adding a second seat and then having to remove it. I'd end up adding four more seats, one by one, with time for adjustment. Once those seats seemed securely in place, I looked up and found I didn't understand where we were, so I began to do my best to steer, or, to share steering.

My legs got tired from pedaling. Not just tired, but worn out. And I couldn't steer it all by myself and keep the balance of a bike with, in total, seven seats.

I did my best. I tried my hardest.

And I fell off the bike.

It hurt. It didn't just hurt me: everyone who fell off that bike got hurt, and we've each got our own unique wounds and scars from it.

Getting up from the fall, I found two new bikes. The first was like the one from earlier in my life, for one person; the second was just like that, but with five extra seats. Terrified, I took turns riding those bikes, always riding one or the other, learning new things with each ride, difficult things, things I didn't know existed. To be honest, I'm not sure how I didn't fall off one or both of those two bikes; at times I was sure I would. The cost of keeping those rides as smooth as possible was high, but I did what I had to do: I focused on riding those two bikes.

Many people around me were riding the kind of bike I had fallen from. I'd see them and wonder if I'd ever get on that kind of bike again. Sometimes I wondered with hope; other times I wondered while challenging previously held beliefs, trying to reconcile that my two new bikes would be mine forever, working on being okay with the exhaustion, seeing the benefit of such hard work, and being okay with the lessons I was learning. Concentrating on seeing the benefits of where I was rather than where I thought I'd be helped me steady my riding. And, very importantly, I learned lessons I wish I'd learned earlier about how competent a cyclist I can be-- just me, of my own merit, on these, or any, types of bikes.

While getting more comfortable with steadying my rides, I began to get to know someone who, I didn't realize at the time, was riding the same two types of bikes I was. We were fast friends, uncovering similar interests and things in common almost every day. A few weeks into this new friendship he started to tell me about his own experience falling off his previous bike, and about the bikes he was riding. His second bike didn't have as many seats as mine, but was similarly cumbersome in its own way. We had found another shared attribute, similar enough to empathize with and support one another, and different enough to help each other see new perspectives.

As our friendship developed we each continued riding our respective bikes. Together, we'd spend time riding our singular bikes, talking about how those rides affected us. One of us was more embarrassed than the other about having to ride that kind of bike at all (one of the scars from the fall), but we both took comfort in learning to ride side by side. We were surprised at and delighted with how much we enjoyed riding our bikes, though not connected, together.

Though the friendship grew stronger, there were tough times. Sadly, those times would sometimes include bike criticisms: pointing out that the other wasn't riding one or both of their bikes the best way, or expressing anxiety about each other's extra seats. Scars from our falls were emphasized, wounds reopened. There were even times when we each contemplated (even threatened) an end to our side-by-side rides.

But we didn't want to stop, so we didn't. We reminded each other to remember. We worked together. We strengthened each other. We both kept moving. And because we didn't stop, we didn't fall.

Eventually, it happened: while riding together, side-by-side, savoring the joy (maybe moreso because of the shared sorrows and subsequent shared ascents), we saw something and, together, paused.

And looked.

It's like nothing we'd ever seen before.

It's a bike. Built for two, but side-by-side, not front-and-back. And this bike isn't one where you can start from scratch, adding seats one-by-one, and slowly acclimate to the added weight. This bike already has eight extra seats, adult-to-child-sized, plus a permanent laceration from where a seat was removed, plus the current construction of a soon-to-be-added adult-sized seat. It also seems there will be seasons when some of those seats will be heartbreakingly empty; not everyone in those extra seats will want to ride.

This bike is ready-made for the kind of hard work only two people who want to make it work can do.

So that's what we're doing. We're not falling off our bikes this time, we're setting them down as we climb onto our new bike. Together. And we're doing it with intention and determination, and a commitment to keep strengthening each other and keep moving.

It will be simultaneously exactly like what we've been doing together for over a year, and also like nothing we've ever experienced before.

Just like riding a bike.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Tim Timmerman, Hope of America

A new film hits select theaters today, Tim Timmerman, Hope of America. I took a few of my kids to the premiere last night, it was a great event.

Three of my kids with Aaliyah Rose, who sings in the movie, and who went to middle school with another of my kids...and who you should maybe look for on The Voice

Last night wasn't the first time I had seen this movie; I went to a screening last week, too. This film has been on my mind for a while.

The story follows Tim Timmerman, high school senior in the fall of 1994 (hey! That's when I was a high school senior!), student body president (hey! I was student body president!), and all-around charming slacker (hey! I...). Tim has his sights set on winning the Hope of America Award as a way to achieve his Ivy League aspirations. His hijinks catch up with him, however, and, as I'm sure you can imagine, a measure of chaos ensues. Throw in a rival-turned-romantic interest, Pearl Jam, and a game called Assassin, and you've got a satisfying movie with some solid laughs and a bunch of feel-goods. 

Here's the thing: for being a Utah movie, I'm impressed. I both hesitate to mention, and am happy about, this being classified as a Utah movie. Many elements of it are universally enjoyable, like the '90s pop culture references; others I have to wonder about, like referring to Salt Lake Community College (SLCC, pronounced, 'slick,' locally) as having a reputation of being sub-par (no disrespect, SLCC, promise). Then again, maybe it translates, being a community college (no disrespect, community colleges, promise). I'd guess that joke gets a bigger laugh in Utah than elsewhere. 

My kids liked it. A lot. They like recognizing local places where film scenes take place. In fact, this morning, as soon as other kids got into my van for carpool, my kids began, "We saw this movie last night, it was so funny! It's called Tim Timmerman, and...." And one of my kids brought...what are these, pass-along cards?...with him to school today.

Overall, I like it. The cast and characters are strong (Andrew Caldwell's character got the most laughs from me), and the many story lines are wrapped up neatly. There are a few things I could have done without, like the creepy teacher and...well, I guess that's really the only one. I love that about 50% of the story is autobiographical for director Cameron Sawyer. But look at how we mid-'90s student body presidents are doing now! Flannel's back, and maybe, because of Tim Timmerman, we'll see a retro resurgence of Mazzy Star

Go see Tim Timmerman, Hope of America this weekend!

*This post, while honest and true, results in enough dollars in my wallet to feed my kids pizza for a couple nights. #spon

Monday, February 27, 2017

Theatre Nerds INDEED

Remember that time I told you about My Shot Working With Lemons?

Turns out, thought that video was great enough to include in their article Watch These Mind Blowing Musical Theatre Tribute Videos (where do they come up with this stuff?). And that's super cool.

Looking through the article (thanks, John, for posting it on my wall!) I was glad to see we're in good company-- Peter HollensEvynne Hollens, something called Vocal Point...  And THEN I saw who else was included and THAT'S FINE.

I'll take this as a win for being in the same article as Lin-Manuel Miranda and Audra McDonald and Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Jane Krakowski and James Corden.

You'll get that (P)EGOT, LMM. You'll get it yet. #JustYouWait