Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Glorious Symbol of Motherhood

Twice a week, I and six other widely assorted people gather for a Spanish class. Our teacher is really great--she's always well-prepared and very patient with our mistakes. (Although last week she just about gave us all heart attacks when she told us she had invited *real* Spanish-speakers to come talk with us.) Anyway, I've been wanting to write about this incident from class for a while...

A couple of weeks ago our teacher asked us all to come to class the next time prepared to talk about our jobs. As part of this assignment, we also needed to bring one object that symbolized our jobs. A nice fellow student in her 40's swiftly commented, "Oh, so like if you're a mom you could bring a diaper!" "Si," said our teacher. (Upon which I process for a minute...Ah yes, the diaper, glorious symbol of motherhood!

Now, I will not deny that being a mom means dealing with poop. Moms deal with literal and figurative crap from their children quite a bit. In fact I will boast here that at least the literal variety of defecation doesn't really phase me anymore, as long as it's coming from my own children. But would I choose a DIAPER to represent my career choice? Absolutely not! A POOP RECEPTACLE is not an appropriate symbol for MOTHERHOOD.

In fact, just before this incident happened, I had just written down some of my motherhood goals to give more purpose to my life.* Nowhere on my list was anything relating to diapers. So...what did I bring? I chose to bring a pack of ABC flashcards. Then in class, in my best Spanish, I explained how I am a teacher. I am a teacher because I am mother. I teach my children many things. I teach them reading, writing, cooking, and to speak Spanish. I teach them about morality, finances, gardening, to enjoy nature and traveling and about various school subjects. At times, my job is difficult, but it's also interesting and rewarding. And that's where my vocabulary ran out.

I like being a mom. It's not my whole life, but right now it's a lot of it. And it's not a poopy job.

*My Motherhood Manifesto

Teach them to love books
Teach them to love learning
Teach them to love the outdoors
Teach them to work hard
Teach them to eat healthy
Teach them to handle finances well
Teach them another language
Teach them to love the scriptures

Monday, January 6, 2014

Book Club Blues

I love my library. I love that it's 90 seconds from my house. I love that it's pretty and huge. I don't love the librarians, but the children's librarians don't seem to hate kids, so that's a nice start. Anyway...my friend is starting up a book club. I love books. I love getting together in small groups. I would probably love a book club. And yet, at the thought of joining a book group, (club sounds so 12-year-old-ish to me, like the Babysitters' Club), what do I do? I panic. Is joining a good idea? Can I handle a once-a-month commitment? Are the other members going to be a bunch of crazy conservatives? (I can't remember if this is the friend who compared Obama to Hitler on Facebook.) Is this club going to be an excuse to snoop around each others houses and impress each other with our snacks and feel bad about ourselves when we don't compare well? What if no one likes the book I pick?
Me, I mean. Why am I such a worrier? Tonight I went to the first session of a Spanish class at the local rec center. I haven't been to a real class in a while, so last week I was stressing. What if the teacher is scary, what if I can't remember any Spanish, what if I'm the only one there and it's awkward, etc. Then I took some time for a re-think. I love learning. I love the first day of class when the teacher talks about logistics. I love a clean notebook and a fresh pencil. I really want to learn Spanish.
This is called "shaping your narrative." The way we tell stories about what has happened, is happening, or is about to happen changes the effect of those happenings. For example, the other day my siblings and I were up at my parents' house talking about epic road trips, in particular the epic-ly bad family road trips we have been on. These included trips with puking, portable toilets, leaving the vehicle to try and hitchhike home, gross hotel rooms, being rained out of camping at 3 a.m. and spending the next day sitting in a laundromat, etc.
We could have told these stories with a conclusion that family road trips are a bad idea and we will never do them with our own children. But we shaped our narrative with a humorous twist, and as a result, fondly look forward to similar character-building experiences with our own kids. (I think.)
So back to the Spanish class, I shut down my worrying. I changed my story from "Lady who hasn't been to school in a while timidly attempts to learn" to "Lifelong student gets chance to pursue passion."As I admitted to my husband, I was walking down the hall to Spanish class and had these frantic last minute thoughts of "Why did I think signing up for this was a good idea? I don't like new things. I would be happy never trying a new thing in my life," but it turned out really well. The teacher was a nice woman, not a pretentious know-it-all RM, the class had six students, the perfect size for me, and I was one of the better speakers there so I didn't feel dumb!  
I read somewhere recently that as immortal souls, we fear becoming stagnant. Motto for the new year: I will try new things!