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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Challenges and Opportunities

This picture of my daughter is from her Christmas concert. My grandmother would be very proud of the lady-like way she's sitting. Grandma always sat like that.

My dad and his friends were having a discussion once about how if you look deep enough into someone's life, ANYONE can look like they live in a soap opera. They then proceeded to swap stories from their own lives, each trying to one-up each other with their personal life dramas. My dad sat quietly and listened (as he often does) and then eventually said "I have a nephew that used to be my niece."

He won.

Him telling me this story stunned me as well because I had apparently missed that important bit of family news. It seems one of my cousins had had a sex change since the last time I'd seen her him.

Up until 2007, my life was pretty even keeled on the surface. I was struggling with a pretty major issue, but it was the same consistent issue I'd been dealing with for 6 years. It was something I kept very private, so all people saw of me was this stable, strong woman. And I WAS that stable, strong woman for the most part. While my personal challenge was, honestly huge, it was just something I dealt with. I had learned how to be strong and to be a supportive source to those around me.

And then my life fell apart.

Since then, chaos has become a constant part of my life.

I have had repeatedly MASSIVE and varied issues that have occurred over and over. The vast majority of my friends that I talk to on a regular basis came into my life after 2007 and never knew me as that stable, even-keeled person with the calm life. They know the one who has dealt with the death of her sister and her step-father, the loss of now two babies, a traumatic birth experience with her son, major financial trials, major family health issues, and even the death of many beloved pets.

I only hope that I still manage to show that I am the stable, strong woman I used to be - even amid all the chaos.

I have had to accept that people do view my life as a soap opera. It drives me absolutely insane because I know what I have thought about people in my past who had chaotic lives. Most of them were drama queens who blew small things out of proportion. I really hope that I have managed to go the opposite direction - downplaying rather than over-dramatizing the major issues and showing that I can cope.

Because honestly, through it all, I still feel an immense amount of joy and the feeling that I have been greatly blessed.

I have a wonderful husband who loves me dearly and is an amazing father to our children. I have an incredible mother who is my best friend that I can talk to about literally everything. I have two beautiful children who overwhelm me with love and pride. I have great friends who cry with me and laugh with me. I live in a wonderful little community where I feel welcome and included. I have a beautiful old home full of great historical features and some interesting quirks.

And I have my faith.

That is the thing that has gotten me through all my trials with a smile on my face and strength in my heart.

I've never come right out and said on my blog before that I'm a Mormon. I have kept it out mostly out of a sense of anonymity, but I always hoped that I said enough that people wouldn't be surprised to hear me say that. My faith and my beliefs are my guiding force in my life. They are the reason I can even get out of bed on those days when the trials in my life overwhelm me.

Like I said, I live in a small community. My little town is in a state with a very low population of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the full name of our church. "Mormon" is a nickname based on our added scripture The Book of Mormon). What that means is that the majority of the people in my town are Lutheran or Catholic. My children and I are the only Mormons here (Surfer Pirate isn't a member). We drive an hour away to get to church on Sundays.

It's a challenge. But it's worth it.

Meanwhile, it's led to some difficult challenges for Pirate Munchkin. The vast majority of her friends all attend a religion-based activity on Wednesday nights. I have allowed her to attend with her friends a couple of times. I looked through the book for the lessons they teach there with an open mind. I wasn't surprised to discover that there are some differences between the teachings in their book and the things I believe. (We Mormons are admittedly different in what we believe.) Some people would say the differences are minor and I should let her go anyway because that's where her friends are. But to me, the few difference there are are pretty major, and I believe 7 is too young to have to try and sort through what's being taught on Wednesdays versus what she's learning at church and at home.

But that's really hard for her. She feels like she's missing out not doing the same things that her friends are.

Yesterday, the subject came up again. In the process of how things went, I was feeling very discouraged and like I was the Mean Mom in town.

As I usually do when I'm frustrated and need to vent, I called my very wise mom. She helped me come up with a Plan! Starting next week, on Wednesday afternoons, we're going to start having our own religion based activities. She will get to play fun games on our church website, we'll do crafts and we'll have lessons teaching her more about the beliefs I hold so dearly. The focus will be making learning about our faith a fun and enjoyable thing.

That way, she won't feel so bad about missing out on what her friends are doing, and in the process, she will learn more about the beliefs that have been such a strength in my life.

Now I just need a fun name for it. Any ideas?


B. said...

What a great idea! I'm not creative enough to help out with a name for it though.

We've been neglecting Sunday School here because I don't feel like he's learning anything useful, but he is learning bad behavior from the other kids because the teacher has NO control over them (especially his own daughter). I had him bring home his workbook, but it's so vague that I've not really been doing much for him. I never thought about games and computer games and such to help teach. I might try that too. :-)

I love the picture, btw!