Friday, February 27, 2009

Female Rage

You know when someone is telling you her one-sided view of things and you almost cannot listen for the glaring red lights flashing "Selfish Brat" right over her forehead? An article on female rage in The Daily Mail gave me that oh-so-pleasant feeling today. Elizabeth Stewart, writing in a tone so shrill it made me want to reach through the paper and slap her, laments her state of suffering due to over scheduling and Helpless Hubby Syndrome.

She begins: "Last week I was woken at 2 am by the unmistakable sound of vomiting. For a foolish split second, I waited to see if my husband, Johnny, would get up to see to Grace, our three-year old daughter."

Ah, three seconds in, and she already sounds like a brat. Did she even consider asking her husband to get up to help their daughter? Um, no. She was too busy fuming over her husband's inability to read her mind in his sleep. And if he is anything like my husband, he probably slept through the whole thing for the simple reason that his daddy ears are not generally attuned to nighttime vomiting noises. Which is why, if I want help in the middle of the night, I wake my husband up.

But, I guess that would be a silly thing to do when instead you can whine about how horrible your husband is for not immediately waking and helping you load the washing machine. (She later admits that the reason she didn't wake her husband was because her daughter had fallen ill at daycare a few days before, and she was in meetings all day and missed the phone call with her daughter's plea for help, stranding the poor child to be sick away from home. And she felt guilty about that, so she took care of the vomiting episodes herself, and then complained about the fact that her husband wasn't helping her. Then, since she was already up she made dinner for the next day, because, hhmmmph... what else is one to do in the wee hours while her unhelpful husband is snoozing away and she wants to add to her list of things to complain about? Act like a martyr and make dinner, that's what).

The article grouses on and on - she's so persecuted, no time for herself (even interrupted by a phone call during a bikini wax, poor thing), so stressed out, husband so incompetent, she does EVERYTHING around the house, etc., etc. To balance the husband-bashing scales she occasionally throws in a little tidbit about how much she loves the man, apparently having missed the memo that women who love their husbands do not trash them in newspaper articles (or to anyone else for that matter - not friends, not mothers, no one). For example: "I adore my husband. But there are times I could cheerfully strangle him simply for having the luck to be born a man.”

Yes, how dare he have been born a man? The nerve!

It's no wonder her husband goes to bed early. He wants to avoid getting attacked by the she-beast he vowed to put up with.

She laments that she only has a job so her family can keep a roof over their heads. But then we read on to find out what that really means - she has a job to support her lifestyle, which includes a nanny and boarding school for their 13-year old son, whom she desperately misses and has to spend all sorts of time visiting to assuage her mommy guilt.

Shrill paragraph after shrill paragraph, she lays out ironclad proof of her own selfishness. Then she ends the article: “Recently, the Children’s Society published a report lambasting modern women for being too selfish to be good mothers. Are they kidding? I’d like to see the authors spend a week in my shoes. Most of my days are a near-precipice experience. I’m so close to the edge that I’m in a semi-permanent state of panic. I have a constant list of things I have to do running through my head like a stock market ticker-tape."

Um, is she kidding? How can someone possibly be so selfish without realizing it? If she feels she is working out of necessity, perhaps she should consider eliminating the nanny from her payroll and removing her son from the expensive, unneccessary boarding school so she can take care of her family the way she supposedly wants to. But of course she can't do that because she obviously doesn't trust her husband to provide for their family, because he is a helpless buffoon, in case you missed that already (but she adores him! Don't worry!).

She continues: "What must it be like to live without the tyranny of the list? To sink into a bath and not be mentally composing tomorrow’s agenda? What is it like to be a man and have nothing to think about but the task in hand?"

Oh, right, I forgot. Men, by nature, have nothing to worry about. Not work, not providing for a family, not dealing with an irrational, ungrateful wife. It's all lollipops and sunshine and daffodils for them.

"No wonder the vast majority of our great scientists, thinkers and artists are men. Think how much room they must have in their heads without all the domestic clutter their wives are taking care of."

No wonder the vast majority of our great scientists, thinkers and artists are men, if this is what "professional" women act like.

Honey, face the music and realize that YOU are the problem. The universe is not picking on you - you are making choices that have consequences, guilt over the family you are ignoring being one of them, and all the helpful husbands in the universe would not be able to change that one bit. Especially not the one who is eventually going to divorce you out of desperation to stop the self-righteous blather coming out of your mouth. And newsflash, he might actually be more helpful if you stopped treating him like a two-year old.

If I were her husband I would climb right back on that couch and pull a blanket over my head.

Honestly, female rage? More like female stupidity.

A Bad Day for Michael

Michael loves elevators. He loves to push buttons and hold the door for people getting on and off.

Well, apparently the elevator does not return the love. On Wednesday we had just come home from running errands and I stopped in the lobby to chat with the security guard. Someone had just come off the elevator, and Michael ran to get on. Right before the door closed he stuck his little hand in to catch it and the door closed on his hand. Thank goodness the security guard thought fast and hit the up button again so the door opened. (I was too busy panicking to think of that myself). Michael was so distraught. He kept sobbing "Manny! Manny!" and I couldn't figure out what he wanted until he said, "Manny, fix!" (Handy Manny is a cartoon character on the Disney Channel who fixes things, and I guess Michael thought Manny could fix his hand). Poor little guy. His hand is fine, but it was a little scary.

Then right before dinner he fell asleep on the couch, and woke up with a fever and chills.

One mostly-spit-all-over-mom dose of Tylenol and a Jamba Juice later, he was back to being his perky self. He remained perky until 10:00 at night and woke up happy as can be the next day, no worse for the wear except for the copious amounts of snot running down his face. Little kids are so resilient. If only a mother's heart could bounce back from trauma so easily.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

"Discount" Clothing

For anyone who feels like children's clothing costs too much, never fear: Kevin Federline (erstwhile spouse of Britney Spears) is coming to the rescue. Says Kevin: “You buy your kids a pair of True Religions, then they roll around in the dirt like kids do and a $200 pair of jeans is gone. With this economy, I’m looking to do something much more reasonable.”

There's just one small problem: any lunatic who spends $200 on a pair of jeans their child is going to outgrow in about thirty seconds cannot be trusted, for anything. And especially not to make "discount" children's clothing.

I have never spent more than $10 for a pair of jeans for Michael, ever. And I've never shopped at Walmart for jeans, either (not that there is anything wrong with that, but if I can get better quality for a Walmart price, I'll shop elsewhere).

Of course, I don't understand a lot of things about children's clothing, like why do toddler shoes cost more than mine? And who in the world buys dry-clean only sweaters for their infants? Have they actually met a baby? Because last time I checked, the only thing babies were good for was expelling bodily fluids from every available orifice, sometimes all at once. Who wants to be running cashmere jammies to the cleaners?

Apparently the people who are willing to spend $200 on a pair of jeans for their 2-year old, that's who.

Monday, February 23, 2009

And the Oscar Goes to...

In the history of the world, there has been no group of people more self-congratulatory than Hollywood. It seems a legitimate line of work nowadays to dress up in glamorous couture and pat oneself on the back twenty-seven times for one three-hour stint of mooning for the cameras. I'm not sure why I feel compelled to watch this collection of glitterati congratulating themselves for their moral superiority, particularly when I haven't seen a single movie up for "Best Picture", but I watch nonetheless. Besides, you have to admit, it's sort of cute to see these people comment on the recession as if it affects them, as they flit from awards ceremony to awards ceremony in their chauffeured cars, having their diamond-encrusted pie in the sky and eating it, too.

This year's highlights include highly unflattering what-is-she-wearing fashion offenses from Whoopi Goldberg and Jessica Biel, only one direct Mormons-are-haters comment from ex-Mormon award winner Dustin Lance Black (and several indirect comments, including an appearance by Bill Maher to tell us there is no God, or whatever, in case you missed his documentary), Hugh Jackman singing and dancing his way through what mostly looked like the Tony Awards (I'm all for that), and a few legitimately funny moments sprinkled throughout. Overall, I enjoyed it more than years past, although I could have done with a little less swooning over Barack Obama and a little less angry commentary on Proposition 8, but then, that's Hollywood for you.

And yet, the fact remains that no one has seen any of the movies that Hollywood is congratulating themselves for making, a pesky tidbit which Hugh Jackman gamely pointed out during his opening number. I suppose this is another symptom of that moral superiority again. We lowly types simply don't know what art is when we see it (or don't see it, as the case may be), so we have to be told by those in the know. Billion dollar box office juggernauts like "Dark Knight" couldn't possibly be worthy of Best Picture honors. We wouldn't know an academy award-worthy performance if it bit us on the nose (though public opinion seems to have swayed the Academy into awarding posthumous honors to "Dark Knight" star Heath Ledger, but he had his own death working in his favor). So we just have to nod our heads in confused "agreement" as the accolades are passed out honoring films about 36-year old women having affairs with 15-year olds. So touching.

Too bad there isn't an award for "Narcissist of the Year". Now that would be something to watch. Or how about "Most Charitable Star" - awarded to the most generous person based on charitable gifts as a percentage of income. (I mean, a $100,000 gift to charity may sound like a lot, but when it is one tenth of one percent of your income, maybe it's not so spectacular after all). Or how about "Best Dressed", or even better "Most Dressed", awarded to the person who manages to cover up the most body parts? And shouldn't the film with the biggest box office take get an award? I mean, the one person who saw "The Reader" may have liked it, but that's nothing compared to the millions who saw "Iron Man" or "Wall-E".

Ah, Hollywood, so in touch with the rest of us. Congratulations to all the winners. Who were they again?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Move Over Mozart

Do you think Mozart is great? How about Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, or Bach? Or modern composers like John Williams or James Newton Howard? Well, apparently these men have nothing on self-proclaimed rapper extraordinaire, Kanye West, who recently stated, "There's nothing more to be said about music. I'm the [expletive] end-all, be-all of music."

Yes, I'm sure Mozart would be impressed with West's repertoire of soaring symphonies and tuneful, emotionally moving compositions.

In the interest of fair reporting, I did a little research on Mr. West, as up to this point I've known him only as a rapper who is incapable of putting two words together without an expletive in between, and as someone who stormed the stage of the MTV Europe Music Awards when his video did not win a prize, interrupting the acceptance speech of the real winner and arguing that he should have won instead. (You can't make this stuff up).

Some quotable quotes, for your reading pleasure:

"People ask me a lot about my drive. I think it comes from, like, having a sexual addiction at a really young age."

In January, 2006, after appearing on the cover of Rolling Stone in the image of Jesus wearing a crown of thorns, he told a magazine "I throw up historical subjects in a way that makes kids want to learn about them... [I'm] definitely in the history books already."

"I have, like nuclear power, like a superhero, like Cyclops when he puts his glasses on."

"...I am one of the greatest rappers in the world. I'll get on a track and completely annihilate that track, I'll eat it and rip it in half. I wouldn't have to think of it."

"I realize that my place and position in history is that I will go down as the voice of this generation, of this decade, I will be the loudest voice. It's me settling into that position of just really accepting that it's one thing to say you want to do it and it's another thing to really end up being like Michael Jordan."

That great sucking sound you hear is the complete vacuum that surrounds such an ego. I apologize for subjecting you to the strangling feeling that accompanies it, but as my jaw is still resting on the desk, I thought these quotes were worthy of sharing. Mostly I'm just having trouble believing that someone could get to this point without his hugely-inflated head exploding. Who knew that narcissism could exist to such an extreme?

Is this our self-esteem culture gone awry? Individual parenting gone horribly wrong? Or is this just the natural result of gaining fame and fortune for all the wrong reasons? West does nothing but denigrate women, marriage, and family, has no respect for others, stomps on humility, kindness, and compassion, knows nothing about being a gracious winner or loser, and most of all just needs to have his mouth washed out with soap. He couldn't write a meaningful song to save his life. I can't even tell you the words to the "songs" he has written without having to clorox my eyeballs, my brain, and then my computer screen afterwards.

I would say Mozart is rolling over in his grave, but honestly, he and his composer friends are probably laughing their heads off. Either that or weeping over the sad state of music nowadays.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wii Can

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you have probably figured out that I hate exercising about as much as I hate having cavities drilled (well, actually, I think I hate exercise more than that, but only slightly less than I would hate being eaten to death by fire ants).

So, out of desperation to once again fit into our already oversized pants, David and I have caved in to family pressure (seriously, my parents bought a Wii) and ordered one for ourselves. I am actually, dare I say, excited to try it out. If I live through the shock of discovering my Wii Fit age to be 157, that is.

There is something slightly odd about buying a video game console for exercise. But if it gets me to work out, it will be a miracle akin to manna in the wilderness (and probably be just as boring and tedious, but hey, let's not press our luck into God sending us quail till it comes out our noses).

The Wii will probably tell me I am unbalanced elderly woman, but then, I guess I've always been mature for my age. It can't be worse than starving to death on weight watchers, can it?

Don't answer that.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Boy Who Cried "Potty!"

Michael has an arsenal of stall tactics that would put shivers down the spine of any four-star general. Recently added to this list is the equivalent of toddler gold - the call to go potty. What mother in the world wants to call this bluff, especially when training is going so well? Of course after three or four giggly five-second stints on the throne, it gets easier to ignore. But still, you hate to tell your child that he can't go potty when you just spent the whole day following him around with treats and stickers trying to make sure any attempts end up in the right place. Especially when this child has recently started removing clothing and diapers in favor of the breezy feeling of naked skin, and you don't want to find any deposits in dark corners. (Of course yesterday he peed in his potty, and then dragged the potty out to the living room where he slopped it down on the floor. Thanks, Michael).

I'm telling you, toddlers are too smart for their own good. Lately Michael has started asking sweetly, with a devilish sort of smile, to be sent to time-out during sacrament meeting. As time-out consists of standing in the corner facing the wall, we are usually willing to give in to his request. You have to feel bad for a kid who is so bored that some quality wall perusal time seems preferable to the toys and books he can have if he stays in the meeting.

Michael also enjoys a healthy amount of well-planned naughtiness. The other day I was brushing my hair and he was begging to have a turn. After prompting him to say, "Mommy, may I use your hairbrush, please?" I handed him my brush, glowingly proud of his parroting ability. "Thank you," he politely said, and plopped my hairbrush directly in the toilet. While most of our household goods end up getting rudely dunked at some point, Michael still manages to catch me off guard with this at times. Okay, so I'm a little slow.

Michael has endless energy to burn, so I often allow him to run next to me down the sidewalk when we aren't walking far. The only problem is that setting him free on the sidewalk immediately adds about twenty minutes to any outing. Every fire hydrant must be touched, every stair must be climbed up and jumped off, every wall must be examined, and every puddle must be attacked with a full-speed, two-footed leap. It is rather like walking a dog, only a dog is significantly more obedient to requests to stop, come, and sit.

Of course, having a toddler is also very fun. Michael has owies that are instantly healed with magical kisses, finds many things completely hilarious and is often helpless with laughter, takes delight in things like trains, buses, sirens, and elevator buttons, loves to play hide-and-seek and will scream with excitement each time he finds you, loves to say his prayers and sing the words to "I am a Child of God", and most of all, is an expert at reminding you why you still love him immediately after you have sworn to banish him to a desert island for the rest of his days.

Um, Michael just walked up to me with a tube of Desitin, which he had helpfully wiped all over his bottom (and who knows where else? I better investigate).

What was I just saying about toddlers and desert islands?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ariel Syndrome

Last night David and I went to see "The Little Mermaid" on Broadway. It was a fun show with great costumes and sets, and it was fascinating to see how they pulled off the whole underwater thing, "swimming" with the help of roller shoes and some cleverly done harness work.

But it brought to mind one of my pet peeves, which I will call "Ariel Syndrome" (not to be confused with, but closely related to, Tyrannical Wife Syndrome). Ariel Syndrome is the inability to see our current blessings because we are too busy telling ourselves we will only be happy "if". Ariel will only be happy if she's a human, you see. Never mind the fact that she has a wonderful life as the spoiled daughter of a King and the whole ocean as her playground. She wants something more. And she just can't be happy until she gets it.

So she goes about pursuing her goal the wrong way. She racks up a whole bunch of reasons for her father not to trust her, acting like an irresponsible, immature ditz, and then when he won't stand for her obsession with all things human, she seeks the help of the Sea Witch, Ursula.

Of course, this is a bad, bad idea. And Ariel seems to know it, but her longing for "happiness" silences any warning bells, and she signs a contract, turning her voice over to the Sea Witch in exchange for legs and three days to kiss the prince and live happily ever after.

For a time she seems to be doing well, nearing her goal with great haste and aplomb. Enter evil Ursula to make sure Ariel's lips never get anywhere near her royal dreamboat.

So Ariel loses her soul, her ridiculous father condemns his whole kingdom to slavery and misery to save his daughter (Kingly Points: 0), and all looks to be lost. In the movie, Prince Eric appears to save the day. In the stage musical, it is Ariel who does the job, quickly and tidily, and all is well.

In the end, King Triton sees that the human world is the best place for his daughter and performs the magic to allow her to marry the prince and live happily ever after. The interesting thing about this is that Triton had the power to give his daughter legs all along, but instead of listening to her father, abiding by his counsel, and proving herself and her maturity to be worthy of that gift, she goes about seeking it on her own terms and on her own timeline, putting herself and her father's entire kingdom in danger. Smooth, Ariel.

She thinks the only place she will be happy is on land. It doesn't matter what blessings she has in her current situation. The grass is greener, and she is determined to walk on it with her own two legs, no matter the cost.

I'm sure we all know someone with Ariel Syndrome. These are people who simply cannot be happy in their current town/job/marital status/parental status because it is not their idealized dream of how life should be. So they miss the wonderful opportunities and advantages that may be part of their current situation because they have convinced themselves that there is only one possible path to happiness, and that the map can't be found in a city, or at their current job, or without a husband, or without kids...

I personally know of more than one woman who refuses to be happy more than thirty feet away from her mother's apron strings, and has dragged her husband away from a good job where he can easily provide for the family to one that is less-fulfilling, pays less, and is not what he wants, all so she can run over and bake cupcakes with her mother whenever the urge strikes. And I've seen how these woman gripe, complain, and work themselves into a depression if they don't get their way.

The blessings these women miss out on are too numerous to list. And who knows but that they might have been happier if they had been willing to give their current situation a chance, plaster a smile on their face, and most of all, listen to something besides the frantic patter of their own selfish hearts?

After all, who is to say that Ariel would not have had everything she wanted - and more - if she had obeyed her father and appreciated all her blessings in the first place?

It's a tragedy when we give up all the blessings we have because we are convinced they are not the blessings we want. When we become too focused on that green grass, it's easy to miss the rainbow overhead.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez has admitted that he used "performance enhancing drugs", i.e., steroids, during from 2001-2003. He is one of many in a long string of baseball players who are coming clean (ha!) about their steroid use after their dirty laundry is aired, in this case by Sports Illustrated. Rodriguez says he did it because he needed to perform at such a high level. There is a lot of pressure when one is the top-paid baseball player, after all.

This comes directly on the heels of Jennifer Hudson's much hailed rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the Superbowl. Only trouble is, it turns out Miss Hudson's performance was lip-synced. Plenty of excuses are being made for her (and her fellow lip-syncer, Faith Hill), though, from "everyone does it (including Whitney Houston)" to "the producers made her do it" to "it would be too hard to sing live in a stadium". Nobody seems to be bothered by the fact that a "live" performance wasn't, in fact, live. You have to wonder what would have happened if a pack of hyenas had run across the stage mid-performance. Would her voice have continued ringing out the rocket's red glare?

I feel so cheated. Come on Jennifer, we all know your talent is spectacular enough to pull off a live performance. And many a concert has taken place in a stadium, presumably not all of them lip-synced. Of course it is nice to have a perfect performance, but I think fans would have a greater appreciation for a slightly flawed live performance than a perfect pre-recorded, studio-mastered one.

I have no doubt that both Rodriguez and Hudson feel tremendous performance pressure. But is it really better to receive undeserved accolades for your "enhanced performance" when you could have undoubtedly knocked it out of the park on your own, doing it the right way?

There is something wrong with the world when the only way to reach perfection is to cheat your way there.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Bigger is Better?

When her parents told Sheyla Hershey to "dream big" I'm not sure this is quite what they had in mind. The 28-year old Houston resident has gone under the knife nine times to enhance her breasts to a staggering size 38KKK.

The latest surgery required a full gallon of silicone.

Um, owwwwww.

She dumped her boyfriend (who had initially paid for her plastic surgery) when he began pleading with her to stop the silicone insanity. "I love him very much but I had to leave him to follow my dream," she said.

Dream of what? Never again having anyone look her in the eye? Not being able to fit through a door? Being mistaken for a blond pair of basketballs?

With that much silicone in your chest, wouldn't you be terrifically sore all the time? And worried about bumping into sharp corners?

And I thought the people who dreamed of climbing Mt. Everest were nuts.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Growing Up

Proof that my little boy is not so little anymore.


There comes a time when you suddenly realize you are not the only person having an influence on your child. Parroting of his toddler friends aside, the first time I noticed this was when Michael developed an obsession with Elmo. I can't remember where we were, but he pointed out a picture of the Muppet and exclaimed "Elmo!" David and I exchanged did-you-teach-him-that looks, and both shrugged, bewildered as to where he would have learned this information. (It turns out nursery was the culprit there. They have a stuffed Elmo that Michael likes to play with).

It is sort of a scary and humbling thing to realize that other people are having an influence on your child. And it makes me grateful that I get to be a stay-at-home mom and don't have to entrust the care of my son's information-sponge brain to a nanny or day care provider. Most of the things he knows he learned from me.

But just to remind me my reach is limited, at the park the other day I went to take a picture of him. "Smile, Michael!" I said.

He grinned from ear to ear and said, "Cheese!"

Where in the world did he learn that?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

14 Fatherless Children

Far be it from me to comment on someone else's reproductive decisions (ha ha, who am I kidding?), but the recent birth of octuplets to Nadya Suleman, already a single mother to six children, was a story I couldn't ignore, though I wish I could.

It took a few days for the Suleman family to admit that Nadya had sought fertility treatment (as if that wasn't glaringly obvious). And then it came to light that she had actually been through IVF, and had eight embryos implanted. If that is truly the case, who was the fertility specialist who performed the procedure? They should be stripped of their medical license and no longer allowed to practice. No self-respecting doctor with even the slightest concern for a patient's well-being would ever implant eight embryos. Ever. Especially not in a woman who is already the mother of six children's worth of successful IVF attempts. What this doctor did is simply inexcusable.

But if we want to talk inexcusable, let's talk about the mother. Ms. Suleman is an unemployed, single woman who, according to reports, broke up with her boyfriend before the birth of her first child. She describes herself as a "professional student", which is another way of saying that she doesn't have any way of caring for her children. Nadya's mother, who currently cares for the first six children (all of whom were conceived by IVF), says her daughter is obsessed with having babies.

Well, that's great. She likes having babies. Perhaps she should ditch the birthing and start becoming obsessed with how's she's going to care for the children she already has. Which I suppose, in a way, she is. Now that she has produced octuplets, she is looking to media deals with the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Diane Sawyer to pay the bills.

I hope they ignore her completely. This woman does not deserve the time of day. (If you think I'm cruel for ignoring the welfare of the children, don't get your knickers in a twist. I'm sure they will be plenty well cared for by our tax dollars).

But the question is, how in the world does a single mother of six children she can't provide for walk into a fertility clinic and convince a doctor to implant eight embryos? And how in the world is she paying for these procedures in the first place? At $14,000 a pop, how can she possibly afford this?

It is disgusting that anyone could be so selfish. And disgusting that a doctor was willing to assist her in her quest to produce a coachless football team.

Stories like this make me furious because they give fertility treatment a bad name. As someone whose life has been profoundly blessed by fertility treatment, it angers me even more. I truly believe that procedures like IVF are gifts from God - if they didn't exist, I would not be a mother. So to see women like Nadya Suleman making a mockery of them is maddening.

This is the ultimate trashing of a divine gift. To seek fertility treatment as a single woman, deliberately depriving any resulting children of a father, is selfish and deplorable. To do it over and over again, resulting in 14 fatherless babies you can't support, is, well, evil.

What is the world coming to?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

What Goes Around Comes Around

Ah, sweet, sweet irony.

You may remember that Vice President Biden had a laugh at the expense of Chief Justice John Roberts for his fumbling of the Presidential Oath of Office.

It turns out, administering an oath is not as easy as Biden may have thought. He did a little fumbling of his own while swearing in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a mock ceremony Monday. Even while using note cards. Apparently his memory could use a little help as well.

Ha! Serves him right!

Somewhere John Roberts is smiling.

Monday, February 2, 2009

No Small Callings

In The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, the young cast of a church nativity play is told that there are "no small parts, only small actors". As a kid, I was with the narrator in thinking that this was the most ridiculous statement ever made. You can certainly have a nativity play without a baby angel, but you can't have one without someone to play Mary.

But now, as an adult, I am finally beginning to understand what this statement means. Of course there are parts that are more important, and more essential to the whole, but every single part is important in its own way. And sometimes it is the smallest part that ends up being the most important.

I have seen this firsthand as my son reached nursery age. Being the stubborn, velcro-child he is, he was not pleased with the idea of his mom and dad trying to leave him with friends, toys, snacks and activities so they could go to Sunday School. This resulted in several extremely stressful months of trying to help him adjust to nursery class. Knowing his stubborn personality as I do, I just knew that he needed to be allowed to cry it out for a few weeks in order to adjust, which was an impossibility at the time.

So when we moved to NYC, I prayed and prayed that Michael would have a nursery leader who would be willing to help him by letting him have a few weeks of tears. When we arrived it was with great trepidation that we left him for his first nursery class. I explained the situation and asked them to keep him as long as they could handle it. They seemed willing to try it out, and I left, a bundle of nerves, my head jerking to check the classroom door every time it opened, just sure it would be a screaming Michael.

The first Sunday he made it one hour. The second week he stayed the whole two hours in nursery. Within a month he was only crying when we left him, and occasionally for a few minutes here and there when something would distress him. Within two months he was going to nursery without any tears at all. And yesterday he actually asked, "Nursery? Play?" toward the end of sacrament meeting, excited about going to play with toys.

I swear I could hear a choir of angels singing the Hallelujah Chorus.

His teachers have been so helpful, and so willing to see his progress that each week they noted his improvement and made sure to tell me how much better he was doing. Even amidst the tear-filled weeks they seemed excited to see him, put their arms around him and told him how happy they were to have him in nursery, and made sure to let us know he was doing great and would be settled in in no time.

These nursery leaders may feel like they have small callings and that their job is nothing more than babysitting, but I know better. These women are angels on earth who showed me that my son has a loving Heavenly Father who cares about him, and cares about me.

I used to leave church every week in tears, at a loss as to what to do. Attending my Sunday meetings became very stressful for me during those few months. But now I practically skip down the block on the way home as my son tells me he had "fun" in nursery class. Words can't express how much gratitude I feel toward these women, and toward my Father in Heaven for answering my prayers.

It just goes to show that there are no small callings - especially not callings to be in charge of baby angels.