Sunday, May 24, 2009

Will's First Day of Nursery (three weeks ago)

photo taken on his first day, during Sacrament meeting.

Me: Can you believe that Will is going to be 18 months already? The time has gone so fast. He is growing up way too quickly . . . (lost in nostalgia way out of proportion to event)

Brig: Poor nursery workers.

I stayed with Will for the first half hour before sneaking out. I kept waiting for someone to bring my tear-stained baby to me during R.S., but nobody ever did.

As I was typing about how Brave he was and how he Shed Not a Tear, Brigham informed me casually, "Oh yes he did. A lot of tears." But they never brought him to me! Off-handedly, (his characteristic tone--even when he is making plea arrangements with defendants, I am sure) "That's because we have really good nursery leaders."

And we do.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Home sellers after my own heart

One of my past times, when I am not reading the final words of victims of airline disasters or re-reading Harry Potter for the millionth time, is looking at homes for sale (online) as if I were in a position to buy one right away. (I look both here and Salt Lake; I think I could be an agent.)

Anyway, today I came across a for sale by owner turned sale by agent. After the "agent remarks" on the house that included all the technical details, the owners inserted their own paragraph. The photos they posted featured them with their fellow white-haired companions, eating lunch on the back deck on a warm fall day. They are the only people to have owned the home and they raised their kids there. (I know this from their previous craiglist posting, which also had pulled on my heart.)

We feel it is a terrific place for the right family. It is secluded right in a 1/3 acre lot subdivision, yet such excellent access. When we moved in, the lots were virtually bare; now there are giant tress all around. The back yard is great for kids and adults. We had a wedding back there two years ago. The couple are professional photographers and they took the pictures for our web site. I hope you have checked it out Of course, the deck is an added bonus. There are great views to the front, cul-de-sac and surrounding homes with their colorful landscaping, plus a complete panorama of the back yard. The deck is as handy to serve a meal as the dining room. We have eaten probably 75 % of our breakfasts and dinners out there since April 1st.. It has been plesant even on these very hot days-especially in the morning! This has been a great year for the birds-lots and lots of them, singing and looking for food. We had a beautiful Cardinal couple that ruled the roost out back. They built a nest in the tree under our box bay window and started a family. The egg lasted only a few days; imagine our disappointment.

I want to have them over for dinner. Andrew can show them the bird feeder we made.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

"This Is For All You Mothers Out There!"

A few weeks after Will was born, the kids and I went to my Mom and Dad's house for a little visit. Andrew had been having a rough adjustment to having a baby in the house and being apartment-bound because of said new brother was not this 2 year old's style at all. Going for walks down my parents' dead-end road and adjoining bike trail was still one of our very favorite things to do and seemed to me to be called for at the moment.

I put tiny Will down for a nap in the guest room and took Andrew out. We were on the way back to my parents' house, taking our time to investigate every mud puddle and rock that called Andrew's attention, when I saw my dad come running up the road toward us, clutching an enormous bundle of down comforter. Lost somewhere inside was Will; I could hear him crying.

"I tried to calm him down and then your mom tried, but he just got madder and madder," my dad explained.

I took him from my dad and he immediately stopped crying. Initially I thought he may have finally succumbed to heat stroke (I think it was pretty warm out and that down comforter was just simply ridiculous). By the time I carried him back to the house, he was asleep in my arms.

And I had a thought.

My baby did not seem to have any particularized reason for crying. He was not hungry, he was not tired; he simply wanted to be held. But not by anyone. He wanted to be held by his mother.

Just like his two year old brother wanted to go for a walk, but not with just anyone, this brand new baby knew to whom he belonged and that was the only person with whom he wanted to be.

There is so much discussion of "quality time" and so much concern over what we should be doing as moms and how we should be doing it. That is perfectly appropriate, as our time should be spent in quality ways and it is often not easy to know how to handle the various situations that arise in parenthood.

But in the final analysis, as this little memory serves to remind me, all of the caring acts that comprise the daily ministrations of parenthood--diaper changing, bathing, shaking little toys in a baby's face, picking a child up from school, even--all of these simple acts that are so easy to denigrate as things that anyone could do, are not things that just anyone can do. Not, at least, in the eyes of the child. The fact that it is his mother that is doing them makes all the difference in the world to him. And to me as a mother. Perhaps the biggest mistake we can make as mothers is simply not being there to do those things, those simple, sometimes boring and taxing, things.

Realizing this makes me feel simultaneously more and less guilty about the job that I am doing as a mom. But motherhood, like anything else, is all about balance and common sense. We know we cannot and should not dote every moment on our children, and they do not need, may not want and should not receive every ounce of our attention and participation in their play, and every mother needs a break and should not feel guilty for taking one.

It is to say, however, that we need to seize this short day of our early motherhood. It all passes so quickly. I am already nostalgic for my children's earlier stages. In two years, Andrew will be spending more (waking) hours at school than at home. Maybe mothering a baby and small child is the most critical opportunity for us to lay the foundations for our bonds with our children. Children will spend their lives growing more and more independant of us, as is our job to teach them to be.

Though our job can be described as teaching our kids to no longer need us, the emotional bond we forge continues forever. One of my more macabre activities of late is reading black box recordings of airline disasters. In one of the recordings a member of the crew, knowing he was about to die and that there was a black box to transmit his final message, called out: "I love you, Mom."

Motherhood is about giving yourself away to the tiny people that we invite into our lives, who pay us back in double.

Thanks, Mom, for exemplifing this for me. Love is a home-made Egg McMuffin sandwich kept warm in a tin foil envelope by the front door at 6 am. And drawing smiley faces on little toes.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

The Rule of Law?

Now that Justice Souter has graced us all with stepping down from the bench, my thoughts have turned back to the issue that made the 2008 election one that I believed would create a legacy that would extend into the lifetimes of my kids: the make-up of the Supreme Court. (btw, I have since come to realize that most of what our President has done will create a legacy from which our country may never recover and for which our kids will, literally, be paying $$.)

Obama voted against Chief Justice Roberts' (one of the most respected legal minds of his generation) confirmation with some mincing and hand-wringing about justices needing to involve themselves personally and on an emotional level in the cases before them, and that their decisions be guided by their sense of empathy.

That sounds like ok advice for a mother in determining an appropriate response to a wayward kid, but not for someone whose sworn office it is to simply interpret the Constitution. Where is the rule of law in this "judicial" philosophy?

When I came across this from Ramesh Ponnuru today, I could not resist reposting it here. (And if you are not reading the corner, you should be.)

In 2007 then-presidential candidate Barack Obama explained how he would pick federal judges: "We need somebody who's got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it's like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old. And that's the criterion by which I'm going to be selecting my judges."

Note that the "empathy" Obama has in mind does not extend to black inner-city schoolkids who would like options beyond their failing schools . . . or small-business owners, or homeowners, all of whom have interests in Supreme Court litigation. Or, needless to say, unborn children: Obama made his remark at a Planned Parenthood event.

When President Obama says that he wants judges to have "empathy," what he means is that he wants judges who are political liberals—and who allow their politics to influence their judicial decisions. Isn't that what his quote really demonstrates?

Also, I would just like to say that I love George Will again (I was dismayed by how critical he was of Bush and McCain--wasn't the liberal press already on top of that?) and came across this oldie but goodie from him ("goodie" is hyperlinked to the article, which you should read!). I love that he even gets to the subject of how one-sided the "compassion" in this "liberal compassion" theory is.

Steven Calabresi, a law professor at Northwestern, had this response to Obama's judicial philosophy:
On this view, plaintiffs should usually win against defendants in civil cases; criminals in cases against the police; consumers, employees and stockholders in suits brought against corporations; and citizens in suits brought against the government. Empathy, not justice, ought to be the mission of the federal courts, and the redistribution of wealth should be their mantra.

In a Sept. 6, 2001, interview with Chicago Public Radio station WBEZ-FM, Mr. Obama noted that the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren "never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society," and "to that extent as radical as I think people tried to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn't that radical."

Every new federal judge has been required by federal law to take an oath of office in which he swears that he will "administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich." Mr. Obama's emphasis on empathy in essence requires the appointment of judges committed in advance to violating this oath. To the traditional view of justice as a blindfolded person weighing legal claims fairly on a scale, he wants to tear the blindfold off, so the judge can rule for the party he empathizes with most.

And with the Left's success in blocking Bush's appointments to the vacancies in the federal district and appellate courts, Obama will have ample grounds in which to plant judges who will decide cases on the basis of their political empathies rather than on what the law actually says.

I know so many, many people who went from supporting Mitt Romney to voting for Obama, a(n) (il)logic I cannot fathom. But I would be very interested in hearing someone out there defend our President on all of this.