Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Best

Early in adulthood, I decided I wanted to be at home with my children. I didn't have any at the time, nor was I in a relationship that was leading to marriage, but I knew that's what I wanted and I knew it was what Heavenly Father wanted for me, too. My mom had been able to stay home with me an my sister and reflecting on what a huge benefit and blessing that had been to me, helped in making the decision.

I planned my life according to this decision. In choosing what to pursue as my undergraduate degree, I picked what I was good at and something that would potentially allow me to work from home if I needed to work after having babies. After working, serving a mission for the church, and working some more, I decided to go to graduate school. The program I picked and felt good about was only offered at a private school in DC, unless I wanted to relocate to another part of the country. This meant a lot of debt and time commitment but it was something I really wanted and, like with the earlier decision, knew Heavenly Father was pleased with this decision to further my education. I worried about my desire to be at home with children conflicting with the financial commitment and not wanting to just hand the debt off to some unknown future husband. But ultimately I felt excited about the program and that it would all just work out. I started classes and about 6 months later had a job that was in the field and offered complete tuition reimbursement for four of the six semesters of the program. This was a huge relief to me.

I also decided late in my mission that I wouldn't delay starting a family after I got married. Of course this was a decision for me and my future husband, but these two decision significantly impacted who I seriously dated. John agreed with me on both these decisions and they were what he wanted, too.

Despite making these decisions early in my life, I never imagined how difficult it would be to follow through on them. It hasn't been difficult to make the decision to be at home - that feels like the best decision I've ever made - but it has been hard to leave work behind. Over the past months, I've pondered on what life will be like after I stop working: what will I do with my days before the baby comes and after he comes; worries of being isolated; and so on. These concerns can't be fully resolved until those bits of my life happen, but I have been actively working to overcome them and to adapt and grow into the life that motherhood brings. I imagine loving it (and I hope this post will remind the future me of that at moments that I feel I don't). The rightness I feel about staying home helps me overcome these concerns, too.

I've been touched by the support I've felt from friends and colleages at work. To me, it has been unexpected how understanding everyone has been in a world where women are sometimes expected to be everything in every aspect of their life. I'm grateful to know that not everyone buys into that expectation.

I told one colleague a couple weeks ago that I would be staying home with my son. She is someone I have great admiration and respect for because of the things she has accomplished and her big heart. She didn't say anything at first, but she didn't have to. She looked at me like I was the most amazing person in the world. I was so touched. She hugged me, telling me that I had a very lucky baby. I told her I was a very lucky mom.

After this week, I will no longer be working. I wanted time to prepare for baby's arrival. The change is bittersweet, scary, and exciting, all at the same time. I am grateful to have the opportunity to stay at home with our son, to be supported by my husband and family and friends, and to be a mom.

Monday, September 17, 2012


Today marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam (or the Battle of Sharpsburg), fought during the Civil War. It was the single bloodiest battle in American history. 23,000 men were killed or wounded at that battle.

I am no Civil War buff (usually being more interested in the history of the Revolutionary War) and I didn’t actually know that today was the anniversary of the battle, until I heard this story on NPR this morning. It was amazing to listen to what happened and think about those that were killed or wounded, the choices the leaders made, and to remember my grandmother.

My grandmother wasn’t at the battle – her grandparents were infants at that time – but as the reporter talked about the battle I saw her. In my mind I saw in the darkness the outlines of the mountains that you have to go over to get from DC to Sharpsburg. I saw outlines of fields, shapes of fences and trees, and a darkened church. I saw lines of cars driving through the battlefield without headlights, the road lined with luminaries, one for each casualty. It was quite a sight.

On the first Saturday in December each year, volunteers set up and light these luminaries throughout the park to remember the battle and those that lost their lives. I went in 2007 with a group of friends. It is amazing to look at the luminaries that go on for what seems like forever. You think you can’t possibly ever reach the end. But you do and then the drive home becomes reflective and thoughtful.

(These pictures don’t do it justice.)

07 12 01 29307 12 01 29807 12 01 29907 12 01 300

It was after this evening, the next morning, as I was getting ready for church, that I found out that my grandmother had passed away. We had seen her the week before(how grateful I am we went to South Carolina that Thanksgiving) and while she wasn’t doing well, we didn’t expect her to be gone so soon. It was good that I was in a reflective mood from the night before so I could ponder on the plan of salvation that would enable me to see again one day.

In my mind, those luminaries and learning of grandma’s passing have melded into one event; I never remember one without the other. So this morning as I listened to the reporter and this afternoon as I listened to the host interview a photographer, my heart and mind were filled with my grandmother, memories, love, joy, and thousands of luminaries.