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BYU Women's Conference!

26 April 2013
It's that time of year again! BYU Women's Conference approaches. I am so excited. I love attending every year. This will be my fourth year in a row and my fifth year overall. Every year I learn something new and something I desperately need. Every year I have a great experience, make new friends, and feel closer to my Heavenly Father. And every year, I get a little glimpse at my divine potential (which somehow manages to stay hidden from me pretty well the rest of the time, darn it.)

Check out who I met last year! This is Rosemary Wixom, current President in the General Primary Presidency! (I was a little starstruck, but she was so sweet. It was so cool to meet her.)

Rosemary Wixom and Me

I'm a little sad, because I have been able to volunteer as a hostess at Women's Conference every year since 2009. This will be the first year that I attend as a "regular person" and not as a volunteer. Volunteering in the past has been the highlight of my year more than once. I love serving the wonderful attendees and making friends with my fellow hostesses. I hope I can help those around me this year anyway, even if it's not in an official capacity. And I hope someday, I will get put on a permanent volunteer list so I don't have to harass BYU to let me volunteer every year!

Are you going to Women's Conference? What classes are you planning on attending? Are you as excited as I am?

Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way for this post. I just freakin' love Women's Conference so much I had to spread the word on my own tiny corner of the Internet.

Completion

23 April 2013
It's official! I finished my final final today and with that, my first semester on BYU campus draws to a close.

I'm both thrilled and devastated. I can't lie. I've bawled more than once over the fact that the semester is over. I won't get to see some of my friends again, or have classes with them, or take classes from at least 2 of my teachers ever again. That sucks.

But I'm also SO EXCITED. I. Did. It. I didn't know if I could handle school. I didn't know if I could do the anxiety and the people and the pressure and the work the homework the WORK and the tests and the quiz and the AWFUL QUIZZES OF NIGHTMARES. While also trying to raise a Sparrow and keep a Hawk happy.

But. I. Did.

It's funny, because the class I thought I would love (Critical Literary Theory) I turned out to not like very much at all. It was too abstract and not enough practical application for me. The class I thought I would hate (Linguistics, which was super hard at the beginning) I ended up really enjoying and even being fascinated by some of the subject matter. I'm even considering going a bit further in Linguistics, possibly even changing over to the English Language major.

It doesn't actually matter so much what I get my degree in. My goal is just to get a degree. I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up, but the dream I've had my whole life is to be a writer, so that's the general area I am aiming toward. But I'm also now considering getting my Master's in Library Science. Because it would be so cool to be a librarian.

One of my grades posted today. In my Doctrine and Covenants (religion) class, I got 121/130 possible points. Which means I got a 93% overall, which is either an A or an A-! The only reason I was able to get this grade is because my teacher took serious pity on me and allowed me to retake one quiz. Just retaking that quiz brought my grade from a B to an A. It was a very hard class though - people think religion courses are easy peasy, but I found out that that's not necessarily the case. The quizzes for D&C were the hardest quizzes I took in any class this semester, and there were 6 quizzes.

I could go on about this for years, but I'll just end by saying: This was one of the highlights of my life, and I am so, so glad Hawk didn't let me drop out. I can't wait for fall semester to start!

photo (5)

In defense of Isabella Dutton, the mom who regrets her kids.

19 April 2013
A few weeks ago, the Daily Mail posted an article about a mother who says having children is her biggest regret. Holy pants, the uproar that this caused. So many people saying that Ms. Dutton is the worst woman in the world, that she's a selfish, useless woman who should be shot for feeling this way. (I'm paraphrasing here. It's not like I read all 18K comments.)

I'm here to defend Ms. Dutton.

I understand exactly how she feels.

This is one of those things that it's so hard to talk about, because I'm sure I'll get trolled and people coming out of the woodwork to tell me I'm the second most horrible person in the world. For years, Sparrow was my biggest regret. Up until he was 3.5, I hated being a parent. I do not have the mothering gene. I just don't. I've never been interested in kids. I don't like them. I spent my whole life just knowing that I would never be married and I would never have kids, and I was okay with that. I like to say that Hawk ruined my life in the best way possible - he totally turned my Life Plan upside down and I love him for it. I love being married, and the older Sparrow gets, the more I enjoy parenting.

But those first 3 years were Hell. I hated every minute of my life. I didn't want anything to do with my son. I didn't like him. I wasn't a good Mom. I'm still not a great one. I'm doing better, but it's taken a lot of work and prayer to get here. And a lot of Sparrow growing up. And a lot of medication.

The thing is, this isn't something you can talk about freely. If you don't like your kid, you are Satan incarnate. How dare you dislike being a parent when there are so many people out there who can't have children. How dare you dislike this "little blessing." God forbid you try to get help - you'll be looked at like you're a monster. And then your therapist will report you to Child Protective Services. I know this, because it happened to me. I tried so hard to get help for my feelings and I was reported to the authorities because of it. Way to teach a person that they should keep their feelings locked up inside and never, ever try to get help.

Hawk knows I have felt this way. I've told him about it before. But he doesn't know what to do about it, and neither did I. We've just kept plugging along. Ironically, even though I hated being a parent, I didn't want to farm Sparrow out to preschool while I worked. It takes a LOT of guts to keep your child, to stay home with him even though you're miserable every minute of every day. It's hard. It would have been easier for everyone had I given him up, whether for adoption or for preschool. But I didn't. Mostly because my family would have disowned me, but also because I wanted to prove to myself that I could do this thing. I do want to be a good mom. I want to, but that doesn't mean I am. So I stayed home with him to try to fix myself, I guess.

For the people who say "you focus too much on yourself," I work my pants off with this kid. I think about him all the time, trying to figure out what I should do with him today, what we should work on this week, whether he should stay on medication, what school I should send him to, how I can help him to gain weight, how I can keep him happy, how I can teach him what he needs to know in the next 13 years I have with him, what activities to enroll him in, whether he needs X, Y or Z, what he will enjoy doing next...etc etc etc. It's not about not focusing on yourself, because I don't. My biggest focus is him and how I can be good for him.

In the article, Ms. Dutton says that her adult daughter has multiple sclerosis and now lives with her parents, requiring full time care. Does a horrible, selfish woman allow her daughter to do that? How much easier would it be to send the daughter to a full time care facility? To me, this shows that Ms. Dutton isn't the worst person in the world, despite her shortcomings.

Kids are hard. They are kind of little parasites. It's so much easier to just give up and send your child to the state or to daycare and ignore them all the time. A person who fights to raise their child anyway, despite their own shortcomings, is a brave person. A good person.

I am glad Ms. Dutton published her article. Because if nothing else, now I know I am not alone. I am not the only one who feels like parenting is kind of the worst job ever. Thank goodness. I wish that this could be more of an open thing for people to talk about. But I doubt that admitting that you don't like your kid is ever going to be socially acceptable. And that's okay - but there should be better support systems and help in place than just getting sold out to DCFS.

I'm also really glad that Ms. Dutton mentioned that she breastfed her kids. I tried so hard to breastfeed Sparrow and I thought for sure that the reason I sucked as a parent was because I missed out on that crucial bonding. Now I know that even if I had been able to breastfeed, I might have still felt this way (and probably felt even more guilty about it in the meantime.)

I do love my kid. Now that I have worked my pants off to be a better mom, I am doing better at it. I like parenting a lot more than I did 4 years ago. The older Sparrow gets, the more I like this job and the more I love him. But it's still hard, and there are still days when I wish I had never procreated. At least now it's only about once a month rather than once every hour.

So thank you, Isabella Dutton, for having the guts to say something about your feelings. Thank you for letting me know I am not alone. Thank you for making me feel like a better person (because while she admits that she never liked her kids, at least I'm at the point where I love mine!)

I love my life. It took me a long time to get to this point. It took me a lot of struggling and massive amounts of prayer. And also medication (God bless modern medicine.) I would not trade Sparrow for anything. I would not trade where I am now for anything, not even my pre-marriage dreams of living alone in a cabin in the woods with a horse and a wolf-dog. But getting to this point where I am happy every day took a hell of a lot of work, tears, praying, counseling, talking, venting, more tears and more praying. I wish I had been born with the Mothering Gene and I wish I could have enjoyed and loved Sparrow from the first moment on. I hope I can make up for my shortcomings, though, by continuing to work at it and by being the best Mom that I know how to be. And I hope that Sparrow will forgive me for any mistakes I make along the way.

Learning and Loving Spanish

16 April 2013
I have a sort of love/hate relationship with the Spanish language. I was raised in a home with a native Spanish speaker who didn't teach the language. I'm still pretty bitter about this - I could be bilingual, dangit! I had absolutely zero desire to learn Spanish in Junior High. I really wanted to take German (I still do.) My mom forced me to sign up for Spanish classes though, and I stayed enrolled for four years. My first two years, in junior high, I did well in class. It was easy for me to pick up the language.

The third year, my teacher was an idiot. He had no idea how to handle a room full of 13 year olds and he was not good at controlling the awful boys in that class. I am certain I was put into that class because I was calm and the class maker person wanted to keep the balance between calm kids and rowdy kids. It didn't work. The rowdy kids reigned and none of us learned anything.

So in my fourth year, I was totally lost. I had no idea what was going on in class and I hated it and I hated the language. That was my last year of Spanish instruction, my sophomore year of high school in 2001.

In 2004, I had the opportunity to go on a service medical mission to Guatemala for two weeks. Despite not studying the language at all, once I got in country, it only took a day or two before I understood about 70% of what people around me were saying. It was SO COOL. I fell in love with the people of Guatemala and their delicious pineapple and lemonade fresh from the grove. If you have a chance to visit Antigua, take it!

When Sparrow was born, I felt bad that I wasn't fluent in Spanish. I would have loved to raise him in a bilingual home. When my brother got called to Paraguay on his mission, I was jealous. I wanted to go live in a Spanish speaking country for two years! Now Brother will get home and be able to talk to everyone in the Mexican side of our family and I'll be left out again. Not fair, not fair. Wah wah wah.

So I signed up to take Spanish 105 over this semester. My first two days in the class, I seriously thought I was going to die. We had a substitute teacher and he was so hard to understand. I had no idea what was going on and it seemed like everyone else did (but I later found out over half the class was totally confused by that guy too.) When my real teacher came to class, I breathed a sigh of semi-relief. I still didn't think I could do the work, but I couldn't drop the class either. If I dropped the class I would have been under my credit requirement and BYU would have kicked me out (and I'd have lost my student funding too, which we used heavily over the last 4 months to survive.)

I've struggled, it's true. But as I've struggled to retain the grammar and the SO MANY DIFFERENT FORMS of speaking, something kind of unexpected has happened. I've once again fallen in love with Spanish. For reals. I finally have both the desire and the ability to continue on in learning this beautiful language. (And it's a desire that goes beyond just wanting to be included in a conversation with my Mexican grandparents, so there.) I don't think I will ever achieve 100% fluency, or even 90%. But I am working on it, and I can see myself getting to 80% fluency. With maybe 60% of that being correct fluency (I mean, I can get a point across, but it takes a while and I use lots of weird words.)

It's so cool to be able to understand another language. I understand 85% now of what is said to me and that is AWESOME! Sometimes, I start to think in Spanish. The other day, I watched a commercial on the Spanish channel and I understood the entire thing. It was increible! Not only am I benefiting from this strange, brain-stretching knowledge acquisition, but Sparrow has benefitted too. We've watched a few Disney movies in Spanish and he loves "Cenicienta/Cinderella." He asks me "Mom, how do you say X in Spanish?"

And today he says "I speak Spanish AND English, madre!" Oh little Sparrow, you have so far to go. But yes, you do speak Spanish and English. Kinda.

I may never understand how to properly use the subjunctive form. I may switch preterito and imperfecto all the time. I may always make up my own words ("I'll be right back-o!") But dude, I can understand stuff. I can go to an El Salvadorean restaurant and order food without feeling like a total moron. I can roll my R's like a native. Someday, I will be able to go to Spain and understand the people around me. I'll visit Guatemala again and play Simon Dice (Simon Says) with los niños in la calle.

It makes me want to baile!

Ask me how I feel about it next week after I have taken my Oral Proficiency Interview and my Spanish 105 Final Exam, though, and my answer may change. Gulp.