Random Thoughts, Thanksgiving Edition

There are so many things that happen around here that I don't understand. I accept them, but I don't understand them. Like this baby in this bucket, for example. Or when someone says something like, "Malachi is making holes in the finger!" I usually just say, "Oh, hmm." Occasionally something becomes clear: I'll find a foam finger with a neat three-hole-punch out of it, perhaps—but really, most comprehension simply passes me by altogether. I'm just getting used to it.

I hate that you're not supposed to capitalize the seasons. In fact, I hereby reject that rule. Fall, especially, benefits from the capital letter which I will unflinchingly continue to give it.

I had the pastry blender out tonight, cutting shortening into flour, and I thought, "How many women are there across the country, doing this exact same thing at this exact same moment?" Then I thought, "How many women have done it over the years?" It made me feel like I was One with the Ages. Just one of the many benefits of making pie!

Due to illness one week and Sam being out of town the next, we didn't hold our traditional Pre-Thanksgiving Run-Through this year. Next year in Jerusalem, friends! Without that run-through for fortification, I'm only making things I've made lots of times before: my rolls, this pie, and this carrot soufflé. I'm also remembering this pie and this pie with fondness. If we were having a bigger crowd tomorrow I'd make them too!

The other day Malachi told me, "Mommy, I literally hate infinity." He also said, darkly, after we somehow got sidetracked into talking about Schrödinger's cat and the two-slit experiment during school, "You never should have told us ANY of that!" Poor little lamb.
Nutmeg went to be a model in Sam's Gesture Drawing class at BYU one day. Daisy went too, to take care of Nutmeg. She was SO excited I thought she would explode. Afterwards she told me, "We went to the Creamery for lunch, and guess what I got there? ICE CREAM!"
There was some snow in the yard. Daisy used all of it to make this snowman, little Snowy. How she loved him!
Poor Snowy. His life was short, but it affected all of us. Out, out, brief candle!


Someone was telling me how stressful Halloween always is for them, and I was wondering why it hasn't been so for me. Then I realized it's probably because I've never made any of my kids' costumes. My mom is an amazing seamstress, and she's made us so many costumes over the years that now we pretty much just get them out of the box and see who fits what. It's great! It's also great that the costumes she makes are sturdy and washable, so the kids wear them all year long for dress-up, and I never worry about them getting ruined.

This year, as in 2012, we had two monkeys. Junie went up to the middle-sized monkey, and Goldie fit the smaller one. Man, these monkeys have been around forever!
This monkey looks just a little scary. She appears to be rubbing her hands with glee.

Nine bears in the bed

While Sam was teaching a workshop in California a few years ago, the three boys and Daisy and I went to the Getty Museum together. We were riding the tram up the hill to the museum, and Abe and Seb were flitting around from strap to strap, and Ky was jabbering to me, as he does, and Daisy was falling off the bench and making her lip bleed, and so forth, when a lady sitting nearby (stylishly dressed, impeccable fingernails) said, "My goodness! Are they all yours? You're not planning to have any more, are you?"

Now, let me interrupt myself to say that although I hear of people saying things like this, and I know that many people feel this way, I haven't actually encountered it that often. People are usually so nice to us! And I have heard people with few or no kids say they have felt "judged" for that as well, so I know we all feel insecure or defensive about our situations sometimes. And I understand that kids can be chaotic and especially when they're other people's, they can seem extra annoying, so I don't really blame anyone for being overwhelmed when we're around. I get it. I can usually laugh about it and joke with Sam about how our family's presence is reminding those around us to have a serious discussion about family planning. So this isn't a story to talk about how bad that lady was.

But anyway, her tone was awful. She was disdainful. Kind of disgusted by us, I would say. And I felt so embarrassed. So I said, apologetically, "Oh, no . . . I don't think we'll have any more."

And meanwhile, I was AT THAT MOMENT pregnant with Baby Junie.

And then I felt so, so ashamed of myself.

As soon as we got off the tram I think I started crying. I wondered why I cared what that lady thought of us. What did she know, anyway? Intellectually, I knew she didn't matter to us. But emotionally, I wanted to be approved of. I spent that whole night lying awake, alternating between thinking about what I should have said, and feeling cowardly, and apologizing to the baby inside me…I was afraid the baby would know, and feel rejected. I felt like I had denied something important, like when Peter denied Christ, and it made me miserable.

But I think that experience was kind of a turning point for me. I thought about our life, and how much I love it; how much I love being a mother and how much I enjoy our kids. And I decided I wasn't ever going to be apologetic or embarrassed about it again. We're crowded, we're noisy, we're crazy sometimes. When we all snuggle together in our queen-size bed, it's true, someone inevitably falls out! But I feel just like Nancy in this post: my husband is my favorite person, we make absolutely charming and delightful babies together, and if someone thinks I should apologize for that—well, I'm not going to! They should thank ME, for bringing such splendid specimens of humanity into the world! :)

So two babies on, and here I am expecting again. Number seven this time. And I find myself thinking about that lady sometimes, kind of laughing at how horrified she'd be if she could see us now! (Like the birth control lady in Cheaper By the Dozen.) I think I'm braver than I used to be, and maybe if I could go back in time and let her ask me that same question, I'd straighten up and look her in the eye and say, "Why yes, I'm glad you asked! We ARE planning to have more. Thousands of them, if possible!" Ha! That would show her. :)  I was talking about this incident with the kids earlier this week, reminding them (by my negative example) how we don't ever need to let others make us ashamed of our beliefs. And I realized that I just feel sorry for that lady now. Maybe she had a happy family; I hope she did. But by narrowing her conception of what was "the right way" to have (or not have) a family, she is missing out on so much potential happiness! I think that's what drove me to write this poem; not at all the sense that "big families are best for everyone," but just—how narrow, how joyless, if we were all the same. How arrogant to think we should be! How much abundance of joy can be ours, if we will let it come pouring in. And how the mindset of "there is enough, and to spare" can overflow from our own families of any size, and we will want to—indeed, be driven to—share our love in ever-widening circles with those around us.

Because really! How to imagine our lives without this little puss-in-boots?
Or this funny Goldie-clapper?
What if we hadn't had these two monkeys? I shudder to think of it!
And aren't we lucky, to have enough of us to play with a parachute in the backyard?

I feel like we are the luckiest ones alive.
And I'd tell that lady so, if she asked me.
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