Sunday, January 23, 2011

Celestial Hospitals (and Harry Potter goes to Church)

A couple of weeks ago, my brown-eyed darling was asked to give the scripture in Primary; her very first opportunity to step up to the microphone and recite some divine text.  Having only been a mother for four years, and being a complete novice at this kind of stuff, I asked a super cool chick in the Primary Presidency:  "Uh...what do I do?  I mean, do I pick the scripture for her?  Is she assigned one?"  Super cool chick replied, "YOU pick!"

Crap.

Saturday night (you got that right...the NIGHT before scripture recitation "showtime") I conversed with James:  "We have to find a scripture for Lilly.  We should have her practice it...don't you think?  Will you help me?"  And to my tickled-pink pleasure, James agreed!

We congregated around my small dining room table--James, Lilly, and I.  (Where was Camren?  Actually, not quite sure.  Playing in the toilet, perhaps?  Kidding!  The little man was nestled safely in his crib, sleeping.)  James plopped his Bible down on the table, cracked it open, and went to work thumbing through the tissue paper-like pages.  I already had a game plan:

"We should pick the shortest verse possible," I said.  "How about, 'Jesus wept.'"

James glanced my way for a few seconds, then rolled his eyes.  "No," he said.

I turned to Lilly, "Alright, Sugar, here's the deal.  Dad is going to read a couple of scriptures, and you are going to repeat what he says, okay?  You get to pick the scripture you like the best!  That's the one you will share with all the kids in church tomorrow."  Lilly enthusiastically agreed to cooperate.  James cleared his throat:

"Matthew 5:14.  'Ye are the light of the world.  A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.'"

Lilly repeated the scripture beautifully, like a sweet cherub.  I was delighted.

James found another verse, "How about...Matthew 6:21.  'For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.'"

Lilly repeated it, and I cheered; absolutely thrilled by how well she was doing.

"We'll give her three to choose from," James said, "Last one, Lilly.  Moses 1:39.  'For behold, this is my work and my glory--to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man."

There was a pause.  Crickets chirped.  A solitary drop of water fell from the faucet and "plopped" into a pan in the kitchen sink.  The refrigerator hummed.  We waited--two breathless and hopeful parents at the mercy of a little girl sporting Princess Aurora slippers and a feather boa.

"Hey guys (because Lilly seems to be calling us "guys" A LOT lately)... I don't really want to do any of those.  I just want to read the scripture about the wizards and the witches."

Remember the crickets that were chirping earlier?  At this point, they started up again.  Chirp, chirp, chirp.  James and I just looked at each other, neither of us knowing what to say.  I shot a quick prayer to Heaven that basically consisted of the phrases, "sorry, Lord," and "I might be failing as a mother," and "we'll work on being better spiritual teachers in the home," and "forgive us for NEVER having FHE," etc.  Then...I laughed.  I cracked up!  I couldn't help it.  Wizards and witches?!  When did the LDS faith start teaching Harry Potter as doctrine?  Our adorable sorcerer (or is it sorceress?) got the giggles too.

"No wizards or witches, Lilly," James said with a laugh (his oh-so-stinkin'-cute laugh that almost always leads to a snort or two), "Let's try one more.  Luke 1: 37.  'For with God nothing shall be impossible.'"

Lilly was silent for a moment; dark eyebrows scrunched together in a symbol of four year old confusion.  She looked at James and asked, "What does that mean?"  He replied simply, "It means you can do anything.  With Heavenly Father's help, you can do anything."

As I watched this exchange between my beautiful husband and my beautiful daughter, it hit me like being caught in a springtime shower without an umbrella:  It's true.  I know it's true.  I can accomplish any task, any dream, any goal with my Heavenly Father's help.  I can overcome any obstacle.  I can be the best version of myself.  I can teach and raise this extraordinary little girl sitting beside me.  I can be a good mother to her, with His help.  I can do anything with His help.  I know it... and I want HER to know it too.  And just as the earth is vibrant and lovely after that springtime rain, so was my epiphany.  I will teach her to know she can do anything with the Lord by her side.

The air was warm and the light was soft in my kitchen.  A "small slice" of "heaven pie" had found it's way to the McD residence, and my heart felt full of love.  Lilly smiled brightly at James, acknowledging his explanation, and said:  "For God shall be in a hospital." 

Oh Lilly, you can do anything!    

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mom Song

My first piano recital was when I was ten years old.  The recital was held in a small room located on the top floor of an old, local book store.  Two baby grand pianos--shiny and ominous--sat on a carpet-covered stage at the back of the room.  Fruit punch and Milano cookies were laid out on long tables draped in white tablecloths; refreshments to be served at the conclusion of the program.

After sitting through a variety of pieces--everything from "Mary Had a Little Lamb" to "Canon in D"--it was my turn to perform.  My stomach was in my throat and my heart was racing.  I slowly crept towards the piano bench, dragging my Mary Jane-clad feet.  They felt as heavy as cement.

I distinctly remember thinking, as I sat on the bench, that the slick, black and white piano keys looked enormous and foreboding!  The keyboard--like a toothy monster anxiously waiting to swallow me whole--appeared to be wickedly grinning at me, daring me to place my tiny, ten year old fingers at Middle C.

I began to play an off tempo version of "Pop Goes the Weasel."  The choppy way I played the song was blatant evidence of my terror.  I had never been more nervous in my life!  There was a "repeat" at the end of the song, so I was to play through it twice.  The first time through was barely decent, and the second time through the song was unrecognizable.  I didn't even play the same ending!  I hit a couple of wrong notes, then stopped abruptly.  I took a bow and quickly got off of the stage.

I felt a sense of relief when I sat down next to my parents.  But the relief soon turned to disappointment.  I had made many mistakes.  My parents encouraged me to avoid dwelling on them and to move forward.  At that moment, I decided to practice more and to work hard.  I would grow and improve, and then I would do my best.

I occasionally think of that recital, and how the experience I had then is similar to my life now.  I have "taken the stage" to perform my own rendition of "motherhood"--a role that plays like an extraordinary song--and I am scared!  I am going to have to work hard, and it is going to be difficult.  There will be mistakes--discordant notes of worry and doubt, choppy and off tempo melodies of fear and insecurity and adversity--but I can choose to learn from them.  I can choose to keep moving, keep "practicing."  I will grow and improve, and then I will do my best.


 If motherhood is like a song I must learn to play, I know it will be my most challenging piece.

I know it will be my greatest performance.