Sunday, January 15, 2017

Friends and Disappointment

My heart is breaking just a little.  It shouldn't be, but it is and so, I will write about it. Sometimes I find I want to DO something when what I need to do is step back. I've never been good at that. Somehow I think I can fix or guide and help in some way. But it doesn't matter what I've done on this subject...it doesn't help because I can't change people.

Friendship is an odd thing. I wanted my girls to have good friends. Don't we all want that for our children? When they were little they had some interactions with cousins and some kids at church. But most of their friendships started in preschool and kindergarten where most friendships do. Heather found some friends right away. Grace, Mary Barbara and Max. Two of those kids were not even in her class, but she found them on the play ground. She went on to find Madi in first grade and added MacKenzie in second grade.  She is now a senior in high school, and Grace, Madi and MacKenzie are still Heather's dearest friends.  Mary Barbara and Max are friends too, but didn't stay as close. They are still all wonderful, wonderful humans.  Throughout this journey Heather went to Girls Camp. It was a blessing to meet other girls in the stake as she was the only girl her age at church for a while. Girls Camp brought a whole group of girls to Heather's experience. They ate at lunch together during 7th and 8th grade. It was a huge group, and it Heather's friends from grade school were welcomed and included. These girls went into seminary and their first year of high school and walked to school together from the church parking lot just next door. They ate lunch with the older kids on Mormon Hill away from the "worldliness" of the high school scene. Everyone was included. My mother's heart was FULL of joy that these friends were going to be Heather's high school friends. What a force for good they were!  Well, Satan must have known that too. As the second year of high school rolled around the dynamics started to change. Part of Heather's non-church group wanted to eat lunch elsewhere. Heather went with them because she wanted to continue to be a light to them, and they had been friends for so long. But the girls that she left had tarted to change. One-by-one, they started to be rude or exclusionary. Personal interests took them in different directions. Heather had become sick during sophomore year, and although the church girls came to visit, they didn't stay, and they didn't come again. I thought for sure that the church girls would be the rock, but they weren't. They were for each other, but not with Heather. I am sad, but there was nothing I could do. Heather isn't as sad as I am. She is disappointed and she was hurt, but those friends I mentioned, Grace, Madi and MacKenzie, have been true blue through and through. They are not the church friends I thought Heather would have, but they are dear, dear girls with good values. And most of all they LOVE Heather and bring her joy.

Jenna hasn't been as fortunate as Heather. She has a dear friend who she's known since birth. They've grown up with each other and for their first nine years, saw each other almost every day for hours. They are more like siblings than friends which could be why periods of jealousy have occurred and why they have separated a little from each other. They still prefer each other's company over anyone else's when they decided to hang out, but Sarah doesn't choose Jenna as often as Jenna would choose Sarah. Sarah has a gift for making friends and was blessed with a light, easy-going personality. Jenna is her opposite in this way and envy's Sarah's personality. Sarah is a member of the church, but was split into another ward for a while which was devastating for Jenna. Jenna made do, but did not enjoy church as much. As they went to Girls Camp, Jenna counted on Sarah to be there for her, but Sarah wasn't. To be fair, we've learned that Jenna has social anxiety and relies on Sarah a lot. When she struggles at camp, she relies on Sarah. To be fair again, the girls were only 12 the first time this happened. It's hard to deal with a needy friend when you're 12. So, we've encourage Jenna to try to make other friends over the years (difficult when you have social anxiety). She has done so, however, at this stage in her 14-year-old life, everyone she calls "friend" could really take Jenna or leave her. They are not inclusionary and often forget to invite Jenna. Or they decide they want someone else new and shiny to be their friend. The boys turn out to be better friends at this point. Jenna doesn't do drama with others, so boys are great for the no-drama scene. I see an adorable girl that Jenna has known for years and who Jenna has gone to Disneyland with and birthday parties for. But when I suggest a social hang out with this girl, Jenna refuses. I don't know why.

At some point the girls become too old for mommy-orchestrated play dates, but it doesn't keep mommy from wanting to knock some heads together  sometimes. I see how the girls manipulate and are exclusionary and I want to scream, "Are you kidding me??" But I don't. I wipe tears and cry some of my own. Today was a bad day on another front. It's the second time this year that our church has created "tribes" or "families" for a youth activity. In the summer, Jenna was in a "tribe" for youth conference with only one person she knew. It was a girl a year older, and a sweet girl so, there was at least a smile for Jenna. But Jenna's memory of the experience was that she hated it. She didn't like not being with friends. At that point, I knew she was having an exceptional and different experience with the Tabernacle event, and that she would see friends at the dance and throughout their time there. I also thought it worked well because the youth needed to listen to the lessons and not be distracted by friends.  She still doesn't have fond memories of it. She has social anxiety. Everything is seen through that filter. Today they were placed in families for the next camp/conference experience. Again Jenna knows of one girl, but doesn't really know her. She came home in tears. Kelly and I wonder if the Lord is trying to give Jenna opportunities to make new friends. If she were placed with those she calls friends, they would end up disappointing her anyway, so this might be better. We desire for Jenna to develop a testimony of the Gospel while she's with us before she goes out in the world. She can't see past the friendship angle of these experiences. I know from the outside that looks to be shallow, and there are other ways of looking at the experiences, but seriously. When you're a teenager it's all about friends, freedom and fun.

My heart is sorry for the experiences my girls have had. When I look back, my sister and I came out of high school with maybe one or two good friends each. In the long run, we've kept in touch with one each I believe. Our other meaningful, deep relationships were started in college or as married couples. My dearest friends are those I've only met in the last 20 years. I know they will find friends as they go out in the world, but how do I help them now? Heather is fine because she has some dear friends who she can talk to and hang out with. And she has the personality to make new ones. Jenna needs a perspective change though. I guess I can pray for that. She has received two invitations this week from two different girls in our ward, and I see that these are girls with whom Jenna can expand her circle a little, even if it's just for lighthearted fun.

I'm hoping with prayer and faith that things will work out. They have for Heather even if it wasn't the way I thought it would work out. Hopefully Jenna will be able to find some real friends soon. She needs the support.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Love Your Spouse Challenge

Several of my friends recently participated in the "Love Your Spouse" challenge on Facebook. I was nominated by a friend, but I didn't have a lot of photos of us handy, so I declined to participate. That was one reason. Another was that I wasn't sure about participating with spotlight photos of us that would present a "picture" of us for everyone to see...and compare to.

Do you ever look at photos of married couples who look so perfect and so happy and wonder, "Do they ever have challenges that cause them heartache? Are they always loving like that? Do they ever doubt?"  An article posted today by a blogger who refused to participate in the challenge said something like we know and see one hundred percent of our lives, but Facebook only shows five percent. And we compare that real-life one hundred percent with everyone else's five percent of perfection. She then went on to post pictures of her and her husband fighting, driving in the car while lost and late, sleeping on the couch while trying to watch a movie because they're so exhausted.  It was funny, but it was also more accurate.  This girl was a young mom in the throws of nursing and sleepless nights with babies.  She was tired and feeling real.

After reading that article I thought about my friends who posted.  It occurred to me that I didn't have many young friends who posted. Most of the posts on my feed came from older couples. Not old in age, but more seasoned in marriage. They posted pictures of their marriages years earlier and of more recent trips and current activities, and all with appreciative comments. Why were most of my friends who posted more seasoned couples? I have a theory.

The good stuff, the really good stuff comes later in the journey.

The true appreciation we gain for our spouses comes later.  It comes after the honeymoon years, after the kids are nearly grown, after illness, the loss of parents, the gut-wrenching, drive-you-to-your- knees trials...after refining experiences that help us see through different eyes.  I see many young people declare that they married their best friend.  I didn't. But he became my best friend on our journey.  He's had my back through some difficult periods, and I've had his. When I look at that cute (very young) couple in the picture posted above, I no longer think, "young love birds," or "what a beautiful couple," or any of the idealistic things we think about the couples in wedding photos. At this stage in life I think, "They had no idea what the journey would be like."  And I see how far they have come.  I don't even feel like that girl in the photo anymore.

To sum up my thoughts I would give the following advice--As you look at those "Love Your Spouse" challenge photos, remember that they are not perfect couples.  That they've been through some tough trials.  They argue like you do, they cry like you do, and they've been on their knees many, many times just like you have.  The joy is in the journey, and the reward comes later on.

After twenty nine years of marriage I can boast that we've hung on.  We've stayed together through doubt, discouragement and despair. Our faith is the reason that we keep walking. We both have loyal personalities, but we both have strong testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We keep trying because we want to make it.  We also love each other deeply and appreciatively. I can't imagine going through life with anyone else.  I married the person that was going to challenge me to grow, although I didn't know that at the time.  He's funny and sweet, hardworking and diligent, resilient and compassionate, and the best partner in parenting. I learn from his example, and I am lighter because of his sense of humor and positive personality.

Next time you come across one of those challenges and look longingly at the perfection, remember that there's ninety-five percent of that story not showing. Don't compare. Do your best and keep walking forward improving yourself and your relationship wherever you can.  Appreciate your journey and embrace it.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year's Eve

Haley, Kenzie, Heather and Madi
Heather had friends over for New Year's Eve. They played games, Jenna and Kelly wrestled, and we all shared a celebratory toast as we rang in the new year. Can't wait to see what fun 2016 will bring!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Houston, We Have a Driver!

Heather and I went to the DMV today so she could get her permit. She passed the test and is now officially allowed to drive a car. Well, after she completes her six hours of behind-the-wheel training. But she's on her way! Awesome job Heather!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Day

Thanks to a moment I captured on my phone as well as one Aunt Beth captured with her phone and our selfie stick, we have a couple of pictures from Christmas day. I must have loaded the pictures from our good camera and pulled the card out before they processes properly. We have an empty folder in our iPhoto marked 12/25/15. I'm so sad! I guess the most important part is documenting who was with us. Grandpa Ron joined us as well as Aunt Beth and Uncle Kevin. Our big presents for the girls were iPhone upgrades for all of us. They were thrilled, especially Jenna who has been using her phone with the cracked and shatter screen.

We had a lovely Christmas and were blessed beyond belief. The gifts for our family and from our family always make me feel a little guilty because there is so much. I'm grateful for the blessing of having an abundant life. We had a lovely turkey dinner and had some fun playing games with our aunt and uncle who stayed for a few days. We even got to go see the new Star Wars movie with them.

We are truly grateful for the birth of our Savior, the most important event in the history of the world next to his Atonement and resurrection. We are so blessed to have a knowledge of His gospel.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve is Magical

Christmas Eve always feel so cozy. The house is clean, the presents wrapped...I love sitting down just before bed in the quiet house and starting at the tree.  It feels like anything magical is possible for those few wee hours. This year I caught Santa filling the stockings! There was a fun app we used to catch him. There is an app for everything. Can't wait to welcome Christmas morning tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas Lights

Jenna has been experimenting with some press on nails. Today she got her nails ready for Christmas by painting some designs on top. She has gotten SO good at her designs! We are impressed!!!

Later on we brewed some hot cocoa, put it in cups and grabbed our friends to head over and see the Christmas lights in our favorite Fountain Valley neighborhood that goes all out. The girls wrote letters to Santa and put them in the mailbox, and we found our favorite tree. This is always so festive, and we were so glad to have our dear friends, Michelle and Sarah, join us!