I thought I understood when mothers said ‘ by the time you have your second child, you don’t change the baby every hour ‘ or ‘ you let them eat off the floor if they’re quiet ‘… but I didn’t understand the deeper implications behind these jokes- the trade offs that you make in your ability to mother in order to have a bigger family. Or I need to say: the trade offs that I make. Another person- one who doesn’t struggle with anxiety, like I do, or one with a marriage that hasn’t had real rough patches, or one who doesn’t struggle with endometriosis and hypothyroidism and their related issues like fatigue and migraine- perhaps that person could continue being constantly calm and thoughtful in the face of the most irritating stages of childhood, or coming up with creative solutions to problems like whining, or spending ‘special time’ ( as we call it ) with each child individually, daily, or continually ensuring their cultural enrichment- but I can’t. I work as hard as I possibly can- I really, really do- to be the best me that I can be for my children, but really… she’s still not as great as the old me.
A job didn’t come, but the bridge did. It took me by surprise at first. I was overcome by something similar to vertigo and then (not so quickly) regained my composure. I texted [my wife] three words: I’ve been approved. And just like that, I felt some of the crushing weight of unemployment lifted from me. Some, not all, mind you. But new weights were added. The weight of leaving my family for a year. The weight of traveling to a country where someone, so steeped in hatred for my way of life, someone who considers me an infidel, someone who believes it’s his religious duty, wants to kill me and my brothers and sisters in uniform; someone who would gladly do the same to my entire family if it came to that. Weights, indeed.
While Kelley was completely supportive, Heigl admits it takes everyone time to adjust to the idea of adoption. “Anyone who doesn’t have experience with adoption wonders, ‘Does love for a child come through DNA?’ I knew it didn’t,” the One for the Money star shares. “They’re yours. You love them the moment they’re put into your arms. Josh had to learn that, but he was so gracious and accepting.”
Sometimes, I do pick up on a vibe from certain other moms, or occasionally over the years, from people who work at my kids’ schools in various capacities, in which it’s made clear to me that they think that I am a bad parent, or that I somehow care less about my children because I can’t do some of the things I’ve mentioned due to the demands of my paid employment. This vibe used to really, really bother me, and the sense of guilt I took on when someone went all snarkily judgy on me with some kind of remark directed at my mothering could really get me down. But eventually, I kind of had an epiphany, which was that I had a CHOICE whether to feel guilty or not feel guilty when someone would say something about how I hadn’t helped out with the baseball team’s end of year party. To paraphrase Eleanor Roosevelt, the only person who has the power to make me feel bad is….me.
I may bake heart-shaped cookies on February 14, and I’m almost certain to end up with some pink artwork from school, which I will happily display. But I’m not going to stress out over V-Day. After all, you know as soon as it’s over, everybody will go crazy with Easter ideas and it’ll be time to take it all down, store it, and start over weeks before the holiday’s even here.
But setting aside the First Lady’s signature issues, why should we be surprised that Mrs. Obama has influence in other realms? Our opinions and beliefs develop from an early age based on our experiences, our family, and our friends. None of us is free from the influence of the people around us; I know I’m certainly not. My husband and I regularly discuss policy. He’s influenced me throughout our 16 year marriage and I know that I’ve influenced his political opinions as well. I can’t imagine a healthy marriage between two equals that doesn’t involve this sort of give and take. So why are we so surprised that a strong, intelligent woman like First Lady Michelle Obama influences her husband’s administration?
The one filled with white men, all reading the same books, spouting the same talking points, quoting each other back and forth. It’s the table where the men – a small, select, vocal group in no way representative of men in the Church overall – sit around and discuss who is in and who is out, who is right (usually them) and who is wrong (every one else) and, a favourite topic, whether women should be allowed to write or teach or preach or even read Scripture aloud, what women should be saying and doing, how marriages should look, how children should be raised, how everyone else should live their lives in holiness. Me? I am simply getting on with the business of the Kingdom.