Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Way It's Supposed To Work

For a long time, Sundays were a day to be feared in our house. The term "day of rest" would garner ironic laughter at best and glowering resentment at worst. The kids, bored by the restrictions meant to make the day special, would harass each other to a degree not seen any other day of the week. Ryan and I would alternately bark at the kids and slump on the couch in companionable misery, longing for the day we could enjoy what the Sabbath was really made for: the Sunday Afternoon Nap.

While we aren't at napping stage yet, recently we've been making great strides in that direction. It's crazy how we get so fixated on something miserable, and when the situation gradually improves, we don't even really notice. Today we had what might be considered an ideal Sunday. I won't use the "p" word (cough *perfect*) but I will say that today we were Ensign-cover-worthy. It was that good.

I was gone most of the morning at YW Presidency meetings, so I'm going to go out on a limb and assume, since the house was still standing and no one was crying when I walked in the door, that the morning went well. The kids got dressed without complaints, even when I had to send Zack back downstairs to change his pants, because the blue slacks did not match the black pinstripe suit coat. Noah discovered that he carries the recessive grilled cheese sandwich gene, which apparently skipped a generation and went from my father straight to his grandson. He toasted some perfectly golden sandwiches for everyone before AND after church. Brad got himself up, showered, dressed, and out the door by 9 to collect fast offerings. He did lay on the couch and moan a lot about how hungry he was, especially while other family members were scarfing grilled cheese, but I only throw that in there to prove that we aren't the "p" word. After church, Noah made my favorite snickerdoodles while Ryan and Shauna went to visit their grandmother in the assisted living facility and the kids watched "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," the version with Donny Osmond, which makes it practically doctrinal.

When Ryan and Shauna came home, the whole family put on a talent show, organized by Zack. (Okay, I know it sounds like I'm just making stuff up now but I swear to you, we had an honest to goodness TALENT SHOW.) Zack played Heart and Soul on the piano, Darcey danced to Zack's piano accompaniment, Noah fed us cookies, Brad played the trumpet, Ryan drew a picture, I sang "A Hundred and Sixty Acres" by Marty Robbins, Shauna cleaned the family room, and Starbucks barked when Brad rang the doorbell (the dog is very, very good at his talent.) The family adjourned to the kitchen, where some of the kids willingly ate salad for a late dinner and played a game where they had a conversation entirely using questions. ("Do you like salad?" "Did somebody say that I didn't?")

If that wasn't enough family fun, we ended up in the living room with a board game called "Would You Rather." We skipped the board game part and just asked the questions: Would you rather have eyebrows that make a complete circle around your face OR flat eyelashes that stick out 10 inches and cannot be trimmed? Would you rather have an alarm clock that gives you a mild, yet jolting electric shock OR one that completely drenches you with ice-cold water? Would you rather live in a world where you needed a quarter to get into every bathroom (including the one in your home) OR where every bathroom only had one square of tissue? We decided that the eyebrows are a much better option than the eyelashes, we were evenly split with the alarm clock issue, and I'm going to install coin-operated locks on the bathrooms because nobody seems to have a problem with that. (Except me. I'd rather carry around a spare roll than a bag of change.)

At bedtime, we spent a solid five minutes deciding who was going to say the family prayer. In the past, this would have been five minutes of contending, cajoling, threatening, begging, bribing, and eventually praying, although with such a bad attitude that I'm shocked lightning hasn't struck us all dead many times over. Ryan came up with a brilliant system a couple months back: we play a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. This is not some wimpy elimination-round type contest, either. All of us throw at the same time and the goal is for all of us to beat one single person. (If one person beats all the rest of us, say Noah has paper and the rest of us has rock, he's out.) We keep throwing, over and over, until finally all five of us have scissors and Brad has paper and we cheer and yell because after a while we start to lose faith that it will ever end. It always does, though, and the grand loser says the prayer. There has never been a single episode of crying over losing, which in itself is a miracle. The kids went off to bed without complaining or coming up fifteen times to "get a drink" or whatever lame-o excuse they're using, and without even fighting in their room so loudly that a referee needs to interfere (this would be Noah and Zack.)

Honestly, if I read an account like this three years ago, when Sundays made me cry, I would have hated the pretentious Perfect Mother who displays her Perfect Children and who couldn't possibly understand what it was like to be me. Then I would feel a combination of jealousy, resentment, self-pity, and fear: if other people can get do Sundays right, why can't I? So the reason I'm writing this is 1) to have written proof to myself that this day wasn't a figment of my imagination, or possibly a hallucination caused by a head wound incurred when I slipped on those $#!^%$ Legos that coat my floor and 2) to shine a beacon of hope onto those of you who are a few years behind me in child-rearing. It does get easier! For reals! And we don't have to wait for those precious years after our kids are grown and before they move back in with their wives and children! Maybe someday soon we can even (gasp!) take a Sunday Afternoon Nap!

This Is Probably Not Worth Reading. Hooray!

Well, I've had some good ideas in my day, but apparently moving my blog to a professional-ish website wasn't one of them. I thought that I would take my writing more seriously if I had something a little fancier, the same way I keep promising that if we completely re-landscape the backyard, I'll actually sit outside.

Here's the truth about my attempt at a personal website. My favorite quote is by Ben Franklin: "If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing." So the goal with my new site was to write things worth reading; presumably, doing things worth writing would come later. Seems straight-forward, right? Problem is, it takes an awful lot of self-confidence to say, "This thing that I just wrote is worth reading." I've definitely written a few things that I love, but how can I stare at a blank blog page and tell myself to write something that people will like. That kind of pressure does not produce quality writing, I'll tell you that much. It produces months-long writer's block, is what it produces. Couple that with this lovely bit: the first strangers I told the name of my site to all thought that the site was for book reviews. Having to say, out loud, that I thought my own writing was worth reading...well, I don't have that kind of moxie. Maybe someday. But not now.

So I'm back. I brought over the 40 or so posts I made over the last year--the formatting's kind of funky, especially with photos, but whatever. I want to go back to writing about my life and my kids and my opinions on reality tv shows and my endless deliberations on what major to pick (yeah, I'm not making a compelling case for continued reading here, am I?) Most of all, I want to go back to the pressure-free environment, where everything I write does not have to be worth reading. Strangely, I produce my best stuff that way.