Quote of the Week

"I assure you that if you have to wait even until the next life to be blessed with a choice companion, God will surely compensate you."
President Ezra T. Benson, To the Single Adult Sisters of the Church, 1988.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Glorified Babysitting

 Over the rattling of the red wagon I heard the high pitched voice of my nephew asking THE BIG QUESTION the same one I've been getting from everyone since the day I turned 21.

   "You married, eh'chelle?" Yes, this adorable four year old still lisps my name; I love it.
    I replied in the negative.
    Echoing the urgency of every well-meaning church leader, my parents and grandparents, I was sternly informed, "You need to get married."
   "Yeah, tell me about it." I muttered, marching along like the faithful pioneer I was, pulling my handcart behind me.
  "You need to get married." repeated Calvin, he was beginning to sound just like my mother.
  "Oh yeah, to who?" I challenged.
   He was quiet for a minute, "How about Uncle Mike?"
   I chuckled, " I can't marry Uncle Mike."
   "He's my brother."
   "Oh," he was silent again. Then another suggestion, "How about Uncle Rusty?"
   "Um, he's my brother too." My youngest brother, home from his mission to England and seriously dating a nice girl to boot. We've been refraining from asking him when he and Brittani are going to make an announcment. I'm all for this because it takes the pressure off me.
   But he wasn't giving up yet. Still ever resourceful, "How about Jeff?"
   I laughed, "I don't think your Aunt Kirstie would like that." Especially since the higher order of  Mormon marriage has yet to be brought forth and, yes, I'm talking about the return of polygamy. Some days it's the only thing I have to look forward to!
   Just then, a van pulled up revealing a neighbor stopping to chat and I was saved from Calvin the Matchmaker.

    As I mentioned in my previous blog, I'm the oldest of five children. Michael (Mike) is four years my junior who also served an honorable mission to Oakland, CA. We're very close and often hang out together since both of us are still single.
   Christopher (Chris) was born in 1980. He went to the Carlsbad, CA, Spanish speaking mission, married Melissa Green in 2008 in the Salt Lake Temple and settled in St. George. They recently had a baby boy but, because of my strong bond with Calvin, Chris and Melissa refuse to allow me to be a part of his life. More on that in a future blog.
   Mary (born in 1982) is my only sister who moved to Salt Lake and met a nice young man named Aaron Williams whom she married in 2003, also in the Salt Lake Temple. They live in Sandy, UT are the parents of Calvin who was born in 2006 and are the reason I chose my 1 bedrm apartment in their neighborhood-so I could be close to my nephew.
   Russell (Rusty) is the youngest of the group. He was born in 1984 when I was nine years old and at a perfect age to help Mom care for the new baby which I never begrudged. He was called to serve in England, London South, has been home since 2006 and will hopefully be making an announcement soon to marry in the temple. Rusty is a good boy who has a good job with Albertsons and currently resides in Pasco, WA where he met Brittani Bleazard, a wonderful girl who also served a mission and whom I would be delighted to call my sister. I often miss Chris and Rusty and look forward to the holidays when we all get together. With no other immediate relatives close by, I've tried to maintain close relationships with all my siblings and am grateful I can count them as four of the most important people in my life with my adorable nephew as a big fifth.
    I mention all this because my family is very important to me and a big part of my life. These names will be popping up frequently in future blogs as I spend a majority of my free time with these people. Outside the family circle, I only have one or two friends I see socially since everyone I know is married or in a relationship.
Here's my favorite picture of me with my siblings taken Feb. 2007. From L to R: Chris, Me, Mary, Mike and Rusty. The baby is Calvin.

    As for the parent situation, after my Mom remarried in 1992 (in the temple, the details of which I'll have to explain in another blog along with Dad's excommunication from the church and Mom's bitterness) the pressure was on for me to hurry up and meet someone so I could start giving her grandchildren. Mom and I don't talk much anymore. My stepdad, Alan Scholes, is a good man but hesitant to form a close relationship because after I returned from my mission in 1999 they basically told me, "Go find your own husband". As an adult I began reaching out to my biological Dad who lives in Seattle, WA, making frequent trips at my own expense to visit him. He was always happy to have me while I'd keep any judgements about his living situation with different women to myself. It was almost easier to think of him as a favorite uncle instead of a father. When I returned from these trips, it usually took two weeks before Mom would even speak to me after my "fraternizing with the enemy". My siblings, after their own visits, also experienced the same hypocritical silence from Mom which only increased the sibling bond we share-putting up with the woman who gave birth to all of us. I'll admit it, sometimes I really envy Nephi (Google the very first verse in The Book of Mormon if you don't get that).

       When denied a husband, home, and family of one's own, the leaders of my church have counseled single members like me to go out and serve others. That was one of the reasons I graduated with a Bachelor's in Elementary Education. Growing up the oldest of five, I always believed motherhood would be my calling and if that didn't work out then I would satisfy my desires in a classroom of my own-molding young minds, making a difference and getting paid considerably more than what I made babysitting as a teen. When that didn't work out, I returned to school to see if Nursing was my calling. When THAT didn't work out I was grateful to my sister, Mary, who came to my rescue offering her new baby boy as my sitting charge so she could go back to work helping to supplement her husband's income.

    I know I sound crazy for saying this but I absolutely loved caring for my new nephew. Feeding, rocking, changing his diaper, I relished every opportunity I had to spend time with him. It's true that you don't just love the children you're blessed with, you fall in love with them. I began thinking of myself as a vicarious mother and when Calvin began learning to talk sometimes he'd slip. One day he apologized for this, "I'm sorry I called you mommy, eh'chelle."
    "That's OK," I smiled swallowing the sudden emotion in my throat, "You can call me mommy any time you want!"

     A glorified babysitter as the oldest of five, a glorified babysitter as a substitute teacher trying to break into a new career in the Salt Lake valley, glorified babysitter to Calvin and a glorified babysitter when I worked as a CNA in a nursing home last year. Out of them all, the times I get to spend with my nephew are most rewarding. I'm grateful that for a few hours a week, or whenever I can spare the time to help out, I can experience vicarious motherhood and for those few hours that huge, gaping hole in my heart, where my maternal clock ticks, can be filled, at least temporarily.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Dealing With Ambigous Loss

       First, a little intro about me. Despite my parent's temple marriage and subsequent divorce when I was 13-so my biological father could continue living the single life without the responsibilities of parenthood-I'm with the pro-marriage between a man and woman party. I've been a good Mormon girl all my life. Born and raised in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Served a mission to Atlanta Georgia (1997-99) and have many stories (song and dance not included) that I look forward to sharing but I'll save that for a future post. I'm currently going back to school to get a second bachelor's degree. Another long story that'll have to wait for a future post. I love reading, writing, music, hiking, I try to stay busy...but I'm still single. 

    As far as romance goes, I've never experienced anything. Quite the opposite actually. In high school no one asked me to prom, I never had a boyfriend, I had a small group of girlfriends but no guyfriends. At my (Hurricane) High School graduation party in 1993 my best friend and I were both voted "Most likely to still be single in ten years". This prediction came true. She's now married with children which I'd never know if it weren't for Facebook. Once everyone you know gets married and settled down, the chriping of the crickets can get really loud. 
     A few dissapointments in my life include a few times where some guys have been real jerks like when I was 21 attending Dixie College (1995) I was sexually molested when a young man entered our apartment and woke me up attempting to rape me. My screams woke my roomates and he fled. We never found out who he was but since I was the oldest among the six of us, I was kinda glad it had happened to me. It was a terrifying incident. One I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. I don't talk about it much, perhaps I'll dedicate a future entry to the incident because years later I found myself relating to Elizabeth Smart as that was one of the reasons I served a mission. I left for Georgia hoping God would compensate me with romance upon my return eighteen months later. It didn't come to pass. I pray Elizabeth has better luck.

    Fast forward to age 31, living in Salt Lake working in the food service industry and being sexually harrassed at my job by a married coworker while trying to break into public teaching. Since he was superior to me I was quickly let go. I'm not bitter about that because it led me to my next job, also as a food service worker, at a busy hospital. No one harrasses me there. I made many new friends and it's a good job that pays the bills. I've been there six years now, everyone I work with is very nice and I'm grateful. But I'm still single

    Like I mentioned before, I've since returned to school to further my education. The dissapointment in not landing a well paying job in a career I worked hard in school for is yet another future story I'll have to post sometime.

    The disastrous blind date stories I could tell could also fill an entire future post. As I continued my college years all my friends and roomates kept setting me up with their own dating rejects. Big boost to my self-esteem knowing I made a good consolation prize going out with these losers. 

    I had some good dates too which I promise to include in that same future post but none of them to led to any steamy hot-in-my-pants-for-you relationships. Then one day I woke up and realized my dating season was pretty much over. Several bouts of tears followed because here I was, almost 30 and my season was over before it ever really began. 

     Life has settled down yet it continues to pass me by. I often feel like a forgotten patron at a restaurant. My stomach growls as I watch everyone else being served their delicious meals and though I continue to signal the waiter his only excuse to me is, "Just keep waiting patiently". Sometimes I feel like a lone sailor trying to navigate the stormy sea in my solitary boat or a second string player on the football team who begs, "Please, Coach, send me in, I want to help, I can do it, just give me a chance!" The frustration can be overwhelming at times enough that I just want to quit this lousy restauraunt with its bad service, jump ship, or desert the team. Yet, I know I can't do that. I've made certain commitments and choices which I must stick to. My religion promises me that one day, I'll be compensated but, darn it, I want it NOW! 
    Is there something wrong with me? Why didn't any decent guy who shared the same standards and interests as me find me attractive enough to pursue me and ask me to marry him? I've been told I'm pretty, have attractive features and I'm not overweight. I clean up pretty good, actually. So, come on guys!

    So, I guess I should probably address the subject of my first post now. For those who might be wondering, Ambigous Loss is a sense of mourning for something that can't be defined or pinned down. Since my discovery of this word I've felt an instant connection to it as the above examples testify.

   I'm the oldest in my family (I'll save introductions for my next post) so I never felt like I had anyone I could really talk to about my ambigous loss-dysfunctional family, spectacular career failures, disappointment in romance, ect. Aristotle said the arts are a means of catharsis. Throughout my life I've always had this burning desire to write. So, here I am. 

   How am I dealing with my loss? I learned to be independant.  I live alone now, having broken away from living with roomates. I keep busy with work and school, family and friends and I always try to have something to look forward to which helps keep the depression and crying spells at bay. I'd love to know how others like me are surviving. Living in a culture that puts such emphasis on family and marriage and motherhood I send this question out to all single adults who can relate to this topic-How are YOU surviving?

Next up: glorified babysitting