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.

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