Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Dear Friends,

I know it's been several months since I last wrote. You see, my computer died and I had to save up for a new one. Then I had to figure out how to make the darn thing work.
I posted this last entry without the help of my daughters who are too busy to mess with my scribblings anyway. It didn't transfer the corr ect      spacing   but WOOHOO! anyway.  It looks like it went sailing out into cyberspace and landed in the right space. Who knew? Apparently what they say about old dogs isn't always true.
I'm going to try doing this by myself from now on so it probably won't be pretty. Especially the spacing part.
Bear with me because my thoughts come to you with heartfelt prayers for your eternal happiness and all my love.

As always,

Kathy Wagher
(Aka Mrs. Wagher, Miss W., or Mzz Dub)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

"Goodly Parents"

   

     "Having been born of goodly parents." That's what Nephi says in the scriptures. Boy, that's a phrase loaded with meaning, isn't it? Or maybe guilt if you happen to be a parent and are worried that you might not have been as "goodly" as you should have been at times. This crossed my mind over the holidays when I had a chance to spend time with all my grown children and grandchildren in the same place several times. As I surveyed the chaos of offspring milling around me I worried about the times when I could have been a better mother. Indeed, my grown children now and again play a game called "Remember when Mom ruined your life?" They take turns telling stories of when I did some horrible thing that embarrassed and scarred them forever and then they all laugh like loons. It's tons of fun for all. I learned that one of the terrible things I did to our son was to make him wear a new pair of jeans to school before they were washed. I'll admit that back in the day new Levis were stiff as a board, but I hadn't had time to do the laundry and those were the only clean pair of pants in the house. Apparently he was ridiculed cruelly by the entire school and sustained severe chafing to boot. I'd managed to injure his psyche and his butt at the same time. How come they never play, "Remember when Dad ruined your life?" It's always the mom, isn't it?
         In my defense, I do recall once when I really made an effort to be a "goodly" mother. Our two oldest were in their late teens. You must remember that Larry and I were raggedy old converts without a clue as to how to raise LDS kids, especially teenagers. Heck, we had no idea how to Be LDS teenagers! Most of the stuff we did as kids was wrong! (Especially the stuff Larry did. Plus he talked me into some things against my will.) Anyway our current parent plan was to hold a hard line on the big stuff, (drinking, smoking, fooling around) and ease up on lesser issues like curfew and such. Our house rule was "We want to know where you're going and when you'll be back." (This horrified many of our church friends, by the way.)  If it's the basketball game and pizza then you say you'll be home by 11:00. If it's burgers and a movie then 12:30. Right? If they weren't home when they said they'd be their dad would be out looking for them for sure. This was working for us pretty well. We had a lot of quasi-rules like that, as I recall.
        In addition I would sometimes try hard to hold family home evenings because that's what the Prophet said to do. This was always under extreme protest from the teenagers who made the whole experience as excruciating as possible. But every now and then it worked. One day I was rewarded for my efforts and I gave an inspiring lesson on the importance of honoring your parents, which was sorely needed in our house at the time.
       Around this time something happened that gave me a lot to think about. Son Dane was then 17 or 18. He was 6 foot 3 or more, weighed at least 275 and resembled a small mountain. He was a tackle on the varsity football team in a big city school and was kind of a big deal because of it. (Newspaper articles, billboards and the like.) Most of his friends were football players too, many of them linemen like himself, although he did have one friend who came around a lot who was a regular sized guy, a quarterback. Once, I remember this kid coming off the field during a big game, marching straight over to Dane and punching him in the face. I heard him yell, "Why'd you let that guy get through! He just about killed me! Can't you think under pressure?!" Dane looked at him, shrugged his shoulders apologetically, and said "Sorry, I didn't see him. I was looking at a cheerleader."
      Whenever the guys came into the house, which was often, you looked up at them and thought, "These kids potentially have great careers as pro wrestlers or bouncers." In addition I always thought, "Gee, I hope they're not here for dinner again." Anyway, as I was saying, it was a Saturday morning. Dane was still sleeping when he was supposed to be cleaning his room. His room had become so awful that I lived in terror that some visitor would ask for the bathroom and mistakenly open his door, which I kept shut for fear that something might crawl out. I had gone in there the day before and in the midst of the rubble found a Book of Mormon on his nightstand with a peanut butter sandwich being used to hold his place! I didn't know whether to be glad that he was reading the scriptures or mad about his bookmark.
      Anyway the doorbell rang and I opened it to let in two huge linemen and the quarterback who said they were there to pick up Dane to go somewhere with them. I explained that he couldn't go until he cleaned his room first. They looked at me with worry and one politely said that they were late already. About this time Dane emerged from the disaster area pulling on his letterman's jacket and zipping his pants. I said, "Son, remember, you have to clean your room before you go anywhere today."
 Worried looks all around.
"Mom, I'll do it when I get back. I promise."
With steely resolve I said, "No. You always say that. You're grounded until your room is clean! Do it now!"
"Ma, he said, "Be reasonable. We're late already."
       (Here's where the "goodly" parenting comes in.)  I said, "Son, remember that Family Home Evening lesson we just had about honoring your mother and father? Remember what we learned? Bad things can happen to people who don't honor their parents. It turns out they sometimes die young. Now I'm  your mother and I'm telling you that you're grounded until you clean your room!"
       Then I saw my only son gaze off across the living room, obviously thinking hard. I could see he was remembering that beautiful lesson about obeying parents.
       He finished thinking. Suddenly he grabbed me by the neck and began to twist. "Mom, tell me I'm not grounded! Say it! Say it!" As I twisted to the floor writhing in pain I saw the astonished, wide eyed faces of his huge friends.
   "Say it, Mom! Say I'm not grounded!"
   As I began to suffocate I managed a quick, "Okay, Okay! You're not grounded."
     He let me go, helped me up and planted a big kiss right in the middle of my forehead. "Love you, Mom. I'll be home by 10."
     As they all walked out the door I saw the linemen slowly shaking their heads in disbelief. The quarterback turned to my son and said with shock in his voice, "Dane, you actually put your own mother in a headlock."
     He replied with a huge grin, "Yea, I know. And you said I couldn't think under pressure."
      Now I realize that some of you may disapprove. At first I felt bad about the situation myself. But I swiftly realized that I could think about it in two ways. On the one hand, I had actually raised a son who would put his own mother in a headlock. On the other I'd raised a kid who wouldn't disobey his parent and go out if she said he was grounded. I decided to go with the latter and said to myself, "That boy has an awesome mother!"                      
        Much time has passed since that day. I now have more fond
 parenting memories. One special one is of that same son, now the father of several teenagers, standing in a doorway, exasperation on his face, frustration in his voice, bellowing over the din of a family gathering to his dear wife. "Lisa! Tell me! Why do we have children!" He meant it, there was some history in his tone. And just the other night his older sister mistakenly dialed her father at midnight waking us both. She was looking for one of her teenagers who was late coming home. We didn't have him. Ahhh. We just smiled a long time at each other.  I asked Larry if we should worry. He said "No, that's her job," and we went back to sleep. I only fretted for a minute before dozing off.
      So it's true what they say. Being a parent is like a lot of other things in life. What goes around comes around. That karma thing and casting bread on the waters really happens. Parents eventually do reap satisfaction. They just have to wait until their kids try to be "goodly parents" themselves.
    In case you're worried about how our son eventually turned out, I'll tell you truthfully that he still needs a lot of work. There have been hopeful signs though. He did serve in his bishopric and stake high council. His oldest daughter will graduate from nursing school next month. She waited for her high school sweetheart to return from his mission. They were just married in the Mesa temple a few months ago. His second oldest daughter will be 19 this summer. She's turned in her mission papers and is waiting to see where she's called. She'll be our first missionary grandchild. The younger kids look very promising too.
     How'd that happen? Well, I know that Heavenly Father blessed Dane the day he met Lisa, and I must say that our son showed good judgement when he fell in love with her. His children ended up with a "goodly mother." May he himself continue to be blessed in his own efforts as well. Actually it turns out that the boy's made us very proud in so many ways. Who knew?
        I pray that Heavenly Father will also bless all of you out there who are trying to be "goodly" too. It's one of the most important and challenging callings you'll ever have. Don't give up. Take heart.  I know firsthand that you can make mistakes. Father's got your back. He sure had mine. After all they're His children too. And remember, one day your kids will have as much trouble as you're having now. It's immensely satisfying I can tell you.