May 7, 2011

a bright future

This is a true story of how my Mother's Day weekend began:
photo by Lori Hull
I was rushing out the door to take William to the zoo. I had a diaper bag full of snacks falling off one shoulder, a sippy cup under my arm, William's backpack of toys clutched in one hand and I was leading William out the door when the doorbell rang. I looked through the peephole and saw an 18-year-old-ish boy on my doorstep. I hestitated opening the door but I figured he was about to see me leave anyway. I opened the door a crack and asked what he wanted. He was obviously selling something but he started the conversation with, "I'm an underprivledged teen but I've joined a group that's helped me get off the streets. I'm going around the neighborhoods trying to figure out what kind of occupation I want to work towards. Can you tell me your occupation?"

I must have stared at him a few seconds because there I was with all my mother loot, in the middle of the day, with a baby trying to drag me away from the door. I said, "I'm a mom." He said, "A mom? That's it? You don't have a real job?" And that's when I restrained myself from correcting him and slamming the door in his face. He went on to try to sell me magazines (without success, I might add) and as I got my things together and into the car I thought how sad it was that he had such a low opinion of motherhood. Maybe it's wrong but I certainly judged this boy and his background - mostly because he tried to tell me about how hard his life was on the streets. I wondered what kind of mother he had? Did she abandon him in a dumpster? Leave him with his grandmother when she was 15? Was she a drug addict? Abusive? Or just plain uninvolved? I felt so sorry for this boy who obviously didn't have the support and love that I had growing up.

I've had serious anxiety over William growing up and going out into the real world without me. It terrifies me because I know what is out there and I can't protect him forever. As I was talking to my sister the other day she told me about her teenage son's social habits. He is a really good looking kid. Tall, athletic, great smile, nice skin, stylish and has a really clever, witty sense of humor. Unfortunately they live in an area where almost all of his classmates live lifestyles very different than his and he never does anything social outside of school. These 14-year-old kids are having sex, looking at pornography, cyber-bullying and drinking . . . and those are the "normal" kids.

So, what am I supposed to do? Accept that this is the way the world is now? Give up and give my teenagers condoms and the pill? Do I change my beliefs and "face the facts"? I finally felt some calm when I realized that all I can do is worry about what goes on in my own home. I will teach prayer, faith in God, repentance, and that sex is reserved for the bonds of matrimony. I will teach kindness to everyone, standing up for your beliefs and help them understand that being a teenager doesn't last forever. I can't force my children to believe what I do but I can teach them my faith and pray that they feel the same.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference. - Reinhold Niebuhr


  1. It seems that instead of being angry at that kid, a more productive reaction would be to pray that he really does find a clear and good path in his life. You're right, he probably doesn't have strong parental figures in his life that would show him how important motherhood and fatherhood are. However, this is in all likelihood not his fault, as he was raised in what was most likely a very different society than you were. I would try to cut him a little slack, show him grace, and pray that he discovers family bonds and role models as strong as you were blessed to grow up with.

  2. You're right Emily. Of course my knee-jerk reaction was defensiveness because, well, I am human. However, I guess I didn't explain my emotions very well once I simmered down. I have been extremely blessed in my life and I promise I don't take a single day of that for granted. I do feel compassion for this boy and I hope he finds love in his life to help him become a loving and involved father some day so he hopefully set a good example for a new generation. The point of my post was that I worry about being a good mother to William and teaching him all the things that I find important lessons in life before he's grown and out of our house. Thanks for pointing out that compassion should play a bigger part in that.

  3. That was beautiful and I'm so glad you wrote it!!

  4. I've had similar reactions ("just a mom?") when I've said my "job," from people of all ages and all walks of life. I've also caught myself saying, "I don't work, I'm just a stay at home mom" and regretted the "just" part. Your reaction to him was totally normal and dignified, as it sounds like you didn't get visibly upset with him. It's another slam against the divine gift of motherhood and it hurts. Definitely scary to think about our children as teenagers in this rough world. Thank goodness we at least give them a fighting chance with good values and unconditional love. The rest is up to their agency.

  5. "Maybe it's wrong but I certainly judged this boy and his background - mostly because he tried to tell me about how hard his life was on the streets. I wondered what kind of mother he had? Did she abandon him in a dumpster? Leave him with his grandmother when she was 15? Was she a drug addict? Abusive? Or just plain uninvolved?"

    Most likely, none of the above. It's just a line they use to sell magazines.

    Great post, BTW.

  6. I always say, "I'm so lucky, I get to stay home with my kids!!" I also live in CA and church activities are a priority. We have pizza parties before the dances, always go to church activities, scouts, YMYW is so important, firesides, everything they can go to, even when they don't feel like it, because they need other kids with like values, to know they aren't alone in this crazy world! They can do it! I'm so thankful for the church programs. I never knew how important they are until I've had my own teenagers. I'm sending my oldest to BYU this year, we are so excited for him, motherhood has been wonderful!!! You are doing great! Aren't we lucky?!! :)

  7. Happy mother's day!

    So, we all want to know, how do you do your hair like this? It looks amazing!!!

    Please help and post directions!!!

    THANKS William's momma! :)


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