Four years ago, we had just brought home a baby--our fifth child. That is a wonderful event, but every parent knows that it can get stressful very quickly. And for us, it did.
Our last bit of progeny, the exclamation point at the end of our family, issued forth on November 1st. We celebrated and brought him home from the hospital. That night, our four year old got the stomach flu. I spent the night with him, holding the bowl so he could throw-up literally every hour on the hour. Meanwhile, Mere was in another room trying every trick we had heard of to get our new baby to stop screaming and sleep.
The next day, the septic tank stopped working and started backflowing into our bathtubs, necessitating emergency pumping and digging.
It was against this backdrop that our child came into the world.
The plumbing started working again, and the stomach bug passed.
However, the baby didn't stop crying. He cried. And cried. And cried.
All night long. Every night. And most of the day.
Days and nights muddled and blurred into one long bout of crying. He just kept going.
We were exhausted (this was when I became addicted to diet Dr. Pepper, for those are curious)--physically and emotionally. These were difficult days and dark nights. There is a quiet desperation that begins to set in very quickly.
Happily, something happened.
The parents and other teachers at my school stepped in and stepped up.
Within a few days of the birth, by the time my Mother-in-Law went home, the meals started coming. Every night there was a meal--including weekends--and Thanksgiving. Several parents got together and provided our Thanksgiving dinner that year. It was assembly line--each person sent a different item--and it was a little different than our traditional menu items. But, it was one of the nicest things that anyone has ever done for us.
We literally didn't cook until Christmas break that year, and it was basically one long, six week Thanksgiving feast, a celebration of abundance from loving friends.
Eventually, the baby stopped crying (although not for a long time) and our world slowly returned to equilibrium. But the practical kindness and generosity of colleagues and parents provided a balm that helped smooth the difficult transition. Their tangible expression of love helped sooth our souls as well as feed our stomachs.
This year, as we gather for Thanksgiving, we have a delightful four-year-old who now brings a net-increase in the happiness and joy in our home. Our circumstances have improved, and we'll have all our traditional family dishes. But, I remember with such gratitude the year that thoughtful friends saved Thanksgiving.
I realize I've been a bad blogging buddy lately. You come here and then I don't go to your blog. I feel like that one sister in the ward who always has people babysit her kids but is just never free when people need it in exchange.
So, sorry! I'm hoping things ease up a bit soon. School started, of course, and for moms that means 9 months of partial freedom. For teachers, it's just the opposite, of course.
Then, I've been working like a madman on my middle grade novel. Nights, meals, bus rides to 8th grade retreats, election speeches by class officer candidates--however, I don't work on it during Church meetings because even I have my limits.
Anyway--I want to talk about that novel for a minute.
When it was first written, it was a little over 400 pages and it was brilliant. I knew it. I read a lot in this genre and I just knew it was excellent. I had some kids read it and they loved it, too.
I knew this was good. I could see in my mind how good it was. Then I gave it to some friends to read. To my surprise, they showed me the weaknesses. Too many instances of telling not showing, way too much narrative, long passages of unnecessary explanation.
At first I was confused. They must not get my genre, I thought. And then I looked more closely. They were absolutely right.
You see, my idea is wonderful. It's interesting and a little unique. And in my mind, it works perfectly. But they, of course, couldn't see my idea. They only saw what I had translated that idea into. And the two didn't match.
I fancy myself as very self-critical and tough on myself. But because I was so tuned in to the wonderful idea, I missed the rough execution.
My friends did me a HUGE favor by helping me see my work with new eyes. And I went back and slashed and sliced ruthlessly. Any writer will know what I mean when I say that each slice felt like it was going into my heart. But the book is sooo much better now!
A few more read-throughs and I'm going to send it off and try to get an agent. This endeavor was faciliated greatly by my friends, who loved me enough to be honest. They helped me see the difference between what I wanted and intended to do and what I actually did. Good friends. May I always have those kind of friends and may I always be one of those friends! I think there is a larger parallel here, but I'm going to leave it for you all to apply. I've gotta run!
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