I took the first swim lesson of my life last week, at age twenty-five. Water and my family have issues. It definitely doesn’t like us and we’re not sure we like it outside of a cool glass on a hot day. No one in my family knows how to swim. An uncle I never met drowned at sixteen trying to learn how. My mother has had some incident with water on every vacation I can remember. And I, personally, am haunted by memories of failed swim tests, water day at summer camp, lifeguards running after me with bright orange life jackets after I run out of excuses to avoid water day, and all of my classmates calling out in seeming unison, “You can’t SWIM?”
Ah. No good answer to that question as an awkward thirteen-year-old.
I picked up my oldest daughter from preschool today and she walked out of class with a paper bag decorated with flower stickers and a gentle reminder from her teacher, “Remember, tell her not to open it until Sunday!”
Zoe did not so much as glance at her teacher — or me– and proceeded to set the bag on the floor in the middle of the crowded hallway, pull out all the tissue paper and informed me, “These are the salt dough hearts that I was telling you about. So can I share your presents, Mom?”
No, she didn’t mean share them with me. What she meant was, “I just made some fun crafts at school and was told they were supposed to be for you, but I would really like to keep them. Is that allowed?”
I spent about five years of my life trying to kill myself. That’s one-fifth of my earthly existence. I try not to wave this card around too much, but there is so much fear surrounding subjects such as depression and suicide that we are ready to crucify anyone with an opinion that does not have first-hand experience. Actually, we’re ready to crucify anyone whose opinion doesn’t align with ours. I tried to overdose on pills many, many times — so many that I lost count — and you would be shocked at how many times I am told that this does not count as a suicide attempt because I “didn’t try hard enough.”
Last week my husband, our two daughters and I returned from vacation in India. It was my husband’s first time meeting most of my family and our first vacation together since I’m still waiting on that honeymoon.
I’m about to embarrass my husband a bit and I do this with his permission and in hopes of illustrating a point. As I talk about him, think about how this applies to all of us. And should my husband choose to get baptized, he has a wealth of anecdotes about me with that we can all look forward to.
My husband and I came home from church last Sunday waxed slick with the Spirit. We sank into our couch deeply satisfied and curled up on each other. Oliver remarked how great it was to see one of our friends that radiates light.
“I don’t get it,” I mused. “He is earnest about the Gospel, but he’s earnest in a way that leaves people wanting more. I’m earnest, but I’m earnest in a way that has people sprinting for the nearest exit. I frighten and overwhelm people.”
This week in Sunday school a mother asked how to help her daughters gain a testimony of the gospel without being able to receive the priesthood. She wanted to know how to help young women beyond teaching them how to “bake bread.”
This is what I want my young women to know about their role in the church:
I’m in bed with a fever and quite close to delirium. I know this because my last coherent thought was, “No, my head is not an apple.”
Now that we’ve got that sorted out, don’t ask me about the incoherent thoughts.