Thursday, February 24, 2022

Letting My Kids Fall

Last week, the boys (B the 3-year-old and D the 5-year-old) went for a walk next to the Virgin River in St. George. Near the river is a bike/walk path that had two very steep hills. Before we got out of the car, I warned the boys that the hill was steep and told them not to ride their scooters until we got to the flat part near the river. B immediately got on his scooter, taking off quickly down the hill. As I yelled "STOP!!!" running after him, he jumped from his scooter, landed on loose dirt, and fell hard right before the more dangerous drop off. 

The Art of Falling #3 by Nathalie Labaki
As I helped B from his fall and again warned him not to continue down the next really steep hill, D told me he used his break, proud of himself for managing the first hill. As I examined B for any blood, breaks, sprains, etc., D took off down the next dangerous hill. I remember turning my head just as his body launched off the scooter, watching him roll 3 times, skidding to an immediate halt. It all happened so quickly. I yelled/swore and ran down the hill...praying that B wouldn't jump on his scooter while my back was turned.

D was a champ. Hurt, ABSOLUTELY, but a champ nonetheless. Several onlookers watched as I examined him. Among the commotion I hear, "ON YOUR LEFT" as D's incredibly audible sobs echoed under the bridge. I didn't dare move him until I knew his body was in tact and the 'jerk face' biker had the audacity to keep his pace while passing us....I digress (forgive my humanity).

One sweet angel woman came and gave us water to help clean his wounds. 

Asking what my next step was, I thought about what I was going to do. I wasn't sure. I thanked her as she left. 

D was in pain, his wounds needed cleaning, and it was an uphill climb to the car. He sat next to me shaking and uncontrollably crying. It was hard seeing him hurt so badly. It was also hard for me not to be slightly angry that this could have been prevented if only he had listened the first time.

Against my nature, and thankfully, I didn't try to fix or mend immediately. I also didn't get upset with him or tell him he should have listened to his mom. I sat next to him. I don't remember offering him words. I felt in the moment that he needed to be in his pain and that talking to him would only exacerbate the situation. I watched him as he went through the broad range of emotion. Every time he looked at his bleeding wounds, he cried louder. He went from shock and fear to hurt and pain and back again.

After a couple of minutes, while B scampered off to throw rocks in the river, I finally spoke to him. "D, what do you want to do? We can go home and wash your "owies" and watch some movies and relax, or we can stay and throw rocks in the river." He cried out. He was so excited about throwing rocks in the river earlier. This decision seemed to create more pain for him. But, I waited for his answer.

Through his tears, he said, "Let me see if I can hold a rock." He picked up a rock and said, "Oh, that's not so bad." Immediately, he stopped crying, got up from where we were sitting and said, "I want to stay and throw rocks."

We ended up throwing rocks in the river for 2 hours.

When we decided to cross the bridge to the other side, I ran into an angel friend from my past. We ended up catching up on life and in the process of our updates I asked her what she does to help her child with resilience; where does she step in; where does she allow a fall? She was exactly the person I needed to speak to at that moment to help me process everything that happened.

It is hard to see my children fall (physically, emotionally, spiritually), but my friend reminded me to look at how much they learn when they do...just like me, right? Obviously, I want to protect my kids from doing something dangerous, but also allowing falling to happen.

I see/hear this analogy a lot: when people compare the falls in life to watching toddlers learn how to walk. There is so much strength in that metaphor. 

Some things I can tell you about this incident that took me by a welcome surprise:

  • While my initial reaction to D falling felt uncontrolled (my immediate gut reaction), I was impressed with myself for how I handled what happened after my gut reaction. Like I said earlier, it is not in my typical nature to "wait and see". I  typically try fix or mend it, but instead, I waited until D was ready to tell me what he wanted to do. 

  • It was amazing to see D move through his varying stages until he was ready to make a choice. I have been worried about him for a long time - his adaptability, his beautiful and sensitive heart, how he feels about himself, how hard he is on himself already as a 5 year old. Watching him move through pain, (which was also painful for me), allowed me to see his beauty, his emotional heart, his problem solving skills, his resilience, and his ability to seek joy after all of it.

I cried to see this incredible young man. This moment was truly a gift from God. It was one of the first times, I have seen D through heavenly eyes. see who this young man will become.

This experience makes me wonder if this is how our Heavenly Parents work. They watch us fall, help dust us off, wait for us to respond until we are ready, and then ask us what we want to do now - seeing our magnificence in our response, whatever that is.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Mommy tales: Stop Crying, and other lies I told myself about child emotions

Saturday, Dean was crying. A. Lot. It is actually quite typical. I get it. 

I am emotional. I remember being young and my dad saying, “Stop crying!” I was often called cry baby by family and peers. 

It wasn't until the last couple of years that I have really embraced this about myself. Now, crying is a gift. It is something I am proud of. 

My dad once shared a seminary lesson he taught, where at the time, people carried vials around their necks to collect their tears because those tears were considered more than gold and were also thought to have healing powers. (I just did some research on this and even though there is historical debunking of this happening right now, I like it anyway. If you are interested in knowing more about these “tear bottles” read this article about lachrymatory tear bottles.)

This story was important to me at the time, because instead of apologizing for crying, I gave myself permission to embrace it. Embracing this emotion has been so powerful for me to feel deeply and love that about myself. Whenever I am with students, I also give them permission to cry, and share that story my dad shared with me. I want to create that safe space for them. Crying is freeing and healing.

So then why on this good earth would I become one of those parents constantly trying to 'check' Dean’s emotions at the door? Why did I become one of those parents to shout, “Stop crying!”

It was easy to justify. I would tell myself:

  • It isn't that he is crying, it is the volume of his crying. So I tried to tell him to limit the volume

  • I have also asked him to go to the other room, so that way, he could be as loud as he wanted as long as it wasn't in front of me or others

  • I also thought, but his crying IS SO much. He cries over everything, especially when he gets wet with drinking water - he has no problem jumping in a river or lake with all his clothes….but the minute he spills, game over.

I have had well intentioned moms talk to me about raising brave and courageous kids and who have recommended books for me to read to be better at rearing emotional children, all of this while trying to comfort and soothe a crying child.

But while Dean was again crying for the 4th time in an hour at a birthday party, I decided I wasn't going to say or do anything. I got into the headspace of trying to help him through his emotions based on all those parenting books and things that I saw other moms doing.

And you know what….that is a crummy space to be. To be in my kids space all. the. time. trying to tell him how to live? 

Sure, there are times for interference and teaching moments, but wow...I became a micromanager mom in order to somehow understand how to parent. I thought if I could know different techniques for parenting or learn how others do it, I would be better, he would be ‘better’. I would say the right things and raise amazing properly "emotioned" kids. 

But you know something: My kids are freaking amazing!! They came that way.

You know something else: I am freaking amazing too.

So, here is what I am going to do:

  • Realize I am doing my best, and my best is good enough for my kids

  • Embrace that I am emotional, and that doesn’t make me weak therefore: my children are emotional, and that doesn’t make them weak

  • Re-evaluate that I don’t care if others see my kids as cry babies, I will NOT view them that way and teach them the beauty in this form of expression

  • Recognize that people are all well-intentioned and that is ok, I will be choosy with which advice to take and not fault others for wanting to be helpful

  • Check-in with God on a regular basis to make sure I am understanding where I need to teach and where to step back

  • Demonstrate LOVE to my kids instead of micromanaging them

  • Maintain a realistic perspective that even though I have embraced these thoughts, recognize that I am human and will still probably say, “Stop crying” but not beat myself up if I mess up

  • Ask my kids more about why they are feeling those feels in order to help them communicate why they are feeling these deep emotions - because communication is beautiful

  • Stop falling in the trap of teaching my kids to not have and/or express emotion

  • Be better at asking, “What do you need mommy to do” when they come to me in safety - and let them take the lead on my involvement

  • Teach where I need to, but not make it my life’s mission to make every moment a teaching moment

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Single Mom Journal: They Made the Beds

Yesterday I walked in my home and smelled the lemon burst of my Swiffer cleaning wipes. I walked around my home (a place I typically dread coming home to because it stresses me out) with an overwhelming sense of peace. I noticed little things: my computer in a different location, the small used rags gone off the counter top, the toys picked up and put in the bin on our main floor. Then, I walked upstairs. The laundry I had put out for folding was folded so beautifully and neatly. 

But as I rounded the corner, I saw that my boys beds had been beautifully made in a clean, crisp room. That is when I fell to my knees and cried. I cried loudly. It was the kind of crying that is beautiful and deep. My reaction was unanticipated. I knew I would be grateful, yes.....but not like this. The sound came from my stomach and filled the room with moaning that could have been mistaken for pain - and it was somewhat. 

While another person may have stifled their cries, I did not hold back. I let it out. It was freeing, as if I had been holding my emotion captive. It was messy. It was raw. It was real. I was letting go of a pain that only I (and Jesus) could understand

Being a single mom is hard. I don't say this for sympathy, I am saying it because it is true. I knew it would be hard, but I didn't know how it would be hard. I feel like I am constantly battling time. I work 3 jobs and get to spend 3 waking hours, sometimes 4 (if I let the littles stay up) with my kids. And when I am with them, I am making dinner, giving baths, and I often feel like I have very little time to connect. They feel it. I feel it. Then I find when I do have more time with them, I don't know what to do.

It has been very difficult for me to shove aside the guilt that comes from my decisions. All. The. Time. But I do my best to shove this away, give it to God, process my role(s)... all the things. And so, I am spinning a lot of plates (taken from an analogy that Elder Bednar gave once). 

I constantly prioritize and re-prioritize. Some days there are certain things/activities/motivations that lead out and sometimes there are others. It doesn't look the same day-to-day.

I have gracious and well intended people tell me that I can leave dishes in the sink, or not clean my house, or put off those things that aren't priorities. And while I know they mean well....I hate going home when I follow that advice. 

You see, all those things that I would put off still pile and pile and pile on top of each other. And while it may have meant that I spent more connected time with my kids instead of cleaning my house, I get cranky, because now I have to spend an entire Saturday and Sunday cleaning. Then I think - little bits at a time, right? But those little bits don't happen in a lively household either. Overall, my littles don't have my full attention because my list in my head would grow and grow - of all the things I had to do. Putting it off has the opposite effect for me.

I was thinking about posting on social media about needing help cleaning my house. But I found every reason not to. 

  • It is COVID - who wants to expose themselves to our germs? 
  • It isn't right to ask so much of someone - I should pay them, but I just quit job 2 and job 3 so I wouldn't have that stress, how will I pay them? How much should I pay them? 
  • Should this be service? No, it is too much for it to be service.
  • I am tired of being the person that everyone else is serving all the time....when can I pitch in to serve them?
  • Who do I trust in this very intimate and safe place I have tried to create for my little family? 
  • I can do it...I just need to schedule the time instead of binging Netflix after my kids go down after 10 p.m. every night even though my job 2 and 3 are supposed to happen during those hours.
  • I can clean when their dad has them, instead of doing the self-care that I really don't need, right?

The battle is hard and real, so much so that I end up feeling defeated in my thoughts, and never follow through with it. I never really pray about it either. I don't feel like I should. It is just so silly - not being able to manage a home....that isn't very self-reliant. 

I thought about "The Secret" and thought I would tell some people about how I was feeling, just to open it up to the Universe. And while well-intentioned, I stumbled on advice giving, but found that what I need is someone in my life to take action because I often can't muster it. The battle with myself leaves me so wounded, without a lot to keep me going. In some silly way, I felt the responses were the universe's way of telling me I was asking too much - so I stopped asking.

But then, I mentioned something last week to a good friend. This friend had the drive and initiative to figure out all the details for me, and arranged to have the service missionaries come twice a week to help me. All I had to do was leave minimal instruction.

The note I found on my counter went something like: Thank you for letting us come to clean your beautiful home. We hope you have what you need to relax and be with your family. We will back on Friday.

I am still tearing up thinking about how having this relief has meant the world to me. I am so grateful. I know I have a lot to work on with self-compassion, but while I am battling that, it has been so amazing to me to see all the people in my corner.

People are amazing and God is SO SO SO good.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Coming to the End: My Fight With Gratitude

I was recently diagnosed with PTSD. My journey to and through this diagnosis has been interesting,
painful, enlightening, curious, hard, and full of ups and downs. I started a treatment called EMDR and also started taking medicine to help with my physiological response to stress, triggers, trauma, moments....

In my StrengthsFinder 2.0 test, two of my top strengths are 'strategic and achiever'. Along with the greatness of these strengths also comes the warning to 'slow down, take time, meditate, create mindfulness, seek peace, breathe....' I could go on.

As with all trials in my life, I find that I want to quickly move through them, to find immediate solutions, to act with often frenzied faith, to put a timeline on my current dilemmas, situations, and circumstances. The term "anxiously engaged" for me has never spoken so true. I am anxiously engaged....all the time.

I struggle creating moments of refuge, respite, peace, and healing. Sometimes I feel my only refuge is going to a distant beach somewhere and shirking all responsibilities - something I haven't done in 20+ years. So, I carry on. I 'achieve'. I run faster and faster. I melt down.

Over time, I have become complacent and content with running fast, chalking it up to my strength. And while I acknowledge that it still is a strength I possess, I also realize it is my greatest weakness when I ignore the warnings and become jaded to my experiences. Recently, my counselor asked me how I feel joy. At the time, I couldn't pinpoint what it meant to have 'joy'. I could talk about peace, contentment, safety - but not joy. 

She asked the same thing about gratitude....and you know, I have always had a fight with gratitude - especially as it related to joy. The idea of 'enjoy the journey' is something I have struggled with for a very long time when I am going through hard things.

For several years, I have become very bitter toward shared experiences where someone says, "I am grateful for my trials." I call BS when I hear this, because REALLY? REALLY, you are grateful that so and so passed away, or that you have cancer, or that you are struggling financially....REALLY? 

Wow, written, this seems harsh....but it proves my bitterness, doesn't it?

I know that meekness and gratitude are often something I lack. I know I am stubborn and have pride. This is not new information. In the year since everything changed for me: my marital status, job, living situation, daycare situation, children who are experiencing trauma, financial situation, COVID, new numbing gratitude has been muted. Forget muted - it has been non-existent

With my PTSD, I tried a medication that numbed me. After prayer and discussing different options with my doctor, I chose to go off the medication - I decided I would rather feel ALL of it than not feel ANY of it. This decision is a very personal one, and not everyone should choose to do this. For me, it feels right.

Today, for the first time in a long time, I was able to cry. 

When the Prophet (President Russel M. Nelson) so beautifully talked about the best prescription to feel peace, I couldn't help but feel all the weight of my fight with gratitude disappear. I am so blessed to have a Heavenly Father who loves me so much that He would guide His servant to help me see clearly. 

In my 20-yearish battle with gratitude, I now understand this prescription to feel peace is exactly what has been missing in my life all this time.

And so....I think this is the year (2020) that I will start to experiment on this prescription to feel peace, to finally slow down, to find calm, to stay still, to see how active God is in the lives of others and mine in order to share my gratitude, and to petition the Lord to heal my heart.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Conscious Uncoupling, Co-parenting, Every Divorce is Different

I remember reading an article when Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin got divorced about conscious uncoupling. At first, I thought it was just a PR ploy so this public couple could take ownership of the situation and not allow everyone else to read into their split. There was a lot of backlash too when it was first introduced. While it was a brilliant PR move, absolutely, I didn't understand the depth and genuine nature of the psychology behind this idea until recently.

Since our divorce, I have read many articles and books. I have visited and still visit with a counselor, leaders in my faith, friends, colleagues, parents, siblings, you name it. I remember attending a court-ordered session (mentioned in my previous blog post) discussing the soon-to-be dynamics of our family. After we went, Adam and I had a heart-felt conversation that we wanted our divorce to be different. I recognize this is not unique to us - a lot of divorcing couples feel the same way. 

In the article: Gwyneth Paltrow Hoped to Reinvent Divorce with Chris Martin, by USA Today contributor Susan Haas, Paltrow said, "I just thought, 'I wonder if there's a way to circumvent that [meaning the ugliness that comes with divorce sometimes] and just go directly to the point where we're friends.' We're family, that's it," she said. "We can pretend we're not, and hate each other ... or, let's try to reinvent this for ourselves."

In the article: The breakup guru who invented unconscious coupling: I understand the backlash by Emine Saner, Katherine Woodward Thomas explains that she and her former husband both had parents who experienced traumatic divorces, and didn't want their daughter to have the same experience because they remember it being so painful for everyone.

“We aligned on an intention together to make sure our daughter could still have a happy childhood,” says Woodward Thomas. “That intention kept calling us to rise to be the bigger person, to take the high road at every turnHe started a culture between us of generosity and cooperation. When we’re married, we understand the need to put money in the emotional bank account by being nice to each other, doing thoughtful things for each other, not badmouthing each other, but I think when we divorce we forget that if we have children, we’re still going to be a family. You have to build your new [post-divorce] family.”

Since November, Adam and I have had discussions about these ideas. I don't want to speak for him, but I knew I wanted to create the kind of relationship that we could be proud of, and our conversations illuminated that this is something he wants too. 

I have had to take comments, advice, etc., with a grain of salt. I am part of conversations where some have said: "shouldn't you be doing XYZ?" or "well, when I went through mine, we did this, so you should do this" or "don't do XYZ." 

While people have good intentions, we decided that every divorce is different and that we were going to do our best to create the kind of cordial, amiable, kind environment we can so our kids can see that we can rise above it. I also recognize this doesn't work for everyone....and that is OK too.

As we have tried to do what is best for the kids, there is no doubt that we have had some highs and lows, some things that work and some things that don't work. We are still navigating hurt and pain individually and sometimes that shows up in our interactions in front of the kids. 

For now, I am grateful and honored to have a co-parent who is willing to try to have this kind of relationship centered around kindness.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

I Wrote My Senators

My last post talked about this idea of not staying silent, of joining my brother and sisters of color. Since then, I have engaged in more reading, listening and discussion so I can understand the issues and develop my own opinion on what is happening and what I feel needs to happen for social justice and racial injustices.

I am sure not all of you will agree with what I said, but I am proud that I was able to stand up, finally. Here is the letter I sent to my Senators, of which one has already responded. I encourage you to really dig into what you want to see for our country and write your legislators.

Dear Senator Mitt Romney:

First, thank you for your recent walk during the protest. I appreciate your leadership and guidance during this crucial time.

Second, thank you for giving me the opportunity to email you about my concerns with all the turmoil that is happening in our country. From what I understand, the Congress are convening and discussing the recent tensions around race, equality, and social justice, and looking to craft police reform – as well as consider systemic and economic structures that support racial equality.

I am not affiliated with the organization Join Campaign Zero, but feel they have developed policy solutions, which have been informed by data, research and human rights principles that will change the way police serve our communities. I feel the campaign is fair and equitable, as it integrates recommendations from communities, research organizations, and the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

The campaign can be viewed at:, and includes sections on:
  • End broken windows (minor crimes) over-policing
  • Community oversight
  • Limit use of force
    • Including training for skills of cultural competence, using alternative weapons to detain, standards of reporting those who use deadly force
  • Independent investigations and prosecutions
  • Community representation
  • Right to record police (not sure I agree with all that is said here, but the     approach is sound)
  • Training
  • End for-profit policing
  • Demilitarization
  • Fair police contracts
    • Including financial accountability for officers to be paid administrative during investigations, suspension, etc.

I urge you, as member of the Senate to sustain policies that ensure that Americans have the “right to live freely with dignity and respect and without the threat of violence or repression,” President Barack Obama.

I am sure this goes without saying, but a lot of what we are seeing is more than police brutality.

In the article Level the Economic Playing Field for African Americans, Travis Morris writes:

“For blacks, there are still disparities in educational access, employment and unemployment rates, job promotions, lack of competitive pay compared to whites and employer-provided benefits such as health care and retirement savings programs. Nowhere is an unlevel playing field more apparent than in wealth accumulation between blacks and whites.

According to a recent study, “The Racial Wealth Gap: Why Policy Matters,” a typical black household has 6% of the wealth of a typical white household. The median white household has $111,145 in wealth holdings, compared to $7,113 for the median black household. A typical white family owns $15.63 for every $1 owned by a typical Black family, What accounts for such a disparity?”

While I am not prepared to speak to the validity of the data, I can say that in order to determine what needs to happen next for our society, we need to re-evaluate the systematic and economic structures that may prevent success for black people.

I encourage you to support and sustain policies that promote racial justice, and re-evaluate providing equal opportunities for:
  •         Education
  •          Healthcare
  •          Fair wages
  •          Employer-provided benefits, including healthcare and retirement

I am told that perhaps the only way this will happen is if we restructure our tax arrangements. If that is what it takes to create equal opportunity, I am willing to pay.

Thank you for your consideration of these critical issues that have existed for far too long.


Lindsey Blau

Friday, June 5, 2020

I Stand: We are ALL God's children

Today, during a NACADA (Global Community for Academic Advising) spotlight webinar, we were asked by the moderator to give a moment of silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds

And then, I unraveled. I bowed my head and prayed. Prayed to understand. Prayed to know what to do, what to say. Prayed for my brothers and sisters in this world. Prayed for my students. Prayed for our nation. Prayed for our leaders. Prayed for our state and local governments. Prayed for our children. Prayed for the prophet. Prayed for other religious organizations. 

I may not ever understand the weight that has been felt. I may not understand the anger, frustration, oppression, or depth of sorrow. But, I want to learn. How are you feeling? What does a day look like for you? How are you so confident and strong? You are the experts of your experience and it is time for us to listen.

I read a great article giving tips about how to reach out to people of color at this time. I particularly appreciate that I have been invited to take a stand. The article suggests that doing something is better than doing nothing. Sometimes I am afraid I am not doing the 'right thing' so I shy away from it. I haven't been one to be very vocal about certain topics. Mostly because I was scared of what others would think about me.

How silly is that? Me, scared to voice my deep concern because of what people would think of me, or whether a company would hire me, or if a person would want to date me? Nope, not anymore. 

And so, I take to writing this now. I STAND WITH YOU. I will also reach out to my legislators and will be more proactive in engaging in this conversation. In the meantime, here are some things that have touched my heart and express far better than I can, how I am feeling.

From the Prophet, President Russell M. Nelson (read the full post here):

We join with many throughout this nation and around the world who are deeply saddened at recent evidences of racism and a blatant disregard for human life. We abhor the reality that some would deny others respect and the most basic of freedoms because of the color of his or her skin.

We are also saddened when these assaults on human dignity lead to escalating violence and unrest.

The Creator of us all calls on each of us to abandon attitudes of prejudice against any group of God’s children.

During the Savior’s earthly mission, He constantly ministered to those who were excluded, marginalized, judged, overlooked, abused, and discounted. As His followers, can we do anything less? The answer is no! We believe in freedom, kindness, and fairness for all of God’s children!

Let us be clear. We are brothers and sisters, each of us the child of a loving Father in Heaven. His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, invites all to come unto Him—“black and white, bond and free, male and female,” (2 Nephi 26:33). It behooves each of us to do whatever we can in our spheres of influence to preserve the dignity and respect every son and daughter of God deserves.

Here is one of my favorite YouTube videos that give me hope and courage to do the right thing:

A beautiful painting that represents how I feel (by artist Diana Pedott):

This video also helped me understand something I hadn't thought about before. I am grateful for its educational intent and the discourse it can create:

I realized a while ago that advocacy and political involvement can go a long way, even if it is small. I know that if I want to see social change, I need to know what I am asking for, and be more specific about recommendations and thoughts. Here are some great articles that talk about the 'why' behind contacting state and local representatives.
I love you all and stand with you to end these abuses.

#loveoneanother #blacklivesmatter #istandwithyou #fightracismresponsibly #standupforhumanrights #stoptheviolence