The Ties That Bind

my clan

Last Saturday morning I put the children in my care into my car and drove 3 hours to Z’s mom’s house. (Yes, for those paying attention, that is technically my ex-mother-in-law, we shall call her “Mumsy”.) She reports to other that she is surprised that she could get along with me, I am surprised that people try to *not* get along with me. I love the woman, never any less for the war she fights within herself, but one cannot ignore that her prejudice can create some angsty situations. 

Ever Vigilant!

Anyhow, we piled the 21 year old, the 18 year old, (Happy Birthday Eli!) and the 4 year old into Mumsy’s car, and the 10 year old, 2 year old and myself into Z’s car to make the second 4 hour leg of our journey at which point we added Z’s brother to the mix. We then proceeded another 2 hours where we were united with the 20 year old. Add it up, I had all 6 of my beloved children together for 6 hours of love, laughter, hugging, dancing, and terrible cake.

So we put on our fancy clothes and proceeded to the blessed event that would inspire such a road trip.

Z got married.

Actually, he got married last weekend, and we were attending the reception this weekend. They are LDS and were sealed for time and eternity in one of their temples. Mere mortals like me and our children were not allowed to attend that ceremony. Yet the Church literally asked my permission for Z to get re-married, which I was happy to give. You see, the Church wants to make sure that men in their congregation are not creating and abandoning families, I think it is a compassionate safeguard for the women of the church. No, women do not have to get clearance to be remarried. They have to get a temple divorce. Which means- a woman cannot have more than one husband in the Here-after, but a man can have all the wives whose names he can remember. ;)

His beautiful new wife wanted to have a party celebrating her new family. Due to the fatherly role Z has taken on with my little ones, she insisted that ALL the children and I attend. There was no way that I would miss it. I am thankful that my son will have a mommy around to look after him even though he is officially an adult, he is just a baby adult and he needs that interaction to balance his energy. She loves the little girls as well as well as our mini-adults and is anxious to get involved in their life. I know it is unconventional in this world, but I love her and am thankful daily that I have a new sister-of-sorts to share life with. I could not be more delighted that Z found a woman to love and share his faith and life with.

Ten or so years ago I had to stop doing the mental gymnastics necessary to believe that the LDS church is all that it claims to be, I have not been in a LDS Chapel since that time. They are all designed and decorated in exactly the same, plain, bare-bones manner though they do come in different sizes. This was an exceptionally small one, but not the very smallest I have been in. The foyer was just like the one in the ward we met at and contained a replica of the couch Z and I would sit on when we were courting 20 years ago under the watchful eye of Fat Jesus.

Fat Jesus

Seriously, does anyone else feel like this guy has a disproportionately large body? I think the artist wants to lead you to believe that Jesus was an extra-large man like unto the “Nephites” in their Book of Mormon. Mormonism contains unique beliefs and culture which creates an atmosphere that encourages the membership to be good, better than the average church, in my opinion. Unfortunately, the cost is suppression of free thought, creativity, and even logic at times. It is not a price I am willing to pay.

I am over the hurt that losing my religion caused. I had to walk away because I am a truth seeker above all else and I had to choose logic over blind faith, my sanity means too much for me to ignore the facts. It was a more difficult separation than divorce. I have almost no bitter feelings about the church and have nothing but love for the people who find peace within its membership although I do admit it can be difficult to refrain from poking fun at some of the nuances of what it is to be Mormon, but not more than any other religion. I am an equal opportunity heckler.

The following day, while doing a little cleaning in the house that Z and his new wife will be moving into, I removed a Crucifix from above a bedroom doorway, a relic left behind by previous occupants as the LDS do not do crosses. They are borderline offensive to some. The girls wanted to see it so I washed the dust off and gave it to them to check out their Savior up close and personal while I went back to collecting cobwebs. It was hard for me to maintain any respectable composure when, five minutes later Macy returned to solemnly say, “Ori is making Jesus on a stick dance.” Children create a delightfully amusing reality between right and wrong.

As I wandered around the hallways of that church, just like the hallways I walked so many lifetimes ago, I found myself embraced and loved by the energy there; it made me feel nostalgic, like no time had passed. After washing Oriel’s hands in the bathroom, exactly like the bathroom I washed Stephanie’s hands in 20 years ago, I was surprised for a split second to see a mature, strong, beautiful woman in the mirror and not the pretty, naïve, terrified little creature I was before life happened. Maybe not the woman that Morminism would create, but maybe one that is even better, although I am sure Mumsy would not agree. I never imagined back then that I would casually smoke marijuana in a church parking lot in rural Pennsylvania or that I would see Z dance. All proof that life may not play out the way you imagined, but possibly it can be infinitely more exciting, strange, and beautiful, if you choose to see it that way.