Becca Wilhite Blog

February 4, 2017

I though I knew what Busy was

Filed under: emotion,goals,musings,priorities,publishing,writing — becca @ 8:34 am

Once upon a time I was a high school student with a full load of challenging classes and a job and family responsibilities and I thought I was busy.

Once upon a time I was a college student with a full load of challenging classes and a job and no social life to speak of and plenty of food to cook and I thought I was busy.

Once upon a time I was a young mom with four little kids running in at least seventeen directions and I thought I was busy.

Once upon a time I was serving in a Relief Society presidency/Young Women presidency/Primary presidency in my church along with all the wonderful family things, and I thought I was busy.

Then I got a full time teaching job. And kept most of my other things. And I was pretty busy, and I learned how to be okay with sandwiches or pancakes for dinner (because, after all, sandwiches might be my love language, and pancakes are undoubtedly Kid 3’s) and a clean-ish home, and significantly less awesomeness in pretty much every aspect of my life: I still do all the things, I just don’t do any of them very well.

I miss naps. Wait. How did I take naps back in the day if I were so busy?

I miss small kids on my lap for story time. Wait. I had time to read books out loud back then when I was so busy?

I miss making bread. (Blessing: our congregation meets at 1:00 on Sundays now. Huzzah! Bread last Sunday! Cinnamon rolls the week before!)

I miss writing whenever I feel like it. Instead of its being a casual fling, I have to make time for the writing. We have to make a date with a beginning and ending minute. I have to get SERIOUS about this. And do you know what? I think it’s making me like it more. I have more respect for this thing that requires careful planning. And I have to think that’s a good development. It requires me to be grown up about it. As if, perhaps, this were a job. Which – well, they’re paying me, right?

I am in a place of perspective today that allows me to recognize the probability that I don’t know what busy is. And that it’s likely to arrive someday on my doorstep. And I want to be able to embrace it – that thing that life may bring me – wholeheartedly and generously. And I want to keep pressing forward with the other important things. And to do them better, more graciously, more gratefully.

January 4, 2017

The Importance of Unimportant Things

Filed under: familyness,lists,musings — becca @ 10:50 am

As I approached the end of a couple of weeks of blessed school vacations, when the most I had to accomplish in a day was to drive a kid to the skating rink or wash a load of clothes, I started thinking about what I’d need to do every day once school restarted and I went back to work every day.

It was a lot of thinking.

About a bunch of unimportant things.

So I started listing out, in my mind, what the things were that I absolutely needed to do every day. I was a little surprised at what my mind came up with.

sleep
eat
drink water
exercise
brush and floss
work
make meals
create something
worship
meditate
show love

Really? That’s not too bad.

sleep – I’m acually really good at this one. I feel strongly about it for me and for everyone. I’m a little bossy about it for my kids, and they roll their eyes at me and say, “Yes, Mother.” Then they stay up late and make memories and I am okay with it.
eat – This is a lifelong battle of dependence, desire, and moderation. I’m getting there.
drink water – I’m pretty good at this, too, but teaching puts some limits on when and how often and how much. But I believe in it, and I like it. So I do it.
exercise – If the FitBit doesn’t read 10,000 steps by bedtime, I’m not doing the job so well. But I generally feel the need for more than that. I like it. I like to walk. I feel good about it. I live in the prettiest place ever. And I think it’s time to stop making excuses about my knees and my shape and just go do some more vigorous kinds of working out. It doesn’t have to take a whole lot of time. But I want to be strong.
brush and floss – Right? RIGHT? But hey – it’s minutes out of the day, so it goes on the list.
work – I usually show up at 7 and come home between 3:30 and 4. I do my best to get all the things that need to be done inside work hours. I rarely bring it home. I am well aware that makes me a less amazing teacher than those who spend all the hours doing all the work. I’m okay with that.
make meals – Most of the people in my house are capable of this one, but since I buy the foods, I should be the one to prepare them. It makes sense.
create something – When this one appeared on the list, I felt a little surprise. I kind of love that this dropped into my mind. What shows that my little life is full of meaning? Often it’s the things I create. Even if they disappear right after I make them. Do you know Buddha Board? It’s an exercise in creating and then letting go. Kind of like making dinner. But more beautiful. Sometimes.
worship –  I make time every day for praying and studying. It matters to me. Sometimes as insurance, sometimes as joy-making.
meditate – This is one I am trying to improve. I have a brilliant friend who has a lovely, thorough, and meaningful meditation practice. I want to combine some of that with daily yoga – for balance and strength.
show love – I need time in every day to show the people I love that I value them. I fear this is the one that most likely gets bumped to the last available minutes, when a quick conversation has to replace quality heart-sharing. I don’t want that. I want to do better.

As it turns out, all those seemingly unimportant things are actually pretty crucial parts of my world. I seek to elevate them (yeah, even the flossing) to levels of “This brings me joy and strength.” That’s the plan.

March 31, 2016

White Rain

Filed under: musings,spring is coming — becca @ 10:26 am

White Rain, he calls it.

How clever. How charming. How distinctly incorrect.

Because no matter how cute you are when you describe it, it’s still spring snow. It’s still cold. It’s still dark. It still makes my feet cold. And my heart cold. And my temper quick.

August 19, 2015

Open Letter to My Little Girl on Starting High School This Week

Filed under: familyness,kids,lists,musings,school — becca @ 5:50 am

You’re doing it. High school. So, natch, I’m doing it – passing out advice. It’s more a list than a letter. Because you’re a busy girl and you’ve got places to go. Here are Things I Know about you starting high school. Ready?

1. Sometimes people are mean.

2. (This is WAY more important than #1) More people will be amazing, kind, and supportive than will be mean. But they might do it more quietly. Look for the amazing. Look for the kind. Point it out (to yourself or to someone else) and it will get louder. Make it louder – make it roar.

3. You are beautiful. This is more a “nice” thing than a “crucial” thing, but it’s something you’ll probably forget, and I don’t want you to forget it.

4. You are good company. People love to be around you.

5. You are capable of doing hard work, and you are capable of succeeding in all your efforts.

6. It was a Very Good Idea to join a team. Join one more. Be part of at least two things. Let those two things be part of you.

7. I pray for you every single day before you get to school. Look around. See those other kids? Someone is praying for them, too, even if it’s only me.

8. Hold on to your confidence. Some days it will get a little raggedy. I can help shine it up for you, but it’s your job to carry it. Always.

9. Never be ashamed of being a nerd.

10. You can have it all. You may not be able to have it all at once, but you can have it.

11. People will look at you. Assume they’re looking because they want to be your friend. This will not always be the case, but it’s okay to be wrong now and then.

12. You won’t regret the things you do that are motivated by kindness and love.

13. You know that we don’t live in a particularly culturally diverse place, but seek out the diversity and celebrate it.

14. You’ll get hurt. (You’ll get better.)

15. Embarrassing things happen. Laughing is first aid for the wounds of embarrassment. It won’t erase the embarrassing thing, but it might save your life.

16. Eye makeup? A little bit goes a long way. You know.

17. Eat breakfast. Eat lunch. Lots of plants. A little protein. Come home and have dinner at the table.

18. Everyone is going through something. Everyone. Imagine that written over every head (kid and adult) in the building and you’ll be more empathetic. It’s always good for us to be more empathetic.

19. It’s Human Teenage Nature to assume the world revolves around you. It’s not accurate, but it’s natural.

20. I will always get excited with you when The Boy asks for your number, or sends you a vague text, or wants you to go to the dance. I will always take your side when The Boy acts like an idiot. But remember the rules. They are your protection.

21. You are stronger than you think you are.

22. Sing something every day. In the shower, in guitar class, somewhere.

23. Keep reading. You have time.

24. I’m right in the middle of the English hall if you need me.

25. There are hundreds (HUNDREDS) of people I love in that building. There is no one I love more than you.

June 16, 2015

I’m sorry. I’m stupid.

Filed under: anxiety,dumb things I do,emotion,musings — becca @ 12:07 pm

Once upon a time I made what I had NO IDEA was a stupid, hurtful comment to a struggling friend. She was telling me of a newly-discovered battle she was choosing to keep private – a diagnosis of a child on the autism spectrum. I said what I thought were the right (supportive) things, and then I said something idiotic about her choice not to “wave the flag” about her kid’s diagnosis.

— Here is why I said that. I have a lot of friends and acquaintances who are fighting remarkable battles every moment with special-needs kids, and I applaud their parenting AND I LOVE THEIR KIDS. Having said so – I have occasionally heard acquaintances speak about their children with special needs as the need: Like, “I have my hands full with this CONDITION who also happens to be my child.” I am a huge supporter of parents who advocate for their kids, and an even more huge supporter of those who help their kids advocate for themselves. Something hurts me when a person is placed behind a diagnosis, as  opposed to the other way around. I think the human being should come first, is all.

Now, I know that what I said hurt this friend. I didn’t know it for a long time. Naturally, as soon as I realized that I had been stupid, I apologized. I recognize that what I meant and what she heard were at vast odds, and that it may have driven a fatal wedge in our relationship. I do not fault her for this in any way. I was stupid. I said something vague where (hello) even if I’d been specific, it would not have been useful or helpful. I caused hurt. The fact that I didn’t mean to? Not relevant. The fact that I apologized? Not enough. I am not here to try to fix all the dumb I’ve been responsible for in my long, long life of dumb. I am here to say that sometimes I say things that are categorically stupid, and that when I offend I am sorry. I try to keep the stupid to a minimum. I really do.

This is an event that I think about on an almost daily basis. It happened YEARS ago. The thing is, I deserve to think about it. I deserve to have it on my mind. That bad decision I made might make me slightly less stupid in future discussions of that sort (or of any sort – thoughts about that mistake enter my mind in nearly every critical conversation I have). And I think it helps me choose to take offense less often than I might, because I consider that when someone I love (or like, or simply don’t despise) says something stabby or hurtful, I can – from personal experience – choose to assume that what I hear isn’t necessarily what he meant to say.

 

June 7, 2015

Nourish and Flex

Filed under: character,goals,musings — becca @ 8:39 am

My words for the summer: Nourish and Flex.

Physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, spiritually. This is what I want for me this summer. Nourishment and Flexion.

I want to nourish me, but I also want to nourish other people. Specifically the ones who live in my house, but also other ones. A friend of Kid 2’s came for Taco Tuesday last week, and it was fun to hang – all of us – around the table for an entire hour for a dinner that could have been eaten in fifteen minutes. It was nourishing to eat the food (he told me I make the best tacos in the world, and Kid 3 laughed at him and said, “You make the taco,” and she was totally right), but it was maybe more nourishing to tell the stories and to laugh together and to Be There.

I need to recommit to being flexible. This is a thing I have previously used to define myself, and somehow I’ve lost the ability to bend in some of the ways. So I’m giving it another try, out loud, here and in my heart.

December 7, 2014

Sympathy

Filed under: emotion,musings — becca @ 6:43 pm

Today in church someone told a story about a devastated woman who had experienced a terrible time (losing her marriage, suffering a ton of loss and heartache, just imagine all the badness) and felt all alone in the world. She prayed for the Lord to let her know He knew her.

When I heard that story, I felt sad. Not just because it was a sad story (because the first part really, really was*), but because even though I have NO RIGHT to feel sad and alone, I often do. I am surrounded by good people who tell me they love me EVERY DAY. My husband and my kids tell me (and show me) their love every day. I have students who tell me (in exact words and inexact ones) every day.

I heard the story and I felt guilty for usurping that poor lonely, forgotten woman’s pain.

And then I tried to get over it. I may be silly and thoughtless and ungrateful to feel sad and alone, but guys, I FEEL IT sometimes. On days, or for weeks, or in moments, I really feel it. And maybe you do too. And so I’m here to say that it’s okay with me if you want to feel sad and alone. And I won’t tell you YOU SHOULDN’T. Because you’re allowed to. You’re welcome to. Because sympathy is Good. And if we feel those awful things, we understand others (who may have more obvious reasons to feel them) when we listen to their stories.

So if you feel sad, if you feel alone, if you feel unloveable (even when you’re loved), you can tell me and I’ll understand. I’ll feel those things with you, and I’ll listen to you say why you feel them, and I won’t tell you you’re wrong.

Because I get it. I really, really do.

___

* In the second part of the story, she saw a sign of God’s love. Literally. She saw a sign that said, “You are Loved.” And that was her answer. And I like her answer.

November 18, 2014

Twenty-Five Years Ago Today

Filed under: emotion,events,family,history,libraries,Mom,musings — becca @ 12:32 pm

Five years ago today, I posted this. I’m reposting it now because reasons. Mainly that I was thinking about it this morning and so I shared it with my English classes. I cried when I read it to them – not for sadness, but because my heart was leaking love for all the people in the story. All of them.

I’m sure it must have been embarrassing for my class to see me lose it a little – that’s not an everyday occurrence. I apologized, but honestly I’m not that sorry. It’s okay for them to see me feeling things. There are worse things than feeling too much.

___

Standing at the circulation desk, filing cards grown soft at the corners, I heard the phone ring. Eager for a change of pace, even if it meant I’d be doing someone’s research over the phone, I grabbed up the receiver.

“Batesville Public Library, can I help you?”
It was my dad. Calling from the hospital room in Chicago where my mom had been admitted during their getaway weekend. He just wanted to check in on me – he’d missed me when he called home to talk to the boys.
“I’m good. Work is fine. I’m excited to go to Cincinnati this afternoon. Can I talk to Mom?”
Pause.
Now, I should explain that pauses in telephone conversations with my dad are not unusual. There is always… a great deal… of… white space… in talking with him. So why was I suddenly hot around my eyes, and tight in the back of my throat?
“Dad?”
Throat-clearing. “No. You can’t. Mom’s in a coma, Bec.”
Did I know that? Was there some conversation in the past few days where this information was given to me, and did I somehow forget about it? Is that even possible? But if not, how could he have neglected to mention such a vital fact to me?
The library, quiet anyway, went fuzzy like cotton around me. Even the whispers were muffled, and I felt wrapped up in the familiar. I didn’t even sit down. I tipped my chin to roll the tears back into my head, and finished the conversation like a well-bred teenager. Which I was.
Maybe years of living with a mom who spent a week every year in the hospital calloused me. Maybe the idea of her in the ICU was just part of my childhood. I’d lived with it my whole life, you know. So maybe you won’t find me a completely unfeeling ingrate when I tell you that the rest of the day was more than fine – it was fun.
After a rowdy drive into Cincinnati, Missy and I got dropped off downtown, scoured a few ballet supply stores (for her) and a bookstore (for me). We ate at Taco Bell. For a skinny person, Missy could really eat. She ordered no less than five menu items, and I watched, impressed, as she downed every bite. We met at the rendezvous point to get picked up for the dance.
The dance.
Here was where I belonged, in this under-decorated church-building-turned-social-hall. With these kids, from towns and cities an hour from my home — this was where I felt like me. Good kids, and all so different. Different from what I saw every day at school, and different from each other. I felt loved there, not judged, not watched, not weird. This was a place for a great deal of hugging.
Dance, dance, dance. Cute boys and happy girls and jokes and laughter and music. Forgive me for forgetting, for a couple of hours, what was going on a few hundred miles to the northwest.
After the dance, Pizza. As ever. Mr. G’s pizza, breadsticks, and root beer. More laughing. More talk. More teasing. Gentle teasing from the others, and more pointed teasing from my brother. I shook it off, like I’d learned to do (not like the years and years that I would scream and yell and then get in trouble for overreacting).
Somehow on the long drive home, I didn’t know. I had no premonitions. The earth didn’t shift. Air wasn’t sucked from the atmosphere. I just rode home, laughing and not sleepy and not afraid.
I checked on Marc. He was sleeping in the parent’s big bed, elbows and knees everywhere. Good. Wash face. Brush teeth. Change into jammies. Lights off. Climb into bed.
Knock at the door.
Blood runs cold.
Ignore it. It will go away. My fear of the dark, fueled by far too many Stephen King novels that first year I worked at the library, overtook all logic.
More knocking. Monsters. Axe murderers. Doorbell. Vampires. Psychotic animals. More knocking. Another doorbell.
I picked up the phone in my room and called our own number. I don’t know if this works anymore, technologically speaking, but that night, I hung up quickly and the phone began to ring. Once, twice, three times. It stopped. I grabbed the receiver.
“Nathan?”
“What?”
“There’s someone at the door.”
Only the intervention of a benevolent God prevented him from reminding me that axe murderers do not ring doorbells.
“Okay. Coming.” The bravest words of a brave big brother.
I stood, shivering at my bedroom door. Saw him walk from the basement stairs across the small family room. He turned and I heard the door open. Heard the Rockwoods’ voices, hushed appropriately for the time of night and the delicacy of their mission.
I didn’t wonder if we’d left something in their car. I didn’t wonder if anything terrible had happened to their kids between dropping us off and getting themselves home. I didn’t wonder anything. Because I knew.
I knew.
I walked to the front door. They’d come in, but only just. Their backs were pressed against the door, and I knew again. There were no jokes, and if the Rockwoods weren’t telling jokes, this was more serious than anything I’d ever experienced with them. Jolene, tall and stricken, held her arms out to me. I shook my head, not because I didn’t want her comfort, not because I didn’t believe, but because my head would shake. Back and forth as I was folded into her arms.
Whispered words: “Your mom…” Head shake, back and forth.
“… dad called…” Head shake.
“Come home with us, sleep at our house…” And then I could nod. Yes. Your house. That is the right thing to do. Because we shouldn’t be here alone. And we should give you the thing you need, too. We should allow you to do the only thing to do when there is nothing, nothing anyone can do.
 
Before getting in the car, I did the only thing I could do when there was nothing else to do. I went back into my room, picked up the phone again, and listened as the buttons sang Jorja’s song – the eleven-note jingle that meant I could reconnect with my far-far-away best friend.
Her mom told me she was asleep.
“Please.”
“I need her.”
“My mom died.”
Gasp. “Oh, Becca.” A quick waking, and there it was. The comfort I needed, across a thousand miles. The words, just right.
Will you be shocked, or will you understand when I tell you we laughed? Will you know what it is to share a heart, and to realize that there is a time for tears, and a time for laughter? And, sometimes, will you understand the need for both at once? Will you know that both, in equal measure, are required in order to heal?
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