KARA: "You are mother to seven children, is that right? I’ve always admired women who are good mothers. Can you give our readers some idea of the blessings and difficulties of raising such a large family?"
MARIE: "I was the youngest of 3 children and always wanted a younger sister. When I learned my mom couldn't have anymore children, I was so sad. As I grew up, somewhere along the line, I determined I would have a large family and we did. Both Allen and I agreed we should have as many children as we could and we did. I have to admit I was not a very good mother. I yelled at my kids a lot. I've apologized to them for those outbursts and tried to explain my weakness and what caused it all. It was good for them to express how it affected them as a child (and it made me feel more guilty to have to listen, but I needed to!). I didn't realize at the time that I suffered from depression and anger issues. If I'd had some counseling I could have been more patient and kind to our children. I got into some counsel sessions when we moved to Laramie and I enrolled in school. It was there that I learned I shouldn't let things build up inside me till I exploded. I needed to announce to the child or children what needed to be done, that I expected it to be done, and then let them/him/her do it. I should never become angry when it wasn't done in a timely manner, do the job myself, and then explode because it wasn't done. I well remember the morning my 3rd and 4th daughter got up to go to early-morning seminary. They had failed to do the dishes after dinner and I'd left them because I had to study. I heard Kathy say, "Well, I guess Mom meant it when she said we needed to do the dishes or they'd be waiting for us in the morning." Yes, I did! They left a note saying they'd get them done right after seminary, so please leave them. I did and they did! It only took one time! Such an easy skill to develop and the three younger ones picked up on it right away and followed suit.
I still have to watch myself or I will yell at my grandchildren and I hate that. It's a difficult habit to break when things get tense. I'm so embarrassed when I slip and yell at one of them. I always hurry right over, hug the child, and apologize for being so loud. If the child isn't scared to death, he/she lets me hug him/her. Time has helped me in my repentance. I don't want to be a grouchy Grandma!!!
Raising 7 children has lots of challenges that I've mentioned in other parts of this [interview]. My difficulty in organizing our household was very frustrating for me. It seemed everyone could do it but me. As a young mother, I always worried about how people perceived me as a parent by how my child acted. I felt compelled to react to a child's poor behavior, not act. I truly believe I became a better mother when I realized the children in my home weren't mine, but were my spiritual sisters and brothers that had been placed in our home to help them grow and become what they had placed here to be. When our oldest daughter confronted me on an issue in front of the entire Relief Society at our Mother/Daughter activity, I realized I'm not obligated to solve the confrontation at the moment. I simply smiled and said, "We'll discuss this when we get home, Dear." My cousin's wife called me the next day to say she was dying to know how it turned out. I told her when we got home and the other girls had gone off to bed, I asked her why she said what she did in front of everyone when it was clearly a personal matter. She apologized and said she didn't know why she had said that. It had just come out of her mouth and then she thought, "Well, let's see how Mom handles this one!" When I said we'd discuss it at home, she was fine with it. I really believe those are inspired moments through the Spirit because none of that would have happened without that influence. I'm so grateful the Lord allows us to experience those kinds of teaching moments so we can be better parents.
I tell people all the time, "If you have a large family, look for the funny side of things so you can keep you sanity! When you're raising teenagers, develop a great sense of humor. You're going to need it - a lot!"
KARA: "What is your definition of beauty? Tell us some of your beauty secrets. What is your guilty pleasure? If you could do anything for one day, what would that be?"
MARIE: "Beauty - this is an inward characteristic. I've known many physically beautiful people, but they lack the core that really creates beauty. If it doesn't glow from within, it just ain't there, Honey! People who are physically beautiful tend to focus on that. Their little skin flaws and wrinkles, etc. I'm 65 years old. I hate my round face caused by the chemo and steroids, but it will go away one day. That I know. I used to be so concerned about my lines and wrinkles, but began to realize that it is part of my character, my facial expressions, etc. I do use plenty of moisturizers and wish I'd used them sooner. I use foundation on my face because I have so much discoloration in my skin from exposing it to the sun for so long. I didn't wear any foundation until I moved to Laramie to go to school. Now I really need it! I know I am more attractive with makeup on than without. I want to look my best because I represent my Heavenly Father and the Church. I don't want to appear frumpy or dowdy in anyway. So, even though my eyelashes are hardly there and my eyebrows are starting to grow back, I do what I can to look nice. I wax my face because it is so hairy and I feel good about myself if I look good. It's wonderful when people tell you how great you look and you feel like crap! I know it's the makeup and I'm glad I took the extra effort to apply it so I will look good. I try to keep up on the makeup trends so I can always look nice for myself, my husband, and my children and grandchildren. It's sort of fun to hear your granddaughter's friend tell her you are pretty or beautiful.
My favorite guilty pleasure is lying on my hammock in the summer and reading till I fall asleep. I love to read so lying on that hammock to read puts me in hog-heaven! I also love to lie on my hammock in the evenings with my grand kids and we watch the sunset, or we watch the clouds and make pictures, or we gaze at the stars and talk about Heavenly Father's creations. I want them to remember those kinds of moments with Grandma as they grow up and I'm not here anymore. You can probably tell I had a very close relationship with my grandmother as I grew up and spent time in her home, and then later, she spent time in my home in her elderly years, just visiting me.
Choosing to do anything for one day is difficult right now because I have so many things I want to do and can't right now, for lack of energy. I guess I would sew a quilt top together so I could start quilting it. My choice might be dictated by the moment and someone else's need - a grandchild who wants doll clothes, or a grandchild who wants me to go for a walk or picnic or bike ride or go shopping. As those grandchildren become teens, I start to lose my close contact with them, so I'm ready to drop and go at their whim. When I go to Salt Lake or Battle Mountain to see my children and grandchildren, I want to be at their disposal as much as possible. They are a big part of my life and I always want them to know I care about them. When we go to Star Valley, we try to get together with our "borrowed" daughter and her family for lunch or dinner and just be together. It's so important for us to keep that bond alive."
Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
And All the Ramona books! by Beverly Cleary
A Spirit of Love by Marvin Goldstein - This CD was a gift from our cello-playing daughter, but it saved my sanity while our son was wandering around, spiritually lost. He'd create a huge confrontation with me, as I sat quietly and listened, but after he left the house, I would turn on this CD and the Spirit would come back into our home. I really needed that at the time. I needed to know I was still worthy to feel and receive Spiritual feelings, in spite of my son's choices. I wish I'd had it earlier when our daughter was wandering!"
Date Night Ideas -
"Allen and I haven't sat with each other in church meeting for a lot of years. It's been 17-1/2 years since he was called to be a counselor in the Bishopric and has served faithfully in all those callings. He will be released Nov. 1st as our Stake President and I will cry. He's been a man of his calling, magnifying it in every way possible. He was who the Lord wanted at the time and he stepped up to the plate and began hitting homeruns immediately. His enthusiasm has been vibrant and catching and our theme has been "Hoorah for Zion!" over the years. It would take me pages to chronicle all the great things he's continued from our past stake president and developed during his tenure, but I really should sit down with him and get it done. Our posterity needs that information. All I can say is he's been more than a great Stake President. I know very few people who will be happy to see him released, but he's ready, sort of. I'm not sure I am! I have to figure out what to do with him now that he's not involved in all those stake functions and meetings and everything going on. But it will be so wonderful to be able to sit with him in church again. I'm not sure I'll know how to act with him sitting next to me in church meetings. It won't feel normal to me, but I will enjoy sitting next to him and holding his hand like we always did before.
So, my purpose in this paragraph is to acknowledge that many of our dates and activities together have centered around his callings and doing what needed to be done, being involved in planned activities for the ward and stake and being there together. There were many times I'd think or say, "I'd really like to do something that isn't connected with the church or a church activity for a change. I'd like to do something spontaneous or planned by one of us." That's when we go for a drive to see the fall colors or spring starting to emerge in the mountains as the aspens leaf out. Sometimes a drive with no plans is the best plan of all."