Friday, January 6, 2012

The Secret I Kept

Speaking of love, change of hearts and being kind to others, now is as good a time as any to tell about a Christmas surprise that was very hard to keep...

In April, Mike and I will celebrate 15 years of marriage. And with marriage comes the inevitable issue of... in-laws. You know that whole merging of personalities, traditions, families and so on. In no way will I dredge up past experiences, but I will say for many years things were less than ideal between me (and Mike) and his parents.

A little over a year and a half ago, Mike's parents returned from their second LDS mission and we went to their house to visit them. As we sat in the backyard just our little family and Laurie and Steve I was overcome with love and acceptance of them. I spent the whole drive home trying to convince Mike that we were not dreaming and that I was in fact very excited to begin anew a relationship with his parents. Mike was mildly nervous that I had switched bodies with someone and wondered exactly who was sitting in the car seat next to him.

I'm not going to publicly declare the private exchanges, thoughts and feelings that followed, but I will say it was a glorious experience to be able to truly feel unconditional love and acceptance (to and from) people that we had had a somewhat tumultuous history with for far too long. I KNEW then and still do today, that without a doubt my feelings and change of heart were a direct result of the promises and blessings given to them as they faithfully served the Lord as missionaries.

Six months later, in December 2010 Laurie and Steve announced they would be going on a third mission, Mike looked at me speechless when I expressed how much I would miss them and how I had bittersweet thoughts and feelings about them going. My how things had changed.

One day this last fall, I sent an SOS email to my mother-in-law asking her to call me whenever she could. I desperately needed some advice and guidance about a decision I was attempting to make. It was another reminder of how far we had all come.

In early-December, Mike spoke on the phone to his parents late one Sunday night. It was not unusual for them to call, and I was somewhat wrapped up in whatever I was working on and paid little attention to Mike's side of the conversation. To make a long story short, Mike hung up and asked me if I could keep a big secret. (I think Mike and his mother were concerned that because I open presents early meant I can't keep secrets. Not the case!) To make the long story even shorter, Laurie and Steve surprised our children at church on Christmas Day. Laurie and Steve decided after serving three missions, they would not extend this last mission as they had originally planned. Instead they would come home and bask in being grandparents.

It was a hard secret to keep. I even flat-out-lied a time or two when a conversation struck up about whether Laurie and Steve would be home for Joshua's birthday or Ellie's baptism next Spring. Megan kind of wondered why Laurie and Steve's presents were hidden under a chair in my bedroom rather than taken to a post office to be mailed, the kids couldn't understand why I was preparing a Christmas Day meal when we never have before, a few of them wondered why we all had to arrive at church early on Christmas Day with Mike, Megan and the harp instead of driving separately, etc.

I wish I'd have had a camera in church to capture the expression on Megan's face when she turned and saw her grandparents while she and Mike were up front tuning the harp.

It was a difficult secret to keep.
But oh so worth it.
Especially when all five of my children (a couple of them twice) had the chance to sleep over at Grandma and Grandpa's just days after they had been out of town for over a year. What champs!

There is only one draw-back to their early arrival home...
Megan AND Luke have been invited to attend the Utah Symphony with them tonight. Even though I predicted Luke would be bored out of his mind, Mike knowing it will be a good experience for him decided to go ahead and encourage him to go. Luke has been quite looking forward to this mystical symphony thing that he knows nothing about and really doesn't know what to expect...

Dutifully, at the suggestion of my mother-in-law, I You-Tubed Tchaikovsky's piano concert No.1 this morning  before school to introduce Luke to it. We were only about 58 seconds through the 6.55 minute video and Luke was nowhere to be found. Should be an interesting evening.

BUT--that is the beauty of a good, healthy relationship. You give and you take. I'm sure Grandma Laurie isn't exactly thrilled to hear non-stop about goats, cowboys and horses.

~I know some of this seems like kind of private information in such a public setting. But I have some friends who have mothers in-law that make them crazy. I have some friends that are the mothers-in-law themselves and deal with issues that come with that. And in nearly every conversation with these friends, I am reminded of my OWN mistakes, my OWN immaturity and my OWN selfishness lasting more than a decade. Just last week while talking with a friend about grandparents, I cringed as I recalled something I had done almost thirteen years ago when Megan was just a baby.

Thank goodness for love, forgiveness and change of hearts.
These two are now some of my absolute favorite people.
Who would ever have thought?!


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