finding her own way

Driving home Sunday, something in the atmosphere made Mary think this was the absolute, best, most necessary time in the world to get a happy meal. I’m not much of a McD mommy any day of the week, but we Mormons take the Sabbath pretty seriously so I didn’t even consider her request, especially two minutes from home and a well-stocked pantry.

But Mary persisted, “I neeeeeeeeeeeeed a Happy Meal. I’ll DIE without a Happy Meal.”

The boys were horrified, “But it’s Sunday, Mary. We don’t go out on Sunday.”

“Is this about church?” my little spitfire retorted, “Cause I don’t care about church. I don’t care about the stupid gospel. I NEED a Happy Meal.”

Smothering laughter, I drove home while Mary muttered “stupid gospel, stupid gospel” from the confines of her car seat.

If she were my first child, or even my 3rd, 4th or 5th I might have been horrified. Where did I fail in teaching her? What about all those “little children are so close to Jesus” stories?

But in Mary, I have learned to admire her audacity. By all accounts I was a mellow little girl: eager to please and unquestioning of any authority. It wasn’t until later in life that I had to discover WHY I believe and not simply WHAT I believe.

Mary’s face is such a mirror of my own that I occasionally forget that we are separate people, that she has a life outside my arms and ideals. But Mary dances with a confidence I’ve never owned. She struts down the hall at church and parts the wave of people with the sheer force of her spunky personality. At school, she supervises the playground games as each child obediently bends to her will.

She’s a powerful little person and if I try to control her every action I will surely fail. My job is to teach her kindness, charity and compassion (all synonyms really) and if she eventually chooses a life of Happy Meals each Sunday, so be it.

Just be sure to thank the poor kid who makes your hamburger, sweetie.

November 5, 2008
November 10, 2008



  1. Alyson (New England Living)

    November 7, 2008

    STUNNING pictures! Really!

    I just love how you’ve learned to be freaked out about such things and accept and appreciate what she is. I’ve had to do that too with my kids.

  2. jennie w.

    November 7, 2008

    How can such a sweet face be capable of anything naughty?

  3. Linn

    November 8, 2008

    Hilarious! My dad told me often of a similar story when I was very little. He had to take me out of sacrament meeting because I was being too loud. Even taking me into the foyer didn’t work because I continued to squirm and be naughty. So he took me into one of the primary rooms and sat me on a tall table. I must have been quite small because I couldn’t get myself down. He told me I would have to stay there until I could be reverent and obedient. I sat happily for a very long time, swinging my legs and singing a sweet and familiar song. Only I changed the words to “I hate my daddy. I hate my daddy.”

    The irony of the whole thing? Next to my husband, I admire and love and respect my father more than any other person on this earth. I try hard to tell him that often, in the hopes of making up for my naughtiness twenty-eight years ago.

  4. Allison

    November 8, 2008

    I’m laughing so hard I’m crying! That is SO Jenna. Some little girls just have that fiesty character.

  5. Claudia

    November 8, 2008

    I’m so glad you shared that story. We all tend to take our kids a little to serious sometimes.

    She will die laughing at this someday.

    Beautiful child, beautiful cloak. I love that Mary girl!

  6. m_and_m

    November 8, 2008

    Fabulous post.

    I love your writing, friend. And your pics are always so lovely.

  7. duchess

    November 9, 2008

    She reminds me of little red riding hood.

    Great story.

  8. StubbyDog

    November 11, 2008

    Ah, Mary, Miss Mary. What a delight she is and will be.

    (I say this knowing full well some of the Mary stories you USED to tell *wink*)

    I’m glad that she has a mother who can appreciate her. Reminds me that I need to constantly be mindful about how I respond to my own spirited girl. They sound so different, and yet the same.

  9. Brooke

    November 11, 2008

    the orchard is even pretty during a melty snow?

    maybe i did choose the wrong location.


  10. jess

    November 12, 2008

    ummm.. i am soo going to need this when my kids start talking back. i am definitely one of the freak out moms that would wonder where i went wrong. i hope, oh i hope i can remember your wise words!

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