Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Reflections

The sunlight swirled in a halo of sparkles, framing the shadowed face. Anna sighed and turned the silver frame slightly to the right, away from the open window. Now the image before her was clearer. She brushed her dark bangs to the side and carefully drew sea-green lines along the upper edge of each eye. Hazel eyes stared at themselves; then her gaze dropped to her mouth. Picking up the same tube of lipstick she had worn at her wedding, Anna dashed it across her lips and turned towards the door. She picked her way through the dirty clothes dropped haphazardly across the floor, and pulled the door close to shut behind her.


"Steve," she called out, "Are you almost ready?"

"Sure," came the reply, "just as soon as I can find my scriptures. Would you check the baby's room?"

"Okay." Annie headed into the purple and green nursery, picking up a few toys and dropping them into the rainbow-colored toybox as she looked for the worn black leather case. A giggle halted her search - she pivoted on the ball of her left foot and strode purposefully back down the hall.

"What are you doing in here?" Anna asked as she re-entered her bedroom. "Oh no!"

"Mama pway!" and the giggle sounded again. In the middle of a pile of white T-shirts and socks, little Emily was dressed only in her diapers as she flipped through the pages of a small, leather-bound book. Surrounding her on the floor were the contents of Steve's scripture case. A small tearing sound brought Anna's eyes back to her child, and she hurried forward to rescue the books from Emily's possession.

"I found them," Anna called out, "but I need a hand."

"Coming," came the reply.

A minute later, Steve pushed his way in the door. Wading through the overflow from the laundry hamper, he grabbed his scriptures, papers, pens and pencils. As he repacked his scripture case, Anna managed to get the squirming baby back into her Sunday dress. With a sigh, she realized they were going to be late again. As her family trouped out of the bedroom, Anna took a last look in the mirror. She knew what she would see - a harried expression, sweat beads beginning to form along her brow, and her hair escaping from it's tidy clip into a fuzzy mess. Her reflection frowned back at her as she hurried out the door.

Walking into the Bridgeton 3rd Ward, Anna slipped into a bench in the back and put down her baby, the diaper bag, and the CTR-5 lesson materials. They had already missed the sacrament. Anna wished fervently that they could move back home, where her family lived. One glance at the rest of the chapel confirmed her feelings - she would never fit in here. Just look at Sister Pinnat, with her Nordstrom's dress so obviously coordinated with a designer bag and tasteful navy pumps. Or Sister Freegle, with her three sons lined up and paying close attention to the speaker. The bishop caught her eye as she looked around the room - flushing, Anna sank into her seat and opened the diaper bag.

Five minutes later Anna was in the foyer, trying to calm Emily down while deciding whether the bump on her head was going to bruise or not. After changing a diaper in the mother's lounge, Anna looked at her reflection over the sink. She reached up to reposition her hairclip, and tried to ignore the rest of the reflection looking back at her disapprovingly.

When sacrament meeting finally ended, Anna gratefully turned Emily over to the nursery leader, Sister Johnston, and walked to her Primary classroom. Four eager faces looked up at her as she walked in.

"Good morning, Sister Prentis," their cheery voices rang out.

"Good morning everybody!" Anna replied with an easy smile. She loved this part of her day - and the kids loved her right back. They had an opening prayer, and then they talked about faith. The lesson never really went as planned, but the four and five year olds always asked a lot of questions. They especially loved scripture stories and chances to act them out. After 40 minutes, Anna was feeling much better. She sat with her class through Sharing Time and Singing Time, prompting her class to answer questions and singing along enthusiastically.

At the end of Primary, Anna headed to the nursery to pick up Emily. She had to get her home, fed, and into bed quickly for her afternoon nap. Steve would be home in an hour, after finishing up in the clerk's office, and she wanted to have tidied up a few things by then and have lunch ready. Juggling two bags and a baby, Anna headed towards the door.

"Anna..." At the sound of her name, she turned around to find Sister Johnston behind her. "Anna, your Emily is such a sweetheart. We love having her in nursery. Today she was the first one to invite the new Anderson girl to play with her; Emily just gave her a big hug and brought over the toy blocks she had been playing with. I just wanted you to know you have a very special girl, just like her mom."

Anna blinked wish surprise, and managed to stutter, "Th-Thank you."

Thirty minutes later, she was at home and Emily was tucked in for her nap. She paused at the doorway to her room, and took a look at the mess. It was time to find the floor again. As she carried an armload of laundry over to the closet, her gaze caught on the reflection in her mirror, and she smiled as she remember the nursery leader's comments. Her reflection smiled back at her.

5 comments:

Nick said...

The language was very visually descriptive for me: I could see myself standing in the disordered room with socks and tshirts strewn about the floor, mainly because it happens to me so often.

Nick said...

I took the liberty of changing the time stamp so that it the most recent post. If you want it put back, (or put somewhere else) there is a button called 'post options' or something like that on the page where you edit the post.

Julie C said...

thanks nick! I may be able to solder my own stereo wires, but I don't know all the ins and outs of blogging like you. :)

Jenny said...

1. I can totally empathize with Anna. Although Nick's pretty good at making sure that we're actually not really late, I always feel like we are, and my hair goes frizzy too.

2. Yes, very visual—it was fun to read! And Sis. Freegle with three very attentive boys sounds familiar ... do I know her? :)

2.5 This is for Nick: I'm trying to remember the last time you were in said situation and, due to my laundry prowess, said time is escaping me. My laundry pride has been wounded. Ok, I'm over it.

3. I think the part that made me think the most was the feeling that Anna had that she didn't, and wouldn't ever, "fit in" in her ward. I think it's a real problem exacerbated by the idea that what you wear = some type of spiritual-ness or worthiness indicator. At the same time, there's nothing wrong with looking nice for church. But when clothes become a barrier, that seems like a problem. This part reminded me of Nick's post on the international church—I wonder if standards of "Sunday dress" will change? Pantsuits for women not being shocking? Or perhaps carefully cut t-shirts? (If you don't know the story on the last one, read "http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/?p=1038"this.)

Jenny said...

Ok, that link didn't work, but just past the address in withouth the quotation marks or the this and it'll take you there.