Early this morning, the dogs and I rambled across the field where my kids used to play baseball. It was empty except for the ghosts of who we used to be as a family. The seven of us spent a lot of years on that field. Playing. Coaching. Umping. Cheering. Yelling.
I used to yell a lot in those days — especially at the umpires, even when our sons were umping. I was a yeller, which led one spectator to chew me out for being so hard on a 14- year-old kid who was, she said, “doing the best he could.”
“IT’S OK,” I told her. “HE’S MY SON AND THAT CALL HE JUST MADE STINKS.”
I yelled because I cared, don’t you know. Winning games mattered.
That’s all changed now, of course. One by one, those scruffy little boys of ours slipped into adulthood like fish into the ocean. Meanwhile, I no longer yell at 12-year-old kids playing baseball, because, come on, they’re only 12 years old.
Other things have changed, too, and as I stood there in the middle of that empty field, I drew up a mental list of all the ways my life looks different now.
Some of those changes have been great. The past two times my husband and I have been hiking, we’ve run into parents herding their young up the hillside, not unlike Capt. von Trapp and Maria. But instead of singing “Edelweiss,” the kids have been crying, begging their parents (they’re the ones with the grim expressions) to please, please, please carry them because HIKING IS SO HARD AND THEY DIDN’T WANT TO GO ON A STUPID HIKE ANYWAY.
As it turns out, hiking without little kids is so much better than hiking with them. So. Much. Better.
Some of the changes, however, have been hard. Last spring, a good friend of mine died. Because she loved roses, I planted one in her honor in my backyard. Yesterday, as I watered it, watching its wet leaves glisten in the sunlight, I thought about how much I miss meeting her for lunch at her favorite Italian restaurant, where we discussed roses and books and dogs and jewelry (she adored big shiny rings) over the farfalle dish she loved.
The subject of change and how difficult it can be popped up in a conversation I had with another friend, a convert who made significant personal and professional sacrifices to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She confessed that some of the recent policy and procedural changes have been difficult for her. Because certain things in Church World haven’t changed enough for me personally, I was surprised by her comment. But I also was deeply grateful to her for making me see things through her eyes — and not just mine.
Which brings me to my point.
General Conference is approaching, which means, given President Russell M. Nelson’s recent track record, that more changes will be coming. He’s already stated the new temples and other announcements will be made at the gathering. Some members may welcome those changes, while others may find them difficult to embrace — to which I can only say, let’s do our best to put aside judgment, to cut one another some slack, to support one another as sisters and brothers in the gospel as we each work to find our places in an institution that is (blessedly!) a work in progress.
Ann Cannon is The Salt Lake Tribune’s advice columnist. Got a question for Ann? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.