Wednesday, August 26, 2009

How to deal with the fame

I have always wanted to be famous. I admit it. What exactly I wanted to be famous for changed on a regular basis. At one point I wanted to be a famous gymnast like Marylou Retton. I often daydreamed about being a famous singer like Anne Murray or actress like Melissa Gilbert or author like Peggy Parish. (What? You don't know who those women are or what they are best known for? Look them up and refresh your memory).

I remember being in elementary school when I realized that the only people who were famous enough to make the history books were people who did extraordinary things. Even then, fame fades with time. I began to look at the world in a different way and wonder, "what makes a person memorable"?

I was still thinking about fame and even fantasizing about it 20 years later. At this point I was the mother of four children, ages 4, 2, 1, and 1 (I have twins). My daydreams of becoming a famous...something were more for escaping the monotony of everyday life than actual hopes for the future. I found myself watching entertainment shows, filled with celebrity gossip, and imagining what life was really like for them.

One such program was about the "price of fame" in which celebrities bemoaned their lack of privacy and the enthusiasm of their fans, fighting for just a glimpse or a touch, screaming their names and pulling on their clothes. It was tragic. I sighed and thought about how hard that would be as I made dinner for my little family.

I emerged from the kitchen sometime later with a dish of hot food and headed for the table. The children had been watching a movie and had not bothered me. This changed when they saw me enter the room. They all ran to me, wrapping their little arms around my legs, pulling on my shirt and calling "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy". I stopped so as not to trip over them and not burn anyone with dinner.

As I shooed them away I thought "This must be what it is like to be famous". I laughed to myself as I thought about the similarities. They had been clinging to me, screaming my name, fighting for my attention. And I couldn't remember the last time I was not interrupted in the bathroom or shower. Talk about lack of privacy!

But then, unexpectedly, another thought came to my mind. I thought of my Great-great-great grandmother, Ary Stanley Ball (or "Granny Ball" as most people remember her). She was the first member of my family to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in North Carolina. She is somewhat of a legend among local church members. Many are descended from her and tell her story to their children. Even those who are not related have heard her story and have been touched in some way by the choices she made so many years ago.

As I thought of her, I thought of the countless people she has influenced by doing two simple things. One, having a testimony of Jesus Christ and his restored gospel and, two, passing that testimony on to her children. For a moment, I had a glimpse of the future generations who would come to know her and revere her for what she had given them. I imagined all the good they would do and the lives they would touch because of their own testimonies.

"This is true fame." the Spirit seemed to whisper. Tears poured freely from my eyes as I realized for the first time the divine purpose and possibilities of motherhood. I have not looked at motherhood the same way since.

I'd like to say that from then on I was completely happy being a stay-at-home mom, that I never wanted to be famous again and that I never forgot that lesson. But that would be a lie. I still complain, I still day dream and I still have moments when I want to just run away from it all. Those moments have become more rare. Maybe someday they will disappear forever. I guess it is just part of the process in becoming "superwoman".


Emily said...

I loved this post as well. :) I have to admit though that when I read the title of the post, I thought it was going to be about the fame that comes when we attempt to leave the house with all children in tow.

I have 5 children under 5 including 3 month old twins and people are constantly stopping me in the grocery store to tell me that I must have my hands full (ya think!?) or to ask how I do it (which I agree is quite an infuriating question).

But I like this aspect of fame a bit better. :)

Mrs. White said...

What an amazing thought - mothers are famous to their own children. So true!!!

Thank you for the inspiration.

Mrs. White
The Legacy of Home