On Saturday night Gwen and I went to the General Women’s Broadcast together. A year or two ago these women and young women’s sessions of General Conference changed. Instead of having a general women’s session in the fall and a general young women’s session in the spring, they have combined their efforts into one session held twice a year. All women and girls ages 8 and up are invited. I remember when that change was made and I looked forward to taking Gwen with me.
Last fall I went to the session alone. Sometimes I have gone with friends. Most of the time I show up and hope to find a friend to sit with. I always bail as soon as the broadcast is over. That’s just me. Anyway, last fall I went and really did not enjoy the experience. I was an emotional wreck because of life’s events. I was craving spiritual enlightenment in any way I could get it. Seeing women show up in groups with several children in tow was distracting to me. I couldn’t understand why people were bringing girls who were clearly not old enough to be there. The girls were chatty, restless, and were in and out of the chapel many times throughout the meeting. It was also the first time I had ever seen the broadcast delivered with an interpreter for those with hearing impairments sitting on the side. The broadcast feed was in a smaller box in the upper right of the screen. The interpreter took up the rest of the screen on the left. The sign language was distracting to me too. I felt bad that I was so easily distracted and frustrated by the experience.
Heath and I were talking about how General Conference is changing for our family. Gavin gets to go the priesthood session now. Parker will be so jealous! Gwen is six months away from being old enough to go to the women’s session with me. I don’t remember who had the idea first but it was thrown out there to let Gwen go early. Something about that idea really intrigued me. I love taking her out one on one. She is my favorite shopping partner and I still miss her when she’s at school. How fun would it be to do something so feminine together? I asked her if she wanted to go. I explained how the meetings go and what she could expect along with my expectations of her behavior. With all that information she still agreed to go. She was thrilled to be trusted with the extra responsibility.
I am so glad she came with me! She was more reverent than I have ever seen her. I let her bring paper and a pencil to draw. She did draw four pictures – all related to the evening. She mostly sat and quietly listened. When she whispered to me it was a question or comment about what was being said. I was beaming with pride. My kids always rise to the occasion. There was a sweet grandma lady that came to sit with us. We talked a little before the meeting began so she knew Gwen was still only 7 years old. She kept looking over at us throughout the meeting with admiration. When Gwen climbed up on my lap to see a speaker better – she claimed she could see well enough for the first video – the lady had a longing in her eyes. There was a talk that started with a description of newborn babies and what a joy it is to hold them. The lady said something to me about holding Gwen now and how it is just as special. So true. I love holding my two snuggle bunnies on my lap at church.
The evening was so wonderful. The messages were beautiful. Gwen and I bonded even more. The love surrounding us was palpable. When the meeting ended I asked Gwen if she wanted to stay for the rest. Dinner and a service project is always offered. I knew the answer as soon as I asked the question. As much as I was ready to leave, Gwen wanted to stay. So we did. We had chicken salad sandwiches on croissants. Gwen had never had that before and loved it! There were several service projects on tables throughout the cultural hall. We sat down to help tie fleece blankets. Gwen knew one girl from Primary. The other girl moved a few years ago. She remembered that I was her Primary teacher. That was so long ago! Jessica was 4 or 5 years old then. Gwen was a large bump protruding from my body making it really hard to sit on the little chairs. My Primary kids would always get to the teacher chair first and it wasn’t worth the fight to sit there. It’s so fun to see my Primary class all grown up functioning as Young Men and Young Women.
When I found out that my unborn baby was the girl we had been hoping for, I remember how I felt. It’s a feeling that is difficult to put into words. I knew she needed to come to our family. She would balance us out somehow. Not because I was outnumbered as the only girl, but some other way. I still don’t know exactly what it is. All I know is I am so grateful for Gwen. She has made me a better person with her outgoing personality. She challenges me and encourages me to do things I would ordinarily not do. Like stay for the rest of the activities at the women’s broadcast.
Walking back in our house was an interesting experience. It always is. Coming from a spiritual high back home is a hard transition. But it was a great scene. Heath and the boys were red faced and sweaty. They had been playing video games. I was so happy for Parker that he finally got one on one time with his dad. Complete one on one time. Gavin was at a birthday party for most of the evening. Parker must have been beside himself with excitement. All he ever wants to do is play video games with his dad. They got quite a bit of competitive playing time together before they had to pick up Gavin. Then the three of them were competitively playing. They were having so much fun. It was one of those magical nights.