Find-A-Friend Friday: Meet Pam

Today we get to meet Pam. I’m meeting Pam for the first time myself through this interview, and I just have to say– some people amaze me. Truly.  Blog friends, meet Pam:

Hi, My name is Pam Banta. I live in Orem, Utah. I am married to a wonderful Lt. Col. in the Army Reserve that loves, adores and cherishes me for some unknown reason. I am the mother of 12 (Yes, TWELVE) children. Gave birth to 5 (2 girls, 2 boys and a girl), adopted 7 (2 girls, 2 boys, girl, boy, girl). The attached family picture is missing two people—my 24-year-old son that was unavoidably absent, and my newest granddaughter. It was done in Dec 2009—we are getting a new one done tomorrow. The bear represents my son who passed away in 2005. There are two pecking orders in our home—oldest to youngest and first to last. We adopted a 10-year-old girl from India when our first girl was 3 ½ and our second girl was a year old. Two years later, I gave birth to a boy and 6 weeks later the oldest child’s two siblings joined us from India. That created a lot of the two pecking orders… the first child becoming the third oldest and creating an almost twin situation with the first child being 5 months older than the youngest child from India. I gave birth to two more children, then adopted a little boy from the California foster care system. Our last three children were our foster children that we were able to adopt.  We are still foster licensed, but due to our youngest son’s emotional/mental health issues, I don’t have the energy to care for any more children. We have 7 children at home now: Z- 24-year-old-boy, M-19-year-old-boy, J-17-year-old-boy, A-14-year-old-girl, R-9 -year-old-girl, C-8-year-old-boy, B -6 -year-old-girl. I’m a grandma of 4 granddaughters, the last one only a couple of months old. I have four married daughters that I am so grateful have been married in the temple!   I work part-time as a court liaison for a clinical services provider—which means I get to sit in court, listen, read a book, comment when a client is in court and sign up people for new services as assigned by the court. I do enjoy it.  I am also a Peer Parent. I went back to work to pay for my youngest to join the next two oldest at Montessori school. That has been an amazing experience! I teach Sunbeams in Primary. I love quotes—I have included many in my post here. We have remodeled four homes. I have done a lot of painting, sheetrocking, tile and wood floors. My husband was deployed in 2007, gone 15 months, home a year and 8 days and gone for another year +. He has been home for a year, but has been the commander of a battalion in Washington State for the past 9 months…only 15 months to go.

I grew up in Cottonwood Heights, a suburb of Salt Lake City. I graduated a long time ago. This year was my 30 year reunion, which I missed so I could spend the weekend with my husband in Atlanta at a Commander’s Conference for the Army Reserve. My dad was a Salt Lake County Deputy Sheriff (and I have a brother that is one now). I enjoyed that some…got to go in a police car occasionally, and he worked in our area, so when he wasn’t busy, sometimes he would come park in the driveway and I could go out and talk to him. I grew up in a family of six kids…sort of. I grew up the oldest of 3 for a long time, then when I was in high school, my parents adopted 3 kids from India. Little did my parents know what they were starting!  Our children are from the same orphanage. I went to India with my parents for a month to pick up my second sister. I was a swimmer from age 11 till I graduated from high school. I was never very good, but I enjoyed it most of the time. I taught swimming and was a lifeguard throughout high school. I’ve gone to Snow College, spent a semester abroad in Israel, went to Intermountain College of Court Reporting and worked as a court reporter part-time for about a year, went to University of Wyoming, and about a year ago started at Broadview University for an AA in Paralegal Studies. I quit school when I started work in March this year. Too much on my plate. In 2001 or 2002, I started a website for adoption resources, In 2003, I started an adoption agency. It didn’t make any money and took a lot of time, so when my husband was deployed in 2007, I had to close it.

What’s your favorite part of motherhood? My favorite part of motherhood is watching my children learn new things.  I love to see the light in their eyes when they figure something out or something suddenly clicks in their brain. I spend a lot of time just listening. Sometimes I wonder how much I really teach them. I love the few precious moments when everyone is getting along. I love hugs, snuggling, laughing together, I love seeing my adult children get together and talk and get along. I love knowing that my adult daughters feel they can come to me with questions about their kids. It’s great to see them grow up and be good people—you wonder about that sometimes when they are growing up! I’m not enjoying the fact my daughter #2 (& #5) is moving to South Africa the first part of September for 9 months. That’s a bit far away.

What part of motherhood would you subcontract out if you could?  Definitely laundry.  It is a strong source of contention in our home. My youngest three, due to the early circumstances of their lives, are not very cooperative. I also believe in teaching them to be responsible and self-reliant, so they have to do laundry. They don’t like it (not many of us do!). I would also contract out dishes.  Another BIG battle at our house. HUMMMM—how about all the cleaning, laundry, dishes and cooking? Then I could just play Mom? Guess that wouldn’t work—who would teach my kids to do it?  One sad thing I heard was a friend from Colorado whose daughter had just gone to college and she was the only one in her apartment that knew how to do dishes, laundry or clean. Sad. My kids won’t be those roommates.

Brag for a minute.  Do it.  What are a few things that you’re pretty good at? Listening. As I said before, I do a lot of it. It seems like most people can figure out their own issues if they can talk them out. I pray a lot while I listen for any inspirational comments to make—or when to be quiet. I multi-task pretty well. I catch on to some things pretty quickly. I worked for a few months in a small law office and kind of was running it within a month. My boss at the moment has told me that she is grateful she doesn’t have to worry about me or babysit me. She shows or tells me what needs to be done and it’s done. “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

What are you loving lately? Holding my granddaughters. Seeing my son bless the sacrament (his two older brothers went inactive about that time in their lives), Enjoying Fridays when my husband is home and the kids are at school! Reading. I love knowing that the Second Coming is actually coming. I see things speeding up. I just wish it would hurry. I would love to have some time to raise my youngest children with more peace in the world. Yes, I want it to come for selfish reasons. Of course, when Joseph Smith was alive, he was told it was close…so I guess that’s all relative.  I just wish it would hurry up. I also am loving sitting in court and watching my own realization of the Savior’s love grow. He loves every one of those people I see every day. The ones that have been struggling with drugs or alcohol for most of their lives, the ones with mental illness, the ones that look like toothpicks, the ones struggling with weight issues, the ones driving on suspension for the 5th time. The ones going to jail for the 10th time and the ones who got caught going 9 over the speed limit. The ones that hurt another of His children. Everyone is beautiful in His eyes and everyone is loved by Him, cherished by Him. I have been able to develop more love for others, more tolerance and acceptance. I see through new eyes.

Do you have a favorite scripture or quote?  Why? Mosiah chapters 2-5.  Sorry, couldn’t narrow it down any further. Much of it is about accepting the atonement, repentance, the love of the Savior, blessings, serving others. It’s kind of a road map home. Some of my favorite quotes (I have a very large file on my computer of quotes, stories, poems):  “Marriage—it’s not about finding someone you can live with.  It’s about finding someone you can’t live without.”  Julian Laws.  “Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he’s been robbed. The fact is that most putts don’t drop, most beef is tough, most children grow up to be just people, most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration, most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is like an old-time rail journey…delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.”—Gordon B. Hinckley, quoting Jenkin Lloyd Jones    “Faith means trust—trust in God’s will, trust in His way of doing things, and trust in His timetable.”  Dallin H. Oaks  Boyd K. Packer:  “If you are reverent and prayerful and obedient, the day will come when it will be revealed to you why the God of Heaven has commanded us to address Him as simply ‘Father’ and why the Lord of the Universe asks us to address Him simply as ‘Son’.  Then you will have discovered the Pearl of Great Price spoken of in the scriptures and you will willingly go and sell all that you have that you might obtain it.”

What’s something you don’t usually want people to know about you, but that they need to know if they’re going to be your friend? I am hard to get to know. I usually sit back and listen and watch in a group–sometimes even in my own family. One on one, sometimes it’s hard to get me to be quiet. I don’t have many friends and I am very busy, so friend time is very limited. That doesn’t mean I don’t love you or care about you, but that my family is my priority and they are a bit time-consuming.

Friends are great for venting.  What’s been frustrating you lately? My youngest children have no idea what respect is (even though we are trying, daily, to help them figure it out). They have two speeds—zoom and snail. Of course, zoom is when I want them to slow down, and snail is the rest of the time. They don’t like to obey—it’s a control/trust thing—attachment issues from birth parents. We can’t seem to motivate them to do anything they need to do.  I’m very tired of being yelled at and disobeyed. Even the therapists we go to every week are frustrated. The therapist reminds me—molding children’s behavior and thought processes before age 3 is like molding clay. After 3, it’s like chiseling granite. Guess how many of my children came after age 3? Six. My chiseling arm is very, very tired.

What parts of your testimony are you the most sure of? I have a Heavenly Father and Savior that love me –all of us. The atonement is very real—and I believe a small part of it is for sin, the rest of it is for all the pain and suffering, mistakes, etc. that we all experience. I have a strong testimony that we will all be judged fairly—according to our level of understanding in life, our abilities and the circumstances that create that. I know that the gospel contains all we need to find happiness in life. There are principles that are just plain true principles—whether you live in Utah, India, China or Africa. Whether you have ever heard of Jesus Christ or not. Following those principles create happiness. People around the world have figured that out through the spirit. Prayer works. You can find answers in the scriptures. The Priesthood has great power. I will see my son again. There are worse things than dying. “That great blessing of celestial glory could never have come to us without a period of time in mortality, and so we came here in this mortal world. We are in school, the mortal school, to gain the experiences, the training, the joys, and the sufferings that we partake of, that we might be educated in all these things and be prepared, if we are faithful and true to the commandments of the Lord, to become sons and daughters of God, joint heirs with Jesus Christ;”—Joseph Fielding Smith    “The strait and narrow path, though clearly marked, is a path, not a freeway nor an escalator. Indeed, there are times when the only way the strait and narrow path can be followed is on one’s knees! And we are to help each other along the path.”  —Neal A. Maxwell

If you were awarded an “honorary degree” in something, what should it be and why? As a therapist. I do that EVERY day. I really feel I have learned as much as most therapists do because of the issues my children have. My three oldest have attachment disorder and abandonment issues. It took years to figure that out—and I did, not the counselors we were going to. I have a son with depression and anxiety, a husband and several children with ADHD, and my youngest three have neglect/abandonment issues, attachment issues and my youngest son has bi-polar, OCD, Oppositional Defiance Disorder.  Life is fun—often not. I have played the role of marriage counselor, parenting mentor, drug abuse counselor, suicide prevention counselor, etc.

Let’s say you’re dying in your sleep tonight.  What would you eat for your last meal? A nice salad, either beef tips with mushroom gravy and mashed potatoes and rolls from Texas Roadhouse OR chicken broccoli alfredo and garlic bread. Heck, if it’s my last meal, why not both? For dessert—a gooey brownie with chocolate ice cream and hot fudge.  “Always leave room for dessert.”

Give your best advice to a newlywed or expectant mom. For a newlywed: Take time to adjust to each other. Assume your spouse is not doing the things that bug you because s/he wants to bug or hurt you. Most of the time, if they knew how it was affecting you, they wouldn’t do it. There isn’t enough time in life to get offended. Expectant mom:  Pregnancy is temporary. Do your best. Take time every day to enjoy something—your child will never be that age again. Put trust in your Heavenly Father that He knows you and your child and the match was “made in heaven” and is right for both of you. Heavenly Father knows you can be this child’s parent and He will help you. Share your testimony with your children. If there is only thing my children remember about me when I am gone, I hope it would be my unwavering testimony of the gospel and that I love them. “Parental time with youth is vital…whether in activities or discussions, the family circle would be one and the same time, a circle of friends.  Families which work, pray and play together will usually survive spiritually.  Let us, as parents and grandparents, so love, tutor and train our youth that the sweetness they experience in their LDS homes will, thereafter, make the world taste sour to them.”  Neal A. Maxwell.  “Change is inevitable.  Growth is optional.”   “Try not to be too demanding of one another. There must be a little give and take, and a great deal of flexibility, to make a happy home.” —Marjorie Pay Hinckley, Glimpses into the Life and Heart of Marjorie Pay Hinckley

What’s something unexpected in your life, and how have you dealt with it? One of my grandmothers died in March of 2003, my other grandmother in January of 2004, My dad in March of 2004. Then, in 2005, at about 6:10 pm on June 10th, my 6-year-old son, Ammon, was in an accident. After an agonizing hour stabilizing him enough to go to Primary Children’s Hospital in a life flight, a long hour drive to the hospital, I met my husband at the doors of the hospital and was told he was gone. We were very blessed to have the Comforter as a constant companion for a couple of weeks, but eventually, He has to pull back and let you live your life, experience the event, process it (with a some continued help) and gain the strength to stand on your feet again and function without being constantly held up by the spirit. We were given many spiritual experiences that helped us know this was the Lord’s plan and there wasn’t anything we could have done about it. It’s still hard. I miss him every day. We have shared his life with the youngest three kids that never met him. Prayer, trusting in the Lord, and the atonement have been the only way we have been able to handle it. Unfortunately, several of our children are still dealing with emotional issues from this loss. That’s where I have felt very helpless and have to trust in the atonement to make it all right with everyone.“ In times when fear and despair seem to prevail, when humanity is feverish with no worldly physicians in sight, I… say, “Trust Jesus.” Let him still the tempest… Believe that he can lift mankind from its bed of affliction, in time and in eternity.“—Elder Jeffery R. Holland Ensign, November 1993   “We Thought of you with love today, but that is nothing new. We thought of you yesterday, and day before that, too. We think of you in silence, we speak your name with pride, and we relive out memories of living side by side. Your memory is our keepsake with which we’ll never part. God has you in his keeping–we have you in our heart.” by Sue

Tell us about your blog.

I occasionally blog…Something I would like to do more of—maybe actually put something in it to inspire somebody occasionally! There are links to some flickr slideshows about remodeling our house and about my son, some pictures and a little about us. I wish I could have thought of something more creative for the name…like CraZmomof12. Thought of that too late.

Sorry this was so long…I guess it qualifies in the one-on-one conversation category where I talk too much. J

Thank you, Pam.  Your stories, experiences, and quotes taught me some great lessons, and I’m probably not the only one.  Please leave Pam a love note in the comment box to let her know what you appreciated about her interview.  Happy Labor Day weekend to all.