Find-A-Friend Friday: Meet Mary

It has been a really busy week on this blog. I think I’ve blogged more than I had in the previous month, total. Since posts are going up so quickly, I don’t want you to miss anything, so head back to the homepage and scroll a bit so you can catch all of the General Conference festivities, including last night’s announcement about trivia and photo contests. Okay, back to the business at hand.

I really didn’t know very much at all about Mary until I read her answers to my “interview” questions.  By the time I finished, I decided I wish I lived next door to Mary.  I love people who can give great advice and make me think more deeply.  I’m excited for you to get to know her, too.  Meet Mary:

Hello! Iʼm Mary Jarman, and I live in Sandy, Utah. Stephanie recently posted about living in
Utah, and her honesty made my day. I replied that I was a transplant to Utah, and said in my life there are several things I said I would never do. Living in Utah made that list, as did and never driving a Suburban. God has a sense of humor, and Iʼve learned to never say never because I do live in Utah (which has grown to feel like home) and even though I still donʼt drive a Suburban, our 5 children (3 teen-sized) more than fill up our Durango, so itʼs probably time for an upgrade. It certainly would make carpooling and road trips a lot easier!

I grew up on a farm in Juniper, Idaho, and moved away when I was 18 years old for
college. I attended BYU Idaho (back when it was Ricks College) and earned an Associateʼs
Degree. After a stint at Boise State University, I left on a mission to the Marshall Islands
(Micronesia Guam Mission, which has also changed names and boundaries…are there hints of my age in all of these change?). I attended BYU (Provo) after my mission. I donʼt want to hurt any feelings, but BYU was my last choice. It took God knocking me over the head to get me there, and in my ultimate act of rebellion, I actually wore my husbandʼs University of Utah sweatshirt to classes on the last day. Ten years later, after my youngest children were in school, I redeemed myself by graduating from the University of Utah with a masterʼs degree in social work. (All these years later, Godʼs wisdom is quite apparent. My former association with BYU lead to professional relationships that have opened doors to many amazing international social work opportunities.)

Iʼm married to the amazing Tim Jarman, who works full-time and on his days off is a
stay-at-home parent while Iʼm working. He intimidates me with his homemaking skills (he even bottles things in a pressure cooker), but I am thankful every day to my mother-in-law for raising boys who arenʼt afraid of carpools and housework! Tim and I both served missions in the Marshall Islands, and I ALWAYS have to follow that statement up with, “but we didnʼt meet on our missions.” Tim was actually there 5 years prior to me, and we met when he was recruiting former Marshall Islands missionaries to help with a temple trip for church members from the Marshall Islands. Eight days later we were engaged. (Wait… Did I really just say that out loud?) What can I say? When you know, you know. And my advice for anyone not considering marriage would be to avoid spending any significant amount of time in the temple while getting to know each other (notice I didnʼt even say dating, because technically, we didnʼt date until after we were engaged). Our 5 amazing children are Nate (15), Megan (13), Jeran (13), Joie (12), and Gabby (10). Nate and Jeran are our children by birth, a huge blessing given the list of fertility and health problems that accompanied those births. Megan, Joie, and Gabby have joined our family through
adoption. Megan was adopted through long-time Marshall Islands acquaintances who asked us to adopt her when Jeran was only a few weeks old. Twins?!?! Iʼve been thankful every day we said yes! From there we anticipated adopting again, but it didnʼt work out. Then unexpectedly four years ago, my sister, her husband, and their (then) 2 year old daughter died in a car accident. Their other daughter, Joie (a.k.a. DJ and Diana Jo) was the only survivor of the accident. She had just turned 8 at the time and has lived with us since. After the ups and downs of that experience, we realized we had successfully brought an older child into our family and decided to do it again. In December of last year Gabby joined our family, and her adoption was finalized in August. Growing our family has not been easy, and certainly hasnʼt been the path we anticipated, but it has been a path filled with joy at knowing some AMAZING human beings God has brought into our family.
Tim currently works for the FAA, and I manage my own mental health counseling practice
literally 2 minutes from my home. Itʼs a great way to accommodate both mom and career at the same time (and again, I couldnʼt do it without Tim).

What is your favorite part of motherhood? I think Iʼm would not be alone in the mom
community by saying that it is a privilege as a parent to get to know some really amazing
souls. My children are certainly my superiors and it thrills me to hear their wisdom, insights,
and observations about life. I also love that through my work, I get to meet some amazing
children with huge life challenges. Their work at healing inspires me also.

What part of motherhood would you subcontract out if you could? Cleaning… but then again thanks to Tim, I kind of already do that. I love all the face-to-face mom duties. There is never a dull moment when Iʼm face-to-face with one of my children.

Brag for a minute. Do it. What are a few things that you’re pretty good at? I think Iʼm good at being a mom. I have to say though, that it didnʼt come naturally. I had to work, study, and pray like crazy to make that weakness into a strength. I actually now do parent coaching as part of my counseling practice. Who knew?

Do you have a favorite scripture or quote? Why? “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40: 31) There you have it, straight from the mouth of God, via Isaiah. We were meant to fly. The Lord is our source of strength. I learned in the middle of seeing my childrenʼs lives torn by grief that I am the drink and God is the well. If I go to Him, I have enough for them, and I can lead them to Him. As much as my mom heart wished to take away their pain, He was the only one who could do that.  [Mary, I love this analogy.  So beautiful.]

Tell us some of your best mom tricks (things youʼve figured out that work well for you). Iʼm a huge advocate of recharging the mom batteries, and itʼs something I emphasize with all my clients. I used have a hard time giving myself permission to recharge, but I had some great friends who showed me how energizing a break could be. We canʼt give what we donʼt have, and we all need support systems. We are each otherʼs best support systems. Sadly, a lot of potential emotional energy is wasted on judging when we could build each other up. Our children and families deserve our best!

If you were in charge of a girlsʼ night out, what kind of activity would you love to plan? I love hanging out with friends, so weʼd probably do just that. The location wouldnʼt be important, as long as we could just talk and laugh be uninterrupted by daily demands.

What parts of your testimony are you most sure of? Families are Forever. They really are. Forever, and ever and ever. Theyʼre the most important thing in our lives, and truly our piece of heaven on earth. I also know that without the love of God, and His Son, it would not be possible to enjoy that greatest of eternal gifts. Godʼs blessings and gifts are amazing.

Desert Island Question. If you were stranded on a desert island and could only take 3 items with you, what would they be? My anxiety went up when I thought about being alone. I grew up in a huge family, and Iʼm not great at being alone. Since you said items and not people, my brain concocted a way to get people there. Iʼd take a magic portal that could be opened and closed any time I wanted so others come and go. Iʼd also take my laptop and nook. (There is free wi-fi there, right?)

If you were awarded an “honorary degree” in something, what should it be and why? It would be a PhD in treatment of PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Strep). My oldest son has this, and like most parents of children with any kind of special physical or mental need, weʼre becoming experts in his condition.

Give your best advice to a newlywed or expectant mom. You are the expert on your own children. Our pediatrician said that to me on our first appointment with our son (and of course heʼs still our pediatrician). You know your children better than anyone else (except God, and we need to rely on Him to teach us about our children). Donʼt be intimidated by professionals or “experts.” Give yourself permission to be the expert in your own childʼs life. As a counselor, I now say that to clients. It is incredibly helpful to me when Iʼm trying to help parents professionally if theyʼre confident in expressing what they know about their children. It saves months and months of work!

What’s something unexpected in your life, and how have you dealt with it? Definitely that would be losing my sister and her entire family in a single moment of a terrible car accident. Two months prior to that, one of my most-loved sister-in-laws died after a 10+ year long battle with cancer. I wondered how our family could survive that much grief and trauma. I had done everything I could my whole life as a mother to nurture my children and protect them from all the trauma and tragedies of life. I was vigilant about doing everything “right,” and it was difficult to realize I was helpless in that regard. Four years later I can say we are thriving, and I never would have thought that was possible. Faith played a huge role in our healing, as has eternal perspective. Support systems and taking life one day at a time has also been important.

If your life had a theme song, what would it be and why? Are we talking uplifting or real, because I have both. Uplifting would be “Bless the Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts, and real would be “I Wonʼt Back Down” by Tom Petty. I blogged through tears about “Bless the Broken Road” before leaving to go meet Gabby for the first time (see here). I canʼt say the same about “I Wonʼt Back Down,” but if you know me, you know thatʼs true. (And yes, Tim is a patient person.)

Tell us about your blog. I blog at Genuinely Jarman. My blog doesnʼt really have a theme or direction. Occasionally I do a series, and I do blog a lot about adoption, grief, and healing. Iʼm also blogging more and more about teenagers, because if you look at the ages of our children, weʼre just entering that phase of life. There was obviously not a huge need for planning when we were building our family. I actually like my teens though. Theyʼre fun and engaging to talk to and they make me laugh. (Admittedly, Iʼm still in the pre-driver, pre-dating phase of teen years.)

Thank you so much, Mary.  I genuinely enjoyed reading about you.  Please visit Mary’s blog or give her a quick hello in the comments here. 

Happy weekend, everyone.  It’s a special one.  Hope to see you all here in this corner of blogland on Monday and Tuesday sharing your conference experience.

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9 thoughts on “Find-A-Friend Friday: Meet Mary

  1. Mary, I love the Tom Petty song too!
    And I know where Micronesia is because we have several Micronesian families in our ward.
    I’ll be checking out your blog because I have teenagers too, and I haven’t found too many moms of teenagers blogs to read and relate to.

  2. So nice to meet you Mary! I can’t wait to check out your blog. I have been really busy lately and haven’t had as much time to check out all my favorite blogs. I really feel I was prompted to read D & D today to meet you. We have had fertility issues and have one 10 year old boy. It has been on our minds lately about adopting. I have so many questions about adopting older children and have wondered if it was a good idea. I am so excited to finally meet someone I can ask those questions too! You sound like an amazing person! I love your family picture-it seems like it captures the personalities so well! Those are the best kind of pictures. When I was on Stephanie’s blog for Find a Friend Friday I picked Bless the Broken Road too. 🙂

  3. I absolutely LOVED reading this! Mary, you have an incredible spirit… please, pub off on me! 🙂 I’ll be visiting your blog to help the process along 😉 Thank you for your insights, and congratulations on your wonderful accomplishments. though I have four kids of my own, I still secretly (or openly) hope to one day be blessed to bless some kiddos through adoption (though I know they will bless me more; it always happens that way! The more I try to bless others, the more the people I “bless” bless me!)
    Warm hugs,
    Corine 😀

  4. I knew Mary and her famliy when she lived on the farm in Juniper, Idaho (yep, I know where Juniper is!). She does come from an amazing family and even though it has been years since I have seen any of them, I still have tons of great memories of her family. Truly an inspiration now and then, thanks for sharing Mary! Hello to all your family- Alison Norman

  5. I have known Mary a long time (since we were in kindergarten). At our age, that might make it a really long time. 🙂 I loved reading this! Mary- you are an amazing mom, woman, and lifetime friend. I treasure the memories I have from our fun times together. My life is better because you are in it! Take care…and hope to see you soon.

  6. Nice to “meet” all of you. Thanks for the kind words. Alison–I remember long bus rides together, and your big St. Bernard. And when I think of you I always remember my mom sending us downstairs to get something for her and it took FOREVER because we freaked ourselves out after a Halloween party at school (or something like that). And Shauna, I feel the same way. I’m so glad you’re in my life and I also hope to see you soon.

  7. Nice to meet you Mary! I read about your/Joie’s story on another blog around the anniversary of the accident and how you dedicate that day to serving others and ask that others do the same. I never did go back and report but I did perform an act of service that day and I was thinking about your family and your sweet daughter even though I have never met you before. Thanks for your wisdom!

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