Monday, June 30, 2008
1. “Mama, I went poo-poo!” (Called out in a singsong voice, and repeated with increasing volume until I respond.)
After all of the work to potty train her, you’d think I’d be delighted to hear these words. She goes #2 only once or twice a day (sometimes three or four, but that’s rare), can get herself on the potty, and has not yet had a poop accident (knock wood!). Yet every time she summons me to wipe her butt after a poop I grit my teeth (especially on those three-poops-in-a-row days!). I have to take a moment before going, to breathe deeply and calm myself so that she will not see my irritation. Everyone tells you that potty training will be difficult, but no one tells you how annoying the endless wiping will be. And I don’t know why. I got used to changing diapers and was never annoyed by the wiping then. Why am I so annoyed now?
2. “Mama, I’m hungry.” (Repeated dozens of times a day, at about half-hour intervals, and sometimes more frequently.)
The constant interruptions are the problem here, as well as the whiny voice. Every parent deals with this (whoever is home, or whoever is on food duty for the week… though I seem to be the default parent for all needs, and have to remind my daughter when “daddy is on food this week”). But the additional irritation with this one is that my kid eats like, oh, maybe five things? And often doesn’t want any of those five when she’s hungry but rather waits for some mystery suggestion to come out of my mouth. We’re trying two new things this summer: 1) A definitive schedule of breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, with no exceptions. At three, she can learn to wait. 2) For snacks and lunch, she now must ask for a specific food instead of just declaring her hunger (we choose dinner). Ha! Now SHE has to come up with a food she actually wants and will eat (other than a sugary treat, which she is not allowed to request). And if she changes her mind after a bite? Oh well, better pick something else next time. That’s what you chose for this snack, and if you’re hungry enough, you’ll eat it. We are not running a short order kitchen here, kiddo.
Things I will never get tired of hearing:
1. “I love you mama!”
(Declared often, out of the blue, with eyes shining and cheeks glowing and the biggest smile ever on her face.)
2. “You’re my best friend.”
(Also declared often, sometimes with no apparent reason but other times because I'm playing with her or reading to her or have given her a treat.)
3. “You’re the best mama in the world!”
(If I'm lucky, I hear this one a few times each week. Often declared after I have returned from the store or a meeting. Absence does make the preschooler's heart grow fonder, if that's even possible, given that I'm lucky to be the object of her amazing affections most of the time anyway.)
4. “One more hug and kiss.”
(Usually demanded from her bed two or three times before she'll finally settle in to go to sleep. Of course this is a popular sleep-stalling tactic of all children, but thus far it has been a guileless request.)
5. “I can give you a treapmin to make you all better.”
(Confidently stated upon hearing that I am experiencing any sort of physical discomfort, and followed by marching off to her room to obtain her supplies.)
6. “Mama, I picked some flowers for you!”
(Proudly announced every morning from the backyard as I sit at the window working and watching over her, immediately followed by presenting me with her bouquet of handpicked wildflowers at the back door.)
7. “Mama, you are the star of the life! And you are my sunshine.”
(Okay, she only said this once, but I’d love to hear it again and again!)
What about at your house? What makes you want to pull your hair out if you hear it one more time, and what melts your heart every time you hear it?
Thursday, June 26, 2008
I keep telling myself that I should not bother losing the weight, because we’re going to try to get pregnant again quite soon, and if my first trimester is anything like the one I had with the little one, then I will need these extra pounds to lose, because I couldn’t really eat much for those first months. I never threw up, mind you (that was the lucky part), but I couldn’t stand the sight, smell, or even thought of most foods. So I lost weight in the first trimester, which gave the OB a false sense of my pre-pregnancy weight, because I was in fact thinner at that first visit, around 12 weeks or so, than I was before becoming pregnant (I was with one of those annoying clinics that won’t see you until the first trimester is pretty much over, just in case... how positive and cheery is that? And this was AFTER the first miscarriage, and I was 36, so you’d think they’d offer more monitoring, as my current OB does, but no.) I remember when I saw her on one of my postpartum visits (when I was still distinctly crazy), and she looked at my weight and said something like, “Oh, you’re doing well, only about 10 pounds to go before you’re at your pre-pregnancy weight.” And I’m all like, “No, bitch, I actually LOST weight in the first trimester, not that you’d KNOW that or anything because you assholes won’t even see someone when they’re first pregnant because you’re so BUSY and all, but anyway…” Okay, so I didn’t really say it quite like that, but I did correct her and try to explain, which fell on deaf ears.
But I’m losing my point here, which is to say that I cannot fit into any of my jeans anymore, and I have two really great suits that I can’t wear at all, and I’ve been borrowing my friends’ old fat clothes, which is SUCH an ego booster, let me tell you. I’m not going to talk numbers or sizes here, because that’s all relative. I’m short and small-boned, so if I talk weight or clothing size half of you will roll your eyes and snort in derision and tell me I have no talking room. Numbers don’t help. The relative measure that does help here is that I’M WEARING MY MATERNITY CLOTHES AGAIN AND I’M NOT PREGNANT. Need I say more?
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Sorry, doodle fans. I forgot to post another of the Hubster's doodles yesterday. So it seemed the perfect occasion to introduce our friend "Oots." This one was inspired by (of course) the little one's pronunciation of "oops" when she was a toddler. I miss her saying it that way (sniff, sniff!). But little Oots here will help us to always remember.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
She had transitioned well into her own room a few months ago, and even had quite a few nights of staying there all night long, which was strange to get used to but also quite nice. And after over three years of doing whatever was necessary to help her go to sleep (which now involves merely staying in the room until she drops off), I snapped one night when it was once again just taking far too long (over an hour and a half!) and I had too much to do. It took only two nights to teach her how to fall asleep on her own, with us just checking on her every 10 minutes or so. That little milestone changed my life: no more sitting in her room for an hour waiting for her to fall asleep (or so I thought). But then she got a bad virus and needed a lot of help to get to sleep, and that went on for two weeks or so, and ever since then she begins to panic if I even mention her falling asleep on her own again. I know I need to help her re-learn the skill, but I’ve been lazy about doing it again (and my new blog obsession has given me something enjoyable to do while she falls asleep, so I haven’t minded as much!).
The other thing is that she can’t seem to sleep for very long without waking from a nightmare or with some sort of complaint. After a year or more of having the evening hours to ourselves while she peacefully slept, we’re back to interrupted dinners once again. And as for getting to finally read in bed in the hour before I go to sleep (which was my favorite part of the day in my pre-mama days and thought I would finally get to do again now that she’s in her own room)? Forget it. By the time we’re ready to crawl into bed, I’ve tired of resettling her and just pull her into bed with us for the night (at just 9:45 last night, for instance). But the sleep troubles don’t end there. She continues to wake from nightmares on many nights, and thrashes around in her sleep. She’s long-limbed already, so we’ve both taken quite a beating on many a night now. Sigh.
Here’s the thing: I know I could do some serious sleep training a la Supernanny and get her to not only fall asleep on her own, but I just can’t bring myself to do it, given that she clearly has sleep issues. You see, when I was little I suffered from terrible fears, which caused insomnia. And I didn’t feel I could wake my parents to ask for help, so I’m guessing I had been sleep trained myself when I was a baby. Whatever they did, I got the message that I was on my own at night. And so I just can’t do that to the little one. I cannot stand the thought of her alone in her room, scared, thinking she can’t call for me or that she’ll be marched back to bed if she gets up and comes to me. So I’m trying to achieve acceptance of the situation, because this is an important gift I can give to her.
What about you? Do you do something as a parent that stems from issues in your own upbringing? (And does anyone have tips for surviving the intensity of these sleep issues? And does it ever end?)
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Anger: A few months later, when your life has been completely taken over by
Bargaining: Anger got you nowhere, so in desperation you start to cut deals, both with the baby and with a higher power. You may find yourself uttering pleas to the sky such as “Please, please, please just let her/him stay asleep long enough for me to finish my dinner, just this once, and I promise I will be more patient when she wakes up every ten minutes tonight needing her damn paci put back in her mouth so she can go back to sleep. Just let me EAT. OKAY?”
Depression: The bargaining didn’t work, so now you know you’re supposed to accept that this is life now, but you can’t. You love your baby (who by now is actually smiling at you and maybe even sleeping several hours in a row at night), but you and your life are unrecognizable. You spend most days in your pajamas and rarely brush your hair. You can’t imagine life without your little angel, and this is wonderful but scary too, because you don’t really know who you are anymore or how to figure that out (or even if you want to).
Acceptance: You only get here by opening up and talking to fellow mothers, and reading their stories in books and magazines and blogs. It is through honesty with each other that we find our way to acceptance of our new lives and new selves and learn how to find the parts of our former lives and selves that we can recover out of the ruins and incorporate into mama life. But you’re not through with these stages. I have yet to spend more than a few months in this last stage before starting them all over again when the next
I did a quick search before posting to see if anyone else had done versions of this list, and found a great cartoon version from last year over at The Mom Bomb.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
If it's Tuesday, it must be time to share another doodle. This one was inspired by one of the challenges of living in the humid South: mold. It grows everywhere, fast, so you have to be vigilant. Eeeeew. But this little guy is almost cute. Almost.
Monday, June 16, 2008
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Happy Father's Day, you big lug. The night that our daughter was born, when I saw her tiny little swaddled form in your arms (our little burrito!), I fell in love with you all over again, but deeper than ever before. Watching you with our baby was nothing short of completely amazing. You are a fantastic daddy to our little one, and it still warms my heart today to watch you with her. I know it can be rough when she pushes you away, as she's still a mama's girl, but the daddy's girl days are more frequent now, and she misses you so when you're away at work.
I hope you enjoyed your day today. We love you more than either of us can ever find the words to say.
Kaza & The Little One
Saturday, June 14, 2008
After the epidural was placed I had the usual reaction: I had an immediate crush on my anesthesiologist. Those guys have the GOODS, man. The universe of my life calmed for the first time in many hours, and I thought I would finally have some rest while my body got ready for the big moment. I had seen such scenarios numerous times in the shows I had obsessively watched throughout pregnancy: the relief of the epidural, the mama-to-be finally resting, sleeping off and on as her body gets ready for the work ahead. My nurse turned the lights down and left us to rest. But that was not to be.
Why not? Three problems:
1. The shaking. My body was not doing so well with the drugs, and I began to shake uncontrollably.
2. Back labor. It took awhile to figure this one out. The first clue was that I wasn’t getting enough pain relief from the epidural. To be blunt, it felt like my baby girl was trying to push herself out of my ass. The constant pressure was god-awful.
3. Decels. Baby girl wasn’t digging this whole thing either. So they put me on oxygen and turned me from one side to the other to try to achieve better blood flow, and we nervously watched the monitor. (Watched, no listened to, because we had already begged them to turn the sound off. The ever-changing pattern of beeps was making us crazy.)
So there was no restful period while waiting to push. Just hours of discomfort, worry, and fear. Twenty hours after this whole drama began, I was worn out, the decels weren’t getting any better, and the neonatologist recommended we head to the OR for an emergency c-section. Neither of us hesitated. We were wrung out, and needed to get our baby girl out of danger. (A note here: as an academic and feminist I am well aware of the critique of this kind of birth situation. Was she really in danger? How much of this was caused by the medical interventions? I’m not going to take these questions on here. I’m just telling how I felt as it all happened. Pain and fear overrode all critique.)
As relieved as I was that the ordeal was just about over, I was out of my mind with anxiety as they rolled me down to the OR. They hooked me up to the machines and I heard someone ask, “Is that mom or the baby?” They were asking whose heartbeat was out of control fast. It was MINE. My crush anesthesiologist mainlined some ativan into my IV to help me out, and though it did take the edge off I was still on edge. My first worry was feeling the knife. As he tested my level of anesthesia I second-guessed myself. “Can you feel this?” “Um, I’m not sure.” (Turns up the meds.) “How about now?” “I don’t think so.” (Turns it up again.) “Uh, I’m feeling this weird tingling in my arms, is that normal?”
I don’t remember a whole lot after that. I remember feeling terrified. I remember the music: “My Girl,” and someone commenting that it was appropriate. I remember my hubby holding my hand and talking me through it. I remember hearing my baby girl cry for the first time (the memory makes me choke up even still). I remember someone saying she was 5 pounds. I remember them showing her to me. I remember kissing her. I remember urging my husband to go with her, reassuring him that I would be okay.
I remember even less of the time they spent finishing the surgery, so I must have dozed off through some of it. Apparently it took a long time, because the hubby later told me he had begun to worry. I have a vague memory of someone commenting that the cord was short, or thin, or something like that. (The next day the pediatrician on call told me that the condition of the cord, as well as baby girl’s low birth weight, suggested that her placenta may have stopped working properly in the last weeks. This made sense, as her estimated weight at 37 weeks, when we had the version procedure, had been 6 pounds. To me, this meant that I hadn’t been crazy to feel that she was supposed to be born soon therafter. Perhaps I had some sort of maternal instinct that all was not well in there.)
My memory is clearer of the recovery room. I was shaking from the anesthesia, but didn’t want the demerol because I had read so many stories of terrible nausea. It’s funny to me now. After all I had been through, I was afraid of some nausea? What the hell? I finally let them give me a half dose, which calmed the shaking for only a short while before it returned with a vengeance.
They finally rolled me down to my room, where I saw the most wonderful sight of my husband holding our baby girl swaddled in the standard issue pink and blue blankets. After a precarious transfer into my hospital bed (during which I was convinced they were going to roll me off onto the floor), I finally got to hold my little miracle. It had been a wild ride, but my baby girl, now known here as The Little One, had finally been born. It hadn’t gone at all as I had planned or expected. But none of that mattered as I held her and kissed her soft cheeks and sang to her for the first time.
So that’s the end of my (or rather, the little one’s) birth story. There’s much more to tell, a whole postpartum drama to relate, but I’m not quite ready to revisit it just yet. Let’s just say that it involved a whole lotta crazy.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
The Little One (TLO): I am NOT a person!!!
(Having been through this before recently, I tried to explain…)
Me: Honey, “person” is just another word for “human being.”
TLO: I. AM. NOT. A. HUMAN!!!! I don’t WANT to be a HUMAN!!!
Me: Uh, well, uh, okay….
I realize this is where I should have been the easygoing, whimsical mother, laughing and asking, “So what do you want to be?” But I wasn’t. I was speechless. How do you explain to the almost-three-and-a-half-year-old that she is, in fact a human being, and a person, and that these terms are nothing to be afraid of? OR ARE THEY? Out of the mouths of babes, you know…
As a follow up to my rant on dealing with the threes, if you haven't seen this by Mrs. Chicken over at Chicken and Cheese, it's a must-read, especially if you have a 3-year-old in your house right now.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Monday, June 9, 2008
So I did what any sensible mommy does. I called my best friend so that I could do some whining for once. She had her daughter a year and a half before I had the little one, so she's always been just enough ahead of the curve to warn me about what's coming next, and advise me on how to handle it. (And to think I had once been sad that we weren't pregnant at the same time. Little did I know then how great it would be this way, for me at least.) In fact, when I called her a few months ago to tell her how sweet the little one was being, how helpful, she broke the news to me that stormier seas were ahead. I believe her exact words were: "In my experience, that sweet and helpful stage was followed immediately by the sassiest, bossiest phase yet."
As always, her prediction came true, with alarming accuracy. So when I called her yesterday to report this, she laughed, of course, and then delivered her sage advice: "Take no prisoners." This is now my mantra.
So far, switching tactics from endless warnings to immediate action (straight to the naughty bench!) is working. It is startling how many times I have to do it, compared to before (she used to have time outs periodically, sometimes not even once in an entire week), but as long as it works, I'll keep doing it.
It's funny how you never realize until after the fact that you were living in a golden period of parenting. Only when you're in the trenches in one of the more "challenging" phases, white-knuckling it through each day, living for bedtime (theirs, not yours!), worn out by it all... only then do you look back and understand that you had been in a relative parenting oasis.
Those of you with 3-year-olds out there are nodding in recognition. Those who have been through it recently are laughing wryly in your newly-acquired wisdom, sympathetic but also shaking your heads at the naivete of the newbies. Those of you for whom this phase is a distant memory are thankful that you'll never have to go through it again, but can't help reminding us to enjoy it even so, because it goes by too fast. And those of you with infants or toddlers, who are looking ahead? Know this: the day is coming. No matter how sweet your baby or toddler is, this WILL happen to you. No one is immune! And when it happens? TAKE NO PRISONERS.
Friday, June 6, 2008
To preview a few essential facts:
1. The little one was breech for most of the third trimester.
2. My research had convinced me I needed to try a natural birth (no drugs).
3. I am a major pain wimp.
4. We were VERY nervous parents-to-be.
5. The story ends with a c-section.
So. I'll actually start with #4, because it was a critical element in the story.
Our first pregnancy had ended very early in miscarriage, which is a subject I'll take on in another post. What's important to understand about it here is that that first experience robbed us of our innocence and turned us into extremely anxious expectant parents. (We're both anxiety-prone in the first place, so this was NOT a good development!) I ran to the bathroom constantly in the first trimester, not only because I had to pee a lot but because I was always looking for the telltale sign that this pregnancy too would end. Fortunately no such sign ever came, and as we now know, this pregnancy was a keeper.
But our anxiety lasted through the entire 41 1/2 weeks nonetheless. We rented the home doppler so we could check her heartbeat as often as we pleased (this was both a blessing and a curse, because though we were relieved every time we heard it, there were times when we didn't know if what we were hearing was normal, so it caused some needless worry). Once I could feel her, we would panic when a few hours would pass without movement. We did our respective exhaustive (and exhausting) research (mine in books, his online). By the time we reached the end of the third trimester, we were suffering from serious information overload.
Our research had convinced us that we should go for a natural birth, not because I had any ideals regarding this (I did not feel that I would be any less of a woman for accepting pain relief, in fact, I felt quite the contrary and had intended prior to research to avail myself of every drug offered) but because we wanted the fewest risks for our baby. But there was a slight hitch in our plan. The baby was breech.
We were told not to worry, that she would turn on her own. I secretly hoped she wouldn't turn too soon, because I had grown attached to feeling her little head pop up just below my rib cage, and didn't want to let go of that familiar feeling just yet. But I did want her to turn in time to labor naturally, and when she hadn't turned by 35 weeks I tried the various midwives' tricks to encourage her to do so (I seem to recall that this involved some rather uncomfortable poses, but my memory is fading of those particulars). As week 37 approached, we had to make a decision: should we go through the procedure to turn her (known as external cephalic version), or continue to wait and see if she turned at the last minute?
It was an agonizing decision. We wanted the chance at natural labor and a natural birth. But to undergo the version meant subjecting our baby to the first medical intervention, one that might not be necessary. And even if it was successful, she could turn again into breech position before I went into labor. After much thought, research, worry, and consultations with those whom we trusted, we elected to have the version. I saw one done on an episode of A Baby Story (which I, like every first time mom-to-be, watched obsessively), and it seemed uncomfortable but not bad. I felt prepared.
Now, if you are considering such a procedure and are reading this as a result, I don't want to scare you, but... NOTHING could have prepared me for what it was like. My OB had told me I would experience discomfort, but she never mentioned that it could be VERY painful. Not to mention fucking frightening. I know some have had better experiences, but ours was terrifying, for both of us, and let's just say I was using breathing techniques to get through the pain. I knew my doctor had lied to me when she complimented how I'd handled the pain afterward, telling me that I would have no problem in labor. (HA!) We had been informed that there were risks in the procedure, but we were utterly unprepared for the heart-stopping minutes after the (successful) version was over. I don't remember the precise details, but the worry was that the baby's heart rate wasn't showing the expected pattern, and we had an anxious period of time waiting to see if it would return to normal or if we would be heading down the hall for an emergency c-section.
We were both shaken by the experience, though her heart rate did indeed return to normal and we were able to go home. Both of us agreed that we would never choose to have an ECV performed again, should the question arise in the future. (But that is because of our particular experience, and how terrifying it was. In the end, it worked, and so I wouldn't say not to do it, because you can get through the pain. But be aware that it's not the inocuous, routine procedure it's portrayed to be. You need to know that it might HURT, a LOT, and it might SCARE THE HELL OUT OF YOU, to say the least, and you might end up with a c-section in the end anyway, like I did a few weeks later.)
After that I stayed on bed rest for two days and then returned to normal activities, which for me by then consisted of nesting and waiting. Mostly waiting. Around week 38 I became convinced
that she would be born early, and awaited the first signs of labor, becoming impatient as they failed to materialize as anticipated. It felt like my intuition was broken.
A few (agonizing!) weeks later, after many walks and much eating of spicy foods and whatever else I did to bring labor on (I honestly can't remember anymore what I did, but I'm sure we tried all of the usual suspects!), the pains began around 1 a.m. After weeks of Braxton-Hicks contractions, I worried I wouldn't know the real thing. Ha! As if. (Though there's a twist coming in the plotline here.) I was contorted like a pretzel by about the 10th contraction, certain I could not bear even ONE more, much less hundreds more, and all breathing techniques had gone out the window. As far as I was concerned, I was lucky to be able to breathe at all through this pain, so to hell with trying to control said breaths.
We fudged the numbers a little on our call to the OB, because we were close enough to their magic interval and I needed HELP, professional assistance to handle the pain. I was in way over my head. By the time we got in the car, the pains were coming on top of each other (what we would soon learn were called "camel-back" contractions). Timing them was no longer possible.
After arrival (and a painful walk up to L & D) we were thankfully able to skip triage, as I had been scheduled for an induction in just two days' time and was thus an automatic admit. Even so, it seemed an eternity until we were in our labor suite, and an even longer time until I was fully transformed into a proper object of medical intervention (a welcome transformation at this point, I must sadly admit) with gown, monitors, and IV. As I clambered up onto the bed, the pain became so intense that I began to vomit. Now, here's the kicker. When the nurse checked me, she found I was only a fingertip dilated. A fingertip. And the contractions were thus "unproductive." This meant that the awful pain I was in, that I could not stand? Was likely not real labor. I was unable to handle PRE labor.
They call this "prodromal" labor. It apparently can be as painful as "real" labor. No shit.
To be continued...
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
I'm so excited, because my husband finally agreed to let me post one of his little doodles. Every now and then he relaxes by messing around with one of the computer drawing programs, which mostly results in nothing whatsoever. But one day he was thinking about something the little one used to say when she was first starting to really talk, and he made this little guy.
The little one would say "What's that stinky?" whenever she smelled anything at all, even something good, so it became a joke in our house. She gets the difference now. (Well, sort of. The other day we walked by a garden of beautiful lilies and she said "Oooh, Mama, look, smelly flowers!")
I think Mr. Stinky will make a perfect first Twitter avatar, don't you?
Monday, June 2, 2008
So, it seems like a good time to procrastinate by doing my first meme! I've been reading these things for a year now, and though everyone seems to complain about them, I myself have been eager to do one, so thank you Catnip for tagging me!
Four jobs I've held
1. Cashier at a pizza parlor (my first one, actually, at age 15)
2. Waitress (too many times to count, and I still have nightmares about these jobs)
3. Receptionist in the lavish private office of a very wealthy couple (alas, not as glamorous as it sounds... this job was very lonely)
4. Phone answering service (actually quite interesting, taking messages for businesses but also personal pagers, back in the day before all the young hipsters texted each other... you would not BELIEVE some of the things I was forced to type, and then READ BACK to them, accurately)
Four Movies I Could Watch Over & Over
1. The American President (I watch it every time it's on t.v. now. EVERY TIME.)
2. Out of Africa (hate the colonial context, but it's a beautiful film w/ amazing music)
3. The Princess Bride (hilarious every time, and sweet)
4. Sliding Doors (reminds me of everything I love about England)
I'm sure there are more, but these are the first four that came to mind.
Four Places I Have Lived
1. California (duh!)
Four T.V. Shows I Like
There are far too many to mention, but I'll go with four I watched this past year. No judging.
1. Grey's Anatomy
3. Dirty Sexy Money
4. Lipstick Jungle
Four Favorite Foods
1. tacos (crispy shell required, filling can be beef, chicken, or fish, cheese must be copious)
2. burritos (bean & cheese, or sometimes combo)
3. salmon (grilled, sauteed or poached to a perfect medium)
4. tuna pasta (cold salad or hot casserole)
Four Places I Would Rather Be
1. Southern California (I'm very homesick)
2. California wine country (where I'd like to retire)
3. Edinburgh (Scotland is AWESOME)
4. traveling through Europe
Is it over already? And I thought I'd have trouble thinking of all the answers (I'm terrible on the spot, and I made myself do it quickly rather than mulling, so I'm surprised that I didn't go completely blank).
I really can't tag anyone because I'm too new and I'm sure everyone has done it already. If you haven't, and you want to, consider yourself tagged and say so in the comments.
Thanks Catnip, this was as fun as I thought it would be.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
The third thing we noticed was that the entire town comes to life around noon, when the late services get out and EVERYONE flocks to the local eateries for Sunday lunch (and I thought everyone cooked big roast dinners on Sunday afternoon down here... another myth exploded for me, along with the porch-sittin' and mint julep sippin'). We quickly learned that it was wise to eat by 11:30 if you wanted to avoid the competition.
Someone had warned me that here it would be not, "Do you go to church?" but "Where do you go to church?" The implication is clear: it is expected that you are a Christian, and a churchgoing one at that. The only people who don't ask this question are either a) fellow academics from the local university/colleges, b) followers of other faith traditions (thus far remarkably rare, even in this relatively large city), or c) gasp: those who do not attend church, for whatever reason (referred to widely here as the "unchurched," which I find offensive because it's presuming an awful lot about someone you don't know and is paternalistic and very judgmental).
Now, I want to be clear about my position. I was raised in a mainstream Christian denomination, and have attended several other churches in the past, both denominational and non. But for the most part I have found it very difficult to be part of a church. I have believed for a very long time that there are many valid paths toward the higher being(s) out there. This belief began as an instinct in my youth, and has only been confirmed by my education. I am not the least bit interested in debate, so if this makes you feel "called" to teach/preach/share, please resist the impulse and keep reading, because there is more to this story and now is not the time to get on any soapboxes or start praying for me.
I made peace with the fact that I just wasn't going to be able to be a part of organized religion, and took a siesta from the spiritual journey for awhile. Not that I didn't have certain moments of feeling a spiritual connection. Those happened, organically, in surprising times and places. It was an important time in letting go of much of what had stood in my way, in fact. I was comfortable with my life, and there was a harmony between my personal ethics, politics, and spiritual beliefs.
But then we moved here, and my daughter was no longer a baby. We were facing questions of what we would tell her, how we would explain the bigger questions of life, and I realized that there were entirely new concerns in this realm. For my husband, it was simple. His beliefs were certain, and he knew what he wanted to teach her. I was uncomfortable with this, but didn't want to confuse her entirely. I struggled for quite awhile. And then I read an essay in Wondertime while waiting at the doctor's office recently, and it was one of those moments of clarity for me. I wish I'd stolen the magazine from his office so I could tell you which article, but I think it was in the March or April issue.
Anyway, so the author was writing about her similar struggle with this issue, and I think it was a friend of hers who pointed out that our very grown-up conflicts with religion might just be a bit too much to lay on a little kid who needs something bigger than this crazy world to hang onto. Her friend's teasing comment had been the turning point for the author, and reading the essay then became mine. Why not struggle with the issues from within instead of rail from without? Why not give my daughter at least a foundation from which to start her own journey? As she grows, I can explain my thoughts and feelings and add whatever degree of perspective I feel her spiritual education may lack. And fortunately I found a church that seems sufficiently open (if not yet officially open & affirming, but they're working toward that, I'm told). So the journey continues. Just not this morning. I'm a total flake when it comes to actually getting there every Sunday. But I'm working on it.
I won't be writing much about spirituality or religion here, so if you're looking for that, sorry, and if you're not, you're welcome. It's a personal thing, so I'll be keeping it mostly to myself. I'm not even sure why I wrote about it today, other than I think it's important that there be more voices out there that say yes, you can be a highly educated, socially liberal, ecumenically-minded person and follow a particular spiritual path without losing integrity. At least I think that's what I'm trying to say. (Fortunately it's Sunday, so no one is likely to be around to read this today anyway.)
Alright people, enough seriousness! I owe Catnip a meme, so I'm committing to do that tomorrow. I promised to finally get a Twitter avatar, and I shall not sign on again until I find the one I want. And I really must read some FAQs to figure out how to hyperlink within my posts. Be patient with me... I'm still learning this stuff.
UPDATE: The author of the Wondertime piece, Katharine Whittemore, somehow found my post and very nicely commented, including the url for her article. I was delighted to hear from her, and to have the link to the piece (especially considering the fact that my doctor interrupted my reading that day so I missed the ending). Go read it, especially if you've struggled with your own ambivalent feelings about religion. (Another nice piece: Karen Bender's Oy to the World.)