Archive for the ‘Mothering/ Family Life’ Category
One of the perks of being blind – besides yummy casseroles — is that now I have a cover-up for one of my more embarrassing personality flaws. Now, I don’t mean the one about how I have to apologize every time I open my mouth in social places or the one about my hot temper, or the one about how I justify going 39 mph in a 35 mph zone. I only mean the part about not being able to remember anyone’s name.
“Hey, Amy!” is what she said, which is different from, “Hey you,” “whuz up,” and “hey Scotts” which the generic term people use to call anyone in our family. I’ve been called worse (and deserved it, especially the year I was 12).
I don’t blame people for resorting to a generic term, like Scotts as if we were some sort of public restroom toilet paper; there are similarities in our thriftiness. I only mean that we’re used to “Hey, Scotts” meaning any one of us Scotts, and we’ll answer to it gladly.
Anyway, the fact that she called me “Amy” induced this guilty feeling like I should reciprocate the greeting by calling this lovely woman by her first name too. We have, after all, been BFFs for a decade. Except I couldn’t dig it out. In fact, I wasn’t sure I could remember my own name, except that she just reminded me.
Normally, in these sort of situations, the spouse of the person with Space Head Syndrome (SHS), will come to the rescue and graciously mention the person’s name in a slick sort of way, like, “Did you get a new haircut, Mildred?! It looks divine,” except in my situation, my husband is exponentially worse than I am and wouldn’t recognize a haircut on his own head, let alone think to mention it to a woman, even if it meant scoring major points and buttering up the wifey.
Besides having such an embarrassing pastor’s wife, it was another reason Greg transitioned out of pastoral ministry for the heathen workplace after nine years. You have to remember people’s names, especially during baptisms and weddings, and that was a problem.
As an aside, I find it interesting that a man can remember the PQZ’s of every handgun and air craft ever invented but is at a loss for the name of the thing every woman does to her hair after having a baby out of sheer hormonal psychosis. (It’s a Bob, Greg, a Bob.)
As another aside, I find it interesting that some women have no problem remembering the minute details of a fight that occurred 10 years ago and can bring it to mind at the drop of a situational trigger. But I only mean “some women,” of course.
I don’t know. I’m just saying that there are approximately -273.15 benefits to being blind, except for this one little doozy. If you’re standing on my right, then I feel pretty sure it’s okay for me to ask who’s speaking to me.
There are no rules for situations requiring voice recognition. In fact, my mother has known me for 34 years and still says, “Hey, it’s your mom,” on the phone like I wouldn’t be able to tell who it was unless she said that.
So if I ask who you are, don’t take it personally. I really can’t see. As for my forgetting about your birthday three years ago and the cookies for the bake sale? Well, I’ve other problems than just blindness, memory loss, and an unwillingness to bake. But enough confession for one day.
A little voice: Mommy?
Me: Argh. WHAT NOW?!?!?!?
A little voice: How many more days until Mother’s Day?
Space Coast’s Major division Phillies center fielder McGregor Scott lays out for a spectacular catch against North Merritt Island’s Red Sox in the bottom of the fourth.
From our house to yours, Happy Resurrection Day.
Dear Sunday Morning,
I know I’m not supposed to hate you being the Lord’s Day and all, but it’s hard not to. The baby’s diaper leaks, the dog throws up, and nobody can find their shoes and pink ponytails on Sunday morning. Tuesday? Matching socks practically jump out of the dryer, but the Devil works overtime on Sunday morning.
But I’m ready for you this time. There is a first time for everything, you know. The potato salad for the big Easter dinner is already in the fridge. Girl #3 remembered her Easter cards for her friends. The Bibles are in the van already if you look under the wet wipes and Walmart bags filled with banana peels and gum wrappers. We. Are. Set.
Look out. I’m going to exude so much joy that instead of fighting with each other, the kids will form an alliance to figure out how Mom lost her mind. They will smile for the Easter picture, and I won’t even threaten: No chocolate bunny ears for YOU!
And we’ll be ten minutes early for church in my dreams.
It’s that time again!
Alrighty kids. Cue the banjo music and go get ‘em!
Dang that free-range, organic stuff.
Aw, mom. This is Cuddles. You won’t eat Cuddles, will you?
We don’t name the chickens. But we do give them a good life before they meet their purpose.
It’s gonna get you, Bekah, run!
Mom won’t let us watch Scooby Doo anymore, but this is OK to watch?
It’s a messy job, but Abigail has the right idea.
McGregor: I don’t remember it looking like this before….
…but it does make it easier when they’re so dumb that they just jump in.
I’m with Cocoa, The Million Dollar Mutt. Let’s put our feet up.
We had manicotti for dinner, not chicken soup.
There are a lot of great things about having a larger-than-normal family. Last month I watched online several clips about the Duggars—the family with 18 kids, and I think they’re great. The world would be a better place if everyone was .01% as happy and peaceful as Mrs. Duggar is when her children fight on TV. That woman knows Jesus. The rest of us would be giving the kick under the table and grimacing, not grinning. At least I would.
You already know that I think families are great, but on the heels of dealing with the flu in a large family, I decided to put together a list of things that are not-so-great in a large family. Here they are:
I know there is some trick to managing socks, but The Powers That Be haven’t let me in on the secret. (I am still working on the kids putting their clothes in the hamper, let alone pinning their socks together with some device sold by Billy Mays.)
The great thing about living in Florida is that even Wal-Mart didn’t try to sell you socks. You don’t need ‘em! Now that we live in a place where not wearing socks causes frostbite six months out of the year, we wear socks. This is all new to me, so bear with me.
It is no use buying matching socks. Once a pair of white socks go into the dryer, the purple sock the baby lost last Christmas comes out. Of course, you already threw away the match to that just yesterday. At least, that’s the way it goes for me. Maybe other women have better luck.
So here the way we work it. I only buy white socks. The kids just find two socks in somewhat the same shade of white that somewhat fit. Charles puts on one knee-sock and one ankle sock, but he’s three and it’s still cute. Um, right?
4. Going out to eat
One time Greg and I found a place where two kids-eat-free for each paying adult. If you are slow in calculus like me, that’s four kids that eat free. Awesome.
Now this is great ….if you have four children. This is great, as well, if you have four eating children, and one baby who can share fries off the preschoolers’ plates. But it gets a little hairy at six children, all who eat like there’ll be no food tomorrow.
One way we remedied this was to move to a place with no decent restaurants. Now the kids think that a .79 taco at Taco Bell is actually edible cuisine, but I’d argue that point.
3. Having more than one teenager at a time
In my dreams, my teens will take over the farm chores cheerfully, start a successful business, while I sit on the porch imparting bits of wisdom between sips of iced tea. They will ask my every opinion about matters far and wide.
In my dreams, right?
As a parent, I hit the teen years in about 18 months. Don’t tell me any different. I believe it will be great. Expectations, people. Expectations.
2. Mass chaos and confusion
OK, I’m sure this only happens to me, so feel free to skip this one:
“Ab, An, Bek, oh whatever your name is and whoever you are….YOU WITH THE RED SHIRT!”
The good part about a large family is Christmas. Two of my kids live for buying presents. It is very sweet. I tried to do the whole “draw one name out of a hat” thing, but they’d have none of that. So each kid buys a present (or two) for everyone. Don’t do the math on that.
Folks, that’s a lot of bath crystals and paint sets, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
1. The flu
I already mentioned this in the beginning, but the flu going through the house is the worst thing about having a larger-than-normal family. This is misery on steroids.
The misery factor is multiplied for each little kid vs. big kid in the family. Let me explain.
In our house, there are two groups of kids, the big kids and the little kids. You are a big kid if: you read to yourself (or can look at pictures quietly), you have chores, and you can make it to the bathroom when you have to throw up. That last one is the gold standard.
So you see, in a family with more little kids than big kids, the flu can be downright scary. That’s a lot of laundry. Of course, if you are a seasoned mom, you can anticipate vomit by the “look” on their face. It’s one of my secret super-powers.
The key is attitude. If you have a large family, a small family, or no family at all, the secret to happiness is being content whatever your circumstances. There is a joy that can never be taken away. I’m not sure wuz up with socks in the dryer, but there is a God who orders all these things.
So mega moms, what have I forgotten? Are there any other trials particular to big families?
Thursday, Jul 2, 2009
One of letters I got this week was particularly important to me. Catherine seems to be saying that she understands now. Here it is with her permission:
I just wanted to say that your posts have blessed me. Particularly the one I re-read today about QF [Amy: contraception and what conservative Christians refer to as the concept of being "quiverfull"]. I commented on it over a year ago when it ran and I read my comments which looked *very* lame to me today. A lot has happened in the past year. [snip]
I have a baby now and my house looks like a bomb went off in it most days. I am frequently overwhelmed and think women with 2 or 6 or 10 kids must be from another planet than me. Maybe I’m just a “wuss”. This is to say, your post and it’s compassion towards overwhelmed mothers has new meaning for me today and is appreciated. I feel embarrassed about being overwhelmed because I only have one child but it is what it is.
This means a lot to me because there is one more woman in the world who gets it. Catherine, I talk a lot about doing hard things because that’s what life requires. On the other hand, now I understand I could’ve avoided a lot of pain early on in life if I analyzed the situation as it was and not as I wanted it to be. This is harder to do when you are busy convincing everyone, including yourself, that you are doing great. Kuddos to you for your honest assessment.
On the heels of that this morning, I read a post about — OK, of all things — pitch correction by our friend, Rick Saenz. Of course, it’s not my usual fare of the doomed economy. I read the post because I enjoy reading well written pieces, even if I don’t care much about the subject matter. (By the way, you will not subscribe to a better written blog.) I figure the discipline of reading good writing will rub off. If split infinitives are any standard, then we all know that my reason is a bold-faced lie. It’s not rubbing off.
Still, I read it, and my patience was rewarded with this gem. I put it here for your consideration (with my bolded emphasis), with the understanding that it was written in light of tradeoffs in performing and recording music but is applicable to many of the Mommy Wars.
Wisdom does not choose a particular approach and champion it over the alternatives. Instead, wisdom works to understand the pros and cons of each individual choice. It looks to understand how particular choices interact to produce results, sometimes unexpected ones. It considers how wishful thinking can lead us to make poor choices, hoping that things will somehow turn out for the best. It distinguishes between practical matters and pragmatism. It recognizes that when no perfect path is available and knowledge is incomplete, it is often helpful to reserve judgment on what appear to be poor choices that others have made. Most important, it does not refuse to participate in projects that are less than ideal, but applies itself to bring whatever improvements it can to whatever circumstances present themselves.
I think the last sentence is the answer on how to end up at a great church wherever you live.
“Helicopter parents” are getting tired of spinning their wheels, er, choppers. Attachment parenting is falling out of trend now. Time for a change:
But whatever you call it, and however it began, its days may be numbered. It seems as though the newest wave of mothers is saying no to prenatal Beethoven appreciation classes, homework tutors in kindergarten, or moving to a town near their child’s college campus so the darling can more easily have home-cooked meals. (O.K., O.K., many were already saying no, but now they’re doing so without the feeling that a good parent would say yes.) [...]
After a decade of earnest immersion in parenting, though, the times are ripe for a change. The first sign was the wave of confessionals — from anonymous Web sites like truumomconfessions.com (where mothers admit to transgressions like feigning stomach cramps to steal quiet time hiding in the bathroom) to bylined blogs like the wildly popular dooce.com (where Heather B. Armstrong chronicled her postpartum depression and continues to write about her struggles as the mother of a charming but somewhat high-strung 5-year-old) to memoirs like Ayelet Waldman’s (in which she cops to such “sins” as using disposable diapers and loving her husband more than her children).
Normally, I’m not one to cheer honesty over doing the hard work of parenting. Truthfully, more parents need to own up than to get real. But read on.
But in the past few months, a second wave has taken hold — writers are moving past merely venting and are trying to gather the like-minded into a new movement. Carl Honoré is one. He calls it “slow parenting” — no more rushing around physically and metaphorically, no more racing kids from soccer to Suzuki. Lenore Skenazy is another. She calls it “free-range parenting,” a return to the days when childhood was not ruled by the fear (overblown, she says, with statistics to prove it) that children would be maimed, kidnapped or killed if they did something as simple as riding their bikes alone to the park.
So, now we’re allowed to relax. I think.
If you happen to be a conservative Christian, you also have to navigate whatever current trend is making the marketing rounds in evangelical circles. Parenting is stressful enough, but add to that the guilt and stress of fitting in with your particular homeschooling homebirthing homesteading micro-culture, and it’s no wonder more women don’t call it quits.
I’m not advocating that, by the way. I think we should call it quits, but only with the defensive posturing we assert on the playground.
I don’t get involved in the arguing anymore. One, because I realized that it doesn’t really matter how, when, and what method you use to switch your baby from a bottle to a cup. Some people really care about these things, and for them, no amount of being right will ever fill the inadequacy they feel when they lay down at night. Let them be right.
Two, there is a deep feeling inside a woman that correlates with the esteem a man receives from doing his job well: This is all I do, all day every day. I want it to be right. Me too. What would it feel like to devote your life work to this and find out you’ve been doing it all wrong all this time? So it seems better to use my words to build up my fellow mother in the trenches than to spend that time building myself up (in my eyes, anyway—nobody else is thinking well of me).
I’m with Erin Manning on this one:
….deep down inside the reason many parents–especially many mothers–are so caught up in parenting fads in the first place is because of a female tendency I’m going to get some flack for admitting to publicly: we need to be right. Especially when it comes to our kids.
And if we’re laid back, under-scheduled, casual moms, and we spend a coffee hour with moms whose kids are learning Sanskrit, competing in geography bees, and on track to be the youngest ever Van Cliburn competitor, we get that dreadful chill up our spines: no matter how well life is going or how happy we are with the way we do things, the sickening possibility arises and won’t be banished, haunting us at inopportune times, whispering in our shivering ears–am I failing my kids? Am I ruining my kids?
What’s the solution? I like Catholic blogger Danielle Bean’s oft-repeated mantra: do what works best for your family. That doesn’t imply that you’ll never spend time considering (and reconsidering) what’s working, of course.
And then the money line:
But it does mean that you don’t have to read up on all the latest parenting trends to find one that’s sort of close to what you’re already doing, so that you can defend it the next time someone who’s doing something completely different inadvertently makes you wonder if you’re doing it all wrong.
I guess I’m just at the point where I’m willing to live and let live. I’ve also been publicly humbled enough — and I’ve got really great kids. There is more than one way to skin a cat, but you don’t know that when you’re a new parent.
There is a certain imbalance mothers fall into, especially new mothers—a sort of hyper-interest in all things motherly, which is well and good when it is balanced with the most important things in life and not tangled with the gospel. By that, I mean that the gospel stands on its own merit and that our justification is dependent on Christ’s work and not our failure or success as a parent, perceived and otherwise.
Faith is not separate from our lives; it’s integrated. It is the driving force behind all our decisions. I only mean that our worth as mothers, as parents, as Christians is from Christ and not a parenting philosophy that changes with the times. Easy to say, but women everywhere feel the weight of the burden of these “gospels”.
In fact, it was just this month that I realized that a particular conservative Christian “tenet” (for lack of a better word) was a burden that I inadvertently allowed others to put onto me and not one that Christ asked me to bear. The freedom from that feels amazing.
p.s. I hope you all had a good Mother’s Day. I got a fake rose, plastic grapes, an iron bell, a Twix bar, and homemade cards. :)