30 September 2008
The biological equipment is the extent of my inherent capability for the generation and care of children. I am impatient. I have a short fuse and a bad temper. I get bored quickly. I get annoyed easily. I'm much more inclined, less the constraints of conscience, to use my two fists than some kind of fabled preternatural maternal gentleness. I like to get deeply absorbed in impersonal tasks. I hate noise, I hate interruptions. I don't find children cute or amusing and I do not, on balance, enjoy their company. I don't like cuddling with the flailing, grubby things unless I'm darn cold. When people asked if I wanted to hold the baby back in the day, I said no.
For what it's worth, arguing that women are better programmed temperamentally to take care of children is, for many women, not persuasive. It's ultimately a practical point, which are usually not the most beneficial in theological context (because hey, if I'm not maternally gifted, I shouldn't be mothering, right?). I'm tempted to throw a "theology of glory" at it too.
29 September 2008
27 September 2008
We must not be caught in the trap, "Well, what do the CSPP think of me?” Who cares?We couldn't have said it better. Thanks and congrats to our favorite economist!
26 September 2008
Is what the boys thought when they discovered this. (Not a good picture, but then by this juncture there’s really no way to pull off a flattering photo shoot.)
I’m such a spoilsport: “Use sticks! Not your fingers! Don’t fling that around! DON'T PUT IT IN YOUR MOUTH!!!” Hey, I’m starting to think that the Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling might be a good fit for us, should it come to that. (Look: I’m trying to educate myself against the probability of having to “school” my children—or “unschool” them—wow, more namedropping!)
Somehow, this just seemed an appropriate companion piece to Rebekah’s reminder that it’s Debate Night.
25 September 2008
Coincidentally, a reader recently emailed us a gentle reminder to avoid the appearance of judgmentalism or snobbery based on the numbers. As Rebekah wrote (two posts back), we at CSPP are sorry to think that we may have given that impression, however inadvertently. We recognize the inherent sinfulness of attempting to usurp God’s prerogative of judgment—and we’re too busy with our own, homegrown sins and sinners to worry too much about those of others :O .
Here are just a few good reasons not to judge by the numbers:
>>A mother of three says with a laugh that she’s Done as she drops her kids at daycare. But watch her closely: she gazes longingly at infants and speaks wistfully of babies. Listen carefully: you’ll hear between the lines that her husband’s heart is hardened against more children, and against her staying home with them.
>>Miscarriages have taken a toll on the wife’s body, and nearly crushed her spirit with grief.
>>A young wife is diagnosed with a chronic disease, requiring treatment with medicine that could cause birth defects or early abortions.
>>The venom from the fangs of postpartum demons has lingered, piercing and weakening a woman and her marriage to the core.
>>A young woman has battled cancer, and the odds of recurrence skyrocket with the hormonal fluctuations of pregnancy (Brave girl; she’s pregnant with her second!)
>>Pregnancy means that a woman, already mother to several young children, will be virtually incapacitated for anywhere from four months to the entire nine, despite the antiemetic meds.
And these are just a few women of my actual acquaintance. I know I don’t walk around spilling my guts and medical history to everyone I meet on the street—how many of us do? Who but her dear Lord knows the secret struggles of a woman’s heart? And who but her Lord can resolve and absolve the anguish there? When the support of a Sister might make all the difference in the world to her, the last thing a woman needs is to feel judged by a Sister for her honest struggles.
We at CSPP are, or at least strive to be, all about honesty and support in, with, and under our various struggles.
But I’ve wandered a bit from where I thought I’d go in this post. Tune in again later for Disclaimer, ct’d, Part II: Why Reb. Mary is not qualified to cast the first or any stone.
24 September 2008
What five people - past or present - inspire your spiritual life??
OK, we know that our Lord Himself has to be at the top of the list, so He is assumed. Your five simply follow Him. In Lutheran circles, we will also presume "Fr. Martin of Wittenberg" as well. :-)
So the five would be additional people who (humanly speaking) have greatly impacted your life of faith and love on this earth.
1. My Own Husband. So true a model of integrity, longsuffering, and duty that I still can't figure out what he's doing with a duplicitous, whiny slothbag like me. Furthermore, there's no one whose sermons I'd rather hear every week. Book bonus: Gerhard's Sacred Meditations, which I found lovingly buried in a pile of stuff in his car one day when I had a doctor's appointment and needed waiting room reading material.
2. My Own Father. The man is pious. The man prays. I grew up knowing how Christians live because I saw it every day. (And mom, of course, but we all know no one notices moms and no hard feelings. ;) ) Book bonus: Pia Desideria. He told me that Pietism certainly deserved to be knocked around, but that I should read the book before engaging in knocking myself so as not to violate the Eighth Commandment in relation to our brother in Christ, Philipp Jakob. Good advice.
3. The Rev Dr Nagel (how do you like that, WW?). If not the prime mover, the heavyweight behind the other major paradigm shift in my life. I am forever grateful. Book bonus: This Is My Body, required text for S-413 at Concordia Seminary, Winter Quarter 2001.
4. Father Confessors past and present. That would be two regulars and two drive-bys (as is occasionally necessary in the life of someone for whom getting out is difficult). Theirs are the voices which ring with Christ's Words in my ears when my hours are heavy, and I still ponder and treasure their own words of counsel. Thank you, if you're reading. I remember. (No book bonus as everything these gentleman have given me is in the aural tradition.)
I tag Reb. Mary and Gauntlets in the comments. It's fun to think about while you're feeding the baby (or gestating the baby, as the case may be). Also Pam although she doesn't technically have a blog at the moment, with the intention of inspiring her to get that party started for the greater good. ;)
23 September 2008
22 September 2008
20 September 2008
Concordian Sister (CS): Pregnant woman, early-30s, puking ad nauseam most days, but not just now.
Nurse: Perky woman, early-30s, prone to excessive blinking.
A small, fluorescently-lit room. No windows. One door. Room is furnished germane to a doctor’s examination room. CS sits on a worn chair reading a children’s magazine because she is not yet old enough to read the other magazine options. The Nurse enters carrying a stack of interview papers and a big smile.
Nurse: Hi mommy! How are we today?!?
Nurse: That’s terrific! And how is baby?!?
CS: Well, I was hoping you could tell me.
Nurse: HA HA HA! Of course we will. But first, let’s just go though a few questions for your file, OK?!?
Nurse: OK! Is this your first baby?
Nurse: . . . You’re second?
CS: No. This is my fifth pregnancy. Hopefully our fourth living child.
Cue primal drum beat. Nurse begins blinking rapidly in time with the drum.
Nurse: smiling largely. . . Wait . . . what?!
CS: Uh . . . this is my fifth . . .
Nurse: I heard you! Well, how many kids are you planning to have?
CS: I . . . um . . .
Nurse: waiting expectantly as drum beats/blinking grows more intense
CS: I . . . One more. For the rest of my life.
Nurse: smile grows larger as drum beats/blinking continue. Then: Of course. How nice. I have two children myself. And I used to think I wanted a big family, but . . .
The room grows dark as Nurse is spotlit in red. Her chair rises from the floor and whirls wildly as she says:
TWO IS ENOUGH BIRTH CONTROL FOR MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!
This continues until, you know, you get sick of it. The chair with its Nurse returns to its starting position, the drum beats/blinking die down, and everything resumes normalcy
CS: . . .
Nurse: . . .
CS: Wow . . . how . . . did you do that?
Nurse: Hydraulic lifts. Under the chair.
CS: . . .
Nurse: Well, shall we continue our interview?!?
CS: . . .
Nurse: Have you ever had tuberculosis?
Nurse: Pseudorabies virus?
The lights fade to black.
End of Play
And there you have it folks! If you like, feel free to use this little drama for your next youth-led worship service. You might want to add this alternate ending, just to jazz it up a bit:
CS and Nurse are silenced when they hear opening bars to song, ”Jesus Loves the Little Children.” Upon realizing what’s playing, they smile at one another, stand, clasp hands, and begin soft-shoeing their way across the stage. This continues until, you know, you’re sick of it.
*please see Rebekah’s awesome post for helpful insights into this title.
The result of this seemingly unremarkable exchange was one of those classic moments in which politeness dictates that an even façade is maintained even though one’s mental process is at almost complete odds with one’s facial expression and verbal output.
Here: Mental process: “What? No! I didn’t choose this! Not in a million years would I choose this. But, uh, here I am. So I guess I did choose this? Well, I suppose I did. But not really. Wait, what?” Facial expression: Smile and look pleasant. Verbal output: “[Insert incomprehensible but empathetic murmur here].” Move on quickly before mental process finds audible outlet.
In our choice-driven world where self is queen and personal autonomy is her ruling mantra, a woman’s choice to have a large family might make sense to some people. Then they could fall back on the old, “Well, I could never do that/I would never choose that, but it’s ok for you.” If they’re not of the sort to yell at you for ruining the environment with too many children, they might even have a sort of admiration for a woman who chooses to have more children than the “average” family.
But what do you do with a woman who doesn’t really choose to have one or three or ten children, but simply accepts them as God gives them? That’s a bit harder for people to understand. In fact, it’s almost impossible for people to understand. Even if that person is (more or less) you, as my confusion in this conversation makes clear.
Rereading John 15:15 is what recalled this exchange to mind: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last.”
Ah. Yes. A CSPP theme verse, perhaps? My life is not found in the sum of my choices. My life is hidden in the Savior who chose me. Being chosen, rather than choosing, is yet another mortification of my self—particularly since it’s so darn obvious, not only from Scripture, but from the mess I daily make of things, that I was not chosen to bear this lasting fruit because of any merit, worthiness, inclination, or even adequacy on my part.
No, I cannot console or rally myself by asserting that “I chose this.” Hear this, Prideful Self: You did not choose this; you were chosen. And you were not chosen because you were special. These daily tasks, these menial repetitions that you so begrudgingly perform—you grumble that these chores are not worthy of you, but the truth is that you are not worthy of them. Turn your hand gratefully to the care of the least of these, and marvel at the mystery of being chosen in spite of yourself.
18 September 2008
17 September 2008
Huh? If contraceptives are not inherently immoral in the procreative schema of Our Beloved Synod's resident bioethicists, how does using them in an illicit context make them wrong? If you're a felon, and you engage in a morally neutral act like walking downstairs, the fact that you're a felon doesn't affect the moral status of stair usage. Since pragmatism seems to be the determinitive force in all their arguments, wouldn't unmarried people be the main constituency Our Beloved Bioethicists would want using these highly practical, morally neutral (by their definition) items? These people are a walking commercial for the Trivium.
The LCMS: promoting pregnancy out of wedlock, seeing little need for it within.
16 September 2008
1) “I wish I could stay home with the kids, but [wistful sigh] we just can’t afford it” [uttered by persons who can’t but know that their head-of-household’s income exceeds ours].
2) “I could never stay home with the kids [because it would drive me crazy/because I need to be out doing something else]”
I was thinking that least #2 is refreshingly honest, and therefore less annoying than the people in #1 who are not being honest with themselves. But then I thought: Hey, I could never stay home with the kids either…but here I am. So I guess both statements represent a truth-talk problem. And I can’t decide which is more annoying. (Hmmm…maybe I should be thinking about something else instead? Like maybe a nice, bright response to the above? Hey, maybe I'm the only one who's small-minded enough to be annoyed by these things and you've all got brilliant responses to such inanity/insanity...by all means, share your inspiration here.)
I’ll try to be less cranky tomorrow. I know, I know: I can be tired and angry, or I can just be tired...I’m working on it...
15 September 2008
Religious conviction, folks. That's what this is about. No, really. We actually believe on the basis of Scripture as witnessed to by the confession of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church that God intends for married people not to hinder the procreative process. Furthermore, we believe that Christians are supposed to live according to Christian beliefs, even if these beliefs are inconvenient and style-cramping.
So quit asking. I've already told you this. If anything changes, I'm sure you'll hear about it.
12 September 2008
Motherhood is a notoriously physical endeavor. If we at CSPP don’t have a babe in the womb, we’ve got one in our arms (and more clinging about our legs). The nurture of these creatures doesn’t end when the umbilical cord is cut nor when they are weaned. If you don’t see us in the garden, the grocery, or the kitchen, you can find us in the bathroom or the laundry room, dealing with the inevitable results of such nurturing.
Need I say that all this can sometimes seem monotonous, endless, and even worthless work? Yes, yes, I know: vocation, vocation, vocation…the rallying cry trumpeted from Luther to us via instruments like Veith. It’s the funniest thing, though: “the vocation of motherhood” sounded much nobler before I was knee-deep in diapers, before I was so irrevocably, so physically, so wholly vested in the venture.
Nowadays, if I read something on vocation, I have to force myself to focus on the words rather than the fact that they were likely written by some dude who was sitting in a quiet office or pleasant café all by himself, taking bathroom and coffee breaks whenever it darn well pleased him, receiving phone calls without having to cast threatening looks or menacing gestures at anyone, and going home (or out) to a supper cooked by someone else. [No, I’m not thinking of anyone in particular here; it’s just a generic image conjured by my wistful brain.]
Some days, the word “vocation” is muttered around here with an ironically cast eyebrow at least as much as it is uttered without the scare quotes. Alas!
But back to the main point, if such may be found here. In many, various, and increasing ways, we all know that motherhood is an excellent way to mortify one’s own sinful flesh—not in spite of, but because of, that monotonous, endless, and sometimes seemingly worthless work. Let’s not forget that this vocation [Look! No scare quotes!] also models Truth to a generically-Gnostic world which tends to focus on developing the “spiritual self.” Pursuing this elusive “spiritual self” requires a good deal of time and effort delving into one’s own inner workings, a journey in which the menial tasks of childrearing are cumbersome detours.
It seems to me that the pervasiveness of the spirit=good / body=bad dichotomy is one reason large families are offensive to some, even within the church, which certainly ought to know better (This is my body, given for you…). Most every act in the life of a mother at home with her young/large family affirms the body’s created, redeemed, and sanctified worth and testifies that the self should be effaced, not embraced. Every day, every diaper and every dish glorify the Creator and express the sure and certain hope of bodily resurrection and eternal dwelling on the New Earth.
Of course, this is really only an effective witness if she performs her duties with grace and good humor. (Self: shape it up a bit!)
11 September 2008
There's a strain of human grownups characterized by their love for giving kids a hard time. They steal noses and say that tomorrow is Christmas and tell them that their awesome double play is going to be on the local news tonight and pretend to have hurt feelings over not being invited to a birthday party. When I was little, I absolutely despised this subspecies. What a bunch of jerks. As if life isn't confusing enough for kids, who land on this earth with zero information, these clowns go and tell them things that just aren't true. Then when the kid believes these stupid things, which often have anxiety or false hopes built into them, he gets laughed at by the jerk grownup, so he's insulted twice over. It hurts his feelings and makes him skeptical. Why does any adult consider this fun?
Listen up, kid hasslers: remember that you were confused, and to confusion you may return. If you tell a kid you want her to buy you a sundae, she's going to go home and nervously start counting out her pennies. Don't bug kids; they've got enough to figure out without having to worry about your dumb jokes.
09 September 2008
I've heard such tales before, of course, but have always been half-tempted to dismiss them as urban myths. I can't do that in this case because 1)We ain't urban :) and 2)The eyewitness testimony is unimpeachable.
This got me thinking: if all the "I know someone who knew someone whose cousin-twice-removed didn't know she was pregnant until she gave birth" stories I've heard are actually true, this occurs with disturbing frequency. What gives? Anyone else have confirmed reports of the like?
Oh, and in this case, mom and baby (who was 6-some lbs) are apparently doing just fine, though undoubtedly both rather bewildered by the whole experience.
08 September 2008
1. When I can't take any more socializing and want nothing more than to sit alone in a quiet room.
2. When my feet are killing me.
3. When I have a good book and no other way to get time to read it in good conscience.
4. When I realize I'd better get my normal clothes out of storage, and all I've done to shrink back into them is sit on my duff for an extra 3 hours every day.
1. Postpartum. Like I'm not already in enough pain?
2. When I'm sick. I'm SICK, for crying out loud! But here you are anyway to drain me of my precious bodily fluids, without even acting remotely sorry.
3. At the end of the day when I feel so chewed up and emptied out and we've already done this a billion times today and how can you possibly be lunging at me again?
4. When someone pees on the floor 45 seconds post-latch.
07 September 2008
Anyway. When I got to college I was very disheartened by many of the specimens who were introduced to me as pre-sem. What a bunch of brain-damaged idiots, arrogant jerks, and womanizing creeps*. I assumed that the brain damaged idiots would flunk their way out (most did, in seminary if not before). The womanizing creep type has never had much interest in me personally and I hoped The System would weed them out for the greater good (no comment). But the arrogant jerks, what of them?
I developed a solution: the Thundercats Route to the Pastoral Office. I didn't watch much TV growing up, so the shows I managed to sneak stuck with me. One was an episode of Thundercats in which Lion-O wanted to be the leader of the Thundercats. In order to prove his worth, he had to beat every Thundercat at their greatest skill. So, for example, he had to outrun Cheetara. I can't remember all the other feats of strength. But, man, it was tense! Lion-O had to earn that spot! He had to be the best at everything!
So, cross-apply: anybody who wanted to be a pastor should have to do all the jobs at church. He should have to clean the floors after the spaghetti supper, work the nursery during VBS when every baby in the church was checked in since their mothers were all teaching, teach the kindergarten Sunday School class, balance the budget, organize the youth group mission gimmick including fundraising and preventing makeout sessions under the mosquito netting, etc. That would teach them!
Funny thing about all that. My husband has to do these things regularly. He cleans bathrooms, sets up chairs and tables, teaches little kids, teaches big kids, deals with the financial situation, makes coffee, and tomorrow he's providing child care for a women's Bible study I'm deputizing for a few weeks, which is what reminded me of all this. He's done humbler and less savory tasks also, which I won't get into (and those are only the ones I know about). And the meetings! The accursed meetings! Lion-O just wouldn't have it in him.
LCMS pastors: Thundercats to the max. Sweet!
06 September 2008
So I’m rather pleased that I managed to flinch only slightly when I absentmindedly put out my hand to hold the boys’ latest discovery and received these fine fellows. Thankfully, they were only the shells of their former selves. It was a good little science lesson, after all.
Still, I was decidedly happier with the crickets we chased for the rest of the evening.
05 September 2008
But I find myself annoyed at times that "tired" is so easy to blow off, particularly during the first month or two or three or four or five or however many after a baby. I can't remember where I read it, but I thoroughly enjoyed one mother's fury at seeing her husband sleeping when she'd been up all night, desperate for a newborn to go to sleep. She said she wanted to throw a bucket of ice water on him. Ahem.
The Mask of Motherhood by Susan Maushart (book: acknowledged to exist, neither recommended nor unrecommended). The image that stuck with me from that one was her description of a new mother fantasizing about sleep like a starving person dreams of food. Um, yes. When I daydream about my imaginary weekend away that could never happen, the central feature is sleeping, sleeping, sleeping until I wake up of my own accord, and then going back to sleep.
How many nocturnal hours I've spent in the baby's room HATING all sleeping people. Is there anything more offensive than the rising of the sun when you've been up all night? All creation doesn't give a care. Everybody needs bums wiped and clothes and breakfast and ponytails and supervision for another whole day.
I did that thing again the other day where I kept falling asleep in the middle of reading to the babies. I must have somehow slept through a whole paragraph because I know we finished the chapter, but when I read the same chapter again later to a kid who missed it the first time the entire last paragraph was completely unfamiliar. This amazes me.
03 September 2008
............................................my hands full.
My reaction to an innocently-emailed remark reminded me of how unlikely a candidate I still am for this job. A newish acquaintance wrote, “You must really love being a mom!”
Wait, what? With that, I suddenly realized that I can’t recall ever thinking, “I really love being a mom!” Now, I have thought about how much I love my husband and children. I’ve thought about how amazing it is to watch these little creatures grow and develop. I’ve thought about the ways God uses the raging purifying fires aka my offspring to purge the dross from my life. Believe it or not, I’ve actually thought a lot of positive things about motherhood :P. I’ve been overwhelmed to think that God would entrust us with these lives. (And, of course, I’ve been just plain overwhelmed.)
But I’m pretty sure that the precise exclamation “I really love being a mom!” has never spontaneously welled up within me. Maybe I just express differently what other people mean when they use that phrase. Or maybe I need to be more intentional about trying that phrase on for size—breaking it in for the miles ahead.
I'm unspeakably blessed in having a husband whose representation of our Lord to me is humbling even to the point of humiliation. The best thing about this iconic faithfulness is that it teaches me to love and long for the true Bridegroom. It's a favor I can't return.
02 September 2008
Legos and other construction-type activities
Army guy wars
Building forts out of furniture fragments
Any number of outdoor sports
Some of these things I can fake. For others, I can only supply the accouterments and wish them well. But Dad can have a downright good time chucking pillows across a room for an afternoon. I was recently reprimanded by the children for not trading my Memory matches after a game, an activity apparently devised by their uncles to increase and extend the competition. The tiger is worth at least two less cool card matches, and if you want the strawberry shortcake you'd better be willing to part with your whole stack. ?!
I suppose I should just be grateful for Manplay when it happens, and appreciate the time it buys me for trying to figure out where the pantry got to.