31 May 2009
(That title is not my own, but something I heard my parents saying around the house while I grew up there. I have no idea where they got it. This kind of thing was pretty common; for example, I never knew why they sang "Video-o-o, video-o-o, video, gloria in excelsis Deo" whenever we watched a movie until HS 98 came out. Someday I'll give you their version of "Von Himmel Hoch". Such a strange way to come into the Church's rich cultural heritage.)
28 May 2009
Your husband wants you happy and not exhausted when he gets home more than he wants tortillas infused with your skin cells every Taco Night.
26 May 2009
So even after nursing two babies for a combined total of 23 months, and being firmly convinced of the myriad benefits of breastfeeding for mother and babe, etc., etc., I still didn’t really understand how people could nurse toddlers. Toddlers. They walk! They talk! They’re unmistakably morphing into something more closely resembling an actual person!
For whatever reason, some people get personally offended by moms who nurse past a year. I was never among those ranks, but as I uttered with perfect sincerity, “It’s fine if it works for them,” my eyebrow would be at just, you know, that angle.
Ahem. Then there’s Boy3. He passed the year mark two months ago. He ain’t a-talkin’, but he’s sure a-walkin’. A-runnin’, even. And his personal opinion, which just so happens to be quite important to him personally, is that there need be nothing mutual about the consensus to close the dairy. The status quo is just fine, thanks for asking, and he’ll be sure to notify me if things change.
To return to my original puzzlement: How on earth do moms end up nursing their toddlers--these small, disproportionately opinionated people who stump so purposefully about the house, these babies so huge that their legs drape ridiculously over the side of the nursing chair as they recline in perfect ease with their tubby bellies rounding up to the sky?
Turns out that this is how it happens: You bring forth, likely with great personal inconvenience, effort and pain, a newborn. With the help of God, your husband, and a lactational consultant, you may be able to nurse this newborn, often at further great personal inconvenience, effort, and pain. That newborn continues to nurse, and to grow. More nursing, more growing. Hit repeat. Then one day the baby turns one and starts walking and you’re still nursing. Huh. Just like that.
I’m still not convinced that it’s impossible to be weirded out by one’s own lifestyle, but ending the day by rocking with my BabyBoy who’s too busy to sit still for more than 3 seconds at any other point in the day. . . well, not so weird, after all. . .
*Full disclosure compels me to admit that there was a baby-free trip on the horizon in that case.
25 May 2009
Feminism was not something the Church needed to bring about the exorcism of some chronic, systemic sexism. Feminism's biggest problem as an intellectual system is that it cannot reconcile women's supposed subjugation because of what their bodies do with the fact that what women's bodies do is incredible, empowering, and exclusive. Does childbearing free us or bind us? Feminism will never figure it out, and a lot more scratching and hair pulling is in the works because of it. But the Church has always had this figured out. Male and female He created them, and it was very good. The Church is not and has never been sexist. She's a lady, after all. ;)
This is not to say that there have not been and are not now persons within the Church who are guilty of the sins of misogyny and chauvinism. But feminism cannot fix misogyny or chauvinism in the Church or anywhere else, because only Christ can fix sin. The Holy Spirit calls us to repentance of all sins by the Word of God, which is clear on the point that girls are on the level as far as God is concerned. If the people of God were more tempted by zeitgeists past to break the 8th commandment against women, slandering them as intrinsically inferior, they are now more tempted to despise maternity and break the 4th and10th commandments against women.
Feminism is a cancer, women of God. Do not think that it has helped you or made your church a better place. Feminism is not "hey, don't be a jerk to me." I'd tell you to read Simone de Beauvior to see for yourself, but she is a vat of poison. I consider it a work of divine providence that I didn't drown in it (I was younger and poorly catechized when I read The Second Sex, but I also wouldn't pick it up again today to double check). Betty Friedan will turn and aerate the your heart so that the seeds of malice, self-absorption, and covetousness which the devil has tossed into it will take root. If your brain can schlog through the bloviating sophistry of eisogetes like Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza, it does so at the risk of being confounded by cunning perversions of God's Word. Haven't we learned by now not to listen to voices that hiss, "Did God really say . . . ?"
It's not that you're not smart enough to handle it. But if you don't think it's a good idea for your husband to subscribe to Maxim so that he can preach better against the sin of lust, don't read feminist writing. This is not sticking your head in the sand. It is both protecting your soul (and, by extension, your family) and refusing to be complicit in sin. Feminism is intellectual pornography for chicks. It will tell you that your sinful desires are ok and need to be indulged for the sake of your health. It will nag love out of your heart and replace it with dissatisfaction and contempt.
You are not living a better life right now because of Gloria Steinem's clever social commentary or what happened in Seneca Falls. You are living and raising your daughters and sons in a world in which God's ordering of human relationships and women's and men's proper work have been made into objects of greater scorn than ever in history. Feminism has made a mockery of you and the honor God has bestowed upon you. Anything it appeared to give it has taxed away ten times over (remember how prostitution and pornography were unfeminist for about five minutes, and now are the birthright of every woman?). Feminism has made your life worse, period.
One last thing: Jesus was not a feminist. He is God. That's why He treated women so well (and continues to do so).
23 May 2009
21 May 2009
I’m raising that woman's grandsons. I totally get it. Loading multiple children into car seats can be a real pain. . . but on the other hand, I’m guessing that I’m not the only mom who has occasionally strapped everyone in to drive an unnecessary distance on a non-urgent errand. (I also have a feeling that this phenomenon diminishes as the children increase in age and quantity. But I could be wrong there.)
20 May 2009
“What are you thinking of? What thinking? What?
“I never know what you are thinking. Think.”
Ha ha! Only kidding, of course. I never really had that much potential. :P Must I admit that a few years ago there was a time, or at least there were days, when I could have uttered that sentiment in all seriousness—at least as much seriousness as melodramatic flair can convey?
But really, folks. When I chance upon acquaintances of yesteryear who learn that I’m “at home,” I’m amazed at how hard they work to ascribe to my life some scrap of significance that is quantifiable or comprehensible to them. They’d really like some evidence, for their own sakes as much as for mine, that my (dubious) potential and (ridiculously prolonged) education isn’t being squandered on story hour and finger painting.
The script for these encounters goes something like this:
Well-meaning Person or Persons (WMP): So I understand that you’re living pretty far from “civilization,” ha ha.
Me: Yes, ha ha, I suppose you could say that. Lots of great things about small town life, though!
WMP: So isn’t it wonderful how the internet is opening all sorts of possibilities for mothers to work from home?
Me: Mmm-hmm, yes, it certainly is.
WMP: So what are you working on?
Me: Me? Oh, I’m not working on anything really. Unless you count chasing these kids, ha ha.
[more laughter ensues; generally good-natured on my part, and uneasy on theirs]
I really shouldn’t be so surprised by these efforts to find some sort of “meaningful activity” in my life. Like a high school senior who suddenly realizes the need to repackage herself because colleges won’t be impressed with her extracurricular resume, I used to be prone to a sort of self-conscious glossing over exactly what I was doing with my life here at home. You know how it is: on the all-important transcript, hanging out with friends makes one a “social organizer;” dog sitting for the neighbor becomes “runs pet-care business,” etc.
Sometimes I still entertain myself by mentally listing the socially acceptable titles people are awarded when they’re paid to do for strangers’ kids what I do gratis for my own (you know the list as well as I do: pediatric researcher, early childhood educator, behavioral development specialist, etc.). Nowadays, though, this little exercise is more to have something mildly amusing to do with my brain while I read Skippyjon Jones and the Dinosaur Bones aloud for the fifth time than it is to assure myself or random passersby that this kid thing is but a temporary aberration in an otherwise brilliant career (and again I say: Ha! Ha ha!).
These blasts from the past, encounters that I used to find rather excruciating, can still be rather embarrassing—but I’m now usually embarrassed not for myself, but for those well-meaning persons who want so badly for me (and for them) to feel like I’m doing something “significant.” Those poor souls must be getting cricks in their necks from straining so hard to overlook the significance clamoring about my knees. Can’t anyone really remember what a workhorse is for, after all?
Undeniably exotic, she’s a real looker but is hotblooded and trends skittish. If you’re looking for a model you can trust with your children, check out her more temperate cousin:
Powerful and intelligent, spirited yet gentle. And check out those lines: she’s a classic beauty, amazingly versatile, turning her hoof successfully to most any task that’s asked of her.
19 May 2009
A similar garment with a flattering scoop neck, fitted sleeves, and trim cut reading "Trinity" would be somewhat less clear anyway, I guess.
If you hate reading books*, play Memory.
If you hate Chutes and Ladders, play Uno.
If you hate blocks, put together puzzles.
If you hate everything in the playroom, concoct things in the kitchen.
If you hate Raffi, listen to the Beatles. (HT: Gauntlets)
If you hate "teaching" your kids to "help" you with necessary household tasks beyond their abilities, find a parallel activity:
Have them color while you write thank-yous and pay bills at the same table.
Have them put away silverware while you put away the other dishes (now you know why my silverware drawer looks like a scrap metal heap).
Have them match socks while you fold the rest of the clothes.
Have them throw all the dish towels on the floor while you wash pots.
Have them pull pans of boiling water off the stove while you blanch rhubarb.
Most important: If your kids are happy playing by themselves, LEAVE THEM ALONE.
*You should probably read some. I'm not convinced that in a generally literate, TV-free household the need to read for hours a day is as dire as it's made out to be--remember, most of that READ ALL THE TIME OR ELSE rhetoric is overstated government propaganda directed toward extremely irresponsible people. You may recall that I hate reading. I've worked on improving this by getting rid of most of the books we had that I hated, building a home kid library I like, and only checking out library books I can stomach. If one of the kids brings me a book I don't want to read, I tell him/her to pick a different one. It's allowed.
If you hate kids, deal with it.
18 May 2009
My photo is by Jill Heupel. Support Lutheran entrepreneurship by making an appointment with her next time you're in the vicinity of the Holy City, and bring the kiddies why donchee.
17 May 2009
You're all listening to Issues, right? You should. It's good. Turn it on while you do a puzzle with the kids.
14 May 2009
Often, I’m quite happy at the park. Like when I realize that I’ve got the best job in the world: I get to play outside with my kids on God’s glorious green earth, pretty much whenever we darn well please. And sometimes, I even get a turn on the swings.
13 May 2009
Other days, I sit on it.
For most practical purposes, there’s no discernible difference in the appearance of the house or the behavior of the children on tail-working vs. tail-sitting days.
I’m not quittin’. I’m just sayin’.
Clearly, forces beyond my control are at work here.
12 May 2009
What we mean is, "The LCMS confesses with the Church catholic God's ordering of human life and relationships as taught in Scripture."
What we mean is, "A home needs a mother."
What we mean is, "Under normal circumstances, a woman spends her life caring for her family."
What we mean is, "What kind of jerk would take a woman's God-given, life-giving work from her?"
What we mean is, "What kind of jerk would tell a woman her life's devouring work isn't good enough?"
What we mean is, "What kind of jerk would lie to his/his neighbor's wife to entice and force her away from her work, rather than urging her to stay and do her duty?"
But horses are just for pretty these days, and a lot more work than carts, so the cart comes first. Too bad, because it's hard for even a horse who knows and accepts how things are supposed to be not to feel somewhat hurt with cart out front--especially since the main thing she knows and accepts is that it's still her job to move it.
Lutherans know the value and necessity of a good damnamus. But it's no wonder I hear mutters and snorts from usually well-behaved Lutheran ladies when this topic comes up. Our Synod was and remains afraid to confess the mysterious good and is left only condemning the popular bad. Good luck making somebody else look like the jerk.
Women's ordination is nonsensical to the Christian mind, but we treat it like a thoroughly rational proposition, accepting the world's grounds for debate. Stupid.
The world is still going to think we're jerks. But wouldn't it be nice (and, moreover, a better confession) if the Missouri Synod were known as much for its chivalry as it is for "not ordaining women"?
08 May 2009
My mother married at age 18, fresh from high school. I was born nine months after the wedding. All the old ladies counted the days ‘til the bitter end; they were disappointed when I came late.
My father was a farmer by day, but worked a myriad of other, off-season jobs to pay the bills. He drove semi, worked the kill floor for the local butcher, repaired cars . . . When he was with us, home was pure. He was a good dad; he kept us in a house and brought food to the table. He worked hard. He couldn’t make the pure of home happen as much as he liked.
So, my mother worked, too. She cleaned my classmates’ toilets. She used the money she earned to buy my Dad new socks and my brothers and me Nesquik. She did not buy things for herself. Once, my Dad asked after the new pair of jeans she’d gotten. She told him she'd taken them back to the store, that having something new for herself made her stomach ache.
She cleaned other people’s houses, and made our house a home. Her hands were rough, red and gritty. She never complained. She was patient.
She knew why I hated school, why I came home with my throat knotted up. She knew why I loved Tennyson, why I loved the eggshell perfection of paper, the worn-flannel comfort of earth. She gave me everything she’d wanted when she was a child. She let me ride my red-headed pony away from the confusion of being young. She let me be private and small.
Now, I’m a mother. My husband is a pastor by day. When he is with us, home is pure. He works hard.
I work, too. I am not half the woman my mother was; I complain, parry, attack with the cowardice of venomous snakes. But God has been good to me, far better than I deserve.
I have my mother’s hands.
*"All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his." Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest.
A: That's not funny.
I have zero sense of humor about childbirth, which I know is uber-lame. But I just can't help it. When some dude makes a joke about what's the big deal, I don't know whether to cry or dig his left eye out with my finger. My attempt at a charitable interpretation is that the poor soul has never deliberately undertaken a really scary or painful task in his life and thus can't be expected to understand and respect such things.
I was in terror. I was variously humiliated. The pain thing. I thought I would die. I didn't take the drugs they offered me because I was afraid (though no one could definitively prove it) drugs would hurt my baby. And I may well have to do it one or three or six more times. It's just not funny.
If you wouldn't scoff at a firefighter entering a burning building to save a person inside, if you admire his courage, if you appreciate his work, don't make a joke out of childbirth. And if you think your mother was never afraid of childbirth or never complained about childbirth, you might want to consider the possibility that she wouldn't say such a thing in front of the jewel she gained from it.
07 May 2009
06 May 2009
1) Bake some potatoes. Halve lengthwise; scoop out insides and mash with plain yogurt, or sour cream and butter if you’re feeling decadent. Salt to taste.
2) Fill skins with a few spoonfuls of warm meat, then mashed potatoes. Top with shredded cheese and bake just a few minutes till cheese is melted.
3) Add masts (asparagus if ’tis the season).
4) Christen them potato schooners, cheeseburger boats, whatever your kids are most likely to eat. Throw in a maritime quiz: Is this a sloop? A yawl? A ketch?
5) Feel so pleased with yourself* that you let everyone add his own whipped cream to the strawberries when the dessert cart comes out.
*Even if you can’t take full credit for the creative moment…this recipe inspired me.
I totally get it now. There’s something immensely satisfying about knowing that the kitchen floor will be spotless for a week, even if you’re not around to see it.
05 May 2009
2. Force child to spend its first seven years working moderately hard learning to read, figure, write, and think. Obtain more children in the meantime.
3. Sit back and watch as oldest child takes over its own education and that of its siblings.
4. Drink mimosas and blog.*
"You may not have Mother's treat. Now go teach little Billy something."
This is a really sweet gig, ladies. Highly recommended.
*Again, Gauntlets does not really drink that many mimosas. They are too expensive. She drinks cheap wine, instead.
04 May 2009
“When a woman becomes pregnant within a loving, supportive, respectful relationship; has every option open to her; decides she does not wish to bear a child; and has access to a safe, affordable abortion—there is not a tragedy in sight—only blessing. The ability to enjoy God’s good gift of sexuality without compromising one’s education, life’s work, or ability to put to use God’s gifts and call is simply blessing.”
Thus stated Episcopal priest Katherine Ragsdale, quoted by Marvin Olasky in WORLD magazine. Ragsdale also referred to pro-abortion lobbyists and abortion-industry workers as heroes and saints who are engaged in the “holy work” of protecting the “blessing” of abortion.
Olasky concluded his column with the following meditation:
“The tragedy of abortion is bad enough, but the origin of the tragedy, and so many others of our time, emerges from worship not of Christ but of “me, me, me.” Katherine Ragsdale may show this tendency in a heightened form, but all of us display it to some degree. May God have mercy on her, on her students, and on all of us.”
03 May 2009
There's a point at which the functions of our childrens' bodies, the misfirings of their minds, the falterings of their souls, their dreams and sins become no one's business but theirs and their parents'. That information belongs primarily to them, not us. Maybe I'm hung up on this because I'm a little overprotective of my own privacy and find myself wondering what my parents' contacts, with whom I still occasionally interact, know about my not-even-that-misspent youth. But there are already things I wouldn't "tell on" my kids. It goes beyond bathtub photos. I know my daughter wouldn't want me ratting her out on certain topics and events to her grandma or friends, and she's six.
When in possession of a funny, cathartic, or burdensome story, parents should consider carefully their children's confidence in them before they start talking shop. What is to be gained by sharing this information? Does it really need to be shared, and if so, how much of it? What would my child think if she knew this person knew? I'm not saying we can't talk; just that we should remember the power of our words.