30 June 2009

A chaste and decent life

Wonky and CSPP.

I'm not terribly familiar with Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill beyond what one reads about him as a, you know, dangerously edgy and cool pastor (whoa, sweet idea! we've never had one of those!). But Justin Barnard takes him apart handily at Touchstone's Mere Comments. Driscoll is one of those sex pastors (it's hard to be cool without sex, after all), edgily talking about edgy specificities with edgy language, which makes SOME people edgy.

Barnard argues that Driscoll's message is far more problematic than his edgy presentation. That message is the one with which I think most contemporary Christian kids are brought up: Having sex before marriage is the worst sin ever. Once you're married though, oh boy, wink wink, nudge nudge. You made it! The rules are off! Have fun and be careful, ha ha ha!

Not be be the first girl ever to learn Hebrew (that was Mrs Stuckwisch), but the sixth commandment says "Lo tin'aph." We translate this, "You shall not commit adultery." What does this mean? Well, we should fear and love God so that we lead a sexually pure and decent life in what we say and do and husband and wife love and honor each other. But what does that mean? My Hebrew lexicon and my English dictionary tell me that n'ph and adultery both mean a married person having sex with someone other than the person to whom s/he is married.

But Scripture defines sexual immorality is more broadly. Fornication (premarital sex) is not ok. Homosexual acts are not ok. Prostitution is not ok. Rape is not ok. Provocative dress is not ok. Pornography is not ok. Polyamory is not ok. Lust is not ok. The Church also condemns what used to be called, before it became a societal joke, solitary vice. Uh oh--but old Onan wasn't quite solitary, was he? Maybe that's why the Church also universally saw, until almost ninety years ago (wow, has it really been that long?) more than one sin in that unpleasant Onan sitch.

Not all of these things are explicitly condemned in Scripture. The Church didn't need a commandment that said, "You shall not rape," or "You shall not offer sexual services for money" or "You shall not belong to the Hustler Club," or for that matter "You shall not pull legs off kittens" or "You shall not eat three tubs of Mission to Marzipan in one sitting." The Church understands that n'ph is a bigger word than it appears, and not subject to the etymological fallacy. (By the way, I believe one is also not supposed to covet his/her neighbor's husband, although the text is not so specific.)

Here is where Barnard's comments at Mere Comments get interesting. Barnard appears to believe that, as I read in a book on hermeneutics once, interpretation belongs to the Church. You know, that big catholic thing. That thing that confesses a husband to be his wife's loving lord, not her boytoy. That thing that confesses a wife to be her husband's helpmeet, not his whore. The rules are not off once you're married, because marital intimacy is too important to be abandoned to a closed system of anarchy. A wife or a husband can still be a direct victim of her/his spouse's lust. Chastity includes thoughts, words, and deeds within the marriage bed. Just because two people are willing to sin together does not make it ok. Kind of like one person's being willing to sin alone does not make it ok. Exactly like that, in fact.

I wonder what the seminary faculties, or the CTCR*, or Synodical bureaucrat X, or Pastor Joe LCMS down the road would have to say to all this. Is the LCMS effectively more Driscoll or Barnard when it comes to the less discussed aspects of the virtue of chastity (we know it's not "officially" anything)? If a person's spouse has problematic appetites, where do the theological sympathies of the LCMS lie? Does Spouse 2 need to repent and get his/her mind out of the brothel, or does Spouse 1 need to lighten up? Clearly we have begun to lose our way, but it is not clear to what extent. Those who usurp the Church's authority of interpretation and take the broader road of Bibliolatry become deaf to the voice of Natural Law and slaves to the perversity of their own flesh.

*I include the CTCR just to be polite.

29 June 2009

Every day

I bind unto myself today

The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this today to me forever
By power of faith, Christ’s incarnation;
His baptism in Jordan river,
His cross of death for my salvation;
His bursting from the spic├Ęd tomb,
His riding up the heavenly way,
His coming at the day of doom
I bind unto myself today.

28 June 2009

If he snatches away, who can stop him? Who can say to him, “What are you doing?”

Miscarry. Mis-carry. Like, “Whoops! I dropped the baby! Next time I’m carrying a baby I really should try to be more careful!”

I don’t like that word.

I woke early, to the unmistakable pains of labor amidst a rush of blood. Since I wasn’t pregnant, this confused me. But then, in a collage of startling clarity, a hundred small happenings of the previous weeks crashed across my mind and I realized that I was indeed pregnant.

And then I wasn’t. Before I could comprehend that I carried a child, I had mis-carried him. I was left cradling, in hysteria-edged bewilderment, the nearly-intact miniature world that had been his home for the blink of his mortal life. All men are like grass. . .

I didn’t really need a second opinion to tell me that I had miscarried, but I visited my doctor anyway, to see what else she could tell me. She estimated that I had been 7-9 weeks along: a January baby.

We would have complained cheerfully about the “poor planning” of a child who entered the world in the least tax-practical month and in the middle of flu season. Instead, we ceased to speak of things too wonderful for us to understand. We put our hands over our mouths and returned to the dust: We visited a cemetery.

In the diocese of a largish city, we walked among the graves in the section reserved for little ones. Even without the weight of fresh personal grief, this via dolorosa would have been overwhelming. So many stones bore only a single date: babies who, like ours, had never drawn a breath. Babies who had lived a day, a week, a year. Infant and toddler siblings, buried together. Flowers, fresh and faded; toy trucks, both new and rusted; stuffed bears, some fluffy, some already rain-bedraggled. Crosses and verses scattered throughout grass salted by the splash of a million tears.

I could almost feel the groaning of the overburdened earth—its lovely surface gashed open and shoved full of the carnage of the Curse.

Our baby isn’t buried there, and the June memorial wasn’t yet erected (the tissue of early miscarriages is gathered, then buried together every few weeks in a joint service—oh, how many tears in each small, shared grave!). So we left our flower, as our Brephos, at the feet of Jesus. Those love-scarred feet! How painful the resolve, how deliberate the act of will by which our Lord turned those feet down the Via Dolorosa that must have seemed endless, to win for us an end to our way of mortal sorrow.

Surely, surely, the Day is coming when we will no longer weep our way along this grave-gashed, weed-wrecked ground.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Hasten the footsteps of your return. We long to shout together for joy at the sight of your feet, your most beautiful feet, returning to proclaim the death of Death our foe, to reclaim forever the life of your creation.

24 June 2009

Swell times

Things are going to be a bit quiet around here over the next couple of days, as the Sisters are all hitting respective roads to Vacation Awesome.

if only


Keep cool, if you can.

20 June 2009

but if a living dance upon dead minds why, it is love . . .

And if not love, then at least some serious gold lame':



We should flash mob, I think. Imagine it: hundreds of mothers with babies swarming a public place to, oh, I don't know . . . change diapers? We could wear matching muumuus! The possibilities!

Happy weekend.

19 June 2009

Behind a frowning providence

(Music, most sincerely recommended)

Sang it in college; thinking about it a lot lately:

Go buy this so you can listen to Alice Parker's arrangement of William Cowper's "God Moves in a Mysterious Way" (the other stuff on there is all worth the price of admission as well). The hymn is in LSB too, of course, but you'll miss out on the brass and harp.

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs,
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

17 June 2009

Notes from a recovering Klingon

I promised my friend this story. So, here goes.

I hate being Wrong, even though I tend to be pretty good at it. When I discovered I was pregnant with our first baby, I couldn’t merely hate being Wrong, I had to get everything Right, and fast. I researched the parenting thing up one continent and down another, and before that baby was born I’d cobbled for myself a neat set of Rules for being Right. Most of those Rules were borrowed shamelessly from the Attachment Crowd, most notably Dr. Sears.

First Girl was a really good baby. She was Model. She snuggled into my shoulder and slept for the first several weeks of her life, and has spent the last several years being generally easy to handle. I was working full time during her infancy, and thus found my Rules to be about as easy to handle as my child. We latched and slung and slept our way through the hours we had together, and I was happy.

By the time my second baby made his debut, I was smugly assured that I had mad crazy momming skills. When the Man Cub turned out to be a REALLY ANGRY BABY, I was shaken but not stirred. I simply defaulted to my Rules. Again, I was working (¾ time plus I had a long commute during this infancy), and given our set-up that time around I really needed a prescribed system. I nursed the baby on demand because he simply would not take a bottle. I let him sleep in our bed to facilitate his nursing. I wore him around our apartment when I was home because wearing him kept him from crying. We kept an extra sling at the babysitter’s house, and she also wore him to keep him from crying. Attachment was basic survival for him, and I needed the Rules to keep me surviving for him at the end of a long day at an office filled with sneering people.

But I haven’t been Attached with our last two babies. Interestingly, I’ve also been Stay-at-Home, and these two babies have had me all to themselves, no breaks, 24-hours-a-day-every-day-to-time-immemorial-without-end. Under this arrangement, Attachment is a lot more trying; it’s easy to obey a set of Rules when the game only lasts a couple of hours a day. I simply could not take a bottle to keep me at it—a drunk does not a good mother make—so I had to make a few changes to my playbook.

I threw my beloved Rules, which served me so well over the first two infancies of my mothering career, into the local sump. I still nurse on demand (or cue, or grunt, or whathaveyou) and nurse as long as I can, but I allow myself a lot more freedom in every other aspect of child-rearing. Our new baby takes a pacifier, sleeps in her own bed, cries it out every now and again, and periodically has nothing better to do than stare at the light coming through the blinds, and guess what, America—she’s not dead. She’s not even brain dead. It’s a miracle!

I like Attachment in theory, and I’m really glad I had Dr. Sears to guide me through those first months with my first baby. I still reference his Baby Book whenever one of the kids gets sick, as he’s a lot more rational about fevers than WebMD. But I wouldn’t call myself Attached, mostly because I no longer wish to attach politics to my parenting. Too many Attached Parents (present company excluded) consider themselves to be morally superior to those who Ferberize or spank their unruly imps (as if “I” statements make any sense to a small brain lost in primal desire). Know what? Sometimes, a mom really does need to feed her baby formula (don’t get me started on this one), and shouldn’t be made to feel she’s drowning her beloved child in arsenic simply because her body betrayed her.

While some kids need to be parented according to those Attachment PSAs, most don’t. Some, in fact, should not be Attached at all. To each child his mother’s best efforts, whatever those efforts may be. All manlings are not created equal, and what warms some may smother others or leave their moms preferring the cold.

Attachment Parenting came about as a reaction against the strict, Scientific styles of parenting encouraged by Dr. Spock and his ilk, and Dr. Spock didn’t do anyone any favors. But people, how about we all stop blindly adhering to every piece of advice given by the priests of the medical and educational communities, regardless of their affiliation with this or that hip new idea? I have one degree in psychology and another in education, but that does not qualify me to advise you on the best way to feed your children, brush their teeth, or wipe their bums. It doesn’t even qualify me, really, to raise my own children. I receive far more to that end when I attend Divine Service every week and learn from our blessed Mother, the Church, the best means of caring for the young: give them birth, feed them wholesome food, hear their sorrows, assure them that their Lord is coming home soon, and clean them up with the tools He’s given before He arrives .

In our humble homes, as sinful mothers, the tasks of parenting are going to shake out a million different ways. Leave the really hard labors to Christ and His Bride, and keep your heads up. We’re all just doing the best we can.

16 June 2009

This is Christian courage

One of my husband’s sheep—a retired teacher, unrelentingly kind—arrived at my door a few mornings ago. She came carrying a lunch casserole and games for the kids. “Is there anything I can do to help?” she asked. And as I could only stand around bug-eyed, she took the initiative, embraced the infant, and plunged with the older kids into her bag of tricks.

After emerging from my shock, I got all my laundry folded and PUT AWAY. People, this is in so many ways weird, but I’ll take it.

I’ll also formally recommend to you that woman as a model of Christian bravery. Kindness is unsafe, and rarely practiced outside of our affirming social circles. It took guts for that blessed sheep to offer help, however humble, to someone she barely knows, and to do so out of love. It was good for me to humble myself, however nervously, to receive it. We both benefited, just as it was promised to us all.

Women of God, when you give of yourselves in even the meekest of ways to your sisters in Christ, what you give is good. Take courage and fight! We testify to the kingdom when we physically share the burden of another's blessings and sorrows, and the King is coming soon.

deeds carried as precious myrrh . . . *

*Cautiously: I've mentioned before how I feel about invoking the saints. Regardless, acknowledging them and looking to their example is a good given all Christians. Don't let the Orthodox have all the fun--be orthodox (and catholic)! But go ahead and skip the prayer in that link.

14 June 2009

Exercises in futility

As the Borg would say: "Strength is irrelevant. Resistance is futile. We wish to improve ourselves. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service ours."


Truth in advertising

So, some of the exercises in futility with which I occasionally entertain myself:

Sweeping the kitchen floor (Mopping? Surely you jest!).

Repeating, “Your sleeve is not a Kleenex.”

Telling brothers not to fight.

Working on a floor puzzle when the baby/toddler is awake.

Putting a clean shirt on the three-year-old.

Putting clean pants on the three-year-old.

Putting anything clean within a five-foot radius of the three-year-old.

Yours?

11 June 2009

Usage you can use: relative pronouns

The relative pronouns are who, whom, and whose; that and which; and where.

--Use who and whose in reference to persons.

He's the clown who preached for 35 minutes.
The person to whom I complain about long sermons is my 6-yr-old.
DPs are the guys whose sermons are always too long.

NOT: The pastor that preached forever also talked about himself the whole time.

--Use that and which in reference to objects or animals.

The Athanasian is the creed that no mother of a 1-yr-old ever confesses in its entirety.
The gun on the lintel is for untethered dogs which enter my yard.


--Use where in reference to places.

That's the rest stop where we had to get the world's nastiest diaper out of the car.

09 June 2009

Why I'm not an Organic, Attachment, or Otherwise Superior Parent

Many moons ago when I was pregnant with Baby 1 my dear friend Gauntlets sent me Dr Sears' The Baby Book so I would be a good mom. I learned that I should nurse the baby, wear the baby in a sling, nurse the baby, sleep with the baby, nurse the baby, etc. Ok, I thought. The marvelous Mrs Sears was there too to provide inspiration: need some milk and don't have a pump? No problem, just manually express 8 ounces over your lunch break! I was so ready.

Then the baby was born and I had Nursing Problems. I couldn't have an eight pound baby smashed up against my shredded self all day long. I couldn't wear a sling. I couldn't wear a shirt. I absolutely could not feed the baby on demand cue. Next thing I knew, I wasn't an Attachment Parent. Just as well, as I've learned since then that it wouldn't have worked out anyway. (Incidentally, my baby-slinging, sleep-sharing, homeschooling friend Gauntlets, some of whose kids have long out-nursed any of mine, still claims to like me.)

This is yet another weird thing about CSPP. Many people who have a lot of kids are also highly evangelical members of various organic/Attachment Parenting lobbies: homebirth, babywearing, co-sleeping, cloth diapering, extended breastfeeding, homeschooling, anti-vaccination, etc. There are people with lots of kids who make these things work. But they don't work for everybody, and I'm not prepared to consign the many people for whom they don't work to the ranks of the irredeemably lazy, selfish, worldly, and/or mentally pliable.

No hard feelings here. But in general, my impression of the hard-core organic parenting community (and by hard-core I'm referring to those who come at it with a Reformed obsession with Law, or a liberal religious devotion to Earth, for whom there is no Christian or any other kind of freedom) is that they take the appeal to nature fallacy as their starting point and extrapolate from there. This comforts me when I see how much organic milk costs.

Attachment parenting is a fine thing, but it is ultimately a personality style restyled as a lifestyle. Some people, men and women, have an exceptional ability to be close to children. They have a gift which enables them to scrub bathtubs in a child-nurturing way. I think they are wonderful people, truly. But I just don't have the gift any more than I can prevent a conversation from getting awkward or land a single salchow. I can affect preschool-teacher perkiness or Romantic-era maternal tenderness for 75 minutes, but it leaves me exhausted, snappy, and unable to come up with what to fake next--and it's only 9:25, and nobody washed the breakfast dishes.

The good news is that I practice my parenting a lot more than I practice my salchows, so there's hope for improvement there. But call me an introvert, a choleric, a thinking type, a firstborn, whatever Boomer-conceived psychological category explains it: I'm just not drawn the attachment parenting way. I'm not a cuddler, a dancer, or an imaginer. But I am a mom. I carry my baby in my arms, I make rules for my prickly self to ensure that everybody gets their warm fuzzies (and you'd likely be horrified to learn the kind of rules I've had to make), and I often keep my distance so that I can keep my temper.

To illustrate: all marriages are different. Some couples are moony, some like to hassle each other, some keep their spheres separate, some tell each other everything, some thrive on spontaneity and some need schedules. What works for them is their business. And parent/child relationships are different too. You don't have to be Attached to be attached. I'm even willing to entertain the common yet impossible to prove assertion that Attached children are better cared for. I wish I had it in me naturally, but I don't. Somehow, though, my kids and I get through the day and still wake up basically liking each other.

What this all comes down to is that parents do what enables them to survive. For some people, the hallmarks of attachment parenting are the easier route (as they love to tell you). For other people, a baby in bed means at least one adult doesn't get any sleep, homeschooling means a houseful of miserable people (and illiterate kids) at the end of the day, babywearing means a pile of expensive slings wadded up at the back of the closet, etc. Not every "attachment" is net beneficial for every family--simply breastfeeding is a huge challenge for a lot of people, and that's one of those things that scores pretty darn low in optionality. It's foolish to force oneself and one's kids into a lifestyle choice (to the extent that any of these things are choices for any family, which also varies) that makes everyday life torture.

To all y'all who have no exersaucers or foreskins in your house: congratulations, really, because those decisions come at a respectable price (unless you married a hippie and had all girls :D ). We'd also do well to remember that God didn't mention sleeping arrangements or total wastes of $40 Maya wraps when that multiplying business came down. The procreative faithfulness to which he calls all husbands and wives does not mean that we have to join La Leche League, subscribe to Mothering, or keep a pesticide-free-grass-fed milch goat in the yard (not that there's anything wrong with that!). We take the kids he gives us, learn patience and sacrifice, and live out the daily details as they work for our families.

The life of a sinner has enough guilt built into it. Let's not let anxiety and animosity over diapers drive people to dreary isolation or desperate contraception. The fact that we make different choices shows nothing more than that we're different people with different priorities, abilities, and options. The choices a person makes do not indicate of themselves that she has or has not done her homework.

CSPP has room for girls from all points on the maternipolitical spectrum.

(I can't promise to respond to ignorant and/or argumentative comments. All comments suggesting that victims of any particular sort of parenting club are more sick, happy, psychopathic, insecure, polite, agile, etc., will be laughed at.)

08 June 2009

How to find movies the whole family can regret watching

I'm a shrill harpy* and don't tolerate naked women in my house. This means we miss out on a lot of REALLY AWESOME movies and shows. Alas.

It can be tricky figuring out what's safe to queue up, though, particularly if your tastes are kind of obscure, or if your husband is driven by nostalgia to revisit bizarre shows he watched on Saturday afternoon TV when he was a kid. He didn't realize they were made by the Beeb, which makes sure an ugly Brit nudie finds her way into everything. The poor girls got edited out by American censors back in the 80s, but not by Netflix. Ha ha ha ha ha. >:(

We've tried various online family movie reviews, but they tend to focus on new and popular releases and often don't have reviews of the unique crimes against filmography that for some reason people around here want to watch. A lot of them also have annoying formats (charts, colors, blah blah blah). So don't waste your time with those and head over to IMDB. Find your movie, scroll past the cast to Additional Details, and click on the parental advisory. They're user generated, and we've found even our weirdest whims efficiently assessed.

*My husband has never suggested this, but I get it from both females who "don't care" and "aren't that insecure," and males who "aren't watching it for that." If it's not rated X, it's not pornographic. Duh.

07 June 2009

Ecclesiastical calisthenics

I'd like to revisit a topic that appears here from time to time just long enough to observe:

Yes, dragging all your kids to and through church does get easier/better/more conducive to actual worship over time. I really want to believe that. Sometimes I do believe that.

Then I actually go to church with my kids.

Truth: the wrangling does get better. Six months ago, worship was on many occasions actually worship-full for much of the service. But then sometimes it gets worse again (like, oh, just for instance, if your BabyBoy's toddler personality is defined by incessant and determined motion).

That's all. While these struggles sometimes move us here at CSPP to hymnody and poetry, this morning was just...exhausting.

But don't despair: the evidence shows that despite the many peaks and troughs, the overall trend is upward progress.

04 June 2009

Lacrimosa

What humble handmaidens are our tears. They do not manufacture themselves in advance of our need, self-importantly assuming the need will arise. We are not forced to purge ourselves of any surfeit outside of their normal application. But when sadness musters them, they report immediately as if they had been standing on diligent watch for the moment. They flow to give dignity to our animal grunts and grimaces. They do not disgust us like other substances of our bodies' production. Without tears, we would heave and roar but never weep.

03 June 2009

Perfect acquiescence

Amy Carmichael intended the following little convo as admonition/comfort for invalids (including herself, since she suffered from sporadic poor health and was mostly bedridden for her last two decades of life after a chance accident). This little interchange strikes me as also applicable to certain seasons of the CSPP life—actually, as applicable to moments or years in the life of just about anyone who seeks to deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Christ.

A Voice [God’s] speaks within you:

“Things will never be as they were before? That is true; for they will be better.

“You will never do this and this again? That also is true, for I have other things for you to do.

“They are not what you would choose? But they are indeed the best that Love can choose for you.

…And yet—O Lord, forgive; the things I cannot do are looking in through my window now, and beckoning me, and calling me.

“But I am here in the room with you: I am nearer than those beckoning, calling things. I come between them and you. You have nothing to do now, but to please Me.”

Elsewhere in the same book, Carmichael observed,

This, then, is the call to the climbing soul. Expose yourself to the circumstances of His choice, for that his perfect acquiescence in the will of God.

02 June 2009

Are you reading your Treasury?

Clement of Rome's writing today in the TDP:

Let the strong not despise the weak, and let the weak show respect to the strong.

...Let the wise man display his wisdom not by words but through good deeds. Let the humble not bear testimony to himself but leave someone else to witness about him. Let him who is pure in the flesh not grow proud of it and boast, knowing that someone else bestowed on him the gift of self-control.


Let us consider, then, brothers, from what matter we were made--who and what matter of beings we came into the world, as it were from a grave and from utter darkness. He who made us and fashioned us, having prepared His bountiful gifts for us before we were born, introduced us into his world. ...

These things therefore being known to us, and since we look into the depths of the divine knowledge, it is necessary to do all things in [their proper] order, which the Lord has commanded us to perform at stated times. . . .

01 June 2009

Invidia

My husband has never expressed any interest in the famously transcendent maternal experience. If he wonders what it's like to sustain a human life with only the power of one's own by the grace of God, he hasn't mentioned it (to me, anyway. Maybe he talks to the vicar about it).

What he mentions often is how much it annoys him that I can eat whatever I want, whenever I want, and either not have to worry about the weight gain because it's supposed to be happening, or actually lose weight. :D

It can be hard on a marriage, though. Our family motto for a number of years now has been "Gluttony loves company." It's such a downer when your partner in eating is seized by a fit of temperance and says he's not coming to the ice cream party you've been planning all day.

Blessed are the frustrated

One of my really great excuses for the feral detritus of my life in general, and my floor and counters in particular, is that I’m a perfectionist of the worst sort*: a failed one. I can’t decide whether my recipes should be organized alphabetically, by genre, or by ingredient—so instead I have some recipes on index cards, some online, some in a binder, and some spilling out of a huge manila folder that I waste countless minutes sorting whenever I need to make apple bread.

Laundry room (delusional edition)

Laundry flummoxes me, not because of its sheer volume, but because I can’t figure out a system that accounts for not only clean and dirty clothes, but also the items that are too-clean-to-wash-but-not-quite-clean-enough-to-put-back-in-a-drawer. So miscellaneous articles of clothing in varying degrees of cleanliness end up strewn here and heaped there. Worse: I’ll miss a day or two of devotions and be tempted to throw over the whole endeavor as hopeless. Or I’ll determine to keep patience with the three-year-old for an entire day…OK, an entire hour…OK, I might as well just give up on that one too...

It hardly needs saying that the presence of multiple small children is antithetical to perfectionism. Children are antithetical, in fact, to most petty delusions of control, and therefore quite helpful to this humbled self who’s still working, every day, on that very first commandment. There is a God, and I am not He.

*I can sympathize with the argument that a successful perfectionist, who can be quite annoying to the population in general, is in fact the worst kind of perfectionist. But a frustrated perfectionist seems particularly prone to anger, despair, and other great shame and vice.