Enter the Buffet Lunch... (a kind of sociology experiment on my kids ;)
I was tempted to title this "My Recurring e-Harmony Nightmare" because that's what it feels like. At first it was humorous. Then amusing. Eventually annoying. And now agonizing. Just when I think it's gone for good, that I've worked through whatever issue it stems from, it returns. Again. And again.
It goes like this: I am 40 (before I was 40, it was my late thirties), I am single, I am depressed, I am feeling my biological clock tick. I feel scared and lonely and desperate. Just when I am going through this panic/dread, I have an epiphany: e-Harmony! But of course! Why didn't I think of that sooner?! I need to get online right now and meet the man of my dreams.
Sometimes it ends right there. Other times just as I'm planning to try it, I realize that I am married and have children...and I am very happy to suddenly remember that. The other night - it had been a while since my last e-Harmony dream - I actually didn't even get as far as e-Harmony, and there was a bit of twist, because this time it was all about wanting children, and being afraid I wouldn't be able to. It was a horrible feeling, so I was whimpering in my sleep, and my husband woke me up and comforted me. That was a better ending than usual, but I still can't figure out why I have this dream over and over, albeit sporadically. It's been happening for the last three or four years or maybe even longer. I would say I've dreamt it at least ten times, about once a quarter, sometimes in clusters, sometimes with long stretches in between.
My theories thus far:
1. During my decade long quest for my soulmate, searching for "the one" became part of my identity and purpose in life, so those roots are resurfacing (read more here).
2. When e-Harmony came out, shortly after I met my husband, I thought it was really cool, since it used Myers-Briggs personality typing to match people. Part of me was disappointed that I didn't get to try it - not because I didn't think my husband was the right guy for me, but because of my insatiable curiosity.
3. It's somehow representative of all my deepest fears - of unfulfilled longings, unmet expectations, abandonment, inadequacy, etc.
4. It's a sign for me to pray for my single friends and to encourage them to sign up for e-Harmony. I've actually done this. Both praying and nudging.
...Well, when I told my husband what my bad dream was, he had the best explanation yet:
It's so that I'll wake up thankful to God for my family.
In the river of life, I feel like I'm barely keeping my head above water, as the current pulls me along - at the moment, it seems like I'm drowning - the weight of everything unfinished dragging me down - I can't stop to catch my breath, so I frolic in the mess, letting distractions make me farther behind, all the time panicking as I gulp water, sputtering it everywhere in emotional outbursts.
Will the dam hold long enough for me to get my footing, climb up the bank, and build an ark big enough to hold all that matters? Lord, give me the strength, the wisdom, the self-discipline, and the speed to catch up on the past while I live in the present and plan for the future. Rescue me from the flood and set my feet upon a rock. Then give me wings, so I can chase rainbows...
I didn't realize how damaged I was until I started a family. My upbringing mingled with my sinful nature were what I brought into my marriage and motherhood. Thankfully God's grace had been at work all along, so that despite (and even because of) my frailties, I continued to be his image bearer in many ways - I was saved and kept by my Heavenly Father instead of wrecked by the abuse, brokenness, and dysfunction of my home(s). My innocence, purity, and character were evidence of the Lord's hand on my life, of Jesus dwelling in my heart, and the Holy Spirit directing my path. Still, there were wounds - from others and the ones I inflicted upon myself when I came of age - both of which he bore for me on the cross. They did not all come to light until this past decade, a season of uniting myself with another human being and our offspring.
In addition to struggling with my sinful, selfish self, there has been the challenge of living something new that I didn't see modeled. An only child of a divorced, remarried mother who worked full-time outside the home has not been trained to be a stay-at-home mother of three, let alone homeschool teacher. I'm breaking new ground, while mucking about in the dirt of the present and pulling weeds from my past. It has taken me ten years to learn and do things that suddenly seem obvious and basic. I feel like I'm so slow, but then I remember that I'm a pioneer - starting a family of my own is a journey, one that has been arduous and exhilarating at the same time, so it makes sense that I'm only now beginning to get settled.
As per usual, life has gotten in the way of blogging, which is as it should be. Being should occupy more space than expression. Doing than thinking. Practice than theory. Living than communicating. This is the mentality I have been trying to live since quitting my former (obsessive-compulsively posted to) blog a few years ago, and more recently. It's a constant challenge and I often fail due to my propensity to all things intangible, chiefly written words, whether my own or others'. My one victory is that I have never texted. But that's mostly because I'm too cheap and lazy.
Really, what it boils down to is that I don't have a sensing preference. I am intuiting with a capital N (iNfj), which means I prefer to operate in the internal world of ideas and ideals, abstractions and concepts, dreams and visions. Extraverted sensing is my inferior function, and I've been developing it ever since I entered my 30s and started having children. Parenthood of young children is a very hands-on role. Physically caring for another human being who needs to be held, fed, clothed, diapered, bathed, wiped (nose, hands, butt), and just generally touched a lot requires the intense use of all five senses, especially tactile.
At the same time I became a mother, I became a homemaker, and that too is largely sensory. I can cook well, but I'm slow, oh so slow, and clean up takes me even longer. But the truth is that I spend more time researching and analyzing recipes than it takes me to make them. And really, this is how I am about everything. School (and I was a professional student my whole life through my 20s) really didn't prepare me for becoming a mom and homemaker. And because of my natural abilities, I didn't learn to manage time well--I crammed and performed well under pressure. Pressure (usually caused my own procrastination) these days results in me being impatient with the kids and yelling. Ack.
...So where am I going with this? I yearn to write, to create, to carry out all sorts of brilliant (or not so) ideas, but I absolutely cannot in good conscience do any of that (including blogging) if my house is not in order. And I don't just mean externally, though that's a big part of it, but not in any Martha Stewart sort of way. Right now our homeschool room is in process, as am I, and I need someone to light a fire under my behind to get me sorting (the story of my unorganized life), arranging, preparing, planning, and just generally getting our little academy ready to open its doors in...oh, just over a week. Already, I feel myself pushing that forward a week, because there's simply no way...
And that, my friends, is the beauty of homeschooling. There is no pressure. And yet there is. Never before have I felt so compelled to get my act together. It may also have to do with a sort of microcosm in our home. This summer I finally got our daughters' room in order. The systems are in place, and with regular checking, it's staying pretty much that way. It was well worth the glazed over eyes and wrecked back I had from strewing a million tiny objects on the rug and figuring out which sparkly speck went with which playset (and we don't even have that many toys!). I also converted our Ikea coffee table (the one with the little sorting slots underneath) into their Calico Critters dollhouse table and toy holder. Whenever I repurpose something (which is pretty frequently), it's like getting a shot of adrenalin.
Systems are key to creativity and productivity. I'll never be a slave to systems, but I intend to master them. First, though, they have to be put in place, which is where I am right now. I've actually been here for years (trying to catch up) but a couple of new things this year are making my dreamy self actually move forward--one is homeschooling and the other is not having any more children. This is the first time in the last seven years that I have not been pregnant or had an infant. My youngest (and my only boy) is totally milking that (no, we're not still breastfeeding!). Much of my daughter's lives at ages 2 and 3 are a blur, because of their siblings entering our lives, so I'm reveling in actually experiencing my son's transition from toddler to preschooler. Speaking of which, he just started going to preschool part-time, three mornings, which is another reason I actually have some hope of not only getting everything in order, but actually doing a decent job homeschooling.
There you have it. The dearth of posts lately and the angst of me having lots of things to say (and the drafts/pictures/recipes to prove it), but absolutely having to abide my conscience and get down and dirty with papers and books and other printed materials which have hindered my life for far too long. I have no intention of going away from this blog, but I don't know how long it will be before I post again, let alone regularly, so pray for me. To follow through. To become fast. To stop reading everything online and crafting emails as if they're novels and looking up 50 too many recipes every night for dinner and all the other zillions of microbial time wasters that keep me from using my gifts, both to bless my family and the great big world my heart aches to somehow give to as well.
Out with evangelical media spokespeople Falwell and Dobson, in with Palin and Prejean. Am I the only one who doesn’t see this as an improvement? It’s a shame the evangelical everyman (or woman) can’t get fair representation. Finally the press moves the spotlight off the dying (if not dead) old guard religious right white male figureheads, but only to hand the microphone to the contemporary conservative beauty queens of power and pomp, respectively. Of course it’s their peculiar positions–in both senses of the word–that make their stories worth printing. The politics of celebrity. The celebrityhood of politicians. Evangelicals in public positions are inherently different from the rest of us, and that’s not necessarily bad, but there is the question of whether what they are doing in the world (which is watching) is actually in harmony with the Christian faith and values they claim to represent.
So Palin didn’t get elected VP. Thank God! She can actually stay in the same part of the world as her teenaged daughter who is a new mom, and perhaps have a little spare time (which I’m assuming governors have slightly more of than VPs) to spend with her special needs baby, not to mention her husband and her other three children.
So Prejean was fired from her “job” as Miss California. Hallelujah! I heard she’s a new Christian–maybe now she can find her identity in Christ instead of selling her sexuality (to the point of pageant officials paying for her breast implants and her sending topless photos in January to her sponsor to ask if she was in good enough shape for the pageant–I am not linking the source because it would be…well…inappropriate). I haven’t written the Prejean Paradox yet but someone else did (and the comments are worth reading as well): Her.meneutics: The Other Miss California Controversy.
Also, to elevate Prejean (in particular) to the level of a heroine detracts from the believers in other countries and eras who have been persecuted, imprisoned and even martyred–not for speaking political views–but for living out their faith. Discrimination is wrong, and even if it did occur in what I consider an embarrassing example, wouldn’t it be more Christlike and a better witness for our voices to be heard the loudest where prejudice doesn’t just dethrone, but it actually dehumanizes? Like say in Georgia, where segregation endures on prom night.
This is your new blog post. Click here and start typing, or drag in elements from the top bar.
I'm sorry, I can't help myself but rant some more. As is often the case, I see things very differently from my fellow evangelicals, but this time it's with an ironic twist, since my view on women is a fuzzy hybrid of egalitarian and complementarian (I'll go into that in another post someday).
Here are my thoughts in response to this from Challies:
Where did this idea come from that what supposedly applies to Christian women in the church and at home doesn't apply to them in the world? That's not logical or consistent and God is both.
Also, the compartmentalization (separating her calling as world leader from her role as wife and mother) is, on an opposite pole, reminiscent of what happened during the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal when people were saying that his role of President was completely separate from his personal life.
A woman with five children, one of whom has special needs, and another who is expecting a baby, already has a calling, and it's right there with her kids. If she had another calling on her life (for this season), then why did she go and start a family? I read that she gave birth to her first child 8 months after she got married, so I suppose you could argue she didn't intend to have a family, but to go and have four kids after that, all the while pursuing government offices, seems to be the ultimate in irresponsibility. Like trying to have your cake and eat it, too.
Or, I could be wrong. She could be super woman and have two simultaneous callings on her life and not need to sleep to function properly. If Deborah (in Judges) had young children, I stand corrected.
Let me just add that I don't know her heart, or who she is, and I could very well be wrong in my assessment, but from what I know of the Lord and my own experience as a wife and mother (and a person with other callings--not for this season), my discernment says that something is very wrong here and it's appalling how Christians are using doublespeak to defend it. It's also embarrassing, as though we're so desperate to keep "the other side" from inflicting their immorality on society, we'll do anything to have one of our own in power, even if it means undermining the very values we claim to care most about.
Evangelicals are gushing over Sarah Palin because she's one of their own--her voting record and credentials align perfectly with the conservative Christian platform...but do I spy an 800 pound gorilla in the room? How can it be that a woman, a wife, and a mother is actually being praised for stepping into the highest eschelon of leadership, and working outside the home instead of being a full-time mother to her children, including a baby who has Down's Syndrome?
I have two problems with Palin as VP. One is my personal view and the other is the hypocrisy of her being supported by evangelicals. The two are interconnected, so let's start with the second.
As a whole, evangelicals have not looked favorably upon women in leadership (over men) or mothers of young children working outside the home. And yet, along comes Sarah, seeking to be tall but in no way plain, and suddenly it's not only okay for her to go against what has been touted (and beaten over women's heads) as Biblical values, but it's actually praised! What's up with the double standard? Is there some exception clause I'm not aware of that says women can be exempted from their "biblical" roles if they can achieve a position of political power that enables them to legislate "biblical" values?
The quotes I put around "biblical" beg the question of whether I think they're biblical or not. So glad you asked. Yes and no. And this brings us to my personal problem with Palin as VP. I believe women can and should be in leadership both in the church and outside it. I believe they can teach men, but I'm not convinced they can shepherd them--then again, in countries like China, women pastors are the norm, so the jury is still out. My understanding of the Bible (and the women in the Bible) is what leads me this position. But there is a catch.
I do not believe that women with young children should pursue full-time careers outside the home for any other reason than financial necessity. A woman with children that has a husband who can provide for their family has been given a gift. That gift is called motherhood and it's a full-time job, especially when the children are young. The more children she has, the more responsibilities there are in her job. So what is a Christian woman with five kids, one of whom is about to have a baby in her teenagerhood, and another of whom is an infant with special needs, choosing to run a state, let alone vying for the leadership of an entire country?
My view is that a woman with such ambitions has two choices. Either not having kids or not pursuing her career goals until after she's raised her children (or at least seen them through their childhood). Having her cake (to the tune of 5 kids!) and eating it too (to the tune of being vice president of a nation) is not a healthy option. I speak from experience as a well-educated, former professional (student) turned stay-at-home mome of three.
Sarah Palin seems like a gifted and loving woman, but she has made a tragic mistake that will have repercussions on her family. Is it not possible that her daughter's choice to be sexually active was a result of a mother who wasn't there for her the way she needed? After all, we're talking about a Christian family who obviously raised their kids in church and taught them Biblical values, so why the departure from what she knew was right? Yes, teenagers can be rebellious and this has happened to daughters of stay-at-home moms also. But in this case, it didn't. It happened to a woman who chose to lead other people instead of her family. Or do you think it's possible to do both? Could she actually be a Super Mom?
Another thing that irks me. I read somewhere that she doesn't believe in birth control. Well, I don't believe in using the pill (because of its abortifacient properties and the health dangers of artificial hormones) but I believe in an omnipotent God that is sovereign and whose will cannot be blocked by contraception or even vasectomies. There's nothing wrong with family planning as long as one does it with the realization that God could override it.
But if someone--Sarah Palin, in this case--believes that it's wrong for her to do anything to prevent future pregnancies, then it is completely irresponsible of her to pursue two of the biggest jobs anyone could ever hold--mother of a large family and leader of a large nation (or even state or city). Pregnancy, childbirth, newborn care, breastfeeding, early childhood development...that's a 12 (or more) hour a day job that all women struggle through without doing anything else! If you're planning to make your life an endless cycle of all the above, when can you find time for another 12 (or more) hour a day job? You can't.
Nor do I feel comfortable with the idea of the potential President of the United States getting pregnant with a 6th child while caring for five others, including one with special needs...not to mention her relationship with her husband, which as all mothers know, needs extra nurturing when children come into the picture.
The Palin Paradox truly boggles the mind and wrenches the heart.
UPDATE: The New York Times ran this story tonight which addresses a lot of what I was talking about, albeit from their liberal slant, but it's a pretty balanced piece. It also reminded me that I would say this same stuff if it were Palin's husband (or a husband/dad with young kids) running for high office, though as a mother, I feel more passionately about her role.
Yesterday was vomit day. Today is cold day. Every day is mommy day. And I wouldn't have it any other way. She needs me. I need to be needed. Doesn't everyone? We were made to give and serve. We cannot be fulfilled by trying to meet only our own needs.
God made us to be needed because he made us in his image and likeness. He made us to need him. No person can ever meet our deepest needs. Yet he has made us like him, and graced us with the ability to meet other people's needs...when our reliance is on Him.
It's like a waterfall. God is the source, each cascade draws from him and pours into the next, filling the pool with an endless supply of life giving water that never runs dry...so long as the source isn't cut off or any part of the falls stopped up. The trickle down effect won't do the job. It's all or nothing.
On a lighter note (that actually has relevance to meeting needs), I traded a Bryan Adams CD for a jar of olives on eBay. I kept seeing the same jar of olives advertised and no one buying it, so I finally emailed the sellers and offered a trade. They're avid music collectors who dislike olives and I'm on a diet of olives and almost pure Christian music, so it was the perfect match.
he really funny thing is that the olives were a gift to them from a friend who visited Gilroy, the garlic capital of California, about two hours south of me. That jar of olives traveled all the way across the country (they're in Ohio) and back to get to me. It cost them $9 to ship it priority mail. It cost me $1.50 to ship the CD (which had also been a gift) media mail. Of course, I've eaten almost half the jar already (they're exquisite--plump and spicy) and they'll have the CD for years to come...
Ok, I have no idea what I’m doing…trying to type quietly while my husband sleeps. I just realized that thousands of thoughts…well hundreds, at least a few run through my mind daily, especially when I’m in the car, and now it’s actually trendy to share them with the world. Or at least I think so. I’m a writer so it would be sick and wrong if I didn’t blog, now that I know what it is. Uh-oh, hubbie is stirring…pause over…let me try to think of some of those thoughts I had…so many more useless, boring ones have come and gone since then…should I really be doing this when I still have so many unfinished unpublished writing projects–will this stimulate my creative juices or will it just eat up the precious time I have apart from mothering and housekeeping (like I even clean) and bookkeeping and all the external stuff that hides the running monologue filling my mind in all my waking hours. Oh yeah, this is supposed to be my outlet for all the mindless stuff I wouldn’t try to publish in book form. It’s like the scraps, the ends and pieces, the little stuff…the Seinfeldian material (was that a freudian slip?…no, I think I just like “ian” endings…why, though? A-ha! It’s because I’m a Christian). I seem to be able to ramble on for quite some time. I appreciate not having to edit myself. But will anyone read this stuff? Will they wish they didn’t?