Friday, June 28, 2013

Ethics of Motherhood

The Counting Mutant sent this to me today. With these words, "I thing you have accomplished most of this."

My heart skipped a beat.

Someone had read my mind. I was not the only one with this ethos fighting the battle of perception.

I honestly thought I was alone in this. 

Struggling to conform to a Cultural Christianity version of mother and wife kept me feeling like a constant failure. Dichotomy waged its war in my head, yet these criteria led a charge. Because of this code, I felt a measure of success. 

My kids are now 18, 17 and 12. It is true what they say, Childhood flies and before you know it, they are gone. As I look at the backend of this season where time is not my own, I am a little sad. I will miss the chaos. 

Let these rules free you up for lots of laughter, a heart full of possibilities and above all joy.

Thank you Lisa-Jo Baker:

Repeat after me:

1. I shall not judge my house, my kid’s summer activities or my crafting skills by Pinterest’s standards.

2. I shall not measure what I’ve accomplished today by the loads of unfolded laundry but by the assurance of deep love I’ve tickled into my kids.

3. I shall say yes to blanket forts and see past the chaos to the memories we’re building.
Amazing Blanket Fort Ideas

4. I shall surprise my kids with trips to get ice cream when they’re already in their pajamas.

5. I shall not compare myself to other mothers but find my identity in the God who trusted me with these kids in the first place.

6. I shall remember that a messy house at peace is better than an immaculate house tied up in knots.

7. I shall play music loudly and teach my kids the joy of wildly uncoordinated dance.

8. I shall remind myself that perfect is simply a street sign at the intersection of impossible and frustration in Never Never Land.
Photo taken by alisha

9. I shall embrace the fact that in becoming a mom, I traded perfect for a house full of real.

10. I shall promise to love this body that bore these three children out loud, especially in front of my daughter.

11. I shall give my other mother friends the gift of guilt-free friendship.

12. I shall do my best to admit to my people my unfine moments.

13. I shall say sorry when sorry is necessary.

14. I pray God I shall never be too proud, angry or stubborn to ask for my children’s forgiveness.

15. I shall make space in my grown-up world for goofball moments with my kids.

16. I shall love their father and make sure they know I love him.

17. I shall model kind words to kids and grown-ups alike.

18. I shall not be intimidated by the inside of my minivan (or Durango) this season of chip bags, goldfish crackers and discarded socks too shall pass.

19. I shall always make time to encourage new moms.

20. I shall not resent that last call for kisses and cups of water but remember instead that when I blink they’ll all be in college. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

About Me- An Enchanted Demise: Part 1

Originally Posted on September 18, 2010. The Twenty-third anniversary of our first date. The Mutant remembers it every year with out fail. Our wedding anniversary- well, we all have a few flaws.

Photo taken by clarita
School supplies were the least of my worries as I prepared for the second year of college. At some point, everyday, I would see the love of my life on campus. Insides would heave. A tragedy of errors filled the last

six months of our relationship leaving irreparable damaged. With no idea how to go forward; the only logical plan was to become the black hole that consumed me. I might as well be in total control of my demise. I was tired of constantly working so hard to live right only to fail in epic flames. No longer would I be a victim, I would make my own consequences, damn it!

Friday, September 18, 1987, my first victim walked me to my car after class. Phone numbers exchanged. I did not know his name; didn't matter anyway.  He would have his way and I would be spectacular. Then he would never have me again. I would leave him in the ashes of wanting. 

The phone rang. I answered and all he said in reply was, "Hello." 

Photo taken by Dzz

I slightly panicked; he didn't identify himself. The reality was, the parents would never let me go out with Nameless. My evil plan shuttered.

I awkwardly asked, “I’m sorry to ask, what’s your name?”

He laughed, “I think I’ll tell you when the date is over.”

I attempted the flirtatious whine, “Oh, come on, you can’t torture me like that…”

A chuckle answered my question, “My name is Scott.”

Scott picked me up. The Good Girl life would be history by the end of the night. We went to dinner with his friend who was rude, obnoxious and sexist. If Scott was anything like his friend, this would be a breeze. 

After dinner in the car, Scott apologized for his friend’s behavior. Magnanimously I accepted his apology. Reveling in how well my plan was going, empowered by how badly dinner went.

Photo taken by  nasirkhan

"U Got the Look" by Prince played as we drove to our next destination. The song fit my theme, mindless, physical attraction. We began singing. Our voices blended, my intention of seduction waned. Magic struck.  Caught off guard, my soul took a breath. He and I fit, seamlessly. I felt free for the first time in a year. 

Then the song was over.  I shook it off as we laughed at the moment. The movie he chose was, "The Pick-Up Artist" with Robert Downey Jr. and Molly Ringwald. He offered to kill time at a yogurt shop as we waited for the movie time.  We stood in line behind other drooling dating couples. I needed to distract myself from the gooey people around me, so I asked Scott questions. He had big answers. He wove a future of endless possibilities. Visions of a great adventure flooded my consciousness: I wanted to be there with him. To see if he could do all of the things he dreamed possible. That devious plan of mass male annihilation began to crumble.

The movie was less than stellar. Self-absorbed and self-destructive characters mirrored my evening's plan. It realigned my focus. I can do this, I told myself. The theater began to clear, he brushed my forearm. I turned as he glided in for a kiss. It was quick, sweet and unexpected. 

Back on track, I braced myself for what was to come.  Dinner-check.  Yogurt-check. Movie-check.  Now for some dark alley or field and the back of his car.  I can do this! I chanted to myself.

Quietly we walked to his car. He opened the door for me. We drove and mindless chitchat was perfectly distracting as I powered up my reserves.  It is unfortunate, I thought, he seems like a nice guy. But I have to start somewhere.

Photo Taken by  nasirkhan
We parked. I don't know how we got there, but we were in front of my house. My heart dropped into my feet. Panicked thoughts raced: What does this mean? How can I do this in front of my house?  How long before my Dad comes out? 

I looked at him. He looked at me and leaned in. I took a deep breath.

It was a good kiss. My engines were running. He pulled back a little. Looked deep into my eyes and softly said, "Good Night."

With head spinning I got out of the car and walked into the house. By the time the door closed, I was fuming! My plan derailed; what was I going to do now? He would call. He would want to see me. I had no reason to cut him loose. This was a nightmare!  Not NOW!  I didn't need a new person in my life.  I was a mess.

A Mother Life

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Define Value

Originally posted on June 11, 2011

We often base a person's value upon an ability to produce a tangible product: monetary wealth, possessions or humanitarian success and notability. If one cannot perform or produce do they have value? How about a person who survives a serious accident with brain damage? What can a baby born with difficulties and only days to live offer? Should we revert to the Spartan way of life; leave them to nature those who cannot fend for themselves?

What if a person's value is existence? The fact that I breathe air, move through space and think gives me importance. I think of the baby that lived ninety days.  His value to his family and community was that he lived. They were able to lavishly love on him. The baby was unable to "do" anything, his mere existence created meaning for those around him. 
The idea that mere existence is enough is the basis for intrinsic value. A worth not based on what I produce, but what I am. This value can have a positive or negative effect upon the world around me. If I treat those around me with equal value and reciprocate the actions they extend to me, then I increase the significance of life around me.  If I treat those around me as if they owe me and I do not return equal action to them, then I am looting another's creative purpose. 
Photo taken by anitapeppers
If we are made in the image of a Loving Creator who is the embodiment of value then our simple
existence is valuable.  It is from Him that our meaning springs. We all are endowed with the ability to create. Our responsibility to discover what form it is to take, develop this creative purpose, and apply it to daily action. If the creative purpose is to respond to people, like the infant, then duty calls for me to execute it with focus. It is out of loyalty to the Creator that I join with people who support my creative purpose. My obligation lies in returning support extended to me. Value for value.
 Wisdom guides me in discernment of whom I trust within my life. She guides me away from those who would loot my purpose through distraction or use me for their own benefit. I am foolish if this type of person is allowed in my life only to complain about it. It is impossible for me to think of myself as a victim if I am aiding them in their thievery. The difficult choice for me is to believe in the value the Creator places in me. I need to be brutally honest with myself as I examine relationships where I have taken selfishly and offer amends.  From this evaluation I will feel freedom to become who the Creator purposed me to be.     

A Mother Life

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Perfection Eclipsed

Originally published on September 25, 2010

Photo taken by imelenchon
Morning air tingled with excitement. Children danced at breakfast.  Husband shimmered with pure masculinity. Our date with perfection loomed. We prepared ourselves with the two movies. Then a call; the cinema was showing Twilight, New Moon and then Eclipse at midnight. A feast of romantic vampires and werewolves began at 6:30. The day could not move fast enough. A flurry of rearranging schedules in order to be at the theater in time for a good seat. We gathered under a steaming sun to wait for doors to open. Teams of women fought for their hero: sparkly Edward or warm Jacob. Anticipation rippled the air as a door opened. Breath bated as we walked into the air-conditioned theater. 

Photo taken by mconnors
We sat in a crowded theater, united.  Popcorn, soda, three movies in a row, sighs of pleasure with tears for the broken hearts. Twilight started. The cultural collective gasped at the beauty before us.  Ideal love bloomed before our eyes. A break between films met with quick refills and conversation. New Moon started.  All teared at the abandonment then cheered the lovers’ reunion. With the completion of the first two films, the hour wait for Eclipse began.  Laughter and enthusiasm for romance was contagious.

Cheers erupted as the lights went dark. All transported into a world where vampires are virtuous and werewolves are best friends.  Just as the vampires began training the werewolves for a battle, the frame stalled.

It turned brown. 

Photo taken by mconnors
It bubbled.
It receded from the screen leaving a blinding white light. A harmony of gasps filled the auditorium.  

Then a beautiful picture, we breathed a sigh of relief.  Vampires began explaining how to kill a newborn vampire and the unthinkable.

The film again turned brown, bubbled and melted  from the screen leaving a blinding white light.

The room went black.

Angry shock and cries of disbelief arose.  Life interrupted our flawless experience.  

People around me expressed irritation.  How could this happen?  This is not what was planned.  As I listened a realization glimmered. We all came with an expectation of faultlessness. A conclusion drew itself; the cause of frustration on this planet is that perfection does not exist.  We are not able to create it, maintain it or propagate it.   Then deep disappointment when our illusion of perfection we created crumbles or melts away.

Years earlier Merry-my cousin who has her Masters in Philosophy- and I had a conversation. The topic: where does this idea of perfection come from?  She explained that some philosophers say it comes from an idea of God. The two main thinkers who use this ontological argument to validate God's existence are Anselm and Descartes

Photo taken by click
Anselm said, “God is that being which no greater can be conceived.” His basic argument is: A perfect being is one who is completely flawless. Existence is a perfection-because it is better to be than not to be. Therefore, God exists. Anslem further explains using the Psalm 14:1: “The fool says in his heart there is no God,” The fool must first think of what God might be in order to say that God does not exist.

Descartes contributes with: in order to have an idea of perfection, first one must acknowledge that I did not generate this idea because I am not perfect. Therefore, this idea of perfection must have been placed inside of my mind by a perfect being God, must exist.

I pondered and realized that all long for perfection. Yet, we are hindered by trusting a Being that cannot be seen. One who is Greater than ourselves and the Author of our state, time and awareness.  When we deny ourselves a Divine relationship, we rob ourselves of perfection. We in turn, create our own and are terribly disappointed. We need to learn about a Perfect Being who longs to satisfy our longing. He even created a way for us to cultivate a relationship through grace and love. 

I sat in that theater thinking about these things and felt thankful. I am not expected to be perfect, because perfection exists solely in Him. Through grace I laughed at the flaw. Delight found my experience. Because of Divine grace, I can extend grace to those around me. I felt empathy for the employees scrambling to remedy the film’s problem and dealing with aggravated Twihards.
Photo taken by mconnors

An usher entered the room, "The film got wrapped up in the brain. The managers are untangling it, splicing it and then they will be able to start up the film again."  

Many have been the days where I the film of my plans and ideas got wrapped up in my brain.  I sat back, ate my popcorn, drank my soda and soaked in the perfect moment.

A Mother Life

Friday, June 7, 2013

About Me: Salvation's Dream

Potential triggers for sexual abuse survivors:

In darkness the door opened quietly.  His weight made the bed shift. This middle of the night visitor was not thinking of the little blond sleeping peacefully. He was a thief in the night.

Photo taken by curlsdiva
A five year old brain tucked it away. Waiting for when it could process. I returned from that Christmas trip afraid of the dark. Falling asleep was terrifying only to have nightmares awaken me. I tucked myself securely into the center of my bed so no one could touch me. I would fall asleep facing the door only to wake up in terror because I had rolled over.

Thirteen years later and on a course of healing from a different encounter with the same family member the memory surfaced. Triggered by my first home plate experience- to the horror and disappointment of the guy I was engaged to. The relationship ended months later in flames.

My childhood fear of night made sense. As I progressed in healing, often that memory overwhelmed me. I would cry out for healing and relief: none came.

One night before falling asleep I demanded God explain where he was and why he did not protect me.

That was the first night the vivid memory became a dream.

Photo taken by TammySue
I was in that room, asleep in bed. The man came in, sat on the edge of the bed and began. I turned my head to the left and saw, standing in the corner, an angel. The heavenly sentinel simply watched. The man finished and left.

Next morning woke with tears of rage. I demanded God to explain his point. I heard silence.

Months later I had the dream again. Everything was the same but this time when I looked to the corner, the angel was no longer stoic. Tears streamed down that divine face.
My rage melted into confused anger.

Months later; as I looked to the corner, the angel, tears streaming, walked to me and laid over me like a force field.

Realizing I was not abandoned I prayed, “Great, my guardian angel was there, but where were you?”

The dream recurred months later. This time when I looked there was no angel. Jesus stood in the angel’s place. His face expressionless and watched.

Photo taken by edouardo
I woke up feeling helpless and angry.  “All you could do was stand there?” I demanded. “What kind of powerful God are you? What kind of defender of the innocent stands and watches. I did nothing to deserve this. I sowed nothing to reap this horror.”

The dream recurred months later. This time when I looked there was no angel. Jesus stood with tears streaming and watched. My roar of my heart softened to confusion.

My dreams were quiet for a long time. When the dream came, Jesus, as tears streamed down his face, walked and laid over me. My small frame tucked safely within his body. The man’s hands did not touch me. They touched Him.

He was acquainted with my torment. I felt some peace.

Time passed and the dream came again. As the man began, I looked to the corner. Jesus walked to me with tears streaming. He picked me up and placed me in the corner. He turned, walked to the bed and lay in my place. The man did it all to Him. I watched as the man stood up and quietly closed the door behind him.

Photo take by sebastiano
Jesus then got up and walked over to me. He lifted me with strong, safe arms. The floor below us began to recede as I wrapped my arms around his neck. Clouds obscured the room as we began to fly away.

I never had that dream again. The memory only a faint scar of recollection.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Daughter and the Dead Cat

Originally posted November 28, 2009

I pass a hedge of Oleanders on my morning walk with dogs. Tucked under one laid a beautiful white, orange and toffee colored calico cat. It looked peaceful resting in the shade but as the dogs began to investigate, it did not move. The cat had ceased to be.

As the days passed, the cat composted. I assumed the gardeners would pick it up. I walked in denial of the cat’s existence. Weeks later, a glimmer of white caught my eye; all that was left were bones.

I heard a whisper in my heart, “That’s for GirlyK.”

That thought was lunacy-what 8 year old girl would want to look at a dead, gross cat skeleton? I walked in the door.

“Girly.” Shaking my head NO like Subliminal Man, “You wouldn't want to go see a decomposed cat, would you?”

Eyes brightened and she squealed, “YES!”

We jumped in the car to drive around the corner and I explained the event. I parked. She floated to the cat. After some encouragement the scientific study began. After a while, I said, “We need to get started on school work.”

Reluctantly she walked back to the car with me.

A voice came out of my mouth. “Would you like take the skull home?”

GirlyK erupted in dance, “YES!”

I cleaned it, glued the jaw and skull together then put it in a plastic peanut butter jar.  GirlyK proudly displayed it among the fairies in her room.

Not many days later, an adolescent gray tabby lay in repose under the Oleanders. I heard a voice, “It is for GirlyK. If you ignore this one there will be another.”

Thoroughly perplexed and not wanting to add to the demise of another cat, I told GirlyK. Big green eyes sparkled. We went to look at the new kitty. At first she was timid. With an uncomfortable sigh, I picked up a stick and stepped close. GirlyK shadowed. We talked about the process and I asked if she wanted to keep a journal and check it every day.

Next morning, I came in from my walk and met eyes sparkling with anticipation. The daily observations began. I stayed in the car as GirlyK lilted to her cat, Fluffy. After 5 to 10 minutes of exploration, she danced to the car. Singing at home, she drew in explicit detail.
One day, as she was drawing, she asked, “Do I have to draw all the maggots? The stomach was full of them and they are so little.”

I needed a reality check and called my sister. That was a failure.

Sis, took a forensics class which involved a field trip to the coroner. She became excited. My trip into the twilight zone was spreading.

That Saturday, Sis and GirlyK ventured off together with textbooks to explore Fluffy together. When they got back, Sis said, “You know, at the coroner’s office, they put bodies into a crock pot to clean off the bones.”

I told her to shut up and thank you for coming over.

After 3 weeks the cat was pretty well cleaned. Only toes and a bit of tail flesh were left. Sea Green eyes pleaded, “It would be SO nice to collect the whole thing and put it in my room as a decoration.”

I was very clear: the skull. That was all. I didn't know how to process the whole thing and put it back together. She talked me into shoulder blades.

I was never more thankful for ignorance.

The idiot that I am shared my escape from bringing the whole thing home on Facebook. A sweet friend- biology major and fellow homeschooler- responded if I had she could have helped us.

Somehow, someway, GirlyK would find out that Friend could have helped and then those eyes would have turned with disappointment to me. Woulda, coulda, shoulda….

We went to collect Fluffy. Wearing latex gloves, SHE picked all of it up and put it in a large ziploc bag I held open. At Friend’s house we carefully placed Fluffy into a camping pot, placed it on the barbecue to boil off what remained.

After an hour, we checked on Fluffy, my heart sank. As much as Friend wanted to help, the project was too big. I cleaned off what I could, put it in a container and brought it home.

I called Sis whine about the failed attempt. She sweetly replied, “You know, at the coroner’s they…”

“Shut up! I am not putting a month long dead cat in my crock pot.”

I looked at the thing. It was not ready to put together and not fit to be called a cat. I looked at her pages of beautiful journal drawings. I snapped.

I pulled out the crock-pot, plugged it in outside. GirlyK put Fluffy in with a splash of water. I turned it on and walked away.

The next three days I sat outside with GirlyK. Crock-pot in between my knees, I scrubbed bones with a toothbrush. She, with a cat skeleton map, cataloged bones and labeled their zip lock bags. Never was a little girl more in her bliss.

Update: The cat still sits, waiting for re-articulation on a table in the kitchen. Maybe this summer Fluffy will be put together and hang peacefully in GirlyK's room

AND the crock-pot? A month later, I was desperate and a new one was not in the budget. After a scrubbing and through the dishwasher twice, I chucked dinner in it. When everyone sat down, I put it in the center of the table. The Counting Mutant looked at me.

My eyes threw daggers and acid dripped from my voice, “I don’t want to hear it! Dinner needed to be cooked and this was all I had.”

“Well,” The Mutant paused, “It is meant to cook meat. Meat is a dead animal, so… I see no problem.”