Friday, May 22, 2015

I might lose a few readers now.

I don’t typically respond to trending topics on Facebook. It’s usually because I don’t care, or I’m embarrassed that I care, or I don’t want to ruffle feathers. I like people to like me. Too much.
But this Duggar family uproar is too much. It is really too much.
Jesus forgives me, and I’ve moved on, so I don’t need to face earthly justice.
Folks, this is not biblical. Perhaps Josh Duggar is truly repentant, and perhaps he truly isn’t subject to those predilections anymore. I have no idea. But it is not okay to wait for the statute of limitations to run out before you confess your sins.
“Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” 1 Peter 2:13-17
The Christian thing to do would be to turn yourself in to face justice in the courts, not run off to work with a family friend, and then tell a shady state trooper about it when you come back, and keep the whole thing under wraps as much as possible. I cannot even imagine what it would be like to learn this about your son; I hope that I would do the right thing, but I can’t guarantee it. However, my sympathy for grieving parents and a likely terrified kid doesn’t change right and wrong. It is WRONG purposefully evade justice.
Forgiveness is personal. It goes from the wronged person to the perpetrator, from God to the sinner.
The courts deal in justice. Earthly justice. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that we are to escape earthly consequences of sin just because we are sorry, and God forgives us. We are to submit to the governing authorities, unless they mandate that we sin. Can you imagine what would happen if all anyone had to do to get out of jail time was to say he was sorry, and Jesus forgave him? That would be wrong.
Yet we are closing ranks around the Duggars because… because why? Because the apology actually sounded like a real apology (It really does sound like deep regret, none of this non-apology “I’m sorry if you feel that…” nonsense)? Because the people in charge at the time “dealt” with it? Because they’re the most famous Christians we have, so we’d better present a united front?
I’m not shocked by the Duggars’ handling of this sin. (Yes, SIN. It was not a mistake. Call it what it is, for the love, especially when you are apologizing.) I might think they did it all wrong, but it doesn’t surprise me. Like I said, I can’t imagine what I would do as a parent in this situation.
But fellow Christians, we should not be rushing to comfort the perpetrator after he slips under the radar just long enough to escape the consequences. Let me be clear: Eternal consequences are God’s business; nothing is too big for him to forgive. But he commands us to obey the earthly law (and at the time that Peter was written, let’s not forget we’re talking about Christians under Roman law). Obedience to earthly law elevates God and his mercy; it does not diminish it. We do not glorify God by pretending sin is just a really bad mistake.
We glorify God by calling sin what it is and praising his ability to forgive even the most vile manifestations of it. But their actions do not “put to silence the ignorance of foolish people [or non-foolish people].” This looks a lot more like using freedom as a cover-up for evil.
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Edit: I realized after I wrote this that this might come out too much on the OTHER side of things. I have… certain opinions about the Duggars and their theology, but that aside, they are my Christian brothers and sisters. The personal issues of forgiveness and repentance are between them, the victims, and their church leaders (if they have such a network of accountability; I’m not sure). People who profess repentance and appear to be repentant should be taken at their word (although I don’t think I would have Josh Duggar babysit my children; forgiveness should not be conflated with stupidity). We shouldn’t shun people for this, especially when we know so little of the details. I am talking about the way we tend to view professing Christians who have done terrible things and equated the forgiveness of God with escape from legal justice.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

You can('t) do eet!

I know I've written something along these lines before, but I just read the umpteenth nasty comment on a nice blog post about things you can do for your friend who just had a baby. I commented on it a while ago and keep meaning to unsubscribe, but then oh shiny!

It goes something like this: "I don't know what's wrong with all you people. I did all this and more after kids, and I never complained!"

This is another thing we need to stop doing.

Repeat after me: "I can do a lot of things you can't do. You can do a lot of things I can't do. Let's not scratch each other's eyes out."

Well. I might scratch your eyes out if you're good at murder, and you find me in an alley.

Here's what I'm really good at:

-Imitating a monkey call. It is loud and extremely accurate.
-Imitating various other animals' calls. Also loud, not necessarily as accurate.
-Predicting the bad guy on TV shows.
-Crossing my eyes.
-Staying awake long past the limits of normal human physiology.
-Lining things up the way they are supposed to go. NOT LIKE THAT YOU IDIOT.
-Having huge feet.
-Learning a new language. Unless it's German. I dropped out of that after 2 weeks.

I expect that every other human being on earth can and should do all of these things because I can do them.

Obviously, I'm being silly. There are real life skills that everyone should have nailed down eventually. I would never think very highly of an able-bodied 30-year-old who can't use the bathroom without assistance. But I don't think doing All the Things immediately after having a baby is one of those life skills. After Grace, I was pretty much useless. I felt like I was trying to juggle 20 hammers at once. She was 6 months old, I think, before we ever had dinner before her bedtime.

It was a totally different story after Emmy. I was able to do just about everything that needed to be done after having her. At no point did I look back at my brand new mom self and say, "You were such a lazy complainer. You could have done so much better." No. Because I couldn't have.

I've been on both sides. I'm sure there are women who use their new-momness as an excuse to be lazy. But most of us just do whatever we're capable of at that moment. So stop being a jerk.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Tough Mudder

Did I ever mention that I signed up for the Tough Mudder? Well, I did. It’s in September. It’s at 10,000 feet. Now, I live almost a mile up, so it’s not like a shore-dweller doing a ten-mile obstacle course at 10,000 feet, but it’s still going to be brutal. What was I thinking?
I actually wake up in a panic over this occasionally. Usually it’s after a weekend of slacking on my shoulder PT.
I did that this past weekend. I skipped the exercises on Saturday and on Monday. On Saturday we were busy, and it had been raining all week, so I hated the world/napped with every free minute. Monday was again very busy, and by the end of it I just wanted my bed.
I have four resistance band exercises that I do on each side, 3 sets of 15; I do two types every day. There are two other optional (but immensely helpful) ones that I have to do at the gym. They require the lat pull-down machine, a stability ball, and a platform.
I hate them because I’ve been doing them three times a week for two years.
I hate them because they are tedious.
I hate them because the nature of my shoulder issues means I will never actually progress in them; I will always and forever use the green resistance band, and 3 sets of 15 will always and forever be uncomfortable and hard.
I hate them because I know I have to do them all three times per week until I die or stop caring about being able to use my shoulders and arms at all.
Mostly, I hate them because they look like old lady exercises, and I feel kind of stupid doing them.
With the lat machine, it’s not even a full pull-down. I grip the bar above my head and then pull my shoulder blades down and together. It looks like I’m a really weak person who is in denial about the amount of weight she can pull down. This is because, given the chance, my shoulder blades would slide all the way around my body and become protective chest plates.
The stability ball push-ups are even more super fun. Fun in the extreme. Fun like getting punched in the face. I put a stability ball on the corner of a platform and then attempt push-ups while squeezing the sides of the ball with my hands. It’s incredibly difficult, but it looks wussy. I know this because there are mirrors everywhere in the room where I do these push-ups, mirrors of mockery. It makes me want to force everyone in there with me to try them with me while I laugh.
(Yes, I know none of you strong people notice me; a tiny yet vocal part of me knows even harder that you are all laughing at me).
So I skipped those all weekend. You’d think just a few days wouldn’t make a big difference, right? Nope. Everything is weaker. I’m at half strength for some of the weights I regularly lift. I accept this for the exercises that require shoulder stability. But even my grip is worse. If you look at your arm and grab something tightly, you will notice that all the gripping muscles are far removed from the shoulder muscles, so please explain that to me.
Anyway, all this to say that I am a little apprehensive about this Tough Mudder thing. This doesn't mean I don’t want to do it. I do. A LOT. But I definitely need more motivation with the shoulder exercises. It doesn't take long to catch back up, but I need to get strongER for this thing, not just stay where I am. So here are a few ideas for every day that I do them:
  1. My children clean their room without complaining.
  2. The dishes wash themselves.
  3. My lawn dies so it never has to be mowed again.
  4. Fairies give me a dollar.
  5. Fairies give me wine.
I’m sure none of these will be counterproductive at all, so help me make it happen.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

I swear I don't have a (consistent) favorite

I went back through a couple years' of Facebook posts the other day. I started just to make sure my last post didn't show me for a complete hypocrite, but then I got sucked in to the memories. It's 75% Emmy doing something bizarre, 20% Grace saying something disturbing/weirdly adult, and 15% me blundering around like an idiot. Grace will think she is the less favored child someday (sweetie, I swear you're not; it's just that you're not entertaining fodder most of the time). If there's ever an archive feature to Facebook, and if I ever want to resurrect the person I was 5, 10, 15 years ago.

I don't.

It's weird how I look back at things I've said, thought, written just a few years ago and always think, "Wow. I was stupid/mean/judgy/not funny." Sometimes all of those.

I think part of the reason I don't write much anymore is that I don't have much to say that translates well to the blog format. I can be funny in the moment, or if I have a topic, but writing just to write is hard for me now.

I used to try to make complaining funny, but most of the time it isn't anymore. It just sounds whiny to me. The things I have to complain about, I mean. Many of you have Real Things going on. That's what this space is for. My life is by no means perfect, but complaining about it sometimes seems like the equivalent of a robust American telling a room full of Eritreans that he's "starving."

(this doesn't mean I don't complain, ever; it just seems narcissistic to make a whole entry about the mildly inconvenient road construction going on in our neighborhood)

So, back to Facebook. I had NO IDEA how weird Emmy seems, until I re-remembered her only through status updates. She is super weird, for sure, but nothing that will land her in a home when she's an adult (*please oh please oh please*). But to read about her only through me, you would think she did nothing but shout random words in between chewing carpet and falling down stairs.

Emmy is surprisingly clever. I know this because I catch her hiding it. On purpose.

One of her preschool teachers told me last fall that she can read a few (small) words and has memorized several of the storybooks at school. I told her I didn't even think Emmy knew the names and sounds of most of her letters ("Emmy, what does double-u say?" *blank stare* "...Du-?"). Ever since, I've been waiting and waiting for this ability to appear at home, and it didn't... until we bought a lift-the-flap dinosaur book, and all of a sudden she is all about reading that to me. It's obvious she's been hiding it because she knows it means she'll be expected to do things. In order to get full access to this amazing book, she knows she has to sit with me and read it.

(I'm sure she showed her cards sooner at school because she's in love with one of the teachers and will do anything to gain her favor.)

When she was a toddler, everyone at church thought she couldn't talk. We would swear that she could, and just wouldn't away from home, but it was getting to the point where it was like, "The W's are in denial. Should we maybe have a gentle talk with them?" But because Emmy didn't talk, people would just do things for her. She was fat and cute and scowly (in a cute way). Of course you want to give her snacks.

So one day in the nursery, one of the little girls had lost her cup. Emmy was off in a corner by herself hoarding some toys or whittling a shiv. They were looking all over for several minutes while she was completely silent (as usual). Finally, in exasperation, she turned around, pointed to a high shelf across the room and said, "It's RIGHT there!" and went back to playing.

Girl is wily, is all I'm saying. She's manic pixie adorable preschooler on the outside, but mad scientist on the inside. I think realistically the only thing I can hope for is that she doesn't explode something important someday.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Stupid People

Other people are stupid. I walk around, convinced of my smartness. I am better. I am smarter. I never text while wandering aimlessly down a sidewalk. I drive around. I am clever. I use my turn signal. I am considerate of other drivers. I am better.

Oops. I pulled out in front of you. It's an anomaly. This is not the kind of driver that I am. I almost never do stupid things. I am conscientious. I care about other people. You are stupid. I just make the rare mistake.

No.

People, no.

We are all stupid, and we are all jerks. A lot of the time. Please stop posting on Facebook about how stupid everyone else is. You're a jerk, and I'm a jerk, and we're all stupid a lot of the time. We ask forgiveness or shyly duck our heads as we slink behind the person we cut off.

Just stop it. This is humanity.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Night and Day

I had my first parent-teacher conference with Grace's teacher. Unfortunately, I had to bring Emmy.

 The conference starts with what they call a "student-led conference," which was actually a binder-led conference, where I read the directions and looked in Grace's notebook for her. She's a smart kid, but initiative is not her strong suit. I would ask her the questions I was supposed to ask her, and she would stare at me blankly. 

"Grace, what leadership duties do you have in class?" 

*blink* *blink* 

"Is there something you're supposed to lead?" 

*blink*

"Do you have a job in the classroom?"

"Ooooh! Yes. I put the pencils away"

She gets this from her father. 

He has Rainman-level abilities to store and retrieve information, but if I do not phrase something in exactly the correct way, he cannot understand me. It has been the root of many an argument in this household. It's gotten better. I have learned that this is the way he functions; he has learned to at least *try* to hear what I was thinking, and not what I actually said. It's been a slow process. 

Did you ever play the old King's Quest games, or any like them? You know, where you're locked in a dungeon and you have to come up with exactly the correct words and sequence of actions to pick the stupid key out of the pile of straw and unlock the door? If you type "lock" instead of "keyhole," too bad! The guard has noticed you trying to escape and now you are dead. This is what it is like to live with Jeremy and Grace. Minus the executions.

While this is happening, Emmy is doing the potty dance. We live one minute away. In the hour before we leave, she knows we are leaving soon and has free access to our fine bathroom. But of course, the moment we get into the school, there is a bladder emergency. How could we possibly have foreseen this? Ms. M, Grace's teacher, recognizes the situation and offers to take her to the bathroom for me. 

Grace and I continue through her binder. Grace meets all her goals. Grace is performing well. Grace burps rainbows. Ms. M comes back with Emmy, looking a bit incredulous. "She was singing the whole time!"

"Yes, it's probably part of a musical from her native planet."

"I thought she was taking a while, so I went in, and there she was, singing away with the water running!"

I imagine there was a complete story structure to go with it, along with some dance moves. This kind of thing no longer surprises me.

We sit down, and immediately Emmy begins to mess with everything. I tell her to sit still, and she gets her legs tangled in the table and chair.

"Grace sits well in class." "Grace listens."

Emmy falls on the floor. I send her to retrieve my keys and our jackets that we left at the other table.

"Grace is polite and compliant." "Grace loves to read."

Emmy spells everything G-Q-U-R-C-X.

"Grace understands easily, but she cries a lot when frustrated."

Emmy is tangled in the chair again.

Everything with Grace is going pretty well. We commiserate over the problem of her looking and sounding so much older than she is, yet still having the emotions of a kindergartner. Emmy begins to writhe in agony from sitting still(ish) for three minutes.

We get up to go, and I say thank you. I pat Emmy on her bobbing head. "You might have this one next year!" I say, and walk off. What a lucky woman Ms. M. is.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Neurosis!

Remember how I don't sleep, and Ambien changed my life? The Ambien stopped working slowly over the last year. Around the same time, my anxiety went from constant but barely there to constant but much stronger, though not what I would call severe. 
No reason. Life is good, on all different kinds of levels. All of the major stressors that contribute to anxiety have either diminished in the last year or vanished completely. For instance, our house sold, and our kids are getting more likable and less needy. I can say with some confidence that this is probably the best part of my life that I can ever remember. But I am cranky, always on edge. The people I love most bear the brunt of it, of course. That's how these things go. So I don't sleep at night, and I'm always lashing out or keeping myself from lashing out, and there is no reason for it. 

I have never been much of a worrier. I have a constant sense of dread hanging over me, but it's not about anything specific. It's like the tense background music in a horror movie. That is the soundtrack of my brain. I don't lie awake at night worrying about things that actually worry me. It's weird things that keep me awake at night. Sometimes I become convinced that the kids are up and walking around. I often feel a child climbing into bed when there's no one there. I woke up one night and gaped at the wall for a long time because it was rippling like the surface of a lake. 


When worry does keep me awake, it's over stuff that doesn't bother the real me. Like, I will never finish this book before it's due at the library. Or, Grace didn't get a birthday party this year. When will she start killing small animals? Or even, Jeremy has a secret girlfriend. They're not latent worries that surface only at night (then I would lie awake worrying about that stupid thing I said yesterday, and now my best friend will hate me). They are lies my brain cooks up because it hates me and wants me to become crazy. I often imagine it as Krang.


I hate it when people tell me not to worry when I say that I'm a bit anxious. Worry is just one possible symptom. My biggest symptom used to be avoidance or procrastination. If I pretend a responsibility is not there, it doesn't exist. It was easy when we had no kids, and I could get away with writing papers the week or night before they were due. It's harder now to flee responsibility, make up for it in a furious burst of sleep deprivation and coffee, and then go about my regular day again. 


No, now I have to be kind to two souls who believe their wants and needs always trump mine. In college, I got far less sleep, but the bar for functioning was far lower. I could nap between classes, and the only people I had to interact with were my professors. They did not follow me home. I did not have to tenderly clean their faces minutes after they had thrown food on my clean floor. They were not necessarily less irritating or more empathetic, but they could give me Fs. My kids can't give me Fs. Well, they can, but they would be scrawled in Post-Its in three-inch letters and usually backwards, thereby lacking a certain gravity.


Avoidance worked for a long time, and then I had a tiny, helpless person, and that wasn't going to work anymore. I kind of got used to that after being a mom for a few years, but the insomnia got worse. Then the urge to snap at everyone started putting a damper on my hopes and dreams of my kids not becoming serial killers. So Ambien! Ambien to the rescue! I became a new person after a couple weeks of good sleep. Then in the last year it slowly stopped working, and I was back to square one.


I talked to my doctor. She went through all the standard questions with me (Do you exercise? Do you smoke? Do you drink? Do you have friends? Are you a worthless layabout looking for an easy solution when really your lifestyle is horrible, and you make bad chocies?) and suggested buspirone. I have never heard of it before. She said it was not a heavy hitter, but that people who do respond to it respond well. 


I came home from the pharmacy, took my first dose, and proceeded to be nice to my kids for the rest of the day. I looked it up and read that it's supposed to take 4-6 weeks to begin working. I was sure it was just a placebo effect, but then I continued to not be angry in stupid situations where only a jerk (like me) would be angry. There were also other things I didn't expect, like the ability to remember. My memory hasn't been this sharp since before I had kids. I can memorize piano music again, and I haven't lost my keys even once in the last month and a half. I am able to focus instead of slogging my way through a haze of distraction.


I slept well for a couple of weeks, but I'm not again. Not all the time. However, on days after I haven't slept well, I'm just tired. I don't want to hiss and growl at every little thing. I still enjoy life even when I'm tired. 


Also, part of the reason I don't sleep well is that our mattress is made of horrible, and Jeremy twitches around like a 190-pound rodent. I wonder if there's a drug for that.