Sunday, April 24, 2005

A little bit of un-pc heresy...

When you're dead, do you think anyone is going to remember you for the work you did? Maybe if you're a brilliant artist, perhaps. But for most of us, the answer is no. But if you were a fabulous Mama, your grandkids will hear about you. Your great grandkids will hear about you. You will live on in stories for generations. You will create the kind of people that make a difference in the world, the kind of people who are a force for good, every day of their lives.

In second grade, my teacher told me I could do anything I wanted to with a mind such as I possessed. My grandfather told me I could grow up to be president. Indeed, he suggested the military as a good route by which to pursue this lofty goal. I received plenty of encouragement and a good self image in my home. I was raised to speak my mind, to reason my arguments, to consider myself the equal of every person I met. "You're a smart girl," I was told, over and over, by people who loved me well. "You can be anything you want to be."

Apparently I wanted to be a Mama.

Yep. After a childhood of careful indoctrination with the feminist having it all mindset, I went right out at nineteen and got myself a husband, and in short order, a pair of rugrats to complete the set. I nursed them, taught them to read and count, kept them at home with me until they were five years old. I took them back home with me when the public school system failed them. Homeschooling is my life, now. My kitchen is a science lab, my living room a library, my backyard a P.E. class.

And I don't feel bad about it, not one little bit.

People often ask me "How do you do it?" as if childrearing is the most incomprehensible idea on the planet. Don't I get bored? Don't I want something MORE for myself? What about ME?

I'll let you in on a little secret. I never wanted to be president. I don't even want to work. I have to, because that marriage I made at nineteen, it went belly up at twenty nine. But in a perfect world? I'd chase children and volunteer at church, and I could be completely happy with that. I'd make a couple more babies and be the bake sale, sunday school teaching kind of Mama. I have no innate drive to "work" anymore than is vitally necessary to put food onto the table. I don't feel a sense of accomplishment or pride in the work I do outside of my role as mother to my children. It's a job, a paycheck, and nothing more. But what I do at home? Is my sense of self worth, is the only job that feels fulfilling and RIGHT to me.

Here's the thing that I don't DARE admit in public. I don't think women ought to have to work. Ever. Period. Biologically we're designed for the care and nurturing of a family. And I think most women feel that calling, and try to answer it by having children. But we get such messages from the world at large that we try to be all things to all people; Mama to the kids, sex kitten to the husband, wage slave to the boss. And in the end, we do all these jobs rather badly.

There's something cruel and unnatural in ripping a new nursing mother away from her six week old infant for hours at a time every day. It undercuts the natural bond between mother and child. It short circuits the parenting process. Already the child is receiving the message that he doesn't come first. It's a message we'll reinforce over the years with daycare, babysitters, missed little league games and piano recitals, latchkey kids and unchaperoned highschoolers. It's a message inherent in every drive through McDinner when Mama hasn't the time to cook a meal.

You ever wonder about the people who send Jr. to daycare or preschool with a raging fever hidden by tylenol? I know I do. I look at a sick kid whining for his Mommy and I wonder where the hell it happened; when she made that disconnect that allowed her to remove her baby from the forefront of her thoughts. What about the folks who forget their baby in a carseat for eight hours? How the devil does it happen, that one's offspring becomes an afterthought?

And I've come to the conclusion it happens in increments. A little bit here, a little bit there. Each incident stealing a little bit of a mother's soul, killing her feminine instincts. It begins when she gets pregnant, and the option is out there; this is not yet a person, she can get rid of it if she wants. Already that life is cheapened. Then she gives birth. The bonding process begins. She has a choice then, will she nurse this infant or put it to a bottle? And there is no shame in either choice; but forgoing the breast for the bottle means a loss of those mothering hormones, losing that little bit of connection with the child. It's just another increment, and a small one, but they add up over time. Then comes daycare. When she hands her most precious creation over to someone else to nurture and love, and goes off to put her mind to something else. A career, a project, or even the mindlessness of mechanical factory work. For some hours a day, she'll be separate from this helpless little person to whom she is connected in the deepest way possible. Then come the school years; when she turns her baby over to the state, and entrusts his wonderful, amazing little mind to the school system. By this time, she's already lost much of that maternal bond, but by the time Jr. graduates from high school it'll exist almost entirely in name only. She won't know his friends, his thoughts, his secret dreams and wishes. His peers will become the dominant force in his life, and the main recipients of his loyalty. Then he'll be an adult. And she'll wonder why he doesn't see her very often. He may go months without calling his parents; he may choose to not turn up for Christmas or forget to send something for Mother's day or her birthday. She will wonder "Where did we go wrong? Where did we lose him?"

And my answer for her is that it didn't happen in one go. In fits and starts, from the time he was a baby, she made the decision to put him second, or third, or fourth, in her life. The job of Mama was not the priority. Every missed game, every "I'm too tired" when he wanted her attention; every day she lost just a little bit of her son. In slow, agonizing moments, she left him behind. And with him, pieces of herself. Pieces of her motherhood, that she can never reclaim.

There is no such thing as having it all. You can't be everything to all people. Quality time is a myth used to soothe consciences; to shut down the natural voice inside you screaming to be with your baby. Kids don't want Quality time, they want QUANTITY time. Jr. won't open up his heart on the rides at Disney World. He's going to open up to you over slicing potatoes in the kitchen, in the car on the way to the doctor's office, as you're pulling weeds side by side in the garden. Make those quiet, ordinary moments available to him in quantity, and he'll talk to you.

Don't just tell your kid you love him, show him, every day, in a thousand ways, that he comes first, that you take the job of parenting him seriously, and sacredly. Because it's the most sacred trust of all, it's the closest we fragile human beings ever come to godhood, when we create a life. And every single day of that child's existence, we have opportunities for true greatness; the kind of greatness that only comes from the positive interaction with another human being's immortal soul. No one has the influence a mother does. The hand that rocks the cradle truly does rule the world. It's something our culture has forgotten, to our eternal shame, and to the detriment of future generations of Americans.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Hee Hee Hee

This was so brilliant I just had to record it over here.


"I'm not sure what they expected. Jethro Tull blasting out of the Papal apartments? "Hey, yeah, everybody, I'm the new Pope, and I've been thinking, you know, maybe abortion's alright, and if you want to have lots of promiscuous anal sex outside of marriage, whatever. I'm thinking about ordering you all to live in teepees and drive hybrids, also ordain a few broads and dames. I'm gonna go smoke some pot, perform a couple gay marriages, give Last Rites to a couple old ladies who are being euthanized. Then I'm writing a letter demanding America adopt socialized health care. Hail Satan!"Not the most democratic organization in the world, hence why people who protest Church doctrine are called "protestants". It's the Roman Catholic Church. If you're shocked at their positions, you haven't been paying attention for the last, oh, two thousand years."

Do you think the whole bit up through "Hail Satan" is a bit long for an email signature? Because I gotta tell ya... I'm sorely tempted.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

No Honeymoon for Benedict XVI

I expect derision from the press at large, regarding the new Pope. I am fully unsurprised by it.

What I did not expect was the derision of my fellow Catholics, or the vitriol put forth by so many of my friends. Livejournal is unsafe right now; I've accidentally ventured into ugly photoshops, and into discussions of how he's going to "Destroy the Church" or set us back into the "dark ages." There's also a Wikipedia entry depicting him as Senator Palpatine, of Star Wars fame. Okay, I'll admit it, I did giggle at that one. Just for a second.

The man has been Pope for less than a week and the honeymoon is already over.

Let's see... the problems appear to be that he's opposed to abortion, gay marriage, contraception, and the ordination of women. My word- you don't mean to tell me they elected a CATHOLIC? No! I am shocked, I tell you.

Just because the laity has some extreme examples, this does not mean the Church must incorporate them. I'll let you in on a little secret: The Ornithophobe rather believes in Reincarnation. (I like to imagine that is what Purgatory is. God sends you back to repeat a grade.) However, did my Church suddenly appoint Cardinals or a Pope who endorsed this belief of mine, I would be quite uncomfortable. Why?

Because it's not Catholic Doctrine. And the Pope is the final arbiter on doctrine. This is not a democracy; his word is law.

It is exactly as I'd feel if we appointed Supreme Court justices who decided to invent new Constitutional Rights, that aren't in the document they are morally obligated to interpret accurately.

Oh. Wait a minute....

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Habemus Papam

We have a Pope. Cardinal John Ratzinger is Pope Benedict the XVI. I hadn't even realised the lack of a Pope bothered me, until the announcement came. Suddenly, a feeling of relief, a blanket of calm, fell upon me. Everything is right with the world, the Church is whole. Everything is proceeding according to God's plan, God's will. It is a very reassuring sensation.

The crowds look so joyful on the television. I would give anything to be in Rome right now. Their enthusiasm is contagious.

I wonder what sort of Pope he will be? He looks very vital, for all his advanced years. I've just read his homily from Sunday, and he impresses me mightily with his language. He's a very persuasive writer, and I imagine he must be eloquent in his speaking.

Today is a good day.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Why it's a bird free zone

I am afraid of birds. Stop laughing, I can hear you.

It is an irrational fear (thus the ornithoPHOBIA) that has plagued me all my life. My mother tells the story of how she kept a stuffed bird from a flower arrangement to use as a baby gate in my infancy. Place Fake!Bird at the entrance to the living room, and The Ornithophobe will let you vacuum in peace and quiet. I recall abject terror at those little singing bird ball ornaments in Christmas trees; get too close to a tree and they'd go off, sending me scurrying the other direction. I've been locked in my car by a bird on the hood of it. I've been stuck on the sidewalk unable to get home, with a bird a few feet down the pavement.

There is no place on the planet I can go to escape them, a fact made plain to me in elementary school. I was devastated to learn they literally are everywhere; there is no continent on the planet free from their menace.

And make no mistake; it is MENACE. That "They're more afraid of you than you are of them" is nonsense spouted by people who have no idea what they're talking about. The birds know I fear them, and they behave accordingly. They dive bomb my car when I'm driving. They sit motionless at my approach, daring me to run them off. The clapping of hands, making of noise, shouting of "shoo! Get! Damned bird" means nothing to them, they just sit there and look at me, as if to say, "My, how interesting. She is AFRAID of me. This has... possibilities."

They flutter. I hate fluttering. They flap. And I hate flapping. They have beady, evil little eyes and sharp, predatory faces. Even the simplest finch looks threatening to me.

They poo everywhere. The world is their toilet. Bright streaks of purple and white airborne crap left inevitably upon newly washed cars and laundry. I have surrendered this battle in the war; I haven't washed my car in a year. So far, it seems to be working. The enemy prefers a cleaner target.

They are filthy, disease-ridden, disgusting animals.

On top of that, they twitter annoyingly at ungodly hours of the morning, an infraction surely deserving of the most stringent forms of punishment. It should be illegal to trill birdsong in the wee hours of the morning, when it is still dark. Unfortunately, birds don't cotton to the laws of men, even when they are good and sound laws about noise pollution.

On the other hand, however, there is poultry.