Old News: Past Blog Posts

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter...And That Other Day We ALSO Go to Church

Disclaimer: this is 100% not meant to be offensive. If Religion is a hot button for you, I highly recommend clicking away; maybe go find a nice cat video to cleanse your palate instead of letting a Midwest mom get unintentionally under your skin. 

The thing is, God seems like an okay dude; and Jesus and Muhammad and all those bazillion Hindi gods and goddesses...etc, etc. But the idea of wrestling my three boys into collared shirts so we can all sit quietly got an hour or more every week is just not in any way appealing. With both parents working full time and all our children continuing to require either a nap or some 'down time' for several hours in the afternoons, I just cannot muster up the energy and enthusiasm required to drag our family to church during 50% of the *two* precious mornings we have together. Instead, we go to the Zoo, or the Science Center, or the Botanical Gardens, or the Butterfly House or to a playground. Yup. We consistently skip church, and I feel super good about that choice. Why? Because it's the right thing for me and my family and the only people's opinions who really matter on this decision are me and my spouse...and neither one of us has ever lost even a minute of sleep over it. 

But I was raised Catholic; so I simply cannot imagine any realistic scenario were I could escape the crushing guilt that would come from missing Christmas or Easter Mass. Okay, that's a lie. One year, I was two weeks post-partum and I did stand my ground. I figured God wasn't so big of a prick that He would dock me any Heaven points for saying 'no thanks' to packing up my healing c-section and two toddlers to squeeze in a little Body of Christ between NICU visits and breast pumping. 

But typically speaking, like every good apathetic Catholic, I dutifully mark my calendar for the two big Jesus days: his birthday and his re-birthday. We head on in and grab a seat in a pew so I can recite the Lord's Prayer and fumble my way through the new verbiage the Vatican initiated several years back with the clear intention of making infrequent mass-goers like myself feel uncomfortable.  

I will admit that church-going, like many things in my life since becoming a parent, has gotten progressively -- but only very marginally -- easier over the past 2 years. Christmas this year was an exercise in patience and also just basically exercise. By the end of mass, I was covered in sweat and lightly bruised in some places. I had paced the rear of the church with the 2-year-old long enough to regret the heels and at one point was acting all at once as a make-shift jungle gym for my 2, 3, and 4-year-old; as they simultaneously crawled over, under and behind me. When wearing a dress, there is really no graceful way to manage this sort of situation without running the risk of unintentionally flashing someone (which feels especially wrong in a church). 

The priest at my preferred place of worship is a man with a flare for the dramatic. So it wasn't a surprise when the lights were extinguished, darkening the lofty gothic cathedral to created a little more theater for a moving, candlelit rendition of Silent Night, immediately followed by a pure moment of crisp, spirit-stirring silence....

....cue the 2-year-old. 

I won't say we caused a huge disruption, but I will say a woman seated three rows ahead of us stopped me during our rapid and clumsy exit to acknowledged our struggle. 

So this morning, we did it again. We brushed off our spiffy Sunday best and headed out for our bi-annual trip to God's turf. Just to prove I am capable of adaptation, my dress was longer and my heels were shorter. As usual, there were books and snacks and various non-noise-making toys emerging from the diaper bag and rotated in at a sometimes rapid-fire pace. The boys now crawl across laps and underfoot at a slower, less urgent speed. They respond more appropriately to whispered threats and are less prone to spontaneous verbal outbursts during deliberate moments of silence. Luckily, the perish we visited today clearly cares more about filtering in and out families with fidgety children than it does about sending chills down a person's spine. There were no echoing stone ceilings or any dramatic lighting. Instead, there were canvas bags filled with crayons and books about things like 'Bible Heroes' (filled with illustrations of white men with bulging muscles).

My husband (and possibly anyone with small children who doesn't routinely lie to themselves) would likely agree that the level of stress involved in escorting young offspring to a place of worship typically eliminates the ability to walk out feeling even remotely fulfilled by a church service. If you want to admire the beauty of the China in a China shop, you don't bring a bull with you...and you certainly wouldn't bring three bulls.

Still, I sometimes long for that sense of spiritual fulfillment. These fleeting moments of longing is something I've felt for years. I even did a little light church-shopping in those few years between graduate school and getting married (that's how I found Father Spine-Tingle and his awesome gothic cathedral...which incidentally is reserved only for fancy occasions). I would love to be a tangible part of a spiritual community and to finally shed that heavy cloak of cynicism I don in the face of Religion. Maybe someday when I'm not living in the thick of these precious and fleeting early parenting years, I will find myself anxiously bounding out of bed on Sunday mornings, stoked to drag my kids to church...even on some random July morning. Until then: Jesus...? I'll see you at Christmas brah.


Excessive candy and commercialism is what this day is a really about anyways; right?

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

word of the day: Mediocrity

Next week, I will be sitting on a panel of bloggers at Illinois State University as part of the Communication Department's 'COM Week.' 

Here's how I feel about that in emoji form: 😳. 

In the interest of full disclosure, my dad is an ISU faculty member working in that department; so if there were money changing hands, this would all boil down to a clear-cut case of nepotism.

Here's the thing: I live in a constant state of concern that I will be revealed as a fraud. This is true in exactly all areas of my life. 

EXAMPLES: I am genuinely worried that someone will soon identify me as a totally mediocre Physical Therapist (I had some brilliant and now wildly successful classmates, so this one is totally valid). As a cook, it is not secret that I am genuinely a colossal failure; whether I am overcooking the vegetables or undercooking the pasta, I really have no business in the kitchen. As a friend, well...let's put it this way: if Facebook fails me, I will probably forget your birthday. I am sure to finish no better than square in the middle of my age group for any given race and I will scale down the WOD like it's my business. Sending me a houseplant would essentially be issuing that poor plant a death-sentance. Finally, I am 100% certain that I am a doing this parenting thing totally wrong. 

And yet, I have been asked to sit and speak as some sort of authority on something. I'm sorry, I just can't help it, here comes the emoji again: 

😳(!)

Here's the thing. If we aren't related, there's a good chance you're not reading this. Furthermore, I happen to know for a fact that some relatives actively avoid my blog...for reasons that are completely fair.  

Also, here's the extent of my insider knowledge on blogging: I can purchase a domain name, provided someone talks me through the process over the phone and I have set up a 'Google AdSense' account, which has possibly generated enough revenue over the past 4 years to buy myself a beer. But the amount generated really is irrelevant because I am not sure how to access it anyways. Oh, and I just got an email threatening termination of the account for lack of traffic at my site. 

So there, now I can simply send a link to this post rather than actually sit on the panel (maybe that would effectively save my AdSense account?) 

I would do it too, if not for two things:

1. I am super-excited to hear from real-life, actual bloggers (I spied on them, and the other panelists are totally legit).

And

2. My parents are fantastic people who live 175 miles away and I am thrilled to have an excuse to chill with them for an afternoon.

Here's the thing. I want to be better. At everything. I want to be one of those uncommon and crazy-irritating people who just excels at life. It doesn't help that I come from a family of extraordinarily remarkable and successful people. The bar is just set so impossibly high and my vertical is not what it used to be. Also, I may just barely qualify as a Millennial, but I still feel like I should be winning at everything. Still, when I could be reading up on how to access my AdSense account, mastering the 'double-under,' or honing my skills as a pastry chef, I turn around and there is a mountain of laundry to fold, or one of my children has another in a choke-hold (Bare-Minimum Parenting Tip #1: keep them alive). So chasing perfection just doesn't always fit in my daily routine. 

So I press on as the master of mediocrity. I tread water as hard as I can, and sometimes I sink for a moment. And sometimes I blog. And you know what? It doesn't have to be great writing or boast a stunning, professional layout. It's not really for you anyways. It's really for me. When I inevitably have severe dementia and sit around at the old-folks home drooling on myself, maybe someone can pull a Notebook-style move and read back to me all the nonsense I posted to the Internet back when I was busy being a hack on all fronts. And maybe I'll be okay with that.