Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Word to my sister (who is also someone's mother)

My sister Hanna had her daughter at 6:25 this morning. She's apparently a beautiful little girl named Aniya who weighs 7 pounds 2 ounces and has lots of curly, black hair. From what I have heard, she is fabulous and wonderful, and I was really glad I got a phone call at 7:20 this morning telling me that she had made her way into the world. Of course, I was getting ready for work and missed the call, but imagine my shock when I called back 20 minutes later and Hanna herself answered the phone. That's right. She gave birth, and an hour later she was nursing with one hand and chatting on the phone with the other. What a woman. She makes me proud. I hope I can be so pleasant and dextrous after my labor and delivery experience. I have a feeling I will either be passed out or incredibly cranky.

So, my hat's off to you, Hanna. You pre-labored for something like two solid weeks, supported your brother at his football game in spite of painful, sporadic contractions, powered through something like 12 hours of actual labor, and still managed to be an absolute delight to those of us who called to wish you well. While I probably won't be taking your advice on the epidural (it's just too creepy and gross for me to handle), I hope that I have half the strength it took you to do what you did and keep such a sweet disposition. I hope you got that nap you were hoping for this morning and that life adjusts smoothly for you and Kelvin and little Aniya. Much love and mad props to you, Sis!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Excuse me, but could I trouble you for a time machine or some minor forgery?

So, I have some good news and some bad news. I just popped in to Dashboard Confessional's myspace page to listen to some good music. Bad news: the song I really wanted to hear has been taken down. Herein lies the good news: it was taken down because there is a new album coming out on October 2nd, and they are using their available slots for new music. As many of you may know, one element of my birth plan is to play the entire DC collection throughout the labor and delivery process as they are, in fact, my most favoritist band ever and are also incredibly soothing to listen to. This is fabulous news for me, as it means I will have an extra 40 mintues to an hour of music to cylce through, hopefully delaying the inevitable of my darling husband getting sick and tired of hearing Chris Carrabba sing what Brendan deems "boring" songs about things that he couldn't possibly care less about.

This brings us to more good (great, even glorious!) news and bad (worse, even awful!) news.

Good news: Because they have a new album coming out, Dashboard is hitting the road.(FINALLY!!! I have been scouring the internet for upcoming tours for many, many months, to no avail. Imagine my joyous shock to stumble upon tour dates on the one day I wasn't actually looking for them. I guess it's true - a watched pot never boils.)

Great, even glorious news: My beloved Mr. Carabba is coming to Norfolk, to the Norva, the very same venue where we went last September to see Julian Casablancas and the rest of the Strokes. This is a great venue. It has a very small, close-knit, intimate feel. It doesn't hold that many people, so the concerts just feel better, more like they are just for you and your posse. Plus, the smaller the venue, the better the chance of actually seeing the stage.

Now for the bad, even, dare I say, awful news: This concert just so happens to be taking place on September 29th at 8:00 pm.

"Who cares?" you say. "What is so bad about that particular day and/or time?"

Well, I will tell you. First of all, I am supposed to be having a baby shower that day. The Norva is four hours away. There is no way I can make it in time. Now, this is just the bad news. For you see, the invitations are not completely finished, and a date and time have not officially 100% been set in stone. Theoretically, I could move the shower up or back a couple of weeks or make it Friday night or Sunday afternoon instead. This is a surmountable obstacle. Here is the worse, even awful, news: Considering my doctors' favorite hobby of banning things (no canoeing, no lifting of anything over 25 pounds, etc.), I have the distinct feeling that they are not going to think that this counts as a safe activity for a woman who will be 33 weeks and 5 days pregnant at that time.

"But Chris Carrabba is so pretty," I will say. "I have been looking forward to this for so very long, and this is not jumping-and-thrashing-around-type music. This is much more like close-your-eyes-and-feel-the-music-type music."

"I don't care," the doctor will say. "You could trip on the curb walking into the building or someone might spill their beer straight into your water bottle and then you would be endangering the baby." (Seriously, I sometimes think that some of the reasons they give me for not doing things are equally as ridiculous as this.)

This is seriously something I have been wanting to do for over a year now, so I am attempting to formulate a plan to make this happen. Dashboard is a fairly secretive, sporadic band. You never know if/when they are going on tour, but it doesn't happen all that often, and when they do, they don't usually come within 300 miles of Lynchburg. This is only the second time since 2003 that I have heard of them coming within a few hours of here. I have already started compiling a list of reasons for my doctor as to why this should not be an unsafe activity: There is a balcony with tables that we can sit at, which eliminates the danger of incredibly swollen ankles, exhaustion and/or getting bumped by overzealous fans in the standing room crowd. Also, if memory serves me correctly, no one got wasted or violent at the Strokes concert (I think they cut you off after a certain number of drinks to avoid such things), and there is no smoking allowed in the building (it would be foolishness to allow such things - this place is the size of a small chapel - we would all die of asphyxiation if there were even a handful of smokers). So, you see, I could just as easily enjoy the great music from a raised (some might even say protected) environment, in a comfortable chair, with bottled water and no smoke. As far as the noise goes, I've already checked online, and BabyCenter says it's okay to go to a few concerts during your pregnancy - you don't want to go to one every night if you'd like your kid to be born with a functioning auitory system, but a few here and there don't seem to hurt. My only concern is that I will be four hours away from my delivery hospital if anything should happen (though this is not a huge concern for me as I won't even be finished with my 8th month at that time and first babies tend to come late).

Which brings us to the begging portion of today's post: Do any of you have a time machine I can borrow if the shower proves to be immovable? How about a doctor's excuse to persuade my OB nurse that she should not tut and shake her head at me for going on this outing? Perhaps you could just talk some sense into me? Any and all advice is quite welcome as this is beginning to feel like a genuine crisis situation...

Friday, August 17, 2007

High School could be the Mini-Me of the Rest of Society...

Do you know that Superchic[k] song, "High School?" It's a great one. And so true. Especially in my life, apparently. I ask you, why do I attract the people who cannot handle adulthood and all that it implies? Only God could tell you. I seriously think it might just be part of His everlasting plan to teach me patience. Every time I think I've made some great strides in that area, someone or something else comes along and makes me realize that I am being entirely too self-congratulatory, treating my mole hill like Mt. Everest. I recently lost another friend. That makes two this year. This is not a good track record. My favorite part is that both of these friendships were abandoned because I dared to stand up for myself instead of letting these people walk all over me. Apparently, I need to ask forgiveness for being a woman who appreciates her individuality and finds joy in the spirit and personality that God bestowed upon her. I need to make excuses for wanting to be treated like a human being that is capable of thought instead of like a project that must be constantly edited to fit the (often unrealistic) expectations of another person. The only image I wish to conform to is that of Christ. Not of the La Leche League, not of a psychology major, not even of the many upright and blameless women I know. For our righteousness is as filthy rags to Him. What benefit is there in my becoming like another fallible human being? What good does it do me to become like someone else when God created me to be like Him? No good at all. I embrace my individuality. It is a gift from God, and I would be wasting that gift if I tried to shove it away in a corner because some people wish it was less independant, less creative, less like me and more like them.

I apologize, friends, if I am being cryptic. Suffice it to say, I may not sound like it in print, but in truth, I am a very meek person. I do not do confidence well. I tend to think that showing any sign of firmness or backbone is "mean." I often sugarcoat the truth because I am afraid of hurting people's feelings. As a result, I find myself being taken advantage of a lot of the time. I have a personality that seems to say to people, "Please, walk on the grass." Now, I don't know if it is a self-preservation instinct or what, but ever since I found out I am going to be a mom, I have started to become a little braver. This could be an instinct God has given us to keep our children from bullying us into spoiling them. It could just be the hormones. Either way, this has been a year of finally standing up for myself. Unfortunately, the two people I have chosen to finally stand up to are people who apparently cannot handle having friends who aren't malleable as clay, ready to be molded into whatever they want them to be. All I asked for was my individuality. All I wanted was for them to stop bossing me around, trying to make all of my decisions for me. I promise, the way in which I told them this was not mean or condescending or rude. It was telling the truth in love: that God made me who I am for a reason, and I need them to respect that about me. I need them to let me decide how to raise my kid. I need them to let me have other friendships in addition to theirs and a life outside of them. That is all, no more, no less.

"Please, just let me be myself and stop trying to make me you," I said. To which they responded, "You are totally outrageous and ungrateful. Goodbye forever." Now, on the one hand, I mourn the loss of these relationships because I honestly had some really great times with both of these people. I enjoyed their company, and I hate the awkward tension that now permeates the air when we have to occupy the same room. On the other hand, I sigh in relief because for the first time in 23 years I am finally starting to realize that I am free. I am not subject to the people I choose to hang out with. I am only subject to the Lord Jesus Christ and the United States government. That is all. I am free to formula-feed. I am free to do lunch with whomever I choose. I am free to make my own decisions about potty training, pacifier usage and what brand of sippy cup I want to buy (and wash) for my kid.

"That is so obvious," you might say. "Everyone knows that you are entitled to these opinions and many more." Au contraire, friends. Not everyone is aware of this. Some people think that I must make all the same choices as them. Some people are willing to throw away a lifelong friendship just because I tell them that I want to make up my own mind. This is a sad and greivous occassion, but also an opportunity for growth, not just for me but for the apparently-former friend as well. I am praying that God will continue to grow me through this experience, that He will continue to mold me into a person who is loving and kind but who no longer feels the need to sugarcoat the truth to make everyone on the planet happy. I am praying that He will continue to teach me patience, flexibility and confidence, and that He will fill me with wisdom and not let me be guilt-tripped any longer by believing a lie. It is not my responsibility to fix someone else's problems, especially ones that I didn't cause. It is not my fault that some people didn't make any friends after high school and I did. I cannot make everyone happy. And that is okay. Jesus told us that He didn't come to bring peace, but a sword. I think that statement is pretty clear: people's happiness was not priority numero uno for Christ. He understood that Truth is far more important than emotions. Now, this does not give us license to be rude or condescending. It does not constitute permission to spitefully point out people's faults or condemn others. What it does mean is that we don't have to stress ourselves out beyond all reason, tiptoeing around trying to never offend anyone. Jesus was possibly one of the most politically incorrect people of His time. He was also the most compassionate and accepting person of all time. I will do well to follow His lead, showing affection for the outcast, practicing true humility and speaking boldly in truth and in love. This is who He created me to be, and it is disobedience to conform to anything else.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Why I love being pregnant...

  1. You get to eat ... a lot.
  2. People don't dare tell you that you look bad.
  3. Naps are strongly encouraged.
  4. People buy you/the baby lots of things for no real reason other than that everyone loves a baby.
  5. Your husband becomes much more willing to give foot massages.
  6. You finally have an excuse to buy new clothes.
  7. You become hormonal and overly-emotional, which makes you completely irrational, meaning that no one wants to be around you anymore, and even if they do you manage to convince yourself that they don't and that everyone you know is upset with you for some unknown or completely ridiculous perceived slight.

Okay, so maybe that last one isn't an actual perk of pregnancy, but it is something I've been dealing with a lot the last few days. I would now like to formally apologize to everyone I have ever met. Brendan assures me over and over again that you don't all hate me and that I really haven't done anything to make you wish I would go away forever, but I can't seem to shake the feeling that this is exactly the case. (Many of you know what being pregnant is like, so maybe you can understand the hormonal paranoia, guilt and irrationality that I am currently experiencing. If so, I would really appreciate any pointers on how you got through stupid emotional garbage like this as it is no fun at all and is impeding my abilities to think clearly, sleep and work.) If I have said or done something to upset you or anyone you know, please tell me because I am driving myself (and Brendan) crazy trying to figure out how to "make things right" with every single person on the planet. Thankfully, the tiny little rational piece of my brain that is left (and apparently growing smaller by the day), is aware that I am probably just being ridiculous, but it's still hard to ignore the larger, more unstable portion of my cerebrum. For some reason I had thought that the whole "incredibly moody hormone phase" was supposed to be over by this point in the process, but apparently I am wrong. Does anyone out there have any advice on how to beat this raging influx of hormones and become a more cheerful preggo person? I'm just not sure how much more apparently unwarranted crying I (or Brendan or my coworkers, for that matter) can take.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Biblical motherhood: What the heck is that, anyway?

In browsing the internet this morning, I came across a note that one of my Facebook friends had posted on her wall. It was all about how she has been reading The Feminine Mystique and trying to see how its concepts fit into her biblical worldview. Being an avid reader, a quasi-feminist and a Christian myself, I could relate to her dilemma. Many of the comments left on her post were in opposition to her views that women should not feel morally obligated to be stay-at-home moms. Many of these people were pointing out that men are obligated by things such as traditional wedding vows to "provide for their families" which apparently is synonymous with "no woman shall be permitted to bring in more income than her husband." I thought some of you (my non-existant, captive audience) might like to see the comments I left for her, as they represent views that I also feel very strongly about. Erin has got me thinking, and I have decided to buy myself a copy of The Feminine Mystique as well. It may or may not support a biblical worldview, but that is something that I can only truly discern by reading it for myself. There is no rule that says you can't be a Christian and a thinker at the same time. In fact, I like to think that God would rather we actually use the brains He gave us instead of letting them atrophy by jumping on the bandwagon of book burners and blind haters that so many who claim His name tend to do. Anyway, without further ado, my thoughts on biblical motherhood, whatever the heck that may mean in today's society:

Erin, I just want to thank you for being bold enough to post these ideas on a public forum within a community that so often will disagree with what you have to say on these issues. It is refreshing to see someone who shares many of my questions about gender roles and Christianity when I have grown so used to women/girls at LU simply buying into the "men lead, women blindly follow" and "how dare you get a job and not breastfeed" mentality without a second thought. These are questions/issues that I have been seriously grappling with for the past few months as I am due to have my own child in the fall. Thankfully, Brendan agrees with many of my views and is very much okay with me continuing to work outside the home once the baby is born. Then again, this is the same man who has jokingly boasted that I will be his "sugar mama" so he can be a stay-at-home dad because the profession I have chosen to enter could easily bring in six figures a year while he intends to be a youth pastor.

I understand that I have been seriously blessed to have a husband who is so open-minded and, dare I say, progressive, in his ideas about gender roles and biblical submission. However, just because I have support within my home doesn't mean that I am not faced with opposition from without every day. Good friends of mine cannot fathom why I would "abandon" my children to daycare, allowing someone else to "raise" them while I "selfishly and ambitiously" seek to utilize the $50,000+ degree that I have worked my butt off for. For starters, I honestly don't expect the daycare center to raise my kids. That job is for Brendan and I, and it is a job we can still do while both working full-time. Just because I don't spend every waking moment with my child doesn't mean that I will never be able to teach him/her morals, manners and basic guidelines for life.

In fact, in my experience working with youth, many of the kids I have seen who have the most issues are the ones whose mothers hover and refuse to let go. I don't want to be the woman who has no choice but to homeschool her children because they have separation anxiety that makes day school impossible. I would rather have children who understand why it is necessary for them to be independent of me (after all, I won't be around to hold their hands forever). I don't think that utilizing daycare for a few hours a day early in my child's life will nullify any attempts I ever make to raise a morally upright human being that is capable of thinking for him or herself and making good choices. Sadly, many of my Christian brothers and sisters disagree with me, but I can't let them stop me from making my own decisions and choosing to do what I honestly feel is best for my child. Social norms and biblical principles are not synonymous, regardless of what the breastfeeding nazis like to say.

In fact, considering our current financial situation, I would consider myself an unfit mother if I quit my job to stay home with the baby. Love does not put food on the table, and with the added expenses that will naturally come with this child, neither will one income. My husband and I BOTH have a moral, biblical and social obligation to provide for the basic needs of our child, regardless of what "traditional" wedding vows say (and by the way - we didn't actually use the traditional vows, so what do they mean for our relationship?). As a result, I must work to contribute to the provision of food, shelter and clothing for my kid, and I see nothing wrong with that.

But I have rambled on too long. Just know that you aren't alone and that someone else is struggling with these issues in a very real way. I don't think there's a definitive answer to any of our questions in sight just now, but hopefully more and more people will begin to consider this an issue worth studying and debating instead of just blindly following current social norms and judging and mislabeling those of us who dare to think differently.

So those were my thoughts on the issue. If anyone is actually reading this, then by all means, feel free to tell me what you think on the subject. Though I should warn you, I am not looking for an attitude-filled, ad-hominem-based debate or blatant attacks on Christianity in general and probably won't respond to such comments.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

This one's for you, Mom

Hello friends. Having decided that xanga is no longer the coolest of blogging hangouts, I have thought long and hard (i.e. it popped into my head on the 10-minute drive in to work this morning) and decided to abandon my xanga account and move over here with all of you cool people. Please bear with me, as I am not cool, and honestly doubt that anyone will ever read this. Except maybe my mom. If I told my mom I was writing things on the internet, she would be all over that like ugly on a Vera Bradley bag. (Admittedly, I would love to own one of those overpriced, so-ugly-they're-fabulous, diaper-bag-looking purses.) My mom seems to think that I am going to write the Great American Novel. If anyone has any tips on how to do this, please share because I have a feeling that no matter how many times I tell her that fiction is not really my thing, she still can't shake this notion that I am going to be the next Kurt Vonnegut or Mark Twain - albeit less cranky and not male. Ah well. Such is the nature of being a parent. You can never let go of those hopes and dreams you've harbored for your kid since she was six, even when said kid has gone on to become moderately successful in another career. These are the things I have to look forward to one day, now that motherhood is rapidly approaching on the horizon of my future: ceaseless worrying about whether or not the kid has packed a rain coat, constant concern bordering on irrationality, and keeping a deathgrip on the plans I have to live vicariously through my children, even when it has become blatantly obvious to everyone around me that there is no chance in Hades that my kid is going to become the next Chris Carrabba or Andy Warhol. Eh - what can you do? As aforementioned, I think it all comes with the territory. The minute that kid emerges into the delivery room, you lose all sense of rationality and immediately start formulating a plan for how the kid is going to get into Harvard and change the world. But my kid isn't coming for another few months, so I've got some time to think about these things. After all, I wouldn't want to settle for Harvard if Yale or Columbia has better art and music programs ...