Archive for August, 2009

Mama’s Big Adventure

Carla: For the last few weeks, I’ve had a thing roiling around in my head. Actually, it’s a few things that seem to have coalesced into one thing that I think might be worth sharing with the Revoution.

For starters, I read this book (which I’ve mentioned before) in which the author points out that all the great epic adventures in literature belong to men–the Illiad, the Odyssey, Paul Bunyan. Her book is her effort–and it’s a good one–to relate the grand adventure that is motherhoood. Instead of facing the Gorgons or resisting the Sirens, mothers face down head lice and tantrums while resisting the urge to check out and  hit the road.

Item two was the movie “Up,” which you need to see if you haven’t already. In a nutshell, Karl is an old man whose wife, Ellie has died. Ellie and Karl had big dreams of grand adventure, but life kept getting in the way of their plans. He carries a deep regret that they were never able to see the world and he is determined to honor her memory by making the epic journey they could never afford. Spoiler alert! Once Karl reaches his destination, he discovers that for Ellie, their simple life together was the greatest adventure of all. Considering all that we’ve been talking about here at the Rev for all these months, this scene hit me like a house dropping out of the sky.

Item three was the song “Time Stand Still” by Rush. That’s right, Rush. If you haven’t heard it, well you’re probably under 30 for one thing, but it’s worth the 99 cents it will cost you to download it from iTunes. I’ve heard the song a billion times and I’ve always liked it. But a few week ago, it came on while our family was driving and both my husband and I were struck by how quickly our kids are growing up and how fast they are changing. By the time Geddy Lee started singing, “Freeze this moment a little bit longer, make each sensation a little bit stronger,” we were both blubbering.

In combination, these experiences are helping me reframe motherhood–and really my life in general. I am trying to see it as both something bigger than the daily slog of making food and folding clothes, and something more simple and profound than I ever imagined.

One of my big beefs with the myths of motherhood is that they make it about everything it isn’t. They make motherhood about clean houses and well-behaved children. They make it about having the answers and lacking all doubts.

But this epic adventure isn’t about knowing where we end up. It’s certainly not about having a clear map set out. It’s about something so much deeper. It’s about sharing life with these people–my family, my friends, my neighbors–and truly loving them. There really is no greater adventure than navigating human relationships. There are no higher highs and no lower lows. This is where life happens, in sharing the ups and downs of existence with other people. An incredible trip to South America might be awesome in its own right, but its the sharing of that adventure–the stories and pictures and memories passed on to the people we love–that makes it meaningful.

As I walked out of the movie with my kids in tow, I looked at them and thought “They are my adventure.” Mind you they aren’t the only one, but being their mother and watching them become the people they were created to be is an astonishing journey, one I never want to take for granted.

Caryn: Carla, this is great. Good stuff. Motherhood is an adventure. One I’m thrilled to be on. One that terrifies me. Grosses me out. Leaves me exhausted and quite lost. But adventures make me smile and make me feel strong and brave and purposeful (ahem). They excite me. So, thanks for this picture of motherhood. Because, honestly, over these past few weeks of summer, I started to see it as a deep pit of quicksand…..

Carla: In “Up”, Karl needs Russell, the neighbor kid, to literally throw him a rope (well, a garden hose) so they can survive their adventure. So here’s a rope my friend.

Worrying about Worry

Carla: First an official announcement: We are lice-free and have been for more than a week. I am declaring us done!!!! We nailed those suckers fast and never heard from them again.

Second, lice have now taken the top spot on my “things I hate about motherhood” list. The former champ has moved into second place. Want to know what it is? Alright I’ll tell you. I hate the paranoia. I hate how worried I am all the time, the dull anxiety that flits around every day and every situation. I used to be reasonably carefree and now I live with this vague sense of dread. And I hate it.

When I first became a mother, I was nearly paralyzed by the worry. I didn’t know how I would manage to leave the house, drive a car, leave my child with a sitter. And while I have obviously done all of those things, I am never completely at ease.

The worst part of paranoia is the dreams. I mean, even in sleep I can’t get away from my own worrying brain. A couple of night’s ago I dreamed my sweet boy was in a boat on an icy lake. He fell in (of course) and I jumped in to save him, struggling to hold on to him while swimming through the frigid water to get us both to shore alive. I hate those dreams.

And before anyone feels the need to tell me I just need to trust God, please know that I do. I really do. I believe that God will hold me up should anything actually happen to one of my children. I believe (perhaps a bit less) that God will sustain my children should something happen to me. But that doesn’t stop the worry, the fear, the awful sense of dread. So tell me my sisters (and Steve), what helps you deal with the paranoia of motherhood?

Caryn: Congrats on the delousing at your house(ing)!

I have to confess: As a mom, I’m not a huge worrier. Doesn’t plague me. It’s NOT because I trust God so much because I do worry about other areas of our life. Like finances. (Years ago, I prayed that God would help me “connect” with the “give us this day our daily bread” part of the Lord’s Prayer and, OF COURSE, that’s the one prayer that God decides to wriggle his nose and bob his head for me on. Thanks, Jesus. Love you too.)

But as a mom, I don’t, for example, panic when they’re away from me. Take last week: my in-laws took my kids to the Wisconsin State Fair (the very same one the hero mayor of Milwaukee got clubbed at) for the day (glorious!). Someone asked me if that “worried” me having them trapsing around some weird fair in another state without me. Honestly, it hadn’t even occurred to me to be worried. Not to say I didn’t shoot up a couple prayers for their safe travel and that they’d have fun, but I didn’t worry. I know they’re in good hands with my in-laws, etc.

But now that I’m thinking about this, I realize that as they’ve gotten older, new worries have bubbled up. Mostly to do with the ways I’m messing with their lives. Like when my daughter tells me she wants to live in one of those “shiny” houses, I realize that maybe lack of housekeeping skills will indeed ruin her life. Or when my son spends these last few weeks non-stop terrorizing his sister (the shiny one), I worry that this is how seriel killers start out……

But for me, the worrying isn’t a constant. I have to think about it. And now that I’m thinking about it, I’m worried about that.

Carla: Maybe only good mothers worry.

I was thinking more about this, how really this is a control issue for me. The stuff I worry about is so random, so out of my hands, that it drives me crazy. I take no comfort in knowing that the vast majority of child abductions are done by people known to the child. Sometimes a stranger grabs a kid and in my mind, there’s nothing to say that won’t be my kid. Same with freak accidents and illnesses and boats drifting in icy lakes. I want so much to keep my babies safe and I get all paranoid when I think about all the ways I can’t.

I suppose it’s part of the process of letting kids grow up–realizing that you don’t have control over everything and that something awful might very well happen to them. I would love to know how other parents get to that place because I’m sick of having this knot in my gut all the time.

Still Jealous?

Carla: So last week I was away from my family for about 30 hours. I went to my parents’ house for a little gathering of my beloved aunties and a few girls cousins, then spent the next morning and part of the afternoon sitting by the lake, soaking up the sun, reading a book, and generally reveling in being alone. I mentioned this on Facebook and Caryn of course flipped me the virtual bird. Can’t say I blame her. I would have done the same thing.

However, I returned home to a situation that more than makes up for my brief holiday. Misery, thy name is Head Lice. That’s right. Lice.

In 12 years of parenthood, this is our first bout of head lice and I pray with every ounce of faith I have that it is our last. If you’ve had it, you know that it perhaps the greatest bane of motherhood.

It isn’t even the ick factor that makes lice such a pain in the patootie. It’s the work. I have spent–and I’m not exaggerating here–a minimum of 4 hours a day hunched over my children, picking through their hair one strand at a time to remove nits. We’ve washed–again, no exaggeration–at least 20 loads of laundry in the last few days. And I’m still itchy.

While I think we are lice-free (Dear God please let us be lice free!), it will take me at least two months to feel like we have truly recovered. In my new favorite book, The Passion of the Hausfrau, author Nicole Chaison compares the battle of the Head Lice to one of the epic battles fought by the likes of Ulysses or Hercules. But honestly, I’ll take a run in with Harpies over lice any day. The kids can’t play with anyone, I feel like the whole house is a potential site of re-infestation, and we can’t even hug each other without suspicion.

I have no greater point here. However, if in two weeks we are still lice-less, I will share my then-foolproof method for irradicating lice in less than a week.

I hope you’re happy Caryn.

Caryn: Well, I’m just amazed that my “pox on your house” curse works from this far away! Normally, I’m only able to shoot it within the Chicagoland area!

Seriously, though, I am both sorry and horrified that this happened (not to mention wondering if I still do want to stay at your house during Christianity21 as we had once discussed….). And I totally hear you on the gross factor not being the biggest issues—but the added work.

Except for the 30-hour breaks that some of us get every now and again, I think most of our lives are pretty tightly strung. Not that we’re overly scheduled with park district activities or back-to-back playdates, but that for things to happen as they need to (dishes to get washed, laundry put away, deadlines met, etc.) we can’t have things happen that require 4 hours of literal nit-picking.

I know from a bit of experience this weekend alone—I could tell you about the huge bunny cage scrub this weekend that resulted from finding something unpleasant flying around inside. But we’ve had enough bug-talk for one post.

Anyway, I’m sorry this happened, Carla. And no, I’m not happy. Especially for your kids. Especially for you. Hope you stay lice-free and get a bit of your life back.

Maybe should we find out what are some of the other things of mommyhood that throw the Rev-ers off track and mess with their lives a bit? Make them crazier than usual?

Carla: I’ve gotten to the point where if something involves more than one step, it’s not going to happen. My eldest needs to go to the orthodontist for a pre-braces assessment. No big whoop. But making that appointment involves me finding the reminder card and/or trying to remember the name of the orthodontist and then looking up a phone number and then making the call and then looking at the calendar and thinking through which day a month from now will work best for us knowing full well I will end up having to move the appointment anyway because some immovable event that I don’t know about yet will fall on that same day. And that’s just more hassle than I have mental space for.

Thankfully I have plenty of days when neither vomit nor a flooded basement nor a lost dog nor any combination thereof can derail me. But other days the simple request for a play date feels like it will put me far, far beyond the edge. This time the lice hit us during a good run, but if those suckers come back in January, they have a pretty good chance of winning.

Christianity 21: The Revolution Live!

Carla: This October 9-11, I’m going to be joining 20 other female presenters at conference called Christianity 21. Here’s the skinny: This is not a women’s conference. It is a conference about the future of the church–where we are going as we moving further into the 21st century. The women who are speaking will talk about everything from art to writing to heavy-hitting theology. Go take a look at the presenters and tell me you wouldn’t want to spend a weekend with these astonishing women (including Rev Mommies Makeesha and Julie) This is an extraordinary event in which women will give voice to what we believe the church needs to be and do to embody the Gospel in this place and time. I mean seriously, it’s going to be phenomenal!

As if that weren’t enough, Caryn and I are hosting a little gathering to talk about the Mommy Revolution, and we’d love to have you join us. We’ll give you more info on date and time as we get closer to October.

Caryn: I’m getting ridiculously excited about this. I have been, actually, since I first saw the “thing” about it a few months back. Then, I got even more excited when Carla said she’d consider me the 22nd most important voice of Christianity in the 21st Century. And, again, when we decided to roll the Rev live up there.

It’s going to be awesome. You don’t want to miss this. Especially if you happen to not be of the emerging persuasion. Maybe even a John Calvin fan. Maybe you don’t vote Democratic. Actually, PLEASE come if you’re like this because God knows I’m going to get lonely up there otherwise. (Am I wrong, Carla?) But we’ll all be one in Jesus and/or we’ll all be one in our Mommy Revolution-ish-ness.

To register for this bit of awesomeness, click here and hit the big Register button. Be sure to enter the promo code “MomRev” when you do! Then we’ll know you’re coming.

Carla: We emerging types aren’t all democrats–there are at least a few independents in the mix. Seriously, this event is open to all political and theological perspectives. It will be a time of conversation and hopefullness and new ideas about how we can all move into the future together as brothers and sisters in Christ. If you need childcare, there will be childcare. If you want to meet with a spiritual director, there will be spiritual direction. If you want to meet Phyllis Tickle, there will be Phyllis Tickle. Really, you can’t go wrong.