“The Monday after Easter–an Easter wherein we eat a ton of meat and cheese after a Lent of trying (and often failing) at being vegan–should be called ‘Monday of the worship of the Porcelain god,’ or maybe even ‘Pepto Bismol Monday’, not just ‘Bright Monday.'”
I am barely making it in time to post these for “Small Success Thursday,” hosted by Catholicmom.com. However, I didn’t have the time today to figure out how to link up CM for this, but I think the idea’s great–and expresses one of the essentials of our human experience–so I’m going to share anyway.
#1) I rinsed my quinoa.
For those of you unfamiliar with this healthy grain, it probably sounds like I just shared something a little too personal.
After complaining of bitter-tasting quinoa, a friend of mine recommended that I actually try rinsing it, like the directions say.So holding cheese-cloth over a small bowl, I rinsed my quinoa, one third of a cup at time, prior to cooking it. And guess what?
It still tasted bitter.
But the point is that I rinsed it!
PS–Cooking quinoa always makes me think of this song and the line that says, “It’s so good to see you, Quinoa, you’re the protein source I chose. Still it looks as if I’ve seen ya coming out of someone’s nose!”
#2) I figured out what “Fresh Spin” is on my washing machine.
My parents got us a new
rocket ship washer and dryer for all of the gift-giving holidays of this year, and I’m still learning what all the buttons do. Granted, I’ve never been awesome at laundry. For six weeks in my sophomore year of college, I washed my clothes only in fabric softener, thinking it was the same thing as detergent. And I was a dance major who spent all day in sweaty, clingy leotards and tights, so….yeah.
This is pretty much what all those buttons look like to me:
And only six weeks later would I realize that it’s not actually a washing machine but a wireless control panel for a fancy Japanese toilet.
Anyway, I noticed our washing machine staying on and the door staying locked even after the final rinse, and couldn’t figure out what was going on. After a few days of this, I finally caught the machine in action: after a long interval of inactivity, it nonchalantly tumbled the clothes around for a few seconds while a light flashed next to the “Fresh spin” button.
I either accidentally pushed this button several days ago, or this washing machine is so advanced that it noticed my propensity to leave clothes in the washing machine for too long and to then have to rewash them about four times before they ever make it to the dryer.
#3) I figured out what my daughter’s been eating.
Pookie Bear had a couple of diapers containing poop and red threads. Not blood. I did a close examination. They were red threads. There was even a little lint ball. That led to a few days of closely examining everything she touched to try to figure out where these mysterious poo anomalies were coming from.
Then I went over to my mom’s house. One of Pookie Bear’s favorite toys there is an old-but-lovable, naked Raggedy Andy Doll with–yes–red, yarn hair. So I immediately put two and two together when I saw her grab him and start nibbling on his head.
“So THAT’S what she’s been pooping!” I said, which then made me have to explain the issue to my mom, who was super embarrassed.
Whatever, Mom, no harm done, and at least it wasn’t the lawn mushrooms, right? Because what kind of mom doesn’t see her kid eating the mushrooms off the lawn? Right, Mom?
HA! With my luck, I’ll be bringing Pookie Bear to the hospital for the same thing in four years, while my mom laughs.
#4) Pookie Bear has not eaten any mushrooms off of the lawn. Yet.
Dani Ryan over at ScaryMommy.com wrote this brilliant piece about “The Death of Your Sex Life” as a parent. However, a couple of the stages she outlined didn’t really jive with my experience as a practicing Catholic, so I decided to write a version for that kinky part of the population who want to wait until marriage to have sex and who make like hippies and use Natural Family Planning for pregnancy avoidance. I’ve written it from and for the female perspective, but I’m sure that will shed a lot of light (maybe too much light, there should be a dimmer…) for any men out there.
Disclaimer: Obviously this post talks about sex. If you don’t feel like you should be reading it, I trust your judgment to stop right here and go Youtube “babies and puppies” instead. (No, seriously, you need to Youtube that, it’s how I get through everything in life). If you want to read it, by all means, scroll on. But then Youtube “babies and puppies,” because it’s freaking cute.
The Five Stages of Your Sex Life
1. Honeymoon Stage
As a friend of mine once said, “121 more days until I get to have sex, um, I mean, get married.” Yes, the wedding night for the obedient Christian generally indicates that first, awkward, awesome-because-you’re-both-naked but weird-because-you-don’t-know-what-you’re-doing night getting to know each other in the Biblical meaning of the word. Unless you’re practicing NFP and you’re in Phase 2 and trying to avoid pregnancy. Then the wedding night means a game of Scrabble and crazy anticipation for when your chart finally tells you you’re in Phase 3.
2. Plain Old Marriage Stage
Now that you’re married, you’re going to have wild, passionate, Somewhere In Time, crazy sex like every day, (except during Phase 2, again, if you’re avoiding pregnancy, but that will be a piece of cake for good Catholics, right?). And every time is going to be beautiful. You’ll never fart during your marital embrace. You’ll never struggle with how to actually “do it good”. You’ll always orgasm. You’ll never say something stupid or think of your grandparents. Right? Ha!
This is your rookie year. This is when you get to figure it all out and learn the ropes. And it will take months. Several months. But several very fun months.
You may want to take that into consideration before actively trying to move onto the next stage, although many people have gotten pregnant early on and lived to enjoy happy, sex-filled marriages.
3. Pregnancy Stage
Just when you think you’ve figured it all out (or even before you’ve figured it all out), you pee on a stick, and it shows you two blue lines instead of one.
(Or maybe you skipped Stage 2 because you decided to consummate your marriage on your wedding night during Phase 2. More power to you combining Stages 2 and 3!).
Hooray! No more avoiding sex during Phase 2 or having “work” sex during Phase 2, whatever option you were doing (unless you were the lucky, laidback folks who said, “Ah, we’ll just do it when we want and see what happens”). Now you’ll have sex all the time and whenever you want!
Which will be never. Well, okay, we’ll increase that to rarely. While your husband gets excited over that thick, shiny pregnant hair and those bouncy, preggo boobs, you can’t imagine anything you’d rather do less than gyrate any part of your wildly growing torso, especially during the tired, nauseating, first trimester. There’s usually a glorious two or three days during the second trimester that you’re actually excited to get it on, but inevitably your husband will be on a business trip. Come the third trimester, you just won’t be up for the Olympian acrobatics that it takes to navigate an intimate experience with a gigantor belly. But you’ll do it a few times anyway, because you know you might never have sex again after that baby is out (or so it seems).
Let’s not forget the roller coaster of emotions you’re riding, thanks to those wonderful preggo hormones, and how they will make you react–or overreact–to any part of the sexual experience.
There are some rare women out there who actually want to do it more during pregnancy. These are generally the same bitches who never get acne and keep a perfectly clean house and who no one likes.
4) Postpartum Stage
Your doctor tells you that you can’t do the deed for at least 6 weeks (maybe more), and you couldn’t feel more relieved. After my own postpartum check-up, I played with the idea of telling my husband that the doctor told me we’d have to wait another 6 weeks just to buy my sleep-deprived, energy-drained self some more time. Plus, I’m pretty sure the men-folk need some time to recover from the trauma of seeing a small human being distort, tear, and emerge from your once-known-to-be-sexual organ. Then, when you finally decide to “do it”, you realize the doctor was right when he said it might take a while for things to feel normal again. Meanwhile, you stock up on KY.
5) Child-proofing Stage
There are days you wonder if you’ll ever sleep again, let alone have sex again. Thankfully, there’s Grandma’s/Aunty’s/Friend’s house and date night. Things still don’t feel like they used to, and you’re hesitant to take off your bra during the deed lest your boobs (A) hit you in the face or (B) leak all over the place. But you’re getting used to the new circumstances around your horizontal tango. You’re getting used to rushing into the deed because kiddo only naps for half an hour or planning sex for date nights. You’re getting used to foregoing acting on every spontaneous whim. And you feel much more prepared to repeat Stages 3, 4, and 5 all over again with the next kid.
P.S. By that time, Stage 5 will include trying to come up with clever cover-ups to give to your now-older children so they don’t know what you’re up to. My husband and I have decided we’re going to call it “doing our taxes”. Oh, and you will also likely need to be prepared to explain to your child what they just saw when they inevitably walk in on you “doing taxes.”
Even bunnies do their taxes. A lot.
As a Byzantine Catholic, I believe in the concept of ancestral sin, a counterpart to Roman Catholicism’s original sin. Eastern Christian theology teaches that when Adam and Eve first sinned, they were consequently separated from God, who is Life itself, and brought suffering and death into the world. All of humanity experiences the effects–suffering and death–of that first sin, regardless of whether or not we ourselves have sinned. However, we do not share in the guilt of that first sin, as is the case in Western theology’s original sin. Thus, in Eastern theology, Mary, though sinless, would have suffered (and died before her assumption) as a human being.
That’s a big theological introduction to what I mean to point out, which is that I feel like it’s very easy to forget that Mary dealt with normal human plights, especially looking at all the famous portraits of Mary out in the world. I think there are a lot of brilliant works on Mary’s happy, serene, angelic, or piously suffering human moments, but what about the frustrating, frightening, gross, and exasperating moments? Come on. She was a mom. And let’s not forget that Jesus was human as well. He might not have sinned, but he definitely spit up, pooped, cried, and teethed. If I ever find the time (or the skills) to paint someday, I’d dedicate my works solely to the following moments:
- Elizabeth holding back Mary’s hair while she pregnant pukes her guts out.
- Joseph holding back Mary’s hair while she pregnant pukes her guts out.
- Mary laying down exhausted in a dirty house.
- Mary wincing in pain as she nurses Jesus for one of the first times.
- Mary screaming in agony as she nurses a teething baby Jesus.
- Mary cleaning a poop explosion off of her wall.
- Mary wiping the spit up out of Joseph’s beard.
- Mary and Joseph laughing watching baby Jesus eat his first solid foods.
(Not really suffering, but I’d like to see it nonetheless).
- Mary chasing naked toddler Jesus with his clothes. (My friend Charlene actually already did a great stick-figure drawing of this here).
- Mary giving young, crying Jesus a big mom hug
I’m sure there are plenty more possible works for my avant garde series. The point is I think it’s easy to get lost in a misconstruction of the image of the Theotokos praised in hymns and to believe on some level that she who is “more honorable than the cherubim” was something other than human. But she wasn’t an angel or a goddess. She was a very human wife and mother who experienced many of the same joys and frustrations that all of us wives and mothers experience. Knowing that helps me to have a better relationship with her, especially when I’m screaming in agony because my daughter has decided she is a piranha and my nipples are her prey.
“Is that poop on my thumb? Yes. That’s definitely poop. On my thumb.”
I think there’s a very human desire to want to fight for something. But sometimes we go over the top.
Ever since I entered the age of having friends who are moms (and now being a mom myself), I see at least one blog or online article a week on Facebook or elsewhere defending breast-feeding in public against the wicked nay-sayers. There’s the most recent Buzzfeed with captions aimed to satirize anti-breast-feeders, people on social media commenting on the Giselle picture, or that spoken word piece, to name a few.
Prior to being bombarded with these breastfeeding crusades, I remember living a life where seeing breastfeeding in public places was normal enough to elicit neither offense nor praise from myself or those around me. I saw the occasional fellow mom give some empathetic remark about either the joys or tough parts of breast-feeding, or maybe asking the feeding mom how she was doing, but that’s about it. I saw plenty of boobs in babies’ mouths in church–a few of them in paintings of Mary and Jesus–and yes, this was two popes before Francis. (Will somebody throw some ice on the mainstream media? They seem to have been shocked by that statement). The world I lived in had very, very, very few nay-sayers and rude, judgmental comments to breastfeeding in public.
A couple years or so of seeing the breastfeeding crusade blogs and articles had me second-guessing my boob-friendly little world when I had my baby. Rather than having the empowering effect that I think they intended, the fact that they existed and were written with such gusto and frequency convinced me that there were a lot more judgmental people out there than I originally thought.
It wasn’t some rude comments or dirty looks from passerby that made me nervous about public breastfeeding in those first couple months, because those never happened. I only continued to experience the same encouraging responses I had seen in my youth. It was the public breastfeeding crusades plastered all over my Facebook homepage that made me cower and nervously check to make sure my boob was totally covered whenever someone walked by. It was those blogs and articles that made me waste too much time angrily thinking of witty retorts for the people in church when I decided to forgo the blanket coverage that was so uncomfortable for my daughter. (Granted, I still cover part of my milk jugs with a scarf or part of the Moby wrap, but total flashing, courtesy of my daughter’s active arms, still happens).
I never got to use any witty retorts. The “worst” comment made to me was when I attended my mom’s church, and she mentioned some of the older people there might be offended if I didn’t go to the cry room (the room designated in some Catholic churches for parents and kiddos who need a space to be noisy or playful). I told her that Pope Francis said breastfeeding out in the open was okay, and so those old people would just have to get used to it. Know what my mom said?
Just kidding. All she said was, “Okay. Whatever works best for you two.”
I’ve breast-fed with incomplete coverage in many, many a location, and have never once received a rude comment. Many friends have voiced the same experience. That could definitely just be where I live, but I’m going to a propose a theory: I think the hype around public breastfeeding and those who judge it is excessive and perpetuates a fear and offense that isn’t always merited as well as just more and more articles crusading against what was probably a singular or even miss-perceived incident (“Can you believe she offered me a private room to use?!”). I understand some women may have a different experience than mine and have heard a lot of rude comments and judgmental people, but I’m not sure the rate of those incidences matches the hype that’s out there. I understand the intent of some of these articles might be to encourage and empower, but I don’t think that’s always the effect.
If we could do something better, I’d say we should focus on the benefits of breastfeeding as well as teaching the more modesty-prone moms various options for coverage so that they can find something that makes them feel both comfortable and confident. If anything needs to be said about the possibility of people taking offense, I think it’s this:
(1) 99% of the people don’t care or even see that a part of your boob is on display, and they’re just happy to know a baby is quiet and content.
(2) Don’t read into comments that don’t explicitly say, “I am offended that you are breastfeeding.”
(3) The small amount of judgement that does happen isn’t worth your time or worry. Know that it could happen and leave it at that. Let the offended person waste time worrying about it. You have a beautiful baby to attend to and lots of wonderful, couldn’t-care-less-that-you’re-boob-is-showing people to talk to.
…I’m so over getting 3 to 5 hours of sleep in a twelve hour shift.
And I’m so over a God who promises to answer persistent prayers and then doesn’t.
All I want is for her to start sleeping better. I can deal with a whiny, needy baby all day. I can half-way deal with not being able to eat any kind of dairy (which is in everything, it feels like) because she’s allergic. I can half-way deal with the fact that she’s going to need surgery in the next few months. And I’m sure there are other moms out there going through worse who only see their child as God’s greatest miracle.
But I am not other moms, and I hate being a parent today, and my faith is utterly shaken and hanging by a thread. The only other time in my life that feels comparable is when my brother committed suicide. Seriously, parenting should not feel comparable to dealing with the sudden death of a loved one.
But today, and on many other occasions, it has felt that way. Lost. Irritable. Unable to cope. And angry at God for not fixing something he should have fixed already.
Why is sleep that important to me? I don’t know. I really don’t know. I feel like a better person wouldn’t feel this way.
But I am not that better person, and this whole not getting sleep thing feels like torture.
Just like after my brother died, people keep saying, “It will get better,” and I have a hard time believing them.
Just like with grief, it really does get better in small moments. But they are stuck in between so many moments like this.
Maybe this is the big PD: postpartum depression. But I feel like pills and a counselor are the expensive alternative to what would really be my saving grace: sleep.
Because like I said, I really can deal with the other stuff. I’ve made my peace with all the other parenting woes. Sleep-deprivation must just be my achilles heel.