Tuesday, September 23, 2014

My favorite person

I have a friend about to have a baby. AT HOME. Like, in a pool. I sort of think she is a crazy person.

Me: Hospital. Drugs. Tubes. More drugs. 87 people traipsing in and out of my room every 11 minutes.

Her: Pool. No drugs. Midwife. Husband. That's it.


She and I obviously have a complete opposite mindset about birthing. Her favorite person through her birthing experience is probably her patient, soothing midwife who gives her the confidence and strength to make it to the finish line. Or maybe her husband is her favorite (or at least a close second). My favorite person during labor and delivery? Yes, I adore my nurses, and yes, my husband is an excellent coach. I also greatly appreciate my OB who usually appears for the last few minutes and endures my screaming and thrashing about. But my FAVORITE person is the epidural fairy. LOVE me some epidurals.

So yes, there is a huge range of "birth plans" women can choose or attempt to choose because sometimes things don't go as planned. So when I heard about her pool party birth, I think my reaction was something like "Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat??" And although I felt confusion about her choice and I worried for her, do you know what I also felt?

Proud of her. For doing HER thing HER way with HER body and HER baby.

Know who else I am proud of?

Myself. For doing MY thing MY way with MY body and MY baby.

And to the mom pushed into an unexpected c-section: I am proud of you and I admire you. That must have been scary, but you did it.

To the mom with the planned c-section? I applaud you for doing what YOU think is best.

To the mom who had a VBAC: I applaud you for doing what YOU think is best.

To the mom who labored at home until the last minute and pushed that baby out with 4 minutes to spare at the hospital: Holy crap, I admire you. I hope you are proud of yourself. You are incredible.

To the mom who could not conceive naturally and used fertility treatments: I admire your courage.

To the mom who could not have children and chose to adopt: I admire your strength. I am in awe of you.

To the mom who CAN have children and still chose to adopt: Thank you. You are truly amazing.

To the mom with 1 kid: You are doing an awesome job.

To the mom with 4 kids under 5: You are an inspiration. Have an extra glass of wine tonight.

To the newly pregnant first-time mom: You got this. Your body will know what to do.

To the post-partum mom who still looks pregnant: You look beautiful when you are staring at that little baby.

And to my friend about to birth a baby in a pool in her living room: You are an incredible mama!

To the epidural fairy: I love you.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A rant from an angry Christian liberal

By chance, I live in a very conservative, Christian state in the Midwest. I am a Christian, but I am not too conservative. I am what many call a "Christian liberal." (I can sense the eye rolls from some of you already.) Being more liberally-minded, while also a Christian, I am often caught between two worlds. I believe in a few basic tenets that I strive to impart unto my children: Jesus loved us. Jesus died for us. We should try really really hard to be like Jesus as best we can. For my kids (5 and under), that pretty much sums up our Christian philosophy. However, it is not this simple, and we do have to navigate through some choppy waters with our kids.

Last week, my 3-year old daughter asked, "Can girls marry girls and boys marry boys?" I paused for about 3 seconds... and then said, "Yes. People can marry any person they love." She seemed very content with my answer, even running to tell her older brother: "Girls can marry girls and boys can marry boys!" to which he responded, "Ok, cool" and returned to his Legos.

For us, the homosexuality debate within a Christian household, a Christian culture, is a personal issue. I don't feel overly inspired to argue my points into the ground. For those of who think homosexuality is a sin and feel that gay people should not be allowed to marry, I disagree with you. However, if you support your beliefs with biblical text and / or you appear to be a remotely kind, loving human being who just feels differently than I do, I don't disrespect you. I am saddened by this mindset because I do believe it discriminates against men and women who live and work alongside us, but I do actually see your side. I just don't agree. It is pretty black and white.

There was another conservative Christian argument I heard the other day, however, that I do not respect. I am fired up. I am ready to voice my very frustrated and frankly bewildered response. I was experiencing the very rare opportunity of driving alone in my car -- no kids -- while doing errands. Flipping through the radio, I heard a pastor preaching, and for some reason, felt compelled to stop and listen. I actually do listen to conservative Christian radio on occasion, mostly to really try to hear the other side. I want to educate myself and feel strong in my convictions about what I believe and what philosophies I am passing on to my children. So sometimes I do stop and listen to pastors who, I know, are going to ruffle my feathers and make blanket statements about Christianity that I think are flat wrong. But it is good to listen anyway.

This well-known pastor was from California, and started with his "homosexuality is a sin and is going to cause the demise of the human race" speech, which really did not present any new thoughts or ideas I had not heard before. But it was his next sermon that floored me. He asserted that women, if truly Christian and following the teachings of the Bible, should marry, obey their husbands, and stay in the home tending to their children. That is all they should do. That is all they were meant to do.

Well, as a woman, and a Christian, a CHRISTIAN WOMAN, who IS married AND a stay-at-home mom by choice, I felt a long list of emotions hearing this. First, I was offended at the value he was placing on all women. Nothing gets my face redder than hearing that women should "obey" their husbands. My husband I have a mutual level of respect, admiration, tolerance, patience, and support for each other. I don't "obey" him anymore than he "obeys" me because, frankly, we are not children. Or puppies. Also, the idea that ALL women should serve in this role and only this role is not only oppressive, but it honestly does not make any sense. So, Pastor, I have some response questions for you.

In your ideal "biblical" world, where NO women work outside of the home, how does society function? I don't have to guess -- I am pretty confident that you believe there should be no female police officers, doctors, lawyers, construction workers, soldiers, etc., so I will skip that debate. But, in your utopia, are there only men ringing up our groceries? Are there only male nurses caring for our children? Or the mothers bearing the children? Are there only male teachers? Are there only men working in offices or banks, managing crucial paperwork and transactions? I am honestly baffled by this concept. How does your visionary society function? Everywhere I go, there are women. Important women. Working.

And then the momma bear -- mother of a daughter -- comes raging out. You are passionately telling girls that their ONLY option, if they are true to Christ, is to get married, have babies, and not work. That girl who wants to be a nurse and care for sick babies. That girl who wants to teach, to inspire, to reach out and save the child ready to give up on life by giving him a book, touching his shoulder, and telling him he is worth something. That girl who wants to start a non-profit organization that will bring clean water and medicine to families -- CHRISTIAN families around the world. No, you are saying to them. You aren't meant for that. Our world does not need women doing wasteful non-Christlike things like saving people, teaching people, helping people. Heavens, no. Jesus would NOT approve of that work.

I try to see your perspective. Has having my children brought me closer to God? Yes. It is a miracle. All three of them are miracles, gifts from God, for which I am grateful. And I am thankful that I was granted the choice of whether to work or stay home with them. And I believe I made the right choice for my family. But there are devout, good Christian mothers who work and there are abusive, cruel mothers who don't. I ask you to simply look around your world as you walk through each day and notice all of the women in every building you enter, on every street you pass by, in every facet of our society. Excuse the cliche, Pastor, but women -- mothers -- CHRISTIAN wives and mothers -- are making the world go round.

Being a stay at home mom does not define how "good" of a Christian a woman is. Just as being a Christian does not define how "good" of a mother a woman is. Honestly, Pastor, when I hear these impassioned sermons, I have a hard time with the fact that we claim to follow the same Jesus.

My God loves my daughter and he sent Jesus down her for her. And when she is grown, if she works as an attorney like her daddy, he will love her. But if she quits the workforce and stays home with her kids, he will love her. And no sermon of yours is going to take that choice away from her.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Which mom are you at drop-off?

Now that I am several years into being a "school mom," I have observed that there are several categories (and subcategories) of moms who drop their kids off at school.

Category 1: The Working Mom

I envy her but I don't envy her. I envy how put together she looks in her Ann Taylor clothes. I envy that her hair is actually blow-dried. I don't envy that I know she has been up since 4:30 am. And not like I have often been "up" since 4:30 am, with a screaming teething baby, half asleep in the rocking chair with baby snoozing on my chest, a small spittle of drool dripping down my chin. I mean that mom has been UP since 4:30. Running around, getting herself ready, her kids ready, hopefully not also her husband ready. But she looks amazing and I... do not.

Categories 2 and 3 require, in my opinion, subcategories.

Category 2(a): The Gym Mom

This mom clearly goes directly to the gym after drop-off. EVERY SINGLE DAY. How do I know this? Because she is dressed in $85 Lululemon pants and matching work-out tank (also made of some sort of fancy lycra... something). Also, she is in phenomenal shape. She rocks those Lululemons and with good reason.

Although I have often dropped my kids off in work-out attire, I am in no position to join category 2(a). Hence, the need for category 2(b).

Category 2(b): The Other "Gym" Mom

This mom is making an effort. She is wearing her work-out clothes because she knows that the chances are greater that she WILL actually work out today if she starts the day dressed for exercise. However, she wears cotton running shorts that she has had since college. She graduated 12 years ago. She also wears a cotton top of some sort. It may be an old tank top from Walmart. It is likely stained. It may be the t-shirt she received as an "award" for running that 5k... that time. She does not own anything with a Lululemon label, nor can she pronounce that word. Mostly this is because she cannot justify buying new gym clothes. Her half-assed work out attempts 1) have not earned her a spandex-conducive backside and 2) she would rather spend that money on a big steak and bottle of wine at a kid-free restaurant with her hubs or girlfriends. But, she knows the importance of exercise, wants to exercise, and often(ish) DOES exercise. So bleached cotton running shorts circa 1998 it is.

Category 3(a): The Stay-at-Home-Mom Who Truly Cares What She Looks Like. For Real.

This mom, like the working mom, does her hair in the morning and wears jewelry and pretty scarves. Her jeans do not have holes in the knees. She must be going somewhere amazing after drop-off. No way is she going back home to scrub toilets with Kelly and Michael on in the background. Also, she is carrying Starbucks. She had time (after getting herself ready) to get Starbucks on the way to school. On the off chance that she did not have time to get it, she is going there next and then will continue on to other very cool places. I am this mom on average 1-2 times per month. I do enjoy being this mom. My children look at me aghast at how put together I am. The other day (when I was this mom), I was putting mascara on. My children were terrified and worried that I was going to pull my eyelids off. This is the effect of having a mommy who does not wear makeup.

Category 3(b): The Stay-at-Home-Mom Who Cares What She Looks Like the Bare Minimum Amount

This mom's goal is to not embarrass her children at drop off. 50% of the time she is showered. 100% of the time her hair is in a ponytail. 0% of the time she is wearing makeup. 30% of the time she is wearing the exact same outfit as she did yesterday because it did not get that dirty, it fits, and it was draped over the side of the pack and play in her bedroom. I am this mom the other 29 days of the month.

Category 3(c). The Stay-at-Home-Mom who DOES NOT GIVE A SHIT. And Owns It.

I am partly sad for her, partly scared of her, and partly very envious of her. She probably IS going home to scrub toilets with Kelly and Michael and knows it.

Whatever mom you are, I hope you are comfortable in your skin. I cannot speak for all of the moms out there, but I can say that the moms I see at drop-off truly love their kids. All of them. And their kids get smooches (despite Mommy's coffee breath) and hugs and love their mommies right back. And that's a good thing.