Maybe one of these days I will finally stop doing the opposite of what my “better mother” planned to do (i.e. the one who hasn’t been here before and still somehow knew exactly what I would do in this situation). I confess that when I saw people with their kids, sitting at the YMCA for a sibling’s gymnastics practice, the kid listening to their iPod lost in their own world I judged them. They should be talking to their kid. That kid should be paying attention to their sibling, being encouraging. Being in the real world.
I was wrong. I sat on my high horse and felt sure our family would be different until that high horse marched me right into reality and dropped me in a puddle. I have spent every day in the car home from school with Elise, a very crabby 6 year old who takes it all out on everyone within earshot. I have tried letting her pick the music. I have tried being sure to bring a snack. I have tried bringing books for her. I have tried engaging her in one-on-one talks. None of this has had the power to stop her from melting down after school. She is just can’t keep it together.
Finally, I asked her why she was finding it so hard to be calm in the car. Finally meaning in April, the second to last month of the school year (I’m a slow learner). She was so clear in her response, “I’m so tired after being good all day at school I forget that my words hurt people.”
So I got her an iPod shuffle and she listens to it whenever we’re driving. She’s around people all day. She’s going here and there with me all day. She has to be engaged with others all day, whether she’s in the mood or not. So, reality has once again shown me how parenting really is, instead of how I thought it should be. I was wrong again, but at least this time I’m not surprised. And now our car is full of peace. No one screaming at anyone, everyone enjoying their own down time after school. And Elise is recharged enough after a car ride to hop out and enjoy a day at the park with her family, engaged and participating with the real world.
I stand corrected.
I always forget that just because you are my oldest kid, you are still a very young kid. I’m sorry I always expect you to get it right the first time, and always try to get you to do things on your own when you aren’t yet ready. I will try to remember to let you be little. Because, well, you’re little.
I heard Rachel Held Evans on the Q last week talking about her recent book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood. I was very interested in her from the moment she answered the first question. The concept seemed so perfect, and so perfectly in tune with where my thoughts have been the past three or four years. I listened to the whole interview while I did the dishes and Cressida played with Chritmas themed foamies in the kitchen. And I bought the book immediately after the interview, not because of the concept, but because Jian Ghomeshi asked her, “Why not throw the whole thing out and just take the parts that inspire you? Why remain a Christian?” and she answered, “Because I am drawn to the story of Jesus Christ who is the fulfillment of the Old Testament, and he said the all of the Law hinges on these: Love the Lord God with all your mind, soul and strength, and love you neighbor as yourself… So I need to read these texts with the prejudice of love and wrestle with the parts I don’t understand.”
Now I don’t want to pretend that I already had Evans’ concept in my head before I read her book, but I had told my very good friend Jennifer days before I heard the interview that I always default to love when I have a problem with scripture and I fall back on forgiveness when I may have allowed too much acceptance of “sin.” How could I not read this book when she so clearly understood what I’ve been trying to get out of my heart and into the world for quite some time?
I’ve been reading it very quickly. I am not done with it yet, so I’m not ready to share all of my thoughts on it. Though honestly, I’m growing weary of sharing my thoughts on the internet (especially controversial ones) because then everyone gets to just decide what kind of person they think I am. But I will say this, I am so glad that Evans is representing the Christian Feminist position. She is smart, likable, a good researcher, and willing to change her mind. And though I may not be ready to open up a debate forum anytime soon, I am finally willing to come right out and say, I am a Christian Feminist. I am struggling to figure out what that means. And though I struggle, I know for sure that it means I want to actively work to advocate for women no matter what they choose for their lives/families. And I want to live to see the end of the Mommy Wars. That would be a good thing, too.
But here I am… Opening up again. Maybe it is time to be brave… maybe in my next post.