Browsing Audrey

This C. S. Lewis Quote Saved My Parenting Sanity

March2

When Zach was fairly new, I was miserable. Not seriously, not dangerously, just kind of…normally…miserable. It’s hard. Babies are hard. And, look, I had the easiest pregnancies, births, and babies in the world, and it was too, too much. I can’t even imagine if I’d had difficulties on top of the normal.

Babies are all the time. If you do get a break, it’s not relaxing, because you know at any second you could be needed again. Finally ready for Netflix at the end of the night? Too bad. Go do another 45 minutes upstairs. Exhausted beyond measure? Don’t go to bed, because then tomorrow will come ALL THE SOONER. Did you just spend a week so sad that every time you smiled at your baby you were faking it? BAD MOM YOU DIDN’T CHERISH EVERY MOMENT.

Ahem. Where was I? I remember one night in particular upstairs, nursing Zach to sleep, just in the middle of the Hard of It All. And I thought, everyone’s right. I’ll be much happier if I stop having kids. These two will get older and I can do more for me as soon as that happens. I can relax. I can have fun. I can write, and teach, and act, or whatever it is I used to do when I was a person. I matter too. I should be happy.

And then C. S. Lewis’ voice popped into my head. Or rather Anthony Hopkins, because it was the version of Lewis from the movie Shadowlands. And he said, “I don’t think God particularly wants us to be happy. I think he wants us to love, and be loved.”

What, dude?

I mean, that’s kind of dicky, God doesn’t care if we’re happy. I mean, Follow Your Bliss, right? Live Your Dreams.

But the weird thing was, as soon as this quote popped into my head, I felt free. I could breathe. I didn’t have to feel happy this minute. I didn’t have to feel happy this week. Having a hard time didn’t prove I was living the wrong life. In fact, I’d been thinking about “happy” all wrong. I’d been thinking, if only life were easier, I’d be happy. But my life had been easier. Before I had kids. Before I married Andrew. But I wasn’t happier. I wouldn’t choose that life over the one I have now for anything in the world.

Babies are hard.

Everything worth doing is hard.

“I think he wants us to love, and be loved.” When God talks about “love,” he’s not talking about the warm fuzzies you have for someone that make you feel good. He’s talking about all those little (and big) sacrifices you make for the good of someone else.

Look, I’m not advocating being a living martyr and never doing anything for yourself. If I wasn’t alone at a coffee shop right now, people would be dead. Audrey spent the morning at the top of the stairs, crying, “I WANT TO COME DOWNSTAIRS!” while I yelled back, “THEN WHY AREN’T YOU????” Over and over again.

Oh, man, this. So many days.

Yet something happened a couple of weeks ago that surprised me. I was in the middle of some general insanity I can’t even remember, small people yelling at me, trashing the house, who knows. And I started to pray. This isn’t normal; I rarely think to do something so constructive. And I was ready to beg God for the calm and peace to not duct tape my children to the walls. But that’s not what came out. Instead I heard myself blurting out weepy thanks for my kids, and the chance to live this beautiful life with them and my husband, and that if I could have anything in the world, it would be more of this sacred insanity.

Screw easy. Let’s do love.

 

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Faith the Third

January13

Here are Part One and Part Two of this tale.

So, Jesus and everything: I believed it, but couldn’t believe I believed it. I knew how I looked at people like me and I couldn’t stop judging myself, while also trying to explain myself to myself. I’m not that kind of Christian, I’d say to the imaginary people looking at me like I was an idiot. I’m so enlightened. No, I don’t believe all that stuff those other guys do. Shoooooot.

So I had a kid. Kids force you to examine your beliefs. On unbeliefs. Even the agnostics and atheists have to figure out what they’re going to say to their kids, and I don’t think anyone gets off easy. So you have to leave the part of you that lets the Big Questions slide with a meh and figure out what you’re going to say. Oh, my. You think religious concepts can be hard to grasp? Try explaining them to a two-year-old. Let me tell you, my whole faith structure would come crashing down every time Audrey asked me something like, “Jesus come play blocks with me?” Shiiiit. I mean, well, that’s actually adorable and I’m glad she cares. But how do you explain this? I felt like a fraud.

(Sometimes when Christianity seems absurd, I think about the last documentary I watched where some physicist tries to explain current ideas about the world, and then nothing about God seems weird. In fact, it seems to fit.)

I was getting restless in my church. I got so much out of it, brain-wise, but I was missing some feels. I was surprised to find I most looked forward to Ash Wednesday every year, of all things, because the service had ritual and liturgy and…I don’t know, gravitas? Sunday services, while beautiful, had started to feel like attending a good concert and self-help lecture. It was great, but it didn’t feel like worship.

Well, we Protestants, when we don’t fit perfectly in a faith community, we often pick another one. We have roughly 40,000 denominations to pick from, so we can pretty easily find a church with the beliefs that don’t challenge us, or with the prettiest music, or with the best doughnuts. We can be comfortable.

I started having an emotional hankering for Catholicism. Ritual. Physical worship. Our bodies and souls are connected, but we sometimes forget that. So I’m an actor, and a director once told me I pretty much suck for the majority of the rehearsal period, but he stopped worrying about it because I come through by the time we perform. That’s me spiritually in a nutshell. It’s hard for me to get somewhere mentally all under my own steam. Put me in a costume, on a set, and it clicks.

And then theologically: well, look, I couldn’t buy all of Catholic belief or anything, but I recognized the value in having some kind of standard. How do I grow when the message I hear is I’m fine just as I am? What do I aim for? Again, not that I could really get behind Catholic teaching, but you know, maybe I could come for the candles and sort of just tolerate the hard teachings. I mean, I’ve seen the polls. Don’t most Catholics do that anyway?

By the time I was contemplating this, I was pregnant with Zachary and we had started attending a different service at our church. I was still feeling wishy-washy about Catholicism but I started reading a little. I picked up Catholicism for Dummies. I’d actually read it a few years before, but this time something new struck me. There’s this teaching that basically says you can’t do a wrong thing for a right reason. The end does not justify the means. For example, you can’t take one life even to save a thousand. I started swishing this around in my brain. I hadn’t really considered this concept ever. It sat badly with me at first. Really? We can’t compromise ourselves a tiny bit to serve the greater good? Doesn’t a lot of good outweigh a little bad? And then I got it. This rule removes us from the position of making these decisions. Of being God. It sounds great to do a little wrong thing to make the world a better place. But it’s awfully easy to start rationalizing away more and more horrible actions in the name of the Greater Good. I think we can all call to mind awful examples of this in history. And I started thinking of the wrong things I was okay with because I thought of them as “necessary evils.” Suddenly my own phrase sounded really messed up. If I thought something was evil, did I really have sufficient criteria for calling it “necessary”?

This little section of Catholicism for Dummies started haunting me, re-configuring my brain. It was the beginning of what would become a pattern. I would come across a plain crazy Catholic doctrine, I would learn the actual teaching and worldview behind it, and it would make sense. Just beautiful, painful sense.

Next time: More things learned while making that second kid.

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Schooled

August1

Last month, Audrey started reading some three-letter words, and it was the biggest high of our short homeschooling life. I felt so lucky to be a part of that moment.

Sometimes I go back and forth over whether and how long we’ll homeschool in the years to come but GAH. I got to be there for that. I got to share it with her. I’m selfish and jealous. I want to be the one who does these things with her.

Also.

Oy. She’s been talking about death. Asking questions. Incorporating it into play. Working things out in her head. Wow, that’s not easy to talk about, is it? Some things are hard enough to grasp as an adult, but I have to convey the Big Things to a 3-year-old!

And it’s only after I finish one of these conversations that I realize I got off easy. Well, relatively. The questions are only going to get harder. And – deep breath – that’s one of those things I get to share with her too.

Kids! I thought they were just cute little people you got to dress up and snuggle.

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Audrey Contemplates the Nature of Family

July24

“Does everyone have a Mom and Dad?

She asks this a lot. Short answer, yes. Biologically. Long answer…whew…baby steps on that one. I heard her talking about dead parents while she was playing yesterday. Dammit, Frozen. Also, we have covered adoption. Well, we continue to cover it, as I’m sure it’s not easy to grasp.

“Are there two kinds of Mommies?”

Okay, I think she’s asking about adoption, so I’m going to talk about adoption again. There’s a Mommy who grows a baby in her belly and a Mommy who takes care of that baby forever.

“Do I have two kinds of Mommies?”

Nope. Just one. Just me. I did both those things.

“Is Grandma your mom?”

Asked with a bit of humor, because she knows Grammy is my mom. But she also knows Grams is Daddy’s mom, so…Okay. Here we go. Grandma is Daddy’s Stepmother. See, Grandpa is Daddy’s Daddy. And Grandma is married to Grandpa. That’s how she’s a Grandma. Does that make sense?

“It doesn’t make sense, but it’s kind of sense-y!”

Excellent.

I’m sure the questions will never get harder than this…

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It’s Pictures Again

July15

Since we last talked…

Fourth of July.

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Zachary had his first Zoo train ride that he could really appreciate.

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Audrey learned how to do this.

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Zachary learned how to do this.

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And tomorrow he’s one year old.

I have a lot to say but have lost the urge to talk quite so much. Well, type so much. I still talk a lot. Maybe soon. Got to go watch The Jim Gaffigan Show. I’m very excited about that.

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Adorable Pictures, Part 428

July2

Continuing the long on pictures/short on content blog series (apparently), here: we splashed in the kiddie pool this week.

 

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Admit it, that’s more interesting than my thoughts on the Supreme Court, right?

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Audrey Contemplates Life

June28

Audrey pops out of her room after not napping for an hour.

“Mom? How much tall will I be when I get bigger?”

“Maybe as tall as me. What do you think?”

“Mom…? Will you…be here…when I get bigger?”

Oh, crap. After months of watching Frozen, Audrey only today asked why Anna and Elsa’s parents had to leave.

“Yeah, baby. I’ll be here while you grow up. That’s my job. To help you grow up so you can be a mommy someday if you want to.”

Audrey thinks.

“I don’t want to drink wine.”

Ha. Hahahahaha.

“You don’t have to, baby.”

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We Got Class

June24

We’re moseying through the homeschool year we started…when did we start?…March?…I don’t even know. We skipped it the week of Vacation Bible School and haven’t gotten back in the groove. But on and off, we accomplish a few things.

Audrey’s working on the basics of sounding out short words but it still mostly eludes her. She writes letters by tracing over my highlighter letters.

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We read tons of stories. We learn what different people do in a society. We learn about animals and nature. I’m not being cute with the “we,” I often learn something new from the prekindergarten curriculum.

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Here’s a little experiment with displacement after reading a fable about a crow and a pail of water. I don’t know that the physics sunk in (she’s still three, you know) but she loooooooved tossing pebbles in water.

That’s the story on the schoolin’ front. The rest of Audrey’s time is spent narrating her life in song. It’s pretty dramatic around here.

Fiber Cannon

June16

Baby eats bananas.

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Baby gags on bananas.

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I’m not supposed to find that hilarious, right? It’s just that I’ve gotten used to him gagging on everything, since he was tiny and sticking fingers too far down his throat. I’m always vigilant and a tiny bit terrified, but mostly just resigned to it.

Posting from the pediatrician’s parking lot. We’re early, baby’s napping, so we’re biding time. Audrey is checking out the state map. Audrey’s about to get checked out for constipation. We’ve always had some difficulty with poop, but we may have gotten to a bad place. I’m extremist, so we’ve cut all dairy from our cheesy diet, and putting better things in her. Her body was never into it anyway, though her soul sure was. Must dissent from Big Dairy propaganda and be healthier! (See, I’m extremist.) (For now.)

I’ll leave you with these words of wisdom from Andy when I was pregnant with Audrey:

“Keep that fiber cannon loaded!”

 

posted under Audrey, food, husband, pregnancy, Zachary | Comments Off on Fiber Cannon

Hi! Are you out there?

June11

It’s my first day off Facebook for the summer! It felt a little like a vacation, but that was probably because my mom was here. I’ve got to say, it’s pretty peaceful. Now, I haven’t magically found a whole bunch of time yet, so I’m only writing what I can get out on my phone while putting the baby to sleep. Which means screw content, here are pics I found in my phone from the last month!

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Aw.

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Oh, AWWWWW.

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Radiant child.

She’s decided I’m allowed to play with her hair now, because two braids are like Anna hair and one braid is like Elsa hair. I’ll take it.

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I know, super profound, right? It’ll get better. Hey, if you’re out there and reading this, would you comment? I’d love to feel like I’m still in contact with the world.

Later!

posted under Audrey, Zachary | 2 Comments »
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