She wasn't where she had been. She wasn't where she was going…but she was on her way.
Hay. I’m Mary Susan. I’m mama to four small babes, wife to a butcher/chef, native Texan, and Ohio dweller. I’m a Catholic convert, pseudo-homeschooler, book lover, and last-minute planner.
I believe in honesty and vulnerability. You’ll find both here…which means we might all laugh at the realities of life. We may all ugly cry, too. It’s a toss up.
I believe in prayer. I also believe that “Sweet Lord what have you done??!” counts as a prayer in certain situations.
I believe in coffee. And wine. And sometimes both together because I like to mix my uppers and downers.
I believe that someday I’ll make it out of the eternal Survival Mode I currently find myself in. That day is probably not today. (See above.)
Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me. Have pity on me, a sinner.
The cry of the blind man in the Gospel of Luke is ringing in my ears today. Ringing in my heart, too.
Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me.
The blind man was healed:
…”Lord, please let me see.” Jesus told him, “Have sight; your faith has saved you.” He immediately received his sight and followed him, giving glory to God.”
Luke 18:41-43 (excerpts)
Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me, a sinner. Lord, open my eyes. Relieve me of my blindness.
I realize now that when Jesus made the blind see, they weren’t just healed to see goodness and beauty, to be dazzled by sunsets and to see the faces of their mothers and to view the intricacies of the world around them, but that their new eyes would also see pain, witness injustice, view in an undeniable way the hurting of others. Their new eyes would see the blindness of others in an entirely new and nuanced way. The blind would see.
To whom much is given, much is required.
Today my prayer is that Jesus would break down all of my blind spots so that I might see and be converted by the suffering of others.
I pray that I would be granted the grace of vision, that I might see injustice and be moved to push back against it.
I pray that my faith would save me and grant me eyes to see poverty and to look at it with the gentle eyes of my Savior, gazing not with judgement, but with love.
I pray that I might be granted the grace to view these troubling times, this weight of history, the things that worry me, people who hold views that scare me, that I would be able to see it all through eyes that seek first the Kingdom of God and not my own comfort or my own understanding.
I pray that my heart would be transformed by the Son of David and from that transformation, that I would see, not only through my own lens of defensiveness and dismissal, but through eyes made clear by the One who sees us all purely and clearly in the light of eternal love.
Jesus, meek and humble of heart make my heart like unto Thine. Make my eyes like unto Thine.
I was once awakened in the middle of the night by the unmistakable sounds of a child rummaging in the bathroom. Pillaging, if you will. I mean, it could’ve been legitimate bathroom usage, but my half-wakened state and grizzled maternal instincts told me there was skullduggery afoot.
I got up to investigate. And also to pee because I’m an old lady and that’s what we do: investigate strange noises and pee in the night.
What I discovered shook me.
My son was using the bathroom.
The suspicious noises I had mistaken for shenanigans were, in truth, the sound of him replacing the toilet paper.
That’s right. The kid who consistently leaves a trail of particulate and mayhem in his wake was up at 3 am putting a new roll on the toilet paper holder.
Let’s let that sink in a moment, shall we?
He used up an old roll. Got a new roll. Put that roll on the actual dispenser.
He put it on properly, too. I watched as he adeptly scrunched the springy bit and expertly threaded it through the new roll. He got it on the dispenser with nary a struggle, confidently releasing the spring which is known to flummox even the most veteran of toilet paper roll replacers. He quietly snapped the fresh roll into place. Then he turned to me, tipped his metaphorical hat, and was gone.
Gone like a dream, or a spectre, or a spectral dream…
Upon further investigation, I realized that my son had placed the roll on in such a manner that the paper unrolled in the proper way. As I sat down to pee, I noted that the paper unfurled perfectly with the usable squares descending gracefully from the top. For a fleeting moment I considered that this might be proof, the very scientific proof I’ve been looking for to substantiate the theory that my children are not, in fact, barbarians.
What’s more, the lad disposed of the empty cardboard tube in the appropriate garbage receptacle. It was not laid to rest beside the trash can like so many fallen comrades before it. No, the battered little tube fell softly into the Walmart bag trash can liner clinging to its last three-ply fragments with the satisfaction of having achieved it’s purpose. The bag softly rustled as the tube landed, a gentle reminder that if a roll of toilet paper is replaced in the woods with no one around to observe it, the ripples caused by its replacement will make waves for eternity. Or something like that.
This happened weeks and weeks ago. To this day I am haunted by the remembrance of this event, routinely shaken to my core at having observed such a spectacle with my own mortal eyes. Every now and then, when I am gathering flotsam, and other sundry miscellany, and the scattered odd bits of refuse off of the bathroom floor, a vision of that night casts itself upon my mind’s eye and I think to myself, “Yeah, that did happen. Didn’t it?”
I stumbled upon an Instagram post the other day that was especially great, greater even than the posts of cats being scared by cucumbers or those people I watched doing a frantic mini trampoline workout, believe it or not.
The writer, Lauren De Witt, introduced the idea of writing your own litany of truths. Apparently she learned about it from a Moms in Peace workshop, which I know nothing about, but I’m determined to give credit where credit is due because girl power is a thing and I am here for it.
The basic premise is something that I preach to my doula clients all the time, but oooobviously neglect to practice in my own life. I’m real good at offering sage advice to others, but real sucky at taking it myself. C’est la vie.
Any time my clients are feeling worried, doubtful, or afraid I always tell them to remember what’s true. It’s so easy to let our worry and anxiety snowball until it gets bigger and bigger and buries us completely. But we can stop that shiz right in its tracks just by naming what’s true. Once you start naming what’s true, it’s amazing to see how many falsehoods you were starting to believe.
What reminded me of the idea of making a personal litany of truth is that yesterday I ill-advisedly watched an Insta-stories post by someone detailing their homeschool work load. Y’all, is there anything that’ll make you feel like crap more than accidentally stumbling upon someone who’s doing “life” better than you? (Clearly I need to take a break from Instagram, that’s what.)
Here’s the thing: the homeschooling mom I saw is doing an incredible job with her kids. She wasn’t even pretentious or ass-holey about her homeschooling success. She was really lovely and genuinely proud of herself for homeschooling for the first time ever during the time of Covid and ain’t nobody going to fault her for that!
But for some reason her post just hit me right in the most sensitive spot in my jealous gut, the place where I’m already predisposed to feeling like a failure or at least a fraud. Y’all, this woman could’ve chronicled her own clean laundry mountain and I’d have felt like mine wasn’t good enough (and we all know my mountain of clean laundry is the best, duh).
So, as I felt myself spiraling into a pit of comparison and negative self talk, I remembered the litany of truths! For once in my life, I genuinely took my own advice and that of wonderful Lauren from the internet and wrote down a list of solid truth.
I ended up breaking it down into sections because I can’t not be verbose. Here’s what it looks like:
My children and my husband are not my report card.
I am not responsible for making everyone happy, but rather I am responsible for loving well the souls left to my care.
My parenting and homeschooling are mine alone. I am not competing or comparing, not better or less than, just walking my own path.
I am not solely responsible for how my children turn out. I am a guardian and a guide on their way, but I am not ultimately in control of who they become.
My children are not a product I am turning out. They are people with their own free will.
I am not responsible for other people’s emotions. I can see their emotions and try to help them, but I am not responsible for the speed at which they process or whether or not they accept my offer of help.
Most things are not about me anyway.
I am one person. I cannot do it all. But I can ask for help and accept it.
My body is the dwelling place of the eternal God. When I abuse it, I abuse His temple. When I protect and care for it, I am worshipping Him.
My anger cannot overcome or overpower me because it comes from me. Like a labor contraction, I can see it coming and ride it until it ebbs. It will subside just as quickly as it rises.
I do not have to give space to frantic, worried thoughts. When I feel them I can stop, be still, and know that He is God. I can do this through Christ who gives me strength.
Being a good steward of my gifts means I am allowed to devote time to my talents without feeling guilty.
Discipline is an act of faith.
Fundamental Faith Truths:
I need Jesus in the Sacraments to be whole.
When I am weak, He is strong. My growth is found in humility.
I am beloved, created by love, for love, with the mission to love while on this earth. Nothing I can do or accomplish can change that truth.
The forces of Resistance cannot overpower the One who is in me.
Every moment is an opportunity to choose love, to die to myself and my will, to step out in faith believing that while I am not in control, He is.
So, that’s my personal litany of truths. I’m going to keep it and maybe put it on my white board and probably sleep with it and tattoo it to my face. If you see me looking like Post Malone, you’ll know I just really need to remember what’s true, mkay?
I’ll probably add to and take stuff away, but I’m pretty jazzed about how good it made me feel to just write all that out. I highly recommend it as a simple, concrete way to feel better about life. This has been my PSA, please go write true things down and be good to yourself.
You can find Lauren De Witt’s original post on Instagram @thecontemplativehomemaker…she’s a real good follow and her own litany is just beautiful.
As always, I hope you know how wonderful you are, my friends. You’re really important and even more loved. So go put that on your own list of truth. That’s an order!
Hey, gang! It’s been awhile…things are great here, why do you ask??
Look at this idiot. Just over here carrying the team, surrounded by piles of half packed away Halloween decor, shuffling through tangrams on the floor, blissfully unaware that laundry is falling out of the basket, just hoping that she’ll make it to Mount Unfolded that’s just out of frame.
Mercy, what a state.
Spoiler: Mount Unfolded consists of four other baskets of clean laundry that’s probably not clean anymore because of the amount of time it has been sat upon. And jumped upon. And stood upon. And rooted through. Pillaged and plundered, really. At this point, it’s just part of the furniture…like the pictures leaning against the tv stand that were taken down for a painting job and have remained leaning there for an eternity and will so remain until the Lord returns in His glory, amen.
So anyway, how are y’all, team? Everyone faring well? Are you fine?? Everything’s fine, I bet. I bet you’re great. You’re definitely not preoccupied with anything or carrying any tension in your shoulders at all. Probably not at all. You’re good. You’re great. Nothing to see here. Move along Mary Susan, we’re fiiiiine.
I’m just here to take a hot second to remind you that you really are great. Like, maybe not on the surface level, or even the mantle (that’s how it goes, right? Crust, mantle, core? Your girl needs to brush up on the layers of the earth, not gonna lie), but deep at your core you are truly great. You are. You were created out of love, to love, to receive and give love, and you are beautifully great.
You are great, especially in your smallness. You are good in your grubbiness and your anxiety. You are wonderful just as you are, just where you are, in all your fear, your hurt feelings, and your lumpy body parts.
You are great, do you hear me?
Let your identity sink in today, gang. Let yourself dwell for a little while in that space deep in your core that houses truth. Sit there and listen to the voice of truth reminding you that you are loved and you are good and you are wanted. Because, despite what the world may say, despite what the media is shoving down your throat and forcing through your eyeballs, that is the truth. You matter. You are precious. You are good.
And every mundane moment of butt wiping (your own or others’), or dish washing, or report filing, or shelf stocking, or paper submitting that you do today matters. It matters deeply because it is your opportunity to live out these little moments as acts of sacrifice, giving of yourself and your talents, offering the gifts you’ve been given to a world that may not understand or appreciate them. That is beautifully difficult, no? But it’s what Christ has called us to. He calls us not to be understood, but to be faithful. He calls us to love, not because others are deserving, but because they’re not.
Show up in faith today, darling friends. Show up even when you feel misunderstood, misrepresented, and miserable. Show up even though things are not perfect. Show up because others need your unique brand of light and beauty. Show up because we need your goodness in this world.
And if you’re really struggling to keep showing up, please know that you’re not required to show up in any one kind of way. Showing up can mean being a light on social media and it can mean quietly stepping back to tend to your own heart. Showing up can mean staying deeply invested in our world while establishing boundaries that protect you from people/profiles/media that prevent you from feeling peace. Showing up can mean retweeting and making calls and advocating and it can also mean watching cat videos and finding all the babies laughing on the internet. Gracious, we need all of that.
At the minimum, showing up means loving your neighbor and tending to the hearts that are entrusted to your care, not excluding your own. How that plays out in your own life is up to you.
Be gentle with yourselves, guys. Be gentle with the people around you. Rest in the truth that you were made good. You matter. I see you and I love you. And more importantly, so does He.
I’m thinking we’re divided into two camps here: those who are burying their heads in the sand and avoiding all thoughts of holiday celebrations because they’re certain to be decidedly not normal and those who are chomping at the bit to get to the new year.
“Just get through the year” has been the rallying cry for so many as 2020 has dumped load after load of challenge, pain, injustice, and illness on us all. I mean, obv it has been a doozy.
It is completely normal for us to want to embrace that feeling of “just get it over with” and wish the rest of the year away. But I worry that this mindset is misleading us.
While I think it’s important to find ways to mark the passage of time in a dismal year, I also think that we can’t delude ourselves into thinking that the moment the clock rolls over at midnight on January 1, 2021 everything is going to be fine. I mean, it’ll be fine, but it might be this kind of fine.
So, what’s the game plan then, team? How can we avoid putting all our eggs in the basket of the new year and transition into 2021 with better(ish) attitudes?
Obv I have *all* the answers so here’s my official 2020 Holiday and New Year Survival GuideTrademark Forthcoming.
Acknowledge that we’re in now now.
It’s fine to look back and it’s fine to look ahead, but we’re in now now and that’s all we’ve got. Carpe diem, live laugh love, etc, etc, all we have is this moment and y’all should probably print that out and hang it on your bathroom wall.
Like it or not, this moment that we’re in is 2020 with all the trappings of chaos and craziness that come with it, but wishing our lives away will not change any of that. No new year is capable of providing the happily ever after we might be wishing for, so we’ve got to do our best with what we’ve got.
Decide how you want to handle the now that you’re in. 2020 has been hard. How do you want to spend the last months of it? How do you want to enter into 2021? Do you want to spend this time jumping into bitterness, envy, remorse, and fear like Scrooge McDuck jumping into his vault of gold? Or do you want to spend this last bit of the year cuddling up to gentleness for yourself and others? (I did a little exploring along this vein over at The Living Person if you’re interested in that little tangent.)
You’re not required to figure everything out, but I’d venture to suppose that the rest of the year won’t feel so empty and wasted if we circle the wagons and put forth the effort to guard our hearts. (Shout out to all my fellow bible college graduates who were told to guard your hearts in every chapel message ever of all time but kinda didn’t know what that meant.)
What this looks like is setting boundaries and identifying which things we want to give space to. I don’t weigh myself without checking in with myself first to make sure I can emotionally handle whatever that number says. (Haven’t weighed myself in months for this very reason.)
So, guard your heart. Check in with yourself before you look at the news. Are you willing to give head and heart space to the potential negativity you may find there? Check in with yourself before you read the comments, before you entertain that potentially intense conversation, before you head into that zoom call with that one person. Even if you can’t avoid the conversation or the meeting, you can set boundaries within it and make sure you’re giving space in your life to people and things that matter and respect you. It’s totally fine to say, “I’m sorry, I just can’t talk about (fill in the blank) right now. I’ll feel more peaceful if we stick to other topics,” and then you take a sip of your OceanSpray and move along down the road.
You’re not required to consume all of the media. Just because it’s there doesn’t mean you have to read it or watch it or engage with it in any way. You’re allowed to step back. Odds are you’ve already developed your opinions and your mind isn’t going to be changed by a stranger on the interwebs. Odds also are you’re not going to change anyone else’s mind. (Insert cringy face and also please keep not shooting the messenger.)
I’m not saying we shouldn’t engage in challenging conversations and discourse with people who think differently than we do. What I am saying is that we’re not required to do that if we’re not up for it emotionally. If you walk away from a conversation, account, news outlet feeling furious, depressed, or hopeless, maybe don’t engage with that shiz in the future.
Curate your social media feed to be a place that fills you up and reminds you of the decency of humanity. Mute, block, snooze, unfollow until you achieve a peaceful scrolling experience. I suggest anything having to do with the Hebrides and/or following this guy. You’re welcome.
Don’t fall victim to the pressure of turning lemons into lemonade. I predict that there will be a ton of reflecting on “what we’ve learned from 2020” and “what the year from hell has taught us.” While I think it’s great to look back and see how we’ve grown, it’s also important not to put too much pressure on ourselves. It’s okay if all we accomplished this year is survival. It’s okay if we look at 2020, take stock of how we’ve coped, and realize that we struggled hard and are still struggling. We’re not required to come out of this year battered, bruised, but carrying earth shattering self-knowledge and a kickass sourdough starter. We’re allowed to come out just plain battered and bruised. We just are. The sooner we give ourselves permission to welcome the uncomfortable truth of our own unique experience, the better able we’ll be to heal.
Also I threw my starter away because sourdough is too much work and I’m not sorry.
Send 2020 out with a bang. Do something drastic and fun you’ve been wanting to do for no other reason than you can and it’s 2020 and I’m bringing YOLO back. Dye the hair, get the tattoo (Mom, don’t comment on that or I’ll send you a video of how far my eyes are rolling), run the race even if you have to walk it. Decorate for Christmas whenever the hell you want to and wear an old bridesmaid’s dress to eat Papa John’s on the couch and maybe also paint your front door orange? Surprise yourself by having a stupid amount of fun just because life is short and you should. Spontaneity is fun and it’s still a thing we can do even if things are weird or kind of hard.
It’s not about you. 2020 has been a year of isolation which has led a lot of us to do some serious introspective thinking. A little self evaluation can be helpful at times but can also result in us becoming a little too preoccupied with ourselves. We can all agree that we have been personally victimized by 2020 and if this year had a name it would be Regina George. But it’s super important to remember that it’s not about us. Anything we can do to draw ourselves out of our own self-focus is a win.
Make New Year’s resolutions, but not shitty ones. One way to remember that things are not about me is to make some New Year’s resolutions. Now, I’m no fortune teller and I’m going out on a limb here, but I don’t think 2021 is going to be the year that I start drinking all the water, or lose the weight, or whatever. But, it can be the year that I make it a priority to love others more! Here are some fun resolutions I came up with to remind myself that it’s not about me.
Adopt someone to love each month. Send them coffee money, mail a card, or text an inappropriate gif that will startle them into laughter when they’re hiding from their job in the bathroom.You don’t even have to know them! You could just pick a random residential address each month and send flowers to that house. Or send flowers to a nursing home with instructions that they be given to a resident who needs some happy. Whatever you decide to do, just pick one person each month to reach out to and remind that they matter.
Donate to a different nonprofit each month. Doesn’t have to be a lot of money, fam. Even $5 is helpful and will make you feel a little less helpless in this big bad world. I suggest checking out Beauty 2 The Streetz and Abide Women’s Health Services as good places to start.
Invest in a service industry professional. Maybe you feel guilty about getting a pedicure. Guess what? You’re allowing a person to provide for her family by paying for her services. That’s a gift. Maybe you feel weird about paying to have your house cleaned. Same thing. Perhaps you see the same cashier at WalMart every time you go. Guess what? Working there probably sucks some of the time (lots of the time) so do something nice for that person. Take donuts to the Aldi on a Monday morning. Bring coffee to the post office staff. Jump on public transportation just to pass out balloons to the driver. Challenge yourself to see the people who slip beneath the radar and show them some love.
Participate in the new challenge I just invented. I’m calling it Random Acts of Silly and I we’re gonna have a hashtag (#randomactsofsilly) and go around spreading silliness. I’m starting by ordering a giant pack of googly eyes to keep in my purse so I can stick them on stuff when I’m out and about.
Take up a new devotion. Set aside time to pray for others. This could look like making a list of intentions or just praying for general ones (local, national, and world leaders, those suffering in other countries, etc). I’ve recently been praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy (a devotion I’ve avoided because I’m too hip to do the thing that everyone else is doing please roll your eyes at me) and it 100% lives up to the hype.
That’s all I’ve got, gang. What would you add? How are you planning on handling the transition from 2020 to 2021? We didn’t really tackle the intricacies of holiday celebrations in this post, so if you’re at all interested in the ramblings of yours truly on the subject, just let me know and I’ll take a stab at it.
Either way, friends, you are loved. However you’re feeling about this last bit of the year and the idea of a new one approaching, you’re loved. You’re precious and important. You matter so much. We need you, just you remember that.
Hey, gang, it’s been a minute. Lest you worry, all is well and I for sure still look like this:
Okay, so down to brass tacks. Can we talk about the Tooth Fairy for a sec?
Guys, I am so beyond invested in the magic of childhood. Beyond. Invested. We do all of the things.
I am a staunch believer in fairies of all sorts and we look for fairy houses on literally every hike we go on. I firmly adhere to the truth that fairies are responsible for the majority of magical things we see in nature. I want to be a Fairy Godmother when I grow up and I’m not even kidding.
We have leprechauns make a mess of our house every year on St. Patrick’s Day, which is a lot harder than you’d think, because they have to make it apparent that it’s their mess on top of our regular mess and that’s next level mess making is what I’m saying. The only way to know for sure is if they’ve dyed the milk green.
We get visits from St. Nicholas and Santa (same guy, different days, obv) and we have elves. But they’re not those evil elf on the shelf ones, they’re kindness elves who leave us treats and make happy mischief and challenge us to do good deeds for others. They don’t tattle on us to Santa because that’s just dumb and the antithesis of what Christmas is all about. I mean, we all get a little a-holey that time of year, so if receiving gifts is contingent on good behavior, then every single person in the world is SOL. Also, Jesus didn’t come because we deserve him, he came because we don’t. Boom.
But I digress.
What I’m saying is, I will 100% get on board with every single magical thing I could ever do to make childhood glorious and joyful for my kids.
But, y’all, I can’t get on board with the Tooth Fairy. I’ve tried. She sucks.
First of all, we’ve got four kids and zero dollars, so that’s problem number one right there. Also, I’ve got four kids and zero brain cells left, so remembering which person lost a tooth that day is real hard for me. I mean, kids all have like four zillion teeth apiece and they lose them at an alarming rate. On any given day, there’s like nineteen random loose teeth scattered around my house like somebody just had a ticker tape parade and I don’t have it in me to keep track of them. At all.
And can we talk about how tiny the teeth are?? Like, how the heck am I supposed to find those things under a pillow? My kids put all kinds of stuff under their pillows for safe keeping. How am I supposed to find a tooth hidden in a rat’s next of special LEGO bricks and rubber snakes?
Don’t even start to get on me about getting a special tooth pillow or cute little tooth box. That shit does not work in this home. You know what would happen if I had one of those? The kids would use it for a game of make believe or they’d break it or they’d somehow render it useless in any number of other creative endeavors. I don’t have it in me to squelch their creativity and make them respect dumb tooth pillows especially if they’re leaving me alone at that moment. Priorities. Duh.
I, for one, am classy so I make them put their tooth in a plastic sandwich bag so it’s easier to find under the pillow. Problem solved.
Except that I can literally never ever remember that I’m supposed to do it. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve forgotten a tooth and had to tell the kids that the Tooth Fairy must be really bogged down with work since she didn’t get to their tooth that night. Man. Must be a lot of kids losing teeth since she just can’t get to them all. Lots of red tape and processing time these days what with Covid precautions, too. It’s rough, but that’s bureaucracy for ya.
My husband is the number one Tooth Fairy in this house because he is a functioning responsible adult with an actual memory. Also, he folds the dollars into fun shapes because he’s the best.
But further circling back to the money thing. Y’all who even has cash or small bills these days? We are not a family that pays well for teeth. It is actual bull slaw to pay more than a dollar for a tooth. I just read a very interesting article regarding the going rate for teeth and I am appalled.
Well, kinda. I’m not surprised to report back that the Tooth Fairy is paying less these days for teeth. Apparently the average tooth gets $3.70, which is down from last year’s $4.13. This is the second year in a row that teeth have devalued and I still think you fools are overpaying.
Get a load of this lady.
While Priska Diaz, 43, recalls just finding coins under her pillow in exchange for her baby teeth when she was growing up, today the Eastchester, N.Y. mom has upped the dental ante by giving her son, 11, and daughter, 10, a whopping $20 for every lost canine and incisor. She estimates she’s coughed up $200 in the name of the tooth fairy so far.
What the actual hell was she thinking?? Now, I don’t want to be rude, but that’s a dumb amount of money to give someone for a piece of their body falling out like it’s supposed to.
Y’all, my kids are lucky if they get a handful of dirty change. Sometimes I’m nice and I pick the pocket lint out of it for them, but not always. And I never give them my Aldi quarter.
It’s not actually that bad, but I am not lying to you when I say that the kids get their Tooth Fairy money, carry it around for like a day, and if they don’t lose it somewhere in their trash pit of a room, they put it in the communal change jar for safekeeping. I never said they were smart. We’ve got a rumpled dollar bill that just keeps getting recycled over and over again and not once have they noticed that it’s the same one.
Back in the day when they could take their money to school, there was a bigger turnaround, for sure. But now that we’re homeschooling and we go literally nowhere there’s legit no way for them to spend that money anyway. I mean, I guess they could bank it and learn about internet shopping, but I’m not driving to the credit union for a dollar deposit. Sorry, pals, I’mma need that dollar later.
Also, I feel like the money isn’t really the point of the Tooth Fairy. The fun is leaving something and finding it switched out for a surprise. That’s fun. Moldy old dollars aren’t fun. Surprises are fun. What good is money if you can’t spend it? Mayhaps the Tooth Fairy should start leaving new toothbrushes or gum or something fun like that. I mean, in all reality if she’s in the business of collecting teeth, she should probably leave candy just to expedite the process and gross more earnings, but who am I to tell someone how to do their job?
But to ease your undoubtedly troubled hearts, I offer the following proof that the Tooth Fairy did indeed visit our house last night and (he) even folded the moldy dollar up so it looked cool. Our little jack-o-lantern was thrilled as can be.
And yes, yes that child did sleep in the shirt he wore all day and refused to take off. In fact, instead of putting on pajamas at bedtime, he added a Luigi hat and his trusty kazoo. Because there’s no better way to celebrate a visit from the Tooth Fairy than loudly playing “This is Halloween” on a kazoo at 6:30 AM. No better way at all.
When I was a young student bright-eyed and optimistic, naively reading my bible on the quad at the Baptist university I attended Ecclesiastes never did much for me. It was too cynical a view of the world for my nineteen year old taste. But as I’ve aged and gathered a more full experience of life (particularly this year), the famous words of Ecclesiastes are an absolute vibe.
All things are wearisome, too wearisome for words. The eye is not satisfied with seeing nor has the ear enough of hearing.
What my younger self deemed too depressing a sentiment, my mid-thirties self reads and thinks, “That’ll preach!”
All things are wearisome, too wearisome for words. Amen and amen. The eye is not satisfied with seeing nor has the ear enough of hearing. Like, did they have smartphones in the Old Testament? Because I swear this speaks directly to our plugged in culture.
Obsessive scrolling, consumption of media, furiously worrying thoughts, search bars, Twitter feeds, deep dives into subreddits. It’s never enough to quench our thirst for more information, more proof that we’re right, more evidence condemning the other side, more statistics, more people agreeing with us, more proof of approval, proof that acquits us of being in the wrong and places responsibility on others. We are weary, but we won’t stop. We are worn out and worn down, but we will not rest. An unceasing quest for justice is necessary, but I wonder if our collective search is actually for justice or for more compelling proof to throw in each other’s faces.
What has been, that will be; what has ben done, that will be done. Nothing is new under the sun! Even the thing of which we say, “See, this is new!” has already existed in the ages that preceded us. There is no remembrance of past generations; nor will future generations be remembered by those who come after them.
Immaturity or lack of experience leaves us surprised when we repeat the sins of our fathers, whether those our forefathers or the fathers of our faith. It’s depressing to think that we’ve made so little progress as humans that we’re still struggling with the same garbage that they were wrestling with in the Old Testament. Though our world has changed and morphed through history, human nature remains unchanged. We have always struggled with jealousy, greed, pride, and envy. The powerful have always exploited the powerless. The Man has always kept the little ones down, there have always been struggling minorities, the least of these crying out for someone to step in and change things.
There is nothing new under the sun.
In the midst of these reflections, my house is being worked on. The basement walls in our hundred year old house are crumbling from water damage, the slow movement of time and water taking its toll on the structure holding us all up. So there’s a guy named Pee-wee down there scraping away the old and reinforcing it, cleaning away the debris and strengthening our walls. It’s all very metaphorical I’m sure, but for a guy who goes by Pee-wee, he’s seriously lacking a sense of humor and in its place is the most Ecclesiastical attitude I’ve ever seen. Upon meeting him, you can just tell that Pee-wee has seen some shit. There’s nothing new under the sun and literally nothing could surprise him.
I feel so heavy under all my observations about the world, that there’s nothing new, humanity and original sin will be wrapped up together embracing and struggling until the end of time. Plus, it’s hard to get excited about teaching children math facts and grammar rules in a house full of extra noise and chemical fumes.
And yet, I found out this morning that Pee-wee is a poet of all things. He wrote a book of poetry for his children in the 90’s, self published it, and signed over the rights to his sister who used all the profits to go to medical school.
Lord, you have been our refuge through all generations. Before the mountains were born, the earth and the world brought forth, from eternity to eternity you are God.
To be fair, Pee-wee’s story has undeniably cynical undertones. He is a poet…and also he is apparently a former Army ranger who was shot by the drug cartel in Columbia and then discharged under strict command to never speak of what he saw (but that was over thirty years ago, so Pee-wee says what he wants). Pee-wee is estranged from most of his family, it seems, and he curses like a sailor, but not around the kids. I really like him.
And Tom, who is working on the upstairs bathroom, poked his head in to ask if the kids and I wanted to place the first tiles in the shower. He gave us his pencil and had us write our names on the backs of the tiles, each of us leaving our little invisible mark that I’m sure will go completely unseen when someone new rips it all out in the future.
There is nothing new under the sun. Humanity is still grappling, frustrated and angry that there is still injustice, still abuse of power, still hurt, and lies, and abuse.
There is nothing new under the sun. People are complicated and complex. Their stories still surprise us, there is still beauty in the most unexpected of people and the most unlikely of places. There is still kindness, still goodness, still the gentleness of men giving of their time and talent in microscopic ways that give us a glimmer of hope when everything else feels awful.
No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide you a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.
We’re deep into the weeds of homeschool around here. I mean, we’ve been at this for a week and a half, and it feels like a lifetime. Now obviously I’m a newbie and I’ll be the first to say that I’m no expert, but…like, at what point in this homeschooling gig will suggestions and gentle corrections not be met with eye rolling and/or aggression from the pupils??
Asking for a friend.
J/k, it’s me.
I’m the friend.
I’m trying real hard lately to pay attention to my strong emotions and trace them back to their roots. It’s this new thing I’m doing called self-awareness. I highly suggest it, but also it sucks.
The situations that get my blood boiling most these days (aside from medical atrocities being investigated at the border and general worldwide awfulness) stem from semi-regular moments in instruction with the kids. (I’m not naming names here because the team is getting older and I think they deserve their privacy.)
It feels like there are moments when literally everything I say is dumb and every gentle correction is a personal attack. It also doesn’t help that their father can do no wrong. Dad is brilliant! Dad is funny! Dad is cool! Dad explains so much better! Dad buys us fruit roll ups!
Dad teaches them the exact same math lesson that Mom attempted (but cut short due to tears and theatrics) using the exact same examples that Mom used and they listen to him as though his words drip honey and claim they’re hearing them for the very first time.
If I sound like I’m jealous, it’s because I am.
I admit it, I am horribly jealous of the camaraderie the kids have with their father, especially when it comes to school. If I’m not careful I start believing the lies my jealousy is telling me so the jealousy grows into anger, then resentment.
It hurts that they don’t listen to me the way I think they ought to. It hurts to feel misunderstood and second rate. It hurts when the message I’m receiving from the kids is that what I’m offering is garbage.
I recognize that this sort of thing is a completely normal facet of the mother/child relationship. I grated against my own mother when I was their age. Shoot, I still do it if she offers me a suggestion! It’s growing pains and tough transitions and I get that. The kids are stuck in a house with me all dang day. Of course a different voice is easier to listen to; it’s literally the only diversity in teaching they’re getting so it makes perfect sense. Of course they resent my criticisms. No one likes to be told they’re wrong, especially by their mother.
But I’m still resentful. I’m still jealous.
When I dig even deeper, I see that there’s a part of me that struggles with what I can only identify as the “moms are dumb” vibe. Culturally, it seems like moms are always the butt of the joke. Moms are the overlooked, overworked ones and it feels like dads get to sweep in and have the fun and be exciting. Dad is novel and Mom is humdrum and I resent that a lot. I want to be fun. I want to be exciting. I want to be the one that everyone is thrilled to see. I want to be special, and listened to, and loved.
Just writing that out and stepping back is so helpful. Again I’m tracing these feelings back to their root and remembering what’s true. Upon further reflection, it’s easy to see how hollow that “moms are dumb” argument is. It’s just as culturally acceptable to present dads as the useless, bumbling ones. I mean, watch any sitcom dad ever, right?
I also have to recognize the other side of the coin, to give weight to the fact that my husband sacrifices time at home to provide for us, purely so that I can stay home and have the opportunity to teach our children. He is a novelty to them precisely because he’s not able to be here all the time like he’d rather be.
And honestly there are plenty of times that the kids do prefer me. My sweet husband has endured literal years of babies refusing to be comforted except by me, fed by me, cuddled by me. They come to me with their emotional wounds and worries while they connect with him in different ways. It’s completely fair and right that there are times when I’m not the best person for the job.
The truth is, these children need both of us. I am not enough on my own because I was not designed to do this alone. I have been gifted a partner who loves us all and who shows up daily to do this soul wearying work alongside me without complaint. What an absolute gift he is.
So the problem is not the children or the husband, but my own disordered desires for control and approval. This thing that’s causing me grief, these little moments in my day that cause me to boil over in frustration are mirrors into my soul, opportunities for me to examine my motives.
Am I teaching my children so that I will be liked or so that they grow in intellect and holiness? Am I allowing myself to believe a lie that pits me against my children and my husband? Or am I noticing the places in my heart that lack holiness and taking these as opportunities to do better? Am I quick to anger when my children push back, or am I leaning in to learn a new way to connect with them? Do I receive their contrary attitudes with my own eye rolls and impatience or do I view their pushback as a barometer of where they themselves are feeing inadequate and vulnerable? Am I praying for my family as I ought to be?
I’m not going to nail it every time. I think the desire to be approved of and appreciated will always be a struggle for me. Yet, motherhood is sanctifying. My ultimate goal and deepest desire is to get my kids, my spouse, and myself to heaven. If that requires less of me, more of my spouse, sharing the spotlight, deeply appreciating the souls in my care, and heaping lesson upon lesson of humility, then so be it.
Yes, this vocation is sanctifying me, but only if I let it.
When I’m particularly struggling with the sin of pride, I like to go over the Litany of Humility. It is hard to pray and even harder to pray with true sincerity. I often find it necessary to add, “Lord, help my unbelief,” to the end. You can find the prayer here. You are so loved my friends, even in your pride and your jealousy, even in your less than pretty moments, you are indescribably loved.
So, while I don’t necessarily consider myself a beauty per se, I’m obv not hideous. Even though coronavirus has taken the luster off the old girl, I wouldn’t say I’ve completely lost my touch. I mean…I make these leggings and messy bun look good, m’kay? What I’m saying is, in the proverbial Beauty/Beast comparison game, I’m for sure not the Beast.
Or so I thought.
I was texting my friend, Alisha, the other night when we both came to an uncanny realization.
[I am listing Alisha by name because she requested that I do so. Apparently, she has aspired to being mentioned on the blog for a while now, so I am happy to give her her own post and welcome her to these hallowed halls. You’re famous now, ‘Lish, even though you’re friends of friends with actual famous people and this blog is mainly written for my mom and my own personal amusement. Glad you’re here, pal.]
So aaaaanyway, Alisha and I were texting about how I have a bad attitude about things (read, things I willingly volunteered for, but am now salty about being a part of…please roll your eyes at me) and this is how it went down:
Y’all, when she described the West Wing from Beauty and the Beast, I felt like she was showing me a picture from House Hunters International.
I want to go to there.
Imagine it, a place that’s already torn to shit so I don’t have to worry about cleaning. I can rage break mirrors and rip portraits when the weight of the world is too much and people will leave me alone?? Sign. me. up.
Upon further reflection, I realized that I’m even more beastly than I first thought. Please observe:
can’t eat oatmeal/any meal without spilling everywhere
table manners and any form of social etiquette are basically nonexistent at this point (did I ever have them? No one knows.)
absurdly short temper
library of books I haven’t gotten around to reading
basically a shut in and not mad about it
unsightly body hair situation
my bffs are found in the housewares section (may or may not have already rehearsed a musical number featuring my Dyson)
Y’all. Alisha and I…and dare I presume, all of us…have been operating under the assumption that we’re Belle. We’ve been waltzing through quarantine thinking we’re the Beauty, reading the books, shutting down the patriarchy, being valued for our minds, twirling in fields of wildflowers. And now we’re faced with the harsh, world shaking realization that in all reality, we’re the Beast.
I’m not sure what more 2020 is going to take from us, but stripping me of my unshakeable belief that I am the princess in the story feels like it’s asking a bit much, no?
And yet, the more I ponder things the more right it feels. Because if I’m honest, I definitely do have poor manners, I’m grouchy 95% of the time, I’m learning to love feeding birds, and I’m real hairy. I’m here for it, tbh. From here on out, I am 100% embracing my beastliness and I hope you’ll join me.
Just come on over to the dark side. We have an army of anthropomorphic cleaning supplies, some gargoyles, a depressing rose to help you count the days to eternity, and very low expectations. You’re more than welcome…just don’t set foot in the West Wing.
So, tomorrow’s Labor Day. Holla for a day off of work and a nice chance to celebrate the end of summer! But also, can you give me the history of Labor Day? I mean, if you can tell me something beyond, “It’s about labor unions and workers rights, right?” then you get gold stars. But I’d venture to guess that most people don’t know much beyond that. I honestly don’t.
Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.
So, there’s that. Doesn’t honestly tell us much, but there you go.
Obviously, my chef/butcher husband is working on Labor Day. That’s our normal and I’m used to it after him being in the food service industry for so long. It’s never unheard of for him to work weekends and holidays, whatever it takes to make sure everyone else’s celebrations go off without a hitch. We’re cool with having a flexible schedule around any holiday.
What I will never be used to is the number of unkind, entitled, disrespectful fools who he encounters that treat my husband and his staff as though they’re lesser life forms. I have a real hard time knowing that my husband is working 12 hour days so that people can tell him the work he does isn’t good enough, speak to him in a demeaning tone, and complain that the offerings aren’t up to snuff for their party, and then waltz out wishing him a happy Labor Day.
I’m sure many of you reading are as incensed as I am over this sort of thing. But that’s just all in a day’s work for people in the food service industry.
Customers think that they’re allowed to speak down to staff, send food back, complain about imaginary issues, and weaponize Yelp reviews so that they get what they want. Businesses are held hostage by the expectations of customers and employees suffer.
So, what does that mean for your Labor Day? I certainly don’t mean that you shouldn’t enjoy your day off or that you should feel guilty (unless you act like an asshat to people serving you, then you sure as shit should feel guilty).
What I mean is that we have an opportunity. We can observe Labor Day as a fun day off and end it there, or we can make it a day of remembrance. Our family is going to take time today to remember and pray for all of the people we’ve know and loved in the food industry that have been lost to suicide and substance abuse. We’re going to pray for change and donate some money to a charity that promotes mental health resources and offers monetary support to food service workers. And we’re going to enjoy ribs and chicken together once my husband gets off of work.
Labor Day is a chance for you to check in with yourself. Do you see people in the service industry? Do you really, really see them? Do you treat them with respect, humanity, and dignity or do you take out your frustrations on them because they can’t talk back? Do you honor them by fighting for fair wages, health benefits, and mental health support, or do you just take for granted that your meat is cut the way you want it or you dinner can easily be dropped off on your step via Door Dash?
Obviously, this goes for other industries, too. Do you slow down in construction zones or do you have a bad attitude when you have to wait on a road that’s being repaired? Do you take time to actually engage with your cashier at the grocery store or do you micromanage how they bag your groceries? Are you as quick to give grace to the customer service rep on the phone as you are to lose patience? Do you take time to pray for the workers who harvested your food or do you waste the fruit of their labor?
There are a lot of invisible middlemen in our country, people who sacrifice their very lives so that the rest of us can live comfortably and enjoy our time. I can’t speak for every single person working in the service industry, but I can speak for the man in my house. He gets up and goes to work because he believes in the job that he’s doing. He is motivated by creating quality products that enrich lives. He wants to be a small part of your Labor Day celebration and your weeknight dinner. He shows up early and stays late because he believes in the importance of wholesome meals and family dinners. Ultimately, he’s doing his best to provide for his family just like you are yours.
That’s the goal of every industry employee we’ve ever met: to provide for their families as best they can. The job is grueling, physically and mentally draining, and thankless. So, this Labor Day, do me a favor and be a decent human? Take a minute to see and value the work that’s done to benefit you. Challenge yourself to see more and do better, to hold other shoppers accountable, to be a light in a world that so quickly undervalues folks who aren’t working the “good” jobs in the sexy roles. They’re people, too, wildly deserving of our admiration and appreciation. Even if they get our order wrong, even if they’re tired or slow, even if the service isn’t perfect. Even then, especially then, they’re valuable and deserving of grace.
Happy Labor Day, friends…you are so incredibly loved!