Fake It Till Ya Grow Up

Well, the inevitable happened.  As of yesterday, I stopped wearing my wedding rings.  I’d like to think that this sudden swelling of all my appendages has everything to do with the mercury rising and nothing to do with the ice cream in the freezer, but! It is what it is.

I find myself desperately wishing myself into the future.  The obvious one is wishing it were 7 weeks from now and my little guy is here. The delivery, however it’s going to happen, happened and pregnancy is over.  But it’s not just that.  I wish I was 10 years older, maybe even 20, and the little vain things that I worry about are not a big deal anymore.  My varicose veins are just a fact of life and I don’t give them a second thought.  I’m established in my community and I no longer have that pit in my stomach when it comes to making or maintaining friendships.  I no longer feel defensive when it comes to the things I do and don’t do in comparison to my peers.

I want to be that mature mother and wife, who knows all the things and has been there done that and doesn’t freak out and refuse to post Mother’s Day pictures because my arms were too pale and beefy and my face was too pregnant-puffy.  I want to be the mother who doesn’t pass those insecurities on to her daughter(s).

The thing is, I’m beginning to wonder if/fear that we never get over our insecurities.  Maybe everyone else is just faking it?  Sure, women who are 10 or 20 years older than I am have experienced more and they’ve done their time, but maybe they do still angst about their friendships and their varicose veins?  But maybe they just don’t let on like they do.  Maybe they’ve learned to ignore those nagging insecure voices in their heads and just move on and live.

So that’s my new motto: fake it till ya make it. And in my case, make it = grow up. Maybe if I just pretend that all these things don’t bother me, eventually they won’t.  I’m about to have my second child and I know I won’t have as much time to worry about this stuff.  God willing, this is a pattern that will repeat itself as I enter my 30’s: more babies, more on my plate, less time to worry about silly things.  I think the silly things will always bother me to a degree, but if I start faking it and pretending that they’re no big deal, maybe they will indeed become no big deal.

My first attempt at faking it is sharing this picture against my vainer judgement.

My first attempt at faking it is sharing this picture against my vainer judgement.

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On a loosely related note, Dave is slowly working on our kitchen facelift.  Right now, things are looking pretty crappy.  The walls and trim require a lot of prep work and sanding before he can actually paint and in the meantime they look awful and there’s a thick layer of dust over everything and we track it all throughout the house.  Ordinarily, I think, this would be an annoying process but I’m usually pretty chill about living with chaos.  Being at the end of pregnancy, though, means everything is bothering me.  EVERYTHING. I know that I just need to be patient and it will be finished.  Dave reminded me that it’s going to look a lot worse before it looks better.  That’s just how life is, right?

The awesome thing about this picture is our new kitchen table and chairs that fit the space sooooo much better than our last set.  And! The chairs are not wobbly death traps! Everything else is looking pretty awful, especially the floor.

The awesome thing about this picture is our new kitchen table and chairs that fit the space sooooo much better than our last set. And! The chairs are not wobbly death traps! Everything else is looking pretty awful though, especially the floor.

I’m getting more puffy and veiny (and whiny) each day, but soon there will be a baby!  Amazing!  Afterwards, I’ll probably still have veins and scars and more belly flab, and all these things will get more pronounced as I age and as we add to our family.  But we’re building a beautiful thing, right?  I need to let go of my superficial woes and embrace the bigger picture of what we’re doing here.  I know it’s so worth it.

She makes construction look adorable, doesn't she?

She makes construction look adorable, doesn’t she?

An Open Letter to Open Letters

I’ve had the idea for this post percolating for a while, but I haven’t pulled the trigger because a. I’m not good at this and b. some open letters are really great, like my bro-in-law’s Open Letter on the Vocation of Marriage. [Seriously, read it.  And then sign the petition!] Luckily for me, the New York Times kinda hashed it out for me.

In The Lost Art of the Unsent Angry Letter, Maria Konnikova writes about how famous leaders and intellects of the past would write angry, cathartic letters to the people who irritated them, and then they would never send the letters.  Of course venting our frustrations through writing is still done today but with the advent of social media it’s gotten out of control.  Konnikova writes:

“Now we need only click a reply button to rattle off our displeasures. And in the heat of the moment, we find the line between an appropriate response and one that needs a cooling-off period blurring. We toss our reflexive anger out there, but we do it publicly, without the private buffer that once would have let us separate what needed to be said from what needed only to be felt. It’s especially true when we see similarly angry commentary coming from others. Our own fury begins to feel more socially appropriate.”

Appropriate.  Isn’t it interesting that what we consider appropriate has changed so drastically because of the internet?  Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, blogs, etc., they make narcissistic monsters of us all.  Suddenly we’re sharing information, photos and opinions that in the past we would not have deemed appropriate to share with casual and/or distant acquaintances, much less with the whole world.  I know, I know, times are a-changing and I can’t bury my head in the sand, but I believe some things (like being polite and common courtesy) never change.

It’s also always struck me that the most hotheaded and confrontational open letters often tend to be poorly researched and written. And about 10 paragraphs too long.  In a word, they’re lazy. Conversely, actually penning an angry letter requires much more physical and editorial effort; you can’t just delete or copy and paste (as I’m about to do):

“When Lincoln wanted to voice his displeasure, he had to find a secretary or, at the very least, a pen. That process alone was a way of exercising self-control — twice over. It allowed him not only to express his thoughts in private (so as not to express them by mistake in public), but also to determine which was which: the anger that should be voiced versus the anger that should be kept quiet.”

Anyway, now I’ve implicated myself in my own pet-peeve of open letter writing. 😉

What do you think?  I’d love to hear your opinions.  

WIWS & Some Catechetical Thoughts

It’s the first Sunday of Lent, and I just realized I appropriately wore purple (albeit, very pale purple).  Dumb luck for the win!

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Gap maternity tee & maternity tights (recommended by Dwija), old Loft cardi and old H&M skirt (worn here – yay for elastic waists!) and trusty Corso Como boots.  SK (23 months) is sporting a Gap Outlet dress in 3T.

Speaking of dumb luck, it came to our rescue during Mass today.  We’ve been using the diaper bag as a Mass books/activities bag for a while now and we just keep it in the car in the meantime.  It also has diapers and things in it as well, but we never ever have to use it as a diaper bag because this kid never goes when we’re out of the house.  I’m telling you, it never happens.  But it happened today!  I was so shocked when that tell-tale look came over SK’s face during the prayer of the faithful!  And then I remembered: time change.  Her little body thought it was an hour earlier, and we’re always at home at 8 am, so according to her internal clock it was go time.  Yuck!  But like I said, dumb luck came to our rescue and we were prepared like good  normal parents.

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Yesterday I headed over to church in the afternoon because my second grade CCD students were going to have a tour. My DRE was the one giving the tour so I was just there for crowd control, but I was more than happy to tag along.  In fact, the whole time I was thinking “Why don’t they do tours for the adults as well?”  Now, St. Theresa of Avila in West Roxbury MA is an especially gorgeous church.  And I’m not saying that in a haughty “my church is more gorgeous than your church” way.  Having grown up in an area where many of the traditional older churches were leveled or abandoned for more modern (ok, ugly) barn-like structures, I know it’s the exception and not the rule to have beautiful parish churches. Unfortunately.  But, every Catholic church has certain features that must be there (like the tabernacle and the altar) so there’s always material for instruction.

It struck me when my DRE was teaching the kids how to genuflect and why we genuflect, that this would be a good refresher for all the parishoners!

Image from Cardinal Sean’s blog. The tabernacle at St. Theresa’s pretty much demands that you stop and genuflect!

I assume most parishoners, like myself, don’t have time on Sunday to wander around and actually look at each stained glass window.  Not all stained glass windows are as intricate as the ones in St. Theresa’s maybe, but they are all meant to be catechetical.

It was really neat for the kids to get to go into the sacristy to see all the vestments and candles and the crucifix for the procession.  One of the things that they found really interesting (and I thought adults should know about as well) was how there was a special place for the chalice and ciboria to be cleaned that was separate from the sink where everything else was cleaned.

They had the cutest questions about it all. One little girl asked “where are the angel’s robes?”.  That stumped my DRE but then I asked, “Do you mean the kids who are altar servers who help Monsignor during Mass?” and she shook her head yes.  My DRE explained that when they’re in fourth grade, they could be altar servers if they wanted and they could help at Mass.  One of my students, a really smart little red headed boy, looked very serious and asked “If I want to be an altar server when I’m in fourth grade, does that mean I can’t get married?” Ah, I had to try really hard not to laugh; it was a valid concern in his little head!

Anyway, I share all this to just raise the question of whether church tours should be something that happens at every parish and not just for kids.  I don’t know if it’s practical or if I’m being naive, it just struck me as such a teaching opportunity in this day and age when most church going Catholic adults don’t know some of the most basic and profound truths of our faith.  A lot of it can simply be found within the building and in the artwork and function of the church itself!  What do you think?

Thank you to the lovely ladies at FL&P for hosting! 🙂

I’ve got a lot of problems with you people…

No, it’s not Festivus again, but I am about to air some grievances…with Masterpiece Theatre. As per repeated requests (from Ellen and our McDad) I am going to attempt to break down just what it is that has disappointed me about Downton Abbey particularly and Masterpiece shows in general lately. When I went on a little Facebook Rant after the Season 4 premier some people were not too happy with me (although a few admitted they had secretly felt the same way). This is not personal — if you enjoy something, I don’t want to take that enjoyment away from you. It’s just that I am disappointed in the show, and in a lot of the new Masterpiece shows, which I have enjoyed in the past but with which I am now finding myself unsatisfied. I will attempt to dissect the reasons why I am feeling this way using an unbiased third party who died a very long time ago: Aristotle.

The philosopher Aristotle wrote an analysis of Poets (writers) and their art (poetry and stage drama) called The Poetics. He was, in a sense, the very first theater critic, and so I think it’s fitting to go back to the basics and look at how Aristotle judged the entertainment of his time (which included such true masterpieces as the Odyssey and the Theban and Orestian Trilogies) and then use those same criteria to judge our modern tele-dramas — in this case, Downton Abbey.

(Some of the Poetics, mainly the part dealing with Comedy, is missing, and so we can only go from what Aristotle wrote of epic poetry and Tragedy, but I do think it’s general enough to apply to the serial drama we are discussing. For the purposes of this discussion, where he says “Tragedy” I will say “play,” and assume that covers television shows. Okay? Okay.)

Aristotle breaks the play down into 6 component parts, which are listed here in descending order of importance:

1. Plot

2. Character

3. Thought

4. Diction

5. Song

6. Spectacle

Plot, Character, Thought, and Diction, are essential parts of the play; Song and Spectacle are “Embellishments.” Plot is of the utmost importance.

Why? All Art, according to Aristotle, is Imitation; and a play is an imitation of action and of life, so the plot — the series of events that make up the action — is the soul of the play. I won’t go into lots of specifics about Character, Thought, and Diction — suffice it to say, that’s basically how different types of characters are presented, the way in which they speak and express ideas, and the actual manner of their speech. These things are important, and all serve to support the plot, but should not come before the plot in importance. Song and Spectacle come last because they are the least important — as “Embellishments” they are only there to add to what has already been presented in the plot and characters.

And here’s where we come to my critique of Downton Abbey. It seems like what everyone loves most about the show –The gorgeous sets and scenery! Sweeping music! Those beautiful period costumes! — all fall clearly into the category of Spectacle and Song — they are Embellishments.

Even the clever one-liners from the Dowager Countess, which I quite enjoy myself, fall into the category of Diction, Thought, and Character — they are funny because of HOW she says them, WHAT she says, and WHO her character is — which are all secondary to the plot. And not one critic, much as they love this show, will say that the plot of Downton Abbey is anything but chock full of holes. Large swathes of time disappear and are never mentioned, huge plot points take place offstage entirely, way too many problems are solved by letters arriving, deus ex machina-style, in the ta-da! nick of time. I am not the only person to have recognized or commented on this, but it seems like we’re all so dazzled by the spectacle that we don’t care.

Hmm, that was only one of my points and it’s taken a while to make already, so I guess I’ll let that one sink in and maybe continue with the rest of my points next week. I will leave you for now with the genius of Edith With Googly Eyes. This is why the Internet is awesome:

Little Dolls

The other day I was wasting time on pinterest and I saw this picture:

My first reaction was to think “I would wear that.”

My second reaction was to smack myself because that’s a little creepy.  Don’t you think?

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this outfit in particular.  It’s not like there’s inappropriate writing on the rear or something.  If someone gave my daughter this entire outfit, I would definitely have her wear it.  Heck, like I said above, I would wear it!  But again, that’s a little weird.  I think there’s something wrong with carefully curating your little daughter’s image, especially if you’re trying to make her a mini-you.  They’re not little dolls that we can dress and accessorize for our pleasure.  Again, I wouldn’t put this outfit on the same level as toddler beauty pageants or Bratz dollz; it’s not inappropriate. It just seems like a little much.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have standards when it comes to how your family presents itself.  It’s a worthy goal to want to present motherhood and the Catholic family life as something attractive to outsiders. It’s also healthy as parents to have standards for your children in how to dress appropriately.

When I was a senior in highschool and getting ready for my homeschool prom, my mom took me dress shopping.  I found a dress I really liked in JCPenny but my mom nixed it.  Now, I knew I wouldn’t get away with anything immodest, but I thought this particular dress was pretty and flattering.  It was long and black with spaghetti straps and pink flowers embroidered on the side of the waist.  Well, my mom said no because she thought black was too mature a color for a young girl to wear.  I was disappointed, but that was her standard and it was her right to hold me to her standards.

Now I’m the mom and I have to have standards.  But part of having standards for my kids, I’ve found, is holding myself to some standards.  I can’t dress my daughter up just the way I want her to look.  She’s a kid.  She doesn’t care about what she wears (yet) and I want to her to be innocent and free of materialistic tendencies for as long as possible.  I’ll still have standards for what she wears to church and what she wears out of the house. And I still have preferences in style of clothes and things like that.  But I shouldn’t micromanage every little thing about her image.  More important than any image we might portray to the world is the message my daughter will receive from me about clothes, looks and self worth.  And I don’t think I would be sending a healthy message if I obsessively control how my daughter looks all the time.

 What do you think?