7 Quick Takes Friday #15

Hai.  Welcome Jen back to her 7QT’s with me, will ya?  I don’t know how or when she finds the time, but she’s back, blogging with hilarity.

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That’s something I’d like to know, actually.  I’m sure if I dig, Jen’s got a post about her schedule or writing routine.  To my momma readers/writers, how do you set aside time to fit your “me” stuff into your day?  I am currently trying to be awake with the Keurig at 6am, each day. Even on weekends.  So far, out of the two weeks I’ve attempted it, I’ve succeeded once.  But it was a very excellent once.  I am hoping to make it a habit, though allowing myself to crawl there.

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So, I, the Cradle Catholic, acquiesce that truly, I am a spiritually spoiled child. I take my faith for granted! My husband, the convert, is very different in that area.  For example, my husband and I were discussing some individuals he is constantly in contact with at his job, who need serious and urgent prayer.  These individuals have had a rough life, quite by choice, while rejecting the notion that God could do anything in helping their case.  Sometimes, with some people who it’s boldly obvious that “finding Jesus” is the answer, they are so far gone, that I cannot figure a way to even suggest to that person/s that they should seek another direction, without them catching wind that I might be Bible Thumping or Catechizing, resulting in a sharp high-tail from the conversation all together.

I sat back in my chair, heaved a sigh heavy with defeat and sorrow, and sang out with the most deep, profound, insight that a spiritually spoiled brat like myself could conjure: a line from Paul McCartney’s Eleanor Rigby:

 “All the lonely people, where do they all come from…?”

My husband, on the other hand, sat back, and with a sigh of conviction, said,

” …For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me….”

Of course, my husband the convert, has recourse to the bible verse (Mt 25;31-46), “whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” and I, the weathered Cradle Cath, refer to The Beatles… oy vey.

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This beautiful boy of mine.

This beautiful boy of mine.

Have any of my fellow mommas ever experienced something called Gender Disappointment?   I am a mother of three boys. I want a little girl desperately. When I was pregnant with my Collin, I cried alone in my room after we found out Collin’s gender.  I thought for sure I’d be given a little girl. I walked through Target and literally could not look at the baby girl’s clothes hung on the racks -pinks, polka dots, tutus and all- without tearing up.  I was embarrassed and utterly ashamed of my feelings.  I knew then, as I know now, regardless of the gender of my child, he is a unique, irreplaceable human being.  But I still felt disappointment.

This is something that I’ve never heard other mothers talk about. So I was terrified of how my husband would feel, and ashamed of what my mother would think when I shared my feelings of depression.  I was received with love and compassion. I sought advice from a long distance mom whom I look to as a mentor.  She helped me to realize what I already knew but needed to hear anyway: That the feeling of disappointment is not uncommon.  She also suggested if we are given the gift of more children, that when the opportunity to find out the baby’s gender arises, we might skip out on that option. She stated the obvious (which I needed to hear), that boy or girl, I will love my child, and come to know him as entirely unique and different than my other sons (and boy is he ever!).  Literally, as I read the email conversation, I felt the weight lift off of my heart.  I remembered that life is a gift, not an entitlement.  Just as a son or a daughter is a gift, I am not entitled to whichever sex I want.   My feelings took a 180 very quickly.  I still want a little girl. But I am at peace knowing that if God gives my husband and I the gift of a fourth child at all, the tiny precious human being may be a fourth boy, and I’ll have the beginnings of a baseball team.  I love baseball, and I’ll be their best cheerleader.  Maybe I’ll dedicate a separate post about this, if I get enough feedback, with further thoughts.  I just wanted to send out my feelers, to see if any of my readers have experienced this.

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faimly zoo

We took our kids to the zoo and I was completely surprised by how much I enjoyed it. The introvert that I am tends to be easily overstimulated and exhausted.  And when the parents are outnumbered by their children, I completely shut down and shout, “CAN’T BE DONE!”  We arrived early afternoon and were among the last to leave as the park closed for the day.  I foresee many more trips and sweet memories made this summer.

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The “can’t” has turned more into a “can” for me as a mom, at long last.  Collin is absolutely becoming a nerve wracking challenge, what with him scaling the furniture and believing that he can walk like the big boys  But Emmett is becoming -ever so slightly- easier to handle and to communicate with.  a few weeks ago, I braved the grocery store with all three of them: Collin, worn on my hip in the sling (hauling him in the car seat which he will end up crying to get out of, in my opinion, is just self torture), Emmett and Lexington, in the shopping cart riding in the nasty, germ infested truck attached to its front, for children to ride.  Seriously, it’s a whole new world of freedom.

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Yes, Emmett is, each day, slowly adding more hints of words to his vocabulary.  If  you’re not in tune with how he speaks, or not paying attention, his cues are easily droned out by my oldest, boisterous child.  Days are still full of tantrums and indecipherable bellowings, but I’ve dedicated myself to really working through the tantrums and trying to figure out what he wants.  This week, I drew each letter of the alphabet out onto a sheet of paper, and pointed to the letter.  Emmett spoke each letter.  I was shocked when we came to “W” (he does best with one syllable words) when he said “doo-yew”.  His voice wrenches my heart to tears.

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I wrote about saying cuss words. This post took me a whole month to write.  I sat down at the end of March, thinking I’d have it cranked out in an hour.  Wrong-o!  It was actually difficult, because I had to look at myself, my speaking and writing history, and understand why I made the transformation not to swear in the first place.  It wasn’t a clean severing from swearing. Heck, my bio still says I’m married to a “daym good-looking man”.  Nah, I’m not exactly cursing there, but I really should remove it, in light of my findings.  Please, go visit my post when you have time, and tell me what you think.

Have a great weekend, mes amis!

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On Cursing & Vulgarity

Welp, prepare yourself, Jack, I’m back.  Back and posting something other than 7 Quick Takes (in which I take great enjoyment in participating).

[So, hopefully some feathers will be ruffled, but none shall be plucked… right?  I simply wish to address a certain subject.  Please, don’t feel targeted.  I have received a handful of messages over the last few years from individuals who feel personally wronged by some of my past writings.  That is not my goal! My goal is to open a dialogue, not start a battle.  I am on your side!  I promise. On to it then!]

img source: NPR.org: Muny’sGirl/Flickr / Creative Commons

*&%$#@!!!!!  <this.  These kinds of words.

Foul language, to me, is not merely defined by a select handful of shocking words. It is those words, in combination with a whole way of thinking, a train of thoughts, which are outwardly expressed without care, which do not inject love and peace into society.  Rather, this foul language brings negativity, filth and base thinking amongst each other, and does nothing to elevate the profound and crucial worth of the human being and our earth we inhabit.  It is possible to speak foully without using a curse word at all.  …but less likely.

In a very quick snap of realization (oh could I but realize other things as quickly), I came to be revolted by vulgar, crass language from women and men.  The assumptions I’d made previously about using curse words I now know are incorrect.  However, before I continue:

Let’s just get the hoity-toity thoughts out of the way:  One might believe that I must be prudish, or that I probably think myself above others who choose to curse.  I’ve actually heard this before: “I just can’t trust people who don’t cuss!” …because they must not be real, and are probably fake, self righteous & snotty…

False.

I view cursing/swearing/vulgarity as ugliness by choice.  Yes, there is ugliness in the world, and that is a reality.  But we don’t have to choose to use verbal ugliness in order to make it real.

When given the opportunity to either give beauty to the world, or ugliness, which do you choose to give?
Without spinning off topic, I align beauty with goodness; with God’s goodness.  By way of verbal, physical, mental, spiritual, compassionate, authentic expression; externally, but mostly internally, when considering human relationships.

If wanting to give beauty to the world and to people around me is considered to be hoity-toity, then I confess I am.  However, I don’t see it that way. I invite you to look at language through my eyes:

{WHY IS SWEARING OKAY?}

  •  Swearing is funny when used sparingly.
    I can agree to an extent here. A swear word, standing by itself, isn’t wholly bad. The problem with this argument is the definition of the word “sparingly”.  I tend to view swearing as a kind of a verbal gateway drug. I started allowing a few of the lighter swear words into my usual language, but I noticed the way I spoke started to shift.  Then, I noticed the way I thought took a turn for the more insensitive, the more base, and the more ignorantly simplistic.
  • Swearing is liberating.
    The fact about this is that it isn’t.  It’s actually shackling. Yeah, we live in a free country and are entitled to speak our mind, but it doesn’t follow that we should blabber the most shocking, obnoxious word that we can think while it takes greater effort to think of rephrasing.  That doesn’t make us free.  What is liberating is expanding my vocabulary, my literacy, so that I can more completely express myself.
  • Swearing is how I express myself.
    That’s fine. Freedom of self-expression, right?  But consider this: “Smoking is how I relax.”  That’s fine too, no? It may damage my health, but I have the freedom to do that, right? …until smoking starts affecting people who are more health conscious (that’s called second-hand smoke).  So ummm… am I saying that if I choose to cuss, I’m pushing second-hand cussing onto others?
    Well, kind of. I’m injecting foul language into someone’s mind, and it cannot be unheard or unread.  I can write whatever I want to write on this page in order to express myself. But as a reader, I tend not to revisit authors who cavalierly sling vulgar language around.  I don’t want it in my head.  I also obnoxiously swerve away from smoking pedestrians when out in public.  I don’t want their choice in my lungs.
  • It’s in music, and everyone does it anyway.
    It is. I mean, do I really have to address this? Do I really have to say, “just because everyone is jumping off a bridge doesn’t mean we should do it too…”?  Are we really still of the mental logic of a 12 year old?  (No offense, 12 year olds, I know a few who are better than that.) A while back I stopped listening to the music with language about the same time I stopped using the same language. So, no.  Not “everyone cusses anyway.” I for one, don’t. When I hear that language, it repulses me more than a nest of maggots feeding on the entrails of roadkill.  And no, I don’t even think those words unless someone else puts them there.  And that doesn’t make me untrustworthy. I tend not to trust people who, proclaim that they are wanting to be better, but do not show it in the way they express themselves; by the choices they make and the way they speak.

{WHAT CHANGED MY THOUGHTS}

  • I’m hanging onto my twenties with one hand still (oy, I’ll be 29 in Nov.), yet I have some hindsight about the cool kids club.
    When I was 18, it seemed like the cool, confident kids cussed. I’m 10 years older and now, I see the 18 year old kids in the cool club and when they cuss, it speaks volumes of their insecurity, of their ignorance. I listen to them swear and it serves as a large shield to cover up who they are, in all their uncertainty of the world and how they should fit in, and what they think they want to be.  Instead, I hear an outcry for help.  I hear a desire to have deeper personal relationships with others, but they’re doing it wrong.
  • After a year or so of allowing swear words into my normal speech,
    things that I would have never dreamed to say years previous rolled out of my mouth before I even had a chance to think about how they would make others feel.  I thought with angry, barking swear words all the time.  My thoughts had been transformed to bark out:  “I DON’T CARE!” as I slammed the door of compassion in anyone’s face who might’ve felt offended by my word choice. Not that I was constantly insulting people, but one day it occurred to me, through my mother’s nudging, that perhaps it made others uncomfortable to hear suggestive words/language. The notion that my personal choice didn’t affect anyone started to fizzle out as I noticed a recoil reaction from people who I admired and respected.
  • This shield of cursing weighs us down, hampering our ability to have deeper relationships with others.
    I say this particularly when in an argument or debate with someone.  I have heard countless people, when confronted with a question which causes them to suddenly feel accountable for their own actions, feel uncomfortable, or angry, respond with a two-word offensive expletive, or similar.
    These words do nothing in helping us to understand each other.
    This choice exposes the speaker of his ignorance and lack of consideration.
    They are ugliness.
    They hurt the person on the receiving end.
    They shut out intelligence and common sense.
    They shut down the conversation.
    Worse still, they hurt the person who says it.
    The person who chooses to use this two-word expletive (or anything similar) from the inside of himself out, when given the chance to explain himself, strips his own integrity by:
    1. denying the other person the ability to understand him deeper
    2. refusing to think an inch deeper about his own actions
    3. boiling his thoughts down to mere insults, using them as defense mechanisms, which don’t work anyway, and effectively surrender himself without having to even admit it.
    4. exposing himself as someone who cannot think of anything more rational to say
  • Man or Woman, foul language detracts from our dignity as a human being.
    It sells us short of our ability to be so much more.  We are so much more than cheap talk. Knowing that regardless of my gender, I choose to speak in a way that adds wholesome conviction to society in lieu of parading-ly exercising my freedom or my hard fought equality to speak any other way, that empowers me.  It empowers me as a woman: equal in dignity, differently made, for an invaluable reason.  Just because a man is a man or the faulty logic of “boys will be boys”, does not follow that he should be expected or allowed to be vulgar in order to announce his masculinity. I consider a man who regularly swears and uses graphic, vulgar language to communicate as akin to a cave man or a Sasquatch, void of intellect, common sense, or reason.  Apologies to the cavemen and Sasquatch(es?) who don’t swear.

This isn’t an appeal to be puritanical and speak with words like “thy”, “thou” or “thine.” It is an appeal to question what we are allowing to reside within our own subconscious and what we project of ourself onto the minds of our loved ones.  We cannot stop others from injecting those words into our mind, but we can stop the continuation of that ugliness by choosing not to repeat it.  My favorite present-day philosopher, Peter Kreeft, says this:

“[…]That is why it is not important whether temptations come to me, but it is important whether I consent to them. “Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man” (Mt 15:11). This is true not only of the mouth or the body, but also the soul. What comes into my soul is not necessarily what I will, but what comes out of my soul is precisely what I will.”  –from The Importance of Free Choice

That’s why I don’t curse.

Someone asked me to address how we can interact with loved ones who are fluent in pot-mouthery. Hearts are changed by love and compassion (rarely do grown adults lay down and submit to being corrected, especially by a young spring chicken who cannot possibly be wiser), or perhaps by sharing this post on Facebook. *wink*

I read this post by Fr. Longenecker, which reveals what we are allowing to  happen spiritually to our interior when we use gratuitous language. He calls it Irrational Rage.  Have you ever had crossfire with someone who didn’t just disagree with you, but blew up in your face with every expletive in the most creative vulgarity possible?  If you haven’t, take a look at some of the comments left under certain blogs or news articles today.  It can come from the left or the right of moral and political spectrums.  Fr. Longenecker concludes of these people:

“The phenomenon we are seeing is something worse than anger and hatred. It is rage. Rage is irrational. You cannot argue with rage. Rage is cruel and violent for its own sake. Rage is anarchical and demonic in its absurdity and irrationality. When I say it is demonic, I am not exaggerating or being symbolical. The spirit of hatred has overtaken people, and I fear what we are seeing is only the beginning. Are the people so filled with rage demon possessed? I am not an authority on the subject, but I venture the diagnosis that if they are not literally demon possessed, then their personalities have been oppressed by evil to such an extent that they are out of their minds.”

And I’ll leave it at that.  Please comment with your thoughts.  …and leave the rage at the door.  Glory Be to God.

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7 Quick Takes Friday #13

Today we are with Grace @ Camp Patton, who is hosting 7 Quick Takes Friday for Conversion Diary.  Jen is still in the throws of figuring out the medical complications with her new little boy. Grace gives us a little more info, and Jen promises to update us soon.  Please continue to pray for her and her wee one. 

The past two weeks have been filled to the brim of “firsts” for my little family.  I found myself starting to get a little emotional about my children growing up…

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But the bittersweet went completely sour when I noticed Collin, our 6 month old, noming away on a Goldfish cracker he’d found on the floor of our living room.  I threw myself at him for retrieval, and caught a whiff of poopy smelling coffee.  That’s when I glanced at my middle child, Emmett,  who’d soaked his front with the remains of my cold coffee from the morning and then promptly pooped, shoved his own handful of goldfish crackers into my mouth and I, who’d been teaching Emmett the importance of the words “Thank You” all day, garbled a word of gratitude for his generosity.  At that moment, Lexington, my oldest, waltzed by, announcing that it was his turn to produce a number two, which I ignored, knowing that he’d be at least 10 minutes on the toilet and I could clean Emmett in ample time.  Upon laying him on the floor for diaper changing, I’d just opened Emmett’s diaper when Mr. Collin crawled over to wallow on Emmett’s face.  I grabbed Collin, and stopped short of tossing him into the Pack n’ Play, only to turn around and catch Emmett in mid stride, poopy diaper left on the floor, bum covered in its contents.  I wrestled him to the ground to finally begin clean up, and Lexington hollers from the bathroom, “I’M ALL FINISHED!” indicating his expectation of my arrival for wiping duty within 30 seconds.

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Collin has officially begun crawling; it’s a really slow, methodical crawl quite similar to the rocking steps of a chameleon. He’s also started to scale the furniture which has me at about a 9 on the anxiety richter scale. YOU JUST STARTED CRAWLING– NO CLIMBING YET! Give me a minute to compute the crawling process first, crikey. It just doesn’t look right, a 6 month old standing upright. Though Lexington was similar at 6 months, so I can hardly be surprised.  I still am.

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Collin has also tried his first solid. I’m doing baby-lead-weaning (BLW)– which is not what it sounds like: I’m not weaning him off the breast, Heavens, NO!  It is in our best interest, for now, to have him fully dependent on nursing, as it delays the return of my cycle and thus my fertility. NFP ed-juh-macation, y’all. After a full week of constipation, I have determined that his tiny gut still isn’t ready for full immersion.  This is fine with me, and I’m glad that I am more aware now than I ever was about my first two babies about how the infant digestive system works when introducing solids.  Did I know that baby cereal (rice/oatmeal) is what causes constipation, and it probably the worst “first food” for your child?  No.  Both of my older boys were cereal fed– Lexington at 4 months!  A whole 2 months earlier than I should have even begun thinking about it!!  Alas, I hadn’t done my homework and I’d allowed myself to be pushed around because, “He’s hungry!  Breast milk alone isn’t enough for that boy! Supplement with formula!  Mix cereal into his bottle to make him sleep longer at night!”  Bull.

Anyone who even glances at my child can account for the excellence of breast milk nourishment: He’s a fatty. I’m hoping to take the features of BLW that I like and see what works for Collin and I. …but not for another week or two.

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Our Emmett is two years old and still doesn’t talk. This is completely opposite from his older brother who popped out of my belly already knowing the alphabet, shapes, colors and animals. Lexington thrives on attention, but Emmett is suddenly too busy to be bothered with as soon as I encourage him or point to the book he’s looking through and try to read it with him. Our Pediatrician says Emmett is normal, just different than his brother. He recommended speech therapy if, at 2.5 years, he still isn’t talking.  I feel stupid realizing that at my core, I expect each child to be the same (reach the same milestones at the same time) even when I know they’re different human beings and operate at their own pace!

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Last week, however, I noticed something that generated chills on my inside and out:  Emmett sings.  We’ve tried to carry on, teaching and talking to him the way I talk to Lexington.  We sing the ABC’s and read books for as long as I have captured Emmett’s attention. Until, last week, I’ve kind of felt like throwing my hands up in frustration, wondering if he’s even mentally ingesting anything at all.  I was cooking dinner, Emmett playing with Hot Wheels on the kitchen floor, babbling and screeching his usual conglomeration of noises– wait, WHAT!?  “…aitch, eye, jay, kay, ellemohPEEEEH!”  Mid-stir into my skillet of chopped chicken, I realized Emmett was singing the alphabet.

Later that week, we were all playing in the living room, my husband had Lexington cackling like a hyena, Collin squawking in my lap, I heard a soft musical tune that sounded so recognizable my attention snapped straight to the singer: Emmett, “Boom, Boom, Boom, dah dah dah Moon, Moon, Mooooohn” He was singing Katy Perry’s Firework.
Now, no, we don’t electively listen to Katy Perry.  He knows the song from Madagascar 3, a movie we hadn’t watched in weeks.

I chimed in and started to sing the words along with Emmett, and he stopped, raptly staring at me in a way that spoke to me that he was satisfied that I’d understood what he was singing, and that he wished to learn how to sing the song better.
We have since noticed that he sings much more than we realized.  This all makes complete sense, because his first form of communication wasn’t saying “Mom” or “Dad”.  It was “la la la laaaa” the tune to Elmo’s World.
What makes this all even more hilarious is that I have realized one of the songs he likes to sing the most is a second song from the movie Madagascar 3, sung in FRENCH by the villain.

 “Non, rien de rien. Non, Je ne regrette rien…”  Yes, Emmett sings this,  I just never detected it until now.
I guess he’s my little songbird.

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Nothing is quite so humiliating as punching yourself in the face, especially when you’re already frustrated.

BAM! Right on the kisser. I had uppercut myself, somehow surpassing my chin altogether, and crushing my bottom lip while trying to single handedly yank my shirt up to nurse my 20lb, 6 month old; my foot back up on the oven door, cooking dinner, again. I am increasingly finding myself in this idiotic scenario and it’s increasingly dangerous because I am fully aware of the reaching and grabbing abilities of my hefty fella, and that if I don’t prep dinner earlier to allow time to stop and feed the baby, a pan of scalding meat will end up on the floor, or a tiny, grubby hand will be burned.

If you were to punch yourself in the face, would you rather do it with no witnesses, or with another person in the room?
I found myself wishing someone had seen it because I find healing in laughter. But no one saw, and it was more like, “…JUST. PUNCHED. SELF. –Business as usual, then…” And I repeated the injurious motion to lift my shirt, insanely assuming I wouldn’t punch myself a second time…

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I live in constant fear of writing words like “peruse” when I mean to write “pursue”.  So If you’re ever reading and notice a misplaced word that makes absolutely no sense, there you go.  Comment and say, I caught ya! And I’ll go, “Daaaghghg!”

It’s Holy Week!

It’s Holy Week; my favorite week of the year. Yes, even more so than Christmas!
Why? Because this week is when we remember (if we’ve done nothing else for the 40 days of Lent previous to this) exactly what Jesus did for mankind, and that He “conquered the world” (Jn 16:33)

I won’t be posting anything else for the rest of this week. Have a beautiful, meditative week. I hope everyone takes time to know the presence of the many blessings in each of our lives this week.

You are loved
You are needed
You are on purpose

If anyone is interested, here’s a YouTube vid about Holy Week (2 minutes in length):

And here are last year’s posts about Holy Week from yours truly:
Bible Readings for Holy Tuesday
Bible readings for Holy Wednesday
And “What is Easter Triduum?”

Until Easter, then! Have a blessed week my peeps!