When I was in first grade my first grade teacher got pregnant and took some months off for maternity leave. We had a long term substitute for a while. We'll call her Mrs. S. I am not sure if she was a new teacher or just a substitute who hadn't had a long term assignment before, but I do think she was still fairly new to the profession and experimenting with what worked.
|Me, just a tad younger than me in the story|
I never did forget the spelling of favorite again, but for years every time I thought about that, I flinched.
God doesn't make us all the same. The truth is, for Maeve and I the situation was humiliating, but perhaps for her the incident is lost in memory by now. Perhaps one or two of the kids who were laughing also were humiliated but chose to laugh to not show weakness, I don't know. But I do think most of my classmates just thought it was a fun excuse to get to run and yell, and probably don't remember the incident at all this many years later.
With my pregnancy I have been having fun diving into the world of Mommy-ness. It's a world I'm familiar with as an outsider. As I've said on this blog before years ago I remember discovering the genre of blogging called "mommy blogs" and realizing that I felt I was a mommy blogger, I just didn't have any kids yet. And like most people in their late twenties, my facebook feed is filled with parents who often are jumping on some soap box or another, sharing articles or photos that affirm (or sometimes challenge) their parenting choices and causing debates in the comments.
I've watched but rarely been able to be a participant and if I choose to engage, it has always been as an outsider. Which is fine, but it's a world I always figured I'd join. Not that I wanted to go to war, that's not that point, but that the modern parenting dialogue has always been of interest to me ever since probably even before I graduated college. And even with the single or childless, the real "war on women" has nothing to do with politics or a media sensation but instead with how quick we are to judge each other. All that's been in my heart for a while and the reason I am talking about it now is because I think God's brewing something in my heart to talk about the way we attack each other. Not quite there yet, but I know it's related.
In the meantime a few weeks ago I was gearing to be vulnerable and talk about my own struggles with keeping house. I prayed and started with what I thought of as an intro post to show people where I was coming from, since I'd noticed that other bloggers blogging about the same topic pretty much never seemed to come from my position. This way when I launched into more posts about the efforts I was making, despite my struggles, and to ask with help on things I was having trouble with, like meal planning, it would be from a place of context. And actually I had so much more to say on the subject. My post was getting really long and I remember thinking, "Eh, that seems like a good place to stop right now. I'll re-read it to get into the flow and write the rest of it next week." I thought that maybe I'd get some people who didn't understand exactly what I was trying to say, since obviously I didn't even personally feel like I'd explored it thoroughly myself, but anticipated that my continuation the next week would be enough of an answer to any commenters who didn't "get it." But I didn't anticipate the amount of comments or my own emotional reaction to them.
|Me in my tap dance recital costume|
While I cried about it, Ryan looked at me with love and pity and told me to forget them and he could see the improvements I was making. Which meant the world. I talked it through with him. Talked about the missing pieces of the story I can't talk about on the blog. Talked about how it felt like betrayal because I've not really adjusted socially in India yet and so I turn to my blog the way I'd turn to a girl friend in the US and I felt attacked by a close friend. Opened up about how it just didn't feel safe anymore and how I'd envisioned that post as a intro into new posts about trying to be a housewife, but I felt too vulnerable contemplating it now and I think I'd just keep those things to myself. Ryan told me though that that wasn't the answer and encouraged me to pray. And he was right.
At the end of the day, I don't really write for my readers or even myself. I write for God. So I took my pain and prayed about it. And I will, eventually, write more about my housewife-ness. Maybe sooner or later, I'm definitely approaching such posts with more caution and will be praying and revising them closely before publishing. In order to give my wounds a little room to heal I purposefully backed away for a few weeks, blogging only about the less controversial subjects of scripture, my pregnancy and stuff like thankfulness. I kept mulling it over, praying here and there, trying to figure out how to re-approach this topic. And interestingly, I feel like I have lots of puzzle pieces about inter-connected issues I wouldn't have put together before.
|Me with my sister for Halloween. I'm the brunette, here portraying|
I am sure that woman is fairly amazing. But just because she's been gifted with the energy and attention span of a super hero doesn't mean that everyone who falls below her standard is a failure.
And so as I was reflecting on that and also thinking about how to re-introduce this topic of my own inadequacies on my blog, God reminded me of my little six-year-old heart sobbing in humiliation over F-A-V-O-U-R-I-T-E while the other children laughed at their own flaws. Was there anything wrong with the other kids taking it in fun? Of course not, and it's an admirable trait. Actually I'm sure Ryan would have been one of those kids and it's part of why I love him. But was there anything wrong with me being that sensitive? I also think the answer is no. The truth is God did not make us all the same.
He reminded me he made me more sensitive than other kids. Something that people have tried to "toughen" me out of all my life, but He has always purposefully stepped in and corrected that. For me, in me, the times when I've gotten "tough" have been the times when I've risked being "mean." Does it hurt less to be calloused? Yes. But remember what the Bible called it when the pharoah refused to listen to God and Moses? His heart was hardened. For me, being less sensitive is to have a hard heart. I've learned that's not always how it works in other people.
Trees are coming to mind as a metaphor. Some trees grow strong by being tall and thick and wide and reaching out in all directions, like an oak tree. Some trees grow strong by being withered and shrunken so that they can withstand great winds (like on a cliff side or in a desert.) And some trees grow strong by staying thin and comparably softer wood, so that when storms or gales come they can bend with it, then bounce back to height to reach the sun. Maybe you could measure and argue about which trees method is best, but you miss the point: each tree has a different purpose. They all are trees, the provide shade, and all that. But ask any carpenter and different wood is suited to different applications. Some are more ideal for different conditions.
|My sisters and I on the porch. I'm in the center. I think this is Easter,|
due to the fuzzy chick toys we're holding.
Now this isn't me saying "you meanies, stop making rude comments". In fact, from replies I got I know that those who commented probably didn't think they were being mean at all. I came home distraught after that day at school and my mom called my teacher, upset, and my teacher was aghast. She'd thought it would be a fun thing. She herself was the kind of kid who would laugh and love an excuse to run and yell, so instead of being the harsh disciplinarian my brain saw her as, she was really just trying to make learning fun. But kids are different, and it hadn't occurred to her that there would be a kid like me who would find the experience so traumatizing. She was sorry and said she wouldn't use that method next spelling test. She'd never meant me any real humiliation or pain. Regardless though, the pain I felt was real, despite her intentions. I don't blame her at all at this point in my life, and I even forgave her back then right away. But just because I know she didn't mean harm didn't mean I hadn't felt harm, my reaction to the experience was a genuine reflection of my more sensitive than most heart.
The other metaphor that came to my mind along with the spelling story was coaches. That is, I've never been a sports person. Part of that is I'm a klutz and had inner ear issues, so I never found sports fun. But part of it also was watching coaches made me flinch and made me definitely never want to join sports teams. People screaming in my face? Um, no. Definitely not my kind of motivation. That would deflate my spirit, make me feel horrible, and have me in tears feeling like I could never do anything, be good enough for anything, or achieve anything. I have always only responded to gentle and loving encouragement or correction and so most team sports or say, the military, always make me flinch away with a "never, ever, ever, ever, ever ,ever" mindset.
Ryan and our friend Shushant and I were talking about that the other day. We were talking about how God corrects us when we fail. I forget how the topic started but I'm sure Ryan said something like how God says to him "You punk, why are you doing that again?!" or something equally harsh, but Ryan said it with a laugh. And I said God doesn't talk to me like that. Now note, I wasn't saying Ryan wasn't hearing God, I'm sure he is, God has been a lot harsher with other people in the Bible itself. But truthfully, God doesn't talk to me like that. Most of the time He's soft and sweet, saying stuff like "Beloved." Sometimes when He's very stern it'll be said in a low, "I'm disappointed in you" matter of fact way. But that's as harsh as it gets. And I respond. If God ever called me a punk I'd be in despair, and He knows it, so He doesn't. But Ryan knows if he's been a punk, God can call him a punk, and Ryan won't collapse about it. Because Ryan's not as sensitive, in that way, as me. And God knows, of course, exactly how to speak to each heart. Look at Jesus. With the money changers it was whips and yelling, with the Pharisees it was "You Vipers!" and with Nicodemus it was an intellectual exchange that transcended into spiritual truths. With the woman at the well it was frank and matter of fact speech. With the adulterous woman it was a calm "I don't condemn you; sin no more." With so many sick, it was merciful healing. And on and on. Look at how he approached everyone, with each it was different, but with each it was still out of a place of love because He knew what each needed to hear. He could not act without love, He's Jesus. But yet with some He was stern and with some He was soft and with some He was somewhere in between... and the truth was in the end they killed him for it.
I'm not saying anyone is getting killed here. I'm just saying that sometimes being loving still means you'll get hurt. Actually I think it's very hard to love without getting hurt.
So I'll continue to put myself out there blog and now I think I had this experience so I can try to take this perspective onward not only to housewife type blog posts, but to talk about the perspectives and adventures of mother and womanhood, topics I've veered away from often. And I'm telling myself I'll probably get hurt again.
But for my regular readers, I do ask you think about the six year old who cried on the playground and who never, ever forgot the difference between favorite and favourite again. Not because I deserve special treatment or am perfect, but just because the reason I can be hurt by you is because I care. I obviously cared way too much about being perfect on a spelling test, and I'm sure I care way too much about what you comment or don't... but the truth is, I do care. And while I think caring too much about what others think is definitely a flaw of mine, I ask you to keep it in mind when you reply. But regardless, still reply. I'm not trying close the dialogue at all, and thank all the commenters, from the other day and from today.
One of the amazing things about having a blog like this is I can let strangers in. I can let them get to know me, at least a little bit. So I guess in many ways this post is to just let you know what's going on since those comments and yes, to be an intro again to future posts which probably won't be so introspective and will focus more on practical stuff... but will still come from a place of struggle for me. Just.. keep it mind?
Love to you all. Seriously.