In which I watch a disagreement break out and people get sensitive about an event I didn’t go to

I did not go to Edel. 

The reasons: 1. I didn’t have the bank and 2.my family’s annual vacation was that week anyway.

Instead I spent that weekend and the week before with my husband, kids, parents, 2 of my brothers, my maternal grandparents and maternal aunt and cousin on an island an hour and a half from where I live.

When I first heard about Edel, I thought, that sounds great! But my big ol’ introvert self breathed a sigh of relief when I saw the dates and knew that I had a reason beyond money not to go. Because I have a couple of friends who like to give me “scholarships” occasionally for events like that.

But, last weekend I was lying around a beach house my parents were paying for eating food they paid for and having no regrets. I got online and looked on twitter.

It started out as a question: Is Edel only for Catholic mothers or are all Catholic women welcome?

I won’t link to tweets or mention handles here, but it evolved into a series of people trying to answer the question of the intent of the gathering (for moms who need a break? for all women who need a break? mostly for moms but non-moms can still come but might feel left out of a lot?) And the issue of exclusivity was raised. I left the debate before a successful conclusion was reached (I didn’t engage, but I did follow out of curiousity) so I’m not sure if there was a conclusion. Also, no one actually at Edel who was in the convo (there was at least one) could confirm if there were any non-moms in attendance.

The original asker of the question does not have children and admitted to possibly being over-sensitive about it. The one participant I saw who I knew was at Edel took exception to the question even being asked. She first got upset and misunderstood the asker’s intention (note to all: twitter is not a good debate forum. Ever. For anything.) and felt the asker was saying that mom’s don’t deserve a break. And that God forbid they get a break because it might cause offense. Quickly it was resolved that yes, mom’s deserve a break, but is there ever a time when moms and non-moms can take a break together? This participant then accused the others in the thread of being unkind and uncharitable toward the participants and organizers of Edel. Several both moms and non-moms jumped in saying they didn’t think that was the case at all.

Now on the Edel website it clearly states this:

Edel is an event for mothers who need a break.

It’s a chance to form meaningful connections with like-minded women.

It’s an opportunity to hear inspiring speakers who will encourage you in your vocation.

To me it clearly lets one know, hey this is a mom’s only conference. I think the original asker of the question was ambiguous because various blog posts regarding the event made less mention of the event being for moms and had more of an “all are welcome” tone and vibe. As she stated it was exciting to hear about a great gathering and then get to the page and read that headline was like, “oh, I see.”

I don’t think this was a case of outright exclusivity. I think the event was created by two wonderful women who created an event like they would like to go to. Not the traditional Catholic conference fare. And knowing Hallie for a few years now, I can say with certainty she did not sit down and think, “Let me create an event that focuses on  Catholic motherhood so we can leave out those Catholic women unable to have children, who are licitly trying to avoid conception or are single.”

I also don’t think the original writer of the question was trying to pick a fight. I think she felt left out and it stung. It wasn’t intentional, but it happened. Having experienced infertility and pregnancy loss (which that writer was very clear she was NOT suffering from) I could remember sitting in mass week after week and hearing a priest extol the virtues of motherhood and sometimes it really hurt. When I thought I was being overly sensitive about it, a friend whose husband was diagnosed with cancer a week after their honeymoon and was unable to have children because of his on-going treatment and a single friend both told me, it wasn’t my imagination, the religious life and motherhood were the gold standards at their parish and in their diocese as well. Most of the time you try to ignore it but sometimes that sense of loss or feeling left out really does hurt, as unintentional as it may be.

If I could go back to talk to myself 10 odd years ago I would tell myself what I’m saying now: you are Catholic. All ARE welcome. Catholic means universal and that includes you. So maybe this conference wasn’t designed with you in mind, so make your own! There are other parts of the Body of Christ out there like you who need to share your unique experiences of vocation as a wife. Start your own group in the parish for women in your situation. It doesn’t have to be big! Yes, you deserve a break too but it’s okay to create that yourself!  If you don’t, who will?

I think about this as my new parish hosts a group for parents suffering miscarriage, still-birth or infant-loss but no group for infertile couples. If I was still without children, I would need to start that group after having reached this age and maturity level. But, I get it, it still can hurt at times. That’s normal.

I hope that the women who went to Edel enjoyed themselves. I hope the women who didn’t and wanted to will be able to someday. And for the women who felt left out, I hope that they can continue to live out their vocations joyfully and maybe create that gathering that represents them and their station in life.

Weekend Wrap-Up

Well, we sent the boys to their grandparents’ house this weekend. My parents. Friday evening we met my dad at an exit off I-40 half-way between our houses. After dinner at Wendy’s with my dad, we headed south, he headed north with two little boys.

Shelby was, noticably, uncertain about what to do with no brothers and we heard a report that William stated he missed her several times.

Apparently they had a great time:

 

Joe at batting practice

Joe at batting practice

Will, pitching practice...or aiming

Will, pitching practice…or aiming

My parents and boys in the Durham Bulls' dug out

My parents and boys in the Durham Bulls’ dug out

 

Joe, Will and another team's mascot

Joe, Will and another team’s mascot

Joe, Will and My mom with the Durham Bulls mascot Wool E. Bull

Joe, Will and My mom with the Durham Bulls mascot Wool E. Bull

 

Joe, Will D Bulls

Joe and Will at the Bulls’ Stadium

Joe and Will digging for fossils

Joe and Will digging for fossils

Will and Joe riding dinosaurs

Will and Joe riding dinosaurs

 

Joe and Will at How to Train Your Dragon

Joe and Will at How to Train Your Dragon

 

Friday night, my brother came over to join in the fun. Apparently they stayed up late, with Joseph being up past 1 AM. Saturday morning, hair cuts were on the agenda. As William was reluctant to get a cut, my mom bribed negotiated with him to get a Bowser figure if he agreed to a cut. Joseph wanted his cut, so no worries there. As Joseph also outgrew his shoes at the end of the school year and didn’t tell us until the week after school let out, my parents also wanted to get him new sneakers (we intended to let him wear beach shoes all summer and spring for them at back to school time). After haircuts and breakfast, they went to Target to search for Bowser which Joseph finally got William to admit he hadn’t seen there before, it was just a stab in the dark. Joseph looked at the sneakers there but confessed to my parents he really wanted a pair of Nike’s which they didn’t carry. So, off to Shoe Carnival it was where Joseph scored a new pair of Nike’s that he loves. Then to Toys ‘R Us. Now, there was a Bowser to be found there but William decided he instead wanted a different set of Mario figures. And Joseph found a clearance Angry Bird’s plush they didn’t already have. Loaded down with scored grandparent loot, my parents took them to the Durham Athletic Park, home of the AAA Tampa Bay Rays farm team, the Durham Bulls. My parents are season ticket holders with a group of friends and the DAP is host to this year’s AAA All-Star Game and had festivities all weekend. The boys got to sit in the dug out, meet Wool E. Bull and other AAA mascots, and participate in various activities for kids. My parents had initially wanted to visit the Duke Lemur Center, but decided it might be more than William could handle. As a result, they instead decided to go to the Museum of Life and Science also there in Durham, close by their home. Joseph and William enjoyed the dinosaurs and digging for fossils. They also did get to see lemurs there. Finally, they went to see How to Train Your Dragon 2. Everyone enjoyed it. Apparently my mother and Joseph cried. They also had pizza that  night with my brother Matt and his girlfriend Sarah. This morning they went to mass at my parents’ church. Apparently, William slept through that. I don’t claim they’re angels all the time! We met them at the same exit and had dinner this evening at Smithfield’s.

As for us here at the old homestead, on Saturday morning, after some cleaning and I went grocery shopping, we took Shelby to our area’s adaptive park playground. There is also a “Miracle Field” there for children and adults with special needs. It exists inside a larger park complex. We’d never been before and we had the place to ourselves. We will be returning with the boys for sure.IMG_1194 IMG_1197 IMG_1198 IMG_1205 IMG_1206 IMG_1208 IMG_1209 IMG_1211

I had to work that afternoon/evening but even than was unexpected. I was asked to run to another store to get some product delivered there by mistake. Got paid my time and mileage. This morning we attended mass at what we later decided is our new parish and napped this afternoon before getting the boys. It sounds kind of lazy, but we did do a lot of cleaning/painting/housework that is pretty boring.

Back to work for me tomorrow and school for Shelby! Have a great week!

Moving on…in so many ways

Last Wednesday our house officially went on the market. Thursday we had our first (and so far only) showing. From what I’m told it’s great we’ve had a showing in our first week (officially our first 24 hours) on the market.  We have to sell this home before we put in an offer/move, so here’s to hoping! It’s in God (and St Joseph’s) capable hands.

A lot of change has gone on in our lives in the past few months. Not the least of which was that Shelby’s Godfather was assigned to a local parish. Over the past 2 years, I have felt that perhaps my parish was no longer where God wanted me to be. Nothing dramatic happened, it was just various little things and nudges. And Shelby’s Godfather being so close kind of prodded me into action. I began praying and talking a lot more to Jeff about it. Well, we figured, if we move, the whole point is moot as we will be too far to regularly attend any of the current local parishes on a weekly basis, and will have a parish in our new town. One of them. So, you know, not this conundrum any longer. But, on the other hand, if it takes a while for the house to sell, well, then is it worth waiting it out because we can’t predict the future?

This weekend, the boys went with my parents for a fun weekend and we decided to take Shelby to mass at her Godfather’s parish. Shelby and Jeff sat out in the vestibule while I was in the sanctuary which was not ideal, but it was 7:30 AM mass and quiet and a new place for Shelby. She’ll probably spend a few weeks out there.

After mass, Jeff talked about how nice it was there and how great it was to see Shelby’s Godfather. The associate pastor, a newly ordained priest, said mass. He did an excellent job and his homily focused on the Gospel reading and how each of us is a mixture of the soil described. He also talked about how closeness and familiarity with Scripture can help our souls be the more fertile soil. Now, if you’ve read the blog recently, you know that was like my patron for 2014, St Jerome, grabbing me up out of my seat! I looked through the bulletin and found the director of music and liturgy had written something about what a “typical mass” is. Reading it I could feel my heart opening up. We live in a country with the first world problem of having too many parishes/masses etc to choose from. And while most of us are grateful to be able to take part in the sacrifice of the mass no matter where, there are people in our pews each week there solely out of obligation. Their hearts are not filled with joy but with contempt for the music minister because On Eagle’s Wings is being sung, anger toward the priest because he didn’t chastise something harshly enough, or resentment toward the family in front of us with the toddler babbling happily interrupting “our” mass. Is that any way to receive the Body of Christ? Honestly, changing parishes won’t change your attitude. No parish is perfect. There are things at all parishes that need improvement. And while it is certainly one thing to point out liturgical abuse, there are a lot of complaints that are just nit-picky. I have resisted changing parishes because I don’t want to go to a new one because there are no drums or electric guitars at mass (a pet peeve), or the lack of a Catholic based VBS program, or anything like that. No, even with the annoyances I felt at my parish, I was determined to present myself to God with a joyful and gracious heart and receive Him in that state.

But at Mass this morning, I felt something. Something moved deeply in me. Something that said, “This, This is where I want you. This time, this place.”

So when I casually mentioned to Jeff that I was considering changing our parish registration, and he said, “It’s time,” I felt waves of peace. I wasn’t “parish shopping” or fleeing an “ugly” church. I wasn’t even switching because the priest is one of my oldest and dearest friends and the Godfather of my only daughter. This morning, I only went because I wanted Shelby to see him, I intended to remain at my current parish. But when the Holy Spirit grabs you and convicts you, you know what you need to do. I went online and registered us.

Now, why would I switch parishes as we are trying to sell our home? Well, as I already pointed out, we could still be here a while! And on top of that, I’m not in any position to argue with God about this. Okay, I’m never in any position to argue with God ever, but this was a message both Jeff and I felt convicted about in such a way it was undeniable. There was/is no ambiguity.

So, regardless of the situation with the house at the moment, we’ve changed parishes. I submitted our registration online. It’s done. It’s all in God’s hands.

What it really means for the government to “be in your uterus”

I am sick and tired. Literally but also sick and tired of young, predominantly white, upper classed privileged women saying stupid things like, “Get Out of My Uterus” when referring to pro-life campaigns or yelling “get out of my bedroom” and then demanding for tax payers to pay for their birth control by government mandate. Enough.

There was a time when governments in the US were literally in the uteruses of women. It happened right here in my state. North Carolina had a strictly enforced forced sterilization policy in the early part of the 20th Century. Young women whose only crimes were being, unmarried, poor, minority, disabled, or some combination of the above, had hysterectomies thrust upon them or face other less than desireable consequences. Many were not told the extent of what was being done to them. Okay, let’s be honest almost none of them knew. And it wasn’t until 1977 that we realized we could not negate poverty and drum down welfare costs with a eugenics program and not til 2003 that we officially got that on the books. No, the government of NC spent the better part of almost 45 years in the uteruses of many women quite literally taking away their ability to create new life and causing unspeakable mental anguish. And read the story of the man in that link who was castrated who comes from the area I live in now…I kind of want to throw that in there too and say “what now?!” to the people claiming the government is controlling them by telling private employers that it is okay to deny contraception coverage (and FYI, read the briefs, Hobby Lobby is only not covering 4 contraceptives not refusing all of them). Come back and talk to me when you’ve been wrongly accused, falsely imprisoned and been cleared of charges but no one let you know…and all that AFTER you were sterilized.

And that’s not even to speak of the atrocities done to women around the world that are government sanctioned. And do a little research, there are lots of private and local government groups that give out ABC at low cost or no cost. And yes, they’re in your area. Asking the government to pay for your birth control is inviting it into your uterus. You’ve put out a welcome mat and offered little pigs in a blanket as appetizers. You want it to be between you, your partner, and your doctor then YOU have to pay for it! And no, as NC proved, you can’t even sterilize your way out of a welfare state (FYI surviving victims are getting $50,000 guberment payout now) so gimme all your arguments about it being cheaper than paying for childbirth. And let’s keep it real here, the ones screaming loudest right now, are the ones that just don’t want to be responsible for their own behavior because their parents bailed them out a few times too many as children.

We live in a world where everything: our elderly, our disabled, our children–both born and unborn, and our fertility are throw-away. They mean nothing. If you want to throw your reproductive abilities away, fine, God gave you free will and that’s how you choose to use it. Just don’t ask the rest of us to foot the bill for your sins and scream, “Human rights!” when others were strapped down physically and were, in fact, violated.