Monday, June 25, 2012

For Love of Unicorns

Jennifer Nagy, writing for the Huffington Post, is on a mission.  Unhappy and divorced at the age of 29, she wants a law instated that will prevent couples from getting married before the age of 25.

Her reasoning?  She married at 24 and it didn't work out.  Therefore, every couple who climbs aboard the marriage boat before the age of 25 will find themselves wanting to jump ship before long.  It's simple math: since A+B = divorce, so does C+D or X+Y or Q+Z.  Obviously.

Grumpily, she acknowledges that some couples might marry young and make it last, but then adds, "Maybe there is such a thing as fairies and unicorns too."

My, what miserable people she must surround herself with.

Having been surrounded by "fairies and unicorns" my entire life, I could cite personal experience that proves the opposite of her theory.  In my family and circle of friends, the majority were married under the age of 25, and the vast majority of those are still together and still happy.

But the fact is that age is not the issue here.  (Does she really think turning 25 would have caused her to undergo the magical transformation from immature dope to unicorn?)  She reveals the real issues when she says of meeting her ex, "I was enjoying the freedom of drinking and partying legally for the first time...", "I was perfectly happy to let him take control of my life," and "I had no idea who I was or what I wanted in my life."

That isn't an issue of age, but of selfishness and immaturity, neither of which is likely to diminish when one spends her time devoted to partying in bars and reveling in freedom from responsibility.

I married at the age of 19.  I was still a teenager, and yet I knew exactly who I was and what I wanted out of life.  That doesn't mean all the details were filled in, nor do they have to be -- you might go into a marriage thinking you want 10 kids, but then, when reality trumps idealized dreaming, you realize you are happier with two.  Or you might go into it thinking you want to be a stay-at-home mom, but then realize you need the outlet of a full-time job.  Not everything needs to be laid out exactly so for the next 70 years. But, when a solid foundation is there, when you and your spouse are on the same page concerning the essentials (commitment to God and to each other) the rest is just details.

David and I have been very happily married for 11 years. There has not been a single day where we have not said, "I love you" and meant it.  There has not been a single day where I have regretted marrying him or where I didn't feel grateful for him.  And as for "finding yourself," what better way to do that then hand-in-hand with your biggest supporter and truest friend?

Unicorns and fairies are everywhere, Ms. Nagy.  You just have to know where to look.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Talking Dirty

I hate camping.

My husband's family loves it.  For some inexplicable reason they like vacations that involve tents and dirt and scary hole-in-the-ground potties.  They also don't deteriorate like I do.  On day one all of my sisters-in-law show up to camp looking perfect.  After three days of campfires and hiking and no showers, they all look exactly the same.  I, on the other hand, start out looking somewhat decent (by virtue of the fact that my mascara hasn't worn off yet), and by day three I have deteriorated into a grimy pile of stringy hair and bad skin that would frighten Medusa herself.  Not to mention the smell.

Then there is the whole getting-ready-to-go-camping thing.  This is a process wherein you spend five days packing up your entire house so that you can take it outside and get it all dirty.  Then, once you arrive at the campsite, you do everything you do at home, only it's 10 times harder and about 1000 times as unsanitary.

Add to this the prospect of taking along two toddlers, one of whom asks for his clothes to be washed any time he gets so much as a speck of dust on his shirt, and both of whom need to use the potty every five minutes, and you have a recipe that doesn't sound anything like "family fun".

So, forgive me, but I wasn't exactly looking forward to the whole camping thing.  Don't get me wrong, I don't hate every single thing about camping.  (I like a fire-roasted smore as much as the next girl).  But discovering that my air mattress has a leak would be a lot less annoying if I were doing the camp-on-my-family-room floor thing.  Also less annoying?  The waking-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-to-pee thing.  I mean, unless bladder rupture is imminent, there is no way I'm getting out of my sleeping bag to hike in the pitch black, freezing cold to the hole-in-the-ground potty (do you know what is down there?!).  Besides, being out in the middle of nowhere in the dead of night creeps me out.  You never know what is lurking behind a bush.  (I prefer the suburban security of knowing that if a serial killer gets to me, at least the neighbors will hear my screaming).

But, camp we did.  Matthew only asked me to change his clothes about 75 times (at one point he even complained that his shoes were dirty).  Matthew and Leah smartly eschewed the scary camp toilets for the pink froggy potty, which was resurrected specifically for the trip.  I hiked for three hours with Matthew on my back, which is quite an achievement when you consider how pathetically out-of-shape I am.  And Michael spent his time getting as dirty as humanly possible.

Verdict?  The kids had a blast with their cousins.  We enjoyed spending time with family.  And I might have smiled to myself a time or two as I cuddled Matthew and Leah next to the campfire.

Don't tell anyone, okay?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Death to Exercise

You know how there are people who love to exercise?  And not only do they love to exercise, they like to tell you that you should love to exercise too.

THEM:  "I feel so invigorated after a run!  Don't you just feel great after a good workout?"

ME:  "I'm sorry, I didn't hear what you said.  I was busy plotting ways to kill you."

For the record, this is how I feel after a workout:


Which is why, when someone posted on their Facebook wall the "inspirational" quote that is constantly making the rounds through the in-shape population -- "No one has said, 'I regret that work out.'  Ever." -- I actually snorted through my nose.

Every time I get off the treadmill I'm like, "I totally wish I'd spent that half-hour sleeping instead."

Oh, I know, it's supposed to get better.  But when 'better' means 'you'll be able to do something you hate doing for a longer period of time", I gotta say, I think I'll pass.

I mean, if I can live till I am 85 through a strict regimen of exercise and copious celery ingestion OR I can live till I'm 80 and spend lots of time on the couch, eating cookies, sorry, I think I'll pick the second one.

Of course, I did have the buttons pop off of two pairs of shorts in one day last week.  (In hindsight, I probably shouldn't have bought that Costco-sized box of 175 peppermint patties "to save money").  But I can comfort myself with the thought that I won't be the first to die if there is a famine.

Besides, I once read that people who get a "high" from exercise are more emotionally unstable than those of us for whom exercise serves the same function as bamboo shoots under the fingernails.  Yeah, exercise does all sorts of fancy things like "improve cognitive function" and "enhance metabolic processes" but who cares about that when there are brownies to be eaten?  I mean, talk about improving cognitive function.  Hand me a brownie and I'll suddenly recall the location of every single gram of sugar in my house.

I'd like to see an exercise fanatic do that.

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Making Of

Disclaimer:  We are not having a baby.  We are not thinking about having a baby.  We are not even thinking about thinking about having a baby.  And if we were we wouldn't tell you anyway, because it's none of your business.  Gosh, you people are so nosey.

SCENE:  Late last night, right after we'd discovered I'd left the sheets in the dryer and we would have to come up with the energy to make our bed.  This seemed like the perfect time to continue our deep discussion about life.

BONNIE:  You know, I know He's God and everything, but couldn't He have come up with a better way to have children?

DAVID (looking confused):  What do you mean?

BONNIE:  Well, really, there is just no pleasant way to have a baby.

DAVID:  What are you talking about?  What better way could there possibly be?

This is where we realized I was talking about childbirth and he was talking about conception.  Then we both laughed ourselves silly.  I found it all pleasantly ironic, considering the conception of our children had less to do with romance and more to do with a concerned-looking man in a lab coat who said things like, "You'll need to stab this forty-inch needle into the upper outside quadrant of your wife's behind every day for 10 weeks, 'kay?"  Only he didn't say, 'kay' because doing so would have meant he'd have to start chewing gum and signing his name with hearts over the i's. 

Awww, memories...

And then this morning I found this picture at the bottom of my jewelry drawer: 

Isn't it cute?  This is Matthew and Leah before they discovered the flour bin.  Look how low maintenance they are!

And besides the fact that I have a picture of my kids as embryos (my kids are sooo much cooler than your kids...) the great thing about having been through fertility treatments is that the sex talk is going to be so much easier. 

MICHAEL:  Mom, how are babies made?

ME:  Well, when Mom and Dad want to have a baby they go to the doctor and he gives them a huge box of needles...

 (this isn't even all of them)

MICHAEL:  Ewww!  Dad has to give you shots in your bum?

ME:  Well, dear, you'll understand it better when you're older.

Piece o' cake!

And they say this parenting thing is hard.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Arrested Development

I have really got to stop reading Lenore Skenazy's Free Range Kids blog.  I fear one of these days I'm going to have an aneurysm over the absolute brainlessness that pervades every aspect of today's society.   

(Okay, seriously, you should read her blog.  And her book.  It is my goal to be a Free Range Mom.  Bring back the fun of childhood, I say).

The latest madness?  A mother who was arrested for leaving her kids "unattended" after her four-year-old escaped the house and was collared by a neighbor, who called the police. Understandable, right? Well, not when "unattended" means "in the care of his 13-year-old sibling."


I would now like to conduct a small survey: how many of you were babysitting by the time you were that age?  And not just siblings, but children of friends or neighbors?  What's that? Almost all of you?

The times, they are a changin'.  And not for the better.

Frankly, this story would be silly if it weren't so serious.  When you take a perfectly reasonable situation and turn it into an arrestable offense, you scare legions of practical parents into looking over their shoulder every time they want to impart a new level of responsibility to their children. 

I admit there are many things I don't allow my five-year-old to do, not because I don't think he is capable, but because I am worried that some "good samaritan" will call the police on me.  For example, I think he is perfectly safe sitting in the locked car for two minutes, keeping a watch on his younger siblings (who are strapped into their car seats) while I run three feet into the store (where I can see my car out the window) to pick up the dry cleaning.  But I usually don't because I don't want to be arrested for "child endangerment".

Honestly, what kind of world are we living in that the first impulse of every Tom, Dick, and Nosey is to call the police?  The neighbor who found the escaped four-year-old should have walked the kid back to his house, not called the cops.

Sure, something could have happened to the kid.  But that is true of kids in every single situation, from the moment of birth.  Life is inherently risky.  There is no way to protect your children from every conceivable accident.  And in defense of the teenage babysitter, I am far from being 13-years-old and I have lost each of my children at some point.  My two-year-olds regularly drag chairs from the kitchen to the front door to unlock the deadbolt and attempt to flee into the street.  Most of the time, I catch them, but they occasionally do make it out the door.  What am I supposed to do, never go to the bathroom?

Kids escape.  They get lost.  They get hurt.  But hovering over them in a state of anxious paranoia, refusing to hand them any real responsibility, doesn't help them grow up.

And isn't that what we want our kids to do?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Food for the Soul

I have watched this music video on youtube dozens of times (along with all the other videos by The Piano Guys. Every single one of them is worth watching and re-watching). My children love it. I love it. Sometimes I turn it on just to listen to it while I work and find myself drawn back to the video. The combination of spectacular scenery and beautiful music is, well, soul healing. I can't get enough of it. It's the sort of video that makes you grateful to be alive, awestruck by the beauty of the world around you, and certain that there must be a loving God who created it all.

This morning, at Matthew's request, I turned on "Peponi". He is two-years-old and yet he will sit, totally mesmerized, watching it over and over again. I can't help but think that, in some ways, it affects him much the same way it affects me. It calms him. It comforts him. I have to wonder if, sometimes, it makes heaven feel very close for him.

So it was rather jarring this morning to see, sitting atop the comment section, that somebody had written, "You could feed more than a houndred (sic) starving African children with the money that you paid for this video..." Now, this statement in and of itself is not what bothers me (though I could do without the self-righteous tone). After all, feeding starving African children is a noble thing to do. But I resent the implication that something so beautiful and so powerful is somehow unworthy because it is not the most noble thing that these men can do with their time or money.

Surely it is worthwhile to be the means of giving thousands upon thousands of people a taste of true beauty and joy.  Surely it is noble to use one's God-given talent to bring a feeling of peace to the restless, to remind the downtrodden of their own value.  Surely it is important to instill gratitude in others, to provide a chance for reflection, and to celebrate the gifts that God has given us.

Certainly money is well spent when it is used to feed starving bodies, but isn't it just as worthy to feed starving souls?

Thank you, Piano Guys, for feeding mine.