Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My Wonderful Husband

So, with the last post being about our divorce/annulment and having said some borderline negative things about marriage in that and other posts, I feel moved to say some nice things about my husband. Here are some of the reasons why I love him:

(1) He has unbelievable compassion for people. He has the rare quality of being able to see a person's circumstances and have a truly loving heart for all kinds of people - even those others find unloveable.

(2) He loves his family sacrificially.

(3) He sees the beauty in people that aren't beautiful by the worlds standards. We aren't having any more children biologically, but I hope that we can one day adopt a little girl so he can make her feel beautiful because he has such a wonderful ability to see the beauty in women and girls that they don't see in themselves.

(4) He is the most handsome man I know. Seriously, he's gorgeous. I am constantly humbled that he is attracted to me (I almost don't want to type that because I know how it might sound. really - my self-esteem is just fine - I just adore my husband).

(5) He is a fiercely loyal friend.

(6) He loves God, but isn't afraid to question - and to listen to my millions of questions.

(7) He's very, very funny.

(8) We have the same favorite ice cream - mint chocolate chip from Baskin Robbins.

(9) He loved Kentucky basketball before I met him.

(10) He is an amazing father who isn't afraid to love his sons, to change diapers, to feed them, to pick out their clothes, to put them to bed, to read them stories, to play ball with them. I literally never worry about his competence to take care of them without me or question his love and commitment to them.

Monday, September 29, 2008

More on Marriage

Someone happened across this blog recently and left a comment about how it resonated with her. It came on just the right day - a day when I was feeling very misunderstood. I read her blog and also felt a conneciton. She lives on the other side of the country and until she left that comment, she was a complete stranger. I love that about the internet and think maybe I've found my answer to why I felt the need to blog instead of write privately in a journal at home. OK, I know that sometimes I take a long time to get to my point and you might be saying, that's great, but what does this have to do with marriage and the title of this post? I'm getting there. This same person left another comment, under my "Anniversary" post and said she wanted to hear more about this divorce/annulment thing. I responded with an email and oddly, gave more details than I would have imagined giving to a complete stranger, but for some reason I felt compelled. I'm now reminded that I need to write about it here. Not in the same detail, but to express my views on marriage. The discussion is very appropriate for this tension I have between my faith, my womanhood, my feminism and my liberal tendencies. I'll warn you that what I have to say may not be very popular with you if you are a feminist, but for me, it's truth.

First, the extremely abridged version of my story. Met my husband 7 years ago. Married 1 1/2 years later. Moved from Los Angeles, back to my home state of Kentucky 1 year later. Got pregnant less than 6 months later. Baby #1 was born (obviously, 9 months later). During the course of all of that, hit some major road blocks in our marriage. Husband decided he wanted to separate. Soon after, husband said he wanted to divorce. I didn't fight it. We divorced. We lived lives that were still intertwined and took oddly, much criticism for our efforts to raise our child together. About 9-12 months later, husband came to his senses. We reconciled. I discovered that in Kentucky you can annul your divorce. Filed a motion with the court, divorce decree was set aside. Legally, it never happened. Surprisingly got pregnant only 1 month later. Baby #2 was born 5 months ago.

So, here's what I have to say and what I learned.

(1) I don't believe in divorce. I begged my parents to divorce, and they did. They were miserable and they are happier now. I have known women that I thought should leave their husbands and vice versa. And I know people who appear to have met their "soul mates" in a subsequent marriage. BUT, I realized that I, personally, don't believe in divorce. Of course, all of my close family and friends thought our breakup was my husband's fault. I'm not going to assign blame here because the truth is no relationship ever fails because of one person. But what I learned and what I kept explaining to everyone about why I found it so hard to even try to move on was that if I did, I was breaking a covenant. On our wedding day, in front of all of our family and friends, and more importantly, God, I made a promise - and it was unconditional - to love, honor and respect him. Period. I didn't add the words "if you do the same for me." Now, I don't want to start a debate about the potential dangers of this way of thinking. Let me be clear, I don't believe women who are abused should ever, ever stay in an abusive relationship. I do believe, however, that as long as my children and I are safe, I am obligated to fulfill my promise to God, and to my husband. It sounds weird, but when I finally got this, it was very freeing. I didn't feel trapped at all, but I felt like I was choosing and honoring my choice. Frankly, I think it's much harder to think lightly of marriage and to keep looking around for perfection. Marriage is hard - harder for some than others. I have a friend who prefers the word "challenging" to "hard," but however you couch it, it's not Cinderella and Prince Charming. The idea of a constant quest to find what doesn't exist makes me feel trapped. Loving the person I choose, faults and all, is freeing. (I suppose it's the lawyer in me, but I feel that I need another disclaimer - I am not suggesting that this is truth for anyone else - it's mine. Every situation is different and I firmly believe every person's relationship with God is extremely individual. Divorce is an unfortunate reality in our world and I don't judge anyone who makes that difficult decision.)

(2) People want you to be bitter and angry. They thrive off of it. Really, it's eery. I felt so much pressure to be mad, to talk bad about my husband, and even to make it difficult for him to see our son. And this came from Christians, non-Christians, men, women, etc. It was amazing and very disturbing. Children, especially very young ones, don't chose divorce and I am constantly amazed and appaled at the educated, successful people who behave selfishly in relation to their children in the process and aftermath of divorce. I don't feel like I've done a lot of things exactly right in my life, but I have to say, I could not be prouder of the way that my husband and I handled our relationship with our son while we were apart. And I know that I was right in choosing (yes, that word again) to not be angry. I watched someone live with bitterness my whole life and that person still carries it around. It literally eats away at them. And it only hurts them, not the person at whom it is directed. I don't want anything to do with it.

Even the Right sees the Problem with Sarah

Here is a conservative calling for her to bow out.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

An Anniversary

I'm not one of those people who keeps up with random dates. I do well to remember the birthdays of my family members, but I remember today. I met my husband 7 years ago today - the Sunday after September 11. It was my first night volunteering with the junior high youth group at Brentwood Prebyterian Church in Brentwood, California and it was his last night as the junior high youth director. We have had a crazy 7 years. Here we are, a move to Kentucky, a child, a divorce, an annulment of that divorce, and another child later. In the midst of a ton of external stress that isn't going away anytime soon. And I think we're happier than we've been in a very long time. I don't regret any of it.

Monday, September 15, 2008

I love this guy.

Brett Berk. Hysterical.

Love, Mommy

I try to be intentional about buying books for our children that reflect all parts of their heritage. I would like to think I would be just as intentional about making sure they had diverse characters in their books even if they weren't multi-racial, but I know that it's especially important to me because I want them to understand who they are. I have witnessed many friends who are either bi-racial or have grown up in an all-white culture, when they are not white, have an identity crisis sometime between 18 and actual adulthood (if that even exists), and while I know there's no way to guarantee that I'll prevent that, I'd like to do everything I can for now. I just read a wonderful book to Jordan called The Sweet Smell of Roses about little girls who sneak out a join a civil rights march led by Dr. King. The author is Angela Johnson and there are beautiful illustrations by Eric Velasquez. My heart skips a beat when Jordan sees the picture of the man preaching and says "Dr. King!!!" And tonight, I explained to him that Dr. King was talking to people about love. When I asked him later, he was able to repeat that to me. Sometimes he listens and sometimes he doesn't, but it seems he always listens when it's a really important message like that. On the days when you wonder if you are making a difference in the world, there's nothing better than hearing your 3 year old, in response to the question, "What is Dr. King talking about?", respond "Love, mommy."

Some other beautiful children's books I've found lately -

My Brother Martin

The Lord's Prayer (The illustrations in this one are incredible.)

He's Got the Whole World In His Hands

Sunday, September 14, 2008

By the Way

I wonder what Olympia Snow, Kay Bailey Hutchison and Elizabeth Dole think about McCain's choice of Sarah Palin? Not what they say publicly, but what they really think about him picking the young, "hot" governor (not that any of them are old, and they are all beautiful women). Surely, they speak to their trusted friends and spouses about the gimmick of it all. It's an age old story, isn't it - older women being passed over for the younger, hotter and less experienced ones? Politics is a lot like show business in that way (and many others, of course). The men become more distinguished and attractive as they age, the women, just old.

White privilege

Good stuff here. I'm reading all the links she has in the post (in my spare time, of course) and I have lots to say about this soon.

Friday, September 12, 2008

More Sarah

Really, I don't want this to turn into a political blog, but I know I can't not talk about Sarah Palin.

Here's Gloria Steinem's perspective. Most convincing is this quote:

"Palin has been honest about what she doesn't know. When asked last month about the vice presidency, she said, "I still can't answer that question until someone answers for me: What is it exactly that the VP does every day?" When asked about Iraq, she said, "I haven't really focused much on the war in Iraq."

I suppose there's an argument that her honesty is refreshing. Instead of giving a political answer, she gives an honest one.

A Republican friend and I had an email exchange today about the issues surrounding Palin. She asked me why I think she's a gimmick and validly pointed out that every VP pick is a gimmick.
"Obama gets criticized on experience so he picks Biden. Kerry was a northeastern liberal so he picks a young, southern democrat to appeal to democrats who aren't as far left as the northeastern liberals and to independents. Gore is a southern democrat, so he picks Lieberman to appeal to the northeast and the independents. McCain had to pick someone young, attractive and charismatic, whether it was a man or a woman, and he needed to pick someone further to the right than him in order to bring back in the Christian conservative base."

My reply was this: Yes, every VP pick is a gimmick in a way and Joe Biden is no exception. I think McCain's pick of Palin, however, is particularly offensive to some (including me) because picking a woman is historic and it's important. The message you send with the woman you pick is very important. Like it or not, everyone is watching to see if she can make it and whether she does or doesn't will set the tone for how the majority of people feel about the competency of a woman in that high of a political office. Obama has a similar pressure. So, (1) many people don't believe that John McCain would have otherwise picked a woman, (2) he picked a "pretty" woman who seems to, despite her tenacity and success, take a backseat to him, not just as the potential president, but I think there is something about her demeanor that makes it seem like she is deferring to him as a "man" - I know that's reading a lot into it, but I've read articles by people who feel the same (3) there are other more qualified women in the Republican party - Kay Bailey Hutchison, Elizabeth Dole, etc. Why this woman hardly anyone had heard of before he picked her? I know she appeals to the far right, but really, she isn't qualified and the potential for her having to take over as President is stronger than with some VPs (Joe Biden also has a strong potential in my opinion, because I have no doubt there will be attempts at Obama's life, but that's an aside).

We had a very long exchange besides this - about qualifications and my struggle about my feelings on her as a mother. I won't share the whole exchange because I haven't asked her permission, but I really enjoy having political discussions with people who can respect what I have to say and who have intelligent things to say in response. I like politics, but admit to not being as well versed in all the issues as I should. Sadly, I know more than 90% of the American public.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Avoiding Sarah

So, it's about time. I've been avoiding her for over a week now because, well, she confuses me. But I really can't have a blog about the trials of a working mother and not talk about the pink elephant in the middle of the room can I? I want to - because I don't know what to think and my head starts spinning every time I try to decide, but here I sit with my glass of wine (which, oddly enough, has stopped my head from spinning) and I've decided that though I'm not really ready, it's time to write about her.

When McCain first announced his running mate, I was pissed. No one had ever heard of her and she did not appear to have any qualifications. I was sure it was a publicity stunt and an insulting one, at that. He just went out and found a token woman - a pretty one - to save his campaign. Then, I read about her. And she intrigued me. So I set my DVR and watched her convention speech. First thought: "God, her voice is annoying." Second thought: "Wow, she's really feisty. I kind of like her." Third thought: "She scares me." Both because she's so far to the right and because I think she is a formidible threat. Also: "Really good jabs at Obama. They're low, but someone wrote some good one-liners for her."

So after the speech, I didn't know what to think. I kind of liked her. I was moved by the historic significance of the GOP choosing a woman and the potential for her to be our first female vice-president and even good chance of being president (does anyone else have a hard time talking about John McCain's potential to die in office so flippantly??? it seems like we've just resigned that the poor guy won't live more than a year or so. he's only in his 70s . . ... But, I digress). I talked to people about it. Men and women, republicans and democrats and everyone seemed to love her speech. One republican woman I know went from being so offended that McCain picked her to re-considering her vow not to vote for him.

What bothered me afer the speech was, well, what bothered me. I'm ashamed to admit it but I sincerely wondered how she could leave her smallest child, who she was still breastfeeding, and has special needs, to pursue this. I thought about the stories about her going back to work only a few days after more than one of her children was born and I judged her. Who does that? What job is that important?

I know. Maybe I wouldn't ask these questions of a man, but they are being asked and I don't think they are bad questions. After we found out she was sick, we all asked how John Edwards would be able to take care of his wife if he was running for president. I think these are legitimate questions. I don't think the question of whether a woman can work and have a family should still be asked, but we're not talking about a small family, and we're not talking about an ordinary family. And we're certainly not talking about an ordinary job. We're talking about the family of a woman who is running for vice-president.

I'm confused. Here are some more thoughts:



Monday, September 1, 2008

Political Civility

I often follow Jim Wallis and his efforts to get Christians talking about all of the issues facing America, and not just the few that evangelicals have historically harped on - i.e., abortion and homosexuality. I really like this post on his blog God's Politics, calling for civility among Christians in the political process this year. Here's an excerpt, his "Five Rules of Christian Civility":

1. We Christians should be in the pocket of no political party; but should evaluate
both candidates and parties by our biblically based moral compass.
2. We don't vote on only one issue, but see biblical foundations for our concerns over many issues.
3. We advocate a consistent ethic of life from womb to tomb, and one
that challenges the selective moralities of both the left and the right.
4. We will respect the integrity of our Christian brothers and sisters in their
sincere efforts to apply Christian commitments to the important decisions of
this election; knowing that people of faith and conscience will be voting both
ways in this election year.
5. We will not attack our fellow Christians as Democratic or Republican partisans, but rather will expect and respect the practice of putting our faith first in this election year; even if we reach different conclusions.


I often find myself writing about things that were triggered by my friend's blog, Teaworthy. She also blogs for Skirt!, and once again, I have to link to her post. I can't wait to see this movie.