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“I’m standing in the flames, It’s a beautiful kind of pain, Setting fire to yesterday find the light, find the light, find the light…”

Do you know how long my hand has hovered over the keys, afraid to hit “publish”?

I like to be good at things. I like my life to be functional, polished. I like to be seen as efficient and effective, capable and strong and brave. I’ll settle for okay, but I prefer talented.

The last six months have been an enormous time of growing for me, both mentally and spiritually, and I can say with certainty that one of the most important lessons I have learned about myself is that I am not good at endurance. I can rock the suffering…as long as I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Faith? I got it…as long as I can feel some sense of a lesson in the end. And to be totally honest, some of what I call peace may be a bit of shrugging and giving up. When you have a chronic disease, people kindly say things like “You are brave. I could never deal with what you deal with!”  Horse hockey. Yes you could. You would have no choice. I am not brave, I am afraid. I am not strong, I am terribly weak. I am not skilled at enduring, I am desperately hanging on.

But I love where I am.

Pain is a gift. Oh please, dear one who is struggling, please don’t click away in anger, because I know the feeling that this is ANYTHING but a gift. I know the desperate anger that comes with longing that has no ending, that feeling of just wanting one day, one hour of calm, before your body betrays you and reminds you yet again of your frail humanity. I promise I know, and I have cried plenty of angry tears too. But the pain that batters my body around, reminding me daily of lost time, lost ability, lost babies, that pain extends to batter my heart too and the bruising has made it softer.

But it’s not hard for me to talk about empathy. Empathy isn’t what keeps the hand hovering over the publish button. It’s fear and it’s shame.

I never realized until this year how we conceptualize pain as something to triumph over or give into. We celebrate unmedicated birth as though it is the strong women who can endure. We talk about high and low tolerances. We self describe, using words like “I’m a baby about pain”. We lift up athletes who play through the pain. We see pain as an event- it has a beginning, a middle and end, and like an Olympic sprinter, we give gold, silver, and bronze medals to those who sprint well, with minimal complaining. And the problem is that when you have only experienced a sprint, then a marathon can’t be understood. Sure, running is the common theme here, but that is where the similarities end and the fear and shame begins.

I remember a teacher in high school telling me once “Your reputation is all you really have!”  I don’t think he intended to, but those words stuck with me and made me terrified to ever disappoint anyone. In the last six months, I have had to disappoint people. I’ve had to cancel plans or say no more often. I’ve had to give less effort in order to save energy. I’ve had to rest when I really wanted to play. Shame.

I’ve walked to the pharmacy every single month with my head down, don’t make eye contact, and cried every single time I leave. Don’t get me wrong, my pharmacist has been wonderful, very kind and caring towards me. But the shame and fear I have felt is paralyzing. I hate it. On the outside, I look fine, totally healthy. They can’t see the pictures I saw of my surgery, with my insides bonded together from adhesions and endometriosis. So I fear being judged and critiqued. I fear being thought of as a wimp, a girl with a low pain tolerance, a girl who just can’t push through a little pain. Shame.

Be honest. Come on, you can do it. You’ve had those thoughts about someone. I know I have.

But here’s the gift- in some ways, that teacher was right- my reputation is a big deal. It’s just that I now have realized Who’s thoughts about me are important. I have to let go of the fact that there will be a person, doctor or otherwise, who looks at me and instead of seeing me, they will view my pain through their lens, and how they would handle it.  And I WILL come up lacking. I have to let go of the fact that there will be people, even people who dearly love me, who will secretly think I am just not doing the right things to deal with this disease. I get it- they are sprinters. The gift is that I can love and honor these people without letting their opinion of me hold me hostage in shame.

I don’t know why God has allowed me to suffer. That isn’t the part of the marathon that I get to see yet. But I sincerely would not trade this marathon for the sprint, and miss out on the utter joy of grasping onto my Daddy’s hand daily. The marathon is long, and difficult, and I need Him beside me. There is sweetness in being unable to do anything but pray. There is sweetness in insomnia and taking deep breaths and saying “hold on sweetie. Mommy needs a minute” and giving a hug to a friend who gets it because they are marathoning too. Somehow, that sweetness comes in and invades and chases the bitterness of shame and fear away.

So next month, I will try. I will try to hold my head up when I pick up my medicine. The walk from the car to the store is part of my marathon.

Deep breath. And publish.

Email me at brandy.followingbutterflies.org

Follow me on Twitter @brandyb77

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“I’ll help you be popular! You’ll hang with the right cohorts You’ll be good at sports Know the slang you’ve got to know so let’s start ’cause you’ve got an awfully long way to go…”

*She tiptoes in and looks around. Hello?, she asks, and hears the echo bouncing off the blog walls…*

I have reasons why I haven’t written. The beginning of school is always a difficult transition (true), I am working on managing my daily pain and trying to balance how to expend my energy (true), I have had writer’s block (true), I have been discouraged and overwhelmed by world events (true), Gilmore Girls came on Netflix (true. So true). I spent some extended time away this past weekend and realized that while all those reasons are true, the REAL reason comes down to the fact that my favorite color is gray.

I know. It’s weird. Stay with me please, I hope it will make sense in the end. First off, I need to defend my choice- I know gray isn’t the most logical choice for a favorite color. If you’ve ever been shopping with me, you’ve probably heard my theory that you could take any item of clothing and if you made it gray, it would automatically become 87% more comfortable. You can’t argue with science. There’s just something about the soft mix of black and white that seems cozy, comforting. A gray sky means snuggling on the couch with movies and a warm blanket. A gray sweatshirt swallows me in warmth and takes me back to walking through crunchy leaves on a college campus.

I like some gray in my thinking too. In my 20’s, I gravitated to the black and white, the right and wrong. Gray was scary, gray was disobedient, gray was BACKSLIDING. But the funny thing is, as I’ve gotten older I have become more convinced of what I believe to be true, and more convinced that my ways are not His ways. My gray now isn’t theology, it’s just the recognition that He is so much bigger than I ever thought He was. My gray now is more compassionate, slower to speak and quicker to listen. It’s the respectful recognition that His plans are bigger and better than mine, and they don’t always look like the Christian plan I have in my head.

So back to writing. Or, lack of writing.

Once you start blogging, it doesn’t take long before you discover the cool table. Some people are at the cool table simply because they sincerely and without guise are cool. They didn’t do anything except be who they are. Others are there by pushing other people around and striving to be at the top. Sometimes it’s really hard to tell these people apart (here’s a tip- watch what happens to them when someone disagrees with them on social media. It’s pretty easy to figure it out). Not only do you discover the cool table, you discover that you are supposed to want to BE at the cool table. On the walk to the cool table are words like branding, followers, conferences, stats, hustle, etc. None of these words are bad in of themselves but unfortunately as you navigate around those words, you can trip over arrogance, fear, harshness, rudeness. If I’m honest, I want to skip the entire room and hole up in my bed with my gray blanket and laptop. I don’t want the black and white of making a plan and goals and a chapter a day. I don’t want to hear about publishing or book proposals or speaker fees or amazon or make.it.stop.

Now, it is tempting for me to just turn to a different kind of arrogance and claim to be above all that popularity nonsense. I don’t want that kind of foolishness either. So I realized this weekend that part of why I like gray is because gray is safe. Gray doesn’t require choices. Gray with it’s laissez faire lures me in with a lack of pressure and worry about publishing and success. And there’s no risk of failure. 

So here’s the deal. I don’t know what He has for me in this writing gig. I don’t know if I will ever be at the cool table. I don’t know if I am supposed to want to be there either. I don’t know if I will write a book or be published. But I am so glad that He knows. I am so thankful that my only job is to be faithful.

Friends, would you pray for me? Would you pray that I will not embrace fear, and instead step out, knowing that He know exactly what is going to happen? Would you pray that I will be faithful to what He’s asked me and gifted me to do, and not get caught up in what I think I am supposed to care about? Would you pray that I will only choose His way, and I won’t be attracted to the world’s definition of success?  Will you pray that I will chase the butterflies, and not just wait for them to come land on me?

 

Email me at brandy.followingbutterflies.org

Follow me on Twitter @brandyb77

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“The only one who could ever reach me was the son of a preacher man The only boy who could ever teach me was the son of a preacher man Yes he was, he was Ooh, yes he was…”

Around seventeen years ago, a young girl barely out of her teens got up early on a Sunday morning and got dressed for church. She could see the steam rising from the street from those rare and quick summer Abilene storms, and it was already hot enough to fry her eggs on the sidewalk so she chose a modest sundress and sandals. She always got to church early because her husband was the music minister. She wandered around the blue carpeted building, dodging the wasps that always made a home inside the sanctuary, like they were searching for redemption for all the kids they had stung. She also dodged that one sweet old lady who insisted on asking questions about how marriage was going *wink wink*.

She went into the bathroom before the service started and while in the stall, a group of women came in. They were all in their seventies and eighties, maybe even older, she didn’t really know because to a barely 20-year-old, 40 seemed ancient. Either way, these were the ladies who knew everything about everyone. And if they didn’t know, they’d ask. And bless your heart if they didn’t approve of your answer. She listened quietly as they talked about how they hoped the piano would be softer this week, and how they understood that we needed to sing that newer music for the “young people”, but how they just knew Jesus REALLY loved the hymns best. Then she heard this bomb.

“Did you see Wes’ wife this morning? No minister worth his salt would let his wife wear open toed shoes to church!”

 

Dear Wesley,

The twenty year old me went home that afternoon, cried, and promptly went out and bought old lady shoes to cover up my offensive and ungodly toes. The thirty-seven year old me wants to give her a hug and tell her to show up that next week with clown shoes on. We spent two years serving at that church, then three years at another, and monday marked ten years serving at Watermark Community Church.

When I went to Hardin-Simmons University back so many years ago, I decided that I was NOT interested in marrying anyone who might want to be a full-time minister. Or a part-time minister. Maybe not even a Baptist. An unfair opinion, but I thought that would be a world of being alone, being judged, having to perfect a fake smile, moving around frequently whenever the deacons decided they didn’t like you, being poor, and having my life slowly dissolve into a world of homeschooling my 17 children while learning to sew the floor length skirts I would be required to wear. But there was another reason I didn’t want to be a pastor’s wife.

I was terrified that I would disappoint.

I was a big faker. I mean, I had the right clothes and the bible with the flowery cloth cover and the full Point of Grace songbook memorized. But by myself in my car, I listened to Pearl Jam. I didn’t feel patient or kind and wanted nothing to do with being involved in college ministries. I didn’t have a “gentle and quiet spirit” and what’s more, I didn’t want one. It wasn’t that being a christian was boring, but serving in churches certainly seemed to be. It seemed like an odd sort of political career, where you show your best face to get elected, hope for good pay and benefits, enjoy some twisted form of celebrity, hope you don’t screw up too badly to get fired, and likely get fired anyway over something dumb.

It breaks my heart to know there are pastor’s wives reading this right now who are nodding their heads in sad recognition because this is their reality.

So it should say a lot about how cute and charming you are that you convinced me to marry you, knowing that you would be serving in churches. And not everything in being in full-time ministry lived up to those awful expectations, but some of it did. I’m glad we can both laugh at our first fight over you wanting me to use a certain book for the children’s choir and me sweetly telling you what you could do with that book. You gently reminded me that technically, you were “my boss” and I, full of grace and meekness, told you to shove it. It was a long time before we chose to work together again. I remember another fight, one that I still cannot laugh at, where you felt the oppressing weight of people’s whispers and expectations that your wife would serve as a teacher of youth, and I would have rather been eaten alive by sharks than teach teenagers. This ended in cruel whispered words in a church hallway, and a loss of trust for years. So I can admit, my love, that when we moved to Dallas, I halfway hoped you might find a new passion for being an accountant or something.

And then you began an internship at Watermark that turned into a full-time job. And we had babies. And our marriage imploded. And I braced myself for the impeachment and the stares. And it never came.

Ten years later, I am so honored to be not only your wife, but a wife of a man on staff at Watermark. There is nothing magical about Dallas or the building, but Jesus has changed you, me, us. And He’s used so many of the men and women on staff to do that. And I am so proud of the work that you do. You love authentically, not politically. And you teach me so much about Christ, by the way you and your leadership have allowed me to be…me. Pearl Jam, open toed shoes and all. I am not expected to be an appendage of you. My gentle and quiet spirit can also be funny and authoritative. And while I completely understand the seduction of image, I wish I could adequately express the relief that comes with the freedom of letting go of the image.

Ten years ago, I thought that there was a good chance that we would not stay married or I would be forever miserable in a fake happy marriage. Ten years ago, I would have said that I would be happier if you never wanted to work for a church again. And ten years later, we are not in a perfect church or a perfect marriage, but I am so blessed to be called yours and to be a member of this body.

You’re totally worth your salt, babe. Happy 10 years.

Love,

Me

 

Would these have been better, old lady committee? They look sort of Old Testamentish.

Would these have been better, old lady committee? They look sort of Old Testamentish.

Email me at brandy.followingbutterflies@yahoo.com

Follow me on Twitter @brandyb77

 

“Take your make up off, Let your hair down, Take a breath, Look into the mirror at yourself, Don’t you like you? Cause I like you…”

“Put your make up on
Get your nails done
Curl your hair
Run the extra mile
Keep it slim so they like you, do they like you?”
 It’s the tiniest slip, a mere 100 feet from Gymboree to Justice, but it’s another galaxy. Kittens to cheerleading. Tiny bows to sparkly boots. The smallest change in cuts, so that the shoulder is exposed a bit more. You pull it down, I pull it up. This is the year of more no than yes. The year that the one piece versus bikini became reality instead of theory. These baby girls who hate being called babies walk their spindly legs down familiar halls, and the bathrooms suddenly have mirrors. When did they get mirrors? Us moms, we don’t ever forget that first time we see you suck your stomach in. We want to warn you, but we also see the freight train that carries braces, pimples, and cramps barreling down the track, and we are powerless to do anything but catch a ride alongside you. Doesn’t it feel like a race? To catch onto the thing that will make you “it”,  you just can’t be the last to catch on! You ask us when you can start shaving your legs, and we beg for more time. Babies, do you know how loved you are? Do you know how we stay awake, memorizing every dip and curve of your face? Do you know about the moments that we catch a glimpse and can’t speak because of your beauty? Can you hear your mother’s voice as it cracks with tears when she talks about you? Can you see the desperation in her eyes when you tell her that you just wish you were pretty, because she just can’t find enough words to express how beautiful you are?
Babies, did you know your Father feels this way about you?
“Get your sexy on
Don’t be shy, girl
Take it off
This is what you want, to belong, so they like you
Do you like you?”
 A thousand voices compete for your attention, and sometimes the most negative one is your own. You might despise us now. Loves, we mamas need grace. It’s probably easy for you to forget that along with hurting with you, we can be hurt by you too. We remember our own adolescent struggles with dress sizes and acne, with that one boy who spoke cruel words, with that embarrassing moment we were sure no one would ever forget, and then we sigh and remember that you have all these same moments captured on Instagram. When you walk into that high school on that first day, your mama is pleading for you, that you might rise above the fray, but we also know that no destination is worth getting to if you don’t have to swim hard for it. So we step back and continue the gut wrenching process of releasing that which we never owned, and give you a sympathetic smile when you cry over dateless dances. Did you know we would still let you stand on our feet to dance? Do you know that at every turn, we are praying that you won’t fall for the scheme of letting others decide your beauty?
Loves, did you know your Father pursues you this way?
“Get your shopping on, at the mall, max your credit cards
You don’t have to choose, buy it all, so they like you
Do they like you?”
Sisters, aren’t you tired? Do you remember a time when you thought that desire to belong and fit in was simply a childish goal and someday you wouldn’t care? And now we hover in doorways at PTA meetings, we sit alone on park benches, we form a line of quiet loneliness while our kids play soccer. We’ve gotten good at the game, claiming ignorance of the game itself. But we go home and slather on our expensive night cream, and we look in the mirror and sigh. Sure, we proudly own our laboring stretch marks and embrace the gray, but that desire, the one to be known, it is just as strong. Sisters, did you know that He put that in you? And yet we protect and manage, putting our best night creamed face forward, just to come home exhausted because its just.so.much.work.
Beloved Sisters, did you know your Father wants you to rest?
Today is the first day of school. Today, His daughters will venture out into a world that can be incredibly cruel. Today I will pray for myself and for my sisters.

Email me at brandy.followingbutterflies@yahoo.com
Follow me on Twitter @brandyb77

“I got caught up by the chase and you got high on every little game, I wish you were the one that got away, Oh if I could go back in time when you only held me in my mind, just a longing gone without a trace…”

A few days ago, the band The Civil Wars announced that they were no longer Ross and Rachel on a break, they were officially totes for real this time over. They are never ever ever getting back to together. Like, ever.

I had several friends check on me that day, because this is/was my favorite band. If you haven’t heard them, spend some quality time with YouTube and check them out. And although the composing has been on the wall for a while, fans hoped for over a year that they would fix the problem, resolve their differences and keep making beautiful music together. So seeing that they are my favorite band, what I am about to say will sound crazy.

I’m glad they broke up.

The first time I heard them perform was online, and I watched this video-

My first thought was “what an adorable, in love couple”

Pretty soon I realized from comments that they were not married to each other, they were both married to other people. John-Paul also has four children, and Joy had her first child last year. It was an odd love for me, because you’d have to be crazy to say they aren’t musically outstanding…but I always feel a bit uncomfortable listening, like I was participating in something that I wasn’t quite sure was right. It almost felt voyeuristic, and I wondered sometimes if it felt that way to their spouses too. I wondered what it might be like to be John-Paul’s wife, at home with four children while my husband was touring the country, being adored by fans and spending so much time with a gorgeous talented woman in the same business.

I’m not stupid. I know sex sells, and all you have to do is read the YouTube comments for five minutes to understand that John-Paul and Joy’s chemistry onstage and off had contributed to this sense that they were a couple- acknowledged or not. Sexual tension, a sort of will they or won’t they, crept up to not only become an unfortunate byproduct of a woman and man singing together, it became almost part of marketing. Perhaps I am cynical, but I just can’t believe that wasn’t intentional. Watching the above video after finding out that they were married to other people made me feel like I was contributing to something seedy and wrong. Oversensitive? Maybe. But then the break-up happened.

When they announced that they were taking a break, Joy continued to speak publicly while John-Paul disappeared from social media. Of course everyone wanted the story, and the most information I have read came from Joy, where she told the Associated Press- “If you want to know what happened to the band, listen to the new album.” This made me angry, honestly. It made me angry because it is almost impossible to listen to the entire album and not walk away wondering if they had an affair that went sour.

Maybe they didn’t. Maybe it has nothing to do with their relationship. Maybe they just hate each other and can’t work together. Maybe they have legal obligations that keep them from really talking about what happened. Maybe they wanted to not talk about anything and keep the suspense to boost sales. But the point is, they have been polished and marketed as two people with amazing chemistry, both musically and personally, and everything about them screams that they are secretly in love.

And there are five innocent children who are in homes that did not choose this life. 

So I know it’s strange for me to say that I am glad they are no longer a band. I sincerely hope that if they ever choose to create music together again, they will completely reject this notion of blurring the lines to create drama and intrigue into their relationship. The sad thing is, they are almost musically perfect. They didn’t need that junk. I hope that if a second chance ever happens, they will let the music speak for itself, and leave the saliciousness to reality television.

Marriage and parenting are big deals. The choices we make in our marriages and with our children affect the future far longer than the music plays. And it is tempting for all of us, me included, to take a good thing and make it THE good thing. But if John-Paul walked away from this level of success to fully invest in his wife and children, he’s got nothing but respect from me.

I still pray for them both. They ARE my favorite band, after all.

 

Email me at brandy.followingbutterflies@yahoo.com

Follow me on Twitter @brandyb77

“Half time goes by suddenly you’re wise, Another blink of an eye, 67 is gone, The sun is getting high, we’re moving on…”

When I was really little, I had this next door neighbor. I don’t really remember her name, but I remember that she smelled like old tea bags, grass clippings, and butterscotch candies. She would send me to the local gas station to buy her cigarettes. I don’t know if that was actually allowed, or if the employee was just afraid to say no to her. I was definitely afraid of her. She had a grown son who was a firefighter, so she had the fire station radio turned on all the time, and she was also responsible for any addiction I might have had to Days Of Our Lives. My days in her home were spent hearing about four alarm fires and her quaky voice yelling about how Hope and Bo were the best couple EVER.

She was a grouch. And at the time, I didn’t understand…but I do now. Because today I am…37. What.the.what?

You can read about my feelings over my 35th and 36th birthdays, but now at 37, I realize that it is the honey badger of birthdays. Of course there are advantages to youth- energy, passion, lack of urge to yell at kids on your lawn, but I also realize that there are great things about aging too. One of the most significant for me is- I just don’t care.

I mean it. I do not care. The ain’t nobody got time for that lady and I are besties. You probably think a 37-year-old lady shouldn’t even be using the word “besties” but that’s the thing- I don’t care!  As you age, you just stop caring about the things you held so dear in your twenties. At 25, I was consumed with finding the right haircut that screamed “professional therapist that you can trust” balanced with “girl who could probably be in a rap video if she wasn’t so professional”.  Now it’s more the combo of “will I look like the love child of a poodle and Simba if this dries naturally” and “will this fall perfectly to hide the precious new wrinkle that has taken up residence on my forehead”. So, here you go- 37 things that I no longer care that you know about.

 

1. Making lists to be productive. It’ll get done when it gets done, OKAY? Get off my back.

2. I like “teen” shows. I’ve seen all the episodes of Dawson’s Creek, One Tree Hill, Gilmore Girls, and many others. They are interesting and funny and as much as you’d like to deny it, you and I both know you are Team Pacey all the way.

3. While we are on the subject of television, I know this might get me kicked out Texas, but I don’t like Friday Night Lights. I have TRIED. I just can’t. Closed Eyes, Bored Heart, Must Snooze.

4. Lord of the Rings. Poor man’s Harry Potter. Yeah, I said it. Yeah I know one of them was written before the other, but again- I don’t care. LOTR doesn’t have Dobby or Hermione and that is enough for me. I’ll go see the Hobbit movies in the theater, but I’ll dress up like Dumbledore. COME AT ME, NERDS.

5. Grammar and spelling nazis. Y’all just move along. Git ova urself. Seriously, kick back and watch a little One Tree Hill. It’ll make you forget the compulsion to obnoxiously correct strangers on the internet.

6. I don’t like about 95% of christian music. Yep. I have a few favorites that I love, both in the past and current, but most of it…sorry, I just fell asleep thinking about it.

7. Camping. Nope. I don’t hate it, but if you give me a choice between peeing on the ground with the risk of a scorpion taking offense, and peeing in a hotel room, I choose Hilton.

8. Being nice to those survey takers at the mall. Over it. Quite frankly, seeing a guy walking around with a severed head is less disturbing than a guy with a clipboard. Next time, I am just going to pretend I am a high-powered defense attorney and shout “NO COMMENT!” as I cruise through the mall.

9. Speaking of being nice, I no longer care about measuring up to some sort of pastor wife mold. I spent many years trying to be soft-spoken while secretly supporting Kevin Bacon’s right to dance, but the truth is- that isn’t how He made me. I want to be slow to speak and gentle, but not despair when I’d rather wear chucks than demure heels.

10. I don’t really like lobster or wine. It’s like eating a ball of rubber bands washed down with the bitter tears of disappointed grapes. I’m not fancy. I don’t know what to do with my hands in a fancy restaurant. Can I touch the bread- is that allowed? Is the bread just for show? Am I supposed to spit the wine out like that one guy does? I kind of want to spit the wine out. Can I just get a cherry coke? That’s fancy! Why is the waiter being so nice to me- WHAT IS YOUR ANGLE, GOOD SIR?!

11.  This list isn’t going to be 37 things long. Are you kidding me? My bestie says aint nobody got time for that, and she’s right. It probably bothers some of you organized people that I am stopping at eleven. I’m sorry. No I’m not.

 

Go buy my cigarettes, kid.

 

This is me. Caring about bowl cuts and glasses that take over my face.

This is me. Caring about bowl cuts and glasses that take over my face.

 

This is me. Not caring bout NOTHIN'

This is me. Not caring bout NOTHIN’

 

Email me at brandy.followingbutterflies@yahoo.com

Follow me on Twitter @brandyb77

 

 

 

 

 

 

“No time for dreams or goals, pressure is so strong, her body she has sold so her child can eat, What is happening to this world we live in, in our home and other lands…”

Google “Mommy wars”, go ahead. I’ll wait. See you in about 57 days.

Writing about the so-called mommy war is almost a requirement for mommy bloggers. The angles are endless- are mommy wars real, are they important, where do they happen, what weapons are used, is it really wrong to throw your Starbucks at another mom (yes. unless you let it cool first), etc etc. You’ve probably experienced it- the judgmental stare of a mother as you soothe your precious cherub with a bag of processed dye laden cheez nodules after they tripped over the laces of their made in china sneakers. Or maybe you’re the mom with the organic homemade fruit leather who is being unfairly evaluated as you do naked yoga in the park with your child, little Artisan Flannel.

I’ve read quite a few blogs in the last few weeks, many of them shared on twitter and Facebook by friends, so it’s clear to me that the subject of this war hits home for a lot of moms. I say moms, because I honestly don’t think dads get into this stuff like moms do. But by all means, dads, if you are getting judged unfairly because of your naked yoga skills, chime in! Just words please. No pictures.

The sentence I see repeated over and over again in all these blogs is “We’ve all been there.” As a writer, I know that sentence can be very healing, and create a sense of comfort and solidarity with your reader. Get a group of moms together, and at some point the subject of parenting choices and the judgment that can follow will probably come up. Breast or formula, co-sleeping or sleep training, cloth or disposable, cry it out or soothe, vaccine or no vaccine, homemade or jarred baby food, stay at home or work outside of the home, public or home school, santa or no santa. It doesn’t end when the kids get older. Help with homework or let them do it alone, modest clothing or fashionable clothing, PG13 movies or G, sleepovers or no sleepovers, competitive sports or just for fun sports, dating or courtship or chastity belt, driving or no driving, paying for college or getting a job and on and on and on and on.  Sometimes I wonder if parents breathe a sigh of relief when their kids go to college, just for the sheer fact that they probably won’t ever meet anyone else’s parents and compare if little Artisan is smoking pot or binge drinking.

We all hear the encouragement- “Don’t worry about others! Just concentrate on you! Think about you and your family, and that’s all that matters! Be confident in yourself!”

I want to flip it. Worry about others. Don’t concentrate on you. Think about other families. You aren’t all that matters.

See, the thing is- we have the luxury of caring. The fact that we have to choose between Goldfish and Cheddar Bunnies means that we have a choice. It means that we can afford to buy snacks. It means we have a way to get to a store. It means we can pay for them. It means we can read.

It means we have food in our country.

There is a mama out there tonight in a country where they don’t look out for summer storms to ruin picnics, they look out for bombs to blow up their homes. It is not even on her radar to think about what kind of snacks other moms are making. She can’t imagine caring if the mom down the road uses cloth or disposable diapers…because there is only one option.  Her eyes will close tonight and she will pray that the morning will come.

There is a mama today that will stand in line to be humiliated at an office for food stamps. She will have escaped from domestic violence and instead of calling her brave, we will call her a leech. She doesn’t have time to mentally critique the other mom in line for letting her 3-year-old wear a Katy Perry shirt, because she knows that shirt probably came from a charity clothes closet.

There is a mama today who will incorrectly strap her baby into a car seat to drive to a park, because she read that babies need stimulation. She will feel the weight of stares because she didn’t put sunscreen on the baby! and while she knows it might be easier to claim to be the baby’s older sister, she proudly carries him like a mother. It took her weeks to work up the courage to walk away from the clinic where they promised her that it would be over soon and she would never think of it again. She knows that she has no idea what she is doing. She knows that you know that too. She is hoping that someday, some woman might be kind enough to help her learn the ropes.

There is a mama tonight that will die. She is one of the lucky ones who hasn’t caught the disease of her country, but even in health, there is hunger. She dies because she chooses to give her food to her child.  She will sacrifice herself and pray with her last breath that the food will be provided. And it won’t be. Her child will die days later too.

THESE are the mommy wars we should be fighting. Do we pretend our wars are real because it makes us feel better to think we are fighting for something?

Someone will accuse me of using the “eat your vegetables, because there are starving children in China” argument. That’s ok. It’s mostly true, but more like “there are starving children in your city, so please stop stressing if your neighbor’s vegetables are organic” Let’s take our energy and passion and fight real wars. I’ll bring the snacks.

8Παγκόσμια-Ημέρα-για-τα-Παιδιά-του-Δρόμου-socialpolicy.gr_

 

Email me at brandy.followingbutterflies@yahoo.com

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