There was a time when I did Seven Quick Takes most weeks. I went looking for the image and realized that Jen Fulwiler hasn’t hosted them for…years, now…and doesn’t really blog a ton anymore with everything she has going on.
How did I not notice that? When did I stop reading along? I’m not entirely sure.
In any case, apparently Seven Quick Takes is hosted by This Ain’t the Lyceum now, which reminds me that I’ve been meaning to add that blog to my blog reader.
And here we are.
I’ve adjusted pretty well to the changing landscape of social media, I think–if by “adjusted well” you mean “Facebook Hath Swallowed All”–but I have this abiding nostalgia for the smallish, informal, fueled-by-connection world of Catholic blogs a decade and more ago.
The big names–the people with enough traffic that adding those Google powered ads actually netted a little money–were snapped up into aggregate blogs and online publications and columns and big faith-based Catholic media entities first.
A lot of smaller blogs faded away under the demands of growing families and other responsibilities. It got harder to find the remaining small blogs as blog rolls disappeared off sidebars to make way for more ads.
New bloggers and commentary sites came in with the intent of monetizing off the start, drawing readers off with manufactured outrage and controversy. And Facebook expanded and expanded, filling more and more of our need for connection online.
All the good things are still there, in pockets here and there and moved to new platforms and media, but it is different, like revisiting your childhood hometown as an adult and feeling inexplicably hurt that the perimeter has sprawled out into unfamiliar shopping centres and the used bookstore downtown moved locations.
Speaking of blogs, if you don’t read Anne Kennedy of Preventing Grace, you really should. Which is a silly recommendation for me to make because I’ve got maybe 5 readers and Anne has who knows how many hundreds, but there you are!
Anne is one of those writers whom I read and love every time friends link to her stuff, but didn’t actually start following myself until recently. She writes the way I wish I could–thoughtful, insightful, wry, and breezy, in varying degrees.
She has a book that is on my Kindle wish list, waiting for a bit of room in the book budget while I read the free sample two pages at a time so as to savour it.
The book is called Nailed It!: 365 Sarcastic Devotions for Angry and Worn-Out People, and it does something few devotionals manage to do–it makes you want to read more Scripture.
Anne doesn’t make anything sound pat and easy, but rather writes with an eye to the real messiness and absurdity of life now and in biblical times.
The woman is a wonder.
Anne wrote a hilarious post about avocadoes this week in which she concluded that what the world really needs is not avocado everything, but more tea.
I concur heartily–thus my blog name–and shared my tea routine on her Facebook page. I’ll share it again here.
I bring my water to a boil in my electric tea kettle, give it 30 seconds or so before I pour it into my pot, and make two-bags-to-a-pot black tea, steeped 3 minutes (ideally, this is often interrupted). I have poured entire pots of tea down the drain for being over-steeped.
However, part of my titchiness about steeping comes from being too poor to support my everyday tea habit with fine teas. I drink President’s Choice brand Orange Pekoe–which is, IMO, actually superior to Red Rose and at least as good as PG Tips, while being cheaper than both. But ONLY if you don’t over-steep.This is my get-me-going-keep-me-going, ADHD-needs-a-stimulant caffeine-supplying tea. I do not drink coffee.
I also have an entire cupboard compartment of nicer teas for when I have time to just sit and enjoy a cuppa properly. Those range from Twinings and Bigelow to a very select assortment of flavoured black teas. A friend sends me Damman Freres from France occasionally, and it makes my heart sing. That gets brewed loose-leaf with a fairly large tea-ball in a fairly small pot, exactly according to package instructions. It’s luscious.All of the above is drunk black, unless I’ve oversteeped or I’m in need of a bit of from-my-childhood-comfort, in which case I add moderate amounts of milk and occasionally a little sugar.
The trials of having a dorky mother. This has been happening this year:
Son: “You know, Mama, I’ve been thinking…”
Me (breaking into song), “A dangerous pastime…”
Son: “You know, Mama, I was thinking…”
Me: “A dangerous pastime!”
Son: rolls eyes and huffs.
(After many months of the above)
Son: “You know, Mama, I’ve been thinking…”
Me: “A dangerous pastime-”
Son (resigned): “-I know.”
I’m so proud.
I spend a lot of time agonizing over raising my kids well and helping them face their individual challenges, whether that is advocating for better IEPs at school, instituting new routines to teach good habits, encouraging independence–but at a reasonable pace–for an anxious, clingy child, or scheduling more doctor’s appointments to make sure asthma kid isn’t being aggravated by untreated allergies.
I don’t ever want those things to distract me from appreciating just how awesome my kids already are, though.
My oldest is book-smart, funny, creative, and hilariously wry. He has seemingly infinite reserves of enthusiasm and is the perfect geek buddy for a geek Mom.
My middle kid is generous without reserve. He’ll go through his beloved toy cars and give away the favourite, flashiest ones there as gifts to friends. He’s as generous with his affection and is reflexively kind to animals and children smaller than himself.
My daughter is hilarious. She’s direct, curious, and up for anything, as long as she doesn’t have to do it alone. She’s quick to help when asked and quick to stick up for others if something seems unfair to her.
We’re heading into summer and I’m dreading losing the quiet I so badly need during the day. But I’m glad I enjoy my kids. That helps.
I followed a FB link to one post, then followed that to another, and wound up perusing the archives at Eve Tushnet’s blog. I stumbled across this post from last year which starts out being about transgender children but makes a much more broadly applicable observation.
One thing I noticed when I watched MTV’s Transgeneration documentary was the way adults, including parents of teens who identified as transgender, would often be more comfortable with an unambiguous statement, “I’m transitioning, I’m taking hormones and getting surgery,” than with unresolved emotions like, “I feel really out of place in my assigned sex but I’m just not sure what I want to do about that.” It can be easier to explain to yourself or your relatives that you thought your kid was a boy but she’s really a girl than to say neither of you really know for sure what’s going on or what would be the best future for your child.
As with so many things in parenting–and life generally!–you’ve got to be able to live with uncertainty and ambiguity. That can be really painful. It can make you feel like there’s no answer to questions that torment you. Patience is a virtue in part because it’s an acceptance of suffering. Also, everything in life takes a million times longer than you think you can bear.
This discomfort with uncertainty, with ambiguity, with not having the words to explain my self/identity/situation, affects so much of human decision-making. It underlies declarations of identity and opinion–this or that, for or against, them or us. It drives relationships, pushes dating into engagement or break-up and marital separation into divorce.
It adds pressure to life’s trials and struggles, as even well-meaning friends push us for more definition, more certainty: “When are you going to have kids?” “Don’t you have a diagnosis for that yet?” “If it’s so bad, why haven’t you left your (denomination/job/spouse/town)?”
We want resolution for our friends, just as we expect it for ourselves. We fit ourselves within the labels of a textbook or the plotlines of a novel because there’s comfort in certainty, there’s a handle by which to understand ourselves and the world.
But is it true? Is it brave? Is it good to contort ourselves and make decisions while driven by our discomfort with ambiguity?
What do you think?