The Bearded Iris

A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Tag: God

The Picture That Cost Me 1.3 Million Dollars

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

Sometimes a picture is actually worth a lot more than that.

Thirteen years ago this month, I quit a good job to stay home with my two-year-old son, Vincent.

We had moved from California to North Carolina—not for my husband’s job as most people assume when they hear we relocated cross-country, but for mine.

My husband agreed to temporarily leave work and do the stay-at-home dad thing while I brought home the bacon as a training manager for a technology company. I was pretty good at it (at first), and with my bonuses I was on target to earn about $100,000 that year. Well, I would have earned that much… had I lasted more than 9 months there.

But I didn’t.

Because in the fall of 2001, my sweet little Vincent came home from preschool with his first school pictures and everything changed. 

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WTF Wednesday – Struggle to the Snuggle

My friend Mama Cloud has a 3rd grade son who is not very cuddly. Every time she wants some sugar from that kid, it’s like wrestling with a greased pig. Eventually she tires him out and he consents to a few minutes of love. She named this phenomenon “the struggle to the snuggle.”

That phrase pretty much summarizes my relationship with God. 

Don’t tell my parents, because it would probably break their hearts, but I often find myself pretty damn unloveable.

Shhhhh. Don’t say a word.

This is between me and me.

So I keep busy. I declutter things. I take up new hobbies like running, and glass fusion, and wheat grinding, and over-sharing on the Internet. And of course, I drink a little.

All these things are marvelous distractions from achieving real goals and fixing broken relationships.

“Comedy is an escape, not from truth but from despair; a narrow escape into faith.”  ~Christopher Fry

But I think God’s unwavering desire to love me, the real me, “warts and all,” even when I can’t love myself, must be wearing me down a bit. I’m starting to let God put His/Her arms around me for a few minutes at a time. And I like it.

I’m in this kick-ass book study group I like to call the Renegade Catholic Priestesses. This is a group of about 20 amazing women I’ve come to know over the past few years, mainly through my church. We range in age from our 30s to our 70s and we come from a variety of backgrounds. These women make me laugh, think, and cry on a regular basis.

Yesterday we were discussing an idea from Fr. Richard Rohr’s book Everything Belongs. I was visibly wrestling with a concept in chapter 4:

“…sometimes we don’t do God or the Gospel a service by spending our life comparing ourselves to others’ gifts and calls.”

and

“The most courageous thing we will ever do is to bear humbly the mystery of our own reality.”

Oh crap.

I felt myself on the verge of an emotional outburst. It started with a heavy sigh and our fearless leader Marian jumped on it like a duck on a June Bug. Before my brain could stop my mouth, I heard myself lamenting out loud about my daughter Mini-Me and her struggles at school. “How can we not compare our gifts and calls to others’ when society obviously rewards very specific gifts! For instance, my daughter. I worry that she’ll never fit in; she’ll never succeed. She simply can’t behave like little girls are expected to act and as a result, she suffers. It’s so hard to watch.”

The group swooped in to protect their fallen baby bird.

“You’re a great mother!” “She’s an awesome kid!” “Don’t make her conform. Celebrate her!” “Is there any more pumpkin bread?” (Fine, that last one was me.)

But Marian smelled a rat.

She knows me too well and sensed that what I said was obviously code for my deepest fears: I’ll never fit in; I’ll never succeed; I don’t belong.

But everything belongs. Even a hairy, foul-mouthed, half-breed, Cafeteria Catholic like me.

Everything belongs.

Apparently, according to Marian, and my Renegade Catholic Priestess friends, and Fr. Richard Rohr, God thinks I’m awesome. I just have a hard time always seeing myself the way God sees me. But I’m trying. The good news about God and the struggle to the snuggle? This greased pig is no match against unconditional love.

I write about this today on WTF Wednesday because “WTF” isn’t necessarily a negative thing. Sure, we can use “WTF!” to express horror or shock or disdain for the crazy things people do, like this, or this, or this. But it can also be a question that leads to further exploration. As in: “I criticize my daughter constantly. WTF? What is it about her that reminds me of what I don’t like about myself?” (Uh, everything. You don’t call her Mini-Me for nothing. Der.)

And that simple question might be all we need to take the next step toward that next right thing.

“If God can receive me, who am I to not receive myself – warts and all?” ~ Fr. Richard Rohr

Everything belongs. 

Hey, guess what? God sends me love notes sometimes. Marian is one of his official transcribers.

“Someday, with God’s love,  you might find some more room in your heart for you.” ~ Marian

I hope you have a Marian of your own. If you don’t, I’ll share mine.

authentically yours, with slightly reduced self-loathing,

-Iris

© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris. All rights reserved.

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Is it me, or are the libidos of men and women totally incompatible?  I really think Ellen and Portia are on to something here.  Not the least of which being that their bathroom is probably so easy to clean.  

I remember hearing once that men reach their sexual prime in their late teens but that women don’t reach theirs until like their 40s.  What the fuck kind of intelligent design is that?  It seems slightly misogynistic. Like God said, “Well, I don’t want women to want sex all the time when they should be busy taking care of their families. I know, I’ll just delay their sexual prime so they can propagate first, play later.”  Clearly God was not taking into account the fact that by the time we are done with all that breeding all our fun parts are too stretched out and ugly to feel good about sharing them with anyone else (at least with the lights on).  

I’m only 38, so I keep telling my husband to wait for it….his time is coming.  Of course by then, he’ll be so old that he’ll need to take Viagra and have his doctor on speed-dial in case he gets a perma-bone. But while we are both patiently waiting for my prime to get here, why oh why does he always seem to want sex at the precise moment when it is the last thing on earth I’d rather do.  OK, true, that is like 99% of the time. But come on.  Gimme a break, dude.  When I begged you to get that vasectomy and promised you spontaneous wild sex wherever and whenever you wanted, I had my fingers crossed behind my back.  

Here, I’ll give you an example.  Husband gets home from work the other day all sexed up and raring to go (must be that sexy voice of Terri Gross on NPR).  His timing could not have been worse.  Unbeknownst to him, I had received my monthly visitor earlier that day. You know, Aunt Flo.  Mr. Menstrual.  The Curse. Paul Revere Riding the Cotton Pony.  I’m bloated, crampy, pimply, gassy, and slightly inebriated.  But Mr. Twenty-Five-Years-Past-His-Prime doesn’t seem to notice all the warning signs and nuzzles up to me hoping for a little slap and tickle.  I say, “Sorry hon. Can’t. Got my period today.”  Oh the look.  You would think I had said that I just spent his retirement fund on another batch of Fat Burning Soap from QVC.  To say he was disappointed would be an understatement. All I wanted was my box of wine, a heating pad, and whichever Meredith Baxter Burney movie was playing on Lifetime TV.  I was also hoping he wouldn’t then ask for a 68: “You do me and I’ll owe you one.”  Luckily for me, he got on the Internet instead.  Hallelujah for free porn.  

If he was my gorgeous lesbian life partner instead, we’d be on the same cycle, sharing an institutional-sized box of Tampons from Costco, watching Lifetime together, guilt free.  But then, who would mow the lawn and grill the steaks?  I guess I’ll keep him.  And here’s hoping for that sexual prime to get here sooner than later.

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