Monday, April 28, 2014

Pinterest Experiences

I use Pinterest as a Vision Board. At least, that's how it started. Now I use it for ideas and entertainment. I rarely ever use the ideas I find. In fact, I'm also a avid follower of all the Pinterest websites that mock Pinterest attempts.
I'm weaning my daughter from her pacifier, and it is going very slowly. She has no security items besides the paci, and she has very intense feelings. I'm trying to teach her ways to handle and express her feelings, but she's not quite 3 yet. I have seen "time-out jars" several times on Pinterest, and while I don't use time-outs, I saw another purpose for them. Today I created a "calm-down" jar for my little one to use when she doesn't has her paci. I'm hoping that she'll shake it up, watch the glitter settle, and then calm down. We'll see how it goes. Either way, my DIY project was successful. I just hope it is successful for her!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Why kill animals?

A theological post this week. I was reading Cynthia Boureault's excellent book The Wisdom Jesus recently. At one point she was discussing Jesus' passion and death, and talks about how Jesus came to earth to enable us to be one with God. Atonement, in the sense of at-one-ment, not in the sense of paying our debt. And that was when I had an epiphany.
In the Hebrew Bible, there are many laws and regulations for animal sacrifice. It was an integral part of their faith and worship. But why? Why must humans kill animals? How does an animal's death undo the harm of sin? It doesn't. It is, I believe, a powerful illustration of the cost of at-one-ment.
Animals are killed to teach us that becoming holy is unsurvivable. To draw near to God, to be one with God, is to be consumed. Nothing can survive. We long to be with God, just as God longs to be with us, but we are too fragile. God's love would destroy us.
And that is what Jesus did for us: He created a bridge to God. By dying and coming back from the dead, He showed us that we can draw near to God. As we practice His life and incorporate His teachings, we increasingly gain the ability to draw ever closer to God. Holiness is now survivable.

I am not an evangelical Christian, and now I begin to understand why. Christianity is not about salvation. It is about wisdom. Jesus didn't come here to rescue me: He came to teach me. Just as I do not rescue my daughter, I teach her. I follow Christ in order to find at-one-ment with God.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Post Partum Depression: My Messy Beautiful

It’s not about her. It was about me. It was always about me.

It was about being the Lady of Constant Damp. While my husband and visitors shivered, I glistened with sweat. I got out of the shower and watched as fountains of milk geysered onto the walls. I held my 1000 degree child to my breast and felt milk and sweat pool on my skin. 

It was about being the Lady of Constant Exhaustion. I nursed every two hours, which meant I got 60, maybe 90 minutes tops to sleep, eat, and function. Even if she didn’t wake me after an hour, my swollen breasts did. While my daughter would cat nap in her crib at night, during the day she would only sleep if I was holding her. 

It was about being the Lady of Conflicting Expectations. I was supposed to enjoy every precious minute, even the minutes of screaming and pooping. I was supposed to breast feed on demand, but also put her on a schedule. I was supposed to pump milk to supplement with, but also use formula. I was supposed to let my husband sleep, but I was also supposed to make him get up and change her diaper after the nightly feedings. I was supposed to respond to her every desire but also let her cry in the crib if I felt angry or stressed out. I was supposed to go back to work after 12 weeks, but never put her in daycare. I was supposed to put her on her tummy several times a day, but never allow her to sleep on her stomach.

It was about the fact that I didn’t feel anything.

“How are you doing?” “How’s it going?” “What’s your favorite part?”
Nothing. I felt nothing. I was too tired, too damp, too frustrated.
It was messy. But it was beautiful.

After two months, she was diagnosed with a diary allergy, and once I removed dairy from my diet she was able to sleep for more than 30 minutes at a time: a blessing for us both.

After four months, nursing was my favorite part of the relationship. I would put my little one to my breast and watched her latch on eagerly. She would peek at me with her dark gray blue eyes, looking for all the world like one of those Kewpie dolls.

After six months she developed a gorgeous open mouth grin combined with twinkling eyes and an irresistible laugh.

It was messy because it hurt like crazy, and I lost friendships, and I felt a lot of unnecessary guilt. And it was beautiful because I learned exactly how to be the best mother that I, Elaine Frances Bayless, can be, independent of all the “shoulds” and “how-tos” and “best practices.”

In the end, post partum was my messy beautiful gift: a trial that brought me freedom.