Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Day 3 of Easter: JOYFUL

I promised there would be a follow-up piece to the sad post. Here it is.

Now, I don't know that I actually have revelations (well, in the colloquial sense - not in the "God is appearing to me" sense); perhaps I just get notions and then they pass. But if I do get revelations, this is what they have been lately. They all tie together but I'm afraid the explanation will sound somewhat scrambled. I'll do my best. Ready?

So I've mentioned that I've been thinking a lot about What Next and If Not Babies OK But Then What Instead and How Do I Live This Life Properly and (reference particularly the sad post) Why Am I Not Satisfied With What I Have and How Do I Learn to Be Happy and all those super-important questions that mere acceptance of childlessness totally does not take care of. (You think you're not at peace and meaning and angels singing 'cause you're still hoping, or still mad? Nuh-uh. Even as those things fade there is more confusion and aimlessness! [I'm so uplifting. But the joy is coming.])

I have been nosing about for inspirations - little things that show that happiness and direction are possible, or even point the way. I now have an amazing, amazing, amazing collection of such treasures for you (at least it amazes me).

Item the First: A Charmed Wife

I found Lily's "Charmed Wife" blog about a week ago. How much time did I spend reading all of her archives? You know, let's talk about something else. I loved everything she wrote. I love her attitude. I love her decor ideas. I love her passion for cooking. I love her etiquette advice. I love her total immersed-in-the-moment enjoyment of being a SAHW. (Her blog subtitle is "A little more perfect every day." THIS IS THE ATTITUDE I NEED.) See, she doesn't have any kids. She's a relative newlywed and presumably will have some eventually.

So she's not a post-ttc IFer, obviously, and that would be most enlightening from my point of view. But in my sad post, I pointed out that I'm never happy about anything, never satisfied with my blessings or my accomplishments. There's always progress to make, of course. I'm not dead yet. But I'm never happy! And then I read her stupendously shockingly amazing post about New Year's resolutions, in which she didn't have many things for this year, because her life is pretty much just the way she wants it already and she can't think of much to improve.


And she's not just saying that. (I mean, I could say that.) You can hear it in her writing. This woman is in love with her life, not because she's a hedonist and self-indulgent but because she has recognized what's valuable to her, gone out and done it, and been satisfied with the result. I feel like I just watched someone raised from the dead or something (heh) - this is powerful magic, y'all.

And if she can learn to do this, then I can, can't I? I think Ann was right - I need to identify one useful baby step toward happiness and take it! One thing at a time. I can't decide whether to go first for daily Mass (once a week to start), getting up earlier, or making dinner for my husband. The failure to do each of these things drags me down like an anvil, so they make sense to tackle first.

Item the Second: Mary the Mother of God

This is going to have way more appeal to the Catholic girls, natch. But bear with me - I go secular again momentarily :). So even a baptized heathen like me spent some time meditating on the Passion narratives last week. And I prayed a lot of sorrowful mysteries during Lent. Way back when, I tried to internalize moments or Scripture verses for each Hail Mary (most I took from the Scriptural Rosary but some are my own little notions) to keep me focused. For bead 6 of the fifth sorrowful mystery (the crucifixion), in my version, it's "Woman, behold your son. Son, behold your Mother" - Jesus, dying on the cross, gives the beloved disciple, St. John, to Mary as her surrogate child, and His Mother to John.

This is old hat for most of you, but the interpretation of the lines is twofold - first of all, with Jesus's death, Mary has no family to take care of her, which is how older Jewish women lived; so Jesus assigns John to look after her. (The next verse says that John took her into his home.) Second, John, the beloved disciple, stands in for all of Christ's disciples throughout the generations. When he died, Jesus gave Mary to all of us as all of our mother. (I'm not sure whether Protestants sign onto this interpretation.)

So here's me, in a fit of spiritual, well, let's say delusions of grandeur, thinking about this. Most Jewish wives had great big families - that was the goal. Then lots of grandchildren; families to live with, and to take care of them in their old age. Mary had one kid, because her special vocation precluded her having more. Then her husband died when her Son wasn't even very old. Then her Son never married or had kids. And then she watched Him crucified. She had a difficult life. She was far outside the family and community norm - a social oddity among her own beloved people, despite following her God and the values of her faith. And then, she was completely alone.

(Does this sound familiar to anyone?)

So now the things that should shape the life of a good Jewish woman are all gone. What is she to do with herself? Of course she would always live a virtuous life, but every life needs a purpose. Jesus gives her one: she is to be the mother of all mankind.

Here's where I, verbose though I am, lose the thread of how to explain my musings well. The basic idea is that I should follow Mary in this path. I don't mean that I'm to be the mediatrix of all graces - you get that, right? I mean that Mary, a good mother, took care of the Son she bore. But without Him to care for, she was to take care of all of those - people unrelated to her, people older than she was, people born centuries later - who needed her motherhood, although it wasn't biological.

I know we've all seen people, of all ages, who desperately need a mother's love. Some of their mothers are gone, or estranged, or far away, or unable to help them. I don't have Mary's virtue or her closeness to God or her supernatural graces. But I have maybe just a little bit of something. I'm not fit to be the mother of all humanity, but in this suffering and lonely world, I am sure there are just a few people who might need me to take care of them - not feed them and burp them and change their diapers, but listen to them, smile at them when I pass them on the street, pray for them, be patient with them, laugh at their jokes, give them a hot meal, make them feel welcome, or invite them when I know there's a gathering of people so they won't be alone. It won't be easy, because lacking Mary's graces, I won't always see that what I'm doing matters at all. And, lacking her holiness, I will constantly screw up. But I can try.

Item the Third: Samantha Stephens

I told you I was going secular - bet you didn't expect me to go totally pagan! I loved watching reruns of Bewitched on Nick at Nite when I was a kid. (Nicole Kidman was well-cast in the movie version, but nothing beats the original.) Of course as a child I always daydreamed I had magical powers of various sorts. (I know this is not normal - at least, not past a certain age. As I understand it, the explanation is that my family life was out of control - so, in my fantasy world, I was not powerless, but supernaturally powerful. It turned out my real-life super powers ended at getting really good grades, but the world also turned out to be less scary than it seemed and so that was good enough.)

Samantha was awesome. This musing is particularly important to me just because I've always thought she was. If you thought she was nothing special, it won't mean anything to you. But I don't remember Samantha having any kids (though some quick internet research indicates that I was wrong. How did I miss that?). Even though I don't remember the "mommy" phase in the series, I remember thinking that she was beautiful. And feminine. And fun. A good wife - but not a pushover. Had a fascinating life, even though she spent a lot of it vacuuming and chatting with the neighbors, and of course hosting dinner parties. She was a happy person. She didn't feel trapped or miserable or cheated by life - even though she could have lived in another dimension full of witches and warlocks and all kinds of possibility! She didn't have a full-time job like I do and I know she was a TV character, so yeah, she had more time to keep her house clean. But I could do a lot worse than adopt Samantha's outlook on life - not to mention her temperament when dealing with her crazy family. Endora has nothing on my mother. Seriously.

Samantha probably also fits into my train of thought here because her temperament reminds me of Lily's a little bit. Plus they kind of look alike, don't you think?

Item the Fourth: Infertili-beads

I just found this gal's blog. Here's what she does: every cycle she doesn't get pregnant, she makes a beautiful glass bead. (Cool, right?) It gets better. She has just explained that now she's going to turn some of them into wine charms. So that instead of each month of ttc being just another month she is childless, they each add beauty to what she is able to do - have a wonderful time with dear friends. That's more or less what I've been able to do with my no-kids time. Which means that her beads are both the symbol and the reality of turning a lack of something you wanted into a celebration of what you have instead - and, in fact, each month she has no baby she makes into an affirmative gift to her friends. I like that.


  1. Thanks for sharing your insights-I loved them! I think you are definitely on to something here. Looking forward to checking out the blogs and love the attitude you have expressed here. Still working on my friend guest blog post about her successful end to ttc. She truly is happy and at peace.
    Sidenote, was it Tabatha that was Samantha's daughter? Digging WAY back...

  2. Oh my, Misfit - you are on a roll with amazing, thought provoking, insightful, MEATY posts. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I so appreciate it and I love the idea of Infertility glass beads. I am not that talented, but I do like to make nylon cord rosaries and I think I will start making one for each month I get AF and pray on them for the next month. I think it would be a tangible sign of the need to keep praying and hoping and clinging to Christ and Mary in the midst of the swirling craziness around me. Thanks again for your post!

  3. I loved Samantha! I think I still daydream about having magical powers, but I suppose that's a separate issue. :) I remember Tabitha, her daughter, but I feel like she was kind of minimized on the show. It seems like she appeared later on.

    I love the example of the glass bead...it's such a great idea! I usually try to always have something planned - an event, a trip, party, etc. - with the assumption I won't be pregnant by then. They're things that would usually be less fun if I was pregnant or had children, and I feel like it helps, at least a little. I have an aunt and uncle who weren't able to have children, and I think it helps, too, to see how they have created a fulfilling and exciting life. Sometimes I wonder if they've gone out of their way to take advantage of the fact that they don't have children, or if they are just more conscious of it.


  4. I loved you reflections of the Blessed Mother and that we are called to mother each other following her example. Something to think about, and I love that.

  5. Great post! Thanks for the lead to the "charmed" blog - it's a delight!

  6. I love that you know what you need to do to become a better wife and are conscientious enough to start doing it. Also, the idea of being a "mother" to others is different ways is wonderful. I remember when I was growing up that my aunts and uncles without kids were my favorite aunts and uncles. It was also nice when another adult took a special interest in me. It made a big difference in my childhood.

  7. I loved this post, especially your examples of who you'd like to be like. The idea of doing something special and positive for at the beginning of a new cycle is a great idea.