Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Judge Not, Lest Ye Also Be Judged

When my oldest son was three I enrolled him in a Mommy's morning out program. I had searched high and low for a program not affiliated with a church or religious group, to no avail. With two small children; one just an infant, and no family support to speak of, I was absolutely desperate for some down time. So against my misgivings, I signed him up.

Since the baby's nap coincided nicely with the program's three hour timeslot, I had, for the first time since becoming a mother, time in which I could simply decompress. I began to look forward to those three days a week the way a drug addict looks forward to their next fix. That is to say; with equal parts longing and desperation.

One day, while waiting for an awards program to start, I overheard two mothers gossiping about a third, with whom they were quite put out. Finally they both sighed heavily. One said to the other "Well, what're ya gonna do...." and the other said "Well, she's not a Christian so...."

The implication was clear. She's not a Christian, so we really can't expect any better of her.

And that's when I first began to understand that my fitness as a mother would always and forever be in question as far as Christians were concerned; that no matter what I did, I would never quite measure up in their eyes. Over the years, that knowledge has evolved and solidified into a very weighty thing. It hangs over my head constantly. I have been slapped in the face more times than I can count; judged, criticized, denigrated and dismissed because I am not a Christian and I am not raising my children in a Christian home.

It used to be that I could simply avoid those types of situations. But as my children grew older and developed a wider circle of friends and acquaintances, it became more difficult. And now, with the prevailance of social media, I am bombarded daily with assertions that I am failing my children. Yes, daily. Every single day I see cutesy little religious proclomations that directly or indirectly criticize me for my choice to raise my children without benefit of Christian values.

But you see...that's the very thing that's so infuriating. Christians, you have not cornered the market on morality. I most certainly am teaching my kids Christian values. We call them simply, "values". 

Honesty, kindness, charity, tolerance, acceptance, humility, love....these are all things I try to instill in my children. I don't do it because some doctrine or idealogy told me I should. I don't do it because I wish them to be rewarded in heaven or because I want them to avoid eternal damnation.

I do it because I want to raise children who impact the world and their fellow human beings in a positive way. I do it because I want them to be proud of who they are and how they have conducted their lives. I do it because I want them, when they are at the end of their time here on earth, to look back with peace in their hearts. I do it because I too want to look back and know that I did my best for them.

But because I do not couch these values in religious dogma I am a bad mother.

So let me just give it to you straight here: That really chaps my ass.

Particularly because I gave up almost 16 years of my life to devote myself entirely to motherhood. Sixteen years, folks. For sixteen years I had no other purpose in life than to be the steward of my childrens' well being; physical, emotional and psychological.

Now, in retrospect, that was probably a mistake. I lost myself in my role as nurturer. I failed to maintain a sense of self independant of my children. That resulted in one WHOPPER of an identity crisis later in my life, from which I am glad to say, I have recovered. But at the time, I thought it was truly the best thing for my children and so I did it without hesitation.

But still, I'm a bad mother.

I have been Room Mom, PTA Mom, Book Fair Mom, Science Fair Mom, Silent Auction Mom, Baseball Mom, Patient Advocate and Student Rights Mom. I have been hell on wheels when I had to, sweet as pie when it suited my purpose. I have negotiated, advocated, pontificated, educated and illuminated.

But still, I'm a bad mother.

I have spent countless hours reading, researching and educating myself so that I could make informed decisions about my children's welfare. I have written emails and made phone calls and made a general nuiscance of myself in order to affect change for them. I have lain awake nights agonizing over the decisions I made on their behalf.

But still I'm a bad mother.

I have practiced tough love when I wanted to be the marshmallow. I have been steadfast when I wanted to fold like a house of cards. I have been the bad guy when I wanted to be the bff. I have been the Warden when I wanted to be the emancipator. I have been the long arm of the law when I wanted to be the partner in crime.

But still I'm a bad mother.

Well STUFF that.

I am raising good kids. I'm teaching them how to be free thinkers and to embrace the differences that make this world great. I'm teaching them to respect other views even when they don't agree. I'm teaching them that good and bad isn't always black and white. I'm teaching them that that good people sometimes do bad things and bad people probably have a little good in them somewhere.

For all those reasons and more, I am a good mother. And I've finally come to realize that the only person who has to believe that is me. And I do.

So I could counter that you, Christians, are the bad mothers. For allowing religion to narrow your children's minds and close their hearts and color their judgement. For letting it be a divisive force, a justification for evil and an instrument of antipathy and ill will.

But I won't. Because that would hurt you and then I would be no better. Because I know you teach your children these things because you believe it's the right thing to do. And because I know that we all love our children. And love is what it really comes down to.

I don't agree with your doctrine, but I can't disagree with love. And I'm going to choose to believe that if you really think about it, you can't either.

Peace to loving mothers everywhere. Let's give each other a break...shall we?

11 Comments:

  • At 1:30 PM, Blogger Carol said…

    I adore you -- your courage, your writing -- yeah, pretty much everything about you. Can you move to Seattle, please? And hey, I'm only attacked about once a week or so for not raising my kids as Christians, so things would surely improve for you here.

     
  • At 1:38 PM, Blogger Blog Antagonist said…

    Ohhhhhh, Carol. I WISH.

     
  • At 1:59 PM, Anonymous Apryl's Antics said…

    AMEN! LOL. I love irony. :) I also love this, because I know of what you speak.

     
  • At 2:20 PM, Anonymous Gurukarm said…

    As an also "non-Christian" I can relate. Because it's not only if you "don't believe", but you "believe in a different way" that you must be a BAD mother. And? To top that? I sent my kids *half way across the world*!!! to boarding school (for 7 years each!) How BAD is THAT?

    Well, I'll tell you how bad: My daughter's giving of her time and talents and love currently to a bunch of amazing and sweet kids at an orphanage/boarding school in southern India, as a teacher (and hopes to be accepted into Teach for America); my son just (probably) got accepted into one of the colleges of his choice because he wowed the interviewer (by phone, by the way, not in person) with his explanation of how being a squad leader and captain of the basketball team at his school has made him realize how much he's able to, and wants to, help others...

    OK, off my soap box. You are indeed a MOST AWESOME MOM, Chris. :-) Those 16 years (some of which you've documented here) were SO not a waste of your life!

     
  • At 2:57 PM, Blogger the only daughter said…

    . . . nor a bad daughter, wife, sister, aunt, person A good person!

     
  • At 4:54 PM, Blogger jess said…

    Yup. So true. It's not just limited to motherhood either. :)

    But to be fair, there are quite a few Christians who don't think that way (unfortunately they're not the loud ones).

     
  • At 1:36 AM, Blogger Amy Y said…

    Loved it, as always. And I feel this, 100%. I hate feeling like I have to hiide my agnosticism, My mother told me just this past week that she failed as a mother because of how I turned out - a Democrat and a non-Christian.

    I think you're awesome :). I wish all mothers raised their kids like you do!

     
  • At 11:46 AM, Blogger heidig said…

    Very well said - glad to read a new post from you!

     
  • At 2:23 PM, Anonymous Barbara Stoner said…

    Oh ho! So you think *you're* a bad mother? Not only did I not raise my children in a Christian home, neither did I do most of those wonderful things that you and lots and lots of other good mothers did. I followed the Grateful Dead and traveled across the country on a motorcycle and lots of other irresponsible stuff, and my kids weren't too crazy about all of it, but they still turned out kind, intelligent and funny. With jobs. Which makes me think Christian kids have half a chance too. Full disclosure - I live in Seattle. The only Christians I know here are pro-gay marriage.

     
  • At 1:07 AM, Blogger Just Words On A Page said…

    This couldn't have come at a more perfect time. I wrote an open letter to Elizabeth Marquardt who is editor of FamilyScholars.org, as well as vice president for family studies and director of the Center for Marriage and Families at the Institute for American Values. (Right wing religious organization).

    She wrote an article titled: Do Mothers Matter. http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/02/do-mothers-matter/252676/

    In this article she suggested that those of us (like me) who have our children in non-traditional ways (egg donation and surrogacy) are causing our children harm because they are missing THEIR MOTHERS.

    If you'd like - I'd be happy to share with you the open letter I wrote to Ms. Marquardt, it wasn't very nice, but it was clear and to the point.

    I am so sick and tired of being judged because I am not a fundamentalist Christian. I am spirtual and I am tired of feeling ashamed of that.

    So thank you for writing what you did today, I needed to hear it.

     
  • At 11:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Those folks are not Christian, they have a misunderstanding of their own belief system.

    There is no waste in raising your children, that is the meaning of life. If you do it right at the end you look up and say "now what" and then you turn back to yourself.

     

Post a Comment

<< Home