The Blogger’s Psalm

23 The Lord is my web designer; I shall not want.

 

 

 

 

 

He maketh me to copy the HTML perfectly: he leadeth me to the best widgets.

He restoreth my screen: he leadeth me in the paths of topical humor, for relevancy’s sake.

Yea, though I scroll through the valley of the shadow of Tumblr, I will fear no trolls: for thou art with me; thy wireless and thy network, they comfort me.

 

Thou preparest a Macbook Pro before me in the presence of mine flamers: thou anointest my mouth with caffeine; my K-cups runneth over.

 

 

Surely viral posts, retweets and pins shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will work in my house forever.

 

It happened the other day.

I was at a get together with a bunch of other families. Kids running everywhere, people chatting, you know the drill. Anyway, Lucy, my almost 5-month-old baby, got hungry and I went to make her a bottle.

A dad was in the kitchen as I was making the bottle and he quipped, “Did you hear about what they’re doing in New York with the formula?” and a whole breastfeeding/formula feeding conversation ensued. He wasn’t criticizing me for giving her formula, nothing like that, but I still found myself getting defensive. “Well, I’m still breastfeeding,” I said. “I just supplement with formula. You see, I started feeding her rice cereal a couple of weeks ago and my milk supply has been dropping ever since. This happened with my other kids, too. I mean, I still pump all the time and I nurse her as much as I can to try and build my supply back up again, I’ve even tried Brewer’s Yeast,  but…” And on and on I went. It’s like I was reciting Chapter 10 of “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding”.

The poor guy didn’t know what had hit him.

As the mother of an infant during The Great Formula Feeding Debate of 2012, every mother’s every feeding decision has become some kind of political stance. Worse, our culture can’t seem to decide what to think about breastfeeding. If you don’t breastfeed, you’re a bad mom. But if you do it in public, you’re an exhibitionist. (Which, I guess, means that society has decided what to think: Mothers shouldn’t leave the house until their babies are at least one year old.)  Just weeks earlier I had felt obliged to hide out in bathrooms and cars to nurse Lucy while out in public. It was either that or subject the poor kid to having a blanket over her face on a 100 degree day. I’ve probably wasted gallons of gas sitting in a running car while Lucy took her sweet time suckling. Fortunately, there’s a DVD player for the two older kids, who also often had to hide out with me.

(I suppose I’m part of the problem. I’m no prude, but I don’t like the idea of just letting it all hang out, and I definitely don’t like the looks I get when I do nurse in public. I mean, I went to Mardi Gras — twice — in my early 20′s and managed to never show my tits, so I’m certainly not going to do it now…  in Walmart … after nursing three babies … when no one is offering beads.)

And then this week the whole” legitimate” rape/abortion thing hit the news. All of a sudden people — ahem, men — were everywhere talking about what women should do with our uteruses. (uterii?) First the boobs, now the uteruses. It all makes me long for Victorian times. I can’t imagine a politician back then getting up on a stump to discuss women’s private parts.

I get it — as mothers it’s not just about us. We are blessed to carry these precious lives inside of us and we have the beautiful opportunity to feed them nature’s most perfect food. We are tasked with providing for another life, a truly remarkable privilege. In fact, it’s all a misty, watercolor, Hallmark card … until you’re bedridden with preeclampsia, or in your 30th hour of labor, or the doc forgets to give you something for the pain before he stitches up your hoo-ha, or your nipples are so sore, cracked and bleeding that every time the baby eats she looks like Dracula after a kill. (All things I have personal experience with, btw.)

My point? Motherhood is intensely personal and often intensely painful. So people — ahem, men — need to shut the eff up.

Let’s try this, ladies: The next time some guy wants to talk pregnancy, abortion or breastfeeding with us, let’s turn the tables on him. “How’s your scrotum?” we should ask. “Are you wearing boxers or briefs? You know, tighty whities aren’t good for the boys — too constricting. And do you masturbate? Daily? Doing so helps prevent prostate cancer, you know…” Or perhaps the even more personal, “How much time do you spend with the children you’ve made?”

 

A few weeks ago a friend posted a funny picture on Facebook that she’d ripped from a page called “Overly Sensitive Military Wives.” Intrigued, I checked out the page and found that a bunch of my friends had “liked” it. So I liked it, too. Every few days I’d drop by to see what was posted on the prolific page — there’s an update nearly every hour, and a lot of the stuff is pretty funny. Then I started reading the comments — and I started getting depressed.

My reaction was similar to the reaction my husband has when we encounter someone particularly loud-mouthed and ignorant. “I can’t believe I volunteered to fight and possibly die for that,” he says, and we shake our heads sadly, roll our eyes and chuckle. I usually counter with, “Yep, their vote counts just as much as ours do.” Many times this is followed by a conversation about all that is wrong with America and how we ought to just defect and start our own country somewhere else. Preferably somewhere warm.

Trolling through the posts and comments on that Facebook page made me feel like all the — seriously — thousands of hours I’ve given to work on military issues have been in vain. “I’ve been busting my ass for these people?” I thought, and got a little sick to my stomach. Family support, children’s resources, childcare initiatives, spouse education and hiring benefits, suicide prevention, you name it and I’ve helped with a fundraiser or an awareness campaign. The women who post comments on the site are mostly military wives from what I can tell, and they seem to draw great pleasure from ridiculing “dependapotamuses” (which, I admit, is a rather clever term), whom they define as being fat military wives. Stereotypes abound and there’s not a shred of kindness or understanding anywhere.

In fact, my husband Facebook stalked me (I gave him permission) and saw that I’d commented on one of the updates. He clicked through, read the comments, and called me to say, “If this is the Army now, I want out. These people suck. Are there really people who think like that?”

The temptation to join in is obvious. It’s human nature. Practically every tween and teen movie includes a plot line about the nice girl (and it’s always a girl) who gets invited to sit at the popular table in the cafeteria and then becomes a bitch who makes fun of her old friends. Those plot lines are there because even children can recognize that it’s wrong to sell out your own people — and we want our kids to absorb that lesson. Some of us just don’t seem to apply it to ourselves.

Children aren’t spared in the comments, either, by the way. They’re always described as shitty brats, and not “brats” in the military sense of the word. There’s no credit given for the fact that those ill-behaved kids are coping with a freakin’ decade of war the best they know how. And, having lived in a military community for nearly a decade, I can say confidently that it’s not like the majority of military wives are size 2 beauty queens. I highly suspect that the harshest commenters would probably be described by others as a “dependapotamus” themselves as they chased their misbehaving kids through the PX. I’m honestly not sure how those bitches managed to climb up on horses high enough to allow them to look down so easily on the rest of us.

The entire point of the OSMW page is to be mean to military wives. That’s it. There is no other reason for it’s existence. Worse, from what I can determine, it was started by an unmarried female service member. Obviously not one with a demanding MOS though, (I hope) or she wouldn’t have time for all those updates.  Now, I get why she and other female service members might derive some joy at poking fun of military wives — there is a long-standing rivalry there — but why in the world would a military wife join in? That’d be like a black person joining the KKK “you know, ’cause sometimes racist jokes are funny.”

It’s mostly cheap humor, not wit. Simply slapping an e-card and a fake quote graphic on a mean statement doesn’t equal comedy. These Rosies aren’t riveting, in any sense of the word.

Ugh. I feel like I need a shower, and maybe a colonic and a juice fast. Or a lobotomy. Something that will clean me inside and out to take the stank of that page away.

 

Yes, it is shameless self-promotion. And, no, I don’t really get anything if I win. But titles like “Top 25 Military Mom Bloggers” are really compelling to the people who are waiting (but just don’t know it yet) to publish my book. And, I’ve started (but haven’t finished) six of them now. But maybe having a few cool titles on my book proposal will be just the thing to twist the arms of those publishers who will, in turn, allow me to expose the reading-public-who-don’t-bother-trolling-the-internet to my illuminating world view and innumerable witticisms. Maybe. And then I’ll have a best seller. And then I’ll be on “The Today Show” and then, and then. And then my kids will get to retire the PJs they outgrew two years ago and will no longer have to listen to me telling them that capris and midriffs are the “in” thing in children’s sleepwear. And then Hollywood will come calling and pay me mucho dinero to make my book into a film. Beyonce will play me, of course. (Yes, I know she is black. And, yes, I know I am shockingly white – despite it being summertime. But my body is really just too bootylicious for me to be portrayed by a white actress. Besides, I thought this was the post-racial age, right? Y’all are all racists. And Hubs? He’ll be played by, umm, Channing Tatum. (I had to Google “young Hollywood male actors” to come up with that because I only go to, like, one movie a year and I have no idea who the young stars are now, and Channing Tatum is the only one I recognized in the search results. What? You thought I’d say Brad Pitt? George Clooney? Russell Crowe? Well, I thought about it – but I didn’t want to show my age.) Hubs will no longer let me post his pic on this blog. Something about OPSEC. So you’re just going to have to take my word for it — he’s really hot. Like smokin’ hot. Like makin’ babies hot. Which is why we have three… It will all make sense when you see the movie. But first I have to put it in the book, which means the book has to be finished, which means I need someone to say they’re going to publish it, which means — Oh, for the love of Nutella, just give the Pig the damn Pancake and vote for me by clicking this ridiculously self-explanatory button.

Oh, and, um, THANKS!

Dear Rudy and Lucy,

You are babies now. You don’t know how to read, but that’s okay.  I don’t want you to read this now anyway. Now, Rudy, you delight in your ability to run, jump and roll. And you, Lucy, are fascinated by the simple existence of your hands and feet. So this won’t make sense to you until you’re at least 10 or 11 years old, hopefully older. You won’t understand this until you look in the mirror and all you see is wrong. I will show this to you then, and I will hope that you will memorize these words and write them on your hearts.

The world is wrong. You are beautiful.

Please know that when I see you I see nothing but beauty. You are perfect and I am constantly amazed that such perfection once grew inside of me. Nothing about you is accidental. God doesn’t make mistakes. You will be who you were meant to be.  You should know that real beauty is multi-faceted and for beauty to exist it must vary. A single rose is not stunning when it is in a bouquet of identical blooms. If everyone had the ideal face and body, ideal would become average. We are all exceptional only in our differences.

I don’t yet know what you will look like as women, but I suspect you will grow to have the same broad shoulders, strong arms, thick legs and wide hips I have. The signs are there already. The world will tell you to hate these things, that they don’t meet the so-called ideal, but I hope that you will enjoy their strength. Where other girls will whimper and have to rest, your muscled legs will carry you with ease. When other girls will quit and lay their burdens down from exhaustion, you will be able to hoist yours — and theirs — back up, and keep on moving. You will be survivors. True, your hips may never look as the fashion designers intended in some styles of jeans, but those hips will guarantee that no one ever sees you from behind and mistakes you for a boy. And one day, when you become a mother, a midwife and your husband may look on you and on those hips and marvel at how perfectly your body has performed that most primal of tasks — just as mine did when each of you joined our family.

The world will tell you that beauty is narrow. I tell you that it is as wide as the ocean and, used wisely, has just as much power and potential.

Form follows function. Remember that. Your body is only as beautiful as it is functional. There is nothing pretty about incompetence. For every so-called flaw, there is also a purpose. Those strong legs, arms and shoulders will serve you well in most any sport. You will be able to shoot, spike, stroke and swing with an ease many women — and some men — will covet. Others may run faster, jump higher and tumble through the air effortlessly. Still others will sashay on display, dance with abandon and sail over hurdles. No one needs to be good at everything — but everyone can be great at something. That is the real trick of life: to find the thing you are great at and put your energies there.

Olympic athletes rarely look like fashion models, and fashion models rarely look like Olympic athletes. Their bodies were made for different things. None has a ‘better’ or a ‘worse’ body; they are simpy suited for separate purposes. All are only as beautiful as the strength of the personalities that carry them. If something about yourself fails to meet a certain standard, you should first reassess the standard to make sure it applies. There may be times when you need to work on yourself, but other times it may simply be that you are applying the wrong standard.

The world is harsh — so be gentle. Be your own port in the storm. Surround yourself only with people who love you. Criticize yourself only when doing so will lead to refinement. There is nothing wrong with being scrutinized or coached, in fact, such judgment is essential for growth. But listen to harsh words only when they come from people who want to make you — Better. Stronger. Faster. More resilient. More beautiful.

More — You.

 

The other day my mother told me to stop by the gift shop at the Cathedral and buy a St. Joseph statue.

“Then you need to bury him upside down in the front yard with his feet pointing toward Heaven. Your house will sell for sure!” she said.

This is funny for several reasons. 1). We’re Baptist. 2). My mother used to sing in a gospel trio, and 3). She admitted that she has no idea who St. Joseph was or why this is supposed to work.

But she does work in real estate and she said over the years she’s heard from dozens of people who say their homes sold only after they planted St. Joseph in the yard. Which makes me wonder if one day hundreds of years from now archaeologists will excavate the lot of a particularly undesirable home and find hundreds of upside down St. Joseph figurines in the yard and then deduce that the home was occupied by some sort of weird cult.

It also made me wonder if St. Joseph should be the patron saint of PCS’s. (That’s permanent change of station, AKA, military moves, for those of you who don’t speak Uncle Sam’s native tongue.)

I shudder to imagine the thousands of military families stuck at one post trying to sell a house while the service member has to move on without them. Surely St. Joseph could intervene…

But then again, what do I know? I come from the Deep-and-Wide-Old-Rugged-Cross side of the faith. We don’t do much with the saints. When my husband and I were dating he gave me a key chain that has his unit crest printed on one side and St. Michael on the other because St. Michael is the patron saint of (among other things) paratroopers. Why? I asked him, but he didn’t know. So I joked that maybe they should have picked St. Jude instead —  because he’s the patron saint of lost causes. Hubs didn’t find that very funny.

But maybe St. Jude is the more appropriate saint in this case, considering that if we’d tried to sell our house even just one year ago, we could have asked about $25,000 more for it AND sold it quickly and with very little difficulty. But the Army didn’t tell us to move last year — they told us to move this year and, according to a story in our local paper, last month (when we put the house on the market) was the very worst month for existing home sales IN TEN YEARS.

St. Jude, indeed.