Tuesday, May 31, 2005



We know that summer has begun when we begin migrating to the lake. My folks have a summer home and a BEAUTIFUL piece of property in Northern Michigan. That's right -- just about 7 hours north of Indy. It's a long haul, especially for Hayes. Although we purchased a DVD player for the van which has been a life saver. Yesterday, on the long ride home, we put in one of Hayes's favorite DVDs: Fantasia 2000. He's the only 3 year old I know who goes around singing Beethoven's 5th. About halfway through the video, it starts to skip, or rather pause and pick up again. It's in random places but fairly regular. Hayes wanted to know what it was doing. Richard told him it was hiccupping. That seemed to make sense to him. The next time it paused into silence, Hayes hiccupped. Every time it paused (about every 2 or 3 minutes) Hayes hiccupped. We got to laughing so hard Hayes told us to be quiet, he couldn't hear his music! So literal ... we may just have an Emily on our hands.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The Power Behind the Throne


I am almost finished with Sue Monk Kidd's _Dance of the Dissident Daughter_. There is no possible way to sum it up. I am in awe of a woman who would/could make such and arduous journey with no map and no known traveling companion. I see much of myself in this woman's experience and I felt a bit like a see-saw as I read about her journey. I know I have grown spiritually in some of the same ways, but none as dramatic as hers. In fact, it may be that what I used to think were leaps and bounds may actually be baby steps. I have altered my trajectory (or had it altered) spiritually more than once, for which I am grateful. But as I read I kept feeling like her experience was not fully mine.

Until today. A good friend asked to talk to me about what it's like for me to be a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM). At that moment, two things happened in me. First, I saw myself (as if an outside observer) sigh and shrink into my seat in an admission that, yes, this is where you can find me. I used to have more worth than this, but now, I am the primary care giver; I am the one who can decode what is apparently a secret language unique to Hayes and myself; I can interpret the body language of my son, know if he is being silly or rude, find the only pair of his pants without holes in the knees and determine if he really needs to use the potty; I can locate the missing head of cauliflower in the overstuffed refridgerator; I seem to be alone in knowing that a timeout for Hayes is worse than a spanking; I can find the magic blanket at bedtime, understand why it is magical, and know without looking if we are out of laundry detergent. This is what my life has become, in fact, been reduced to. And I realized that I had accepted this without even considering how if would make me feel, but because I felt it was the reasonable choice. And in fact, thousands upon thousands of women seem to be quite happy in their roles as SAHMs and who am I to doubt it? All I know is, the full weight of it hit me at that precise moment and I knew I wouldn't be able to turn back or pretend it was ok.

The second thing, which happened about 2.8 seconds after the first, was that I found myself referred to as "the power behind the throne." These words are causing an almost physical reaction in me. This one phrase has been with me all day rattling around in my head so loudly I can hear nothing else. This could be my defining feminine moment. Sue Monk Kidd describes the moment when she realized something about herself that changed everything. She called herself "Father Sue." She relates how these words were the catalyst for an awakening in her that she would never have guessed was deep within.

When my friend used the phrase "the power behind the throne," all I could think of was the different mirrors woman have within a patriarchal culture with which to see their lives. Kidd mentions these among others: The Many Breasted Woman (takes care of everyone and sometimes herself), The Secondary Partner (always takes the back seat to the more powerful partner), and The Dutiful Daughter (following the rules, not rocking the boat). I have definitely been living these roles to varying degrees. This comment from my friend drove it home like an iron stake through my head (a fantastic feminine image from the old testament). Is this what I am striving to be? Is this it? It's not possible. I have a lot of exploring to do and me without my map. But I do have the experience of many women throughout history and my community to see me through. I had no idea this book would affect me so much.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

What's in a Name?

So I found an altered identity! I think that's AB speak for a sort of pen name. I will have to do an altered book for SIMON ROYCE HARLAN I. I anagramed my name and this is one of the better ones. I especially love it since Grandmom's last name was Harlan. Too good to pass up. Maybe I can create an entire altered novel with Amy and Summer. We can all anagram our names and create a slew of altered characters with fabulous stories and marvelous lives. From my name alone we could have:


Wanna try it? check out this site. I'm off to alter my cast of characters!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

What is a Mother

Hayes brought home a "card" from school the Friday before mother's day. In it was stapled all the things that the children said when asked, "What is a mother and what does she do?" Here's what Hayes said:

Sometimes a mommy sends you to school. They can tell you that sometimes a cloud can cover up a rainbow. A mother shows you that sometimes the moon covers up the sun. That's kind of cool! She likes me to not eat too much candy! When she's asleep she doesn't like very loud, loud. loud noise. She likes when I don't make too much noise.

Well -- that pretty much covers it. I love that kid!

Thursday, May 05, 2005

As The Pendulum Swings

How is it that last night when my child says to me, "You are my very best mommy ever," and gives me this wonderful hug, I practically melted; yet today, when I found crayon scribbles on the carpet and sofa cushions (yes, it is possible to write with crayon on fabric surfaces) I wanted to yank his little arm off? Rage is not a pretty thing. And really, my meltdown had nothing to do with the actual crayon markings (which he said he did to surprise me -- it worked). It had everything to do with may having asked him to get the mess of broken crayons and papers cleaned up 15 minutes prior to finding him there, in yet a larger mess. Oh, and also with him laughing as I am trying to convey how upsetting his choices were and how disobedient he has been. And perhaps the fact that he pulled apart my favorite necklace earlier this morning didn't help matters.

These are the moments when I think I will never make it as a mother. Ironic that Mother's Day is just around the corner. What do you do when you are sure you are going to throttle your child and that, perhaps, he deserves it? I walk away; I call Richard; I leave the boy in his "time out" area. But in reality, I'm ashamed of myself for letting my emotions get a hold on me like that. Should I have spanked him? He is not battered by any stretch, in fact, my parents seem to think he could use a spanking a bit more. But it seems to me that as the adult, I should be able to check myself a bit better. How do you deal with a stubborn three-year-old?

So when this precious little prince wakes up from his tantrum-induced nap, we will no doubt pick up where we left off, hopefully with less emotion and more reason (at least on my part). I am a big believer in natural consequences. If you make the mess, you clean it up. It could be a very long night for little man tonight. There is one Hell of a mess in that playroom; he didn't help himself any by throwing that tantrum. And I hate it that I will have to be the one enforcing the punishment. Ah the joys of Motherhood. Thank God I was the "best mommy ever" last night. All hope is lost for tonight.

The difference in being generous

I began reading Spong's book yesterday. I was immediately put off. Why must he be so rude and so elitist? I was struck by the incredible difference between his voice and that of Brian McLaren. I couldn't even get through the introduction. My suspicion is that Spong may indeed have some very good ideas and timely advise for Christians; but I simply can't enter into his critical air, especially when McLaren has such a open and respectful tone. Perhaps I am spoiled, but Spong is not going to be the book for me. Instead I am going for Sue Monk Kidd's Dance of the Dissident Daughter. I am already into Chapter 1 and loving it! I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Book Reviews

Just finished two fabulous books, each in their respective genres.

1. How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Terri McMillan -- I LOVE this book. I start out every summer with it. If you don't mind the profanity (which, of course, my mom was shocked by), and you can follow a train of though without any punctuation (sorry Richard), I highly recommend it. Fun, flirtatious and absolutely inspiring. I'll have to remember this the next time I have a creative block.

2. A Generous Orthodoxy, Brian McLaren -- I do not have adequate words for the impact on my faith this man's books have had. Finally, someone who understands faith in a similar way as I do. I have waited a long time to hear another voice out there proclaiming Christ in this way. If you are fed up with the church as we know it, if you are sure there must be another way, if you just don't see Christ in Christianity so much anymore, I say you must read this book! Utterly refreshing.

Now, of course, I have to choose from the waiting stack of 4 which one I will read next. Anyone read anything by Spong? I got 3 of his books for Xmas this year and I think he's next on my list. I'd like to compare him to McLaren.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


Going through Disney withdrawl. Had to eat dinner with just Hayes last night. I didn't know what to do! Can't wait to go back. Loved being with the Brenners. Have to love it when you find someone who loves Disney the way you do. Small World was remarkably cleaner and in general sweeter than it's been in a long time. I will be remembering the week for days and weeks to come. FUN, FUN FUN!