Friday, September 26, 2008

Women Pastors: Unfit for Public View?

Shocked, offended, disappointed...and not all that surprised.

That pretty much sums up my reaction to this story about Lifeway Christian Stores pulling the magazine Gospel Today off its shelves and hiding it, like so much pornography, behind the counter.

What, you may ask, was so horrible about this issue that it would be hidden away, only available if asked for, and kept safe from the public eye (and impressionable young children)?

Well, duh - because the cover story reported a shocking reality: there are WOMEN who are PASTORS!!

Let's leave aside for a moment the complete idiocy of pretending that women clergy don't exist in this day and age, and the asinine assumption that reporting something exists means promoting it.

Let's jump straight to the dangerous mind-control exhibited by the Southern Baptist Convention in believing it needs to shield people who shop its stores from even the knowledge that such a thing exists. Oh sure, they say it's because it's against their doctrine. But don't you think it's really just that seeing women in that position gets under their skin? The reaction - to place the mag behind the counter - makes clear that they view the very position of these women as so offensive as to be pornographic, as unfit for public viewing.

That makes me sick. And as a woman who's trying to be in ministry professionally, it hurts.

And besides, I'm sure the "gay agenda" or Satan worshipping or abortions are against their doctrine too, but that hasn't stopped many Christian magazines with cover stories reporting on those issues from being displayed in stores. The key here is that the magazine was simply saying this exists, it's an interesting phenomenon, and desiring to start a conversation.

But God, we can't have conversation! That might lead to independent thought! And then...well...they'd probably lose a good number of their members. Let's hope at least the females.

This reminds me of the story I wrote on about seminaries running degree programs in Christian homemaking. It's just ugly behavior toward women, particularly these women who have answered their callings despite many barriers and odds against them. I'm surprised they haven't mandated the head coverings called for by the apostle Paul for women in church. As long as they're letting women get away with the makeup, hair, and jewelry I see on TBN, I don't get why showing a woman in pastoral garb is unbiblical. Have you people read 1 Timothy? You can't take the Bible literally and then let your wives, even with their degrees in home cookin' and Sunday School teachin', get away with that kind of display!

Well I have to get on to watching the debate. Here's another version of the story. And thanks to Episcopal Cafe, where I found out about it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Otherizing Obama

The Push to "Otherize" Obama

"What is happening, I think, is this: religious prejudice is becoming a proxy for racial prejudice. In public at least, it’s not acceptable to express reservations about a candidate’s skin color, so discomfort about race is sublimated into concerns about whether Mr. Obama is sufficiently Christian.

"The result is this campaign to “otherize” Mr. Obama. Nobody needs to point out that he is black, but there’s a persistent effort to exaggerate other differences, to de-Americanize him."

Monday, September 22, 2008

White Privilege

At the risk of opening myself to attack, I have to post this from Tim Wise. He brings up a lot of thought-provoking points. I don't know if everything he's saying is exactly accurate (I haven't had time to keep up with all the Palin family characters & ensuing drama), but it rings true. I know it isn't fair, but that's rather the point. It's certainly inflammatory, but c'mon, it's a blog! We know all about inflammatory here. :)

and the followup:

Here's a taste:
White privilege is when you can claim that being mayor of a town smaller than most medium-sized colleges, and then Governor of a state with about the same number of people as the lower fifth of the island of Manhattan, makes you ready to potentially be president, and people don't all piss on themselves with laughter, while being a black U.S. Senator, two-term state Senator, and constitutional law scholar, means you're "untested."


White privilege is being able to convince white women who don’t even agree with you on any substantive issue to vote for you and your running mate anyway, because all of a sudden your presence on the ticket has inspired confidence in these same white women, and made them give your party a “second look.”


White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make people immediately scared of you.
 [stop & think about that for a minute...person holding a gun, or talking about their gun, and the color of their skin...and your gut reaction...this one really gets me]

[Oh, I do disagree with his statement about the amniotic fluid...there he is belying some ignorance of the birth perhaps he's wrong about several things...but I still found it to be food for thought...something to chew on...I think I'm hungry...]

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Spiritual Gifts

So here's a question that arose for me today. I'll try to recreate the chain of thought:

In today's sermon the preacher talked about the "evil eye", referring actually to envy (it was the parable of the workers who are pissed that they work all day and get the same wage as the workers who worked 1 hour - apparently they gave these people the "evil eye") (btw this is all hilarious to us b/c we always talk about the evil eye at home - usually one of the cats is giving it around here - but that's neither here nor there).

So ANYWAY he was talking about how he had the evil eye for the people with iphones until he got one. And I got to thinking about how my envy issue is about ordination. Specifically, it's about my friends who are sailing through their ordination processes with no problems whatsoever, after all my struggles and eventual giving up.

Now I realize LOTS of people have horrible times in the process. But for some reason, I don't feel in solidarity with them - I am more just jealous of people, however few they may be, who have no trouble with it. Primarily this is because the people I know who have an easy time of it are people who mostly didn't know they wanted to be ordained, or hadn't given it much thought, and just kind of fall into it. They trip and land in the ordination almost by accident, while I've been clawing for years for the privilege. They don't even realize what they have, and I couldn't want anything more.

And I found myself saying that what really gets me, when I'm horribly honest (and here comes a self-revelation that is probably among the reasons I'm not a good ordination candidate!), is that I feel like I'm gifted at the stuff that goes into the priesthood, and a lot of times, I see others who, if I may be crass, just don't seem as gifted at it getting straight through. Or maybe they're not interested, or maybe not as smart, or even not as spiritual, or whatever. You know, it's that nasty side that I have where I say hey, I'm better than they are!

Oh, don't judge me. You probably have felt that way about something you wanted too.

Anyway, so yes, I'm rather petty about it when I let myself be, which isn't often. But I heard myself say this, and I realized wait, one thing I think I believe is that God often works with the weakest and least among us because God wants to prove God's strength in their weakness. Makes sense, right? I mean, it's the point of the quote I keep at the top of this blog from Dr. John.

So then I thought wait, there are two schools of thought on this. There's the school that says that I am gifted and passionate about something and that's God telling me it's the thing I'm supposed to do. I call it the Liddell school of thought: God made me fast, and when I run I feel his pleasure (Chariots of Fire). I want to be a priest because God made me that way.

But the other school is that God makes us exactly not gifted for the things we do because in our weakness God is strong. God wants to prove that it's her work and not of our own ability, so God lifts up those who seem like they wouldn't be good at the work, just to show us all that God can do anything with anyone.

There seem to be biblical and historical examples on both sides of the question. So I don't really know if one is right, or if they might just apply differently in different circumstances, to different people, depending what you need to learn in this life.

And I don't really know which applies to me, although I have a hunch it's the second one, because I know I get too proud of myself when I'm exercising my gifts (I can't help it - it brings me so much joy).

So what do you think? Are our spiritual giftings signs of our place in the kingdom? Or are they roadblocks to our true calling? Should we be looking at what we love and are good at when discerning vocation, or run in the opposite direction? Just how much of our own ability are we allowed to rely on - even relish - and what of it is God-given for God's purposes, and therefore not ours to own? Or is that a false dichotomy?

I really am confused about this now. I really don't understand how both of these could be true at the same time. But if it winds up being that I'm not supposed to do the things I'm good at and most love, then I'll be honest with you: that will make me sad. But I'll try to keep my evil eyes to myself. And I'll try to convert my jealousy to awe when I see God working in someone else's life in miraculous ways.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Some provocative food posts

I am really fascinated by these two posts (and the comments) by the participants in a food studies class at Pomona:

First I was sent this tidbit, which is outrageous (the actual website is so offensive - it brings up so many bad racial stereotypes!):
Obama Waffles

And then I noticed this post, which is pretty germane to my life these days (and I do find myself weirded out by breastfeeding even as I do it myself!):
Breastfeeding, Cow's Milk, and the Idea of "Natural"

Can't wait to be part of discussions like this with my students - what a great idea to have a class blog!

I figured it out

3 am feedings are fabulous for mental clarity. Last night I sussed out that what was really bugging me wasn't so much that I had to take my class for a grade, or that the faculty might see me as a slacker. What really was getting to me was that I had compromised what I wanted to do and chosen the path that, I thought, made me a better student and more agreeable all around. And the reaction seemed to be that it still wasn't good enough. I had honestly tried to make everyone involved happy, and it wound up backfiring and seemingly making nobody happy. Best laid plans, you know.

Anyway I got the fee waived so that's a blessing. And being graded isn't really a problem since I'll do the same level of work either way. If Maggie winds up getting sick or something, then I'll find some way to deal - that's why God gave us incompletes, right?

It's tough when you feel like you're taking one for the team and the team says no, you're still doing it wrong. Makes it hard to wanna stay on the team.

But I'm here for now, at least for this year. I gotta give it that. And besides, I'm pretty sure I do have some bona fide depression going on, since the insomnia (after that 3 am feeding I pretty much didn't get to sleep again) and the crying jags have started up again. That's just oodles of fun. So I guess I have to medicate myself so I can continue on with life. Joy. I really wish I didn't have to. To me, better living through chemistry is the last resort. But I surely can't go on getting so little sleep. So we'll see. I've been on hold with Kaiser for about 15 mins now...not sure I can mentally handle the process of getting mental help!

Thank the LORD I have a wonderful friend from LA coming up this weekend. I miss my friends SO much!! It's so weird and hard to start over with all new people, even though we've met some great people, they still don't know our history, so it's just not the same. I'm so grateful that God keeps sending me visitors at just the right moments. It's going to be so good! Esp because last night in my insomniac craze I was getting ready to drive back home any moment...

Faith & Food

These is my kinna peeps:

Gotta get my book out soon or this trend will pass! Curse my sexy topic!

"I've made a huge mistake"

Well not really, but it always makes me laugh to hear that line (from many, many episodes of Arrested Development), so J & I use it for every little thing. And big things too. But mostly it's funny to say it when you forget to ask for no pickles on your burger or something.

Anyway I feel like a total moron now. The whole taking my class pass/fail thing got blown way out of proportion, and wound up going to the whole faculty for discussion, and now I'm basically mortified because all these people will forever see me as The Girl Who Wanted to Take Her Classes Pass/Fail. (insert organ chords here)

I'm trying to make light but actually I'm damn depressed. I feel like I've screwed up my reputation. They want us to take classes for a grade so they "know we're taking them seriously." Well that makes sense, but also, I always take school seriously. So it didn't occur to me that I might send the signal that I'm not. That's why I wrestled so hard with the decision of what to do this fall.

And then I made a choice that I thought would make everybody satisfied, and I still got busted. I thought I was making the responsible choice, still being a relatively good student in light of my new responsibilities, and I still come off looking like the yahoo, the slacker. And I hate that because people, I am no slacker. God, I've put so much pressure on myself my whole life. My teachers used to chastise my parents for pushing me so hard, and they had to tell them it was all me. And this was in grade school.

Anyway I'm cranky and depressed. After they met I felt like they were all treating me differently. Like oh, we're so stupid for giving that girl our big scholarship. And then I went to the opening convocation for the year, and there I am in the program as one of the few scholarship people, and I was just miserable and embarrassed. I couldn't enjoy it. Well I did enjoy it when Maggie started laughing because I was bouncing her, but I had to make her stop, so pooey.

At least I have the blog to vent on. I'm pissed also because they didn't make this decision until after it was too late for me to change it for free, so now I might have to pay $50 to change to a grade, even though I was completely within my rights (per anything written down) to take the class pass/fail. If someone along the way would have just said, "I think you might want to leave it as a grade" then I totally would have! But now I'm stuck and I have been instructed to change it, but not because of a policy or anything, but because that's what's expected. And I get it - I totally get it. I just really wish it were made clear. I was confused and now I pay the price. I realize that a lot of stuff is just politics and unwritten laws, but it's difficult when you haven't learned to play the game yet and the rules keep changing on you. If it were expected, then it should be made clear in the handbook. The handbook, in fact, says the opposite - that classes may be taken pass/fail - and doesn't say anything about needing to take grades. So it's super confusing. And coming from a school where there's no stigma attached to p/f, I didn't realize what a big deal it would become. It wasn't a big deal to me at all.

OK, I can stop now. I'm also pissed at our housemates because they're eighteen and they are used to their parents cleaning up after them, and they don't really know how to run a household or keep things nice. So J and I are getting to take care of a lot of stuff that we'd rather not, like picking through their trash to get out the recyclables, etc. Next time I'm getting more seasoned roommates, people who've lived on their own a while and know how to keep house. It's just more than I feel like dealing with.

Maggie's been especially drama queen lately - she's super happy most of the time (thankfully, usually that's in public), but then when she's tired, she has major meltdowns. This just started. She used to nap so readily. Now she has to scream for at least a couple minutes and sometimes a half hour before she'll go down. Ugh. So when she's doing this, the last thing I feel like doing is also parenting two teenagers (who have sex waaaay too loudly and then fight waaaaay too loudly, not always in that order).

Anyway there's a lot in my life. You see now why I needed the break from school?! And yes, I'll admit it, today I finally really did get depressed. But not about Mags, she's still mostly wonderful (excepting the meltdowns). Just about my rep at school, and dealing with the people I live with, and generally feeling like...well...I've made a huge mistake.

Ha ha.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


So I'm sure you've been on the edge of your seat waiting to see what I might do about school and/or full-time motherhood. At least I have been. And it was a ping-pong decision 'til the last moment.

I talked with my dean and it turns out that the institution has this wonderful "parents policy" that states their belief that parenthood (both new and taking care of elderly parents) is so important that the school will grant extensions in academic progress to those who are in one of those situations and need extra time to get everything done. Wow - how very enlightened of them! So with that policy I could take off a semester or even a year from classes and not be considered deliquent or whatever you want to call it.

Furthermore, they arranged a way for me to keep my scholarship and health insurance - the money would go to paying for "prep for comps" credits (which are phantom credits that you pay for but don't have any requirements to meet), so I wouldn't get it back for another semester, but I also would keep my full time status, stipend, and insurance. The drawback would be that whatever I missed this semester I'd have to make up later, out of my own pocket.

Still, I left that meeting feeling really surprised and relieved, because as far as the institution goes, there were no roadblocks to my full-time mommyhood. I have to give major props to the GTU for this. I don't know of very many doctoral programs that would be so understanding. It really is such a family here. And to think - I was afraid that the "liberals" might be all cold and academic - but they're just as warm as the Evangelicals! Maybe even moreso, since there's not all that moral expectation that goes along with friendship (just kidding...sort of).

Then I met with one of my profs who also had babies while doing her PhD, and she assured me that everything I felt was completely normal and right. See, a few people had suggested maybe I had post-partum depression, so I was wondering if I was a bit off the deep end. But in fact, PPD manifests as a rejection of the baby and as not wanting to spend time with her, and I'm having the opposite "problem." So maybe I'm depressed generally, but no, I don't remotely feel so - I don't cry, I feel really happy all the time I'm with her and much of the time I'm not, and overall I think my mental health is way better than it's been in years - but I did have the stress of this decision, and I was sad when I was away from her sometimes. And being sad away from your child is normal healthy attachment!! Imagine! I've just bonded with my baby, but it's so strong that our society sees it as a syndrome! Well not our society, but it was the first thing that came to mind for a few folks, innocently enough (they probably didn't realize that it was the opposite symptoms), but still, that's a sign of the misinformation out there as well as the general response to motherhood which tends to see women who have such a strong attachment to their children as somehow "less" human, or lacking some vital part of being an adult, or what have you. I've certainly bought into that mentality, until now.

So anyway, my prof still expressed disappointment that I wouldn't be taking any classes, and that I wouldn't be "tracking" with the incoming class (although as J pointed out, who cares in a doctoral program? It's not like we're all going to graduate together). So I left THAT meeting feeling like maybe I should try to take my classes after all. But was that because I wanted to, or because I wanted to make my prof like and respect me? Hmmm....that was the question I had to ponder.

That was all on Tuesday. By Wednesday, I was trying to come up with ways to stay in class but also stay with Maggie as much as I could. I cooked up a plan to go all pass/fail, but even then I knew I'd still do the same level of work (that's just me) and I didn't know if I was allowed to do that anyway. On Weds morning I took Maggie with me to a workshop at school for half the day, and she did great, and I was so happy to just have her there but still be doing my school stuff. So I was thinking, this could work.

Thursday I talked to my advisor. After the institution, I was most afraid of the reaction I'd get from her. I mean, she's German. She's brilliant, too. And doesn't have kids, so could she possibly understand?

Well I was shocked when she started off on a rant about how women in her country take a year off and what is WRONG with America that we expect women to go back to work so early, and why doesn't the government support maternity leave, and yada yada yada...and I realized, hey, this lady is SO on my side. She was like, "I don't know why you don't just take this whole year off!!" I was really thrown, but pleasantly so. And she agreed to go to our area and explain the whole thing and be my advocate. Wow. I love my advisor.

So after that I went to J and suggested I take off this semester from classes, and then we'll see about next. And he got really excited because as it turns out (and as many of you warned me), he hasn't actually had time to work on his dissertation, and if I took baby full time then he'd actually get something done! Imagine!

Then I went to class and I had a great time. I wasn't miserable at all - I was rather outstanding, actually. I really enjoyed our discussion and I remembered how good I could be at the whole school thing. I don't know if it was just from the pressure being off or what. But I still felt like I was going to drop everything, even after that.

Then that evening I told the prof (same prof as before, who also teaches that class) that I was dropping. And she expressed the same sentiments: sorry not to have me, I was an asset, and sorry I wouldn't keep up with my class. For some reason, it really stuck this time. I began to doubt again. So much so that I was up half the night deliberating and rethinking everything. And let me tell you, it ain't fun to look over and see that it's past midnight when you know you're getting up in three or four hours for a feeding. I was mostly upset because I couldn't figure out if I was doubting because I wanted to please the prof or because I genuinely doubted whether I should quit classes.

Friday morning, got up, still feeling disconcerted. One of the things (of many wise things) my mom had said to me about this was that I should make the decision I wouldn't obsess over. Well clearly I was still obsessing, so the decision wasn't right yet. I also kept remembering something my best friend, a SAHM, said to me: that she regretted not working. I'd never heard a SAHM admit that! And then finally I had gotten an email from another woman who had had babies during her GTU doctorate, and she strongly encouraged me not to drop everything, telling me I'd feel great about myself if I could pull off school and motherhood together. And I knew somehow that she was right about that (but could I pull it off?).

I guess at this point I might as well cut off the rest of the story (I mean, gawd, how could this possibly interest anyone but me at this point??) and get to the decision, which wound up being to drop one class, keep the other (the foundational class taught by, yes, the prof who's been instrumental in all this), but make it pass/fail (turns out there is no policy on that, so I'm testing uncharted waters), and not put any pressure on myself to do anything except the one class this semester (and when I go to things like meetings and workshops, Maggie goes too). I worked out a schedule with John in which Mon-Thurs I take Maggie in the morning with no other agenda, and then for three hours in the afternoon I do school (homework or class or meetings - but no more than three hours, maybe less some days) and he takes her, and then in the evenings and Fri-Sun I completely take off and don't think about school one bit. Except of course for the conversations I have with him about what I'm learning, because he loves to get all up on his high horse about liturgical stuff. :)

Anyway I think that's what will work. At least, I'm giving it a try. With the class at p/f I don't have to stress about a grade, and I can allow myself to lower my standards a bit, just for this one semester, just because I am responsible for the growth and development of a human being (which hey, is a pretty awesome responsibility). I mean, of course she'll still be here next semester and after that too, but I have to deal with that when it comes (and these first months are so crucial - plus I'm still feeding her exclusively from my body, which won't be the case later).

So in the end it was a compromise, but I actually think it might make everyone involved pretty happy. I feel good about it. I couldn't let myself quit school completely - not after I'd done so much to get here and we'd invested so much in my going. No, I am still a student (as I learned in class Thursday), and I need to keep that side of myself alive. But I think I found a way to do it and keep my highest priority here at home, my real full-time job being Maggie. I'll do about 12 hours a week on school, which really isn't that much time when you think about it.

Plus if she does something amazing, I will just be in the next room.

Wow. Good old Feminarian. She found a way to keep juggling all her balls after all. OK, I'm getting back to my baby now.

Monday, September 08, 2008

It's my life

(thanks jtb)

i agree with the idea that, instead of trying to share all our work equally, we allow each partner to focus on what s/he enjoys or excels at. or at least hates less (in the case of chores). so I always clean the bathroom, & j does dishes. but we alternate sweeping (when you notice, you do it). j cooks but we shop together as much as we can, because we both enjoy it. obviously I feed the baby more, so he changes more diapers. he does more housework, but I do all the finances & make dr appts (which we both attend - so far). it works out & doesn't have to be equal - just fair.

i hope when the time comes, i'll make costumes & he'll run the video camera, b/c that's what we are each good at. my biggest hope is that we can find employers, like these parents in the article, who will support our choices as co-parents, and allow us to have these 30 hour weeks (or even more home-time) so that we can accomplish this. i guess a lot of it is just making it clear that this is the priority from the outset! like right now, we have our lives arranged so that maggie is always home with one of us, unless we're having "me" time or date night, in which case a friend is watching her. fortunately academia is one of those fields where you really can mostly set your own hours, and a lot of your work can be done from home. dunno how well that would work in the ministry...but then again, the church, of all institutions, should most be supporting this, since it is part of sustaining a "whole" personhood!

anyway i applaud these parents' choices and what i can learn from them, and I think we have a similar system that works well for us. [even if you can't read the whole thing, skip to p 8 where it discusses how same-sex couples don't fall into gender roles - how interesting and true!] I hope we can keep it up. And you see from my post yesterday that I still long for the "traditional" role - this co-parenting thing is out of the box and it's tough!

More about St. Greg's

I forgot to tell the cutest part of the story from yesterday: so after the service we met the interim rector, and it came out that he went to FULLER of all places! That's about the last thing you'd expect from a singing, dancing, inclusive/welcoming, very creatively liturgical church that weaves together the East and West (of all traditions) in its ethos. But yeah, dude did his MDiv there (along with Wilma, one of my field ed supes), which means there's hope for me yet.

And so John and I were chatting while I fed the baby before we took off from there, and he said, "We should have known that guy went to Fuller. It was the first good sermon we've heard up here!"

Now I won't necessarily go that far (although it was by far the BEST sermon we've heard since moving), but I had to love it, because it was probably the nicest thing he's ever said about my seminary.

There you go, Fuller - at least you turn out great preachers!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Helluva week

Wow. I survived my first week of a PhD. And to cap it off, I think we found our church today. Which is a huge relief and a blessing. It's the one I knew I'd love - St. Gregory of Nyssa - but it turned out to be everything I need liturgically plus really kind, wonderful people, which ain't too common these days. You often get one or t'other but rarely both done well.

Plus they have a really developed theology around food, so their liturgy and outreach programs are both interesting to me professionally as well as meaningful to me personally. We loved the liturgy at Grace Cathedral, and we enjoyed the community at a couple of the Berkeley churches. But I think we're both kind of giddy after having such an experience this morning. It totally reminded me of the way I felt my first visit to All Saints (BH). That's a rare thing.

And John's already coming up with ways he'd improve it, which means he's invested. :) I tend to like to wait and learn a little more before passing judgment, but to each his own. I know that his nitpicking means he cares.

But otherwise, this week was rather...intense. If you've done a doctorate (or are doing one), you probably get it; if you've had a kid, you also get it. If you've done both, then I need to hear from you, because I need some serious support.

The strangest thing happened this week. Instead of falling headfirst into classes with my usual energy and excitement, I found myself kind of resenting that I had to be there. Instead of reading eagerly because the subjects just turn me on, I was dashing through books so that I could get back to what I really wanted. And instead of thinking how lucky I am to be spending most of my time studying something I really care about, I began to think it was boring and unimportant, and that I actually don't much care at all.

All of this because of one little girl.

Damn it. I kind of saw this coming. I wrote about it months ago, and some of you said to go with my gut that was telling me to quit then and there. Maybe I should have listened. Because now I'm really kind of stuck - I have a scholarship and health insurance that I'd lose (the latter is most inconvenient b/c of Maggie - why oh why don't we have universal healthcare for children??), and I moved my family up here where John doesn't have work, and oh yeah, I promised he could work on his dissertation instead of teaching. I mean, we invested a hell of a lot in this program for me, and they reciprocated. There's some responsibility there. And guilt.

Plus I'm trying to be the person that I thought I was...the person I've always been...which is a person who's kind of ambivalent about kids, but who loves school - loves learning, debating, writing, reading, and generally getting all smart about things. I am a perfect doctoral student candidate - I am exactly what you're supposed to be if you're thinking of doing this. And I pretty much know I will love teaching, and/or chaplaining or whatever I wind up doing with this degree.


I feel stupid admitting it. I feel disappointed in myself and definitely like I'm letting a lot of people down. But here's the rub: I love my baby more than school. Well, duh, I'm supposed to. But I mean, I think I might rather sit and watch her try to roll over for an hour than read a book about early liturgical documents. (maybe many of you feel that way - but you're not in my field)

Suddenly my life is so much simpler, and my interests are so ... well ... basic. I never thought I'd actually want to just stay home with a kid all day.

Then I met my kid.

So I guess what I'm wondering is if this is a phase. If this is something every working mom goes through on her way to rediscovering fulfillment in her job, redefining herself as "working mom." Does it pass? Will I actually want to leave the house one day?

It's scary...even when she's not being the ideal baby, I don't care. I still want to be with her. When I'm away from her my arms feel empty. My heart hurts. I need her, physically. And I can't stand missing anything she does.

It's funny. I ask myself if I will regret not getting a PhD in liturgy. And there are some things that I'd really think were cool to do - like helping write a new prayer book, or perhaps teaching - that might go by the wayside if I didn't do it. The PhD is kind of a means to an end - I first thought of trying it because I wanted to be a Dean of Religious Life and that requires a PhD (in anything). But it's in the field that's always been great fun and joy for me. So it's not like I didn't think I'd enjoy it. I'm shocked that I'm not enjoying it more.

In the grand scheme of "you only live once," I think about what I'd most regret, and I keep coming up with the answer that I'd regret missing my baby's first months. You know, the school will always be there, and all that (although the scholarship won't necessarily always be there, and that's a serious consideration). I don't get this time with her back; I don't get to do it again.

It would help if she weren't so gorram cute.

Anyway, I'm kind of miserable right now. Well, not right now, because I'm home with her right now. But I had such a time getting through class the other day without bawling. I managed because I went to the bathroom at break and cried my eyes out. And that was only 3 hours away from her, with her right there waiting when I walked out of class! What is wrong with me??

John keeps saying it's not that much time away from her. And he keeps reminding me why I'm doing this degree. And he's right. But he's also talked me into this many, many times. And I had to ask him, am I doing this for me? Or because he keeps talking me into it? And shouldn't I not need "talking into" if I really want this? And does he actually want it more than me?

He gets to stay home with her. Plus I think he's less connected to her - no, just differently so. I am actually, in some way, physically connected to her still, even though she's not inside anymore (and I am really physically connected still for several hours a day while feeding her!). So I'm not sure he really understands what I feel.

But you know, I really took this step in life with my eyes wide open - both steps, actually, the child and the degree - and I knew what I was getting into and I worked it out as perfectly as one could manage, really. I mean, how could this not be the right path, when everything went the way I'd hoped it would? And yet...

Well I don't have time to blog anymore. I really have to get back to reading. Sometimes I can do that with her on my lap, and that feels really complete and good. But a lot of the time she's just too wiggly, so I have to have her away from me, which she hates and I hate. And I have to go away to class, which we both hate as well. And I just don't know if I should sacrifice so much happiness. And then there's the matter of my subject not seeming all that great anymore. But that could be first-week nerves. Or it could be the paradigm shift of becoming a mommy. Which is a much more serious issue and I believe it deserves recognition.

Anyway I'd love to hear from you, and most of all ask for your prayers (perhaps more prayers than advice? Unless you've really been here - then please tell me how it felt for you). I don't even know if I have any options that are really that great. I mean, it's too soon to make any long-term decision about my degree, I think. Isn't it? Maybe a leave would be helpful; but it could screw us on the financial end. Or maybe sticking it out for a while is better; but then I'll miss whatever I miss in the next three months (which would be a helluva lot, from 3-6 months).

Stupid ordination process. If that hadn't gone all crappy I'd be in it right now, and quite honestly, I could have been really happy just with that. I already miss the priestly work. I was thinking at that church this morning how much I'd really love to just work at a parish like that (but who wouldn't? it's pretty unique), or do the little helps I was doing with the liturgy at ASBH. If only the ordination thing hadn't been so sour, maybe I never would have gone after the PhD. It's a bummer. There are actually a lot of things I could do without the PhD - besides being a priest, there's still college ministry of some sort, or there's writing liturgies on some level, or there's even writing my book about food spirituality. None of these requires the doctoral work.

But I'm in it now, and at one time I really thought it was what I wanted. And really what's changed isn't so much the field or degree itself, or the alternative careers. It's that I have Maggie now, and she's changed everything. She's changed how I see myself and what I care about. And she makes me want to find ways to be with her, to teach her, to show her the world. She makes me care less about esoteric knowledge (except to share it with her). She makes me see the world differently, and I want to see everything in this new way, with her, as if for the first time.

I don't know if I'm making any sense, and I know I sound pretty irresponsible. I'd be kind of horrified if my colleagues read this...but then, part of me doesn't care. Part of me has never cared what people think, which has been the basis of so much of this blog. What makes this blog what it is, why most people read it, is that I let myself bleed on here, I let other people see the real me, the woman who is not put together or very sane, who is often depressed and usually quite confused and sometimes pretty angry. Definitely not the best Christ-follower out there, not even close. A terrifically flawed human being.

But if there is one thing I have learned, it's that other people feel how I feel, in almost every situation. It's made my preaching better to know this. It's made me more empathetic. It's made me more sensitive and aware of the great universal love that's everywhere around me. And so I'm grateful for it - I'm grateful to be a person who can be raw in front of others, who can open up even when it's embarrassing or inappropriate. Who will even say things that might ruin her reputation or career. Because in the end, who really gives a rip? Maybe I'm trying to sabotage myself so I can stay home with my baby. It would be funnier if it weren't potentially true.

OK, now on to homework, really and truly. John has threatened to take the baby for a long walk so I have to be good so he'll keep her here. Otherwise I miss time with her on an at-home day, and that's really not fair.

Maybe this will all go away in a couple weeks. Maybe I'll be back in love with school again, in addition to the new great love of my life. I'll keep you posted. It's a lot to discern, and I am not feeling as close to God as I would like to in such a situation. Lots to pray about, and I feel a little cut off from my Mother in heaven. But then again, maybe I understand how She feels in a way that's more real and deeper than it could have been before. Maybe all this is teaching me something about God...and maybe She wouldn't mind if I did change my mind, even after all the blessings that were showered on me, because maybe she just wants me to smile.

I know that's how I feel about my baby.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

First Day of School

Awww, I'm off to school again, just like almost every year of my life. Dear school: we've got to stop meeting like this. How will I ever become a grownup? Eh, who cares.

So after crying for having to leave my baby (who favored me with her first real laugh just before I took off), I wound up being in class a grand total of 1 hour. That wasn't so bad. And now I'm home again and I practically feel like a stay at home mom (that's a SAHM for those on the baby message boards). J and I are switching off who hangs out with her, so I get the rest of the day after I have class. Which is awfully cool, to just forget school and enjoy her.

Sometimes I do wish she could entertain herself for just a few minutes, though, so I could, say, write a real blog entry. She's sitting by me in her bouncy seat, but if I don't look at her she gets fussy. So much like me - has to have all the attention all the time. And is perfectly content as long as nobody is doing anything except listening to her. Geez, child, did you have to be SO much like your mother?

I did want to quickly report on my one hour of class. The makeup of the class is so interesting - so new for me! For one thing, the majority of the class is Eastern Orthodox. Well that never happened at Fuller. But when I pointed this out, they explained to me that since they are Greek, Serbian, Russian, and Coptic, they will, in fact, not agree on anything. Nice to know the Protestants don't have the market cornered on that!

Other stats on my class: there are 2 catholics, 1 lutheran, and 2 of us episcopalians (plus all those Orthodox, including the prof). Three master's students and 5 doctoral. Three women and 5 men.

The class looks to be very similar to the History of Eucharist class I sat in on last spring, with assignments that are basically repeats from that one and other liturgical history classes I've had. That should make them rather easy, since I have great notes on all this stuff already. I am kind of amazed that Fuller, of all places, really prepared me so well for this. Well, not so much Fuller as Todd. It's funny - he went to Notre Dame, as did my teacher for this class, and they basically have us doing the same class. I wonder how much that's going to happen to me. I guess that's how the academy works - classes don't really get created so much as handed down through the generations.

Anyway it shouldn't be so bad. And I've already read the books we have assigned, which is cool. My other class has TONS of reading, so I'm grateful to have more manageable assignments in history. It's kind of neat, though, that in both classes I've at least heard of, or own, most of the books already, even if I hadn't read them yet. What a great little library I must have.

And now I get to read a book about research methodology (not everything is fun) - but at least I get to do it with a sleeping precious on my lap. :)

I'll tell you - this morning I was nervous and sad, and feeling again like I shouldn't have done this so soon after the baby came. Or maybe not at all - just stayed in LA (which I'm missing), and rented my friend's house (oh - I know of a house for rent - if you're in the market, email me), and J could have kept his old jobs, and I could have kept trying to get my ass ordained. But now I'm thinking it's not so bad. I'm really barely going to miss the baby - I didn't even miss a feeding today. And I think I'll get used to Berkeley and the Bay Area (but so far, people, LA still has my heart). And yeah, I'm sad about not pursuing the priesthood, but it's not like that's off the table forever. This next season of life holds a lot of promise, and I hope to enjoy it and not just be a stress monkey.

Anyway now I'm babbling and I should get on to things more pressing while I have my hands free. I'd promise a report on my first readings...but I really doubt it's going to be that compelling!