Monday, July 16, 2012

Picture (not-so) Perfect

Summer, a time when families are packed into cars or onto airplanes for that elusive escape from everyday life. Whether leaving for a "staycation" near home or traveling across the country, there is much planning that is done, kinks that need to be worked through, before jumping into the car. Some families worry through the planning, where will we stay and for how long; others worry through the budget, how much can we spend and where. While I do spend some time fretting through these details, this year I have a much larger issue to face: how to pose in pictures.

Laugh, it's fine. It seems trivial, but the lack of photogenic-ablity has hounded me for years. Coming from a family that can strike a pose on command, it is infuriating to be the one sibling in snapshots who has eyes closed or an open mouth in every shot.

Is this ability to show yourself as you are on film innate or a result of practice? I have no idea.

But while I should be fretting about activities to keep the kids entertained for 22 hours each way in the van or how to stretch our budgeted dollars for a family of six I will be found, instead, doing the modern-day equivalent of kissing watermelons. Yes, you know and if you don't take a look at any teen's facebook photos for pictures of bathroom mirrors all around the country I will be striking a pose again and again to find that perfect look. A 21st century photo-ninja, with muscles so attuned I will automatically be in position each time a camera is drawn...hope I don't run into any large tourist groups!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Raising children is a leap of faith: we guide, model, and talk 'til we're blue in the hopes that our efforts will create adults who are happy, compassionate, successful individuals. And more often than not the modeling poses the greatest pitfalls.

Not too long ago Boy joined an organization for kids. It seemed the perfect opportunity for him to socialize and enjoy a sport for which he was quickly developing a passion. Things seemed great until Hubby took him to an event. Suddenly, our eyes were opened to some not so subtle undertones of elitist and racist beliefs the members held. As Hubby told me, if it had just been a couple of the teens using the n-word we could chalk it up to a few bad eggs, but these comments were heard and overlooked by parents again and again. Though it was difficult, we pulled Boy from the group.

As parents we knew we couldn't condone such beliefs by remaining a part of it, and though we could have spoken against it - after all such behavior flies in the face of their mission - but we felt it wasn't our place and would not benefit Boy. So, Hubby searched until he found another club for Boy and I am happy to report it has been a great fit for our family and our values.

It was easy to walk away from that. But, I am struggling, daily, with walking away from another group that has values/rules that are an affront to me. It is my religion.

I am not a lapsed Catholic. I am a disgruntled Catholic.

 Raising three girls in a church that clings to old systems denying women the same rights as men in too many instances is a problem for me. Being a part of a religion in which my children have been told that being gay is a sin - by teachers not clergy, and therefore easy for me to explain away at the time - is an issue. Living in an age of reason, when the Church seems to be reverting further back through history is unacceptable to me. Yet I have not left. WHY?

Because I am a sucker for tradition. I love the ritual and the peace and having the words when my own fail me. I want my children to be a part of that, to have words when everything else seems to be falling apart. There are things I adore about the Catholic Church. Beliefs I hold close in my soul.

But, it may be time for me to move on - to find a church that holds the same values regarding society as I do, values I want my children to have as adults. I have asked the kids to attend a service (is it called a mass at an Episcopal church?) this weekend. It makes me nervous, not that I haven't attended services at other churches, but I haven't been "scouting" them before. Will we have to be rebaptised, recommunioned, and reconfirmed? I don't know. But, for the sake of modeling I think I have to look into it.

On the bright side, since I continue to make mistakes with the "new words" the Catholic Church is using it may be a good time to change...

Monday, July 2, 2012

Little Fluffy Clouds: God's Rorschach Test

In a typical drive to school Youngest can be heard explaining the shapes of clouds from her backseat domain. When she stumbles upon a particularly interesting or surprising form of cumulus the excitement is reflected in her rising pitch and insistence that I crane my neck to catch a fleeting glimpse which I always say I see regardless of my viewing success

After these moments I am sometimes struck by the beauty that surrounds us daily. Yet, while I appreciate the beauty and sometimes marvel at Youngest's ability to find an entire farmyard in white balls of fluff, I simply see sky with various levels of accumulated precipitation through my windshield.

Until summer comes. 

It isn't a spontaneous change occurring the moment school/work ends for a long break. No. Instead the ability to create sky images eases slowly into my thoughts until suddenly I look up and spot a cartoon T-Rex looming above my van or catch myself driving toward a happy doll with pigtails and a pet dog. It is then, like today, that I know my brain has finally released the stress of daily lesson plans and test scores to fully embrace the care-free attitude that is summer's hallmark for young and old. 

May we all find time to take God's Rorschach test at least once this summer, and find we are happier for having laid upon the grass and frittered away an hour or two. Happy Summer All!