Friday, September 13, 2019

Joyfully At Home: Chapter Seven - Part Two

Before I had my son, I worried about balancing the needs of an infant or a toddler when I was ill. Specifically, I worried about trying to manage when I was sick and a small mobile child was well.  That sounded like my version of hell because trying to keep up with a little one while I was nauseated sounded terrible.

Well, so far, I've been pretty lucky.   My son is an active kid, but he's fairly easy to keep occupied.  He likes playing with toys for longer periods of time than a lot of kids his age so pulling out a set of toys that he hasn't played with in a while makes him very happy.    Plus, I have a solid immune system from years of teaching so I often miss a bug that makes him sick.

What I didn't expect is how easygoing my son is about letting me take downtime when I need it.  Yeah, he still yodels through a nap sometimes - but never when I'm sick.  He seems to pick up on when I feel sick and is more than willing to watch some extra TV while chilling with me.

I have the good fortune to live within easy driving distance of both sets of grandparents - and they've all come to take care of my son on the rare occasions when I was sick enough that I needed a few hours of sleep and my husband was available.   I've also provided coverage for other moms who don't have family nearby when they are sick.

The option I never considered was letting my teenage daughter care for a plague-stricken house when I've adopted four kids under the age of six:

This was illustrated for me several months ago, when my entire family caught a nasty flu virus --and when I say my entire family, I mean everyone except for baby Micah and me. While I do help out a lot at home, the full responsibility of taking care of my family rarely rest squarely on my shoulders. Although things can sometimes get hectic, with four adults and four younger children in the house, teamwork keeps us sane.

I didn't realize how much this arrangement spoiled me until everyone was down. Talk about a reality check! The Lord gave me a foretaste of what motherhood truly means ( although I hope that the days I have to take care of six sick folks - 4 of them five and under - are scarce). I can imagine that Johnny [....] wouldn't look so charming doubled over and in green in the gills. Diarrhea, vomiting, dizziness, runny noses, and coughing where the symptoms. When I didn't get sick, I stopped to think of what the Lord might be teaching me: 1) I need to add a really strong immune system to my resume; and 2) although it was my joy to take care of my family, and I praise God that I wasn't ill, I loved the reminder that running a home is not always easy and romantic. When my dad was well enough to join forces with me, I was ecstatic. (pg. 86)

I seriously hope that Jasmine is stretching this story for the sake of her running point that marriage can deeply suck - that's the theme of Jasmine Baucham's "Joyfully at Home" Chapter 7, right? - because I'd have to be hospitalized before I'd let my kid completely take over running the house while I had three sick toddlers. 

Having said that, I doubt she's exaggerating.  A page earlier, she talked about trying to keep up with four young siblings, her normal chores and errands while her parents were away for a romantic weekend. 

Jasmine and Trey were 14 and 11 when their parents decided to expand their family by adoption.   Having Jasmine and Trey three years apart likely minimized the craziness of their youngest years.  Since there were only two of them, her parents would be able to play man-to-man defense when managing the kids rather than the zone defense required for three or more kids.   By the time Jasmine is 19 and Trey is 16, their parents have adopted four little boys in five years.   Faced with more small children that the couple had ever had before, they pressed their older kids into caring for the younger kids.   I don't think that having siblings care for younger siblings is a bad thing - but there's a difference between a 19 year old occasionally babysitting her siblings for an evening and caring for multiple sick people for days at a time.

I'm still hung up on this - but my bar for "well enough to care for my kids" is "not hospitalized; not dead".  I'm not saying that her parents needed to be doing parenting miracles - just making sure their children were fed, supervised, and had basic hygiene needs taken care of.   Now, Jasmine's mom currently has a diagnosis of lupus.  That's a disease that can make routine illnesses more severe and longer to recover from - but what is her dad's excuse?    Women and men having been dragging their sick bodies after their kids for millenia; he can do it too.

The worst part for me is that Jasmine logically expected some level of return on investment when she became a mother.  Yup, teenage Jasmine was racking up the hours caring for her four younger brothers (or five...six...seven younger siblings) - but that would mean that her mom and dad would have young kids at home when Jasmine started her family and that should make having her parents help out with her little ones easier.    I mean, as weirdly dysfunctional as the Duggar family is, at least the sisters have a mother, sisters and sisters-in-law nearby who can watch their kids for an evening or an afternoon so the mom can get something done without littles under feet.

It was a reasonable expectation - but Voddie and Bridget Baucham moved to Zambia not long after Jasmine married.   That had the rough combination of separating her from her younger siblings who she helped raise while massively reducing the amount of help either of her parents could give her when her two sons were born.  Becoming the dean at African Christian University was a huge career step for Voddie Baucham - and he's the only one of the CP/QF leaders who has the academic background to lead a post-secondary institution - but the price of that career step came at the cost of being around to support his oldest daughter when she became a mother.

In the last post for this chapter, Jasmine teaches young women to substitute one unrealistic set of expectations for their husbands for a different set of unrealistic expectations.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Joyfully At Home: Chapter Seven - Part One

I mentioned in a previous post that I am in the middle of the Labor Day paint sale at the home improvement retailer that I work for.   The Sunday of Labor Day weekend, we had the internet connection fail to the paint dispensers.

I should step back and explain how we do work in the paint pit.  Our paint pit (also known as the paint desk) has two sides that are a short and a long stainless steel counter that make up two sides of a rectangle.  The short stainless counter is where we take orders from customers.  The long counter has six mixers underneath it for paint and stain containers that are one gallon or smaller.  We use the top of the long counter for securing paint can lids, placing dabs of paint on the lid and staging orders that are finished. At the leftmost corner where the two stainless counters come together, we have a standard computer where we can input orders and print off labels. The third side of the rectangle is made of three industrial paint shakers for 2-5 gallon containers and one of the paint dispenser.  This paint dispenser is called "Bert".  The last side is two half walls divided by a large entryway that opens into the aisle where the interior, exterior and masonry paints are at.  The right half wall is also where the second paint dispenser is located.  That paint dispenser is named "Ernie".

Due to a ceiling support column that sits about 18 inches off the front of Ernie, Bert is used much more frequently since filling paint orders on Ernie requires either walking around the column or shoving your shoulder and hip into the column.  Dispensing paint into 5 gallon containers is doable with Ernie - but there is not much room to maneuver due to the column, plus the 56 pound containers need to be wrestled across the pit to the industrial shakers afterwards.  Bert, on the other hand, is immediately next to the industrial shakers.

On a normal day, the work flow moves smoothly around the pit.  We discuss orders with customers at the short stainless counter.  Two workers can input the orders at a time into the CPU on the long counter or into Ernie who is next to the opposite end of the short counter. 

Currently, we have two paint order systems.  The older mostly DOS based system is completely baffling to new people.  None of the labels of the menus make any sense.  Oh, and the training videos were made before a large change in how the system works and never updated.   So the old system is crazy - but once you learn it after 2-3 weeks, it is very fast because the DOS package comes with keyboard macros for everything. 

Last month, we added a new internet paint order system.  The new system's labels make some sense on first read - but the functionality of the internet based system is much less than the old DOS system.  See, the old system has a lot of backdoor hacks that let us put all sorts of paint colors into exterior solid stains...or masonry paints...or primers.  The new internet system got rid of all those hacks.  Even on straightforward orders, the internet system takes longer for most people because it has no macros.

Once the order is inputted, we print out labels for each paint or stain can.  We tear off the labels and retrieve the correct bases (e.g., the cans of paint without pigments) from the aisles using the information on the label.  We put the sticker labels on the cans and go to either Ernie or Bert.  Since the computer and paint dispensers are all connected through the internet,  an order inputted at any terminal can be dispensed at either Ernie or Bert.  Once pigment is added, the top of the paint is secured and the can is shaken.  The last step is to re-open the can and visually inspect the paint.  Rarely, a paint appears streaky and needs an extra round of shaking.  If the paint looks good, a dab of paint is placed on the lid for customer inspection.  The can is resealed and placed on the customer's side of the long stainless steel counter.

Long story short: Bert disconnected from the internet around 9am.  Our boss got online with the IT department.  Through trial and error, we discovered that the computer and Ernie were still connected to the internet and each other so they had full functionality.  At the same time, Bert worked as a stand-alone machine where all orders to be dispensed were inputted on Bert.  Essentially, the two older nerdy co-workers (me and a gentleman nearing retirement) did our work off Bert while reminiscing about how great DOS systems were.  The younger folks who are college-aged OR preferred GUI systems kept the CPU and Ernie busy.  It was a little clumsy, but we were able to work at near full speed.

At 11am, IT tried to put a fix through.   The fix caused Bert to shutdown totally while disconnecting the CPU and Ernie from the internet. 

So...not the best fix.  More like a flaw, really.

This meant everyone now had to manually enter all orders in Ernie and all orders had to be dispensed on Ernie in the older DOS system.  Essentially, a system that we had honed to get rid of any bottlenecks - or rather, ended up bottlenecked at the paint mixers if we were really busy - now had a double bottleneck at inputting orders and dispensing orders. 

During the busiest times, I took to announcing in my teacher-voice that we were down to one slow-moving paint machine and that orders were taking 20-30 minutes to complete due to the bottleneck.  We would be thrilled if people stuck around - but we would not hold it personally if they left.

Eventually, we got Bert back to a stand-alone system which dropped order times to around 10 minutes for 1-3 cans and 15 for more than 3 cans. 

I have no idea what I'll see when I'm back at work on Wednesday - but the main topic of conversation was how we should commemorate the weekend.  Should we order commemorative pins?  Challenge coins?  My idea was patches embossed with "Labor Day Sale 2019 - DOS RULES!"

Anyway, we all survived - and we even sold some paint.

Ironically, my harried 8.5 hours shift yesterday ties into Chapter Seven of Jasmine Baucham's "Joyfully At Home" which allegedly deals with overcoming false ideas of marriage.  Well, that's what Ms. Baucham tried to do - but mainly by sharing how massively overworked she is as a single SAHD and declaring that being married is going to be that much work or more.

Some of these stories are mind blowing - like this anecdote where Jasmine tries to explain that being married is harder work than being a SAHD:

It's true: I am single, and I am a single who is very desirous of that infinitely more difficult state. Sometimes, though, it helps me to get a foretaste of married life. That always brings me back to reality and out of dreamland.

Well, you know when you have a pile of dishes in the sink, a load of laundry bleeping in the laundry room, a screaming baby in his playpen, two toddlers arguing over a toy in the living room, a list of chores as long as your arm, and errands to run before your mom and dad get back from their romantic weekend getaway... And you look to the heavens and sigh over the day when Prince Charming will come and rescue from the depths of despair? (pg. 85)
Let's be sure we've got the scene set.

 Jasmine (and possibly Trey) have been left at home with at least three (and possibly 5) kids under school age so their parents can have a weekend away.  In addition to keeping three or more small children alive, Jasmine is expected to do laundry, the normal household chores AND errands - while her parents are away for a romantic weekend.

That is completely absurd!

I'm an adult married woman with one toddler.  If I was leaving him with a teenager for a weekend,  I would leave a tidy house with all the chores done - and fully expect that I'd have to re-do all the chores to get the house clean again on Monday. 

Why?  Because teenagers are not adults.  I don't want my teenage daughter to be practicing multi-tasking child care with household chores without any adults around to put out fires if they happen.  Meals would have been planned ahead of time and require nothing more complicated than putting a frozen pizza in an oven or using the toaster to reheat frozen waffles.   Disposable plates were created for a reason.  Most other chores can be put on hold until the work week.   Toddlers can be hard on clothing - so maybe she'd need to do a load of laundry or two if there are a lot of accidents - but the rest can wait.  I certainly wouldn't want her running errands with three small children in the car with her.  Driving is a complex task that is hard enough alone.  Adding in three random loud noise makers in the back seat is cruel and dangerous.

Jasmine was very young when she wrote this - but common sense dictates that the average married couple doesn't go from wedding to a house filled with tiny children instantly.   Even if a newlywed couple gets knocked up on their wedding day, they've got 9 months to get used to being a couple before adding a kid or two.  Assuming a young woman can have a baby a year, a newlywed couple has four years before reaching the point of having two toddlers and one infant in the home.

As an older mom, I find Jasmine's scenario funny and naive at the same time.  It's really funny because she's pitching one of those awful afternoons where everything is going wrong as the standard operating procedure.  There are some days where everything is going wrong and there's nothing to do but power through it. Having said that, not every day is a hot mess - and if it is - there's something else going on.   Naivete comes when Jasmine Baucham at 19 cannot conceptualize that the wife and mother in a home has neither a list of chores nor a list of errands that must be done before her parents come home.  A SAHM often has a list of urgent chores like "Do dishes before next meal because we are out of silverware", "Wash toddler's shirt before that stain sets" or "We NEED milk".  There's also the list of chores that need to be done regularly like "Sweep the floor" or "clean the bathroom sink" - but those can be skipped on a day with crabby-ass toddlers.    Ditto for errands - although packing everyone up for a trip to the store can sometimes break up a generalized bad mood in the house.

The next post also cover another time where Jasmine's parents leave LOTS of responsibility on her shoulders.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Joyfully At Home: Chapter Six - Part Three

I'm writing this section in a more patchwork method than I have previously.  The reason is pretty simple: Spawn and I are both dealing with colds combined with allergies from hell.  This summer has been glorious with plenty of rain (which limits my need to water my garden), temperature in the 70's and 80's instead of 90's and 100's, and limited humidity.  The downside is that ragweed seems to be as fond of this weather as I am.  Every time I go outside, I end up with a severe stuffy nose that manages to run as well.

The Spawn probably has a cold; he keeps spiking a low fever in mornings and evenings and isn't quite his usual active self.    To add insult to injury, we've found out that he gets good-sized mosquito bite reactions like I do instead of my husband's "Wait....what do you mean your bites don't disappear in an hour?" absence of a reaction.  We found out when he got two bites about 1/4 of an inch apart on his forehead that swelled into one egg-shaped swelling for a few days before starting to recede - but not before my husband and I were joking that Spawn's cold was the early stages of malaria.  Or maybe dengue fever.  But probably the first mosquito-borne case of Lyme's disease...that bump is what the bulls-eye rash rash morphed to when it switched vectors. 

Oh, and then he got a matching egg-shaped bump from losing his balance while walking with my dad, dropping one hand, spinning 270 degrees around Dad's other hand and thwacking his head on a corner of the wall.   My dad was beside himself; Spawn wanted to keep walking.

Oh, and my job is in the middle of the Labor Day Sale.  For my paint department, this quadruples the workload while increasing the staffing levels by around 10%.  My goal is to make it through the 14 day sale without having any cans of paint open inside the shaker.  During my first major sale, I had one can spray.  During my second major sale, I blew two cans during a single shift.  Following that pattern, I'm due for three open cans....but I'd really like to avoid cleaning out a paint shaker ever again.

Well, let's get down to it:

This is the last section in Jasmine Baucham's "Joyfully At Home" explanation of how young women are having unacceptable emotions about being single and that the women are praying wrong on top of that.  My two cents is that women are allowed to have a full range of emotions  including anger, sadness, frustration and sexual desire.  More broadly, lecturing people on the inadequacies of their silent prayers feels overbearing and obnoxious - but it feels more natural when I think of myself at 19 because new adults often believe they have more wisdom than mature adults.

We might cry out because we feel that singleness is a less than state. " Oh, Lord, I am so very anxious for the day when the Purgatory of singleness will be over, and when you will usher me into the gloriously heavenly state of matrimony." (pg. 78)

Case in point: CP/QF young women didn't create the idea that unmarried girls are in a lesser state than a married woman.  CP/QF single women ARE in a lesser state than any other class of adults.  The freedom levels of male and female teens diverge as male teens move into the wider world to gain employment.  Young men can interact with a wider variety of people from mainstream society while working with clients.  Similarly, young men are expected to initiate courtships with available single women.

Unmarried women in CP/QF society have little autonomy.  The ideal stay-at-home daughter (SAHD) labors enthusiastically in her family's ministry remaining unsullied by commerce, sinners or wages.  She educates herself through enthusiastic study of books or courses that have been pre-screened to avoid controversial or risque material.  She confidently proclaims that she is more educated than other people because she has avoided the nebulous dangers of public schools.  At the same time, her education is for the purpose of self-improvement since preparing for a wage-earning career would imply that she doubts the economic foundational underpinning of CP/QF society.  She enjoys fellowship with other single CP/QF women while being kept separated from the more honored young married couples.  Most importantly, Mr. Right manages to find and begin a courtship with her in the complete absence of encouragement from the young woman.

What does this look like in real life? Sitting at home waiting for Mr. Right to show up so her life can begin.  Possibly writing books for a family vanity press or managing a portion of the family's public brand - but mostly sitting on the sidelines and hoping Mr. Right finds her...somehow.

Look, married women in CP/QF land still have highly constrained life choices - but they do have life choices.  A married woman chose to enter a courtship with a pre-approved suitor.  She said "Yes" when he asked her to marry him.  She got to plan her wedding and celebrate as a bride.  A married woman is allowed to be emotionally and physically intimate with her husband.   Being pregnant is a cause for celebration in the community if a woman is married.  The couple may choose to practice natural family planning or abstaining from sex to space pregnancies; as long as they have a kid every few years, no one will notice.  The mom becomes the family expert on homeschooling.  If she's especially ambitious - or gullible- there are a variety of home-based businesses (or pyramid schemes) that allow her to earn money.

Being a wife and mother in CP/QF land is filled with spoken and unspoken limits - but it's the most freedom most women will ever have. 

Want proof?  Imagine the outrage and pearl-clutching if Jana Duggar (or Sarah Maxwell, Anna-Sofia-Elizabeth Botkin, or other SAHD of your choice) posted an Instagram photo of herself with various sex games like Jill Dillard does.  Oh, the horrors!

We cry out because we don't understand God's sovereignty. " Oh, dear Lord, I am so fairly anxious for the day when you'll finally give me what I want to make me happy. I'm not really concerned about living in whatever state he brings you the most Glory. I just want what I want as soon as possible." (pg. 78)

Well, I mean, at least the girl is looking forward to her mostly-arranged future courtship and marriage rather than taking the more pragmatic view from the song "Matchmaker, Matchmaker" in "Fiddler On The Roof." :-P

Theologically, do Christians believe that the state a person is in currently is the de facto state that brings the greatest glory to God?  That idea feels a bit sticky to me.  Let's play a thought game.  If living CP/QF theology brings the greatest glory to God, why are so many of the most acclaimed teenager authors either single in their 30's like the Botkin Sisters and Sarah Mally or divorced like Joshua Harris?  Why have both Jasmine (Baucham) Holmes and Joshua Harris partially or completely disavowed the movements that made them famous?  Why have there been the epic flameouts of Bill Gothard's IBLP/ATI/ALERT and Doug Phillips' defunct Vision Forum?

I think that Jasmine meant to say that young women should focus on living their current life in the way that is most fitting before God - but that's not exactly what she said in the quote.

We cry out because we don't understand the bigger picture. " Oh, dear Lord, I am so very anxious for the days when my own desire will be satisfied, because I don't really understand what marriage and singleness are for. I'm looking through the lens of my desires, not through the lens of the bigger picture. (pg. 78)

This would be a great point to discuss the benefits of the states of singleness and marriedness for the Christian Church.  Unfortunately, that discussion never happens.  I'm Catholic and my church taught that single people (which, on consideration, means adults without dependents - but this is a fairly new , post-Vatican II idea that the Church is working out) can take on deeply challenging and consuming ministries that are ill-advised for people with dependent children or adults.  Missionary work, for example, is done by members of religious communities, young adults without children or older adults with children who are grown.  This greatly increases the amount of work the missionaries can do in the field while simplifying the logistics by removing children and teenagers from the equation.  Similarly, chaplains are often older people whose children are grown or members of religious orders because they can prioritize heading to a hospital to support a shocked or grieving family any time of day or night.  If the demands of a job require a person to work so many hours that they have little or no time left for their spouse or children, the Catholic Church would first expect the person to ask if that many hours is reasonable - and if so, remain single rather than stinting their family.

On the flip side, the Catholic Church is clear that people with dependents should prioritize the care of dependents over career or ministry.  The obvious example is that married couples are expected to raise their children - not just the mothers.  There are other examples of family units that are not 2 parents with 2.5 children.  I know a divorced woman who adopted a pre-teen out of foster care who felt safest in homes with women only.  The mom in this story is technically single - but would be expected to focus her time and attention on her child.   Similarly, many non-monastic religious members need to adapt or reduce their ministries when their aged parents need more support if there are no other children who can help them. 

This is why I find missionaries like Derick and Jill Dillard to be baffling: missionary work is ill-suited for families who are reproducing and raising children.  There's no way I would be allowed to serve in a international mission with a two-year old - and doubly so since my kid has special needs.  I would certainly be allowed to help out in my local community if I had time - but no one think "Hey, let's send her to El Salvador!".

Sometimes we literally cry. Tears stream down our faces as we mourn the state that we have been relegated to, because everyone knows that single girls are casts off, while the married women are the true prizes. Sometimes, we get angry. We blame the Lord for making us wait, we blame the men in our lives for not seeing us as the treasures we are, we blame our parents for not helping us look hard enough to find what we're searching for. Sometimes, we simply grow despondent. Our countenances are weary, our mood is depressed, and we shuffle through life half-heartedly, just waiting for something better to come along. (pgs. 78-79)

Remember, this book was written when Jasmine was 19 years old.

 Ladies, a culture has reached crazy-town when women are crying themselves to sleep because she's single less than two years after reaching the age of majority. 

Or when 19 year old women are seething with silent rage because the young men who are trying to start their own businesses with little formal education, few acquaintances to hook as clients, and little or no credit to purchase equipment decide to postpone marriage until they have income.

Or when women are understandably despondent because the only way a girl can change her life is by convincing her father to change the way his family is run or hoping Mr. Right shows up.

I married at 30; presumably, I should have had several months worth of sobbing nights, a plethora of enraged prayer sessions and years of crushing loneliness.   Fortunately for me, I had plenty of options when I started wanting a long-term relationship or feeling unmoored.   When I wanted to find a man to marry and raise a family, I started dating. 

Did I make mistakes?  You better believe I did!  Actually, the biggest mistake I made was assuming that meeting a guy the 'right' way - which for me meant in a friendship group that progressed to good friends that progressed to romance in the safety of a church setting - was a talisman against getting my heart broken. 

*shakes head at the sweet naivete of younger self*

That relationship sucked - and it solidly shook me up when it ended.  CP/QF relationship rules state that having a broken heart or a shaken worldview make a person a subpar marriage prospect.  For me, being gutted by someone I loved forced me to examine how I missed so many red flags.    I had to admit that my desire to be with someone I loved morphed into a desperation to make this relationship work.  To force the relationship to work, I created an entire series of rationales for why I tolerated behavior in my boyfriend that I would find unacceptable to do myself.   Realizing how much I compromised my own values on how people should treat one another was painful - but the net outcome was I learned to value myself more. 

I spent a year after that breakup creating a life that satisfied me - and would be satisfying if I never married.   I have no regrets about that because marriage can't fill every desire a person has.  Certain desires can only be sated by building community bonds or by platonic friendships or by changing one thing in the world.

What I feel sad about is that so many people - men and women - in CP/QF are prevented from making those kinds of changes because of rules about obeying authorities.

Monday, August 26, 2019

General Update:

I apologize for the longer pause between posts.

 Last week, I had a difficult conversation with my son's physical therapist. My son has been in weekly physical therapy for a year now and he's not walking independently. When he entered PT, his 'diagnosis' (such as it was) was that he had a gross motor delay caused by a combination of medical issues during his first year along with torso weakness due to using his chest and abdominal muscles to hyperextend his chest wall to compensate for his lung damage. 

That diagnosis still makes sense - but there is more going on with my son's neuromuscular system than can be explained by 'medical issues + breathing support'.
  • His vision issues stem from having overly low muscle tone in his eyes. 
  • Spawn's balance and eye-tracking (known as the vestibular system) is wonky.  He has a hard time recovering from being bounced or spun.  
  • He has speech issues that are caused by low muscle tone in his mouth.  
  • While using his walking sticks on the step he starts on, he can jump down to a lower step while slowing his descent by supporting his weight on his arms with his shoulders elevated and hyperextended behind him without any signs of discomfort.  Here's another way to visualize it: put your arms up in a "V for victory" position.  Now, now imagine grabbing two sticks with your elbows slightly bent, then jumping down three feet so that your arms are still supporting your weight while your arms are now fully extended at about 45เซฆ behind your head.  Doing that would rip my deltoids, lats and trapezius muscles free of my body; my son seems to enjoy it.    
  • Spawn can still hyperextend and twist his legs like a newborn can - in spite of the fact he's been doing lots of 90% or more weight-bearing standing, squatting and walking.   We've seen him hold his ankles behind his ears while laying down and suck on his toes by bending his knees and hips while in his car seat - when he's almost three.
  • When he walks, his knees can move laterally while his torso/legs are moving forward and back. without any sign of discomfort.
  • His ankles and feet roll freely in any direction imaginable while walking.  Getting ankle-and-foot orthotics  (AFOs) was a game-changer because he didn't have to focus all his energy on getting his feet to flatten into the right place.
The other differences have been popping up one by one over the last year - and I can't make them fit into the 'medical issues + breathing support" mold.

I've mentioned before that I have mild hypertonic (spastic) cerebral palsy that mainly affects my legs.  My twin sister has a mild form of the opposite form - hypotonic cerebral palsy.  My son's body doesn't move like mine at all - but I have mental flashbacks of my twin when he gets moving.

So...I sucked up my nervousness and asked his PT point-blank if this list of symptoms was a sign that Spawn might have hypotonic CP - while crying - because saying the entire list out loud really drove home that this_was_not_ only_in_my_head no matter how much I secretly hoped she'd laugh and tell me I was imagining things or over-reacting.

With the standard caveat that she's not a medical doctor so she can't give diagnoses, she gently said that the therapy she's doing with Spawn is the type of work she'd expect to do with a child with hypotonic cerebral palsy.   Also, that Spawn's making great progress (which he really is) and that diagnoses are just diagnoses - because awesomeness transcends medical conditions.  I agree with her whole-heartedly - and I've been sad and relieved ever since.

 Since I tend to shut down negative emotions by working, I've been purposely refraining from keeping busy by blogging or other hobbies that keep me distracted.  So..I've felt sad and cried when I needed to.

I wouldn't change a single thing about my son - not one thing.  I know that his prognosis is great.  He'll eventually be able to walk independently along with climbing steps without support.  I had hoped, though, that my son would have a different life experience than I did.  One where he could pick up new skills without needing intensive physical therapy as a toddler and preschooler.   Even now, I can't say that I wanted him to have a better life experience  because my cerebral palsy has taught me patience, perseverance, given me insight into people with motor disabilities and let me meet awesome people over the years. 

My son loves his PT now - and she hung in there with him in his first four months of "Be gone, Daughter of Satan!" phase.  Today, he wanted to give her a high five, a fist-bump, and an "ET Phone Home!" (that's where you tap extended index fingers together) which he's been refusing everyone except me and my husband for a few weeks.

I feel sad, too, because I'm so tired of having to fight to get services for my son.  The current model of at-home infant special education services is described as "Therapists-as-coaches; parents as instructors".  IOW, physical therapists or speech therapists or whoever comes to the kid's house for an hour or so once a week and give ideas and examples of activities that the parent and kid can do to work on deficiencies for the upcoming week. 

I hope this model works well for kids at risk for delays or with mild delays due to parents who are inexperienced with small children - because it fucking sucks for kids with more severe delays.   Case-in-point: Spawn's first month of speech therapy at home consisted of his speech-and-language pathologist explaining to me that I should use one or two word phrases with Spawn over and over again.   So when Spawn plays by putting toys into and out of boxes, I would say "In. In. In. Out. Out. Out" and give praise for any attempts at speech.

While the therapist explained this - and demonstrated it repeatedly - I fought the urge to say "So the word of the day shouldn't be "inflammable"?  Damn, I thought repeating Shakespearean sonnets as rapidly as I could was ideal for increasing toddler speech!  Sorry, Spawn; no more Moby Dick before bedtime."

I know the programs don't mean to do this - but having such stupidly pat approaches to in-home development lead me to feel guilty.  After all, if the solutions to Spawn's issues were SO obvious, why hadn't I figured them out myself?  Why hadn't I talked to him more - or repeated single word phrases ad nauseum - or started him on a standing-walking regimen at 8 months?  If I had done enough, would Spawn be walking and talking fluently by now?

The real answer: no.  I'm an incessant talker - but I also have been mimicking conversations with Spawn including pauses for his response since he was in the NICU.  I exposed him to insane amounts of language by narrating my day (Spawn, Mama is going to put Spawn in the high chair.  Now, I'm moving you to where you can see me cook!  I'm cutting onions.  You are playing with your tubes.  I am cooking onions.  You are playing with the lids...this goes on for hours), reading books aloud, reciting poems, singing and talking to him and in front of him.   We moved Spawn around like a baby.  We cuddled him, gave him tummy time, bounced him, and encouraged him to do new things.

We did the right things - and so did Spawn.  It simply takes longer for him to work out the details than it does other kids because his muscles have the tone of limp spaghetti rather than taffy.

And that's why I'm relieved along with sad.   The clinic where he gets outpatient speech and physical therapy (which ascribes to the model of "Therapist as therapist; parents can help if they want") has regular visits from medical interns and pediatric residents.  Since I'm verbose, Spawn's PT has me describe Spawn's medical history to the young doctors (who I refer to as baby baby doctors).   Over the last year, his history has changed from "lots about the NICU/infancy with a bit of pediatric rehab" to "fast overview of NICU/infancy + scads of pediatric rehab + 5 other things that have slowed us up but aren't covered in the thing we're here in pediatric rehab for" - which is as disjointed and convoluted as it sounds.  A diagnosis of mild hypotonic CP means his history is still rather convoluted - but there's an overarching connection of why these things are happening to this child.

The best bit: I know this is much more upsetting for me than Spawn.  I know this because I grew up with hypertonic CP.  In discussion with other people who were born with disabilities, you often don't need to mourn what you've never had.    I've never thought, "Wow, my life would be so much better if I had normal range of motion in my hips" as I've watched cheerleaders or dancers perform.  I have thought "That's insane!  How can they do that without their leg falling off?"  - and that seems to be Spawn's response to toddlers who can run.

Originally, I had this shoved at the top of a blog post on "Joyfully At Home" - but that felt a bit crazy - so I've separated the posts.  I hope to have that post online in the next few days.

Thanks for listening.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

ATI Wisdom Booklet 24: Fallen Empires - Greece

Had a lovely surprise from the endocrinologist.  My endocrine system is completely normal! 

His best guess of what happened (and it happens a lot) is that my PCP ordered a slate of tests that included one for the amount of free T4 in my blood (e.g. it measures the amount of thyroxine circulating in my blood)   The issue is that that free T4 test is known to be inaccurate frequently - and my values were just below the normal floor. 

At the same time, she ordered a test for the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) that is highly accurate.  TSH is the hormone that the pituitary gland sends to tell the thyroid how much hormone to make.  If my body was consistently under producing T4, my pituitary gland would be sending out higher and higher levels of TSH to try and get the thyroid to do something.  My levels were smack-dab in the normal range and had been for several years so it was unlikely that there was anything wrong with my thyroid or pituitary.  Doubly so since my PCP had ordered an ultrasound of the thyroid and checked for Hashimoto's and everything looked fine.

In terms of the fatigue, the endocrinologist looked at my medical and social history I filled out.  He asked me some questions about my stress level which ranks at "ridiculously high" between two health scares for me, one severely ill child leading to medical and developmental complications, my husband leaving a business, struggling to find a new career, and me both leaving and re-entering the workforce.

Without missing a beat, he paused for a few seconds and said very gently, "With the amount of stress you've had over the last few years, you are allowed to be exhausted."

I felt relieved that I was simply exhausted because I had not been looking forward to trying to manage a wonky thyroid gland on top of everything else in my life.

In celebration of working endocrine glands, let's take a whack at the next section in the ATI Wisdom Booklet 24 on "Fallen Empires".  Now, I had planned to get all high-and-mighty about how much more detail that the authors spent on Greece (and presumably Rome) compared to Native American empires.  The joke's on me, though!   The authors do an equally horrible job on covering Greece's cultural highlights and spend an inordinate amount of time talking about male-male sex and the failure of Greece to conform to middle-class nuclear family standards from the 1950's USA.


CP/QF theology is based on a primitivist derivation of Calvin's work where all people are able to read the Bible directly and find God's meaning for how we are all supposed to live.  This is held to be true because the Bible is believed to be the exact Word of God transcribed without error through human instruments.  In that context, the author's blanket statement about the linguistic excellent of koine Greek reaffirms the Bible as the Word of God unsullied.

Now, I come from the Catholic/Orthodox/Mainstream Protestant line of thinking when it comes to the Bible.  In these religions, we believe that God inspired the various authors of the Bible to produce holy writings - but that the Bible is not inerrant or perfect. 

I also come from a religious tradition that frowns on proclaiming that we totally understand the Mind of God - and that's the bit that troubles me about the last sentence.  We mortals have no idea why God picked the time and place to be Incarnated - and I get nervy around people who do know.

The historically funny bit from this quote is that the first sentence about "many languages" is one of 2-3 cryptic references to the fact that Greece was not a cultural or linguistic monolith.  Greece was a group of city-states that had their own traditions, their own gods and often their own languages.  We know much more about certain areas like Athens because their literary works survived.  We know about other city-states like Sparta because they were described second-hand in surviving works from Athens.  There were other city-states that we just plain don't know much about at all - but you wouldn't get that impression from the Wisdom Booklets.

This fun little interlude of historical fiction was brought to you by the Christian Reconstructionists of Bill Gothard's cult Institutes of Basic Life Principles! 

Christian Reconstructionists can be described as people who want no form of secular or church government that impinges on their right to do as they see fit while using secular and church governance to oppress anyone who disagrees with them. 

What do (most) Christian Reconstructionists want?  They want a return to the fictional 'Good Ol' Days' when everyone spoke English, worshiped as good primitivist Calvinists, lived in nuclear families where the husband supported his family in manual labor while his wife raised a huge family at home, and everyone was white.  Psst!  This time period never existed - but Christian Reconstructionists will tie themselves into knots to try and show how it almost happened.

Did I make it clear that the Christian Reconstructionists are a slightly cleaned-up version of the KKK before?  The first paragraph in this quote pretty much drives home the three classes of people allowed in Christian Reconstructionists: 1) white citizens descended from the right kind of white people, 2) people of color who are also held in chattel slavery, 3) white people who are the 'wrong' kind of people.   For people who follow the hijinks of semi-famous members of CP/QF, the Duggars were the wrong kind of whites because of too little income and education prior to their windfall of television fame.  The Rodrigues family is the wrong kind of white people because they are of Mediterranean descent rather than Northern or Western Europe and poor. 

This leads to an interesting thought experiment: can money overcome being descended from people from the 'wrong' part of the world?  Jasmine Holmes found that she was always excluded and experienced racist sexism in spite of coming from parents who had more education and money than the average CP/QF family because they were black.  Would the Rodrigues be more acceptable if they had a pot of cash because they are white-ish?

Yes, Ancient Greeks left unwanted children outside while accepting wanted children as members of the household.  Having a noticeable disability at birth was a quick way to be exposed - as was being a higher-order daughter in a well-to-do family - or a son born of a slave or prostitute.  Truthfully, many cultures practiced infanticide and Greeks seemed to feel a bit morally conflicted about it.  After all, babies were left out by the roadside where they could (theoretically) be rescued by childless couples, someone who wanted a slave or the Gods rather than killing the infant quickly inside the home which leaves some room for parents to tell themselves that the baby turned out fine somewhere else.

ATI's history writers missed a chance to spout an anti-government slogan, now that I think about it.  In most of Hellenic areas, the male head of the family decided whether to accept a newborn or to have it exposed.  In Sparta, on the other hand, children belonged to the city-state rather than their parents.  This means that a committee of elders decided whether a newborn should live or be killed immediately.    I'm sure CP/QF folk could make some kind of parallel between Obamacare or Planned Parenthood or Common Core and neonaticide in ancient Sparta.

ATI is scolding the ancient Greeks for not valuing intellectual pursuits. *hoots with laughter* That's ironic since ATI pretty much endorses keeping women of all ages at home, reproducing rapidly and avoiding public discourse.

Well, my internet searches are going to look pretty darn interesting now that I've looked into the homosexual history of Greece.  In the interest of fairness, I need to clarify that the ancient Greeks did not approve of anal sex between men also known as sodomy.  In one of those strange parallels, ancient Greeks agreed with many CP/QF preachers that the defining gender actions during sex were that men penetrated while women received penetration.  Freeborn Greek men, then, would be viewed as unnatural and womanly if they were penetrated during anal sex.   Hand-jobs and ejaculation between a partner's thighs were permitted, though.

Why did Greeks think male-male relationships were more meaningful and valuable than male-female relationships?   Well, women were educated differently than men as children, kept isolated in their homes before and after marriage, and were married by their fathers to men they never spent time alone with prior to being legally married.

Sounds familiar, doesn't it? :-P

There are two super-obvious rebuttals to the daft idea that Greeks could care less about purity.

Rebuttal One: English doesn't have a single word that is the equivalent to the German phrase "schadenfreude" - but English-speakers recognize the feeling of happiness that comes from seeing the misfortune of someone else.  Likewise, ancient Greeks may not have had one word for chastity - but they certainly made distinctions in acceptable behaviors between virgins, wives, concubines and slaves for women along with freeborn citizen vs slave or male prostitute for men

Rebuttal Two: Ancient Greeks behaved as if women were expected to be chaste even if men not.  Families that could afford to kept their wives and daughters indoors or accompanied by loyal slaves at all times to avoid the appearance of impropriety.

A slightly more technical rebuttal involves the issues with reconstructing languages.  See, koine Greek is a dead language that survives in a variety of manuscripts, tablets and sculptures.  Because of that, scholars only have a subset of language that was 1) written down and 2) survived years of decay and destruction.   Ayala Fader found a far more recent example while doing linguistic anthropology work among Hasidic Jews.  In her book "Mitzvah Girls: Bringing Up The Next Generation of Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn", she recorded a conversation between two school-aged girls and a teacher about what the word for the color "peach" was in Yiddish.  Neither the girls nor the teacher knew what the word was and it was not found in the Yiddish-English dictionary.  Upon discussing the lack of a word as a group, the teacher  decided that the more holy women in the old country must not have been as worried about worldly things like having the right color colors.   Dr. Fader, on the other hand, postulated that Yiddish had a word for peach prior to the Holocaust, but the word was lost due to the genocide of the majority of native Yiddish speakers along with the fragmentation and defensive assimilation of the surviving speakers.   The decline of koine Greek was far slower - but the intervening time scale is much longer, too.

The Bible tends to win in terms of numbers of perversions and atrocities compared to most other forms of literature so ATI's objection to sex and violence in Greek/Roman mythology reads as hypocritical.
It's hard to take ATI's authors seriously once you've read the section on how clothing that was frumpy in the 1980's (think bibbed dresses complete with pleated A-line skirts paired with patterned nylons) were deeply sexy because bibs drew eyes to the chest, pleats drew eyes to the groin and patterned nylons drew eyes to the legs.   Similarly, Greek and Roman nude statues were not meant to be sexually arousing; they were demonstrations of the beauty of the human form.

The fact that ATI thinks lesbianism is the only form of female sexual perversion is both quaint and funny as hell.   

These next three are the official reasons (in ATI) why Greece fell.
This section is a hot mess.  When most people want to distill a moral lesson out of history, the author learns about the history before attaching the moral.  But in ATI-land, the history is warped beyond belief to fit the idea that Greece failed because of humanism and lust. 

There's never been a time where humans could live in a community with no limitations placed on them by their culture.  The Greeks were no different.  Greek men were expected to earn a living.  Greek women were expected to bear children.  Greek soldiers fought to protect their homeland, gain renown and increase their income - but risked death or lingering disability prior to any form of government support.  


The first paragraph shows the danger of sloppy logic skills combined with minimal grounding in basic Christian theology.  ATI claims Greeks insulted their Gods by making gods less than divine when their gods acted like humans.  Under that logic, Christians have created a horrifying blasphemy by declaring that God was Incarnated - fully human in all ways but sin.  Becoming a human is far more degrading than acting like a human while keeping all divine powers.

Similarly, the Greek Gods are immoral because they didn't reward their followers or show correct deference to....um....who are the Gods supposed to show deference to?

*waits for the non-answer for a few seconds out of habit*

 Alright, let's drop the idea of authority for a second.  The Greek Gods are immoral because they didn't have any obligations to their followers.  Applied to Christianity, this means that God has obligations to humans - but that's an aberrant theological concept as well.  Christians believe that God creates, preserves and sustains the entire universe.   God created the idea of obligation.  Any obligations that God has offered humans has come from God and is solely reliant on God's Goodness, not some universal law that exists outside of God.  Under that basic theological concept in Christianity, the fact that Greek and Roman Gods often acted capriciously makes sense because they were creations of man and not fully reflective of the Creator God worshiped by Christians.

The weird bit for me is that the author is making the argument that the Greek Gods were real gods but Greeks corrupted them by misattributing human attributes to the real Gods.   That's an heretical stance in all Christian denominations that I know of - and why am I the first person to notice this?

I doubt that the first paragraph would make any sense to Ancient Greeks even if it was translated into perfect koine Greek.   Throughout time, people have been bound by family obligations and community obligations.  There was no path available for a well-born Greek girl to become an orator - even if it would bring her deep satisfaction.  A Greek man couldn't run his home and raise the children while his wife worked regardless of if it made them happy.   A Greek wife couldn't have an affair with her neighbor's husband without risking severe consequences.   There are always rules - and ancient Greece had pretty solid levels of obligation for each person towards their families and communities.

 Positioning 'desire for pleasure' as the root cause of all decay in ancient Greece demonstrates how shoddy the author's understanding of day-to-day life was.  Despite ATI's avowed longing for a return to a simple time, they forget that most wedding wishes for the bride and groom historically fit the formula of  "May you have food.  May you have shelter. May you bear healthy children.  May you live healthily to old age."  The idea of pursuing pleasure for the sake of pleasure may have been available to the wealthy, but most people were very busy simply trying to survive.

Unfortunately, most CP/QF families are close enough to poverty even today to understand why a parent would wish that their newly married daughter may never know hunger. 

The last section in this series will be on the fall of Rome which is due to......did you guess sexual sins?  You're right!  

Monday, August 12, 2019

Jill Dillard's More than Sex Post: Cling to Your Spouse!

When I got married, we heard a portion of Genesis 2 as the reading from the Old Testament.  The story was the section where Adam can't find any animals that provide him with enough company so God makes Eve out of Adam's rib and that's why humans get married. 

Unfortunately Jill Dillard seems to have taken that story to mean that wives should be joined to their husbands as tightly as they can in her blog post titled "More Than Sex: How to Love Your Husband" . 

In all fairness, Jill did not create these ideas in a vacuum.  No, she's been exposed to the spurious 'affair-proofing' marriage techniques propagated by professionals with a interest in saving marriages by convincing people that both partners in a marriage are equally at fault when an affair occurs.   While Jill has not pulled out the most toxic advice about 'rebuilding trust' after an affair by coddling the partner who had an affair while castigating the victim, she's listed a few doozies.

-Make the most of the time you’re both off work and try to keep the calendar free for family time. For example, if he is gone from 6am-6pm, then run your errands during that time &/or hang out with friends, then save most of the time after that for time together (and sometimes that might mean not inviting guests over in the evening!). Talk about it together as a couple and see what you can cut out to allow more family time.

*blinks*

Dear Jill,

OMG, I just cannot figure this out!  My husband works from 6am-6pm daily.  At the end of a 12 hour workday, he's exhausted and isn't really up for running errands or entertaining guests.  My husband is ready to go to bed at 9pm so that means we have to have fun adult sexy times from 8:30-9:00pm and we already talk deeply from 6:00-6:20pm like you told us to do!  How can I do errands and see my friends and still fit in time to be with my husband for three hours a day?

Help!

Totally Confused Young Wife

Dear TCYW,

Shop and hang out with friends during your husband's 12 hour shifts.  Meanwhile, use the twenty minutes of deep talking time to discuss how you really, really wish that your husband could be at home more - but he's just SOL since you're not allowed to work outside the house.  Hang in there!  We're still waiting for Derick to find the right job for him!  Everyone knows that the fourth career in five years is the charm!

Love to my sweet friend!

Jill

The saddest part: I had an entire joke around "Cat's in the Cradle" by Harry Chapin that I had to cut out because Mrs. Dillard was properly sheltered from modern media and so wouldn't get the joke OR write it.....sigh.

-Let him know you miss him and you can’t wait to see him/can’t wait till he gets home! Send texts for him to read when he can, or if you know he has specific times during the day when he can talk, give him a quick call or FaceTime him for a minute to tell him you love and miss him.

6:01 AM: Hi, husband!  I love you so much!  It's only 11 hours and 59 minutes until you get home!

6:14AM:  Hiya!  Today is laundry day for me!  I've started our laundry so I'm going to go back to sleep until I need to switch loads!  I love you!  You come home in 11 hours and 46 minutes!

6:31AM: I can't sleep without you next to me!  Only 11 hours and 29 minutes until you get home!

7:22AM: I've changed the first load of laundry!  Normally, I'd do towels first, but I decided to be wild and crazy and do whites first today!  Love you!  Can we FaceTime during your break?

7:36AM: I decided to make a creamy omelette for breakfast using an old family recipe!  It's two eggs cooked in 5 cans of Cream of Mushroom soup, three bags of

7:36AM :   tater tots and two pounds of cheddar cheese!  I'll save you some for breakfast tomorrow!  I love you!

7:37AM:  Oops!  That last text split into two texts, lol!  I love you!

8:01AM: You said your break is at 8:00AM, right?  I miss you!  You'll be home in 7 hours and 59 minutes!

8:02AM:  Whoops!  Did the math wrong, lol!  You'll be home in 9 hours and 59 minutes!

8:11AM :  I'm worried that you are so late in calling me on your break!  Remember James 1:13-18! I love you!

8:12AM: When I'm struggling, I often recite Proverbs 7:25-26 and Matthew 5:27-29!  Love you!


8:39 AM: I love you, too.  The line shuts down from 8:30AM until 8:40AM. Can't FaceTime. See ya tonight.

Your mileage may vary, but spending my break at work responding to texts would not be restful or conducive to a peaceful marriage in my house.

-Call him by a fun or sweet name! Save his name/contact in your phone with a sweet name and don’t forget to use emojis! ๐Ÿ˜‰

8:45AM ๐Ÿ˜ฒ๐Ÿ˜ณ I can't believe I got that messed up, cutie pie!  You are my favorite snookie-wookie!  See you in 9 hours and 15 minutes! ๐ŸŒ˜

9:13AM: Going to the store, fluffy bunny butt!  I'm gonna get ๐ŸŒฟ๐Ÿ‡๐Ÿ‰๐Ÿ๐Ÿž๐Ÿ ๐Ÿก๐Ÿผ and food for our ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿฑ๐Ÿฑ.  JK, we don't need dog food!  Do you want me to pick up anything?


Yeah, I'm clearly not the woman to use pet names or emojis in texts.  Thankfully, my marriage seems built to survive that issue since my husband has stated that'd he'd turn his phone off rather than deal with this many messages each day.

-Pray and fast for your husband. Ask him how you can pray for him and let him know when you do (e.g. send him text messages &/or write a little note).

10:53AM: Babe๐Ÿ‘ผ, remember we decided I was going to fast and pray๐Ÿ“ฟ for you today?  Did you ever make up your mind on what you wanted me to pray for you for? ๐Ÿ˜‡  Love you๐Ÿ’—๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’š!

10:54AM:Drat honey bunny๐Ÿ‡!  My snuggle muffin๐Ÿฎ won't see this until lunch๐Ÿฅซ time⏰!  Tell you what: I'll pray๐Ÿ“ฟand fast for you and keep the topic TBD. I love you!๐Ÿ’‹

Writing fake text messages is killing me.  Give me a 10 page report on themes in cultic religions or a 5 page write-up of a 60 minute observation of a classroom over texts any day!

-Make time with your family a priority. Look for ways to spend time together with your kids and husband. You may have to cut out some activities that are taking away from family time.

Starting with your husband's 60+ hour work week? 

Or are we talking about the time spent sending 30,000 text messages to stave off loneliness and the fear of him cheating on you?

I know CP/QF is extremely anti-women working outside the home - but the fact that I work outside the home makes it easier for the three of us in our little family to spend time together.  When my husband is working, Spawn and I have time together which includes trips to the park and playing with Legos.  When I am working, Spawn has Daddy time which includes "Toddler WWE" and "When Stuffed Animals Attack!"  And since we have a full-time and a part-time income, we also have times where all three of us are together - and we have a blast.

-Show affection in the home and in public! Your kids need to see you happy and having fun together as a couple! It provides a little extra security for everyone!

Wait, what?  You need to be affectionate all over the place for the good of your kids' psychological needs for security? 

Actually, no.

 Kids certainly need security - but "Are my parents' expressing physical affection in public?" didn't make Maslow's hierarchy of needs for a reason.  Kids need adequate food, water, shelter, rest, protection from abuse, medical care for treatable conditions and love.  Kids are often amazingly blind to the quality of their parents' relationship as long as the parents are functional in terms of caring for the kid's needs and are polite to each other.

Now, couples in long-term relationships need signs that their partner enjoys their company, is happy in the relationship and wants to spend time together.  The exact way that "I like being married to you!" is expressed varies - a lot - from couple to couple and from culture to culture.    One of the families we met in the NICU was a young married couple from an Old Order Amish district in Ohio whose son had been born very prematurely.  The Amish frown on effusive displays of affection in public even between married couples - but the fact that the husband's eyes lit up every time he saw his wife and vice versa made it clear to everyone that they were very much in love.  Similarly, the husband didn't talk much about his son - but the fact he was more than willing to do skin-to-skin (which some dads won't do) was absolutely heartwarming.    Now, my husband and I are both rather shy about public displays of affection; we are pretty much the type who will exchange a quick peck when we arrive and leave and might hold hands if we are near each other.

For me, this - along with several other references to wives' needs for security - drives how how vulnerable women in CP/QF marriages are.   That's the natural outcome of teaching women to be dependent on men; wives are in a precarious position if their marriage fails.  I have no idea how any of the Duggar women would support their small families if they got divorced; most of their husbands have such low earning potential that the amount of child support/alimony the women could get is not nearly enough to live independently. 

More specifically, I think Jill experienced more deprivation during her childhood than the sanitized Duggar narrative admits.  Derick recounted a story Jill told him about how Jill would hide in the bathroom to eat her meals so she could have all of her portion without younger kids taking her food.  That sounds like a family that was struggling to provide enough food for all of their kids.  We know that the Duggars failed miserably to protect their daughters from being molested by their son  since three separate molestations occurred AFTER Josh told his parents.   Add in the fact that IBLP's techniques for childrearing alternate between physical abuse for misbehavior and rewarding the aggressors in hopes of shaming the aggressor into change and the Duggar kids grew up in a household that was chaotic and dangerous. 

With that background, I imagine she badly needs lots of support from her husband to feel safe from hunger and abandonment - but that's a huge amount of responsiblity to place on the shoulders of your spouse.

-Be open about everything: past, present and future! You need to be able to trust each other with the easy and the hard! Secrets are seeds for destruction! (1 Corinthians 10:13) Sometimes there may be seasons of difficulty or you may have to rebuild broken trust. Ask God to help you and get outside help if needed. We aren’t meant to live life in isolation! We need support and community! (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; Galatians 6:2)

Yeah - I mean, the Duggars were totes honest with Anna (Keller) Duggar about the extent of Josh's sexual abuse of siblings and unrelated young women before she married him?   Or at least with her parents if they wanted to protect Anna's emotional purity from knowing that her suitor groped sleeping girls close in age to him and molested kids who were too young to report while they were awake?   The Duggars totally 'fessed up that like six of their kids were interviewed by the police  - but not Josh - because the Duggars pulled the plug on that after the victims went through police interviews?

Yeah, I thought not.

Just like Josh was totally honest with Anna when he was trolling Ashley Madison looking to get sex on the side. 

For most women, having to call their OB/GYN to request an STI panel after finding that a spouse cheated is humiliating.   The exam that goes with an STI panel is not particularly hard; it's about the same as an annual exam or the first exam after a pregnancy is confirmed.  The agonizing part is having to tell a medical profession that your spouse cheated on you.     That absolutely sucks - but that's gotta suck even more for someone in a super-sheltered CP/QF culture where no one talks directly about sexual health or even the idea that the person responsible for an affair is the person who cheated - not their spouse.

Honesty is a good thing - but it only works if both people are honest and trustworthy.

And we are done with this series!  Woot-Woot!   

Friday, August 9, 2019

Joyfully At Home: Chapter Six - Part Two

I can't believe we are in the first week of August already! The summer weather has been so cool and wet compared to a normal year that I keep thinking we are in the first week of July.

 This week I have my long-awaited endocrinology appointment.

 I don't remember how much I've talked about my recent health issues, but I've been fighting fatigue since February that I can't seem to shake.  I can easily sleep 10-12 hours a night and be ready for a 2-3 hour nap when my son goes down for his nap....and then be ready for sleep by around 7pm.  Around Christmas, I was averaging 15,000-20,00 steps a day.  Now, getting 10,000 steps a day is a struggle.  I have depression and anxiety, but this doesn't feel like a relapse of either because I feel happy and content when I'm awake; I simply hit a wall of exhaustion much faster than I ever had before.  Similarly, I used to drink 0-8oz of caffeinated pop a day with a weekly total of 16oz because caffeine can trigger anxiety in me and would keep me up at night if I drank it after 3pm.  Right now, I can easily drink 24-32oz of caffeinated pop daily to try and stay awake through the day - and still fall asleep at night.

 I assumed that the fatigue was a physical symptom of having high levels of chronic stress for the last 2.75 years - but I figured I'd better have a work-up done to make sure I wasn't anemic again. Turns out that in addition to mild anemia - which is SOP for me unless I'm on prenatal vitamins so I went back on prenatals - the blood test showed that my thyroid had crapped out. I knew that diagnosis was treatable, so I went in for follow-up bloodwork and a thyroid ultrasound thinking that I'd get a diagnosis of Hashimoto's thyroiditis.

Much to everyone's surprise, I have no signs of Hashimoto's (which is a very common disorder where the body attacks the thyroid gland) and the ultrasound of my thyroid looks completely normal - no lumps, bumps, cysts or other things that show thyroid dysfunction.

My doctor wants me to be checked out by an endocrinologist before putting me on synthetic thyroid medication because she's concerned that the issue is starting from my pituitary gland which she is concerned was injured from the amount of blood I lost from HELLP syndrome when my son was born.  She also mentioned that she didn't want to start thyroxine before I was checked out because there was a chance that thyroxine would exacerbate an underlying disease state and send my blood pressure through the roof.    Normally, this would have freaked me out and sent me on a Google search.  Thanks to exhaustion, I made the appointment 12 weeks ago for the first available slot, asked to be placed on the call-for-no-shows list, and stocked up on caffeinated pop.

I was mostly concerned with if I'd be able to start working in retail again while short on thyroid hormone, but I've done fine so far.  The main downside is that my hobbies have taken a hit since "sleeping" is now my main life goal and hobby - but I'm honestly grateful that I can grab as much sleep as I can during this time of my life.

Speaking of waiting, we've entered the section of Jasmine Baucham's "Joyfully At Home" where she creates a series of strawman descriptions about dreams that interfere with living contently in the present as a single SAHD.   I classify the vignettes as strawman because the treatment of the subject obscures the valid complaints of SAHDs while implying that wanting change is a sign of immaturity and poor thinking skills.

Here's the first example:
We cry it out at different times. We might be crying it out when we're feeling discontent about the monotony of day-to-day life. " Oh, dear Lord! I'm so very anxious for the day when I'll be able to look past the pile of soiled laundry, the stack of dirty dishes and the mound of schoolwork to behold - and have a home of my own, where things will be infinitely easier!" (pg. 78)
Notice that Ms. Baucham covers two complaints: housework is tedious and SAHDs lack autonomy at home.   Ms. Baucham's response is "Ha!  Housework sucks equally much regardless of whose home it is!  Resign yourself to a life of monotony, ladies!"

Ms. Baucham's reply is not a ringing endorsement of finding satisfaction in a domestic life, is it?

Ironically, Ms. Baucham's ignorance of the joys of running your own home limits her ability to refute the strawman she created.   Housework is tedious - but the freedom to decide when and how to do housework changes the feel. 

For example, Jasmine Baucham had no input on her parents' decision to start adopting kids to grow their family - and that's normal.  But thanks to her enthusiastic embrace of SAHDhood, she got slammed with far more laundry, dishes and schoolwork to correct for her four younger siblings than would be normal for a teenager or young adult.

By comparison, a married woman would be able to mentally decide the additional amount of work that a new baby in the family would add to her workload plus the effect that the physical demands of pregnancy and caring for a small infant would place on her.  My toddler has added an entirely new level of work to my life in terms domestic and educational - but there's a very different feel to choosing to have a child and having a time-suck of a sibling dropped into your lap.

The next two quotes make me into even more of a proponent for dating instead of parent-led courtship:
We might cry out when we are feeling romantic. " Oh, dear Lord! I'm so very anxious for the day when I'll be perfectly loved by a flawless man will always have my best interest at heart, will never disappoint me, and who will never ask anything of me that I won't be willing to give." (pg. 78)

*Dissolves into snorting giggles*

The absolutely best type of crush is on a person who you never get to meet in person.   The beauty of this crush is that the obnoxious habits and quirks that everyone has will be safely hidden and never revealed.

Of course, you'll never fall in love, either, so pick your poison.

This strawman is where most pre-teens and young teens are before they start dating or spending much time with a variety of people they are attracted to.   The best antidote to unrealistic expectations about others is to spend time around other people - and this is where CP/QF homeschooling for the purpose of sheltering outside viewpoints can derail the growth of young people into marriageable partners.   In most families, parents try to act with the best interests of their children at heart and act as arbitrators/judges when siblings have conflicting interests.  Those roles work relatively well in functional families - but those same assumptions get wonky when applied to peers.   As a student (and as a teacher), I never liked group work - but group work does demonstrate quickly that different people have different goals even when working towards the same endpoint.  My goal was "Do exactly as much work as I needed to get an A then work on other subjects"  This would lead me into conflict with group mates whose goal was "Do as little as possible so I can do what I really like doing" or "Create the project by which all other projects will be judged wanting because I like acclaim."   Notice that none of us were trying to screw the other group mates over; we just had very different priorities.

Similarly, the best way to believe that other humans will never disappoint you is to avoid relying on other humans.   The downside of making "I am a Rock" a personal mantra is that you lose all the benefits that accrue when people support you.

Finally, the last clause about how a normal husband will ask his wife to give things that she's unwilling to give is freaking weird.  What does that mean in day-to-day life?  Are we talking about dealing with a husband who changes jobs and geographic locations every two years?  A husband who wants to try sexual acts that the wife doesn't?  A Maxwell who moves more than one mile from their family of origin?  A husband of a Botkin or Duggar who says that they will need their wife to work outside the home during an extended period of unemployment?  That part drives home that a marriage in CP/QF land is not two adults working together to keep their family moving forward but one leader and one subordinate.

And our last quote for the day:
We might cry out when we're feeling insecure. " Oh dear Lord I am so very anxious for the day when I'll be perfectly loved by a man who will complete me, with whom I'll always feel perfectly adequate and confident, and who will never take me outside my comfort zone."(pg. 78)

Yikes.

When I was struggling with depression for the first time, I had a fantasy that I would feel better if I could get away from all of the stressors in my life like an extended monastic vacation.  Turns out that's a common fantasy - but actually taking that massive vacation rarely works because changing the scenery doesn't treat the chemical imbalance that causes depression.

Likewise, Ms. Baucham stumbles onto a basic truth: marriage will not make an anxious, timid, hollow-feeling SAHD into a confident, fulfilled, outgoing woman.   The most perfect husband cannot fill the longing a woman has to get an education, work outside the home, trust herself more or believe that she is loveable.  Those desires can only be met through a woman working on her own goals herself.

I suspect that even Ms. Baucham as a young woman would agree with the idea that life is meant to be lived - we just disagree on what that looks like.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Joyfully At Home: Chapter Six - Part One

We've finally reached mid-summer in Michigan. I'm having a blast enjoying temperatures in the mid-eighties with very low humidity unlike our normal weather this time of year of 90เฅฆF + with 90% humidity.   My inlaws own a we-pick/you-pick blueberry operation and were short on pickers during the week of the county fair.  I offered to help out with part of my wages being paid out in blueberries.  This means that I've been crazy busy picking, cracking skins and drying blueberries.  By tomorrow night, I should have 42 pounds of blueberries dried for the winter.  Well, probably closer to 40 pounds because a blueberry cobbler is calling my name.

Chapter Six of Jasmine Baucham's "Joyfully At Home" aims to disabuse young women of false dreams about husbands.    I giggled a lot through this chapter in which a 19 or 20 year-old single woman explains how marriage will be very different than her readers expect it to be. 

The only quote I'm going to look at today reveals how deeply marriage is prioritized in CP/QF culture as the only acceptable life choice for women:

My biggest credential for talking about the joys of finding out contentment in Christ is the fact that I'm a single young woman of marriageable age. (...)

As we move forward, I want you to keep this question in mind:

What would you do if I told you that you would never be married?

Or if I told you that you would be single for the next 10 years?

Now, I know my audience well enough to know that some of your knuckles are white right now, and your eyes are as big as saucers: never married? Perish the thought! For the sake of full disclosure, I will say that very few things are as exciting to me as a prospect of being a link in the legacy of multi-generational faithfulness that my parents are striving to impart to my brothers and me by imparting it to my own children, and perhaps being able to impart it to my children's children. And, on a much less multi-generational minded level, I'm a hopeless romantic, too! But something I've been thinking about lately is that my dream of getting married, like all dreams in my life - should be held in open palms, not clenched fists. Whatever my state, I need to be able to honestly pray, " Thy will be done." And if his will is that I remain single, the last thing I want to do is to forge the habits of discontentment so early on in my life! And even if his will is that I get married someday, I want to spend a single years enjoy his pursuit of him, not matrimony. (pg. 80)

I disagree with young Ms. Baucham: CP/QF women who have graduated high school should lean into how they feel at the idea of living at home for another 10, 20, or 30 years. 

See, for young women in mainstream society,  becoming an adult who is financially, socially and domestically independent of her parents can be accomplished as a single adult.   In fact, most women live independently of their parents for some period of time prior to marriage.  I moved into my own apartment when I got a full-time teaching job when I was 25.  I married when I was 30 so I was on my own for about 5 years.

Did I want to get married prior to that?  Yup.  Like a lot of people, I looked forward to meeting the right person, settling down and raising a family.   Sometimes, I felt lonely and lost or worried that I'd never meet the right guy.  What kept me grounded, though, was the fact that I was living a good, satisfying life as a single adult.  My first three years of teaching required me to work 60-70 hours a week to keep up with lesson planning and grading for all of my classes.  That didn't leave much time for dating - or a husband and kids.  I had a small apartment where I enjoyed being able to decorate to my tastes.  I learned how to cook for one.   I participated in various forms of American and Irish folk dancing and started walking long distances for fun.   In other words, I was an adult woman with all the benefits therein.  I didn't have to wait for marriage to explore life as an adult.

For CP/QF young women reading "Joyfully At Home", the costs of delayed marriage are completely different.  Since marriage is the start of independent adulthood, waiting 10 years to get married means that a young woman will be in a holding pattern under her parents until a husband appears.   Ten years sounds intermittable for a teenager - but several of the SAHD leaders have been in that holding pattern for 20 years now. 

Lean into those feelings.  If living at home like a teenager into your 30's or 40's sounds horrific, take a long, hard look at how much time and energy your parents are willing to spend finding a suitor for you.  Really think about how many single men know you - and how many new single men you meet a year.  Think about what happens to you financially when the primary wage earner in the family dies when you are in your 50's or 60's with no work experience.  Go to a fast-food restaurant or coffee shop or retail store on a busy day and pay attention to the working conditions because those are the places that hire people with no previous work experience.

Young Jasmine's wide-eyed dreams of being the second-link in her parents' multigenerational plan to outbreed the rest of us is funny rather than tragic because we future-dwellers know that Jasmine marries a suitable man - then throws the plan out the window!  That's the danger of planning the lives of minors; the kids at maturity may well decide on other plans.  Plus, Botkin-esque spreadsheets that detail the expected marriage dates and breeding rates of living children plus generation after generation after generation until all of Tennessee is related to Geoffrey Bokin or Voddie Baucham is futile.  You can't force someone to marry young if they haven't met someone they want to marry.  Writing dreams on slips of paper doesn't solve infertility or provide financial support for a growing family.  Since this belief system is both overly optimistic and rule-based, I doubt either man estimated the number of descendents who never married, never had children or fell away from CP/QF lives. 

Finally, I don't believe in lying to God during prayer.  Yup, Christians are supposed to believe that God's Will will be done - but that's a very different idea than proclaiming that I'm equally ok with every option that's on the table!  The night before my son was born I was praying hard that my son live - and live without disabilities that cause physical pain - and that I survive to see him grow.   I prayed that because those were the wishes imprinted on my heart and soul right that minute.   Praying that I'd accept calmly whatever came next would be false witness against myself - because I was going to be heartbroken if my son died and fucking PISSED if I died.

Christians believe that God is infinitely powerful so I figure an all-powerful Creator can handle my fears and anger as well as my joy or pious resignation.

Next up in this series: Jasmine starts to mock all the bad reasons that an unmarried woman might want to get married.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Jill Dillard's More Than Sex: Sex

For a post that declares that loving your husband takes more than sex, Jill Duggar Dillard's post spends a lot of time on the importance of sex.  Without any sign of irony, the first tip discusses how sex is critical in a marriage:
-Have sex often! You both need this time together regularly (3-4 times a week is a good start. lol). And when you may not be able to actually have intercourse for a period of time or for health issues, find other ways to have fun and be intimate. Let your spouse know that you’re aways [sic] available. Guard against fulfilling sexual desires alone. Be open with your spouse about your desires and change things up to keep it exciting! (Philippians 2:3-4; 1 Corinthians 7:5) If you’re struggling with sex with your spouse, GET HELP! See a doctor and/or licensed counselor and don’t be afraid to get second opinions!
Like most advice written by Duggars, your mileage may vary.  I think couples are better off deciding how often having sex makes sense for them rather than trying to hit a number that works for Jill and Derick. 

There's something about the way this section is written that sounds exhausting rather than inspiring.  Nothing can get in the way of having regular orgasms with your spouse.  Not illness, pregnancy, childbirth, lactation, or menstruation apparently.  Oh, and just doing whatever works well for both partners is not enough; you have to keep sex exciting!

The quote from Philippians 2 follows Paul's explanation of how some other Christian preachers are jerks who are preaching against him, but good preachers preach out of love for Christ rather than glory.  That's what Philippians 2 is discussing, not the importance of hand jobs in a marriage.   Similarly, 1 Corinthians 7 starts and ends with the caveat that Paul believes being celibate is spiritually superior to being sexually active - but having sex with a married spouse of the opposite sex is better than being involved in orgies.

Being ready for sex with your spouse at any time is a fringe belief in the history of Christian religion.  The Old Testament requires that husbands have sex with their wives - but that is to give the wife a chance to produce a son who could support her if she outlives her husband.  Within that context, there are still plenty of times where intercourse is forbidden like during menstruation, after a child's birth and during certain times of national mourning.  Early Christianity believed that Jesus was returning any day now so abstaining from sex made a lot of sense when the world was going to be plunged into disorder and war which is a bad time to have a toddler.  Eventually, Christianity moved away from the idea of an immediate return of the Christ  - but even then - the idea that men and women should have sex whenever they wanted just because would have struck people as insane.  Men and women had a ton of work to do each day to earn a living, prepare food, prepare textiles, and care for dependents.  That didn't leave a lot of time for spontaneous sex when your husband came home just because you could.

Next sex-related tip:
-Look nice for him. It’s easy to get home and throw on the frumpy pjs and wash your makeup off, but make sure that a few times a week you enjoy time together looking like you would hanging out when you were dating! Plus, even if you work from home, just getting fixed up in the morning can give you a boost to your day!
This tip sounds like Jill took a piece of advice from Redbook on looking great for your husband and tried to make it more relevant by ad-libbing what Jill thinks life is like for moms who work outside of the home.  Unfortunately, since Jill's experience with working for wages is limited, her advice feels condescending.     On days that I stay home with my son, I'm busy enough that I don't have time to change into jammies as soon as I get home from his therapy appointments or running errands.  Even if I wanted to, I have a tired, hungry toddler to take care of first and various chores around the house and yard to finish after that.   I am more likely to throw on jammies when I get home from work, but that's because my shifts often go to 10pm at night and I'm tired.  My husband is fine with that because he's an adult man, not a self-centered, horny teenager. 

I did like trying to wear nicer clothing and makeup when I was in the weeds of being a full-time SAHM, but that was for my benefit, not my husband's benefit.  Taking a few minutes to feel like I was dressed in flattering clothing and wearing some makeup reminded me that it was ok to carve out some time for me while caring for a medically complicated baby.   (I'm also pretty solid at getting baby barf stains out of clothing, so your mileage may vary. )

Next sexy tip:
-Go to bed fresh! It’s easy to just want to shower in the morning to wake ourselves up, but showering in the evening (and sometimes before he gets home if you arrive home before him!), and even putting on fragrant lotion in front of him can be another way to say “I care” and “you’re important to me,” and lets him know you’re up for fun whenever he is.

I've been a night showerer all of my life.  Wrestling three kids through showers while two adults were getting ready for work in a one-bathroom house was a no-go, so we all got used to showering in the evening.  I suspect many CP/QF bread winners take showers at night, too, because working in food service, retail, manufacturing, machinery repair, and every outdoor business I can think of makes a worker hot and dirty. 

I asked my husband if my habit of showering in the evening was a way that communicated "I care about you" or "I love you!".   He said no. 

Jill's idea of putting on fragrant lotion in front of my husband makes me feel itchy.  My skin reacts badly to a lot of added scents.   My husband's skin does too - so slathering myself in something he's allergic to is not very sexy.   I guess I could try sexily rubbing Eucerin all over myself - but is it sexy when your partner feels like a greased piglet and shines with an oily glow?

Ignoring the prickly sensations from my skin for a moment, I'm curious how this goes down in a house with a toddler and a preschooler.   Are they still running around?  Is this for after-bedtime hijinks for parents?  Do the Dillards try and pull of quickies while the two kids are temporarily distracted?  That wouldn't work well for me.  I'd be so busy listening for a toddler bursting into the room we were in and yelling "Ello!" or - conversely - wondering what is keeping the toddler occupied so quietly while out of our sight that I wouldn't enjoy our time together. 

-Be confident about your body. Chances are, he is less concerned about the things you’re worried about him not liking than you are. He will be happier when you are confident about yourself. And if there are things you can change or do to be more confident about yourself, then maybe it’s worth doing, or setting a goal to eventually get there!
I like the idea of women being confident about their body.   I differ in that I believe women should be confident for their own good rather than so that their husbands will enjoy sex with them more.  I love my body.  I use it to lift heavy objects, grow food for my family and cuddle my son.  I appreciate how my body has overcome a crazy amount of obstacles like being born at 29 weeks with way too much blood due to twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, repaired two burst lungs from a respirator, and survived a liver-vs-placenta war when pregnant with my son.   Being down on my body because I'm fat would be ungrateful - and I practice gratitude.

Jill's advice is poisoned by telling her readers that it's ok to wait to be more confident in their bodies until the readers manage to fix something they don't like about their body.   Guess what?  The way to become more confident is to become more confident!  Choose to value your body.  Make a list of everything your body does well.   Create an affirmation you repeat throughout the day to retrain your brain away from negative thoughts into kind thoughts. 

I wonder if Jill's struggles with body-negativity are related to her mom's struggle with bulimia.  In the book 'authored' - but ghost-written - by the Duggar daughters, the combined older daughters discuss how their mom struggled with bulimia as a teenager until she met Jim Bob.  Jim Bob acted as an accountability partner and *poof* her bulimia was overcome.   My read on the situation is that her control issues found another outlet when they joined IBLP and started producing a baby or two a year for several decades.  Either way, I hope that Jill moves beyond disliking her body - and that Michelle did too.

CP/QF culture teaches that there are two steps to keeping men from having affairs.  The first step is for their wives to be sexually available all_the_time.  The second step is for wives to cling to their husbands like a limpet.  The final post in the series will look at Jill's tips for becoming a marriage mollusc.