Dec 032010
 


So.

I’m at Target yesterday with Tish and Amma. We’ve made it through the shopping part and we’re in the check- out line. I can see the Promised Land, which is: We’re Done Shopping, Let’s Go Back Home.

I watch Amma notice a pack of gummi worms. Her eyes widen. I brace for chaos. She grabs the worms, shows them to me with tears already in her eyes and says, “I need dese worms!” I say, “Uh-huh. That’s the curse of Target. It makes me think I need all this junk, too. The Target curse is why you’re not going to college, baby. No gummi worms. Put them down.”

Now. You know I try my hardest to describe my ridiculous little life to you. But there is no way to convey to you the drama that crashed down on poor unsuspecting Target immediately following the word “No.”

Amma threw herself down on the filthy Target floor and screamed like a person who maybe just found out that her entire family had died. Amma’s particular tantrum style is that she chooses one phrase to repeat seven million times at seven million decibels until everyone around her seriously considers homicide or suicide. Yesterday she chose, “I SO HUNGWY! I SO FIRSTY! (SKULL SPLITTING SCREAM.) I SO HUNGWY ! I SO FIRSTY! (SKULL SPLITTING SCREAM.”)

This was a long, crowded line. And every time the line scootched up I had to grab Amma’s hood and drag her forward a few feet while she kicked and screamed, like I do with my luggage in the security lines at the airport. And then Tish started crying because it was all so ridiculous. And so I gritted my teeth and made my scariest face at Tish and growled STOP at her like some kind of movie monster, and this sort of thing does not tend to calm a child down. So she cried harder. People started moving away from us and shoppers were actually stopping by our aisle to stare. I was sweating like I was in a sauna, and wishing the “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” song that was on replay would just end. With the kids jinglebelling and everyone telling you, be of good cheer!Riiiight. My experience exactly.

Up until this point, I kept my head down, but it seemed time to offer my best beleaguered, apologetic, what are you gonna do? looks to the other shoppers, in hopes of receiving some sympathetic looks in return.

But here’s the thing. When I finally looked up, I realized with mounting discomfort that there weren’t gonna be any sympathetic looks. Everyone was staring at me. Every. One. One elderly couple looked so disturbed that the grandmother had her hand over her mouth and was holding tight to her husband’s arm. At first it appeared to be an effort to shield herself from my rabid animals. And I thought, I hear ya lady, they scare me, too. But then I realized that she wasn’t looking disapprovingly at them, she was looking disapprovingly at me.I locked eyes with her and without subtlety, she looked down at my clothes, then to my cart, and then away.

So I did the same thing. Down at myself, then to the cart. Oooooooohhhh, I thought. Shoot.

My stupid Lyme is back, and I’ve been sick for a little while now. Yesterday was a bad Lymie day, and so was Wednesday, so I may have forgotten to shower or brush my hair. For 48 hours. And also, when I looked down I noticed that I still had on my pajama top. Which apparently I had tucked in to my ripped jeans. Like seventh grade. I looked bad. Not like a little bad, like offensively, aggressively bad.And also, here is what was in my cart: 6 large bottles of wine and curtain rods. Which wouldn’t have been so bad if my smallest child would have stopped screaming: “I SO HUNGWY, I SO FIRSTY!”

And since I was so tired and in such a state of self pity – I couldn’t even bring myself to feign sympathy towards my starving, parched child on the floor. Because I wasn’t sympathetic, not even a little bit. I definitely remembered feeding her the previous day. Faker.

But based on all of these things, I decided to forgive the frowny, judgmental lady. I had really left her no other choice.

I resigned myself to suffer through. I stopped trying to help the girls at all. Just left Amma there on the floor screaming and Tish beside her crying and prayed the line would move faster. I am sure there were a lot of people praying that the line would move faster.


All of a sudden, a uniformed police officer started walking toward us. At first I was alarmed and defensive. But he stopped in front of me and smiled warmly and winked at me.

He looked down at the girls and said, “May I?”

I was not sure what he was asking exactly, but I allowed myself to hope that maybe he had a paddy wagon and was planning to take them away. And so I nodded at him.

The police officer patted Amma on the head gently. She looked up at him and stopped mid-scream. She stood up. Tish fell silent and grabbed Amma’s hand. All of a sudden they became a pair of grubby little soldiers. At attention, eyes shining, terrified.

The police officer said, “Hello girls. Have you two ever heard of “disturbing the peace?”

They shook their little heads no.

He smiled and continued, “Well, that means that your mama and all of these people are trying to shop in peace, and you are disturbing them, and you’re not allowed to. Can you try to be more peaceful?”

They nodded their little heads yes.


The officer stood back up and smiled at me. I tried really hard to smile back to show my gratitude.

I noticed that the girls grabbed each other in a bear hug and held on for dear life. It appeared they had lived to die another day.


He said, “Being a parent. It’s a tough gig sometimes.”

For some reason, I became desperate to be perceived by him as something other than a struggling mom, so I blurted out, “I’m also a writer.”

He looked genuinely interested and said, “Really? What do you write”

“Lots of things. Mostly a blog.”

“What’s it about?”

“Parenting, I guess.”

His eyes twinkled and he grinned and said teasingly, “Oh. Does anybody read it?”

And I said, “A few. Mostly for laughs, though. Not for . . . well, advice. Obviously.”

I miraculously found the energy and ability and space and breath to giggle.

And my officer smiled and said the following:


“You know, my wife and I raised six kids, and I think that’s actually the only parenting advice worth a damn. Just try to keep laughing. Try to keep laughing. It’s good advice.You’re doing good, mom.”


Then he tipped his hat to me and my girls, and walked away.


In the end, only kindness matters. Thank you, Officer Superhero. Merry Christmas.


The girls were silent until half way home from Target when Tish announced loudly, “I can’t believe we almost went to jail.We better not tell daddy.”

And I said, “No way. We have to tell him. What if we don’t and then he sees the report on the news tonight?”


More silence.


Joy to the World.



Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
Join the Momastery on-line community on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest


Dec 022010
 


Our new blog friend, Izzi, recently said that all the cruelty and judging done in God’s name had led her to become a humanist, and she asked me to write about how I remained faithful knowing how ugly the faith world can be.

Her questions reminded me of a much gentler version of this email I received last year:


G,

I’ve been reading your blog for several months. I like you. You’re smart, really smart. But you believe in Jesus and heaven and the bible. I guess I’ve always assumed that being smart and faithful were mutually exclusive. Do you believe in the Easter Bunny, too, G? It’s fine if you do, just please explain. Brain exploding.


No, No, No. I was not offended by this email. I think maybe we all get offended a bit too easily. It’s like we’re excited to get offended, we are just waiting to get offended. It’s a little dramatic of us.

You know, I think if we people of faith want to be taken seriously, we might need to gain a collective thicker skin and better sense of humor.


Let’s practice.


Hank from King of the Hill:


Those Christian rockers. They’re not making Jesus cooler. They’re just making rock and roll suckier.


For the record, I listen to Christian rock all the time. But that’s some good stuff there, Hank.


Izzi wrote this in her comment:


So, after a few years of being rejected by the faith I had chosen, I started to give up on it all. I live overseas, and I’m surrounded everyday by violence done in God’s name. There is very little kindness in religion that I have been able to see and trust me, I’ve been looking . I miss the community and I miss that peace that came from believing in a greater purpose, but I’ve finally decided to accept living as a humanist – that there is a right and a wrong, and it’s up to us to see that our world gets better, not because there is a God, but just because it’s the right thing to do. I would like to know, because I admire the strength of your faith and I celebrate your life choices, what keeps your faith strong? What do you say to all those who have actively rejected faith? And please, if there is a God, what is going to happen to all those little babies in Saskatchewan and Timbuktoo who have never heard of religion?



Dearest Izzi,

When I got your questions, I almost responded by sending you this post. But after rereading your comment twelve times, I realized that you were requesting the whole TRUTH.

Now, that post is my Truth. But I have discovered over the years that when it comes to what I believe and say, there are several different layers of the Truth. And it usually takes a lot of thinking and time and humility to get from the truth all the way down to the TRUTH. It usually works like this, Izzi:


truth: GOD, Craig, I can’t stand her. She is so damn competitive. I’m done with her, I swear. DONE.


Truth: Um, maybe I’m too competitive to be comfortable around her. She won’t let me win.


TRUTH: Kay. I’ve forgotten, again, that I’m okay. I’m doing that thing I do. Instead of looking at this woman like the work of art she is, with her own colors and depth and style, I’m using her as a mirror on the wall. When I look at her, I’m not really looking at her at all. I’m looking back at myself, and using her to examine all my fears and flaws. I’m using her. How rude. She’s a masterpiece, not a mirror. Masterpiece, not a mirror. Masterpiece, not a mirror.


Kind of like that, Izzi. So while that faith post was True, I think I can get even Truer with you about my faith. About why I’ve bet it all on this God thing. We’ll start on Monday. I’d like to talk to you about all the violence and judging done for God, Izzi. It’s time.

Love you, Izzi, you Masterpiece, you.



Love, G



Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
Join the Momastery on-line community on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest


Nov 242010
 


So, the problem is that I don’t know how to begin.

I’m just . . . I don’t even know what I am.

I’m sitting here alone in my chilly kitchen this morning. It’s dark and quiet and all I hear is the sound of the coffee machine bubbling behind me. Hurry up, coffee.

Every so often I also hear the stairs creak and I pray it’s not one of the kids. Not yet, not yet! I’ m not ready. I need some time to talk to my Monkees.

I’m tired. We three (Chase, Andrea and I) were up late into the night counting bids and crying and celebrating.

The auction was a success beyond what we’d allowed ourselves to imagine. When all is said and done, we will have raised close to $4000 for our friends, Evy and Rocky. Crazy, right? Crazy love.

But we all know it’s not about the money. For me, it’s not even really about Evy and Rocky. Those girls are gonna be all right . . . I know it. For me, it was about Jill and Tova. It was about taking care of mamas. About proving to them that people will show up. It was about creating balance. When something awful happens, so will something wonderful. Keep watching. It was about being Sisters. And Brothers. That’s what it’s always about here.


Six months ago, I got some world shattering, faith shaking news from a friend. And I was in my car at a stop light and I was crying and I was really, really angry at God and the whole world. And in my head, I spat at God, “What the hell?? Is this the deal down here, then? Does love even really win? EVER?”

And I am telling you that I sensed Him answering: “I don’t know, G. Does it?”


And so today, I can finally answer Him.

Yeah. It does.

Yes. It does.

Love wins.

On Earth as it is in Heaven.


Listen, I’m just a mess this morning. When I first got to the computer, I was okay. I had a writing plan. But then I opened up an email from a new Monkee who loves us and whom you will love that was so honest and beautiful that it knocked the wind out of me.

She closed with this:

There is a song by Bebo Norman, called “Borrow Mine.” It is a song he wrote about a conversation heard between two friends; one, who was going through deep personal troubles, told the other, “I just don’t know if I have faith anymore.” The other fried replied by saying, “Then, you can borrow mine. I’ll have enough faith for both of us.”


I know.


My favorite part is that the friend didn’t say, “I have enough for both of us.” He said “I’ll have enough for both of us.” Because love is an act of will, isn’t it? It’s a choice. Always a choice. Love is a stubborn, willful act of hope. Loving is saying I believe. And the only thing that matters is faith expressing itself as love. Nothing else. Absolutely nothing else.

Here, we are making the choice to believe and behave like We Belong To Each Other. We believe that Love Wins. We believe that at any given point in time, some of us will have enough faith in that to carry the others through. We have decided. That’s what God meant, I think, when he said, “I don’t know G, is it?”


He meant: “It’s really up to you, honey. What do you think? And what will you do about it?”


It was up to us to take care of Tova and Jill this week. And we did it. With our art and our money and our enthusiasm and our time and tears and keyboards and prayers, we loved them. We had enough faith for each other.


You listen to me. Don’t be afraid. You can rest and relax. Just breathe. Because if you lose your faith, we’ll have enough for both of us. We will carry you through. You belong to us. It’s True.


This thanksgiving, I am so, very, incredibly thankful that Love Wins. And I am so thankful that we are helping each other prove it.


A million blessings to the Whole Monkee Family, immediate and extended. When I take my first bite of thanksgiving dinner, (which obviously I will have had zero part in preparing) I am going to think of you, and of us, and of all the Monkee Miracles.

Love, Love, Love forever.


G



PS. Please head over the auction page, when you get a chance, to check out the results and next steps.



Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
Join the Momastery on-line community on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest