Monday, May 30, 2016

A Mother's Declaration of Human Rights


Whereas females of the human species who have reproduced or who have otherwise assumed parentage over a juvenile (hereafter referred to as "mothers") continue to be human beings with inalienable rights after becoming mothers, despite any evidence to the contrary, such as the possible usage of a breast pump;

Whereas the legal requirements of motherhood include the feeding, clothing, housing, and basic cleanliness, health and safety of juveniles, in addition to their education, which can be outsourced to the state; and do not include the eradication of boredom, inconvenience, annoyance, or deprivation of sugar and/or plastic items from China;

Whereas able-bodied men who may be present and juveniles of sufficient age are able to perform any manner of duties to maintain the well-being and proper functioning of themselves and their households, to include the location of misplaced items, the cleaning of clothing, the acquisition and preparation of food, the disposal of refuse materials, and the tending to the necessary sanitation of involved body parts after defecation;

Whereas the health, safety, and happiness of juveniles is dependent upon their mothers' own health, safety, and happiness (sometimes referred to as the "If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy" axiom);

We, the often unwashed and unheard masses of mothers do declare these our Human Rights, which shall be respected by all other humans and can be invoked by mothers, with vocal protests and/or the refusal to perform services, at any time when they are perceived to be violated:

Article I
A mother has the right to feed her children any substance approved by mainstream medical professionals--a category that does not include random women in parks with no medical degrees peddling essential oils--free of judgment, ridicule, or interference, and can command other able-bodied adults in the vicinity to administer said substance at any time of the day or night.

Article II
A mother has the right, in the presence of other able-bodied adults, and especially a male who may be complicit in her predicament, to refuse to remove soiled diapers from her infant and to place upon him or her a clean diaper, therein,  or to otherwise perform functions involving bodily fluids of any kind, by virtue of the mother's service as the incubation and delivery vessel for said child, or simply because she does not wish to perform said function.

Article III
A mother has the right, assuming an infant or older juvenile is known to be in a secure location or not otherwise at risk, to employ auditory blocking devices or legal pharmaceuticals during sleep.

Article IV
A mother has the right to maintain a posture of relaxation when ordered into service by a juvenile of sufficient age and ability to tend to their own needs; or, in cases where the juvenile is not of sufficient age or ability but is in no immediate danger if deprived of such service.

Article V
A mother has the right to refuse service of any kind to or in the presence of her able-bodied male partner at any time and for any reason.

Article VI
A mother has the right to employ technology--to include televisions, Netflix, laptops, tablets, wii, playstation, and any number of electronic devices, both presently in existence or invented at any time in the future--at any time, without judgment, ridicule, or interference to maintain sufficient mental and/or physical health needed to meet her legal responsibilities.

Article VII
A mother has the right to tend to necessary bodily functions in privacy and without interference and to employ locking devices pursuant to this aim.

Article VII
A mother has the right to depart from areas and disengage from situations in which juveniles are employing methods of psychological torture but are otherwise in no immediate danger if left unattended; locking devices may be employed pursuant to this aim.

Article VIII
A mother has the right to partake of entire meals while seated and to refuse to participate in such meals intended to "celebrate" her but which include juveniles insistent upon human rights violations during said meal.

Article IX
A mother has the right to dispose of any item at any time that has been improperly deposited in her abode and/or whose value is not easily determined, to include scraps of paper; plastic items obtained from birthday parties and/or fast food restaurants; organic items such as sticks, dirt clods, and leaves; and play items that have not been employed in recent memory, if ever.

Article X
A mother has the right to refuse to assist with the entertainment of juveniles, to include instruction in cooking and gardening that might otherwise be efficiently accomplished in pleasant solitude; assistance with handicrafts, particularly those involving glitter, paint and other noxious substances; participation in games that involve sitting for long periods on floors, physical exertion of any kind, or elaborate, nonsensical rules, noncompliance with which is met with apoplexy; and the planning and execution of logistically complex outings, parties, or other activities that involve leaving the house.

Article XI
A mother has the right to avail herself of medicinal assistance, in moderation, to include chocolate, alcohol, spa treatments, antidepressants or other legally obtained psychiatric pharmaceuticals, in pursuit of baseline mental health.

Article XII
A mother has the right, free from judgment, ridicule, or interference, to maintain a position of employment, if she so chooses, and to arrive at her place of employment showered and wearing clean clothing, if she so chooses, or to have the fact of her dishevelment overlooked if she instead has prioritized sleep over personal hygiene.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men and women--including those women who have sacrificed their bodies, careers, and sanity for the sake of the continuation of the human race--are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these rights are Sleep, Peace, Sanity, and Private Toilet Use, the deprivation of which constitute gross violations that Mother-kind will probably allow but will be bitter and resentful about so please cooperate people!  Don't make us count to 3!!!!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Thoughts on Acne and Grace

A little departure from whining about motherhood today to reflect on two constants in my life: Acne and grace.  Unfortunately, I probably spend more time thinking about the former, and that tells you a lot about what is wrong with my life.  The grace part is less---wait for the awesome pun--in your face (ha! was that amazing or what!) so it's easier to lose sight of.  But nonetheless, as I hope my overall life demonstrates, grace undergirds it.

So the other day it occurred to me that my skin problems might offer a great metaphor for grace. But before we get to grace, I want to try to explain the Christian concept of sin, because people seem to misunderstand it (quite possibly because so many Christians are total jerks about it, more on that later).  The secular world thinks Christians are a huge kill joy in all their sin talk, telling folks they can't do this and that, which many of them often do.  In many folks' minds and in the way many Christians communicate it, the concept of sin basically becomes a big list of broken rules (usually perpetrated by those other than the people who harp on sin, endearing them to everyone who knows them).  In actuality, sin is simply the human condition of being imperfect that we all share in.  If it is CNN Breaking News to you that you are imperfect, then I really can't help you out, you are almost certainly a narcissist if not a sociopath (I'm talking to you, Donald Trump).  For the rest of us, is it really a newsflash that we are not perfect?  That we make mistakes? That we hurt others? That we do and say things we regret? That we need to apologize on occasion, if not frequently/every single day? That we can be selfish and petty and exclusive and jealous and just plain hateful?  I didn't think so.  Now, it may be hard to admit that to ourselves and others, and we may even hide it very well, and some of us may have a really really hard time apologizing for anything.  But in the quiet of our hearts, we know the real deal.  We fall short of the ideal we have for even ourselves.

So sin is like when I look in the mirror and clearly see right there on my face that I have pretty bad acne (which, just to be clear, is not a sin, I'm just trying to illustrate something here).  My skin is far from perfect, and quite frankly, I really can't stand that.  So I spend an inordinate amount of time and energy worrying about it, trying to get rid of it, trying to hide it.  Deep dark secret--I pick at it constantly just from the anxious need to feel I am DOING something about it.  Sometimes I succeed--maybe my pimples are not so numerous some days, and I can effectively cover them all up with make up.  And those days I might feel pretty good about myself.  But I know that lurking beneath all my products, those zits are still there, and I feel kind of...ugly.   I may even be hypercritical of others' imperfections to make me feel better about my own--noticing all those people out there with cankles since my nice slim ankles are one of my best features (and those who know me are DYING of laughter right now.  I'm being sarcastic.  I have the worst ankles the world has ever seen).  You may not be able to stand all the more clear-skinned people because you are so jealous.  Your acne not only makes you feel less-than, it builds walls between you and others.  So that's sin (and again, having acne--or cankles--is not a sin.  Unless you attend church in Hollywood or some kind of supermodel church.  Then, maybe so).

Then let's say one day you are due to meet the world's foremost authority on skin, some kind of super dermatologist crossed with a beauty critic/mogul/Oprah, someone who goes around judging skin and saying whether or not skin is acceptable or not.  You've slathered on all your make up and tried to get things looking OK so this person--and we're going to make her a SHE because it's my illustration so there--so she at least won't be repulsed by your skin.  You meet her, you chat, and then she takes out a  wet cloth and starts wiping all your make up off.  You are kind of freaked out (because, hello, that's just weird, a stranger wiping your face like that.  So is the idea of some kind of skin goddess, but again, let's go with the illustration, people!)  but you let her do it, and soon you are barefaced before her and you have to admit, yeah, I have terrible, acne-pocked skin.  And you wait for her to say, yuck, it is horrible and disgusting.  But instead she tells you your skin is beautiful, she loves your skin, and more importantly, YOU are beautiful and so much more than your skin anyway.  And she says it in a way that leads to to believe she is sincere, and you come to believe it in the depths of your soul.

You go home, you throw away every product you have piled up in your bathroom, and you feel liberated.  The acne is still there, and it may in fact remain a problem for your skin for the rest of your life, but you no longer feel you must deny and hide it, and you no longer feel obsessed with it, ruled by it, because you've come to believe in your skin's inherent beauty.   But because you are less anxious about it, you pick at your skin less, you worry about it less, and your acne actually does get better over time.  Now, you will have days, weeks, even longer periods where you forget what the skin expert said and you descend back into the abyss of acne-ridden self-hatred.  But hearing what the skin expert said and dwelling on that gives you a pathway out, gives you a way to know that you are not defined by your acne.  You can face the truth of its existence, but it loses its ability to make you feel ugly. And because you have made peace with your acne and have come to be free from its power to make you feel hideous, you are less threatened by the more clear-skinned people and less fixated on others' imperfections.  You can actually compliment people on their lovely skin and mean it.

And that is what grace can do.  When you get a glimpse of yourself as the divine sees you (and for Christians, that happens through the person of Christ), it is liberating.  But you can't get that perspective if you are caught up in the carefully constructed image of a falsely perfect self, and that goes for all the Christians out there who think they know they are sinners but never actually talk about how they are flawed, never apologize to anyone, never admit they are wrong about anything, and fixate on all of the horrific things other people are doing.  No matter who you are or think you are, you can't be free from your flaws and failings until you face them first.  And that is confession of sin.  See?  Not that painful! And hugely rewarding for everyone!

Here's where many Christians have sadly given confession a bad name, however, and I'll go back to my acne metaphor.  If acne is sin (and again, not really), many Christians fixate on what kind of acne we are talking about exactly.  They'll say, you know, cystic acne is really the problem with our skin.   We need to eradicate cystic acne, then everyone will be better off.  Of course, none of the people saying this have cystic acne.  They have tons and tons of blackheads, which they will rarely talk about, but no cystic acne.  But guess what, blackheads are still acne.  And meanwhile, not only are the blackhead people not dealing with their particular form of acne,  they have isolated themselves from all the cystic acne people, who think they are a bunch of delusional, mean people because it's obvious to everyone their faces are covered in blackheads.

So the bottom line is, we ALL have acne, people.  Not a truly clear-skinned one among us.  Even Gisele Bunchen has a breakout during her period (I'm guessing), but she just stays at home instead of being photographed in a bikini.  We all need to approach each other with massive amounts of compassion and empathy and to remind each other that the Great Dermatologist loves us all and thinks we are gorgeous.

And that is the end of a truly bizarre extended metaphor.  If anyone is confused, well, I don't blame you.  Much grace and peace to all.