Thursday, October 21, 2010

Terrible, Terrible, Terrible

My baby turned 2 today. This breaks my heart a little, since she’s my last baby. My last little 2 year old.

That said, let me just add that Atleigh is the two-est 2 year old I’ve ever owned. Allow me to brag a little, if you please. My two oldest, while not exactly angelic, were pretty close, as 2 year olds go. For instance: I’ve never had to baby proof my house. That’s right. Never. I’m actually a firm believer in NON baby proofing. I think if you cover up and lock everything, it’s only going to make the child more prone to mess with whatever it is you’ve covered and/or locked. Neither Ashton nor Chloe ever tried to stick pennies in light sockets, play with cleaning products, strangle themselves in blinds, or bathe in the toilet. They never climbed on tables, colored on walls, unraveled toilet paper, threw World War 3 tantrums, or anything else that a standard 2 year old seems to do. If they ever did do something in that field, it only took once or twice before they learned not to. I suppose I was spoiled. I didn’t know any better. That’s just the way it was.

Whatever it was, outstanding parenting, angelic genius children, or sheer luck, it’s been more than repaid now. My day of reckoning has come. To say that Atleigh eclipses both of her siblings in the “Terrible Twos” category is a gross understatement. I don’t even know what to do with her. I’m bewildered. Not only has she accomplished all of the above examples of utmost Twodom, she has upped the ante and proved that 2 year olds the world over could be capable of so, so much more.
She has flushed Chloe’s socks down the toilet, gotten into my makeup drawer and used my concealer stick to color her entire body- her ENTIRE BODY- green, and emptied a whole bottle of baby shampoo onto her hair and tried to “wash” herself. She rips pages out of books. She colors on the walls, the furniture, and the appliances with red (why does it always have to be red?) marker and/or crayon. She climbs up onto the kitchen table to look in the snack box. One time she found a pack of mint gum in there and had taken bites out of every single piece of gum. With the wrappers still on. Then she spit the bites out all over the counter. I guess she doesn’t like mint. She has crammed DVD’s into Jeremy’s PS3 twice- TWICE!!!- and he’s had to take the thing completely apart to get them all out (thank God YouTube has a video for everything). She’s the only one of my children who has learned to wrangle her way out of her car seat straps while I’m driving.

Even just now, as I’m typing this, she came and sat on the kitchen floor with a pen and the book I’ve been reading. I said, “Atleigh, give that to Mommy please.” She tries to hand me the pen. I said, “No, Atleigh, the book. Let me have the book, please.” She stands up, takes 2 steps toward me with the book outstretched, then sits back down on the floor, and throws it to me instead. “Here ya goooo!” Why? You were already halfway to me! Just HAND me the book!!

And the tantrums! Don’t even get me started on the tantrums! I’ve never had to apologize to the general public over my child’s behavior! I’ve never had to bribe a child in the store with cookies or crackers just to get her to shut up. It’s not for my sake, or for hers. It’s just so she’ll SHUT. UP. It’s for everyone else’s sake. I know how annoying it is to listen to a baby scream through a whole grocery store.

I’ve called my mother in tears, wondering what is wrong with her. Does she have a learning disability? Is she a sociopath? Is she demon possessed? Every time, my mother’s answer has been: “No. She’s just two.”

With all this said, I’ve decided there’s an easier way to handle this situation. I’ve decided it’s time for me to stop making excuses to strangers, offering up an apologetic “I’m sorry. She’s two.” I’ve decided it’s time to let Atleigh speak for herself.

I'm thinking of ironing this onto every single piece of clothing she owns. Maybe I’ll market it to mothers of 2 year olds. Here are some variations on my idea:






And then I’m going to make a t-shirt for myself. And make myself wear it everyday as a reminder that I’m not a failure, and I’m not crazy:


(All slogans, concepts, and ideas were created by and are property of Mary Smoot.)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pondering Passion

I’ve been pondering a lot lately about what my passions are. Believe it or not, this is something I ordinarily do; I suppose I have identity crises frequently. This week, it seems I’ve upped my dose of narcissism, probably due in part to the fact that the subject at my women’s Bible group this week was passion. We were each given a work sheet of sorts, with columns to write down our interests, our abilities, possible points of intersection, and possible hindrances to whatever we came up with.

Well, the interests part was easy: writing, photography, music, plays/musicals, being a millionaire.
The abilities were similar: writing, photography, singing, spending money.
So my point of intersection is obvious, right? Write and star in a musical about photography and make a million dollars. Done and DONE!

After I had a good giggle over that, I got serious. I looked at my paper and sighed. The interests and abilities were about the same, but the intersection was gone. The truth is, it’s hard to make things intersect when your life is constantly going in a million different directions. The worst part of it is, it feels like it’s going in different directions, but heading nowhere. Like those paths in Alice in Wonderland. I realized I’ve never really had an acknowledged “passion”. There are things I’ve been interested it, things I’ve been passionate FOR, but nothing that really defines me.

Now, take my husband (...please! Ba da bing!) : there’s a man who wears his passion on his sleeve. Anyone who spends more than five minutes talking to him will know, Jeremy has a passion for music, and ministry through music. He has a passion for his band, and for reaching people through that medium. Not just that though. It’s so much more. The ideas that man has blow my mind. Written down on dry paper, they seem like impossible pipe dreams. But when you’re with him, and you hear him talk about them, you’re suddenly convinced that they’re possible, and not just possible, but probable. I think that’s what true passion does to others around you. But another meaning for passion is suffering. Jeremy’s done that, too. He’s suffered for his passion. He’s lain awake at nights, tossing and turning, calling himself crazy for wanting - no, not wanting- needing to make something of himself. He’s gotten angry, he’s cried, he’s begged God to give him something else to work with. But for that to happen, Jeremy would have to become a completely different person. His passion defines him. It IS him.

So I got to thinking.... what defines me? What makes me tick? Again, the interests and abilities came up: I love writing, so I write. I love photography, so I take pictures. Thankfully I have plenty of kids to take pictures of. I love singing, so I sing..... in my car (I’m working on the singing in front of people again thing). Then I got to the hindrances section. Easy. Kids, family, lack of time, lack of money, lack of confidence. Lack of “intersection”.

But then I thought: What if I could be passionate for my kids? What if I could be passionate for my husband, for my family and my friends, for the craziness that is my life? Why do I have to “discover” a passion? Can’t I just be passionate for what I have now, and who I am, right now?

There is plenty of time to discover passions, to “discover myself”. I know what I love doing, what brings me joy, and those things aren’t going to fade with time.

I don’t need to discover a passion. I just need to be passionate.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Kiss And Tell

Author’s Disclaimer: This blog contains statements and opinions that may be offensive to some readers. The author takes no responsibility for offended feelings. ;)

I’m a person of many pet peeves. Big surprise, right? I’m also a planner and a thinker. So I’ve thought about this blog for awhile before I decided to post it. I can always tell when an idea is going to stick and force itself to be written about. It starts as a thought, then balloons into an opinion, then sentences and paragraphs start to form inside my head. Sometimes, as in this case, I try to push it aside, but it refuses to be pushed. So I’ve decided maybe I just need to get it out of my system.

As I said, I have a lot of pet peeves. Some are stupid, like people who don’t put the toilet paper in the right way. In case you’re curious, over is the right way. And some are serious, like people who refuse to put their kids in car seats. This one has been niggling at the back of my brain for weeks.

In my opinion, a relationship with God is like a marriage. Actually, it’s not just my opinion, it’s Biblical (Eph. 5: 22-33). Marriage is a beautiful thing; it’s a public testimony of a personal commitment. There are some parts of my marriage that I have no problem making public: When my husband does special things for me, like cooking dinner, unloading the dishwasher, finally painting the bathroom vanity drawers after we’ve lived in the house three years (This was just last week!!!). But there are parts of my marriage, intimate parts, that I don’t share. There’s a reason for that. It’s personal. It’s private. It’s meant just for he and I to share.

So, in keeping with the marriage/God parallel, there are parts of our relationship with God that I think are meant to be public, and parts that are meant to be private. If God is speaking something special to me, I don’t go shout it from the rooftops, or a social forum, or whatever. That’s like me posting on Facebook or Twitter, “I HAD THE MOST AMAZING SEX LAST NIGHT!!!” It’s not something that everyone needs to know. It’s private. And intimate. It’s like kissing and telling.

I don’t feel the need to frequently tell myself (or the public): “I trust Jeremy. I know he’s not going to cheat on me today. He’s proved himself faithful to me.” People know he’s proved himself faithful by evidence of our relationship. People know I’m married to him by evidence of our relationship. They don’t need to be reminded, and they don’t need proof.

I’ve heard a lot of people lately, saying that God has told them this, or God has shown them that. I don’t dispute their claims. I know God speaks to people. And I’m not saying that it’s wrong to publicize our relationship with God. That would be completely opposite of one of the key points of Christianity.

I know I risk offending people by posting this, and I hope no one feels singled out by me. But here's my opinion:

Luke 18:9-14

[9] To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: [10] "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. [11] The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men -- robbers, evildoers, adulterers -- or even like this tax collector. [12] I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'

[13] "But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'

[14] "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

Here’s my point: Be quiet. Be intimate. And don’t kiss and tell.