Distinguished ‘experts’ have written all kinds of books telling us how bad we are. They describe, in graphic detail, all the things we do wrong; how we’re mean, selfish, sad, greedy, pathological, doomed failures. Some use humor in sarcastic attempts to help us laugh at our hurtful habits or choices we make that, in thier special opinions, are ruining the world. They might use science or religion to condemn our defaulted choices, usually from a platform of privilege, like having eye sight, money or being flawless, followed by attempts to guilt or shame us into making choices they deem as better. Turn vegan. Recycle. Be a badass. Find your purpose. Organize your sock drawer. Don’t take it personally, but take thier advice. And that might be the problem. Deep down maybe they feel just as worthless, frustrated, insecure and invisible as the rest of us. Has any of it ever been personal? 

I found a used book in a Florida bookstore 7 years ago called Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids. I’ve tried reading it but never fully understood whether or not the author was being serious. Every time I scan the pages it feels like I’m either in trouble or being tricked. I can’t imagine how parents must feel. As a child-free woman I’ve tended to view the whole soup to nuts process as a strangely cosmic insult. You get pregnant. Your body is taken over by a foreign host for 9 months. Then you spend 18 years posting rude memes about what a jerk and a burden your kids are until they leave and you talk about how much you miss them. It’s very confusing. I can’t parallel park so I decided I should definitely skip parenting. Pregnancy appears to make you nauseous, emotional, subject to public groping and unsolicited opinions about what you should or shouldn’t eat, what you can or can’t do. Don’t lift that. Don’t buy that car seat. You should breast feed. You should take vitamins. You shouldn’t gain too much weight. Poor people shouldn’t breed. You shouldn’t run. You shouldn’t work. You should work out. You shouldn’t have had a kid with that guy. Was it really wise to have a baby now? Oh babies are so cute! When are you going to give me some grandchildren? Again, I’m just a kidless outsider, half of whom was more or less a whoops. It seems like we drool out thoughtless hopes and fears from deep within our own unmet needs, worries or mistakes. I once went to a baby shower where the mother-to-be ashed into a gift bag while opening her presents. Another woman I knew spent years paying for expensive, painful injections so she could get pregnant. Two week after her twins were born I saw her out shopping without the babies, wearing a black, bedazzled  baseball cap that said: It’s all about me. If there’s no fear in perfect love, where’s the love hiding? 

Tonight we tried watching the new Ricky Gervais Netflix special; Humanity. It’s Ricky Gervais making fun of everyone, except we didn’t laugh. So we turned on Family Guy and watched a couple episodes; one was about retrieving a hidden porn  stash and the other was about a brutish ant-bully who beats up her relatives. Oh. The Netflix teaser said Ricky was going to poke fun at how we take things too personally. Celebrities and dogs make convenient targets, apparently. I don’t know any celebrities but my dog has feelings. Before settling into disappointment I told my husband we probably take things personally because maybe, nothing has ever been personal and asking did I do that? is our desperate attempt to experience connection with the world. We might assume something terrible is our fault, like global warming or the sickness of a loved one, or whether something is the result of how great we are, like the success of an idea at work or the amazing achievement of a friend, proving we aren’t as useless as we might’ve been led to believe. My carbon footprint was smaller today since I stayed home trying not to break the earth with my existence again. Am I the only one who feels like a moral failure for breathing? We either over-give or over-take from our selves and each other in an attempt to make up for five minutes of uninterrupted, no strings attached, straight up love from the beings who brought us into the world, which we didn’t get because of iPhones, marginalization, unlivable wages, laundry or parental Pandora’s Boxes. I’m going to out-parent my crappy parents and you child, shall be my science project. Awesome. Feep. Feep. (that’s the sound a guinnea pig makes.) There are about 6 people on the planet who’ve received the gift ‘perfect’ parents. They’re nice in the same way vanilla ice cream is nice. I’m guessing half of them are related to Social Norm. The rest of us are clamoring for worth by taking those pathetic Facebook quizzes that morph our faces into airbrushed, pseudo-super models or destroying our selves into living expressions of abstract pain through addictions to drugs, achievement, martyrdom or non-profits. It’s all basically the same thing. Look how devoted I am! Look how fat, skinny, rich, poor, kind, mean, fantastical, different, vintage, terrified, burdened, alive with pleasure I am! Alive with Pleasure is a slogan for cigarettes. It might be the best oxy moron ever.

At some point, if we hope to arrive at peace, it’s got to become personal. We have turn to ourselves and say Hey messy brother and sister, I see you. I see YOU. Not the you your parents accidentally or intentionally hoped for, but the real you who  showed up in the world. You’re a unique, divine, silly, complex, wondrously flawed and delightful living being. It’s so great that you’re here. Could you chew quieter and maybe be nice to all the people who aren’t you? Thanks. Great. Love you.

Can we dare to give and take life personally? Just curious. 

This makes for harmony, that we all care for each other- Corinthians

 I knew you before you were born.-Jeremiah 

15 thoughts on “Nothing Personal

  1. Where to begin. I don’t know if there is such a thing as the perfect parent. All the kids I thought had perfect parents, when I sat down , and talked to them, they wished they had my parents. Then I was scared of them because who would want my parents hahaha. It’s all perspective, and as you put it, it should be personal. The jabs, the sarcasm, which I am guilty of as well(sarcasm that is), but I mean the “mean” sarcasm. If I make it a joke, well then, it’s not hurtful, it’s funny. Who thought up that load of horse crap? If it’s hurtful, it’s hurtful. I don’t care how many laugh tracks you get from it. Somewhere along the way, we lost, if we ever had it in the first place, the ability to love each other. To see others, and say, hey not my cup of tea but then again I don’t like tea, I’m a coffee gal. so that’s not their fault. Doesn’t mean I will judge, jab, make fun of them. I should still give them the love I want to be given. Our society has become one where it’s ok to humiliate your children, parents, spouses, etc. I see shows where the kids are the parents, where the husbands are the weak, ignorant, scared of their wife creatures, and where women, especially wives, are these domineering, demanding, selfish beings. Telling a lie to your spouse is not only accepted but expected. Tormenting your kids, is the same. Parents are stupid, and will believe any ridiculous excuse. Making fools out of each other, and getting the upper hand, is the new normal. Seriously, the list goes on. I could sit here all day and point out the things that we see, hear, and are told that it’s “ok” all day long. What I want to know is where is the love? Where is the respect? Where is the compassion? Where is the putting someone else first, helping out our neighbour, taking care of someone who needs care. Reaching out to someone in need, and not making them the butt of our next punchline? I hope this doesn’t come off as a rant but with the pure curiosity that is intended. As always E, you get me thinking :):):)

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    • Margaret let’s do a choreographed dance to Where is Love. I think it would really help! 🙂 Your curiosity is always welcomed and you ask great questions. I personally think you highlighted some reasons, like media messaging, why we’re seeing a rise in cruelty and detachment as opposed to compassion and care. If each us, as you just did, could pause and notice what we’re doing and then make the conscious choice to do something differently those little moments of awareness and change could add up to big shifts. You’re right there’s no such thing as a perfect parent. But I don’t think there’s a rule that says love has to be perfect? Patient, kind, forgiving, not prideful, doesn’t fight over dishes (we have the Message version on a chalkboard right over the dishwasher haha)…also I love my parents. I think sometimes we have to be the one to go first, to love first to show others how it could be, sort of like testing a rope bridge over a ravine. In which case I’d probably make you go first because I am a chicken and afraid of heights, but I’d be very supportive and encourage your bravery 🙂 ! Look, now you made me think. Haha.

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      • hahaha we might have to get one of the hubbies to do that rope bridge, as I am scared of heights too. I got stuck on a swinging bridge in the mountains once. God sent me an angel who walked up behind me, pressed up against me, like a second skin, and whispered in my ear, “I am here, you are fine, we will move one foot back and then another.” We did, and I was so grateful :):):) The rest of my party had took off, and I was alone, or so I thought :):) I would love to see that shift. I feel, if everyone would think, would I like this to be done to me, said about me, how would this make me feel if it was me BEFORE we did things, it might be possible. I guess I want to believe that everyone/everything isn’t as cruel as it seems. Maybe it is the detachment of it all that is causing the rise or maybe it is just making it more public for all to see, and therefore we are more aware of it happening. I’d like to think that there is more good than bad. That people don’t want to be cruel, that we would all much rather give and receive love, caring, and appreciation.

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      • I love your angel story, like a deep breath knowing we’re not alone. I feel similarly when I see lone feathers 🙂 I do believe there’s more good than bad in the world and it’s simply a matter of tuning into the good each day which is not always easy with how quickly western societies are expected to move and how much we’re expected to produce. Less is more, yea? Hopeful for positive shifts to come and believing that Love wins. ❤️

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  2. Don’t lift that. Don’t buy that car seat. You should breast feed. You should take vitamins…

    Oh, if I had a dollar for every bit of unsolicited parenting advice; I could afford 15 kids. o_O

    There are about 6 people on the planet who’ve received the gift of healthy parenting. They’re nice in the same way vanilla ice cream is nice.

    I suppose that depends on what you mean by ‘healthy parenting’. Both of mine have their own flaws and complexities, but they’re awesome all the same. They can be nice, when they want to. Dad more so than mother dearest, mostly because he has better things to do than waste energy on nastiness.
    “Healthy” for me was parents saying “life isn’t fair, but we got your back.” It was “We’re just muddling through like everyone else, welcome to the human race.” It was learning that they made mistakes, and still saddled up and carried on. Forgiving, on all sides, when stuff went wrong. Because even the best pack has internal troubles, but when things get rough you stick together.
    It’s not always nice – it can be pretty turbulent. But it’s normal. Healthy. Because the world isn’t nice, though it can be.

    I see you. I see YOU. Not the you your parents accidentally or intentionally hoped for, but the real you who showed up in the world.

    There’s your healthy parenting tip 😉
    Sure, I had vague hopes and ideas when my girls were born. But it’s a lot more fun discovering who they are, how their personalities develop, what paths they walk if left to choose. One goes boldly and requires mother to have a well stocked first aid kit. One needs more reassurance, and an occasional nudge to peek outside the nest. One is a brilliant thinker and scientist, the other a bottomless well of empathy and emotional intelligence. Not to mention an animal whisperer. I hadn’t planned any of that. I hadn’t anticipated it, either. Caught me, left field. Delightfully so.

    Personally? (pun intended)
    They’re both far more interesting and awesome than my vague ideas.

    Can we dare to give and take life personally? Just curious.

    That’d be a “Yes!” from me.

    Great post, very thought provoking! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Shiarrael. Thanks for your thoughtful comment. After reading it I de used to change ‘healthy’ parenting to perfect parenting since that’s the big myth and likely impossible. Last time I checked babies don’t come with a manual. 🙂 All parents, just as all people have flaws, complexities and awesomeness, just as you said. I completely agree. Your parents sound like down to earth people. Isn’t it great when we can make mistakes and forgive each other? I think that’s how we discover real love and authenticity in our relationships. Sure, the goal is not to intentionally hurt each other but room for honest mistakes feels human. Perfect is an image in a magazine or movie character.
      My hats off to all parents. I think it’s the hardest job there. Your girls sound totally unique and wonderful. Isn’t it amazing how we can be part of the same family and yet be so different?
      Thanks again for sharing your thoughts and a yes for celebrating our differences.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I can definitely connect to the “childless outsider” feeling and the unsolicited questions I get. “When are you going to have kids? You know you’re not getting any younger… oh you just HAVE to have kids… You know what would fix some of your hormone problems? Getting pregnant…” Then they give you the mixed messages – “If you can’t handle your two cats fighting how could you ever handle kids?” And then they wonder why I’m shy about kids!

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  4. Your words resonate once again. I hear you and totally get where you’re coming from. Despite my decision as a child to never marry or have children (because of what my examples were), I did marry and have a son. That was a miracle since I was told I wouldn’t be able to conceive. All the advice and suggestions people so willingly placed on me were comical since I rarely saw evidence in their lives that proved they had it all together. My belief is that more than half the time people speak without thinking. They repeat what has been said to them. None of us have it all together, only maybe sometimes, it appears that way. As far as receiving the beatdown from society, my only solution for myself is to start with me. We are women so we often over think and somehow feel responsible and/or guilty for all of the problems in the world. You are allowed to think, feel, say or do what you deem necessary. You do you. Wear a smile and be confident in your decisions and tell the naysayers to go back to their cave. Your wisdom is getting you through, along with your faith. Thank you for sharing. I always enjoy reading your blog. 🌞

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maura thank you for sharing this thoughtful response. It’s funny, this post in particular has stirred a few good conversations yet ever since I posted it wondered if it was too harsh or didn’t convey enough love and understanding. I think you said it best, none of us have it all together and the solution is to start with ourselves. We’re guaranteed to make mistakes as part of the human experience and yet I think ‘mistakes’, if we can even call them that, are how we learn and grow. We fail forward, together. Hopefully the next generation will see greater kindness towards women especially, but people in general; a better world for your son. Yes? Thanks again.

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