Why Have You Forsaken Me?

My husband was so kind today as to take the brunt of toddler wrangling today in church. Palm Sunday is powerful – dare I say it, even more powerful than Easter to me.

Look, I’m far from immaculate. I can’t say that I’m truly present for even half of what I’d like to be in my faith. I’m horribly insecure that others are judging me, and I frequently question if it’s all a load of bullocks. In short, I guess I sympathize with Peter. But the Passion. Oh, the passion.

“When the world shook and the sun was wiped out of heaven, it was not at the crucifixion, but at the cry from the cross: the cry which confessed that God was forsaken of God. And now let the revolutionists choose a creed from all the creeds and a god from all the gods of the world, carefully weighing all the gods of inevitable recurrence and of unalterable power. They will not find another god who has himself been in revolt. Nay, (the matter grows too difficult for human speech,) but let the atheists themselves choose a god. They will find only one divinity who ever uttered their isolation; only one religion in which God seemed for an instant to be an atheist.”

Chesterton is of course referring to Jesus’ final plea on the cross, “Eli, Eli,  Sabachthani?” Translated to “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

Naturally, out of this arises a lot of philosophical questions. If God is omniscient, and Jesus is God, well then why did he feel forsaken? Didn’t he know what was in store for him? Did he know that he would be resurrected? Nay. This matter certainly grows too difficult for human speech.

The passion is beautiful and formidable storytelling. But it’s consoling for me to think that God would know intimately my every struggle, including my constant wrestling with the faith. That nothing is too uncharted. Maybe he knew what my struggles would be long before I did.

When I first “reverted” to Catholicism, I wanted answers. And fast. I wanted to know my every comeback for every query. And then I needed a counter argument for the counter reaction to my original comeback. This was tiring, and frankly, vain. My relationship with Catholicism is much more intimate now. It’s far less about negotiation and more about my inner grappling with the need to have a spiritual life. I stopped focusing so much on looking for answers and instead put my energy in existing. And existing as best as I could. But really, in short, what I have with my faith is a love affair.  It’s hard and tiring and exacting but it’s too beautiful and fulfilling to ever leave. Kind of like parenthood.

Every now and then, I muse about leaving the church. The usual. This is dumb. Nobody does this anymore. The faith asks too much of me. Being open to life is really hard and I’m tired of everyone else looking at me like I’m crazy. And what about those abuse scandals? Yea, I said it. I’m really not okay with that. It makes my stomach fasten into a knot, and I kind of want to puke when I think of it.

There are a plethora of philosophical misgivings I have about the idea of God. But I guess I feel like at the end of the day, I shouldn’t put too many eggs in the basket of my own logic. If there is a God, do I really think I know more than him?

My child disobeys me and we, too, disobey God. Can you blame us? We’re just exploring and confused and growing. Thank goodness for that forgiveness thing. My toddler thinks she knows what’s best for her, but I know her logic doesn’t necessarily have her best interest in mind.

I’ll probably never truly leave the Catholic Church. I mean never say never, but probably never. The Eucharist and the stories of the saints and the mass and the traditions mean way too much to me. It gives me too much life. I’m so far from nihilism, I don’t think I have it in me to withdraw from moral law. And while I stomp my feet (a lot) about the things I don’t like about being Catholic, I can rest assured that my creator, too, didn’t like it all that much at times either.

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A Reflection Approaching 1 Year of Motherhood

 
 I suck at gentle parenting. Attachment Parenting. Compassionate parenting, Positive Discipline, Empathetic Guidance, RIE. Whatever you want to call it – I suck at it. It does not come naturally for me and I spend more time beating myself up about how I’m not the parent I thought I would be than I do actually just embracing the parent that I am.

I’ve written before about the cliques that accompany joining the parenting club. The cafeteria we all eat lunch in. But to be honest, I have had a hard time blogging over the last year. Not because I don’t have things to write about – I have plenty to write about. It just all seems to stem from a place of uncertainty and confusion. I keep reflecting on the year I’ve had. I keep trying to process all the whirlwind of life I’ve encountered. But it just ends up looking like a plate of spaghetti. It’s all intertwined, I can’t pull apart the pieces and I don’t know where one ends and the other begins.

I’m sure there’s some parents out there that feel very self assured in their parenting style. I envy you. It’s just not where I’m at. I thought I would be a certain type of mom. I’m not. So I don’t know where to go from there. For whatever dumb reason, I can’t let it go.

I have asked myself a million times how I could have handled postpartum better. I should have hired more help, I should have cleaned less, should have worried less, should have traveled less. I keep thinking of some magical words I can spare to other women who might be in the same boat. I am quick to remind myself that very few, if any, words would have truly helped me cope with the hormonal mess I was. Sure more help would have been nice. I could have spent more time with self-care. But it almost feels like a disservice to the struggles I endured to say I could have merely “worried less”.

As I approach little Amata’s first birthday, I can say I’m abundantly joyful to be a year away from last winter.

I remember at my 6 week checkup, my midwife admitted that she wasn’t really a “baby person”. As she was checking my blood pressure, writing down some notes, she casually asserted, “I’m all about birth obviously. But the newborn stage was never for me.”

I’m pretty sure she meant those words. But even if she didn’t, I was so relieved to hear them.

Ironically, my daughter’s birth was beautiful, a piece of cake (as far as births go anyhow). I’m the textbook definition of the type of birth so many women yearn for. You always hear how an uninterrupted first hour after after birth, no medications, lots of skin to skin, delayed cord clamping, low interventions are supposed to help give rise to this magical bond. I know plenty of Ceserean mamas that bonded the second their baby was handed to them. I caught my own kid. And my first thought was, “Gosh I’m so exhausted.” So there you have it – life isn’t so black and white. What followed were some pretty dark months. I felt like a home birth failure. It wasn’t supposed to happen that way. I really believe that my journey of processing those months will take a lifetime. With each passing season, I gain new perspective on them.

We think it’s so unforgiving, this Motherhood thing. We think if we didn’t have the perfect birth or the perfect postpartum or the perfect breastfeeding experience or the perfect sleep regimen that we are screwed. But actually, I think motherhood is one of the most forgiving roles we will ever have. It’s sloppy and euphoric and taxing. But we tirelessly try. And it’s the trying that matters. The trying that forgives.

My mother recently compared motherhood to driving. She said you can teach someone to drive, how and when to shift gears, and the rules of the roadway but driving is primarily a feeling. You feel when to shift. You have a certain consciousness for the other drivers on the road – how fast they are going, an awareness for your space and motion.

So this past year, I’ve had a crash course on driving. It has been so formative and intense and sudden. My joys are plentiful, but so are my struggles.

That seems to be all I feel called to write about these days. So bear with me.

You Can’t Sit With Us: Navigating the Cafeteria of Parenting

It’s hot. Summer in NYC has arrived. And even though I grew up in the hot and sticky, unbearably balmy summers of the South – there is something about summer in this concrete jungle that feels like a different form of anguish. Some mornings I feel like I would sell my left hand for a dip in a pool. (Looking at you waterfront luxury buildings!)

Anyhow, the times are changing and we aren’t feeling quite so infant-ish these days. Well, probably because my little girl is not really an infant anymore. She’s eating (re: playing with) solids, drinking from a sippy cup and growing more and more opinionated by the day. I am finally one of those moms at the coffee shop in the middle of the day I used to muse at. “They look so…normal. So used to having a baby,” I would think as I held my newborn, frazzled, agonizing over how I would make it through the day. It changes, it really does.

As I grow closer to my girl, we create a stronger bond each day. She recognizes and knows me, I actually feel like we have a relationship. I love the intimacy as I nurse her down for her naps. I love to tote her around the hood and take her to coffee with me. I adore the mornings when we’re all in the bed and enjoying breakfast as a family.

I’ve pulled my hair out plenty of times trying to figure out what type of parent I want to be. “Attachment parenting” doesn’t come very naturally for me. I’m trying to forgive myself for that. I am not the most patient of parents. I get frustrated even though I know she isn’t crying to be outright manipulative and mean. I look at other mothers who seem to have it more together. If I talk to a mama that oozes “gentle parenting” I feel vulnerable and self-conscious. Have I been insensitive and cold? If I talk to a mom who values a more independent relationship with their child, I feel like I’ve been too clingy with my girl.

Sometimes I feel like because I was 24 when I got pregnant, without a career in place and without a 5 year plan, I can not be at the table with the mommies in power suits. Then, because I had a home birth, it must mean I’m a hippie and worship the moon cycles so I can’t sit with the moms who vaccinate. (We actually do vaccinate.) Oops, now I can’t sit with the crunchy moms. And because we haven’t sleep trained yet, and we bed share (for the time being) and exclusively breastfeed at 6 months, well, let’s just say there’s not a lot of tables left to sit at.

Of course, the irony is that nothing is ever so black and white. We don’t fit in perfect little boxes, and neither do our babies. But I’m not so sure my parenting style is something I can easily define. It changes as my child changes. It will change if I have hopeful future children. And I’m willing to bet that you, too, don’t fit squarely into a cafeteria table seat.

I heard something recently that really spoke to me. When it comes to parenting you have 3 questions to ask yourself. Does it respect the child? Does it respect you? And can you live with it? That’s it. There’s nothing in there about your mother, your mother in law, your neighbor, or that mom in that playgroup.

This realization isn’t really all that novel. But it’s important for me on my journey. I was given Amata and she was given me. There must be a good reason in there somewhere for that. I’m trying to cultivate a more relaxed atmosphere around my parenting choices. So few of the bajillion decisions I make day in and day out will make or break us.

Postpartum anxiety wrecked me. I think the immediate sleep deprivation that followed birth was a shock to me. I knew sleep would be scarce but it hit me in a way I didn’t expect. I panicked and grasped desperately to manage my new life, to find a new normal. But there is nothing normal about the postpartum time. My boobs were leaking through many shirts a day, my lady bits were healing from the mammoth task of laboring and delivering a child (even with a complication free birth), I’d wake up soaked in sweat even in December and did I mention that my hormones felt like this?

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Heeeeere’s Johnny.

I still find myself clenching my teeth when we’re out and about and Amata is awake during a time she would normally sleep if we were home. I still feel my blood pressure rise when I’ve tried to set her down for what feels like the 876th time (realistically? It’s probably more like the 5th or 6th time) after she peacefully falls asleep in my arms. I still get uptight when she wants to snooze two hours before we usually do bedtime. But hey, listen, I’ve come a long way. I’m learning to slacken up a bit. I’m aiming to let go and be in the moment, that is always fleeting with childhood.

I’m not an “attachment parent”. I’m not a “babywise” parent. I’m not a free range parent or a helicopter parent. I’m just Cassie. I’m a Cassie parent. I breastfeed. Often in public. I feed her purees sometimes, I give her food to eat with her own hands sometimes. She sleeps in a crib sometimes, she sleeps in our bed sometimes. We haven’t sleep trained yet, but maybe we will, who knows. I love baby wearing, I adore my woven wrap and frequently use my ring sling. Sometimes I desperately need a break from being so close to her. We don’t cloth diaper. (Although if I owned a washer and dryer you can bet your bum I would.) I had a home birth, no I did not eat my placenta. I’m neither proud nor ashamed, this is simply our story.

What I’ve Been Up To….

What I’m up to these days.

1. Kyle and I moved to a new apartment in Queens, both started new jobs and then went on vacation for a weekend. So it was a bit of a hectic two weeks. But we have 3 closets. Three!! So far I *love* our new neighborhood and I especially love that my job is a 10 minute walk from my house. No. Subway. Required. My new job is an office manager position at a wellness center that specializes in….you guessed it – fertility and reproductive health. I love that I get to be a part of this community in my area. Often times, the clients come in and this is the highlight of their week or month. It’s a local small business so I get to be a part of a very intimate, professional setting.

2. The bump.

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The bump is growing, my friends. I am at 17 weeks now and it no longer looks like a beer gut/too many cheeseburgers belly. I have my anatomy scan and find out the gender in 3 weeks and I can’t hardly wait!! The second trimester has been a lot easier than the first, but I wouldn’t say I’m *glowing*. No crazy cravings, but I do enjoy an increased amount of pickled veggies than pre-preggo. Kale may have forever lost its luster – I don’t know if I’ll ever look at it again and not feel queasy after the 1st trimester.

3. I’ve been helping out the lovely team behind the Sweetening the Pill Doc doing some graphic design and media stuff for their fundraising campaign. Have you seen it yet? We’re a quarter funded but we still have a long way to go! If this is a mission you feel passionately about, please consider donating or even just sharing the link!

4. Kyle and I celebrated our year anniversary this past weekend. One year of marriage. Crazy crazy.

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I never would have guessed I would be pregnant this soon. Or even that I would have *wanted* to be pregnant this soon. Our hearts do have a way of surprising us. 🙂

5. I discovered a chapel in Manhattan very close to us that has adoration 5 days a week from 9-5. It’s in the Upper East Side so it’s a relatively quiet chapel and I have found a lot of solitude and peace knowing I can go there to get away from the bustle when I need it. In many ways, pregnancy has changed the way I pray. I always liked Mary but now I’m all about meditations on her life as the blessed mother. It’s kind of mind blowing to me.

6. Now I’m sort of running out of things that I’ve been up to. Other than various home (apartment) improvement projects. Which include rigging our sink to hook up a countertop dishwasher, making our (3!) closets usable, and trying to find the time to buy a dresser so our clothes aren’t in piles on the floor for forever. (I promise there’s room for a crib once the clothes and boxes get put away!)

7. Lastly, I’ve been exploring all the great things about my new neighborhood. I’ve found my favorite coffee spot, a new bakery, figured out the laundry system in my building, and look forward to lots of biking to the waterfront park where we get this view:

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Fresh Changes

This is my new blogging home! For those of you who don’t know, I came from 20somethingcatholic. So why the new blog? A number of reasons.

I am entering a new phase in my life. Apart from getting married, I’m directing my first documentary film and graduating film school. I’m leaving the student phase of my life to enter the professional one. I’ve got some big changes coming up. Am I still Catholic? Yes! Will I still write about Catholicism occasionally? Yes! But fear not, I will write about fertility just as much.

I love writing about theology and my faith – but as someone once explained to me, “I don’t want to have to scream about my faith to accurately represent myself.”

I felt ushered to start something new. And this is the product of that.

So same me, same blogging style, same topics. Just a new phase in my life.

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