Hey, I have a post up on the blog of TODAYMoms! They’re doing a series about home school, and asked me to write a short piece on . . . burrrrrrrrrn ouuuuuut. It starts like this:
What does it take to be a great home-schooler? Passion, energy, creativity, high ideals and whole-hearted devotion to your kids.
What does it take to spoil home-schooling? Passion, energy, creativity, high ideals and whole-hearted devotion to your kids.
OK, not always. But many home-schooling moms find themselves burned out after a few years, exhausted by the very things that made the whole enterprise possible.
Welcome, TODAYMom moms — and to my regular readers, all four of you, please come and take a look. I can’t tell you how pleased I am that my path to fortune and glory will be paved with tales of excruciating personal failure. Stay tuned for the rest in the series, which will explain why I am also okay with losing the battle against carpet stains, the size of my hips, the amount of hair on my upper lip, and that funky smell coming from under the couch.
Good bye, guys, good bye! Have a good day — have a good hike! It’s gonna feel so good to get to the top of that mountain! I got you those peanut packs, did you– okay, okay. Good bye, I love you!
Okay, little ones, now back home.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Give me patience, give me supernatural patience, not like yesterday. Blessed art thou among women, help L. know I love her, yesterday was so awful, but you know I love her . . .
Yes, I saw that doggie! What a big tail he had. Did you see his big tail?
Hail Mary, full of grace, intercede for D., and don’t let the other girls draw her into anything foolish, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou
I told you to put your feet down. Down means down, not on the baby.
Blessed art thou among women
I said down! Thank you.
Now and at the hour of our death. Hail Mary, C. is so little, she’s trying so hard. Be a mother to her when I’m not there. Blessed art thou among women
The zoo? That would be nice. Do you remember last time we went, with the flamingos and the giraffes? Yes, E., we all remember what the gorilla did. Yes, yes. No, that’s disgusting! All he did was — hee hee — he scratched his bottom, and then he smelled his finger. No! You stop that, E.
What was I — oh, for M. Okay, holy Mary, mother of God, he’s such a good boy, let him always be this happy, keep that biting kid away from him today, where are his parents, pray for us sinners–
Listen, she’s just a baby, so let her say what she wants to say, okay? You know what town we’re in, right? So be a big boy and let her say what she wants to say — it doesn’t matter. Oh, look, horses! That side, that side, look where I’m pointing!
That’s okay, you’ll see them next time. Blessed is the fruit of thy womb. Please stop doing that. You know it makes her scream. I swear, I’m gonna–
Okay, so now E. Hail Mary, full of grace, what do you think? Is he going to be okay? The Lord is with thee . . .
Hang on baby, we’re almost home. I know, “Me out, me out.” You want to get out, we’re allllmost there . . .
. . and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary–
Yes, that tree is all red! Isn’t it pretty? What other colors do you– HEY, nice driving, JERK! Why don’t you kiss my– okay, okay, we’re fine. Okay.
Mother of God, sorry, pray for us sinners, now and don’t forget forget little S., I don’t know what’s bothering her these days. Help me not to forget her when she’s quiet.
We’re almost there, guys. Who wants eggs when we get home? You want eggs! Yes, eggs, eggs! You are such a smart baby, oh you sweet baby girl!
Blessed art thou among women. Did you see little L. sleeping with her bottom up in the air? Thank you for this little one. Those beautiful eyes. Protect her. Now and at the hour of
Can you hold it until we get home? Good boy. Girls, when we get home, you let E. go first, okay? I’m serious, let him go first.
E., feet down.
Sweet baby, so many little ones hurt and no one to take care of them. That little one in the news . . . Holy Mary, mother of God, take care of my baby and all the poor babies. Pray for us sinners, pray for I., give me patience, let them know I love them, help me remember I love them, especially when I’m making supper…
Yay, we’re home! Hey, who brought library books in the car? You know you’re not supposed to. All right, all right, let’s just get inside.
Now, who wants eggs?
A few years ago, I declared that my new motto was “Praise God and cut corners.” Pretty good, eh? Although these days I’m only managing about a 50% success rate (guess which half).
My poor husband has been working long, long hours as he covers a murder trial, and we have four kids at home, three in one school, and one in another, and I somehow scheduled four doctor’s visits, two dentist and one orthodontist visit, and two parent-teacher meetings this week. And I scored a writing gig from a -gasp- secular website!
Whine, whine, whine. Don’t hate me, mothers who hold down full-time jobs, or military wives. I am just not used to being this busy! I’m spending three hours or more in the car every day, and the other things that I Absolutely Have To Do just get crammed in during the brief visits we make to our actual house.
So it’s either make a lifestyle change involving a plane ticket to the Yucatan Peninsula and a forged death certificate . . . or cut corners. Here’s how:
1. Gotta read to the kids? Children’s books are horribly repetitious. Yeah, yeah, it’s good for their brain development, it makes them feel secure, whatever. Just cut out all that dead wood, and you get to the end a lot faster. Try this:
“Would you eat them
in a box?
Would you eat them
with a fox?”
In the dark?
Here in the dark!
Would you, could you, in the dark?”
2. Gotta feed them? Try making all the meals at once. At lunch time, try to be also cooking supper, baking a treat for the classroom, toasting some granola for the upcoming hike, and packing tomorrow’s lunches, while making a shopping list of high-protein breakfast foods to alleviate that “Your child weeps her way through math every day” problem. By the time you’re ready to dish up, the kids will be so disoriented, they won’t even realize that you’ve weaned them down to two meals a day.
3. Gotta teach some school? Take a leaf from the educational fad of my childhood: it’s called “spiral education” and it means you only actually have to teach them something every three years or so. The rest of it is “enrichment through incremental exposure,” which is educatorese for “endless reveiw.” Like this: “Look, everyone, a cloud! You remember clouds! Who can tell me about clouds?” They’re certainly not learning anything, but this type of conversation will give them that same nervous, alert feeling that signals True Education.
4. Gotta get some time alone with your husband? Try the “surprise reward” strategy: “You know, I’ve been watching you, and you guys did SUCH A GOOD JOB with that, that thing you were doing today that Daddy and I think you deserve a movie. A nice, lo-o-o-ong movie.”
5. Gotta write? Try this handy phrase: “Several of my readers have requested [or would, if I asked them to] a re-run of a very popular post from a few years ago, so here it is.”
6. Gotta pray? Remember that God is very, very smart, and can figure out what you mean by, “Hello! The thing! And all. Would You? I need! Amen.”
7. Gotta finish seven quick takes? New rule: six is the new seven.
Conversion Diary! Linky! List! Skip pic! Done.
I usually try and have a point, a theme, or at least a joke when I sit down to write. Today, though, I think I just want to talk about my kids. They are so nice and good, and I know I don’t say that enough. I can be a regular old mommy blogger from time to time, can’t I?
Yesterday, we had one of those mornings where you fall out of bed and just start running. Up! Up! Eat, eat, wash your face, find your shoes, grab your lunch and go! Get the birthday brownies into the car! Stuff your history costume in a bag! Run in to beg the teacher for leniency for kid #1, who just got braces and thinks she is a monster now! Run, run–zip back home, wash and brush and feed the rest of the kids, and then leap back into the car for everyone’s doctor appointment. No you cannot have toast, go go go!
For three hours this morning, I did very little besides buckle and unbuckle carseats, and drive. I also did some singing (“Hear the lively song of the frogs in yonder pond”), which miraculously still calms my 3-year-old when she gets in a hysterical rage over not having a long enough turn looking at the insert that came with the plastic owl her brother got from Burger King.
You may think that a hysterical rage would sort of quash my enthusiasm about how good my kids are, but she’s not actually really like that. She’s a very happy person, but is going through one of those brain growth spurts, which makes her kind of unpredictably horrible from time to time. I know she doesn’t want to be that way, because when she’s being awful, I say, “Do you want to be a good girl or a bad girl?” and she always chooses good — and actually does the thing that I tell her good girls do. She just needs a little help remembering that she has a choice!
They were really being good. It is no damn fun to be driven back and forth, back and forth, when none of it is about you, and there’s really nothing to look forward to but a possible Rugrats sticker after your shots. Maybe we’ll see a turtle on the rock in yonder pond by the highway, but probably not. Maybe the crane on the construction site will be doing something cool, but probably not. Red light means stop, green light means go. No turtle today.
Then we got to the doctor. My six-year-old watched the baby and the 3-year-old as I took the 4-year-old to the bathroom. They ate some chalk and played with the bead maze toys, and waited some more. Then, when we got to the doctor, everyone else had to go to the bathroom. “Wow,” says the three-year-old, “That is a STRONNNNNG toiyet!” I don’t know what that means, but she seemed impressed.
And then finally it was our turn. The three oldest kids were the ones with appointments, but of course it was the baby (almost 18 months) who ran the show. She stripped off her clothes and picked out a johnny gown from the drawer, since that’s what everyone else was doing. (For the first time in my life, I wished I had a phone with a camera on it.) She weighed herself. She got a sticker, and even a picture book — and not just any picture book! The doctor first showed her a board book, and she gave it a look of such withering disdain that the doctor laughed herself silly. Then she found another, more mature book for the baby, who said, “Day,” (thanks) and trotted back to the exam room with her loot.
Then the three-year-old had to go to the bathroom again.
I had a moment’s consternation when my six-year-old son said he didn’t know the letters on the eye chart — but it turned out he thought they were supposed to spell something, and his phonics didn’t take him as far as sounding out “ROXCSTKNDT.” Sort of reminds me of my sister’s story about her son, who claimed not to know the color of a crayon the nurse was holding up — oh, never mind, I’ll let her tell it in the comments.
Well, isn’t that cute? That’s all I wanted to say. I like having my kids around.
As of now, we are surviving, we are building a new marriage and our old marriage is dead and gone. It’s is withered and decayed and the new one is bright and filled with hope. As of right now, I love my husband more than I ever have. We are not merely “riding it out”. Everything is new again. I place the “blame” on you, Dear People. When this broke, my husband was very lost. He will tell you he was in the darkest place he has ever been. He was evil or surrounded by evil, not sure. He was depressed, he obviously wasn’t thinking straight and the more he made bad choices, the worse he felt, and in turn would make more bad choices. He was just piling more “spiritual muck” onto himself. As Mark Shea says “sin makes you stupid”. So many men I see who take the route my husband have become literally unreachable under all that muck. When you all reached out and prayed, my husband will tell you it was around that time he started to wake up and come out the fog. This wasn’t an immediate process and at first, he fought it, but it was a way for God to grab him and take hold and slowly start clearing that muck away.
I cannot underestimate the practical help as well, the donations, the words of encouragement. I was…hysterical. I was scared, confused. At the time, the kind words I read and the support kept me going. I desperately needed it because while I was receiving support here, I was hearing equally…um, “non-supportive” words from some of the icky people my husband allowed to influence him. One of his family members told me it was my fault because I had so many kids. Seven is ridiculous, I should have stopped at three and my husband clearly didn’t want any more but I refused to listen. I must have had those kids to keep him around. She, other family, the girlfriend all told me it was because I “was a bad wife”. So yes, hearing encouraging words was necessary at that point because I didn’t know what was right, what was happening, what was real and my self-esteem struck a huge blow so it was easy to believe I deserved it all for doing things like having children, and being a boring housewife.
The donations helped in more ways than the obvious as well. My husband left and came home in February. Yes, he did support us, but in his very “rational” state, he did not think about what it costs to support a family of 8 in one spot and the cost of supporting himself in the New York City area 3 hours away prior to leaving. The donations helped with practical matters, but it also gave me a great deal of confidence that some how, some way, if things go badly, I’ll make it. I think it also sent a signal to him that despite surrounding himself with nitwits like the family members I described who had his ear, most people looked down on his actions to the point they were willing to donate money! (Incidentally, when this happened, I became adept at finding email accounts, decoding passwords and an ex girlfriend came out the woodwork who had been lurking on this blog to congratulate him on finally getting rid of the “old ball and chain”, to tell him to contact her and to let him know “do you know she’s asking for donations?” I deleted it.)
There has been talk that maybe people should not say bad things about Bud McFarlane Jr for leaving his wife in the comboxes lately. No. He should know that the general population looks down on such actions. Admonish the sinner. It’s not simply for the sake of “siding” with Bai, but for the sake of his own soul. My husband, on his own accord went to confession, and spent an half hour bringing the priest up to speed. Mass that day, ended up starting late because of it. I’m not sure if that would have happened if things did not play out the way they did. Every piece of this had it’s purpose.
So what happened? I cannot even begin to start, it would take a book. It was the hardest year of my life. I now have grey hair, crows feet. I have these permanent bags under my eyes from crying everyday (great product: ).
I can say that this was a spiritual battle for sure. At first our progress was teeny tiny baby steps and a lot of uncertainty. It wasn’t until late June that I decided I would stay married to him. Before that, I don’t think he was certain about staying married to me until February-when he decided he wanted the marriage, I was sick, fed up, done with him. Since June, the progress was slow and then started snowballing. Spiritually, each time we made a large step at progress, Satan was right there with a rebuttal. Every stinking time. This is still the case. It’s almost immediate. We actually can see it for what it is and more and more it gives me the confidence that we are “meant to be”. The only way things will continue to work from here on out is relying on prayer and the sacraments. Satan has a foothold in our lives. No way around that.
I want to share some things I learned for anyone going through this:
1. Pray, pray, pray. You have nothing else but God. I made the Novena to the 13 Blessed Souls a few times, the St. Rita I don’t know how many times. Our Lady Undoer of Knots, St. Jude, St. Joseph the Flying Novena to the Infant of Prague in addtion to tons of rosaries, Chaplets of Divine Mercy, the Angelus everyday for months. I said a Magnificat every time it popped into my head. I don’t even know how many novenas I made. I begged for prayers. I debated a lot between telling people and asking for prayers and keeping my dirty laundry to myself. It’s a tough call because people who love you and see you suffer will not want you to reconcile with your spouse, which is 150% completely understandable. Still, I think the reason my husband turned around was the prayers.
There will be times when you will doubt if God even exists. Pray harder then.
2. Read Love Must Be Tough by James Dobson. And/or implement the “180″ as soon as possible. This will keep your head on straight when you think you are loosing it, and may help get your marriage back-if that is what you wish.
On a side note: we Catholics do a good job in having a preliminary outline how to keep a marriage Godly. We do not have a lot of resources to turn to when things go bad. we have Retrouvaille, but that works only after both parties decide to work it out. There is nothing to stop a man (or woman) in stuck in “the fog” dead in his tracks and let him know what he’s doing. We need something. Now. Maybe Greg can help us with that?
3. Take care of yourself. I did a little, but only after everyone else was tended to. I would only work-out as reward if I finished all my chores, which of course, were never finished. I figured once the kids were gown and out, I’d have “me” time again. Through all this I was tired, defeated, depressed. I started drinking. By most people’s standards, not heavily, but I know I wasn’t doing it “for the right reasons”. So instead, I knew I needed an outlet and it would either be negative (drinking) or positive. I hit the gym, I started getting pedicure, I actually bought clothes for myself, I decided to try once a week and get to a restaurant if I could. Being cheated on is a huge self-esteem killer. People stopping you constantly and telling you how good you look, and then finding out you had seven kids, and in front of your husband…priceless!
4. Sacramentals. I said before this is a spiritual battles. Holy water, blessed oil, blessed salt. I mixed all three up and made crosses with it over every window, every doorway. I spiked my husband’s food…
5. Get support from people who have been through this. People who have been through this have a very unique perspective. It all seems very black and white, cut and dry until it happens to you.
7. Outside professional help. Get counseling/therapy. Find a priest or a few and talk to them. Appraise your medical doctors, midwives, pediatricians what’s going on. My family practitioner knows everything. I have found myself in the emergency room a number of times this year and since my doctor knows what is happening in my life, diagnosing the problems was easy. Did anyone know that you could have panic attacks in your stomach? I didn’t.
6. Some good books:
Here’s one I haven’t read, but I want to read desperately:
The Bible!!!! This is nothing new and it’s nothing the good book didn’t warn about. Read Proverbs 5
Four Stages of Grief (apparently, I’m at “anger” right now).
Lastly, I’m talking mostly about me here. I’m talking a lot about what my husband did wrong. I give a lot of credit for the prayers and help people gave me, but I have to also give credit to my husband. It takes a lot to totally admit you are wrong and to allow God to break you down and build you back up again into a new person. I have notmade it easy. Yes I prayed, yes I tried to stay “right”, but I haven’t been a saint on this journey. I’ve been downright evil and wretched at times. The fact that he stayed when he was unsure if he should to begin with, when he was not raised with a background where people are married is simply amazing. The fact that not only did he decide to stay, but change, that he recognized his bad choices were not the key to happiness…many people can’t or do not even know how to not exist in their lies.
7 In the same way, I tell you, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner repenting than over ninety-nine upright people who have no need of repentance.~Luke 15:7
Once again, thank you, thank you, thank you.
Loosely translated: “Sometimes, / When I look deep in your pants, / I swear I can see your soul.”
Ha ha! Just kidding. But remember that terrible song “Sometimes” by that medium-terrible band, James? James: because what the world needs now is more Irishmen singing. He didn’t actually say “pants,” but it would have been a better song if he had. Hey, and look, it’s a bunch of guys wearing dresses! I suppose this is all my fault, too. Not the bananas, though.
In the past week, there has been a lot of soul-searching. Unfortunately, it’s mostly been people searching each other’s souls and — you’ll never guess! — finding them wanting.
I, of course, am not guilty of this. No, I certainly haven’t spent the last several days wrapped in a semi-hysterical nimbus of self-righteousness. I haven’t been following my husband around and making him reassure me, over and over and over again, that I’m a perfectly good wife most of the time. My prayer life hasn’t consisted mostly of, “Did you hear that guy?!?”
Well, just to show that I can be old-fashioned, too, let’s go back in time and revisit and old game — and do a little soul-searching of our own souls for a change. Not such a scenic route, is it? I think there’s a whole series of books out on it by now, and I remember that Ironic Catholic had a contest at one point. It’s so much fun: Six Word Autobiographies.
Here are the ones I came up with a few years ago:
Last I checked, I deserve less.
Still a bum, just much busier.
I’ve secretly always wanted a dog.
Seven unmedicated births, fine; telephones, terrifying.
Married to Bach, trysting with Brahms.
and my favorite:
Help! Help, help, help! Oh, thanks.
Okay, so what are yours? Your life in six words. Go!
Thanks to all the linky love (oh sheesh, did I just say that?) from real websites like Mark Shea’s, Bearing, Betty Beguiles, And Sometimes Tea, New Advent, Betty Duffy,Darwin Catholic, Korrektiv, Alexandria, and others, I got a lot more attention than I’m used to for all this pants stuff. And, as Mark Shea’s readers pointed out, with great pants comes great responsibility. Which is to say that with a bigger audience comes many more misunderstandings.
Some of that is my fault, because I dwell in the land of hyperbole.
Some of that is their fault, because they are stupid.
Some of that is no one’s fault, exactly — it’s just that it’s human nature to hear what you think you’re going to hear, rather than what the writer is actually saying.
Danielle Bean once shared a quote from St. Therese of Liseiux:
Why should we defend ourselves when we are misunderstood and misjudged? Let us leave that aside. Let us not say anything. It is so sweet to let others judge us in any way they like. O blessed silence, which gives so much peace to the soul!
And so, even though I heard all kinds of foolish and outlandish statements attributed to me, I really didn’t get all that upset. I heard, for instance, that:
- I never wear skirts (false – I do)
- I think women who wear skirts are married to monsters (false – some are, some aren’t, just like us two-legs)
- I think it’s stupid to try and look feminine (false – I try hard)
- I think it’s impossible for any busy woman to do her work in skirts (false – I happen to be a hypothyroid clod with fat, chafe-y thighs, but maybe you’re not)
- and also that I think women should be able to wear whatever the hell they want (false – I believe it’s a matter of charity to dress modestly)
- and that men should just use some self-control, and then it won’t matter what women wear (false – blame Adam).
Weirdly, none of that bothered me very much. Usually nothing upsets me more than to be misunderstood, but there were so many smart and funny people who saw what I was saying, it was like being at a fantastic party with all your friends — and a couple of drunks. Annoying, but not enough to spoil a great evening.
But I got really worked up when they started saying stuff about Mary. I have always felt an uncomfortable distance from Mary. I teach my children to call her “Mama Mary” in hopes that they would feel a closeness and affection to her that I never did. Every once in a while, though, she breaks through to me. This was one of those times.
A few women in various comment boxes said that we must wear skirts because Mary did — that even if Mary were on earth today, she would never wear pants. They KNOW this.
Okay, you ladies who know what Mary would do. If you can’t imagine Mary wearing pants, then try this: imagine Mary wiping her nose, or yawning, or having heartburn. Imagine her giving birth. Or heck, imagine her having to go to the bathroom, but not being able to get up yet because she didn’t want to wake up the baby, who was nursing and allllmost asleep. . . and then He bit her! He always does that just as He’s falling asleep. Oh, and now He’s poopy again, and she still has to go to the bathroom.
Weird, eh? Not used to it, are you? But there’s nothing immoral about these images. If they bother you, because it’s not what you’re used to. It’s not what you’re surrounded with. Just like you’re surrounded with earnest, hard-working, kind, sincere women who have chosen to wear skirts, and so it seems utterly natural and obvious that Mary, too, would wear skirts.
How about this: when Mary said “Fiat” to the angel, she wasn’t doing what everyone else was doing. She wasn’t following the norm. She wasn’t doing what all the other holy ladies in her circle were doing. She was doing something that made her stand apart — she was responding directly to God’s will. Mary was a BIG WEIRDO, don’t you see? She was courageous and outlandish and incredibly tough. She didn’t long for olden times. She did something new.
I know it sounds like I’m equating the wearing of pants with the eternal Yes of the Mother of God. Sorry about that! That’s not what I mean. I just mean that sometimes we can be blinded by what we’re used to — and that’s not a good thing, even when what we’re used to (say, good women always wearing skirts) is a good thing.
So would Mary wear pants? I don’t know, and neither do you — she was a strange and unpredictable woman, like no other. But she was a real woman. If you think that Mary actually always wore blue, always had a look of fond melancholy on her face, and always held her arms at a 45-degree angle from her sides, then you are paying homage to a statue, and not to God’s real-life Mama. And if there’s anything worse than a woman in pants, it’s an idolator. That’s in the Old and the New Testament.
O real life Mama of God, intercede for us. Help us to understand each other. And if I ever sit down to write another post about pants, please make the roof fall in on me before I hit “publish.”
Sick of talking about pants yet? TOO BAD! I want to talk about pants! Some more!
Actually, I want to talk about creeps. Because that’s what this is about: it’s about creeps forgetting to hide how creepy they are. So many people said so many smart things yesterday — but the best comments were the ones which rooted out the worst part of the original pantsalog. The worst part was this:
[Wear skirts] for us, the minority of chaste men who merit the gift of enjoying your beauty in such a way as to be grateful to your creator without temptation. Make it so it is good for men to look upon you, rather than requiring us to look away (which is a tragedy).
“Merit?” “Make it so it is good?” I’ll translate this for you:
I don’t cheat on my wife, and that’s really hard, so I’m entitled to some compensation. So line up, girls, and show me something special. Neutrally modest isn’t good enough — I deserve something niiiiiiiice.
Oh, you sound just like Padre Pio; really you do!
Several other men in various comboxes expressed a similar idea of their right, as a virtuous man, to enjoy all women in a virtuous way. They’re not satisfied with cracking down on their own wives — they feel that they’ve won the privilege of savoring and setting the standards for everyone else’s wife, too.
A few guys said that they could tell by the way I talk that I’m a disobedient wife. How can they tell? Because their wives wear skirts. I usually don’t. Therefore I must be disobeying my husband.
Never mind that my husband likes me in pants. Which I mentioned. So I guess they’re saying . . . that I should be obeying them?
Luckily for me, I have a husband who is just dying for someone to say something like that, so he can punch their lights out. He recently quit smoking, and is looking for someone to punch.
But, ladies, what if your husband likes you in pants, but you happen to leave the house without him? What if you’re doing some errands, you’re wearing pants, and some pigeon-toed guy with a scaly neck sidles up and confronts you for revealing the fact that you have legs — two of ‘em?
He scowls through his horrible beard and, once he gains control of the self-righteous quivering that shakes him from head to toe, he speaks: “WHERE IS THY SKIRT, WOMAN? WHY HAST THOU APPEARED AT WALMART IN THESE DETESTABLE PANTALOONS? DOST THOU NOT RESPECT THY HUSBAND’S WISHES?”
Here’s what you do: print out the following card, laminate it, and show it to the guy.
While he’s mentally translating it into Latin so it makes sense to him, you will be able to make a speedy getaway. And since you’re wearing dem pants, you’ll do it without showing any skin! Run, ladies, run!
(Pants Pass designed by my beautiful and talented sister-in-law, Rose Nigel)
Consider the following food for thought, and not a hard-and-fast directive. So in case you were under the bizarre impression that some random essay written by a laypersonhas some moral force, then rest at ease. I repeat, this is not a directive! But you better listen to me, or you’re going to hell.
Top ten reasons I wear pants
1. I live in NH, where winter happens. Pants.
2. My husband finds most women’s pants to be more or less neutral, as far as their power to affect him in a masculine way. But he finds that most women’s skirts . . . affect him. So unless it’s the most wonderful time of the cycle for me: pants.
3. Three of my children are ages 4, 3, and 17 months. They basically live on the floor. To care for them, my choices are either (a) sit on the floor to be with them, or (b) bend over a lot to deal with them. Yesterday at library story hour, my little girls felt shy, so I sat on the floor to be with them. I was comfortable, relaxed, and modest. Pants.
4. Motherhood is a blue collar job. I don’t care what style of dress or skirt you’re wearing, there is no way to be modest while dealing efficiently with the routine emergencies that normal children engender – children who, as a normal mode of expression, flail their limbs around like some kind of oversized, malevolent eggbeater, right at your hemline. Today, I had to lunge halfway across the room to rescue my toddler, who had launched herself from an armchair at a glass gerbil tank. I was able to lunge without pausing to consider whether my movements were graceful and feminine; and I didn’t worry, while lunging, about flashing the men in the room. Pants.
5. Traditional nuns manage to work in skirts, and so do men and women in the middle east. So what? Their lives are hard; mine doesn’t have to be. Pants.
6. My husband, being heterosexual, does not actually want to spend his free time browsing around Dress Barn with me. Unfortunately, being a drooling idiot (that’s traddie talk for “woman I honor and respect”), I am utterly, faintingly, femininely unable to pick out modest and appropriate clothing for myself. What ever shall I do! There’s clearly only one option left for poor silly old me, and that’s to keep on safe ground. Pants.
7. When I show my husband a piece of clothing that I just bought, he admires it — but only because he loves me and knows I have no female friends to show it to. In reality, I might as well be holding up a coupon for fig newtons, or a vacuum cleaner filter: he just can’t see it. When I put it on, then he can see it. At this point in our marriage, I know what he’s going to like, so that’s what I buy. I dress to please him, not other men who might pass me on the sidewalk. Pants.
8. Why do I get the distinct impression that some guys, demonstrable experts in marriage though they may be, are being a teeny bit disingenuous when they couch their views on modesty in terms of respect for women? Why do I get the impression that if most women wore skirts, this type of fellow would suddenly be campaigning for more pants? Why, in short, do my spidey senses tell me that this is not about modesty at all, but about control? “Wear what I say, and I promise I’ll start respecting you.” Pants!
9. If you are so concerned about how I think about myself, then why don’t you ask me what I actually think, instead of telling me what you know I will think if I only listen to you? Not that you asked, but I’ll tell you how I think about myself: I think that my life got a lot better when I started making reasonable decisions for myself, instead of always wondering if I’m going to disappoint some hypothetical man. I care profoundly what my husband thinks about me, and naturally that affects how I feel about myself. Pants.
10. You give the game away when you start talking about femininity and end up complaining about fat butts. That makes you less of a moral leader and more of an asshole. Pants.
Women, if you want to wear skirts, and it means something to your husband, then go ahead and wear skirts. Skirts are not a sign of oppression and misery! I wish I could pull off the look, and to those of you who do wear skirts: I think you look nice.
But it’s not a moral issue. At all.
In the early years of my marriage, I tried so hard. I thought I had to make up for everything wrong I had done, and I thought I had to be a good example for everyone else who was still doing everything wrong. I scrubbed my floors on hands and knees, I made crepes from scratch, and I wore skirts every day. In other words, I made everything a lot harder than it had to be — and wasted lots of valuable physical and emotional energy in pursuing these ideals, while letting other, more useful virtues slide. Virtues like kindness, flexibility, and common sense.
I had three kids in diapers, and I didn’t have a car, so I walked everywhere. Wearing skirts did nothing for me but make me awkward, self-righteous, and cold. I guess some men find that appealing, but I’ve never heard my own husband pining for those days (the skirts were my idea, not his). Many women are able to wear a skirt and function well. I could not, and people who pressured me to try harder were doing me harm.
I think I’ve gotten beyond this phase, but the issue of skirts was a red herring that did a lot of genuine damage to my marriage, my self-respect, and my attitude toward other women. That’s why messages like this anti-pants one make me so furious. Yeah, lots of women dress immodestly — but lots of other women are treated like retarded pets by their Good Catholic Husbands, and I’m sick to death of it.
I’m sick to death of messages like the one I linked to gaining any kind of legitimacy among otherwise intelligent men and women. Some women like to wear pants, and some don’t. It’s not a moral issue. If it’s a moral issue in your marriage, than your marriage has serious problems that a change in wardrobe will not heal.
Skirts won’t change the world. I’ll tell you what will change the world: men loving their wives — their actual wives, not some bizarre, imaginary amalgam of the Blessed Virgin and Grace Kelly.
So, ladies, if your priest friend forwards the anti-pants email to you, please remember: one of the great strengths of the Catholic church is that it invites all sorts of men into its holy priesthood. One of these men is infallible — but the one who sent you this email is not. And the man who wrote the original message is not even a priest.
Pants, pants, pants!
UPDATE: Okay, ladies and gents, we just passed 300 comments. Thank you for making me laugh so hard today and yesterday. I’m closing comments now because I think everything has been said that can be said — although I really love the idea of Padre Pio duking it out in the confessional with Gianna Molla. I realize that closing comments make me “mean and nasty,” but what can I say? Pants will do that to a gal.