I purchased my DSLR camera so that I could take quality, high resolution pictures which could preserve our family history.
There was no guarantee on the camera box that wiggly two-year-old subjects would cooperate. There also seems to be an unwritten rule among the younger set that physical stillness must always be accompanied by a firm frown.
Some of these problems could be remedied if I would turn on the flash and increase my shutter speed.
Flash is for wimps.
Sharing a bedroom with the youngest member of our family has led to certain complications when I encounter those oh-so-rare possibilities for an afternoon nap for myself.
A venture of this kind poses a few risks. The first obstacle is the actual turning of the door knob. Sweet Cara has proven that she can sleep soundly through near-tornado force winds and thunder. The sound of the door opening is another matter altogether. The next obstacle comes when I actually climb onto the bed. Sheets rustling may as well be a clanging cymbal. Third, line of vision. There is a chance that Cara may wake up enough to roll over and go back to sleep. Should she see the ever-desirable mama laying there right in sight, the game is up.
Last Thursday I thought conditions were right.
After worrying for several minutes over logistics, I took a deep breath outside my bedroom door before gently turning the nob to attempt the improbable. Cara started as the doorknob turned, but soon became still again. I crept slowly further into the room and climbed into bed on the far side away from the crib, arranging pillows around me so that a body pillow could act as a wall to block the baby’s vision.
No sooner had I laid my head on the pillow than Cara’s head jerked up and scanned the room with laser vision. Satisfied that nothing was amiss, she turned and settled back into sleep with her face facing my bed. Without moving, I slept uncomfortably a few minutes until she began shifting again and turning her head toward the wall.
The risk in this nap experiment was clearly not worth the reward.
Gingerly I crept down from the bed and silently headed toward the door. I should have been home free.
Suddenly Cara jerked awake!
I dropped to the floor and paused with bated breath, heart racing.
Cara grew still again and I scurried toward the door and gently slipped out.
I always knew that motherhood would challenge me to abandon my selfishness. I never expected that motherhood would give me opportunities to develop sweet ninja skills.
Two blog posts in one day? I do what I want.
I always blog at the desktop computer in the back bedroom. In the past I have had the ability to write flexibly from any cushioned surface on a laptop, but these days I don’t own one of those newfangled devices. When I sit at the desktop computer, the sheer formality of sitting up straight on a chair seems to often kill the creative spirit. It stimulates my perfectionism.
At this very moment I am sitting with my IT husband’s work laptop at the kitchen table directly in front of a pitcher full of fiery roses, leaning haughtily back in a chair while my feet rest on another chair in front of me. It strikes me that this is exactly the writers’ slouch that I have missed. You can’t be a perfectionist when you’re sitting next to a bowl of browning guacamole a scabby cat, I’ll tell you that much.
Perfectionism is the archnemesis of creativity when I sit down to paint as well.
I often find myself seeking to paint at a level of photorealism which I don’t even want to take the time to achieve. I keep reminding myself that there is beauty in the process, and beauty in capturing the essence of something without necessarily rendering every line in precisely in a grid.
I have always been a notes sketcher, a lecture sketcher, a phone sketcher. I absolutely filled my college notebooks with doodles of whatever happened to burst into mind at the moment. Creativity was wild because I felt no pressure for my artwork to live up to someone else’s expectations! It turns out that I am happier when my paintings spring from sketches. Perfectionism can go straight Hell.
I am officially reclaiming the dignity of folk art.
I finished A Game of Thrones and am exactly sixty percent through A Clash of Kings. That amounts to approximately 1200 pages of bloodshed, violence and intrigue. It’s not the cozy read that I usually pick up, and there are moments when I have to ask myself why I keep plowing through.
This series is dark and sometimes (frequently) ugly. One of the most prominent themes seems to be a total disregard for human dignity and inherent worth. I’ve heard A Song of Ice and Fire touted as a “realistic” Lord of the Rings. That is, LOTR without a unifying idealism which challenges characters to rise beyond selfish desires. I think there is some truth in that. I believe that humans naturally gravitate toward selfishness, and selfishness is what drives us toward a utilitarian view of other people. I can’t count the number of times I’ve read about human beings being decapitated, disemboweled, burned, stabbed, raped, captured and otherwise used as objects.
Utilitarianism to the extreme, baby. It’s disgusting.
And yet the characters that I read about seem to be reaching for something beyond utilitarianism and not quite finding it. At the core they all desire to be loved and counted worthy. They desire parental approval. Wealth and other people are vehicles to gain power, and power seems to be a vehicle for gaining the acknowledgement of their own worth.
I keep seeing human beings reaching for the light, hoping for more and then remaining mired in darkness. They remind me of people I know.
They remind me of me.
Christ challenges us to live an elevated life. He calls us to abandon utilitarianism and love our neighbors as ourselves and serve our brothers. I call myself a Christian. I believe in in the message of Christ, and yet I frequently fail to live up to the level of self-abnegation that he calls me to. Every time I cut someone off in traffic, selfishness wins. Every time I see someone as an obstacle, selfishness wins. Every time I love someone only insofar as they are serving my own needs, selfishness wins.
A Song of Ice and Fire reminds me of the ugliness that reigns when I set my standard to selfishness and reminds me of the beauty of the opposite: the Gospel.
Oliver and I officially named our house Lizard Cottage this weekend. We have a lot of lizards in our greenery. Mostly Carolina anoles.
Green anole lizard. Not my picture.
I have a particular fondness for this type of lizard because:
a) I once spent twenty minutes researching facts about them for a couple of middle school girls at the library who caught one and wanted to know how to care for it.
b) The first time I caught one, the sucker bit me with its toothless mouth. It startled me and caused me to fling it down a hallway. Feisty.
c) They have powers! Naturally a lovely green, anoles can turn brown at will.
d) Green is the best color. No contest.
I also love the idea of living in a house with a name. Recall Shell Cottage, Barton Cottage, Longbourne…Pemberley. Let’s forget for a moment that I live in a 1970s ranch style house with faux drywall sprayed over thin paneling. It’s small. I’d say “cottage” is appropriate and reflects the level of minimalism I aspire to attain. So hello from Lizard Cottage!
Nighttime is the province of mothers.
Almost every night I find myself reciting some version of this same directive: “Lillian, why are you crying? It’s still nighttime, baby, let’s get back in bed.” She doesn’t usually answer my question, but I kneel on the floor beside her bed and hold her for a few minutes before leaving her with BeBe dog and a pile of less important stuffed animals.
Last night started off typically. I was in bed by 10:30, but up again at 11 to nurse the baby and 11:30 to kiss Lillian back to bed. I found myself awake again at 4 to nurse Cara, only to send her off again into restless sleep which also kept me awake. Eventually I retreated to the couch to sleep for another 30 minutes before being greeted again by Lillian’s screams and refusal to go back to bed.
As I spent the morning bleary eyed and coffee-dependent, it occurred to me that as a wife and mother the home in a general way, is my mission field. This is especially true because my husband is not a Christian. No surprise there.
But nighttime is when the Gospel really walks and talks for me.
These nighttime risings challenge me to serve the needs of someone else through my own desperation at precisely the moment which is the most inconvenient to me, and I have a choice whether to serve in joy or in bitterness. Today I tried to greet the day with charity even though it started a lot earlier than I hoped.
This is my nighttime ministry.