Wednesday, March 29, 2017

CWBN Conference and Changes

Photo credit:  Annie Sprat via Unsplash

This last weekend was the Catholic Women's Blogging Network Conference in the Twin Cities.  I honestly have to admit that I signed up primarily to see some friends and have a reason to take a little vacation.  Blogging hasn't been a priority recently, honestly since about the time of my last pregnancy.  Things felt stagnant and I really wasn't sure where it all was going.  So other than a weekend of socializing I was hoping to come away with a better idea of what I was doing and where I was going with this all.

Nell, Haley, and Laura all gave some great talks - they challenged me to consider a lot of things about the current blogging world and my place in it.

I came away from this weekend renewed - this is a hobby for me, nothing I desire to make into a business.  This is a means of expressing myself creatively, supporting small business and fostering community.  I feel inspired now to make that a focal point of my online presence and recharged in my attitude.

However, that all comes with a cost.  A lot of my time was reflecting on what, when and how I am sharing my life online and one big decision came from it.  My time as "Molly Makes Do" has come to an end.  I've loved my last, almost, 6 years as MMD, but it has served its purpose and I feel as though I've spent some time in a little cocoon and am reemerging as something new.

I need to focus and limit what I'm sharing - particularly when it comes to my family and children - and the best way to do that was to start with something completely new.

So over the next couple months, I'll be slowly saying goodbye to this space - eventually, MMD will redirect to my new site, some of my posts will go back into draft form, my FB page with shut down and my Instagram will go to private.  I hope you'll follow me into this new venture - it will have more of the things we love at MMD:  book lists and crafts and stories and opinions, and even some new exciting things like an FB group to build community and a few fun projects that I can't wait to work on.

Thank you for being here.  Thank you for all the support you've given me over the last few years - I've grown as a person because of it.  This blog and the community that has sprung from it has challenged and changed me as a person; I'm more confident, social and creative because of it.  This is not goodbye, this is growing and I hope that we'll grow together.

While this site is not officially done, I hope to see you at my new project soon.....

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Beauty and the Internet Trolls

This post is about "Beauty and the Beast", but it's not about the recent hubbub about what may or may not be allueded to in the new movie.  That's a topic for someone else's blog.  This post is about people unwilling to believe in fairy tales anymore.

Here's the thing about fairy tales - they're a means for explaining truth to audiences, typically (but not always) children.  The truths are simple and good.  Good triumphs over evil.  The wicked get their comeuppance.  Kindness, loyalty and bravery are rewarded.  Love is simple and love always triumphs.

They're simple lessons, but they're not for simpler times.  In fact, if we need these simple lessons at any point we need them now.  In a world surrounded by tides of relativism we need truth, beauty and love more than ever.

Yet, apparently, there is a war being waged on fairy tales.  It is not enough to wave our hand and dismiss them as childish fancies as other generations might have done.  No, now we can't just leave well enough alone.  Now we either must twist the stories - spinning them on their heads so that good becomes evil, evil becomes good or everyone just gets muddled together in a relativistic soup.  We've seen this is recent movies and T.V. shows where we explore the "bad guys" story and background - the bad guys aren't really all that bad in fact they're just misunderstood or maligned by the ones who appear good.  The moral of most of these "retellings" seems to be "trust no one".

Now I'm all for creative storytelling especially when it comes to fairy tales - one of my favorite graphic novel series is called Fables, and it's a wonderful creation using fairy tale characters to tell a new story - well known characters get gritty, realistic backstories; a few bad guys get redeemed and a few good guys show their "true colors".  However in Fables, it is a world of it's own creation, just peopled with a familiar cast of characters.  For as much as it spins stories on their heads it's intention is still within the realm of the fairy tale - good wins, evil is vanquished, while love, loyalty and bravery are rewarded.  It's a new telling of an old story and as an aside I highly recommend the series to everyone I know - from it's powerful statements on war, an amazing no-nonsense pro-life scene, cameos by one of our favorite allegorical lions and perhaps some of my favorite characters ever developed in modern fantasy.... but I digress.

Back to the point at hand, the other side of the fairy tale war, the side being waged by trolls... internet trolls.  We've all seen it - it's been building for years.  Photo montages of Disney Princess "unhappy ever afters".  Crass videos of true confessions of fairy tale characters.  The nitpicking of every little plot hole until your favorite childhood story is left in tatters.

One of the most popular right now is to drudge up the "bestiality" and "Stockholm Syndrome" arguments against "Beauty and the Beast".  Let's just say for the sake of time these arguments are ridiculous and I won't waste our time getting into the why - they are simply logical fallacies of the absurd variety.  However, it is important to note that they're being used to tear down these stories and it's the why that's important here.  Why waste time tearing down a beloved children's story?  What do you possibly gain from convincing people that a story about love despite appearances and despite faults is just a mask for kinky sex and mental abuse?

It's because we're uncomfortable with Truth.

We live in a world where appearances are everything and consequences are nothing.  We live in a world that touts acceptance, but sneers at physical or mental handicaps.  We live in a world where vows of love can be broken when one party becomes anything less than perfect.  We live in a world where wrongdoings are merely in the eye of the beholder and personal growth, healing and forgiveness only come from the self.  We live in a world that is now afraid of fairy tales.

We are afraid of fairy tales because we do not want to live in a world where someone can be punished for a having a selfish, ugly soul.  We do not want to live in a world that expects us to give unconditional love without any promise of things ever changing.  We do not want to live in a world where outter beauty is no guarantee of inner beauty.  So we tear down a story meant to illustrate all of this because it makes us uncomfortable.

So now "Beauty and the Beast" can no longer be a beautiful, if obviously hyperbolic story of suffering, sin, redemption and love.  No, all those are things that require more from us than we're willing to give.  So we must lie to ourselves that it's about an abuse victim falling in love with her captor because she has a "thing" for human on animal love.  We are so afraid to see ourselves reflected in a story of a man so inwardly ugly that he's cursed to live wearing his sin for all to see.  We are so afraid to see ourselves reflected in the story of a woman, so different and pure from her superficial neighbors that she sees the redeemed man underneath the grotesque and chooses love with no promise of any type of happy ending.  We are so afraid to see that sacrifice, love and loyalty might actually reap the best rewards.  So instead we tear it down, piece by piece, telling ourselves the whole time that it's just a silly fairy story.  None of it is real.  It can't be real.  It can't be true.... can it?

Thursday, January 5, 2017

So I Had Another C-Section

Alternative Title :  How to Be Friends When I Had Another C-Section and You Think It's the Worst Thing That Could Have Happened to Me

I decided to go with the short version...

This summer was definitely exciting.  There was so much going on and I was really doing my best to prepare myself for the arrival of my little girl.  I had a pro-VBAC doctor, in a pro-VBAC clinic, in a pro-VBAC hospital, in a pro-VBAC community.  We were going to do this.  In fact we were going to do this so much and so well we really hadn't talked about the alternatives because we were Team VBAC.

Everyone in my mommy circles seem excited by this.  Now I would get the "real" experience of birth.  Now I would have this wonderful shared experience with woman-kind.  Now I would be complete and on equal footing with all the other mothers I knew.  My community was excited, they were supportive, they were the greatest bunch of cheerleaders I could ask for.  I had enough book, technique and method recommendations to last me through three births.  I was going to do this and it would complete me.

And then things changed.

My 37 week appointment came with the discovery that my little girl was breach.  My 38 week appointment came with the confirmation that we was definitely still breach.  My 39 week appointment confirmed that she had her head squarely stuck in the top of my ribs, under my sternum with her feet wedged in my right side ribs.

And it was somewhere in those few weeks that many of my cheerleaders turned into pall-bearers.  Oh they were still being optomistic with lists and lists of things to try, but as the clock ticked and the due date got closer the tone around me changed dramatically.

I don't think anyone other than me noticed it because so many people were still focused on being supportive, but instead of supporting my new reality - one carefully decided with medical staff I would be under and the OB who had guided my reproductive health for the last three years - the cheerleaders were focused on the old one.

"I'm so happy", became "I'm so sorry".

"You're going to do so well" became "Have you really done everything you can to avoid this?".

"This is going to be a beautiful moment" became "This is such a shame".

"You're making such a great choice" became "I can't imagine choosing to do what you're doing".

To be honest, I was more than a little shocked and more than a little hurt.

Let me be clear, I know intentions were good and I know people thought this was yet another huge tragedy in my tumultuous path to motherhood, but it wasn't a tragedy to me.

Now, I know some people fear hospitals and have legitimate horror at the thought of needles, surgery, wounds and scars and what I'm saying does not diminish the reality of your choices, but I feel I need to be clear on this...

After three years of struggle to get pregnant and stay pregnant, after three years of loosing child after child to miscarriage I was being told subtly and sometimes directly that the method I spent hours agonizing over to insure a safe birth for my child was the worst outcome someone could imagine.

Trust me when I say the method of my delivery was no where on my "worst outcomes list", I already had a taste for the worst outcome four times in a row.

I had just spent three years mourning four children I could do nothing to save and faced with a situation that had multiple outcomes I chose the path I felt would ensure me the best chance at finally saving one of my babies and I was being told this was a tragedy.

My second c-section was not a tragedy (and neither was my first), but the language and the tone around me was that of disappointment and mourning.  I was volunteering to be lead alone to sterile operating room alone, have a needle inserted into my spine, strapped to a table and be cut open while fully conscious, separated from my child and stitched back together alone all for the safety and well-being of my child.

If there was a time I needed my cheerleaders it was then.  Instead, I dealt with all my fears and concerns quietly and under the radar save for the closest of friends and family.  I could not share my concerns about my total fear of my spinal block or my phobia of never waking up from anesthesia if I needed to be put under.  I could not share my dread of having to look at another ugly, itching scar to look at or in my case avoid looking at at all costs.

I needed my coaches in my corner, water bottles at the ready, mopping my brow and psyching me up and I what I got was sad stream of mourners patting hand and avoiding eye contact.

So where do we go from here?  We move on.  What's done is done and it's in the past, but as we move forward I hope you remember this.  I hope you remember that your worst outcome might be no where near mine.  I hope you remember that it takes just as much strength and courage to walk yourself to the altar of the operating table as it does to face a contraction.  I hope you remember that I still need, and deserve, the support and strength we can encourage in one another.  I hope you remember that it was not a selfish choice, but a loving sacrifice.  I hope you remember to ask me first whether or not I'm saddened by the change in plan or need to talk about my concerns in my new plan.  I hope we both grow from this experience, I know I have.

Monday, January 2, 2017

New Year, New Books

(this post contains Amazon Affiliate Links)

It's that time again, I'll have to type out another post with my personal resolutions, but for now the important part of the new year.... books!

I'm woefully behind in reading (new babies do that to you) and honestly feeling a bit ashamed at the depth and breadth of my general reading lists.  While I do love a good challenging, well written piece of fiction or non-fiction a busy life often leads me to much more easily digested fare - I read a lot of embarrasing trite fantasy novels this last year.  We'll blame it on the pregnancy brain.

So this year I'm challenging myself to what feels like a good mix of easy and hard.  I'm sure the occasional trite fantasy read will find it's way in, and I'll probably reread some old favorites in the mix too.  But this is the goal for 2017.

How about you?
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