Wednesday, November 30, 2011


This is probably the most common disagreement in the house. Someone wants something another person has. Over and over and over.

I don't believe in "making" kids share. I feel like kids ought to be able to play with something and have a little sense of ownership without someone coming in and saying, "You have to give that to so-and-so. It's sharing."

In general, our rule is, "If someone has it, you can't take it. Wait until they are done with their turn and when they don't want it anymore, you can have a turn." Kids will lose interest in something eventually, though it does mean that sometimes someone gets a long "turn."

Sometimes I don't know who has something first and sometimes they both "take turns" in taking the desired object. Ha! When there's a big fuss, I'll ask everyone to breathe and then say that the object needs a break and can return to playing after things cool down. Breathing is big at our house. It's my answer to almost all out-of-control situations. Yelling? Whining? Fighting? Stop, breathe, then tell us what you want. I demonstrate the deep breaths with them. It took a little while for Margaret to "get it" and actually breathe with me, but consistently reminding her to breathe has helped. Now whenever she gets whiny, I ask her to breathe and immediately the whine is gone! Magic! Isaac doesn't get the breathing thing yet, but I trust that with repeated practice, he'll get it.

Isaac used to not care whether or not he had something in his hands. So Margaret thinks everything is hers. But most of our toys and other items in the house are communal. There is no "owner." We share a bed, we share the couch, we all can play with the toy food, blocks, animals, books, etc. But because everything is communal, nothing is hers, and like I said above, I think kids like to have ownership. Unfortunately because up until the past few months, Isaac didn't care about ownership, nothing is his and Margaret thinks everything is hers.

I'm hoping to remedy this at Christmas time. They are each going to get something that is solely theirs. I'm not sure what, but it'll be something. Margaret has a doll that I made her that is hers, I may make Isaac a similar doll.

In a similar vein, I can't really explain it, but I have the gut feeling that if we get rid of a lot of our stuff, there will be less fights over it. I'm currently de-cluttering a lot of the toys for this purpose.

I think "sharing" is going to be an issue for a while. We are going to be breathing a lot over the next few years.

What do you do for "sharing?"

Monday, November 28, 2011

Inquisition Monday: Santa

Betttina asked on Twitter,

Inq Monday: (no rush!) How do you teach your kids that Jesus is real but Santa isn't? Thank you!

Before I get to the question, I wanted to share what prompted this question. I bought Christmas stamps and tweeted that I got the Madonna and Child stamps of Raphael's Madonna of the Candelabra. Sadly, the Christ-child isn't nursing on the stamp, but he is sticking his hand down Mary's shirt. That's a sure sign of a nursing toddler! Also, I'm pretty sure Isaac has the same hair and chubbiness that the Christ-child has in this depiction. Anyway, yay for nursing toddlers.

So onto the question.

We actually teach about Jesus and Santa in the same way. Jesus was a real, historical person. As was St. Nicholas. There is truth to both stories. And both of them have myths around them that are probably false. Was Christ born anywhere near December? No. Does Santa really come down our non-existant chimney? No. But is it fun to pretend Christ's birthday is in December? Yep! And is it fun to pretend that Santa comes? Yep.

We actually have it pretty easy. My father-in-law is a mall Santa and so we tell the kids, "Grandpa dresses up like Santa. It's fun to put on costumes and pretend!" About stockings I tell them it's a fun game that Mommy and Daddy play to put presents in stockings. I don't think it detracts from the "magic." Kids love pretending and the fact that your imaginary friends aren't real doesn't mean those hours of playing were wasted.

When the kids get older, we'll mention the history of St. Nicholas. I might even do the shoes-out-for-St. Nicholas Day-tradition this year if I feel like being on top of things. I know one mom that does all of the Santa stuff on St. Nicholas Day so Christmas is just for gifts from friends and family. This separates the Santa tradition from Christmas. I don't think I'll do that, but it's an option if you're interested.

As far as teaching about Jesus and other biblical figures, I'll definitely say that I don't believe the Bible or even the Book of Mormon to be historically accurate. Take the Gospels: there is good evidence that some of the Gospels were written using other Gospels as a base and that there was artistic license taken by the authors. Does that diminish the truth of being kind and loving? I don't think so. I believe that the scriptures can be inspiring and uplifting without needing to be strictly accurate. So when we talk about scriptures stories in which historical accuracy is in question, I am careful in my words. I'll say, "In one story, Jesus...." or "In the book of..." I also do this when I teach nursery at church or when giving talks. Maybe the semantics aren't very important, but I like to be as truthful as I can.

I know some of my readers also teach the Santa tradition is a fun game as opposed to the idea that Santa really comes. What parts of the traditions do you keep or toss? Also, when I taught computers at an elementary school, during the week before the winter break, I let the younger kids play on this site about St. Nicholas. If you are interested in celebrating St. Nicholas Day, that might be a fun place to get ideas!

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Blue Potty Seat Incident

This is for Mallory who wanted more stories of parenting. This one is kind of cheating because we don't run into issues like this very often. Most of my parenting intervention stems from someone not wanting the other person having the thing they want. That will be its own post. Today is the Blue Potty Seat Incident.

I was on the computer doing something. McKay was busy doing something also. Margaret was on the potty. Alone. With a pen. And this was the big potty, not the kiddie one, so she was sitting on one of those little potty cushions that you put on the toilet seat so that small kids don't fall in.

McKay found her with pen marks all over her legs and pen holes poked into the cushion of the potty seat. We have two such potty seats, and of course she was on the her favorite one: the blue one. The other one has ducks on it. Ducks are just not as cool as the color blue.

Well, when McKay found her, he came to me wondering what we should do about the potty seat. My brain did this:

Pen on her legs? Not a big deal. It just washes off. It's her body anyway.

But the potty seat. Hmm... She didn't really do anything "wrong." It's not like we had a rule of no-pens-on-the-potty that we could point to and say, "Hey! You broke this rule, so X needs to happen." She's being 3. And it's not a sin to be three. I probably would have poked holes myself! And the fact that she had a pen? Our fault for not catching that.

But it's not really useable. Well, it is. But I like to clean the toilet and all the potty seats weekly and having holes in the foam part is going to be an issue. I don't think I could get it clean like I like it anymore. 

So what we decided was to tell her that the potty seat was broken and couldn't be cleaned anymore and that she needed to throw it away. McKay led her out to the garbage can for that and with lots of crying, she threw it away. It was her favorite. It really was.

I spent some time holding her while she sobbed about the loss of the potty seat. Part of me wanted to say, "Get over it! It's just a potty seat! You have another!" But I didn't. She wanted to be heard, so I would interject things like, "That was your favorite blue seat; you liked it a lot," in order to show her that I understood why she was upset. When she was done telling me how bad it was, she did move on and has since happily used the ducky seat.

My only second-thoughts about the potty seat are related to whether or not it really need to get thrown out in the bin for the landfill or if it would have been better to figure out how to repair it and be a little more eco-friendly. I could have used an old plastic flannel-backed tablecloth and reupholstered it. But it was just a little potty seat, probably not worth the reupholstering.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Relationships are Hard

This was spurred on by the comment discussion from Saturday's post. It made me think about communication in general and what we say and what we don't and why. For some, commenting on anything parenting-related is a major faux pas and immediately offensive. For others, not so much- they're glad for suggestions or input. And I think everyone falls into those categories at different times.

In general, I like people being upfront with me. But I know there are cultures and people who don't like that. I see it when we have people over for dinner: there are some people who have dinner and then chat for hours because it would be rude to leave too quickly. Then there are people who have dinner, and then feel like they are being rude by taking up our time and so they leave. I'm one of those people who ends up turning a 30 minute visit into a 3 hour day trip and I know that this irks some people and I actually really appreciate it when someone tells me I've overstayed. I really don't want to put them out, but I also really like talking and connecting with people. I also don't want someone to feel put out but then feel like it's rude to ask me to leave. In the end, they might not tell me and spend time later begrudging me and my over-talking. I don't want to be the source of negativity in someone's life. I really don't.

But navigating those waters is hard. To be honest, there are times when I'd rather not know that someone thinks I'm out of line. Want to tell me I'm causing psychological problems by nursing my children beyond what's culturally the norm? Yeah, I don't want to hear that. But do I appreciate it when someone comes to me and directly talks about something that I've done that is bothering them? Yes. I do. I'd rather that than find out someone had stewed on it or even talked about it with other people. Please just tell me.

Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself. (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Relationships are hard.

You know how when you go back to your parents' house you start falling back into the same parent/child relationship you grew up with even though you're an adult? That's how all relationships work. I could spend the next 7 years in meditation and reach Nirvana or be translated or whatever, but then when I run into a person that I haven't seen in 10 years? The relationship seems to go back 10 years.  Because it does. I hadn't seen that person in a decade and so the relationship hasn't gone anywhere. Relationships take work and it hadn't been worked on in 10 years. They take being vulnerable and saying something completely offensive and hoping that the other person will be willing to work it out with you later. And sometimes it takes accepting that the other person doesn't want to work it out and you just have to let that relationship go. And that sucks sometimes. Other times it's really freeing.

Sometimes life feels like I'm running around and bumping into other people at random. And then I'm constantly cleaning up all the spills from the bumps.

So I guess what I'm saying is this: thanks for the comments. I learn a lot from them. Because I'm human, I'm probably going to be offensive in the future, but I hope that in the end, I get a hang of this communication and relationship thing. The Internet has taught me a lot. Now to go work on some relationships!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Inquisition Monday

Betttina on Twitter had a couple of questions for Inquisition Monday. I'll save the other one for next Monday.

Inq Monday: how do you take in enough calories to nourish two children through pregnancy and tandem nursing? #breastfeeding

I remember when I was pregnant with Margaret, I read that during pregnancy you need an extra 300 calories a day. I thought to myself, "That's just an extra candy bar! I can do that!" I was being a bit facetious, but for me, getting extra calories hasn't been the problem. The problem has been getting nutrient-dense calories.

When I was pregnant with Isaac, I found the nutrition section in Adventures in Tandem Nursing tob the most helpful section of the book for me. Most of the book felt wishy-washy, "Well, some babies wean during pregnancy and some don't. And some moms experience discomfort while nursing during pregnancy and some don't." And there's good reason: you really can't predict those sorts of things. But the nutrition information was more concrete and more satisfying to read. Unfortunately, my copy of the book is currently lent out, so I don't have it in front of me. But I do recall reading that while your breastmilk is generally the same stuff no matter what your diet, the aspect of breastmilk that changes the most is the type of fats in it. I'm not very good about eating fish and other omega-3s in my diet, so I took (and still take) a cod liver oil supplement, taking care of vitamin D and the omega-3s at the same time. Almost everyone is vitamin D deficient, so I figure it doesn't hurt to team those up.

Right now, I also take extra vitamin C while I patiently wait for our CSA box to start overflowing with oranges again. I try to focus our meals around our veggie box because I feel like eating in season is good for us. Lately, we've had lots of winter squash! I also find that using the box means that we get more creative with our meals, which is fun as well.

In addition to Adventures in Tandem Nursing, I found the website to be helpful and they have a section devoted to tandem and pregnancy issues as well as nutrition. The Kelly behind Kellymom is an IBCLC and tries to include citations for the information, so you can go and double-check everything suggested, which I like.

I hope that helps!

Also, I did the math and next week, Margaret turns 44 months old and Isaac is now 16 months old. That's a total of 60 months of nursing. 5 years. And I was seeing colostrum 4 months before Margaret was born, so I've been lactating for even longer. Unbelievable.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

When to Speak Up

A couple of days before Reese Dixon's post, JoePa and the evil of apathy, I was at our church book group listening to the discussion of Richard Wright's Black Boy and the shock about the violence Wright witnessed, was a victim of, and participated in himself as a child. But then, a woman spoke up and said that it's not like in our times children aren't hurt and then went on to talk about times when she saw children kicked down an aisle or even smacked on the head in church in our ward. I was completely aghast and kept thinking, "Why didn't anyone say, 'Hey! It's not ok to do that!'" But I do know. Sadly, I do.

I've been thinking about the times I've witnessed violence and did nothing. I believe that I would absolutely get the cops involved and stop the rape of a child if I saw it. But I'm no angel, and I've looked the other way at times.

A lot of things constitute as violence. I absolutely love the book, Non-violent Communication because it has shown me how even a conversation can be toxic and violent. I need to memorize that book, I really do. And it's given me the courage, especially in online conversations in various fora, to say, "Hey, it wasn't right for you to say that." I'm not very good at it in person. And it's hard. Because violence is so varied. Personally, I think that some ways "time out" is instituted is violence. Spanking is violence. Yelling can be violence. Calling someone names is violence. Routine infant circumcision is violence. Road rage is violence. Bullying is violence.

But do I speak up? Not always. Should I? I don't know. Or I'm afraid. Mostly that last one.

I once was in a restaurant eating dinner with people and a mom in our party told her son to stand in the corner with his nose to the wall. In public. I felt this was violence: the public shame and embarrassment was cruel. I didn't say anything.

I once was at a house where a little boy about the age of 3 or 4 needed to change his clothes. As he was, his parents and another couple catcalled at him, "Take it off! Ow Ow!" because he was doing it in front of a little 3 year old girl (not his choice, just the circumstance). I didn't say anything.

I was at a playdate when a little boy had a hard time being soft with other people and so his mother spanked him. I didn't say anything.

I once let my parents yell at a sibling for something I had done. I didn't say anything.

When I walk around town, I sometimes hear people yelling at each other in the streets. I don't say anything.

More than once, when I was in school, including in college, I heard people bullying another person. I didn't always say anything. I only remember speaking up 3 times, each time was very difficult for me and I'm proud of that, but it's such a miniscule number to the many other times I let it go.

Most regrettably (and please, don't send me emails about how bad I am for this, the shame of my conscience eats me up every time I think about this), I once woke up while camping in Provo Canyon hearing a woman scream over and over. And I did nothing. It was faint and far away. And dark. And I was scared myself. But those excuses feel so pitiful to me. I think that's the one thing I truly regret in my life and I hope that if I ever hear something like that again, that I not go back to sleep.

So yeah. I really want to delete that paragraph, but that doesn't delete it from my life.

I want to say that from here on out, I will always speak up against violence that I witness. But I know I won't. I have noble friends who I'm sure would have spoken up against a mother spanking her child. My policy is that I will never do a play date at that woman's house and if spanking ever happens in my house, I tell the person that they have to do it outside off the property because my house is safe for everyone, even young people. Luckily I've never had to tell a parent that. But what do you do when you're not in your own home? And the person is someone you are going to see for the next many years over and over and you worry that saying something will burn bridges? What do you do if you hear something and a weapon might be involved? What if it's violent words and no one's physically being hurt?

I don't know. I could have been the spanking parent myself because, after all, that was what I knew. If I hadn't chosen an unassisted birth, I would never have heard about attachment parenting and started studying it. Well, I might have, but not as early. If I hadn't gone to my first LLL meeting, I might not have found the local-to-Provo AP playgroup to watch other moms parent. I learned so much from them and am very grateful for their examples. So when the spanking person could have been me... I don't know. Spanking feels mild when compared to sexual assault. But it's still violence. We need someone to show us how to be nice to each other, we really do. But stepping in and calling out an already violent situation is uncomfortable, painful.

I don't know where I'm going with this. I know I'm not perfect (see above). I don't know where the line is for stepping up and saying something. Or is there no line and I should call out all violence when I see it? How do you handle those situations?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Let me sum up

I had a really busy end-of-the-week last week. Last Monday, we found 2 boxes that we hadn't unpacked since our move. We found homemade knitted toys that I thought we lost forever! I also found my knitting notebook that had my notes from a pattern I designed that I promised I would write up. But the lack of notebook meant I couldn't duplicate my design and write it up. So when I found it Monday, I vowed to write it up as quickly as possible. After all day Thursday and Friday re-knitting the pattern and writing it up, it's done and you can now buy my Deena Mitts pattern on Ravelry for $3.

Meanwhile, in the snotty nose realm, both the kids fell sick with a cold. Margaret had it first and was congested. Co-sleeping gets a little old when your toddler is snoring. She has her own bed, but is still in our room. Breastfeeding was hard, too. Because she couldn't breathe through her nose, her latch changed to accomodate her body's need to breathe with her mouth. And oh my, that latch drove me crazy. It was a catch-22: I didn't want to nurse her because she was sick, but she needed to nurse to get the antibodies to get over her sickness. She's mostly down to nursing to bed and one at 6 am, so I tried to be patient and let her nurse as long as I could stand it. But yeah.

Isaac got it about 4 days after Margaret did. His nose was so stuffy that his body didn't know how to handle it dripping down his throat, so her threw up once each day: Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. It was a party. He and Margaret stayed home from church with McKay and when I came home, Isaac was warm with a fever. I woke up Monday to a baby on fire. Monday afternoon around 4:30, his temperature was 103.18. We slept with out fireball baby who woke up at 102.79. So it's gone down. Barely. Luckily he has kept all his breastmilk down the past few days. He's staying hydrated and is currently sleep nursing in my lap as I type this. I am grateful for breastmilk.

So in all, we've been watching movies while trying to sit where the sun can reach us and give us some vitamin D. I'm personally feeling fine (knock on wood). I'm taking supplements, but for some reason, 3 year olds don't like cod liver oil.

Also: McKay's going to defend his thesis this month!

And some linkage I woke up to this morning:
A Letter to my Children, on Occupy Wallstreet by Arwyn at Raising My Boychick
Fun with Analogies: Cosleeping and Knives, Car Travel and Guns by Annie at PhD in Parenting
Of Babies and Habits by Amber Strocel at

And Betttina, I'll get to your Inquisition Monday question later. I hope that's ok. I have laundry to do.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

EC and Gut Issues

It might not seem like elimination communication and gut issues in a baby might be connected, and I don't think they normally are, but Isaac's life has been an interesting mix of the two.

Early on, we had thrush. It was bad and took weeks (months?) to get over. Because of that, I kind of stopped ECing. One thing at a time, I thought, and breastfeeding comfortably was a higher priority for me. During the early rough thrush times, he was naked butt a lot because he had yeast in his diaper area, but as that cleared up, I didn't work on it so much.

Then 6 months came around. Food gave him bloody stools. I slowed down the pace on the foods and still, at random times, I needed to take him off solids. I wasn't always very strict about it because he LOVES food and I can't seem to keep it from him.

Now he's eating a lot of food. I would say he's still getting 90+% of his daily volume of food from me, but it does seem like he's eating a lot more, at least compared to 9 month old Isaac. For the past few weeks we've been fighting diaper rash and bloody scabs on his scrotum and bottom because his gut just can't handle solids. And my mind keeps going back to the thrush.

A couple of weeks ago at a playgroup, some moms were talking about food sensitivities and I mentioned Isaac's issues and wondered out loud if maybe it's related to the thrush he had early on. His gut didn't get time to establish itself in the beginning and now I'm fighting to keep it happy. Then yesterday, Denise Plunger posted about Gut Integrity- or the importance of breastmilk being the only substance that goes into a baby in order to protect the intestinal walls. Synchronicity, much? Maybe. I really think Isaac's body needs time to re-heal itself. Once again, I'm going to go back to just breastmilk for him for a few days or a week and then reintroduce foods slowly. It's going to be hard because he LOVES food.

And back to elimination communication. Because of the scabs and sores and bleeding on his bum, Isaac has been going around naked butt more often. Yesterday he sat down on the potty by himself and peed. Another time he started pooping on the floor (yay for wood being easier to clean than carpet!) and I got him to the potty where he finished. So while thrush was one of the reasons we didn't spend a lot of time ECing, it is inadvertantly one of the reasons we are catching eliminations again. Silver lining.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Inquisition Monday: Faith

I don't normally blog about my beliefs because I don't think the majority of my readers care that much. And to be honest, the way someone connects to God/dess/the Divine/the Universe/the Force/the Flying Spaghetti Monster/etc isn't usually relevant for most conversations and daily interactions like grocery shopping or blogging. That's not to say that I'm indifferent to how belief and religion are an important part of someone's identity and life story. It's just I don't write about what I actually believe very often because I'm not interested in turning my blog into Heather-preaches-it-about-God. It's already enough of Heather-preaches-it-about-her-life! I incorporate religion when it's important to understand a story or perspective of mine. So with that in mind, I guess I'll talk vaguely about what do and do not believe.

On last week's post on obedience, I got this question from Anna, "On a side note, do you disagree with anything the LDS church tells you and "disobey" their rules? There are many teachings/rules that seem to be a bit taboo to non-LDS members; do you follow all of these regardless because of your trust in the church, or do you ever question and do what you feel is right, even if you may alienate yourself from the rest of the church? You seem to be a very strong-minded spicy girl, so was curious your take on this."

Yes, I disagree with the LDS church at times. Sometimes it's often and sometimes it's not. My beliefs and personal faith has changed dramatically in the past 6 years of this blog, but similarly, my beliefs and personal faith changed dramatically in the previous 6 years and I anticipate that it'll continue to change because that's how the human condition works. I can definitely say that in some ways, my faith was stronger 5 years ago, but I can also say that in other ways, it's stronger now.

In my Daughters of Mormonism interview, I spoke about faith in the very Mormon terms of being a seed and as a garden. My belief garden is full of lots of plants, but sometimes I give a certain plant or two more attention than the rest. I think that's really normal. I can recall times when I felt very strongly about things like Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, prayer, fasting, tithing, etc. But I don't feel strongly about everything Mormon all the time. And sometimes I decide that I don't want to feel strongly about certain things. I take what I want to focus on and leave the rest. That probably makes me sound like a cafeteria Mormon, but I would argue that every Mormon is a cafeteria Mormon. You simply can't be 100% in because all the "rules" are going to get in the way of each other and even contradict each other at times. Take obedience: sure, you can follow everything a leader says, but Mormons are also strong believers in personal revelation. What if it contradicts what a leader says? Then what?

I think that is ultimately the big Mormon question. For a religion starting with a boy who said he saw an angel/Christ/God (depending on which version you read), we've really gotten away from finding our own personal connections with the divine. I know in the past, I've put things between me and God: my parents, my leaders, my husband, my church, my friends, etc., but I'm working on tearing those walls down. But it gets complicated.

For example the "rules" are complicated. There's doctrine, there's practice and policy, there's personal opinions, etc. And it's hard to figure out what is what. There are things that were once doctrine that are now looked at "oh, they did something and it was weird, but it wasn't really doctrine." The most obvious of that is polygamy. In the late 19th century, it was certainly taught that polygamy was essential to salvation. Fast forward more than 100 years, and the President of the Church, Gordon B. Hinckley, denied that it is doctrine in an interview with Larry King. 100% confusing. But 100% exciting. Because the LDS Church claims to be a "living" church, that means things can change. And they do and will continue to do, even if it's at a snail's pace or sometimes in directions I don't like.

I give myself permission to believe, to not believe, and to outright reject some of the things taught over the pulpit and elsewhere. I give myself permission to do or not do all the Mormon things. And I'm ok with that.

Ideally, I would always, always follow what I personally feel is right. And I think I'm doing much better at that these days, but there are times when I sigh and let things go and accept some things in the meantime. No person is an island. I won't lie- I do follow some of the "rules" for the sake of relationships. But there are also other rules that I throw out and figure that if people take issue, then well, I guess they take issue. I've butted heads with family, leaders, other ward members, friends, and anonymous Internet people over various Mormon issues. I'm not always ok with it, as it's anxiety-inducing, but there's a point where you just can't please everyone and you have to take a deep breath and worry about yourself. And that was like 4 years ago.

On the other hand, I am privileged to live in a special corner of the LDS church. People in my ward (congregation) are not afraid to disagree. I've sat in Sunday School and listened to people talk about their concern of how women in the church aren't referred to "President," despite the title of their calling. I remember a Relief Society lesson in which the parable of the talents was described and when the teacher turned to the class for comments, the first one was, "I think this is a terrible parable. I don't like it at all. The master sounds like a jerk." I go to church with women who have openly aligned themselves with the cause of feminism and they are leaders in the stake and ward. I personally know people who went to the stake president during Prop 8 and said, "I can't contribute to this," and was told that they was totally ok and there would be no pressure either way. Mitch Mayne, the man who was called to be in a bishopric in San Francisco because he is gay and who, while not currently in a relationship, has been upfront in saying that he's not opposed to the possibility of finding a partner in the future, came from the ward I go to. I was privileged to hear his "farewell" talk in person. What this means is that the people who declared him "worthy" to be able to take a prestigious position like that are the same people who have the power to "talk to me" or "ask me to pray" about things or keep me from having a calling or take the sacrament (communion) or from going to the temple or even kick me out, but they don't. Similarly, Carol Lynn Pearson, a very well-known Mormon poet, writer, feminist, and LGBT ally also lives in my stake. This past spring, she spoke about our stake president's talk in stake conference last fall about making the Mormon tent bigger and being more inclusive- if you are Mormon, listen to her talk, it's amazing. What this means for me is that I have a lot of freedom. I can start a Heavenly Mother-focused blog or speak about Heavenly Mother over the pulpit without worry. In church, I can wear pants, be barefoot, nurse openly from the top of my blouse, and all sorts of things that seem counter to the Mormon culture and the ward still welcomes me every Sunday and has never said anything, well, except some of the older ladies worry about the temperature of my feet in the winter. I am really blessed to live here. And admittedly, I don't know if I would still be as active and gung-ho somewhere else.

And before I make my ward sound like the most universalist Mormon place in the world, I'll admit there are Sundays when I  close my eyes and mentally sing "LALALALALA" during a talk. And I get mad and angry with the patriarchal system. It's not perfect. But I'm grateful that there is room to stretch and try new things out here.

I'm not always the best Christian or Mormon or feminist or tree-hugging hippie or Oaklander or Californian (haven't even gotten my new diver's license!) or American or human being. I don't even know what I believe moment to moment sometimes: my view of God has shifted probably 7 times in the process of writing and pausing and thinking about this post. And it'll probably change up 30 times tomorrow. Or something like that. Can't be too boring!

I'm not sure if I answered the question well. I appreciate and welcome comments, but Internet rules apply (be nice!), along with "Bloggernacle" rules: you cannot attack someone's testimony or connection with the divine in the comments. I understand the touchy and sometimes painful and disgusting parts of Mormon history and doctrine, please don't come in and try to pronounce Mormons as bad and evil. No anti-Mormon stuff. But similarly, I'm not going to allow calls to repentance. No one gets to judge another person's journey. Well, you can, just not here. Keep it in your brain.

Thursday, November 03, 2011



I don't believe in obedience. At all. While it's nice when my children do what I ask, when they don't, I'm secretly rooting for them, "Keep up that fighting spirit. Don't give in when you think something is unfair!" And I often join their side.

But I know some of you, my readers, feel that obedience in children is a good thing, and I'll admit that it is nice when my children take my suggestions. These are the questions I ask myself:

When do I obey? When do I follow the instructions or advice of another person?

I think there are times that we obey other people out of fear. Thousands (tens of thousands?) of people daily take off their shoes when going through airport security out of fear that if they don't, they'll be called aside for who knows how long, miss their flight and be out $500. Fear and threats work. Over and over even. And I can try that as a parent, but just as I don't know many people who think of the TSA with endearment, I don't think a parent/child relationship based on fear is going to be very amiable.

So think of the last time someone suggested something to you and you did it: that new restaurant  you tried out, that suggestion at work your boss gave you, the medical advice from your doctor, the decision to put in a firewall or build a new roof on your house. Why did you do those things?

Because you trust the person who gave you the advice. You trusted them to have special knowledge or experience that would help you make a decision.

You want your children to obey you? Then you need to be trustworthy. Can they trust you to keep their confidence? Can they trust you to keep your cool when something doesn't go as planned? Can they trust you to be excited for them when something does go well?

Think of the people you don't trust: why is that? I know I have a hard time trusting people who use passive aggression, bribery, and other manipulation. If I want my children and other people to take my advice, then I can't be the person who manipulates. I need to be honest, I need to be forthright, and sometimes, I need to be vulnerable. I need to apologize when I'm wrong.

People revolt and protest when they no longer have trust in a person, organization, or value. That's why there are people on Wall Street right now. It's why that student in your science class ditches the lab period. It's why people walk away from political parties, religions, academic institutions, society in general.

Earning the trust of other people will do more for obedience than insisting on it. It's not going to get obedience 100% of the time, but I think it'll do lots of good.