Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday Frustrations


I am usually a quiet, passive Atheist, with a few anger flare ups here and there. (Ignorance makes me angry, though I know I suffer from it at times.) But the moms on the momslikeme.com website really frosted my cookie today.

I love this time of year. Being an Atheist doesn't take away from my love of Christmas. If anything it's added to my love Christmas and of Hanukkah and Winter Solstice. I have a new appreciation of the world around me. I have a new love of different cultures and of actual factual history.

Being an Atheist has added to the richness of this time of year for me.

Last year I still considered myself a Christian. I had 'walked' away from Mormonism the month prior, but I still believed there was a God who loved me. Celebrating Christmas last year was more of a chore than anything. We had to be out of our home on December 24th. So in order to celebrate with my immediate family, we headed the Embassy Suites in Brea, Ca. Christmas Eve was wonderful. Christmas Day was the chore. We were glad to be on the road on the 26th.

This Christmas, I figured that since I was finally intellectually free, that it would be more wonderful than ever. But having now embraced so much truth and fact, there is a new frustration that I have faced this year.

When people say 'Merry Christmas' to me, I say it back. I know what they are saying is with love of the holiday season and they are just expressing their beliefs. Beautiful. Perfect. I understand. If someone were to say 'Happy Hanukkah' or 'Happy Kwanzaa', I would return the salutation. I think most Atheists, even if it peeves them, are kind people. They wouldn't start a fight with the Salvation Army bell ringer over the wish of a Merry Christmas.

But today on my momslikeme.com website, I was honestly taken aback by the full prideful ignorance of my peers. (Fellow mothers.) The question was, "What do you say this time of year, Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?" The majority of moms were saying that they choose to say Merry Christmas, which is no surprise. I could have guessed that. The majority of people in the States are Christian. What took me back is the blatant disregard for other peoples beliefs and feelings.

I always thought Christians said Merry Christmas out of love. I had no idea that most of these women were saying it because they didn't care what others celebrated. They felt if they say 'Happy Holidays', that they are denying their Christ. They say it because they hope the person they say it to isn't Christian, so they could 'stick it to them'. They don't give a damn if someone might be offended. Their reasons got as hurtful as name calling. They say it because the reason for the season is Jesus. The audacity!

Yeah, that sealed it. Actually, you pious, ignorant, disrespectful Christians on momslikeme.com, if you look it up, Winter Solstice is the reason for the season. Mithra, the unconquered son god, is the reason for the season. The fact that the days are cold and we gather around loved ones and the fire for warmth is the reason for the season. Earth's axial tilt being furthest from the sun is the reason for the season. In 46 BCE Julius Caesar established December 25th as Winter Solstice.

I think this is the first time that I am royally peeved about silly greetings and salutations. So these women on this website feel that Happy Holidays (Happy HOLY Days) somehow takes away from their religion. WTF?

I don't feel like saying 'Merry Christmas' takes away from my Atheism. Nor does 'Happy Hanukkah'.

I don't feel like my children lighting a Menorah and learning about someone else's culture this time of year takes away from my own culture. I don't feel like taking out the trash takes away from my femininity. What a ridiculous line of reasoning. I just don't understand.
I read something today that gave me that warm happy feeling again.
"It's always a great time of year to be an Atheist. The traditions of Christmas are almost entirely pre-christian, so that's not really a problem for us that some people are celebrating the birth of their god. We are doing what people have always done when the days are cold and dark - we look to each other for light and warmth."
That put me back in the holiday spirit!

A beautiful Seasons Greetings to all, and a Happy New Year!
On a side note, the English language is such a beautiful thing. I understand that when people say Holiday, they no longer think of Holy Day. Just like when people say sinister, they no longer think 'of the left' or left-handed. :o)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

It was nice.

I took my girls to our first 'Mommy and Me' meeting down at the local Methodist church today. Yes, I am starving for human interaction so badly that I swallowed my Atheist pride to go to a church. It wasn't bad, actually it was really nice to get out and talk to other moms. Granted, they aren't aware that I don't believe in their god, as I kept my big mouth shut and I refrained from wearing my Atheism buttons and badges.

Not that they would have cared. I made sure I emailed before I showed up, asking if it was open to the public. I just viewed Atheists so negatively when I was a church goer, I feel that at least one of the moms there would have asked me to leave if they would have known.

It was the 'once a month' meeting where the kids spend the whole time in the nursery so the moms can have 2 hours of uninterrupted adult time. A few moms had their newborns with them, and for a moment before the meeting started it was like Breastfeeding Central. Over all, I had fun. My girls had fun too, they didn't want to leave. When I went to get them out of the nursery, they were dancing to 'Zoot Suit Riot'. (Maddy was spinning in circles and Katie was doing her famous 'bottom shake').

Maybe I am too used to what being Mormon means that I am having a difficult time understanding what being Christian means. Cherry Poppin' Daddies would not be a musical selection that would be playing in the background when picking up my kids from the nursery at a Mormon church. Granted, I don't know of any Mormon Wards that offer this kind of support to mothers during the day, with field trips and days that moms can drop off kids to run errands. But I am sure hymns would be playing come pick up time, if anything at all.

Maybe the term fellowship isn't the horrible thing I thought it would be. I had prepared myself to have an opening hymn, opening prayer, a bunch of talk about god and then a closing hymn and a closing prayer. In hind sight I was prepping for a Mormon gathering. They only mentioned god once while I was there, and it was only in passing. And not even in a pushy or offensive way. Have I said it was nice? Because it really was.

I think I may have to stop expecting Mormon behavior from religious people. I expected to be judged, I expected to be forced into talking about god or at least spirituality. I expected to hear my kids talking about Jesus as we walked to the car, and actually worried about doing damage control on the way home. But what I found was a group of wonderful women, all mothers, who got together on the first Wednesday of the month to share stories, exercising techniques and cookies.

It was nice. Having been with my children almost 24/7 for the past year, I can't even express how grateful I am to have found this group. I am hopeful that I may actually make a good friend. I've made friends since moving here, but a not friend that I actually go out with. A friend that I can craft with or even get my nails done with. I know it's going to be a while longer before I get to that place, but the hope is there. And that is really nice.

Friday, November 20, 2009

What's in a name?

Truth be told, I am scared. I have always been Leilani. When I was first learning how to write my name, my mom had shortened it to Loni. Probably to make it easier on me, but I am Leilani. That's the only name I've known.

Until 2006, that is. I requested a copy of my birth certificate from the Orange County Records Clerk. Oddly enough, they had no record of my birth. I gave them the date, time, hospital, mother's maiden name... nothing. They asked if I had been adopted. Why, yes. Yes I had been. I was born to an unwed mother, who, at the time, put down Michael Hobbs as my birth father. Whether she was certain of that or not, may never be determined.

The man who raised me as my father had adopted me in 1983. So I was told that I would have to go through the State of California for my birth certificate. When I received it, I was surprised to find that my birth name is Lelauna. WTF? I know that my mom didn't know how to spell Leilani, but she told me she took care of it. I figured that it wasn't going to be an issue because I have a Driver's License with my name, so no big deal.

That was until I tried to get a driver's license in my new state. No dice. They took one look at my birth certificate, and because it didn't match my other records, they told me HELL NO as far as getting a driver's license or even ID card. Great.

Just peachy. Now what? I started my petition for a name change. I went down to the county court house and paid $136 for court charges. They told me that I would have to publish it in the paper thrice. No worries. I could do this. Until I found out that it was going to cost an additional $299.79. ARE THEY CRAZY?? I can barely pay all the bills and have enough left over for food and diapers!

Dude, I could totally understand if I wanted to change my name to Penelope Pumpernickel Picklebottom... but Leilani IS my name. It's on my driver's license, marriage license, my property taxes, my children's birth certificates, my high school diploma... I understand why they have these rules in place, but it's just so frustrating feeling like I can't get a driver's license here, even though I was able to get one in California. Granted, I don't know how much money my dad slipped the lady at the DMV because I assume the birth certificate he showed her back in 1996 said Lelauna as well...

So here I am without a legal name. The social security department said that they show my name was legally changed with them in 1992. But they don't keep records that long. So I petitioned the state of California for my legal name. They don't have record of a change. So how did my parents get my name changed with Social Security? They are the only ones who know.

Now I am holding all the pieces to this mystery. When I asked my parents (whom I no longer talk to; you'll see why over the course of my blog) they told me that I would know when the time is right and the universe is aligned. Right, let me tell the judge that. They'll sign off on it right away with THAT information.

Too much drama and stress over something that should have been made right in 1983.

So I am scared. I am going to be in court all alone. Trying to convince someone that I don't know, that this has always been my name and somewhere along the road a mistake was made. All I want is a driver's license. Now whether I can pass the written test... that is to be seen.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My very first post! Is it natural to be nervous?

Hi. My name is Leilani and I am a Mormon.

I was born into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on July 10th, 1980 to an unwed mother.

I am blogging to share my journey, in the hopes that other LDS folks might find the strength to leave the church from my experiences, or at the least take away some information that will help them with their doubts.

I state that I am Mormon because I have not yet written my resignation letter. Until I mail that letter in, I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Even though I would be considered a Jack-Mormon. I consider myself a recovering Mormon.

My journey to Atheism started before I was even aware of the complexities of religion and the lack thereof.

I was blessed into the church by my Grandfather as a baby (as I had no father) and was baptized at the age of 8 in September 1988. I attended 4 years of seminary and was the champ of The good old Scripture Chase... I kicked ass during the lightning round. I had a testimony. During many Fast Sunday Sacrament Meetings I stood before the congregation and bore my testimony. I attended the single's ward after high school and have considered myself Mormon until November 2008.

I walked away from the Mormon church after I came to understand how big of a role they played in the Prop. 8 vote in California, where I lived at the time. I could no longer ignore the biggotry the Church promoted. And the more I found out about the church, the angrier I became. And the more I realized how much of a judgmental shrew I was growing up because of my beliefs, the more I knew I couldn't raise my children in that religion. Even though I turned out okay from being raised Mormon, I couldn't do it to my children after realizing all the flaws the Mormon church has.

I started my journey of pulling away from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints last November. I hope to be able to share my journey.

If you are ready to leave the Mormon church, please visit www.mormonnomore.com to find out how to get your name off the church records. It helped me immensely.