Friday, October 11, 2013

Is my Marriage Recorded in Heaven?

10 years ago today, my best friend and I eloped to Las Vegas.

We had decided 4 days prior to get married and, for a brief moment, I had visions of wedding plans and bridal showers. Then I remembered who my mother was and I realized that those things I'd been dreaming about since I was a little girl were not going to happen for me.

The problem? I still identified as a Mormon, and my best friend was not.

So my options were to get him baptized immediately, then wait the mandatory year before we could be sealed in the temple, or marry him outside of the temple and hope he would join the church eventually, so then after he accepted the gospel, and a year had passed after his baptism, we could be sealed in the temple.

I knew that the first option was not going to happen. It takes time for someone to accept the gospel. And Mormons aren't about baptizing people without making sure they were going to be committed tithing payers the rest of their lives.

The second option didn't look good either. I didn't want to end up paying for two 'weddings'. I also wasn't sure that my buddy would ever want to be Mormon. Funny thing about that was that I didn't really care. I had been a Jack-Mormon for the three years prior and had already started to lose the foundation of my belief system. I loved him and I wanted to be married to him.  Sucks, huh?

I realized shortly after we decided to get married that my love for him and my simple want to be his wife was going to cause drama and 'hurt' between my mother and I. (She would pretend to be the victim and end up hurting my heart.)

I had know him since we were 12. He and I went to Junior High School together. We were both in High School Marching Band and Color Guard. We were both in Concert Band. We would walk home together after school and he would carry my overstuffed backpack for me. We never dated then, but we were always really good friends. He was trust worthy, loyal, funny and kind, and I had fallen in love with him. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him.

After we decided to get married, I started to get excited, but that quickly turned into concern about my mother's reaction.  Her capability to be truly happy for me was clouded by her belief in certain principles of her (our) religion.

I didn't tell her about my plans when I returned home that night. I started to think that not telling our parents would be best. Instead of setting a date for the next year, I figured we would 'sneak out' on Saturday and call our parents after the fact, as to beg forgiveness instead of seeking permission.

I knew my mother would rather me marry a lying, cheating ass of a man, as long as he was Mormon over a wonderful non-Mormon. I tried my mom's plan for me; I had dated Mormon guys, Return Missionaries, and boys about to leave for their missions. I was not impressed.

My plan to keep my big mouth shut was going swimmingly for an entire day, until my future husband told me that he had told his mother and she was so excited and wanted to come along. I felt like a deer in headlights.  I didn't know what my next move should be. Should I avoid drama now and invite my parents? Or should I continue with my plan and just never, ever tell them? The latter choice was still looking like the best option.

My future husband, being the loving guy he is, strongly recommended that I tell my parents and invite them to come too. So I did.  I could see the disappointment on my mother's face. My dad seemed taken aback. Almost like he couldn't believe it.  My mom kept asking if I was sure. She was truly concerned about him not being Mormon. She kept telling me that even though he was willing to marry me that wasn't a guarantee that he would get baptized for me. (You know, after you give him the milk, there was no guarantee he would join your cult.) I kept telling her I was sure and she ended up pouting the rest of the evening in her room.

They avoided the question of joining us on Saturday the rest of the night. It wasn't until the next evening, two days before I was hoping to elope in peace, that my mother told me that they weren't going to be able to go. She wanted me to delay the wedding day, she wanted me to pray about it longer. She wanted me to give god more time to talk me out of it or something. I started to wish I hadn't told her. I didn't want to keep living my life around her.

She was still a champ about it. Even though she wasn't going to go, and even though I wasn't marrying a Mormon boy, she still took me out to buy a wedding dress. Of course, it had to be temple appropriate, so it wasn't the one I wanted. But it was still better than the simple white blouse I had purchased for myself.

My future husband and his mother picked me up from my parents house that Saturday morning and we headed to Las Vegas. My mother spent the morning crying and refusing to take any pictures for me.  I left the house trying to shake off the guilt my mother piled on me for making one of the best decisions of my life.

My future husband's mother paid for the entire weekend. She even made sure we had our pictures taken so we would have that keepsake.  I guess she wasn't as upset that her son was marrying outside their non-denominational Christianity as my mother was that I was marrying outside of my cult.

We were married at 11:45 pm that night. Just myself, my new husband and his mother were present for our wedding. (We opted out of having an Elvis.)

I wish I could have had a wedding like most of my friends had. One I could have planned out, stressed about and had wedding showers for. I wish my family would have supported that. But I know that if I had planned out a wedding, my mother would have spent everyday trying to talk me out of my decision. She would have argued and debated me on every choice that was made. Just like she did with my dress and my choice of husband.

My mother-in-law mentioned that she wanted to throw us a reception for family and friends after we eloped. My mother seemed excited about it. Then the topic of alcohol arose. My mother-in-law wanted wine, beer and champagne at the reception; and my mother lost her shit. She wasn't going to help plan and pay for a party where alcohol would be offered. For a moment I thought my husband and I were going to have one 'dry' and one 'fun' reception. But no. We ended up not only with two mothers who wouldn't speak to each other, but also ended up without a reception. My mom then held the idea of a reception hostage. She said when we decided to 'really get married' (she meant in the temple), then she would invest in a reception.

I had to take a step back and refocus myself. I was legally bound to my love and I now shared his name. That was all I really wanted and everything else would have been a bonus.  And having to deal with my mother and her guilt for anything else wasn't worth it.

For the next few years, my mom would ask when my husband and I were going to get sealed in the temple. You know, because our 'Earthly Marriage' wouldn't count in heaven. If I wanted to be married in the after life, we were going to need to get sealed in a temple. It was the only way a marriage survives death. And for a while, my husband and I spoke about possibly getting sealed one day. We debated going to the Las Vegas Temple, to add some sentimentality to it all. But before we even got close to that, everything that was once important to me, became a bunch of silliness.

So a decade has passed. I am still married to my best friend. And it is okay that we never had a celebration of our love with our family and friends. We have each other, we have made it through so much together and I know we can make it through anything. And it's okay that we are only married until 'death do us part', mostly because death has the final say in every relationship anyway, no matter what anyone says about it here on Earth. And I know that we are going to cram every wonderful thing we can into the life we have here and now.

Happy Anniversary Dustin. I love you more than I thought was humanly possible.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Allowing Children to be in Public

I read this on a friend's facebook page in response to my friend posting an article from a father who had a bad run in at a local grocery store while his child was having a melt down...

"Parents, control your brats. I'm sick of hearing ear-piecing screaming everywhere I go. Not all the world is a Chucky Cheese restaurant. If you can't control your brats keep your goddamn legs closed long enough to buy a box of condoms. Don't bring your screaming toddlers into the movie theater two minutes before the movie starts and sit right behind me. Don't bring your crying babies into the coffeeshop where people are trying to read and have conversations. Don't bring your children incapable of lowering their voices to indoor level into restaurants where I budget money to have a nice night out at a place where people are supposed to be able to spend precious time with friends and hear each other. Leave the kids at home. Start a baby-sitting coop where mommies take turns watching each others kids. Establish public behavior expectations for your kids. If you can't keep them quiet, keep them away from people. Keep them home. They're not as adorable to other people as they are to you. Stop letting them pick their noses and grab cookies and put them back on the serving plate. Stop letting them take a bite out of cookies and put them back on the serving plate. Stop letting them eat sticky candy and touching everything and making the whole world sticky." ~Mary Hunt

I wanted to respond on facebook, but I didn't want to butt into a conversation that I wasn't invited to. Plus facebook isn't always the best place.  My blog, on the other hand, is perfect. 

Both friends are skeptics/non believers/atheists etc, so what better place to vent a bit, than my atheist blog. 

Where do I start? Is there even a place to start?

I have as much control of my children as I do of ignorant bigots and idiot strangers. Okay, maybe that isn't entirely true. I can bribe and punish my children more effectively that I can others, but that isn't to say that sometimes parenting small people, who have their own decision making skills and their own unique personality flaws, doesn't almost seem impossible. 

My mother always told me that the more children I had, the easier mothering would become. My mother is a pathological liar.

Parenting is difficult. I made the choice to become a parent (with each child) and I stopped at two children, but that doesn't make parenting any easier or harder than someone with one or twenty children. Having that much responsibility on your shoulders to raise responsible citizens that don't turn into serial killers is sometimes marginalized or looked at as being an easy job; and if we can't handle it, then we should magically go back in time and chose not to have children. Sorry peeps, it doesn't work like that.

I have ofttimes witnessed the eye rolls of others, judging the struggling parent who is juggling grocery shopping while trying to teach their child the proper way to behave in public. Children are stubborn little things. They don't always have the cognitive power to understand the 'why' behind mommy not letting them eat the grapes she just put in the basket right this instant, or the 'why' behind mommy saying no to the sugary cereal. It's not easy to explain things in easily understandable words to small, young people. And it's not easy rationalizing with them either. Nor is it easy feeling like the 'bad guy'.

To be clear, my children are angels. Sweet little demonic angels. I have been lucky that screaming tantrums didn't grace my children. When I was walking through the grocery store, saying no to all the wonderful treasures my children thought they absolutely needed, they would play opossum. Not kidding. My little K and her Irish twin sissy, little M, would lie down in the middle of the aisle and NOT MOVE. Luckily that doesn't bring the kind of attention as a flailing, screaming child does. But I didn't train them to do that. I didn't threaten them within an inch of their little precious lives, I didn't practice at home with duct tape and rope... nope (I know, what kind of mother AM I?)  That is just how they chose to express their frustration. 

...Mommy said no?  Okay, I'll just practice the civil disobedience mother patiently taught me at home and refuse to move away from the sugar coated, frosted chocolate, diabetes themed cereal and become practically immovable dead weight... 

They didn't scream, kick or bite. They just 'died'. 

Do I consider that a tantrum? HELL YES. 

Did I handle it in the same way that I would have if they had been screaming?  Yes. 

They were not going to get their way. That would be horrible parenting. No parent worth their weight would give in; THAT could turn a child into a brat. A child pushing their limits does not make them bratty. We ALL push our limits.  We just do it in different ways.

I push my limits while driving, while planning my day, when asking favors of friends, when I really want something from my husband. We all do it. Just little young people are still learning how to do it effectively. Positively reinforcing negative behavior isn't how you teach someone positive behavior.

Children should be taught to express themselves in a regular tone of voice, they should be taught to debate and stand up for themselves, but those lessons are learned over time. It's not a miraculous thing. Neither is learning to walk or ride a bike. Sometimes people fall, sometimes things don't come out right, sometimes people overreact. The same thing applies to children. How can anyone hold a small child to expectations they cannot met as an adult with decades more experience? How pathetic. 

Just to set the record straight, my children are also not allowed to act crazy in Chuck E Cheese either. What an ignorant thing to say. My children are expected to use their indoor voice at all times. Sometimes it doesn't happen and I have to gently remind them. Adults do the same thing. That doesn't mean that adults shouldn't be allowed to enjoy public spaces.

No one is perfect. And people should not throw stones, regardless of housing situation. People misbehave, no matter their age. Children know how to irritate their parents, they know their parents so well, they know the exact pitch to hit with their screams in order to get the fastest response. Trust me, while my children would go all opossum on me in the store, restaurants were so very different. I assume because restaurants tend to be loud, my children felt the need to scream above the noise to be heard. I have removed my children from restaurants to take them outside and have always done my best to help them reset. Does it always work? No. But as a parent, raising a child who I hope will one day save the world, I am doing my fucking best. 

Maybe instead of being such a judgmental shrew, Mary could rethink how SHE could be a better person in that kind of situation. Did you see a mother of two tending to one child who was hurt or needed help, and witness the child behind her take a cookie, bite it and put it back? How about you walk your lazy ass over, pick up that cookie and any others it touched with a napkin and dispose of it. Mother's don't automatically get eyes in the back of their head once a child in placed in their arms. Crazy, I know!

I hate to be the one to remind you, but this world isn't a man's world, it isn't a childless person's world, it isn't even a child's world. What kind of narcissist would expect people to live around HER? Should I ask permission prior to taking my child out to eat on their birthday? Some days people feel awesome and ready to conquer the world, other days, people don't feel so great. The same applies to young people.  Just because we are out to celebrate, doesn't mean my child feels like it. Sometimes they don't tell me because they are still learning to put their emotions into words.

Granted, there are some lazy parents, parents who have given up, maybe they didn't want to be parents to begin with. Maybe they have struggles that you don't see. Maybe the child has special needs that aren't apparent to the judgmental eye of folks.  Sometimes the child screaming is screaming because they can't get their parent to understand them and the parent could not care less. But every single parent I know does their best. They love their children and want their children to behave themselves too. But it's a work in progress. 

No one thinks their child picking their nose is adorable. When I see my children itching themselves or picking at things, I try to guide them to do it in private and to use a tissue. Children itch what needs to be scratched, they are still being modeled to be accepted into our society as 'normals' and sometimes it takes practice. What a dumb thing to say. I have never told my children that picking their nose and touching things is socially appropriate, how did you come up with this stuff?

Sometimes it feels like we are so used to complaining about and bashing others that we don't take a moment to have basic human compassion and empathy for them. I understand how frustrating it can be to plan a date night, budget in money for a movie and dinner (AND a babysitter) just to sit down next to a table full of rowdy children.  Does it kinda suck? Sure, but I've been the mother at that table of loudmouth, excited children. I can sympathize and it's not a crime to ask for a different table or move to the bar. I've done that as well, because I am a full grown adult that understands that people don't live around me. If I am uncomfortable, whatever the reason, I remove myself. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Life goes on.

I don't want to touch upon the misogynistic things she said about keeping legs closed, that is an entirely different can of worms that my feminist punk ass won't get started on. Dude... whatever happened to not saying things if you don't have anything nice to say, especially when what you have to say is borderline vicious?  Maybe Mary's mother should have done a better job raising her.  Since raising perfectly proper children is obviously as easy as tying your laces.

We no longer live in an era where children are seen and not heard. Same with women and mothers and minorities. Don't like it? How about you stay at home and not go out in public since it seems like you don't even have the skills you require to be out with the rest of the world.

One last thing I want to point out:

No matter how much you clean your kids or wash their hands or prevent them from eating sticky things, most children, by nature, tend to be sticky. (That is why most parents carry around wet wipes.) Fucking deal with it like a gawd damned adult.