April 2015

A Proverbs 32 Woman

by Priscilla on April 28, 2015

I’m not a big fan of the Proverbs 31 Woman. Raise your hand if you are surprised. I know some of you will accuse me of heresy, but I’d like to point out that this woman was created by a man long before women’s suffrage, equal rights or the pill. 

For too long I’ve beaten myself up about the fact that I can’t sew and choose to clothe my children from the outlet stores. I have no husband to say nice things about me.  I live on a city lot so the fields for me to consider are few and far between. I don’t eat the bread of idleness, but that’s only because I follow the Paleo diet so I avoid grains altogether.

Tonight after watching my oldest by two minutes daughter play her heart out only to lose in a championship soccer game, I had yet another epiphany, and that is that just because I don’t fit into a certain mold, and I’m raising my girls to pursue a life far different from the one I did, doesn’t mean I’m doing it wrong or unbiblical. Maybe it just means it’s time to do a little updating so here it goes.

Who can find a tough as nails broad who raises her daughters to face whatever trial life throws at them without giving up or throwing in the towel? That woman doesn’t shrink from adversity. She’s worth a well financed 401k.

She yells from the sidelines and cheers from the stands. She encourages them to run and bike and read and write and sing and dance. She tells them they are just as good as any boy out there, and whatever it is they aspire to be in life, to go for it. Period. They can be anything they want. Even Airborne Rangers. Even professional athletes. Even pastors. Especially pastors.

She gets up before her girls  are awake and makes not only breakfast, but also packs the lunches and starts dinner. She signs school papers and researches the best place to rent a cello and looks for Six Sigma courses online because it’s time to reinvent herself. 

Her arms are strong because she has to lug 50 pound bags of salt down to the basement to the water softener. She also loads and unloads mulch from the back of the truck, wrestles to start the lawnmower, runs to school for awards ceremonies and attends work via video conferencing. 

She prays. Sometimes she only has enough energy to get out a few syllables before falling to sleep, and sometimes they are said through tears, but she prays, damn it. She prays as hard as hell.

She prays that her girls will be tougher and smarter and wiser and better than she could ever hope to be. She prays that God would watch over them and protect them and love them and guide them. She doesn’t have time to worry about what the folks up at the city gate thinks of her or her family because she needs to get shit done, so she does it. 

She messes up. Again, and again and again. She wears her heart on her sleeve, and this can get her in trouble, but she does it anyway. She cares about the poor and the needy. She cares about the disenfranchised. She cares about the lonely and the abandoned, because she gets it. She really gets it.

Her daughters grow up and show empathy. They help out around the house without asking, and they are aware of the pain of others because they’ve lived through great pain themselves. 

Maybe no one will ever write poems about these females, but they are okay with that because they have chosen to live lives of substance. They live, and they work, and they play, and they create, and they connect and they thrive – not because they are married or single or mother or daughter. It is because they know in whom they live and move and have their being. 

…and He looks at them in awe and wonder.

…and He shouts from the heavens, You go girls! 

…and they do. By His grace…

They.Do.

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Turning Wine Into Canvas

by Priscilla on April 25, 2015

One great piece of advice that’s stuck with me in reading about surviving the whole divorce process is “say ‘yes’ to every invitation you get for social gatherings.”  (FYI social gathering is not a euphemism for dates. Some of you well meaning folks have started in with the I have someone I’d like you to meets. Stop.It.Now. )

I’ve attended Helen Free’s book club where I brought down the median age by 40 years. I’ve lunched with the Optimists where I learned about the great opportunities for high school girls in my area. I’ve danced into the night with the local LGBTQ community. (Straight ladies, if you want the chance to dress up and go out dancing, but don’t want to deal with getting hit on, I suggest you take this route because gay men make great dance partners and will let you know the good the bad and the ugly on the the pair of red jeans you are trying to pull off at age 43. ) And last night I tried my hand at art with the ladies from my divorce support group.

A new Wine and Canvas opened up in town. I’m sure most of you are familiar with the concept.  A friend creates an event for a fundraiser or just for fun. You pay money. You show up at the designated time, and you paint a pre-determined scene while attendees take your drink order. Think Bob Ross…franchised….drunk.

I dropped Twins A and B off at Fun Time Grandma’s to spend the night and returned home to check myself in the mirror one more time before going out. Why make sure I looked good before spending an evening with a bunch of tipsy, artsy women? I’ll let you in on a little secret.  We women know that in our 20’s we dressed to impress men, but in our 40’s we dress to impress other women. Why? Because we realize now that we are older and wiser, that it’s really not that hard to elicit compliments from our male counterparts. Men, I love you, but at the heart of it all, you are neanderthals, and you know it. Women, on the other hand don’t have any agenda, and they really do know what looks good so when one tells you that your butt looks great in a pair of jeans, that your earrings are fabulous, or that you are having a great hair night, those things are actually true. 

After I made sure my physical appearance would be up to par for a night out with the girls, I showed up to paint…and drink…in no particular order. When I walked through the large wooden front door of the downtown establishment, I was hit with the presence of about 50 people, half of whom were gloomy looking white males, all sitting in silence at long tables staring at easels. What on earth have I just agreed to? I thought. A nice young man took my name and said, Oh, you are wayyyyy in the back. Story of my life. I put on my confident face and marched uncoupled through all the couples until I reached another large room and breathed a huge sigh of relief. Here’s where the action was at. Lots of women. Lots of laughing. Lots of chatter. Lots of snacks and wine. Lots of Girlfriend Time.

I won’t bore you with the painting details because as you know, no one can ruin a crafty project faster than I. In fact let’s just get the whole ugly unveiling over with right now. I think it will look perfect hanging above the kitty litter box in the basement.

Upside Down Version

IMG_5361

Right Side Up Version (not much difference.)

Priscilla painting right side up

I painted the thing, and even I can’t tell you what’s going on here except I kind of like my daisy. The rest of it just looks like bloodied, beaten cocoons or a really bad illustration of stamens and pistils from my girls’ human sexuality textbook.

Turns out saying ‘yes,’ to another social event was good for my soul. Once again I connected with more women. There was the hygienist from my dentist’s office. A woman from an exercise class I used to attend whom I totally creeped out with my stares until I figured out how I knew her. I’d never seen her with makeup on and wearing street clothes. She’s an absolute stunner in real life. Another woman and I stared at each other until we realized her husband was my girls’ soccer coach a few years ago. (I don’t know if you are seeing a pattern here, but I manage to creep out a lot of people with my staring. That’s because I never forget a face. Ever. I won’t remember your name 30 seconds after I walk away from you, but for better or worse, your face is emblazoned on my my mind for eternity.)

As the evening went on and more drinks were poured the sound of chattering increased much to the chagrin of our long-suffering instructor.

I just walked up front through that date night class, and all those men looked so unhappy. One woman announced with a giggle.

Well, if I were a man and got dragged into a painting class on a Friday night, I’d look unhappy too. I replied. You know what they are all thinking.  “Okay, I did what you wanted tonight. We better get to do what I want later.”

More laughing. More painting. More connecting. The evening ended with our group photo which the instructor announced would be posted on Facebook in a few days. Upon hearing this I positioned myself and my painting in the back where neither of us can be seen.

I walked out to my car, smiling – just me and my bloodied cocoons – alone, but not lonely. Lonely is a state of mind, and I choose not to live in that state anymore. God’s giving me more opportunities to see that living single is truly a gift. This evening was yet one more affirmation. 

Tonight, I’m off to a birthday gathering for an 11 year old. I have no idea what’s in store. Hopefully, I don’t scare anyone off with my staring. The point is I accepted the invitation, and I haven’t regretted one yet.

 

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Last time I broached the subject of sex with my girls, I begged off the job to their grandmother who skillfully fielded such questions as, You did that with Grandpa? But he was so grumpy. While I, on the other hand, horrified them with the explanation of the breaking of the hymen, when all they wanted to know was why I wasn’t using a utensil to put the hotdogs on the grill.  (If you missed this Hallmark Channelish TIS Moment, you can relive it in all its glory here.)

Fast forward a few years, and yet again I am pawning off the teaching of one of life’s most important lessons to my friend. To be fair she is a minister and a trained sex educator. I hold a degree that allows me to correct others people’s grammar, and the only experience I’ve had in the sex department lately is asking my girls if they’ve seen a purple wand lying around because I’d lost my “back massager.”

The closest I got to either role was back in the 7th grade when my BFF, Kristi Wallace, and I would sit in the back pews of church and laugh until we were gasping for air while reading Song of Solomon. We were supposed to be taking notes on the pastor’s series The Set Up of the Hebrew Tabernacle. You try to remain silent when you stumble upon the words, We have a little sister, and she hath no breasts. I believe it was on that day that God, watching from above, scratched Pastoral Care from His list of Some Ideas for My Will for TIS’s Life. 

I think in my case it’s safe to say leave the whole sex talk thing to the trained professionals and go take a nap.

The human sexuality course runs 8-10 weeks every Sunday for two hours. Last week at pick up time all I heard from the backseat were the mutterings of, This is so embarrassing. Why do the boys have to be in there with us? And Testicles sound like something on an octopus. Followed by made up jokes about an octopus juggling his balls.  This week I got a message from the teacher, Barn burner today. Reproduction and lovemaking. just so you know. 

Too late. I was already sitting on the couch with Twin A and Twin B, sex ed book open to various picture covering various topics, and I was fielding questions faster than Jose Bautista can stop a line drive to first. Were you completely naked when you had us because this drawing has a lady giving birth completely naked, and she looks ridiculous.

Lots of laughter.

I don’t know who got the illustration contract for their human sexuality book, but note to illustrator, it’s 2015 and most of us women in the Western world give birth in a place called a hospital, where the medical staff prefer it if we aren’t buck naked at the time of delivery.

No, I was not completely naked; I was wearing a hospital gown, and yes, for the record, that drawing is ridiculous.

Do you just lay there? When is it over? Have you ever fallen off the bed? How many times did you do it with Dad? Three? Four? Did you have sex more than four times?! How many? Like…10?

Well, you can just lay there, but there will be complaints. Your first time? In about four seconds. I’d rather not say, but for the record people can have sex other places than just the bed. Your father and I had sex more than three times. 

(Remember the story of Abraham going to God asking him to spare the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah if he could find 50 righteous people? He didn’t have much luck so he kept going back to God, whittling down the number until he got to five.  I was starting to get a sense the frustration God must have felt with Abraham now that my girls were displaying the same obsession regarding the number of times their father and I engaged in sexual activity.)

Silence. Horrified looks.

Followed by more silence. And more horrified looks.

How many times, Mom? Mom, did you have sex when we were in the house? Mom, did you have sex when we were nine?  Mom, did you have sex when we were 10? Mom, is that why the door to your bedroom was locked?  Mom, when we were little, and we cried, and you and Dad came into our room to check on us, Dad wasn’t wearing a shirt… is that because you were having sex? Mom, when you said you and Dad had to go upstairs “to talk” were you…

Again, your father and I had sex more than three times. Maybe…like…4.5 times. We had sex when you were nine. We had sex when you were 10. I can have it on a boat or a plane. I can have sex on a train. I can have sex here or there. I can have it anywhere…wait a minute…I’m mixing Dr. Seuss with my sex life, but then again Sam-I-Am didn’t mess around.

Blank stares.

Okay, so maybe I’ve ruined the good doctor for them forever, but the point is I’m trying. I’m trying to do better by them than the sex ed that I got which was a nurse coming in to talk to us girls in the seventh grade about our changing bodies, and the only take away I got was that girls got really smelly every 28 days and boys wanted to touch our boobies.

I should probably look at Twin A and Twin B’s  books  to see what’s up for next week’s talk, but seeing how I hit it out of the park this week, I’m not too worried.

After all, I had sex one time and got two kids out of it.  That makes me some kind of expert.

 

 

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