when I thought I had an anger problem and then remembered I’m an introvert

Since adding Chiara to the mix, I’ve been reading/thinking/talking about parenting more than I ever have before. It’s not her – she’s almost unicorn baby level of chill – it’s me. It’s me learning what it feels like to be stretched to my limits and operate at full capacity. And what it looks like when I snap.

Anger, friends. So much anger.

Before becoming a mom, I don’t know if I’d ever experienced anger as an emotion before. Seriously. Annoyance and irritation, sure, but … rage? Nope. I’m an Enneagram 9 and the classic problem with that type is “being out of touch with one’s anger,” and I always thought, hm, weird, that doesn’t apply to me. Hah!

A while ago, I had two separate conversations with friends in the course of a week about going to counseling for parenting issues. Specifically, dealing with anger as a parent. And it surprised me that I had never thought of this as an option before, but because it popped up twice, it seemed like something I should consider. But then, all the obstacles – cost, insurance, childcare? And I didn’t do anything.

Then, one afternoon a few days later, I had a fantastic blow up at Evangeline and finally decided – if counseling is what it takes to make this stop, I have to do it.

I ended up making an appointment at the Women’s Care Center in town because a) it’s free and b) I could bring Zelie and Chiara, and I had a conversation with a counselor. I went in expecting her to give me strategies to manage anger, but when I described that I have a 4 year old, 2.5 year old, and 5 month old, and I get angry with my 4 year old when I’m tired, she turned the conversation towards self-care.

Are you getting enough sleep? Do you have help from your husband? Do you get time to exercise, be alone?

And I thought, Wait a second. Is this really the answer?

I consider myself good at asking for help and knowing what I need. The self-care route seemed like an easy out.

Later that day, I started reading a book called Introverted Mom, and found myself laughing in relief. She laid out three truths about anger that RESONATED.

  1. Anger is the natural response to the hard parts of motherhood, especially as an introvert.
  2.  Anger is an indicator to pause or change something (a bodily cue, similar to hunger).
  3. Quiet is a must for an introverted mom.

Oh yeah!! I’m an introvert! Everything made sense again. (I don’t know if I fully recommend this whole book, but it was worth it even just for this beginning part).

I don’t have an underlying anger issue. The self-care stuff isn’t secondary. I need to recharge to be a sane person good mom and partner to Chris.

The book gave me some reminders of ways to recharge and I thought of things I already naturally do, but now I recognize them as necessary.

Here’s what’s working right now:

  • Lighting a candle in the morning darkness
  • Morning Prayer from Magnificat while I nurse (even v interrupted)
  • Playing music
  • Getting out for a run about 2x/week
  • Reading novels while nursing
  • Stepping outside to just breathe
  • Soaking up the colors of the fall leaves
  • 20 min power naps
  • Going to bed as early as I can
  • Conversations with good friends (over Marco Polo if not in person)
  • Giving Evangeline a 20 min show after her quiet time (to bribe her to stay in her room for her quiet time and give myself a little more time)
  • Historical British dramas (Downton Abbey)

 

 

I’m learning to recognize what my “buttons” are, and to step away when I need to. And to note, without judgement, when I am particularly tired or overstimulated … before I lose it. I’m working on making time during the week and a regular time each weekend for me to do something restorative (Chris is a big part of this).

Because then I set myself up to enjoy time with these cuties and they get a happier mama. Win win.

 

 

Why this millennial convert is grateful for Humanae Vitae

We do not really want a religion that is right where we are right. We want a religion that is right where we are wrong. – G.K. Chesterton

As a way of response to the bemoaning in some circles of the Church’s “irrelevancy,” re the 50th anniversary of “Humanae vitae,” (the papal encyclical that reiterated the Church’s stance on contraception,) I’d like to share the story of how the Church wooed this millennial home. 

Unity, contraception, and authority – the super sexy buzzwords that shaped my journey from the evangelical world to the Catholic Church. I became Catholic at a Friday afternoon Mass less than a week after my first baby was baptized into the Church. A couple days before, I had a surge of doubt – How did I get to this point? Am I making the right decision? But when I sat down and thought about my spiritual course of the last few years, I felt overwhelming peace. Having been raised in the nondenominational, evangelical Christian world, I had learned to look to Jesus. To make decisions with the question in mind, Will this lead me closer to God? Will this require me to trust Him more? I was reassured, only Jesus could have led to me this place of trust, where I was ready to submit to the authority of His Church and cross the Tiber.

As a college student in the Bay Area, discovering the Church as a two thousand year old institution that has the audacity to hold to crazy truths that Protestant denominations have abandoned was shocking and challenging and, strangely, very compelling. I probably asked Chris, the one Catholic in our university evangelical student group (now my husband), a million times – You actually believe this? Oh yeah, and there was that. I also happened to find Chris very compelling. Contemplative and competitive, deep and fun, he really seemed to love Jesus … and yet, he was Catholic. Why do you have to go to Mass every Sunday? Why do you pray to Mary? If you eat Jesus, aren’t you a cannibal? I was a bit sassy, but, not so secretly, very intrigued.

I went to a Spanish Mass with Chris in Oakland throughout the summer of 2011 and when I studied abroad in Spain that fall, I found myself going to Mass with a new friend in the program. She was Catholic, and I continued to ask questions. I couldn’t receive the Eucharist, and had some awkward bumbles asking the priest for a bendición when I stepped forward in the communion line, but I went back week after week. The Mass was the same everywhere! If it was true, Jesus was physically present in millions of churches all around the world. Chris, back in California, was hearing the same scripture readings. A unified, global Church! The ritual and form was such, I could participate in a different language. I learned that Catholics fasted the hour before receiving the Eucharist; they didn’t bring their bagels into the pews. Church as a sacred space? Didn’t the Church know it was supposed to appeal to my generation with amplified music and hipster coffee in the foyer?

When I returned to Stanford, I still wasn’t sure about Catholicism, but I was pretty sure about Chris.

“I think we should date,” I said.

Let me think about it,” he said.

And when he got back to me, he said, “I want to date you, but there’s two things you should know. I’m fine with marrying a Protestant, but I want to raise my kids Catholic, and I want to follow Church teaching on contraception.”

WHAT THE WHAT. There’s Church teaching on contraception?

I was shocked to learn that yes, in fact, the Church holds to the traditional Christian view that contraception is a moral issue and it is wrong.

And in fact, Protestants believed and taught this until 1930, when the Anglican Church announced contraception to be acceptable in certain circumstances and other denominations followed suit in the decades after. I had no idea. This rocked my world because every single Christian in my life until this point, once married, had no problem with using contraception. In fact, it seemed to be encouraged. Babies are blessings, but they are planned blessings. Faced with this news, I set about learning more because a) I wanted to date Chris and b) I didn’t want to be a Duggar.

I learned that the Church teaches that sex is inherently unitive, pleasurable, and procreative. I learned that for millennia, Christians have believed that the sexual act is, by nature, tied to co-creating life with God. And further, that couples don’t have the right to actively mess with that (sacred) reality. What about couples who are infertile? What about women past menopause? Neither of those cases involve the couple actively interfering with the sexual act to render it sterile – there’s nothing immoral about infertility. (Though it’s true that the Church has a long way to go in its pastoral care for couples struggling with this).

I learned that the Church teaches that couples can track their fertility to avoid or achieve a pregnancy. There are many methods of fertility tracking, but they are lumped together in the Catholic world under the title, Natural Family Planning

When a couple is highly motivated and uses NFP effectively, it has a 98 percent success rate in avoiding a pregnancy. Well, isn’t that just Catholic birth control, then? Nope. A couple using NFP to avoid a pregnancy doesn’t do anything to alter the sexual act. They abstain from sex when the woman is fertile, following her body’s natural rhythms. It’s an ongoing conversation between themselves and God, month by month, but in general, there’s an attitude, an orientation, that is open to life as each sexual act is open to the possibility of life.

I found all this very new and alarming. And fascinating. People actually do this?? Do they all have a ton of kids because NFP doesn’t work or because they just want to? The vast majority of families I knew growing up had two kids and then were “done.” I was also intrigued because I knew basically nothing about my fertility.

I met with a married woman I knew who had recently converted to Catholicism to ask her about NFP. How does it actually work? She explained briefly how she tracked her fertility, and then told me that her husband actually wrote down her observations each day. He was intimately familiar with her cycle and could see, with her, if she was stressed or sick, from the signs her body was giving her. My take away from this was – I have no idea what cervical mucus even is! It can tell you that you’re sick?? But I was drawn to several points from what she shared. Her husband cared about her fertility. The man could discuss cervical mucus! He had a vested interest in it. And this led me think about, for the first time ever, I don’t want to be the one responsible for if I get pregnant or not. If I get married, I want my spouse to share that with me equally. And a second thought, I don’t want to ever feel used by my spouse, or use him. If we could take only the pleasurable aspect of sex and not the other reality of possibly creating life, by rejecting part of my body, namely, my fertility – well, that didn’t seem as right to me anymore. I wanted to be all in, with him, holding nothing back. It started to make more sense that for something as intimate and powerful as sex, there would be a lot of self-sacrifice involved for the sake of the other.

It was the strangest thing, but as I learned more about NFP, I found more and more that it seemed empowering of women. I met with a nurse and NFP instructor in San Jose and she taught me more about my body than I had ever learned in health class. My body is amazing! Women are amazing! Why aren’t we all taught how to track our fertility? This coincided with an obsession I had with midwifery, and there’s a lot of rhetoric in the birth world about how strong and goddess-like women are, so I was riding a feminist high. This feels like true feminism! Why is the pill given as a solution for any female problem? Why are we told to medicate our fertility away?

Learning more of the why’s and how’s of NFP led me to start considering the authority of the Church. “No contraception” felt like a super personal, crazy demand that the Church somehow had the boldness to impose on me and my sex life… but as a Protestant, I had come to profess Jesus as Lord. And that meant He had authority over my life. This was a foundational part of youth group, college ministry, church on Sunday, you name it. Give your life to Jesus. “Your life” included how you thought about your studies, future career, justice, money, friendships, and sex. I am so grateful for this formation. It molded my heart, from a young age, with an inclination towards radical trust in the Divine Will. But I never once heard anyone talk about Jesus having authority over family planning. Trust God with the number of kids I’m going to have? That’s going a little far, wouldn’t you say?

And yet, why? It began to feel inconsistent. I looked at the spiritual mentors in my life – people living out their love for God in their decisions about money, their work for justice, their sharing of the gospel with word and deed– it seemed nothing in their lives was outside of God’s control. Except, it seemed, accepting children. Save sex until marriage, and then, go crazy? I assumed so, but didn’t really know; it wasn’t talked about. The vibe I gleaned from excitement about engagement and weddings (though, granted, this wasn’t huge in the Bay Area,) was once you’re married, all that chastity and self-control stuff is finally a thing of the past! And this felt odd to me. It started to make much more sense that I was practicing self-control and practicing chastity for when I would need to use those virtues in the rest of my life. If using NFP cultivated self-control in the relationship between a married couple, wouldn’t that be good, not just for the individual, but also the marriage?

There were these flashes, then, when the Catholic Church didn’t seem quite so crazy. Or, if crazy, at least consistently crazy, and very confident of its authority to proclaim truth, which was interesting. I kept getting glimpses of how this counter-cultural lifestyle would require me to trust God more than I ever had to before. If the Church seems more consistent on the sex thing, what else might it be right about? Rather than pushing me away, it drew me in.

I kept reading and asking questions, praying and seeking God’s will. I felt my heart open and continue to soften until I felt I could agree to raise my kids Catholic and do this NFP thing. So, still Protestant, I married Chris in a Catholic church. I went to Mass on Sundays and let the Holy Spirit speak to me, often through the gift of tears . And in perfect timing, it led me to that Friday afternoon Mass at the end of October, my husband holding our two month old daughter who had been baptized six days earlier. I felt the chrism oil dripping down my forehead and knew, when the priest said, “Be sealed with the Holy Spirit,” I could say, “Amen,” because it was Jesus who had brought me home to His Church.

 

 

 

school’s out

One. Chris finished finals and we did our 2018 inaugural beach trip! Grandma got the girls super cute suits. We found a playground and had a chill time. Evangeline had fun running in and out of the very cold water until she fell over and got soaked and that was the end of that. Zelie was content climbing on Chris and eating sticks and being just way too stinking cute.

Two. Chris’s roommate and best man from Stanford has been staying with us for the last week and a half. For Chris, it’s meant a buddy to watch the playoffs with. For me, it’s been a taste of living in community and I’m reminded that I like it. It’s nice having someone else with us for dinner and to play with the girls (and Kevin does the dishes while we do bedtime – praise!) We’re planning to rent a room to one of Chris’s fellow M.Div’s next year and I’m looking forward to that more now.

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Three. Kevin got us tickets to Hamilton! I think as a thank you for letting him stay? Setting the bar high for future guests! JK, JK. JOKES. But it was awesome. Even the phenomenon that is Hamilton aside, I was struck by how amazing live performances are. We were asked (ushers yelled at people during the first song) to put our phones away and just sit and enjoy being present to these men and women who are brilliant at their craft. Refreshing. And a treat for me to be away from the girls and in Chicago for a day. I’m super grateful to my friends who watched them – when Kevin first told us he wanted to buy tix I thought, there’s no way we can go, but I asked anyway and ROSE AND KATHERINE ARE THE BOMB. #FRIENDSHIP

Four. I’m reading this and I see a lot of my own conversion story in his, and he reminds me of a lot of my friends. It got me working on a post on my conversion, which is fun to write, but still in my drafts.

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Five. My friend Julia requested that our local library buy this new book that we both want to read (didn’t know you could do that!) and I’m next in line when she’s done. I spent some time journaling through a free ebook of Jennifer Fulwiler’s called A Guide to Your Gifts and it was so great. Her new book is about pursuing your passions while having a family and I was like, hm, I love the sound of that, but … what are my passions again? (Classic Enneagram 9, lol). So, this ebook was great for that and it got me all fired up. I have passions to pursue! I want to write a book! I want to get better at handlettering! I want to change the world! And then I felt like I kind of hit a wall. (I want to learn how to edit photos of my handlettering, but Photoshop/Illustrator/Whatever is so expensive! If you know how to do this for free, can you tell me how?) But I took a small step and committed to write each day for one week, not blogging, but seeing what came out (it was mostly poems). I missed some days and don’t know if I even made it a whole week, but it was something! Finding community with writing is something I would really love … waiting for that.

Six. One of the questions in that ebook was, “who are you jealous of?” Because we’re often jealous of people we see fully living out their gifts. And it got me thinking, man, IG often feeds my jealously/envy. And envy is the least fun sin. If you have any tips on combatting that, please share. I usually want to throw my phone away until I have a cute pic to post, which is terrible.

 

Seven. Inspired by Sarah and also Julia telling me that they can survive the winter here, I think I’m thinking about backyard chickens?? Part of me is like, ugh, chickens are gross. And the other part is like, we have this giant backyard, why not jump on that homesteading bandwagon and learn a lot and get some eggs out of it?  #LAURAINGALLSWILDER4EVA #livingthedream

But, we shall see. Maybe I’ll wait til next spring. Oh and the seeds in our garden are growing!! So cool.

Happy Weekend!

Linking up with This Ain’t The Lyceum.

books of yesteryear and building my 2018 reading list

I started keeping track of the books I read a couple years ago and I thought it’d be fun to share what I ended up reading in 2017, with a top 5 fave list. And then, if you make it through, what’s on my list for 2018!

2017 Reading List

(I keep track of the books I’m reading each month. Some take me a few months to finish! The asterisk means started but didn’t finish. I’m a big believer in books having a right time. So, maybe I’ll finish those books someday, or maybe life’s too short to keep reading a book I don’t want to read. YOLO.)

January

  • Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
  • The Girls – Emma Cline
  • The Enneagram: A Journey of Self-Discovery – Maria Beesing, Robert J. Nogosek, Patrick H. O’Leary
  • The Story of A Soul* – St. Therese of Lisieux

February

  • Lila – Marilynne Robinson
  • We Should All Be Feminists – Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
  • The Road Back To You: An Enneagram Journey to Self Discovery* – Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile
  • Transitions* – William Bridges (reread)

March

  • Transitions* – William Bridges
  • The Nightingale – Kristin Hannah
  • Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life – Tish Harrison Warren

April

  • The Outlander Series – Diana Gabaldon (my post-partum nursing reads)
  • Lilac Girls* – Martha Hall Kelly (could not handle concentration camps anymore)

May

  • The Blue Castle – L.M. Montgomery
  • Everyday Sacrament: The Messy Grace of Parenting – Laura Kelly Fanucci
  • The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead
  • Father Brown: The Essential Tales* – G.K. Chesterton 

June/July – either I didn’t read anything, or I just didn’t write it down. that’s when we packed and moved and drove cross country with 2 babies under 2 so it’s possible I didn’t read anything.

August

  • Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi
  • Father Brown: The Essential Tales* – G.K. Chesterton
  • Oh Crap! Potty Training – Jamie Glowacki
  • Spiritual Lessons from St. Francis* – John Michael Talbot
  • Born a Crime – Trevor Noah

September

  • The Sympathizer* – Viet Thanh Nguyen
  • The Righteous Mind* – Jonathan Haidt

October

  • The Sympathizer – Viet Thanh Nguyen
  • The Righteous Mind* – Jonathan Haidt
  • Station Eleven – Emily Mandel
  • Ginny Moon – Benjamin Ludwig
  • Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng

November

  • I Let You Go – Clare Mackintosh
  • Reading People – Anne Boyle
  • Devout Life* – St. Francis de Sales

December

  • “Wonders Never Cease” – essay by Marilynne Robinson
  • Til We Have Faces* – C.S. Lewis (reread)
  • The Hate You Give* – Angie Thomas
  • My Life With The Saints* – James Martin, S.J.

Top 5 Faves from 2017

  • Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi
  • Station Eleven – Emily Mandel
  • Everyday Sacrament: The Messy Grace of Parenting – Laura Kelly Fanucci
  • The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead
  • Born a Crime – Trevor Noah

2018 Reading List (so far)

  • The Tech-Wise Family – Andy Crouch (Chris and I listened to the audio book on our drive home from New Jersey)
  • Animal, Vegetable, Miracle – Barbara Kingsolver (started on Hoopla, already feel like I can’t shop at our cheap-o grocery store anymore…)
  • A Severe Mercy – a love story by C.S. Lewis’s friend whose wife died young. my neighbor lent me this and I’m convicted/challenged by how much they loved their love.
  • The Ninth Hour – Alice McDermott (haven’t read any of her novels yet, but read an interview in Commonweal that had me intrigued. nuns!)
  • My Absolute Darling Gabriel Tallent (don’t know anything about this, Maya just recommended it)
  • The World Will Be Saved by Beauty  Kate Hennessey (Dorothy Day’s granddaughter. recommended by my friend, who also recommended Station Eleven, which was amazing. Kathleen, if you read this, you really should share all the books you read with the world.)
  • and I want to read my way through Obama’s fave books of 2017, starting with these: The Power by Naomi Alderman, Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, Anything Is Possible by Elizabeth Strout, and Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward.

What else should I read? What’s on your list? Gimme yo recs 🙂

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our fabulously curated bookshelf, ft. mostly Chris’s theology books.