Stuff that scares me, take 3

I am afraid of being an Atheist.

(Save it, Andy; I already know what you're going to say :) )

I am an atheist. There, I said it. I don't say it a lot. It's not that I am ashamed of it, and it certainly isn't that I don't have the knowledge behind me to argue my case. If you and I were out for drinks, this wouldn't even be an issue, the whole you-knowing thing. I'd probably bring it up at some point, because, well, I like the discussion. I just, in the world of moms who blog, find it difficult to discuss this. There are few of us in comparison to the teaming masses of moms with I love Jesus blinkies. When I find blogs written by overtly Christian parents, I tend to pass over them. I don't do that because I don't like reading about it; in fact, I DO like reading some of those blogs. It's just that I know that with a click here and a sitemeter there, that parent can find their way back here and then it's with the disapproval and the grumpies. I don't like disapproval.

So, my atheism is a semi-secret. The thing is, though, that when I was a Christian, I shouted it from the rafters. It was everything to me. This Atheism? Yeah, I don't really care. It does not, on any level, define who I am, and I couldn't care less if you never knew that about me. There-in lies the difference.

I could leave it at that; that being 'I don't want to rock anyone's boat', but it's more than that. It's something deep at the core of who I am, and it's fighting this thing. See, when I was little, and life wasn't always so grand*, I always leaned on God. Yes, I was a Christian. Sorta. I was more religious than you, I promise. I ate, slept, breathed God and Jesus and the Christian way. I took every scripture at face value (there is no way I could ever count the amount of times I have read the bible cover to cover. It's at least 16, quite possibly double or triple that) and lived it to the utmost. So, when things got tough, I put my faith in the lord almighty and the fact that he would never give me more than I could bear. I believed that and it brought me a tremendous amount of comfort.
The lord watches over you, the lord is your shade at your right
hand; The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
The lord will keep you from all harm, he will watch over your
life; the lord will watch over your coming and going both now and
forevermore.
I remember sitting in my bedroom, looking out my window, and talking to god. I remember telling him that I must be the strongest child in the world, because sheesh he sure sending a whole bunch of tests my way. I remembered Job. I remembered Lot. I remembered all the people in the bible who showed such tremendous strength during adversity and I tried to be like them. But I knew I could do it because god wouldn't let it happen if I couldn't, and there must be a bigger plan for me and a reason I was where I was.

And then one day I woke up. I realized that yes, perhaps I was the strongest child the world had ever known, but that this wasn't something happening because god let it happen. This was happening because of a chemical imbalance in my mothers' brain brought on by systemic childhood abuse, bad genes, mosquito trucks in the 1950's and my grandfather's super great idea to shut up his kids by cracking open thermometers and letting them play with the mercury. I realized this all a bit after I had hit the more-than-I-could-bear point, and I had a complete, total breakdown, right then and there. I had a crisis of faith. I topped that with an honest realization of the absolute horrors my brother and I endured. The cherry on the top was, of course, the complete abandonment by the very church I had been raised in, the admission by its leaders that, "Yeah, we knew what was going on, but who were we to stop it?"

Um, you were adults. In a position of authority. Over me and my mother. And you were all I had.

At least I wasn't an alter boy.

Anyway, that faith in the support of god, the assurance that I could handle anything thrown my way, that was the first thing to go. The rest followed shortly thereafter. I am not bitter about it, the way some atheists can be; in fact, my sons both have a strong faith in them that has evolved all on its own and is backed with an expansive knowledge of various religions (mom dabbles in theology, when she's not busy blogging), and I encourage and promote that. They know dad and I don't share their beliefs, and they couldn't care less. And I applaud that even more.

But as an adult, and an adult who has chosen the path less traveled in her life, I hit a lot of bumps along the way. Sometimes, these bumps are big. Sometimes they make me grind my teeth all the way down and cry more than I'd like to admit. And I find, in these times of hardship, that I miss that feeling that somehow, it's all going to be ok. I miss the comfort of that, because I know that sometimes it just doesn't all work out ok and sometimes really shitty things happen and really, super hard choices have to be made. And though I am luckier than many people in the world, with a great support structure and not a terrible head on my shoulders, none of us are omnipotent, are we? None of us can snap our fingers and make it all stop. I guess I'm really just afraid of admitting that I let the hope of that go.

*Yes, that would be a gross understatement.

Nip Tuck

Chris, today, was talking about circumcisions. He was in no way asking for any advice, and so naturally, like a good e-friend and loyal reader, I am totally going to give him some.

*ahem*

I don't agree with circumcision. I don't agree with it because both of my sons are circumcised.

There comes a point in your pregnancy, when you know it's a boy, when you and your spouse have the talk about this. Our talk went like this:

Him: What do you think about this circumcision thing?

Me: I don't know...what do you think?

Him: Well, I'd kind of like to not explain why mine looks different than his.

Me: Well, last time I checked, I didn't have one of those, so I'll leave this up to you. But, if you do it, I want NO PART of it.

Him: Cool.

And that was it. 1of3 was born, and dad went with matching accessories. I really had no part of it; I wasn't in the room when they did it and I skipped the next few diaper changes. Because, yuck. And ouch. Youch.

And then, when 2of3 was born, it wasn't really a choice at all, was it?

Here's what they don't tell you about circumcisions, or at least what they do tell you but you absolutely cannot grasp until you're dealing with it. Sometimes, sometimes the skin grows back a little. Sometimes, even if you Vaseline the crap out of it and do the alcohol swabs religiously like they tell you to, sometimes nature fights you and fights you hard and you are left, all alone, at 3 in the morning, to have to roll back that skin that has totally ignored your good intentions and healed itself right back to the tip of that thingy you were trying to trim it from. You have to roll it back, which honestly just means ripping it away from where it wants to be. You have no choice at this point...it HAS to be done. And as much as it sucks for you, what with the bleeding and the oozing and stuff, it sucks that much more for your child who has just gone through a rather strenuous move and really just wants to sleep.

There are other things they don't tell you. They don't tell you that if you ask for a circumcision, they will do it, and they will do it even if your little man is indeed a little man. They will do it even though that thingy isn't sticking out far enough for them to get a decent hold of, and you will have to suffer through the cleaning and the crying and all the headaches, and when it's all over and you man has grown a little, you will not be able to tell they did it at all. They will do this because they will do anything you're willing to pay them to do. It will not bother you right away, but when the kid's 3 or so, you're going to be mighty annoyed at the whole uncircumcised-though-totally-circumcised deal.

There is another thing they don't tell you. They don't tell you that sometimes they won't finish it. They don't tell you that they do the bottom skin first, and then check for things, and then do the top. They don't tell you that if they get half way in and the check doesn't go well, that you are left with a half-circumcised boy.

On the off-chance that your son has a crooked urethra, they will do surgery to fix it, about when the child is one. They will need skin to graft after the surgery, and that foreskin is prime graft fodder. So, when they circumcise a boy, they cut off the top of the skin, do a quick check of the urethra, and then get the bottom half. Unless the urethra is not straight, at which point they stop. A year later, you go to the doctor to schedule the surgery to fix the urethra, and thereby remove the remaining flap of skin, only to find out that in the past year that urethra has totally straightened itself right out.

You now have three options:
  1. Schedule a cosmetic, elective surgery that no insurance in the galaxy will pay for, because after your hospital stay for the birth, circumcision is considered major surgery involving general anesthesia and stuff while he's still young enough to totally forget it.
  2. Deal with it until he's a little older, when maybe he'll just have fuzzy memories of the whole thing in his adult life, until you can explain what the deal is and trust that he can get a local anesthetic and not mess with it after.
  3. Ignore it and pray like crazy that he never has to change in a locker room, and perhaps start a savings account for the therapy bills you'll have to pay when he realizes what you've done to him*.

We went with option 3. We really meant to go with 2, but by the time it came to deal with it, well, he was kind of fond of his little weiner and we didn't have the heart to tell him it was different. And besides, there are advantages to having only your bottom foreskin. It makes a lovely hiding spot for small rocks and marbles; you can fill it with water and then toddle over to that new baby your parents just brought home and dump the water all over his weird, bald head. I don't really ever want to know if there are any other perks.

What this is going to come down to is that one day, he's going to figure this out. One day, he's going to have to make a choice about this. I imagine that your feelings about that part of your body, as a man, are kind of pivotal to your image of yourself, and that is going to get called into question someday for my son. And all of this will happen because of an unnecessary, silly, traditional nip tuck. I know it's unnecessary because, as you read up there, my other son had it done but it really wasn't done, you know? I had to care for a circumcision, but then I had to care for it, and teach him to care for it, as though it had never happened. And I had to teach my oldest son that same care, just for one half.

So, yes, both of my sons were circumcised. And I regret those two decisions more than almost any other I've made with them. But hell, it makes for good, embarrassing stories later. And Chris, I hope this helps and I also hope you don't mind that I left your comment on my blog. That would've been a mighty long comment.

*Or when he realizes that you've told the entire world about it, via the internet. Sorry, 1of3.

Social Studies. Maybe Geography, too.

I love school projects. Really, I heart them. I get all gooey inside when my kids come home with the science fair flier. But this one, this one tops them ALL.

My nephew lives in Albuquerque. and his is a great big kindergartener. He has a project to do this year where he has this journal. It's blank. He has to send it all over the country (and beyond; hooray Canadian cousins) and have entries written in it. The people who write entries need to write about the weather, the food, the clothes you wear, the homes and industries in your area, and whatever your area is known for, or what makes it unique. Then, you forward it off to someone else, somewhere else.

We're the first entry. Then it's going to Gramma in South Africa. After that, who knows?

And I got to thinking about where we could send this to, and then I remembered that I have this little group of e-friends who are all very pretty and cool and swanky and interesting, and I thought that maybe, just maybe, a few of you would like to play along.

So, if you think you could spare ten minutes of a day, and maybe a picture or two in the name of enhancing the world view of 25 5 year olds in New Mexico (and if you want to help me give my nephew the very best journal in his class), please leave a comment to let me know.

(This one is going to involve exchanging personal information, by the way. Please keep that in mind.)

Sunday Secret

I love pimples. In-so-much as the popping of them. When I was a kid, my mom.....er, um....when I was a teenager, I used to get.....oh, er......well, it seems there is no way to have this conversation without crossing that imaginary line I have drawn of decency and decorum. I will just say this:

I have this recurring dream. I have several, most of them dark, actually, but there is this one. It is about a zit. Just a zit, floating in space. And it pops. And, well, have you ever seen a snake poop? It pops a lot like that. It is gross on seven different levels and it is a very long, drawn out dream. Analyze that.

Anyway, I worry about my weird self having those weird dreams, but secretly, when no one's looking and I have spent the better part of the evening with a bottle of whiskey, sometimes I look forward to that dream.

Because I am a sick, twisted person. That's why.