A Vote for Trump is a Vote for Tuna

Aug 29 2015

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Greg texted me yesterday with important information about participating in a class action settlement.

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A class action settlement, friends, and not just any class action settlement, like the one where you can get $20 in deodorant or the one where you can get $3.70 because you used a Talbots credit card. No; compared to this one, those lawsuits are peanuts. Peanuts, I tell you! Because this one is a class action settlement for FREE TUNA. Like, $50 worth of FREE TUNA which everyone knows is TWICE as good as $25 worth of free tuna or FIVE TIMES better than $10 worth of free tuna.

I admit, though, it did strike me as a little strange, given how much Greg and I detest anything that smacks of frivolous litigation, that Greg signed onto this settlement. Until, of course, I realized that free tuna would only cost us our conscience and our scruples. Then I was all, THAT IS TOTALLY A FAIR TRADE.

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Now, Greg may not have fully understood the sincerity of my message, mistakenly taking it as sarcasm, so he explained a little more background on the issue.

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And Greg was right, of course, because we cannot continue to be placid bystanders while tuna crimes are being committed all around us! When push comes to shove and fractions of tuna ounces are being omitted, we must stand for JUSTICE and THE AMERICAN WAY. And I hate to get into politics too much on this site, but when the tuna manufacturers betray us, I think we can all agree that there’s only one person likely to solve America’s Tuna Woes. “America’s Tuna Woes” being one of the key social issues of our time.

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HELL STATE. That is what this country is in. A HELL STATE, friends. It is time to open our eyes to the tuna injustices all around us and to realize that Donald Trump is here to rescue us from our own folly.

In case you’re not sure yet that you’d like to vote for a man who belittles women and minorities, bullies people who question his plans and policies, and has, well, the judgement, restraint and maturity of a pickle, I am here to tell you you are wrong. You are WRONG, friends, and it may be hard to hear, but I have GOOD REASONS.

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In conclusion, a vote for Trump is a vote for Tuna.

I mean, probably.

Just thought you’d want to know.

Love,

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P.S. Now that I’ve had a few minutes to think about it, I wonder if I’ve been a bit hasty in my endorsement of Trump as the most pro-tuna candidate. It belatedly occurs to me that we have not vetted each candidate on his or her tuna policy. However, if we’re basing our judgement on the most fishy of all the candidates, I think we can still make our case.

Dear Teenagers, We Owe You an Apology

Aug 27 2015

Dear Teenagers,

We owe you an apology. We grown-ups, I mean. We owe you an apology, and I’m not sure I can do it justice but it turns out my heart insists I try, so here it is.

Despite the fact that adults have wailed and gnashed their teeth for generations upon generations of raising teens — all WOE IS ME and THE APOCALYPSE IS UPON US and ACK, TEENAGERS —  we who are adults right now, in this time in history, owe you an apology.

We owe you an apology for the articles that fill your online feeds with titles like Teenagers Feel More Entitled Than Ever, and Narcissistic Youth, and America’s Spoiled Adolescents. Because OH MY WORD, those things are everywhere.

Everywhere, right? They’re shared and shared, and they spread like wildfire.

We owe you an apology for buying into the rhetoric that sends you the message that you’re awful.

We owe you an apology for decrying your immaturity before we’ve allowed you time to mature.

We owe you an apology for maligning you in public and in private.

And we especially owe you an apology for the myriad slights and constant belittling and rather epic immature behavior on our own part as we point fingers and drive wedges and break down communication.

We owe you an apology because we’re wrong.

Even those of us who don’t share those articles, who hold teenagers as some of our favorite friends and best role models, who seek to encourage and uplift, owe you an apology for every time we fail to defend you.

Instead of lifting you up, which is our responsibility and should be our privilege, we have let you down with our silence, our pessimism, our fears, and our selective memories about what it was like to try to navigate the world as a newly minted adult.

Here’s the truth: you screw things up, friends. Sometimes ENORMOUSLY. Certainly daily.

And here’s another truth: so do we. Absolutely. HUGELY. And just as often.

Turns out, we are, all of us, a mess, and also magical and magnificent. Incredibly magnificent.

You can be utterly selfish and stunningly selfless. Me, too. We are kind and unkind. Steady and unstable. Courageous and afraid. We are, after all, adults and teens alike, made of the stuff of humans, at once precious and also fallible. Good and bad. Perfect and imperfect. And deeply worthy of love.

Oh, teenage friends, hear this: you are, you are, you are deeply worthy of love. And entitled to it, too. You are ENTITLED to be loved exactly as you are right now.

ENTITLED.

Now there’s a charged word.

How many times have you heard it? Because I’ve heard it A LOT. “Teens these days are so entitled.”

I want you to know you ARE entitled, and here’s how:

You are entitled to the respect due every human, because you are as human and as divine as the rest of us.
You are entitled to be heard when you voice your opinion, your desires, and your needs.
You are entitled to be cherished exactly as you are.
You are entitled to community and camaraderie and friendship.
You are entitled to make mistakes.
You are entitled to be imperfect.
You are entitled to be treasured despite and even because of your imperfections.
You are entitled to be right.
You are entitled to be wrong.
You are entitled to learn and to grow and to change, and you are entitled to rest when those things become too hard.

You are entitled, teenagers, and you are becoming. Both definitions of “becoming” — 1. absolutely lovely as you already are, and 2. in the process of transformation. You are SO becoming, friends. Both/And. Both already beautiful and also in process. 

So here’s what I want you to do the next time you see one of those shaming articles or hear the comments:

Know that you are not alone.

Know that there are those of us who just don’t buy the disgruntled rhetoric.

Know that you are wonderful and weird and wild, exactly like you’re supposed to be.

Know that you are part of us — the Grand Us; the people who choose to believe in each other. We’re out here. I swear it. We’re out here and we need you.

Look for the encouragers. Look for the ones who have your back.

We are here, we are legion, and we are working at speaking louder so you can hear us over the din.

With love,

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The Consequences of Having No Filter

Aug 26 2015

I went to the coffee shop this morning and exchanged my usual banter with the usual baristas as we’ve done off and on for a few years now. We tell jokes. We make off-hand and slightly off-color comments. We laugh too loud because we think we’re funny and we don’t much care if we’re wrong.

This morning, though, after we finished our rowdy chatter, one of the guys asked me what kind of filter I have.

“What kind of filter do you have, anyway?” he said, which I thought was weird because he should know by now that the answer is PRACTICALLY NONE AT ALL. I mean, DUH.

So I said, “I’m really surprised you’d ask me that,” and “I thought we knew each other better than this,” and “I think I’ve done everything in my power to demonstrate my lack of filter, man” and “What did I say, anyway, that makes you ask this NOW? Like, I thought our convo this morning was downright TAME. Geez.”

Which is when he looked at me and started to laugh and said, “You just ordered ground coffee, Beth. I need to know how fine to grind it. What kind of filter does your coffee machine have?”

Oh.

Mm hm.

Welcome to my world.

On the bright side, after all this time thinking I have no filter at all, it turns out I ACTUALLY DO! Yippee!

I Clipped 8 Toenails and 6 Fingernails Today. They Were All Mine, and It Was in One Sitting, and If You’re a Mom You’ll Understand EXACTLY Why That’s a Miracle.

Aug 22 2015

I clipped 8 toenails and 6 fingernails today. They were all mine, and it was all in one sitting which feels like a miracle because, of course, usually nail clipping looks like trying to find the clippers, and not finding the clippers, and asking if anyone knows where the clippers are.

Nail clipping looks like 5 kids telling me where they last saw the clippers, and me looking in those places, and there being no clippers in any of them.

Nail clipping looks like deciding to hunt more, hunt deeper, hunt better, and hunt longer for the clippers, and adding them to the next shopping list in the meantime, and being waylaid by a kid who’s hungry and wants a piece of toast so I neither find the clipper nor add them to the list.

Nail clipping looks like making the toast, and hearing that one kid stole another kid’s Minecraft diamonds, and me threatening to shut off all the screens, forever if they can’t stop fighting about video games, and getting the toast jam wrong, because “I said Grandma’s jam, MOM,” and I screwed it all up because I used the jam from the grocery store.

Nail clipping looks like eating my kid’s toast with crappy-ass jam, and popping another piece of toast in the toaster, and digging past the mayonnaise jar and the mustard coated in dry, crispy mustard bits, and the four jars of pickles to find Grandma’s jam which is adhered to the glass shelf from the last kid who shoved it deep in the fridge while it was still bleeding jam goo from the lid.

Nail clipping looks like being interrupted mid-toast making because someone is hogging two swings outside, and even though there’s a third swing available, “that is NOT FAIR, Mom.”

Nail clipping looks like standing outside on my back patio staring at the kid who’s created a bed/hammock out of two swings and listening to a monologue about the Importance of Creativity During Childhood and how “at least I’m not inside playing video games all day like your other kids who are lazy,” and “shouldn’t I be rewarded for this?” and “besides, I got here FIRST, AND I left a swing for him,” all of which are good points.

Nail clipping looks like playing Swing Judge and offering to cut the middle swing in half so they can share it because that gambit totally worked for Solomon.

Nail clipping looks like kids moving from sworn enemies to comrades, compatriots, best friends forever, as they plan how best to cut apart a rubber swing that’s reinforced with metal cord.  They toss around words like scissors and hedge trimmers and chainsaw before they settle on blowtorch as the obvious solution.

Nail clipping looks like telling my kids that, not only can they not use a blowtorch, I wasn’t actually giving them permission to cut the swing in half.

Nail clipping looks like listening to “but YOU SAID” and “you PROMISED” and so  much crying.

Nail clipping looks like a hungry, toastless kid finding me hiding in the bathtub an hour later.

Nail clipping looks like me begging him to make his own toast, and him agreeing but looking dejected, and me climbing out of the tub and finding a robe and walking, dripping wet, through my room and down the stairs and down the hall and through the kitchen to make a new piece of toast with Grandma’s jam which is room temperature from resting on the counter.

Nail clipping looks like getting in bed that night – my bed; the on ewith the juddy dog prints and the cracker crumbs from someone ignoring the No Food In My Bed/SEROUSLY/I Mean It/STOP DOING THAT rule – exhausted and catching my tattered toenail on the blanket and remembering I never did clip my nails.

Nail clipping looks like repeating that cycle and others like it, times infinity, in an endless loop until I’m the owner of ripped and ragged claws rather than nails at all, which is, I think, simply one of the definitions of motherhood.

In conclusion, I clipped 8 toenails and 6 fingernails today.  They were all mine, and it was all in one sitting which was a miracle.

Also, I love you momrades and dad-rads who can relate.  I love you, and I love you, and I’m praying for a miracle for you, as well.  May we all know what it is to have (mostly) groomed nails.  I HAVE A DREAM, and I invite you to join me in it.

With love as endless as this cycle,

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When Parenting TOTALLY Pays Off

Aug 15 2015

I was hiding in a book this morning when I heard my children yelling from the hallway.

“WHAT MADNESS IS THIS?” one 8-year-old shouted, followed by his twin with, “WHAT KIND OF MONSTER DOES THAT?”

I went to investigate, thinking they were watching another questionable YouTube video and that perhaps, rather than tell them to “shush” and “go away” and “of course you can have treats and screens; have you even met me?” and, finally, “I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU DO, just let me finished this chapter,” their mommy ought to get up off her lazy butt and, oh, I don’t know, be an involved parent or something.

As I came around the corner, I heard them muttering in front of the linen closet.

“This just isn’t right,” they said, and “Do you want to tell Mom or should I?”

“Tell Mom what?” I asked.

They jumped, slammed the linen door closed, put their bodies in front of it and said, “You don’t need to see this, Mom.”

You guys, I have heard this line before.

“You don’t need to see this, Mom” was the line delivered before I saw the Sharpie art on the hard wood floor.

“You don’t need to see this, Mom” was the line one of the girl children gave after slamming her brother’s fingers in the car door.

And “You don’t need to see this, Mom” was the line attempted when the eldest boy decided he was, too, old enough to use a butcher knife to cut his own apple.

“You don’t need to see this, Mom” is, in other words, LOOK NOW, MOM; SOMEONE or SOMETHING IS IN IMMINENT DANGER.

I gave them my grim, resigned face.

“Show me,” I said, and they sighed.

“OK,” they said, “but we tried to warn you,” and they opened the door to show me this:

IMG_5957I know, friends. I know. It’s AWFUL and TOTALLY UNEXPECTED. And believe me when I say I was as shocked as you are — as shocked as my boys — to find folded sheets in there.

IMG_5958“Folded sheets, Mom,” they said. “There are FOLDED SHEETS in our linen closet. OUR linen closet, Mom.”

“What do we do?” they cried.

“Should we FIX THEM?” they asked.

But I said, “No. No, we won’t fix them, boys. We’ll leave them there — folded — as a reminder of what could happen to our linen closet if we’re not vigilant about maintaining our linen closet standards. We’ll leave them there to keep us on our guard. We’ll leave them there to be covered by all the other sheets and towels and washcloths and escapee socks and underwear we shove into that teeny, tiny space, and we will do the linen-shoving with increased enthusiasm, knowing we are no longer just doing our chores, half-assed as usual, but we are also now symbolically standing up for our WAY OF LIFE.”

The boys nodded in understanding. They were ruffled by their discovery, yes, but they acquiesced, as they should, to my leadership and wisdom.

“We’ll leave them there, Mom,” they said, “but we promise you this — we will never, ever, EVER fold sheets. Just like you taught us, Mom.”

So, fellow parents, I want you to hear this today:

Sometimes you get down on yourself. Some days you don’t know if you’re doing this whole parenting gig right. Sometimes you question yourself, your values, your parenting, your life.

Me, too. Totally me, too.

But listen. LISTEN; there is HOPE.

A few short years ago my boys — the same kids pictured here — were all “How come we don’t fold our towels like they do at Leigh’s house, Mom?” and “Why do we never stick to Henry’s couch when we go over there?” and I wondered — I did — whether they would ever really get it, you know? Whether I was raising them up in the way they should go, like the good Lord said. Whether I was a Failure and Doing It Wrong.

Today I know, friends, that all the hard parenting work pays off.

ALL THE HARD PARENTING WORK PAYS OFF. 

So keep on training up children in the way they should go, y’all, and someday — maybe even sooner than you think — your children, too, will not depart from it.

Amen.

Praise Jesus and AMEN.

With love from your friend and THE BEST CHILD TRAINER EVER,

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Proverbs 22:6
“Train up a child in the way he should go,
and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

#RaiseThemUpInTheWayTheShouldGo

On Target and Toy Aisles and Why I’m Sharing Something Other Than Anger

Aug 13 2015

My friend, Mercy, just wrote me on the Book of Faces to say, “Omg… Beth Woolsey! Have you written anything about the Christian outrage over Target’s gender neutral toy aisle signs? You’re always my go-to blog repost on these cultural topics. Several friends are liking or reposting Matt Walsh or Franklin Graham’s take on the “silly feminists” or “gay agenda” and I just can’t.”

I get what Mercy’s asking. I get it, because most of the time I just can’t, too. Just CAN’T.

And I know there’s a lot of crazy, ranty stuff going around online about gender and Target and WHAT IT ALL MEANS FOR AMERICA and CHRISTIANITY and STANDARDS if we don’t have Girl Aisles and Boy Aisles at Target anymore.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR FAITH and HOLINESS?

I mean…, What if we go to Target and there’s just an aisle called TOYS?

And another aisle called BEDDING?

THIS IS WHY THIS COUNTRY IS GOING TO HELL, y’all! Because we can no longer worship materialism in simple, gender-segregated peace, the way God intended.

And I want to get all wrapped around the axle about it. I do. I want to because, this whole this is so very ridiculous, friends. SO VERY. I want to rant and respond and make my points and counterpoints, ’cause I’ll bet I have darn good thoughts in here somewhere.

But I can’t do it because there’s too large a part of me that’s not properly enraged.

Most of me is just… sad.

Sad for all we lose when we fight over worthless things.

Sad for all the time we spend on which big box stores Jesus prefers us to visit when we could be feeding the hungry and caring for the poor and fighting for the marginalized.

Sad for all the people on the margins right here in our own communities who watch the war rage — Christians fighting Christians over things that diminish Love — and receive the message loud and clear that you’re not welcome among us unless we can confine you to our premade boxes and rigid aisle walls.

So, instead, I’m re-sharing the post below today, about my daughter and about my son and about a doll who is their friend.

May we work to share stories like this that break down barriers instead of build them higher.

And may we all find mercy and grace and magic in the mess.

With love for all the people in all the aisles,

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THE LAST DOLL
originally posted in June 2013

I stood in the mall in the tiny store crowded with books and toys and trinkets of all shapes and sizes, and I stared at the wall of stuffed animals as I tried desperately to narrow down my choice.

I was 8 years old, and my fourth facial surgery was just a few days away. The stuffed friend I was about to pick would be my hospital companion, tasked to stay with me after visitor hours ended when my parents would be required to leave.

That’s the way hospitals worked in the early 80’s, without fluffy modern-day nonsense where parents remain with their kids in the hospital around the clock. And, of course, by “fluffy modern-day nonsense” I mean nothing of the kind; parents of the 80’s were made of stronger stuff than me, no doubt, because it would take an elephant tranquilizer, a team of Navy SEALs, and a reinforced cage to get me out of my kid’s hospital room.

Still, I was never afraid in the hospital as a child due to equal parts Unflappable Parents, Unlimited Popsicles and the kind of Unshakable Companionship only a teddy bear can provide.

Choosing that bear was tough, though. A whole wall of bears and lambs, and I had to hurt all their feelings except one. I was that kid. The one who truly, deeply believed my animals and dolls were alive. The one who hid outside my bedroom and then JUMPED through the doorway to try to catch them moving. The one who whispered that I was trustworthy and if they’d just let me in on their secret, I’d keep it. Cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye. So when I picked my bear in the mall that day, I cried because I couldn’t take them all, and I told them quietly not to worry; their turn for a family would come soon.

When Abby, my oldest, was 10, she campaigned for an American Girl Just-Like-Me Doll. I resisted because Oh my word! EXPENSIVE. We’re not the $100 doll kind of people. We’re more like the Look It’s On Sale or We Can Get It at a Thrift Store or Hooray for Hand-Me-Downs kind of people. Plus, American Girl Dolls need clothes and a hairbrush and stuff, stuff, stuff. And Abby was a fairly grown-up 10 who was already more interested in make-up than make-believe. How long would she play with a doll, anyway?

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But then I remembered my hospital bear and my favorite childhood book, A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Have you read it? It’s still good. Much better than her more well-known The Secret Garden which is kind of spooky and sad and yellow.

A Little Princess chronicles the story of Sara Crewe after her father reluctantly leaves her at a boarding school. Before he goes, father and daughter search London for Sara’s Last Doll. “Dolls ought to be intimate friends,” Sara says. And finally, they find Emily, with her attentive gray-blue eyes that read as though she knew Sara all along. That’s because she does, I thought when I read it for the first time. She really does know you, Sara.

IMG_0688-EditAnd with that memory, I was done in. It was time for Abby’s Last Doll.

She picked Tiffany, who was everything you hope for a Last Doll to be.

But time went by, as it usually does, and eventually Tiffany was boxed up and put on a shelf and forgotten.

Until 6-year-old Cai found her yesterday. A beautiful box that revealed a beautiful doll. He pulled Tiffany from storage, and he held her reverently because he knew somehow that’s what you do with a doll like her.

I sat quietly in the living room yesterday, watching as Cai, with Tiffany in his arms, pushed Abby’s creaky door open. “Abby?” he said, “Is this your doll?”

“Yes,” she said.

“Can I play with her?” he asked.

And Abby was quiet for a long moment before she said, “Yes, Cai. Her name is Tiffany, and she’s very special. You’ll have to be careful with her and treat her kindly.”

“I will,” Cai said, and he withdrew from her room and closed the door.

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And I swear I saw Tiffany smile.

………

This Is Life, And I Quit. Also, I Un-Quit.

Aug 12 2015

I’ve been burning the candle at both ends lately. Spitting into the wind. Taking one step forward and three steps back, minus the one step forward part.

I think that’s pretty much the same thing as being a mom, although I don’t think it’s we moms exclusively who fit those GOOD LORD I’M TIRED clichés. It’s just that… Good Lord, I’m TIRED, you know?

You know.

I know you know.

Two nights ago, I quit. Called my husband on the phone prior to dinner and said, “I QUIT. I quit. I quiiiiiiiiit. I quit, and I quit, and I quit. Not gonna parent tonight. Not gonna wife. Not gonna adult. Just gonna sit in the bathtub and read a trashy book and go to bed at 7. ‘Cause, DUDE; I’m twelve kinds of done.” I mean, I just quit temporarily, of course, but I still quit dramatically and with lots of words because otherwise what’s the point of quitting? And Greg, because he’s smarter now than he used to be, said, “OK,” and “fine,” and not, “so you’re sticking me with all the kids and all the work?” He’s SO MUCH SMARTER, friends.

Here’s how it went down:

At 5pm, I quit everything.

At 6pm, a kid started vomiting, so I unquit and got out of the tub and snuggled that kid into my bed with the specific understanding that I would requit as soon as the kid felt better.

At 8pm, the kid felt better. I re-quit.

At 8:15pm, the kid who has anxiety and panic disorders and developmental delay and questionable judgement because he’s made out of human had a meltdown. A wall-banging, anxiety-laden, ragey, annoying, heartbreaking meltdown. I unquit.

At 9pm, when that kid calmed and finally slept, I requit. QUIT quit. “I QUIT,” I told Greg. “I MEAN IT THIS TIME.”

At 9:15pm, another kid — separate from the kids above, because my kids share well, including the torture of their mommy — had stomach pains. I, however, did NOT unquit. You know why? Because this isn’t my first rodeo, folks. He had stomach pains, not a severed artery, and his stomach pains weren’t on the right side so I knew it was just gas and not appendicitis because the internet told me so.

At 9:30pm, the stomach pain kid was still crying.

And at 9:45pm.

And at 10pm, plus he added some screaming.

At 10:15pm, I unquit, and at 10:30pm, I took him to the emergency room.

At 11pm, he was admitted to the hospital.

At 11:15pm, he farted and felt much better.

At 12am, he was released, and we came home, and I got to explain to Greg that we will be paying an ER bill for gas and constipation. Again.

At 1am, I requit because sometimes you just have to have priniciples, you know? I whispered, “I quit,” but no one heard me because they were all finally asleep, and I technically requit in bed with the gassy kid on one side and the puker on the other because I’m also a mama and it’s what we mamas do. Still, priniciples.

I’m swimming upriver, friends. Trying to keep my head afloat. Sinking fast. Resurfacing.

I don’t know what to say about that other than this is life.

This is life. This cycle of drowning and floating and being dashed by the waves and finding our way to shore to rest and recover and forage for sustenance.

This is life. To sit by the ocean and to know its power from the sound and the memories of the pounding of the surf.

This is life, to rise again and brush the sand away and wade into the depths again.

This is life. To swim with long strokes and to succumb to the sea and to swim again.

This is life. This pace. This relentlessness. This strange joy in the journey even though we’re jabbed and jarred.

This is life, and I can’t tell you I wouldn’t have it any other way, because I’d honestly take a little less puking right now and a lot more sleep, but this is life, and I’m content, and sometimes that’s all we can ask.

 

This is life, and I unquit. For now.

With love,

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