Nothing New Under the Sun

I long to write and to share things that are thoughtful and useful. I long to write and to share things that are helpful and interesting. I long to write and to share things that mean something to me, and that hopefully mean something to others. I have a list of posts that I have fermenting, some in my brain, some on Word documents, and some in scribbles in journals. A list of posts that I want to write and that I want to be profound. 
But, as I am working on these posts, along comes another blogger, usually someone with a much higher readership than I...and writes about something similar, or writes about something using a similar train of thought as I have been working on. They post it, it gets linked on Social Media, and whooooosh. There it is, everywhere in my feed(s). Or at least that's the way that it seems. 

And I can't help but wondering: If I were to post my thoughts about this subject now, will people think that I'm plagiarizing "their" ideas or riding on the coattails of that other person? Will people think that this piece that I've been working on for a long time, finding the right words and the right thoughts to express what I'm thinking and feeling...will people think that it's less profound because they already read something that someone else wrote about a similar subject? 

At the end of the day, I am, perhaps, plagued by the ever present, nagging fear of Generation X: Maybe I am just another faceless drone in the world, and while I long to be unique and special, I just have nothing new to offer to the world. 
I think that my ever present fear with blogging is that, if I do press "publish" on my treatise on church or parenting or what's going on in the world or what's going on in the depths of my brain...then everyone else will quickly and easily become aware of my ordinariness. Because someone else said something similar or on the same topic first. 

The thought paralyzes me. I freeze up, and I stop writing, wondering  "what's the use?"

It's been part of my silence here the past month or so. And it's a thought that almost had me taking down this site altogether this past week as a subject that I've been working on very hard behind the scenes, something that I have great plans for, was written about and commented on widely within my social circle. My fears kicked into high gear, and I wondered if people would roll their eyes at me when I finally do hit that "publish" button. 
Who does she think she is?

And then I remember: There is nothing new under the sun. And that's okay.
I will probably never have that greatly profound ground breaking thought piece that people stop at and marvel at. Because there is nothing that I can't say that hasn't been said by others a thousand time over...and probably better than how I can possibly say it. And that's okay.
Because what I bring is my perspective and my experience. What I bring is another view, even if it is just one of many.

What I bring is my own voice...and while it may be ordinary, it is mine. And it matters.

So, I will keep writing, for my small audience, yes, but for myself. And I will write things that are important and profound and good...even if to only me. It's not a matter of being the first or even the best. But it's a matter of writing my truth, speaking my story, and wrestling with putting the pieces together as I, and we all, wrestle with figuring out this thing called life. 

And I will finish and publish those pieces that I've been working on, because they are important to me, and perhaps they'll be important or helpful of meaningful to someone else.

Who's Afraid of a Little Pink?

If you spend any time, at all, around Little Man these days, you're sure to hear about two things: Paw Patrol and Pete the Cat (and his four groovy buttons). 

Maybe someday, I'll talk about Pete the Cat (who is awesome, by the way!), but today, I want to talk about Paw Patrol.

Paw Patrol is a show on Nickelodeon that centers around a team of six (or seven, depending on the episode) dogs and one boy who work together to perform tasks to save, serve, and protect the citizens and the community of Adventure Bay, the city where they are located. It is more than just his favorite tv show at the moment, it's also a great vehicle for us as parents to have positive conversations with Little Man about teamwork, helping, kindness, courage, and problem solving. 

As a mom of a little boy, one of the things that I greatly appreciate about Paw Patrol is that it is one of the few shows out there that is designed to appeal mutually to boys and girls, without a strong "girl" theme or "boy" theme. This is something that's important to me, as we as parents are trying to raise our Little Man without the confines of societal gender norms so that he doesn't think that different things, activities, or whatever are "boy things" or "girl things". We are wanting to raise a boy who is comfortable playing with a train or a truck or a baby doll or a dollhouse or whatever he wants to play with. We are wanting to raise a boy who enjoys playing dressup in a police uniform or a tutu. We are wanting to raise a boy who is comfortable expressing what he likes and dislikes based on his own taste, rather than what culture or society tells him that he should. As he grows, we hope that this also will expand to other areas of his life, beyond gender roles, so that he is comfortable....I don't know...maybe being the kid who listens to jazz when all his classmates are listening to pop, or maybe being the kid who enjoys playing football and being in the drama club, etc. etc.

Basically, we want him to be who he is, enjoy what he enjoys, and express that comfortably and openly. We want him to have a healthy sense of self. 

But...often it's hard because what we are trying to do as a family is, quite frankly, counter cultural, and it is often hard to find things that aren't "gendered". Shows are marketed to either boys or girls. Clothes are marketed to either boys or girls; This winter, we wanted to buy an Olaf hat (similar to this one), but had a difficult time finding it in the store because it was tucked away on a display in the girls' clothing section. Even bottles and cups are labeled as "girl" cups or "boy" cups. 

So, you can imagine that we were quite thrilled with the Paw Patrol toys that we found that gave Skye the same treatment as Chase (the police dog) or Zuma (the water rescue dog). The only thing? Skye wears pink...which, I believe, directly impacted what we discovered this Easter.

We try to do a fairly simply Easter for Little Man. The main emphasis is on church, and the lessons there, but we also enjoy having the "Easter Bunny come" to the house. The Easter basket that we put together is a pretty simple one: A bit of candy, a toy, and another little something like a coloring book and crayons or a bit of playdoh or a special t-shirt.

This year, the toy that accompanied the basket was the coveted and long searched for Skye Action Pack Pup that we felt lucky enough to find at a local store (there was a run on these toys, and we spent many, many trips to a number of different stores trying to find all the different dogs). The other little something was a Paw Patrol t-shirt for him to wear that we found in the boys' clothing section at the store. 

Easter Morning, Little Man was thrilled to walk into the living room and find that the Easter Bunny had dropped off his basket, complete with his new Skye toy. He was so excited about finally having Skye in his set that he had to take her with him that day to show to all of his friends at church.

Following church, we got ready to head to his Grandparents' house, and so he put on his new Paw Patrol shirt, still clutching onto his new favorite toy. 


It was then that I noticed...the dog that he was holding onto so lovingly, that he was playing with, zooming her around the house, was not anywhere on his shirt. The sixth spot was taken up by the little boy who leads the Paw Patrol. Skye was no where to be found.

The message is clear. This is a boy's shirt. A girl dog, dressed in pink, does not belong.

As if it is incomprehensible that there might be a little bit of pink on a boy's t-shirt.

As if a little boy would not think of wearing a shirt with a little bit of pink on it.

As if it would somehow damage his sense of what being a boy means to have a little bit of pink on his shirt. 

As if it's a bad thing for a boy to wear pink.

But it's not. Pink is not a color that denotes gender or sexuality in any way other than what we as a society allow it to. And, even if it is determined to be a more "feminine color" (whatever that means), allowing boys to choose to wear pink, allowing boys to choose to have pink, allows them to embrace and have a healthy understanding of what masculinity and femininity means. Allowing little boys to like pink allows them to grow into men who are not afraid of expressing their feelings and emotions, their likes and their dislikes, because someone might call it "girly." Allowing little boys to do things like like or wear pink allows them to grow into men who are comfortable with themselves, their identity...their whole selves, no matter what that looks like. 

So, I beg you, marketers and the design folks and the promotion folks who made this decision, and so many others like it...I beg you to allow my Little Man the option of wearing a little bit of pink, or a lot of pink if he wants to. Don't take Skye off of a t-shirt just because it's being sold in the boys' section. Leave her on the shirt, and open up the world to little boys. Let them like pink, and let them grow into secure, confident, happy men who aren't afraid to be who they are in the world.

A Difficult Morning

Sometimes, mornings are hard. This morning was hard. Little Man was having an emotional and, quite frankly, dramatic morning. Everything, and I mean everything, was a Tragedy. First, it was that he didn’t want to put his socks on, and then it was that he wanted to put his socks on by himself. Then it was that he didn’t want to go to the car, and then it was that I didn’t get to the car fast enough after he decided it was time to get in the car. Then it was that he didn’t want to listen to music, but then he wanted to sing, without any help from Mommy. And then…
By the time I got him to preschool, all he wanted was for me to carry him to the classroom, simply because it was a hard morning and he needed a “wiggle” (which is what he calls a snuggle) from his mommy.

Life is hard when you’re three going on four years old, isn’t it?

I understand that a good portion of it is that he doesn’t yet have the word power to describe or explain what he going on in his little brain. And I understand that a good portion of it is that he’s three years old, and three years old have “moments”.  (I have long been told that it’s less the “terrible twos” and more of the “terrible threes” that drive parents nuts.)

But, at the end of the day, I think that it’s really important to recognize that the majority of it is that he’s just what I call him, a little man. He is a little person, fully formed and developed (although he’s still developing and growing in emotional, spiritual, physical and developmental maturity). And like all people, he has days when things just aren’t right.

The other day, I sat in my office and, after a few hours, walked out to the outer office and said to the church administrator, “I just can’t seem to get my wheels under me today.” Because it was a day that nothing seemed to be going right, nothing seemed to feel right, and it seemed that I just couldn’t get anything done. And, truth be told, if it wasn’t socially and professional irresponsible and unacceptable to throw a fit and cry about it, I may just have.

In our world and our society, we don’t like to admit when things are hard. We don’t like to talk about the things that are wrong. In fact, the most common greeting is “How ya doin’?”…but the acceptable and accepted response is nothing more detailed or descriptive that, “Good, you?”

But, I think that we just need to start being a little more like Little Man. Not the screaming and crying and throwing of fits, but the being honest about when things aren’t going right. When we’re not feeling well. When things are upsetting, angering, or just plain wrong. I think that we need to start saying “How ya doin’?” like we really mean it, and listening, truly listening, to the answer. I think that we need to start sharing our lives with each other in honest and vulnerable ways. Because then, and only then, will we be able to start recognizing the humanity of those feelings, and recognizing that they are nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about….they are just a part of who we are.

#abookaweekforlent The End of Lent

When I was, really parents would have to hide my books, place me outside, and lock the door on me. (Don't fret, it was a fenced in back yard, in full view of the kitchen window. Plus it was the early 1980's. No worries). They would do this because they loved me, and they wanted to make sure that I spent time playing outside.

Let me repeat that: My parents would hide my books and lock me outside to make sure that I played outside. 

I share this story simply because I think that it illustrates how important reading has always been to me. How much I love reading. How much I love the knowledge of non-fiction books and the worlds and people opened up to me through fiction books. How important books and reading to me have always been. 

Which is why I am sad, truly sad, to say that my title for this post is:


Here we are, on the Monday after Easter, and, as I sit at my desk, sucking down the much needed cup of coffee, I must take a moment to confess: My little Lenten experiment/discipline of reading a book a week for Lent was a total and complete failure. I only read two and a half books out of my planned seven. (Well, not a complete failure then, I suppose, since I did get some reading done...)

I suppose that part of it was that I shouldn't have chosen a 400 page autobiography to kick it off (which only happened because I had been on the library waiting list for two months for that book, and there was about a four month long waiting list behind me. I didn't want to lose the chance to read it!). And part of it was the reality of the lack of reading time available when you take a three year old on a train trip to Chicago for a week. And part of it is that the only time that I have to myself is those quiet hours between when Little Man goes to bed and when I do, but that lately he's been fighting that magical time, and wanting me sitting right there beside him as he falls asleep. And part of it was the reality of the busyness of the season of Lent, particularly Holy Week. And part of it, quite frankly, was the fact that I simply set the bar pretty high. 

I know all of these things, and they make pretty good excuses for not doing the reading that I had planned on doing...but I don't want excuses. Because I wanted to read. I wanted to stretch myself to make and find the time in my life schedule to do the reading that I want to do.

I'm always saying that you make time for that which is really important to you....what does the fact that I only got two and a half books read during my planned period of reading seven books because I simply didn't have the time say about the importance of books and reading to me?

It can't be that it's not important. As I illustrated above, books and reading have always been very important to me. But, even with having challenged myself, I just simply couldn't find the time, or the energy, to do the reading that I had wanted to do. 


But maybe I should have titled this post this, instead. Grace abounds. Because, more than anything else, this little experiment of mine has challenged me to think about that thing that I always say about making time for the things that are important to you, quite frankly often in judgement when others simply state that "I would love to, but I just don't have time". I guess I always figured that it was an excuse. A cop-out. a nice way of getting out of something. But, the reality is that, in our world today, it very much so is a possibility that someone simply doesn't have time to make time for the things that are important to them. Because there's a whole lot of things that are important...we're all just making judgement calls on what is more, or the most, important for us.

Sometimes, we'll mess it up. Sometimes we won't get it right. And sometimes we'll feel as if we're missing out on something that we desperately need, and look with longing on in it. 

But, in the midst of all of that, it's important to remember that grace abounds. 

Grace abounds when we have to make judgement calls about what is more important than something else. Grace abounds when we get it wrong. Grace abounds when others get it wrong. 

Grace abounds...and hopefully we'll figure it out and get it right. 

And now, I will take some time...and read a book.