Spongebob for President

I was raised by my grandmother.  Not just any grandmother, but THE grandmother.  Let me tell you, she is a believer in voting.  She thinks voting isn’t just a choice we have as Americans, but an obligation.  She especially thinks this is true of women, because we had to fight so hard to get the right to vote.  She thinks it is an abomination that so few people turn out on election day.

I think she’s right.

I have voted since I was 18.  It’s a big deal to me.  I vote in local elections, presidential elections, even elections for dog catcher.  If there is an election, I’m there.

But this time, I may be in trouble.

Here’s the thing: I have absolutely no idea who to vote for.  The reality is that I don’t really want to vote for any of the current presidential hopefuls, but there’s this voice in my head that won’t stop saying “Not voting is the same as a vote for the opposition.” Fine.  I get it.  But from where I’m sitting, everyone is the opposition.

Let’s all be honest here.  Have you looked at these people? I don’t even know what to say about Donald Trump.  Literally, I have no words.  Hillary Clinton just reeks of scandal and lies.  I wouldn’t trust her if she told me the sky was blue.  And Bernie Sanders? God bless him, I think his heart is in the right place, but apparently no one realizes that this country is not in a position to implement socialism, even “democratic” socialism, or that the power really lies with our senators and representatives.  (As an aside, it breaks my heart to see all of these 20 and 30-somethings who think that a presidential candidate will actually do what he promises during his campaign.  Oh, to be so young and naive again!)

I’m not getting into my political affiliations here.  I refuse.  That isn’t my point.  I just want to know what the solution is when you don’t like any of the political candidates.  I believe in voting.  I hate to hear people say they don’t vote because it doesn’t make a difference anyway.  I HATE it. It is our privilege, and yes, our obligation as Americans, to vote.  But here I am, getting ready for a primary election, followed by a general election, determined that I will not cast a vote for any of the current candidates.

Really this post is just a plea for help.  Someone help me.  I’m drowning.  Am I the only one who feels this way? Does anyone else want to cry when they see the current candidates on television? What do we do? There’s only one solution as far as I can tell.

A write-in.

Spongebob 2016.

Roman (Catholic) Mythology

Easter of 2013 was a big occasion for me.  I was confirmed into the Roman Catholic Church.

Interesting for a girl who was raised by a Baptist minister, right?

I won’t use this post to go into what lead me home to Holy Mother Church.  What has troubled me nearly every day since my confirmation is how the Church is perceived in our society.

If you live in New York or Boston, or any fair-sized city, I guess, this may mean nothing to you.  However, when you live “in the country,” as I do and always have, Protestantism, in one form or another, is pretty much the only religion you know. When you say the word “Catholic,” you can almost watch as the misconceptions about the Church roll across people’s minds.

So, rather than get into a theological debate about the finer points of Catholicism, which I am NOT qualified to do, I want to share with you some of the things I have heard about the Church, and how I know they are not true because of my own personal experience. Here we go:

1. The Catholic Church worships Mary.

The short answer to this, of course, is no, we don’t.  Stick with me on this “worshiping something besides God” thing, because it seems to be a recurring theme.  The most important thing I can say about this accusation is that Catholics worship one God, and only one God.  Further, we believe in God as three persons–the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Since we also believe in and follow the Ten Commandments, the first of which is not to worship anyone but God (I’m paraphrasing), to worship Mary (or the Pope, or a saint) would be a mortal sin and a heresy, and as such, would endanger our souls to Hell.  So we don’t take this lightly.

However, that is not to say that we do not love our Mother.  She is the Mother of God, and, as such, we honor her with highest honor.  She was the first Christian.  She is a model of how a Christian should behave.  Since another Commandment tells us to honor our parents, we feel pretty sure the Mother of God is worthy of honor.  And yes, we invoke her intercession in our prayers.  More on that later.

2.  Catholics aren’t Christians.

In simplest terms, Christians are followers of Christ as the true Son of God, and as part of the Holy Trinity.  That is exactly what Catholics believe, and so, yes, we are Christians.

3. Catholics worship The Pope

Please see number 1.  We don’t worship our Holy Father.  We do not think he is divine.

We do, however, acknowledge him as the Earthly leader of our Church.  He is the number one Catholic.  Have there been corrupt popes?  You’d better believe it.  Peter himself, the first head of the Church, denied even knowing Christ.  History buffs could tell you all kinds of shenanigans popes have been up to.  Here’s the thing–the Pope is, after all, only a human.  He is placed at the head of a Church that is also made up of–you guessed it–humans.  In his own actions, he is not infallible.  However, we do believe that in Church doctrine he is infallible.  His being the head of our Church is no different that your pastor being the head of yours.  And so what if we all get very excited to see him? Good grief, we live in a society that does nearly worship celebrities! Consider William and Kate, and Brangelina.  Don’t even get me started on how people acted towards The Beatles and Elvis.  And we can’t jump up and down and cry when we see our Holy Father? Baloney.

4. Catholics pray to Saints/Statues/Pictures/Other Graven Images

Wow, this really is a recurring theme, isn’t it?

Anyway, again, see number 1.  We don’t worship anyone but God.

Do we pray to Saints? Yes we do.  But not in the way you think.  The way we talk to the saints is the same way you talk to your brothers and sisters in Christ here on Earth.  Heck, you probably ask someone to pray for you almost every day, don’t you? Why? Well, when we call upon the saints, we are asking for them to pray for us.  These are holy people and why shouldn’t we believe that they can hear our prayers and pray for us? All of us need all the help we can get.

Do we love pictures of saints and statues and all of that good stuff? You bet.  Let me ask you this–do you keep pictures of a dearly departed loved one? Why do you do that? Do you keep mementos from trips and vacations and baby clothes and locks of hair and who knows what else? I’m sure all of those things are perfectly acceptable to you.  Why wouldn’t they be.  So, why can’t I, as a Catholic, have a painting of a saint whose life speaks particularly to me? Why can’t I have a picture of The Blessed Mother to remind me that she understands what a mother’s suffering for her child truly is? These things are mementos, and reminders, of people who Catholics love.  It has nothing to do with worship.

5. Catholics think a priest can take away their sins.

This one seems more complicated on the surface, but it really isn’t.  No, we do NOT believe a priest can take away our sins.  God’s mercy takes away our sins.  However, for that to happen, Catholics do believe you need to confess those sins, and yes, you confess to a priest.  The priest is acting en persona Christi, which means in the place of Christ, there in the confessional.  And yes, the priests prays the prayer of absolution over you, but let me tell you, it is Christ who is there in that confessional, and it is Him who absolves you of your sins.  The priest is basically your tour guide through the most wonderful experience you can have as a member of the Catholic Church.

6. All that bowing/crossing yourself/incense, etc., is just weird. 

If you’re not a Catholic, I’m sure seeing what goes on in an actual Mass would be very intimidating to most.  All of the bowing and kneeling may seem strange, and to some, even sacrilegious. Let me tell you, I’ve been to a lot of church services in my life, and I have never felt more in the presence of God than I do during Mass.  We bow and kneel because we believe the Body and Blood of Christ are on that altar.  Speaking things in unison causes everyone to participate in Mass together.  You are doing something, not just sitting there.  You are practicing your faith. It is revered as a holy and sacred time and place.  Shouldn’t the worship of God be treated with such reverence?

 

I’m going to stop for now.  I’ll leave you with this:

I’m not trying to make everyone become Catholic (although if you want to, good on you!) What I’m trying to do is make people realize that Christians are cutting their own throats by quarreling among themselves.  It’s about time we let go of misconceptions and outright lies and just remember that we are all called to follow Christ’s example.

Can’t we all just get along?

 

(not so) Super Hero

When you’re a teenager, you spend a lot of time figuring out exactly the path you want your life to take. You’re going to be married (or not), have kids (or not), have such and such career, live here, work there–on and on.

Life sure is funny sometimes, isn’t it?

I think one of the biggest rites of passage from the teen years into actual adulthood is when you start to realize that the things you wanted and the things you actually have really have nothing to do with each other.

Me? I wanted to be a marine biologist. I was going to work and live between Alaska and Hawaii, studying marine mammals. I would become a leading expert in the field, maybe appearing in National Geographic occasionally just for variety. I didn’t much care if I was married or not, and I certainly didn’t want any kids to slow me down.

I am not a marine biologist, incidentally. I am a caregiver.

What happened? Life, that’s all.

This isn’t a biography. I hold no delusions that the boring tale of my transformation into the ultimate soccer mom I am today is of any interest to anyone. It will suffice to say I am married with two children. Also, and the full time caregiver to my sister. Oh, and my 14 year old daughter is also permanently disabled, and I’m her caregiver, too.

My sister and my daughter’s disabilities are very different. My sister has CP, and my daughter has an undiagnosed neuromuscular disease. Sister is non ambulatory. Daughter ambulates a little, but poorly, and is a fall risk because of seizures.

So, you may be asking, what’s my point?

As with most of my writing, there is little point. (Sorry.) But I heard something the other day that seemed insignificant at first, then began to gnaw at my mind and churn around in there (along with the lyrics to hundreds of songs and a vast library of movie quotes) until I finally had to write about it.

Someone called me a superhero.

Let me start by saying I wouldn’t be caught dead in tights or a unitard or anything else that is the going fashion among the superhero community (you should be grateful–trust me.)

Mostly, though, the comment left me feeling a little disappointed in the way caregivers are viewed in our society.

As a full time, total care caregiver for two people with disabilities, I can assure you I am many, many things, some good and some (not so) good, but a superhero isn’t one of them. I’m not even side-kick material.

Superheroes don’t get tired. They are strong and fearless and they always save the day and solve the problem. They always beat the bad guy. Superheroes swoop in, set everything right, and fly away to do whatever it is superheroes do when they aren’t superhero-ing.

I am painfully non-super.

Tired doesn’t even begin to describe the level of physical and mental exhaustion I can experience. I’m physically strong (I like to think I have a dependable, pack-mule type build), and I act fearlessly when necessary, but I am afraid almost all of the time. Sometimes I feel like a total emotional weakling.

The biggest difference is that I can’t really set things right or beat the bad guy. Oh, I can manage day-to-day life pretty well. Everyone is clean and fed and warm and (hopefully) happy. I can change a diaper with one hand. I can administer meds in all sorts of fun ways, and I can load, strap, unstrap and unload a wheelchair in Olympic-gold-medal-worthy fashion.

What I can’t do, though, is beat the real bad guy.

I can’t make Sister or Daughter’s disabilities go away. We manage symptoms. We fight fires and try to prevent new ones, but I can’t make Sister walk, or Daughter talk, and I surely can’t make their lives “normal.” I can’t swoop in and destroy all the things that are basically just mean–things that take and tighten and weaken and hurt and sting and crush. Hell, I can’t swoop at all.

I would also be willing to bet that superheroes never have days when they are almost drowning in self-pity. They probably never sit morosely on the side of the bed and think, “why does everything have to be so hard?” They never have secret, hateful moments when they wonder what happened to those dreams and plans they had when they were teenagers. They certainly never have weak moments when they wonder if their lives will ever be anything more than an endless cycle of cleaning and feeding and medicating and entertaining. Obviously, I don’t have super powers.

I’ll tell you what I do have, though: a very important job.

My job is far more important than any role I could have ever played in the marine mammal world. I don’t think I’ll every make it into National Geographic, but I’m okay with that. Sister and Daughter rely on me to take care of their physical needs–that’s obvious. That’s what caregivers do, right? Provide physical care? Yes, but we do so much more.

I am the link between my people and the rest of the world. I make them aware of the world, and, more importantly, I make the world aware of them. I advocate for them, and I make sure others treat them fairly. I work very hard to make others see Sister and Daughter for what they are–a 36 year old woman and 14 year old girl. Each unique. Each wonderful in their own way, just as we all are.

In short, I am their voice.

Somehow, this seems infinitely more important than wiping a bottom or administering a pill. It is the heart of what we do, the very essence of caregiving, and we are doing it with plain, boring, every day skills. We aren’t superheroes. We are sisters, and brothers, and mothers, and fathers, and wives, and husbands, and children, and so many more. We are caregivers.

And, if you ask me, that’s pretty super.

anxietygirl

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