Two years ago, at 7:35 AM, I birthed another human. She was just shy of 9 pounds and was SO easy to birth (ha). She had her little arm wrapped around her head so that I had to push out not only her noggin but her noggin + a sharp, pointy elbow and a tight, little meatball of a fist. Insert: expletives.
As soon as I saw her face I thought: “She’s the cutest little bulldog. So angry looking. So red.” I quickly looked at her feet because I wanted to make sure of one thing: SHE HAD RICK’S TOES AND THAT’S ALL I CARED ABOUT. I was kind of hoping she had his dreamy blue-green-grey eyes but that’s not who she is. She’s not a dreamy kid. She’s a brown-eyed bulldog. And she got Rick’s toes. I was in love.
Not much time has gone by / all the time in eternity has gone by. She’s only two years old / how is she already two years old?!
Well, Ruby, I have some thoughts. And sure, some of them are specific to being a mom or a parent but I think most of them apply to being a person in general. These have been rolling around inside my head for quite some time as I try and navigate this whole, “parenting thing” and it kinda came out like silly string . . .
We live in a Brave New World. It’s that incredibly complex spider web that is woven between cultural-upheaval, relinquished tradition and technological advancement. There are so many damn choices. So many options. We can freeze our eggs. We can freeze our sperm. We can breastfeed. We can bottle feed. We can formula feed. We can wear our babies. We can push our babies in strollers. And if you’re looking for a stroller . . . there are approximately 98717401643 different kinds to choose from, ranging anywhere from $200 - $1,000. Good luck!
Whether you’re a parent or not, you could work from home. You could work for yourself. You could start an Etsy shop. You could finish school. You can live abroad. You can pick up and move to another city and start ENTIRELY over because unlike other countries with ancient roots, WE can create an identity that is entirely separate from our family’s name and place of origin. My family hasn’t lived in the same remote Spanish villa for the past 500 years. I doubt your own family has.
I know mothers who work outside of the home. Mothers who work from their homes. Mothers who work part-time from home and part-time out of the home. I know mothers who use daycares and mothers who have babysitters, nannies and family members who help with their kids.
There’s public school, charter school, part-time charter school, homeschool, and even a few unschoolers. There’s Pre-K, T-K (at least in California), half-day Kindergarten and full-day Kindergarten. There’s Target, Walmart, Whole Foods, Sprouts, Natural Grocers, Fry’s, Albertsons, Safeway, CVS and Walmart . . . all within 15 miles of our home. There’s Amazon Prime, Amazon Now (and don’t forget, the weird Amazon button) Thrive Market, Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, and Nature Box, just to name a few.
If you thought you were going to be able to read this without any mention of social media. . . I’m sorry, you’re at the wrong place.
There’s fit-mom Instagram
There’s fashion-mom Instagram
There’s real-food-mom Instagram
There’s toddler-baby-fashion-mom Instagram
There’s yoga-mom Instagram
There’s Catholic-mom Instagram
There’s Calvinist-mom Instagram
There’s homeschool-mom Instagram
There’s No-I’m-Totally-Real-and-Don’t-Always-Wear-Makeup-Mom Instagram
Never before could you be living your NORMAL, EVERYDAY LIFE and make an income from using a particular pack ‘n play or nail polish or yoga pant. If you have 15K followers on Instagram, the average sponsored, single post goes for 1K dollars. That’s crazy-pants.
Hear me out: I love Blue Apron and Hello Fresh. I love that I can have toilet paper and diapers delivered to my home with a click of a button. I sometimes like Instagram. I have discovered SO many good books, essays and products that have truly served my life. But that’s the tricky part . . . how much of ALL OF THIS is actually serving us?
John Paul II reflected on the question of media technology and answered with this, “Does this progress, which has man for its author and promoter, make human life on earth ‘more human’?” (Redemptor Hominis).
In other words, media and technology and “progress” should be viewed through the lens of: Does this make us more or less human? Because Jesus isn’t in the business of making us more spiritual. He’s actually in the business of making us more human.
But all of these options and choices . . . sometimes I wonder . . . are they making us more or less human?
But wait, here’s the OTHER SIDE. The side I’ve never visited and am just dipping my toes into. Not everyone has these options and choices. We have brothers and sisters both around the world and in our own cities, who are stuck. There’s no way to go. There’s no way to move. Because it’s systemic. It’s so deeply rooted within our culture, within our foundation. They don’t GET the option to choose NOT to go to college and travel or work at Jamba Juice. The decision has been made for them. No, they can’t “Prime” Seventh Generation dish soap to their home. No, they’ve never been inside of a Buy Buy Baby and seen the hundreds of different types of pacifiers. PACIFIERS. They aren’t trying out the Whole 30 or “counting macros” because they are just hoping they get to eat that particular day.
Their humanity isn’t slowly slipping away because of modernity. Their humanity has been stripped from them through the "progress" of modernity.
Evelyn Waugh is an author from the early 20th century. He wrote a novel titled, A Handful of Dust in which the barbaric, murderous, archaic realities of the uncivilized, un-colonized African jungle is merely a mirror for the barbaric, murderous, archaic realities of the oh-so civilized, oh-so colonized realities of modern Britain.
A system built on class, greed, rouge cheeks, wigs, and the dehumanization of people in exchange for “advancement” isn’t that different than war-paint, tribal dance, and cannibalism . . . is it? In other words, our progressive civilizations aren’t that different from the depths of the wild jungle. Both are ruled by animalistic lust and basic survival instinct.
Just because we have advanced, doesn’t mean we have moved towards good. We think of good as progress. We have morality tied up with the concept of movement. If we advance, we are doing better.
And yet we have entire people groups we have left behind. It’s not that we forgot them, it’s that WE DON’T WANT THEM. We keep them confined. That way, we control them. This is true for the unborn and the born. The young and the old.
They have had their humanity stripped from them, with brutality and force. They never had a chance or a choice. And some of us are allowing our own humanity to be taken away, not by force but by stealth. Through numbing.
And so here we are. The privileged and the young. With the opportunity to make a difference. To use our voice for those who have none. To give our resources to those who have none. And as a young mom, I’m telling myself: DON’T GIVE UP. Don’t get sucked in. Don’t let your humanity fizzle away through numbing distraction, endless choices and the IMPOSSIBLE standards. And you don't WANT to. Don't let them tell you any different. You can’t look cute, eat clean, make a double income, keep up on laundry and take good care of your people ALL IN ONE DAY (well, maybe you can. But I guarantee you will exchange your humanity for "progress" in the process). But you know what you CAN do? You can choose love. You can choose love! And THIS will make us not less human, but more human. We can choose love. We CAN choose to be human. We CAN choose Goodness, Truth, and Beauty. Gosh it’s painful. Isn’t it? To be human? To let Aslan peel off those yucky dragon scales with his razor sharp lion claws? But if we don’t let Him peel the yucky stuff off, we’ll never be human again. And neither will our neighbor. I don't know of anything that looks less like progress and more like death, than LOVE.
BONUS LESSON I’VE LEARNED THESE PAST TWO YEARS:
If you want to make friends/feel good about yourself: post pictures of yourself, your kids, Bible verses about why you’re a horrible sinner who doesn’t deserve grace (BUT LOOK HOW CUTE I LOOK I AM IN THIS PICTURE!)
If you want to lose friends/reconsider your entire life/receive harsh feedback calling you REBELLIOUS (Oh no!! NOT REBELLIOUS!!!) : post pictures of your current reads, your thoughts on politics, and some words on LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.