Friday, January 19, 2018

7 Quick Takes about Old Friends, What Happens When You Get an Ear Infection, and the Secret to Raising Budding Photographers

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?

1


Hypothetically speaking, if your van's automatic sliding door goes haywire and chews up its own mechanism and spits out a frayed wire in the library parking lot, is that going to be expensive to fix?

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted@ Unremarkable Files}
On a scale of 1 to 10, how important would you say this part is?

Until we get it fixed, this nifty electrical hazard is sitting on the dashboard and the sliding door is completely jammed. Meaning that I have to use the opposite door and crawl across every time to buckle and unbuckle the baby's car seat.

Now would be a good time to call my parents so they can tell me how they raised kids when minivans only came with one sliding door and automatic hadn't even been invented yet. I'm feeling way too sorry for myself over this.

2


Some friends of ours from Ohio, where we lived before we moved here 8 years ago, were in the area and we got to see them! We left the kids at home and went to a nearby Indian restaurant for dinner.

We were so busy talking over the naan we'd ordered as an appetizer that 20 minutes went by before we realized no one had come back to the table. Our server had completely ditched us.

We flagged someone down who quickly took our order and then avoided our table for the rest of the night. No one even came to check on us, although someone else did come by and put our food on the table.

We had to ask for our drinks, ask for more water, and as we sat and sat with our empty plates in front of us wondering if maybe the food was just free today, eventually had to ask for the check.

It was kind of an adventure all the way through: were we going to get our food? Were they going to bring us a check? Were they going to bring our credit cards back or would they get lost somewhere between our table and the register? No one knew, it was so exciting!

On an average night I would've been annoyed but it was so awesome to see our friends again, and I have to admit it was really good naan.

3


You may not know this from just reading the blog, but in person I can take a really long time to say things. Sometimes I bore myself in the middle of telling a story and I just stop, and no one even notices. I'm like the Victor Hugo of talking.

Phillip knows this about me and although it's a pretty irritating quirk, he humors me most of the time and gently lets me know when I need to hurry it up. Usually by making stupid jokes if there's a too-long silence in my story.

"Did you know..." I said to him in my long-winded way after reading something interesting at the library, "...that when you get an ear infection..."

He smiled and said: "An angel gets its wings?"

4


My 13-year-old needed a blood draw at her doctor's appointment, and I was sitting in the lab with her debating whether I should watch or not.

I don't have a problem with needles, but there's something about seeing blood spurt out of a person's vein like that that gives me the heebie-jeebies. Always has.

It creeps me out so much that once when I needed a blood draw in high school I forced myself to watch (because I was determined NOT to be a weenie about it anymore,) and promptly passed out. Actually, I let them finish, told the nurse I was just fine thanks, excused myself to the restroom, and passed out on the floor there, but that's beside the point.

What's important here is that I've developed sort of a weird phobia about blood draws, and I was debating whether I should try conquering my fear by watching my daughter get one.

Ultimately, I didn't end up watching. I thought it was better safe than sorry, especially since I'm the one driving home.

Which was a good choice, because evidently it's genetic. Halfway through the blood draw, the tech had to lie my daughter down with her feet up to keep her from losing consciousness.

5


On the way to my 11-year-old's first orthodontist appointment, she was asking me questions about getting braces, including "Will braces make me talk different?"

"Yes," I told her seriously. "You'll sound like Yoda."

We laughed about what would happen if she really did show up at school the next day talking like Yoda, and she said she'd just explain herself by telling people "Got braces, I did."

I love that kid.

Parenthetically, I really like our orthodontist so far but I may not be able to bring my preschooler along to any more of his sister's appointments. He discovered a fart gun in the basket of toys in the lobby, and although it was kind of cute watching him blast himself in the ear repeatedly and laughing, I can imagine it getting old at future visits.

For me, not for him.

6


I went to watch my 8th-grader compete in her school's geography bee, and it was a lot more hardcore than I was expecting.

The 10 finalists had to answer the questions through a microphone at a lectern in the center of the gymnasium. The entire school was watching, and kids in the audience were waving signs with the competitors' names like you see in the NBA (i.e: "You CAM do it!!")

My 6th-grader and her buddies were cheering on their friend Sydney with signs that read "Whip their Djiboutis, Sydney!" and "Kick their Botswanas!"

I was super-nervous for my 8th grader, but she did awesome, tying for third place and looking like she was having fun doing it. I, on the other hand, had to go home and lie down afterward.

Like I said, it was intense.

7


We have an iPad but I don't personally use it much. Mostly the kids use it to play Minion Rush, which I manage to feel okay about by also installing a number of educational apps they never use.

But I noticed when I picked it up the other day that the photo gallery was completely full, so I decided to take a look.

Apparently, the 1-year-old discovered the camera function and thinks the point of the game is to press the button furiously until someone takes it away.

I'm guessing because there were 72 identical pictures of his blanket on there.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted@ Unremarkable Files}


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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Things You're Probably Doing Right Now If You Have Kids

We love our kids, but man, do they ever hijack our lives.

In fact, knowing nothing else about you aside from the fact that you have children, I can even predict with eerie accuracy what you're doing right now.


If you're living the parent life, then at this moment you're almost certainly doing one of these things:
  1. Cleaning up water that someone requested and promptly spilled all over.
  2. Yelling at someone to stop yelling.
  3. Wiping a butt.
  4. Showering while someone is holding open the curtain and whining/crying.
  5. Talking someone down from the ledge over a sock seam.
  6. Forgetting why you came in this room.
  7. Putting the hand towel back on the rack.
  8. Saying "just a minute!"
  9. Debating whether you should throw this sock away or hang onto it in case the match shows up.
  10. Answering a question you've already answered 8 times in the last 5 minutes.
  11. Signing "clean up, clean up, everybody, everywhere" to people who aren't even mildly interested in cleaning up regardless of who or where they are.
  12. Washing someone else's bodily fluid off of your person.
  13. Googling pictures of weird rashes.
  14. Texting your spouse demanding to know when they'll be home.
  15. Getting headbutted in the pubic bone.
  16. Telling someone to put a dish in the dishwasher.
  17. Figuring out when you can next take a nap.
  18. Listening to an unnecessarily long story about a video game.
  19. Sighing heavily while changing a toilet paper roll.
  20. Peeling tape off the floor.
  1. Eating over the sink to avoid dirtying another dish.
  2. Trying to wipe the nose of someone who's thrashing around like a psychotic trout.
  3. Humming the Paw Patrol theme song (and if you weren't, you are now.)
  4. Trying to remember if this pile of laundry is clean or dirty.
  5. Pointing out where shoes go to someone who deserves an Oscar for acting as if they've never heard this information before.
  6. Finding a random sticker somewhere on your body.
  7. Retrieving a toy from the toilet bowl.
  8. Pinning recipes you'll never make and kids' crafts you'll never do.
  9. Fielding questions about iPad/computer/screen usage.
  10. Testing the limits of how heavily a bedtime story can be abridged.
  11. Serving food in such a way that it triggers a metaphysical crisis. (Most likely you cut it into triangles instead of rectangles.)
  12. Making a to-do list for other people in your head.
  13. Adding "band-aids" to your shopping list.
  14. Trying to figure out how to do what you were just asked without getting up.
  15. Stepping on a slimy piece of food.
  16. Talking in a really high-pitched sing song voice to keep yourself from screaming.
  17. Acting casual and trying to talk normally while hiding candy in your mouth.
  18. Giving "scary eyes" to make someone stop whatever they're doing.
  19. Chasing someone around trying to apply sunscreen (in the summer) or lotion (in the winter.)
  20. Picking a low-hanging booger out of someone else's nose.
Was I right? If you're a parent, there's probably one other thing that's about to happen (if it hasn't already.) Any second now, some little person is going to commandeer this tablet, phone, or computer and demand to watch a video. Mark my words.

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Friday, January 12, 2018

7 Quick Takes about Impressing Your Houseguests, Bad Places to Eat Brownies with Ice Cream, and the Living Room Mantel That Proves Less Is More

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?

1


My 1-year-old's vocabulary is exploding and he's discovering that he really likes to talk conversationally.

His favorite type of conversation goes something like this:

"Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom?"

"Yes?"

*pointing* "Dat phone."

You know, really important stuff like that.

2


There are two methods kids use to show they're excited to have visitors over. Unfortunately, neither of them is sitting down and having a nice, normal conversation.

Predictably, when we had the missionaries from church over for dinner on Sunday, the first thing the kids wanted to do was show off for them. The length and exact content of the show varies, but generally it involves a lot of bouncing off the walls and couch like pinballs, yelling "Look what I can do!"

Then it's time for Phase 2, which is dragging out their treasures. First, my 3-year-old treated the missionaries to an up-close and personal examination of all his favorite new toys from Christmas (literally, he was practically shoving them in their retinas.) Then my 6-year-old brought down her own collection of precious things from her room, the capstone item being the tooth she lost on Christmas Eve.

The missionaries were very nice about admiring it all, although internally they were probably really hoping nobody else had any other dismembered body parts to pass around the dinner table.

3


Phillip and I went to see the new Star Wars. He'd already taken the kids over Christmas vacation, but had to leave during the most climactic part of the entire 2.5-hour movie to take someone to the bathroom.

We figured seeing it a second time might help him get closure, but just to be safe, we left the kids at home and both of us visited the restroom before it started.

The theater we went to was just built and it was really nice. Before the show you can order food at the counter (not just candy and popcorn, but actual restaurant-type food like burgers, salads, and desserts) and they bring it to your seats when it's ready.

Which sounds like a groovy idea, but in actuality there's not that much light in a movie theater and you can't see. Trying to eat with a fork in the dark is not as good an idea as you might think.

4


Along with his burgeoning language skills (see Take #1,) the toddler has also developed very specific requirements for his food.

For instance, a banana for breakfast sounds like a simple enough request. But you'd be wrong.

First, the banana cannot be placed on his tray. Attempting to use the tray that came with his high chair will infuriate him more than anything else you could possibly do.

Second, it must be cut in half. If you slice the banana, or serve it whole or in any other shape or formation, you will have successfully ruined his life.

Third, and this is important, it needs to be in a bowl. Not a plate, a bowl. Exactly why bananas belong in a bowl is unclear to me, but I'm assuming he must have his reasons.

All I know is, these three points are all complete non-negotiables for him.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Sir, yes sir!

And when it's something so important, I always deliver.

5


Home decorating isn't a particular skill of mine. Or even an interest, really. I like a clean, picked-up space but beyond that, I'm kind of domestically impaired.

We took down the Christmas decorations on New Year's Day, and it took me until Wednesday to even realize we never put our regular stuff back up on the mantel and it's looked like this for 10 days.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

I meant to bring it back out when I noticed on Wednesday, but then I forgot again and it's still bare as I write this on Friday morning.

I wonder what people think of it when they come over. The missionaries didn't say anything at Sunday dinner, but that was probably because they were distracted by the bloody baby tooth.

6


A while back we somehow misplaced our two oldest children's social security cards, and getting replacements has been hanging over my head for almost a year now.

I made an effort. Last spring I went to the social security office and after taking a number and waiting for a half hour, was told that birth certificates don't count as identification and I'd need to get signed papers from their pediatrician at their next physicals.

After finally making the appointments, remembering to go to the appointments, and getting the appropriate paperwork compiled, I finally went back to the social security office to try again.

I brought an iPad for my 1- and 3-year-old to play on, thinking the wait couldn't be more than 40 minutes and this would be plenty for them to do. Unfortunately the iPad was dead on arrival, I had no snacks and no toys other than a single matchbox car, and we sat in the waiting room for almost 2 hours.

The kids were champs, though. We practiced hopping on the tiles. We looked out the window. We talked about excavators. We talked about birds. We played with the pennies in my wallet. Good times.

At least this time we actually got the replacement cards.

7


I came across this inspirational tile in a wall in a public space recently, and I don't know why but it has really stuck with me.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}


I think I may somehow adapt it to become our family motto. I'm thinking:

Ignore the noise as though you were used to it
And be late to everything as if you liked it.

I think that sums up our family quite nicely. Feel free to print on a mug or something for your next gift-giving occasion. Any other suggestions?

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Thursday, January 11, 2018

We Parents Walk a Fine Line When We Joke About Our Kids

As a parent, I ask myself deep questions daily, like how I can be a better mom and help my kids reach their full potential. I also ask questions like "Why did I come in this room?" and "What is that smell?" Another question I grapple with, both as a parent and as a blogger, is how to talk about my family.

I'm a humor blogger because life with kids is funny, you guys. It just is. That's why we like to swap stories with the other parents at playgroup.

Frantically waving a tiny pair of underwear beneath the hand dryer in a public restroom? Funny.

Being proud of yourself for showing up to the pediatrician's on time, only to realize you're there on the wrong day? Also funny.

A toddler who blithely skips into the room smeared from head to toe in Desitin? After you regain consciousness... well, you have to admit it's at least a little funny.

If you've got little people underfoot spilling juice and asking embarrassing questions very loudly in line at Safeway, trust me: you have plenty of material to build a successful stand-up act and take it on the road.

However, there's a risk to joking about the crazy, messy, loud life that is family life.

One minute you're making wisecracks about the pee on the toilet seat, and before you know it you're bashing the kids who got the pee there in the first place. Maybe some funny people don't even realize they went from laughing about life with kids to complaining about them. It makes me so sad to see parenting blogs calling toddlers  well, a name you can't say on TV  in the name of humor, and I wonder: is that how it happened?

I absolutely think it's possible to poke fun at the chaos without doing it at the expense of my kids, but am I doing as good a job at it as I think?

Is it possible to laugh about our chaotic, messy, noisy lives without giving families a bad name? I certainly hope so.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Once I wrote a tongue-in-cheek post about the things that go out the window when you have a baby: housekeeping, basic hygiene, that kind of thing.

I expected it to make the unwashed masses of new moms laugh until they peed (not a high bar, because unfortunately bladder control is another thing that goes out the window) and then get back to loving their babies.

What I did not expect was a Facebook comment I got: "Thanks, this has just confirmed to me that I never want to have children."

Ouch.

Did I go too far in the name of being funny? Did I cross the line I hoped never to cross?

If you ask me truthfully, I don't think so. That person's comment probably had more to do with them than it did with me or what I wrote.

I don't think I need to include a disclaimer at the beginning of every blog post I write; if you've read this blog for any length of time you know it goes without saying that to me, parenthood is the greatest and most important job there is.

I write funny and sometimes sarcastic posts on the Internet about the craziness that is family life, and not because I don't think parenting is a privilege and a joy.

I write because sometimes that joy is buried under the 10-lb bag of rice my toddler just emptied all over the floor, and for me anyway, what it takes to find it again is a broom and a sense of humor.

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Monday, January 8, 2018

Tales from an Overactive Brain at 2 A.M.

Last week, Phillip started yelling in the middle of the night. That's not really normal, so I rolled over and woke him up.

"What was that?" I asked.

"It was a nightmare."

Obviously.

"About what?"

He explained that in his dream, he was on a bus and looked out the window just in time to see a creepy figure running toward him.

"It looked sort of like one of those vampire things in that Will Smith movie," Phillip said.

There was a pause.

"And unfortunately," he continued, "when you woke me up you looked like one of them, so that was pretty scary, too."

With an apology for waking me up in such a disturbing way (and, I'd like to think, for comparing me to a nocturnal vampire mutant,) he rolled over and went to sleep, leaving me to ponder the random things my brain ponders when it gets woken up in the middle of the night.

When your stream-of-consciousness looks like this, no wonder you can't get back to sleep in the middle of the night.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

A transcript of my inner dialogue for the next 45 minutes is as follows:

Okay, that was weird, but it's time to go back to sleep now.

...What was the name of that movie, anyway?

I Am Hero?

Maybe I should Google it. No, blue light is bad for sleep.

What happened in that movie, anyway? I saw it in the theater and literally the only thing I remember was that gas cost like $15 a gallon.

Seriously, I remember nothing about that movie. Not even what the vampires looked like.

Maybe I should Google it.

I Am Legend. That was the name. You can't have me today, early onset dementia.

Remember when Will Smith was the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air?

I miss those days.

Iiiiiin West Philadelphia, born and raised! On the playground was where I spent most of my days...

[full disclosure: I actually went through all the lyrics, but that's okay because you're already singing it now and we both know you know every word.]

Why can I remember every word to that song when I haven't heard it in 20 years? Brains are weird.

Will Smith used to do fun stuff like Men in Black.

Hey, I wonder if my kids would like Men in Black.

What was that movie rated, anyway? Every time I try to show the kids a movie I liked when I was young, it turns out to be wildly inappropriate.

Okay, it's really time to get some sleep.

Find a comfortable position, relax.

Let's try counting down from 100 slowly.

100...

99...

98...

97...

Hey, remember that scene in Titanic where everyone knows they're about to die so that mom spends her last minutes tucking in her kids and reading them a bedtime story?

Oh my gosh, why would I think about that right now?!

100...

99...

And the old couple that holds hands and lies down together waiting to drown?

AAAGH, stop!

Seriously, though, what would I do if Phillip died?

I'd have to sell the house. Ugh, moving.

I couldn't take all his stuff with me. That would be sad.

I'd probably want to keep some of his shirts for sentimental reasons. Probably the green one he wears to go running...

Okay, this is not helpful.

Breathe slowly.

Inhale.

Exhale.

I wonder what time it is.

It's kind of light out but I think that's coming from the moon.

I'm not sold on this not-having-a-clock-in-the-bedroom thing. It's annoying. My phone is way over there.

Wow, there are a lot of weird noises in our house at night.

Is that a toilet flushing? Again? We have got to stop letting the kids drink anything after dinner.

Now the baby is stirring.

Okay, he's back asleep.

How do people move their babies in with their siblings? He's the noisiest sleeper ever. He'd wake them up all night.

He's going to be in a Pack n Play in our room forever. I wonder what the weight limit is on those things...


I think it was some time around this point that I began to fall back asleep. I envy people who can just flip a switch and conk out when they're tired. Maybe their brains aren't conspiring against them the way mine likes to.

As it is, I'm going to feel like a zombie tomorrow. Or maybe those things in I Am Legend, which I need to Google first thing in the morning to look for a resemblance, anyway.

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Friday, January 5, 2018

7 Quick Takes about the Great Gingerbread Smash, a Rocky Start, and the Perfect Tool for Applying Hair Gel

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?

1


Happy New Year! As is the Evans family tradition, the kids decorated a gingerbread house over the week between Christmas and New Years...

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

...and then on New Year's Day we smashed it into little pieces with a meat tenderizer. (Bet you didn't see that one coming.)

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

The Annual Gingerbread Smash is a very big deal at our house. There are strict rules: each kid takes a turn, youngest to oldest, and each gets ONE swing. No more, no less.

It has a loose "out with the old, in with the new" symbolism. As the kids eat the pieces, we talk about our family goals for the new year.

One of our family resolutions for 2018 was to be nicer to each other, which was ironic because an hour later the kids were outside and my son hit his sister with a sled and gave her a black eye.

He said it was an accident, but eyewitnesses (i.e: his other siblings) said it looked intentional. So it's still unclear what actually happened, other than us setting a record by failing at our family goal in less than 60 minutes this year.

2


Another one of our family resolutions was to get better about holding regular Family Home Evening (FHE.) That's like a Mormon family devotional you do once a week.

Monday evening is the "official" FHE night for Mormons worldwide, but since this year our family has about 300 after-school activities on Monday we've switched to Wednesdays instead.

The problem is, we're so used to thinking FHE=Monday that we haven't been very successful at making it happen every week. So we resolved to be regular about it in 2018!

For our first Family Home Evening of the year, we talked about our family and why families are important, and the kids collaborated to draw a family crest. They sort of ran out of time and just threw down 8 stick figures in the lower lefthand corner because they couldn't think of anything else, but I think it wasn't too shabby.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
The rectangle that says "THE BUK OF" is supposed to be the Book of Mormon, but my 6-year-old ran out of room.


Please note that pie is included on our family crest. I don't even know why, but that makes me feel so proud to be an Evans.

3


So far, 2018 has gotten off to a rough start. There was of course the black eye incident.

Then a severe cold front hit our area and there was a 2-hour cold weather delay for their first day back at school. Too bad the call didn't go out until AFTER my kids had already been waiting at the bus stop for 15 minutes.

Also, apparently on late-start days there is no half-day kindergarten, which I didn't realize so I sent my kindergartner anyway.

With all the extra time we had, I sat down with her to make a little schedule with pictures of everything she needs to do in the mornings to get ready for the bus (I've been meaning to do this since September because our mornings are a mess.) We finished just in time for another robocall from the school to say that tomorrow was going to be a snow day.

I try, I really do.

4


I won't go into detail about the broken picture frames and pee-soaked mattresses and monstrous bathtub splashings of the next few days, because they pale in comparison to this:

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
This is a picture of people who have no idea how to remove Vaseline from hair trying to remove Vaseline from hair.

I recently discovered some educational podcasts for kids that I love, and while Phillip was putting the 3-year-old to bed and I was listening to an episode of Bedtime History with the older kids, the 18-month-old was in the bathroom applying half a tub of Vaseline to his hair.

With a toothbrush.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

I don't know why. There are just no words. I can't imagine who he ever would've seen using Vaseline or  a toothbrush that way.

Anyway, if this ever happens to you, what worked for us is using a comb to scrape out the excess, then putting him in the tub and lathering his hair with cornstarch and shampoo a few times. (Don't rinse between the cornstarch and shampoo!) 

It took about 30 minutes; now there's a ring of Vaseline around the tub and I don't even want to know what our pipes look like. We should probably just move.

5


By now I've painted a pretty grim picture of 2018 so far, but it hasn't all been bad. With the extra time off around the holidays, Phillip made great progress toward finishing the basement.

He's gone way over the promised deadline of having the insulation and subfloor installed by fall, but that's okay because I'd assumed that (like all DIY home improvements) it was going to cost twice as much and take three times longer than we estimated.

So far I'm right on both accounts.

To be fair, I'm doing nothing to help aside from limiting the amount of small people headbutting Phillip in the stomach and sticking Duplos in the Shop-Vac while he works.

He did ask me last weekend if I could come down to the basement to help him "move crap around" like the couch, and I was like Are you kidding?  As a mom, I'm an Olympic level crap-mover. There are entire days when I literally do nothing besides walking around picking things up and putting them away in different locations.

Heck yes, I will help you move crap around.

6


Our New Year's Eve was pretty fun. We didn't stay up until midnight, but we did have my daughter's violin teacher and family friend over for dinner and a music party with her husband and two little boys.

They're a very musical family and I suppose ours is, too, so we all took turns playing our various instruments for each other. The violin teacher's 2-year-old had even learned a few harmonica songs, but he refused to play for us on that particular occasion.

"It's okay," I told her. "He's two. If he actually wanted to do something when you wanted him to do it, that would be extremely weird."

Although if he's anything like our kids, he started screaming his head off in the car on the way home because he 'didn't get to play' for us.

7


My 18-month-old gets really jealous when one of his siblings sits on my lap, so I've been trying to teach him about taking turns by saying, "It's so-and-so's turn right now. In a minute, it will be your turn."

And it works! And by that I mean he sits there wailing "Tuuuuurn!" until his brother gets so sick of it he gets off my lap and leaves.

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Tuesday, January 2, 2018

What If You're Too Busy To Be Spiritual?

Whenever I'm sitting in church and the speaker brings up Mary and Martha, I start to get antsy and look for the nearest exit.

I'd never be one to say I hate any passage of scripture  but if I was, I'd definitely hate the Mary and Martha story.

In Luke 10: 38-42, Mary and Martha host Jesus at their house. While Mary is sitting at his feet listening to Jesus teach, Martha is doing all the food prep and serving by herself.

I can just imagine her getting more and more frustrated until she bursts out, exasperated, "Don't you care that I'm doing all this work alone? Tell Mary to help me!"

And Jesus responds:

"Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things, but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her."

Well, then.

I've sat with my Bible open on my lap, seething as I read these verses, feeling more indignation than Martha herself probably did.

Because actually, I am Martha.

I spend all day, every day picking up and putting away a million things, shuttling kids to doctor's appointments, signing school forms, making meals, doing laundry, washing dishes, reminding kids to do homework and take showers...

To be told that all this work doesn't matter, that I just shouldn't worry about it, is a slap in the face. Not 'needful?' How about I stop buying diapers and we'll just see how needful it is?


The reason I got so mad at the Mary and Martha story was because it made me feel discouraged, depressed, and basically hopeless.

An incredible amount of administrative work goes into running a family, and no matter how much I want to be Mary, the fact is I still have to be a whole lot of Martha if we're all going to have clothes to wear and food to eat.

But after some thought and soul-searching, I've discovered something about the Mary and Martha story that changes everything.

It starts with looking at what Jesus actually said to Martha. Other than pointing out that Martha was "careful and troubled about many things" (i.e: conscientious and a tad stressed-out,) he didn't really say much about her or what she was doing at all.

He mostly talked about Mary. What, exactly, was Mary doing that was so great Jesus called it "the better part?"

I always hated the story of Mary and Martha. Until I learned this important thing about it.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

I assume that ordinarily, Mary was not a deadbeat. I don't think Jesus would've condoned a life of lounging in a bubble bath with cucumber slices on your eyes while someone else bakes the bread and scrubs the floors. Mary was probably right in there with Martha 99% of the time.

But on this day, Mary recognized that if there was ever a good time to drop her ordinary chores for something more important, this was it.

Think about it: they had the Son of God sitting in their house teaching them about the things of eternity, and Martha (bless her heart) was preoccupied with the table linens!

Of course it's easy to criticize Martha for having her priorities all wrong, but how many times have I done the same sort of thing?

I'm ashamed to admit that sometimes when my family gathers for nightly scriptures and prayer, I'll miss some or all of it because I'm busy finishing up cleaning the kitchen.

In reality, the dishes can wait  not forever, but for a little while  while an important spiritual moment is going on. In ten minutes I can get back to them, but reading and praying with my family in that moment needs to take precedence.

The story of Mary and Martha, thank goodness, isn't an indictment against anyone who's ever mopped a floor or organized a closet or made a weekly meal plan.

It's a lesson in priorities. If we do the work inherent in life while reserving top priority for Jesus, even a hard-working Martha like me can start to become a little more like Mary.

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