Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Okay so Lent is coming and so are the last few weeks of this brutally long pregnancy. (Well, it feels long anyway-- as far as I know it will end at the usual time of 40-ish weeks. Thank God I'm not an elephant, even if I feel like one). And I've been thinking a lot about what I can really give up for Lent since fasting is almost completely impossible.

But the trouble is that I don't really want to give anything up-- or if I must, I don't want to give up the things I probably should because I can. The fasting rules, as far as I know, were set up not just because meat, fish, and dairy are yummy, but because people ate them at feasts and celebrations as special luxuries-- and we aren't doing that during Lent. There are plenty of things we have now in the 21st century that might be called little luxuries (or big ones) that the fasting rules don't necessarily apply to. For example: coffee. Okay, not everyone loves it as much as I do, granted, but it's not cheap and for me it's my special little morning indulgence (especially since I'm pregnant and it's not exactly healthy). Also, sugary things like candy and dark chocolate and tasty cakes and cookies-- not usually my vice, but I do have friends that regularly strike them from the list of allowable foods, even if they are technically fasting-friendly. And that's because they aren't necessary for proper nutrition at all (like coffee, they're actually the opposite of healthy) and they are beloved indulgences--even if they are regularly indulged in. They feel special and they make us feel special.

So I'm having this problem because I know that it really doesn't matter how I feel, that being a Christian is a duty, not a choice, but I really don't want to give up the little luxuries that make me feel special because I'm 7 1/2 months pregnant and waddling around like a penguin!

I went to see Confessions of a Shopaholic last night with a girlfriend as a special sort of girly night out. It was terrific fun (for me anyway-- I imagine my husband would have wanted to gouge his eyes out 2 mins in if I'd been mean enough to drag him along). The main character was ridiculously fun to watch because she completely sums up what I think a lot of us do in our lives --except that she really has no ability to moderate herself (which is why she's so funny). She treats herself to material things to make herself feel special.

And I have to say I rather identify with her. I'm not saying I'd be quite happy to rack up stupid amounts of debt on every credit card I could get, buying sparkly shoes and scarves from designer shops. But I understand how wonderful it is to buy something new for yourself or to indulge in little (or big) luxuries-- like the pedicure I insisted on for my birthday. Did I need that? Well no, not really. Not physically I guess. Emotionally? Maybe...and I can't help thinking that there is something wrong with that. Yet, on the other hand-- didn't God want us to enjoy ourselves? Is it bad that I enjoy frivolous things now and then? Or things that are not healthy-- like coffee?

And because I am waddling about with a bowling ball in my pelvis, and because the discomfort will be immediately replaced by serious sleep deprivation when the baby is born, I feel really reluctant to give up the little luxuries I indulge in so often. And where does is stop? Like for me, getting a shower and doing my hair and make up is a REAL luxury. Should I give that up? Are bubble baths right out? And what if I'm overdue and going nuts waiting and I want to go have my nails done? Not cheap, arguably a waste of money, clearly a luxury--is it wrong that it will probably make me feel much better than prayer? I guess so, but I also have a hard time believing that God doesn't want us to take joy in things other than Himself.

But then again, I also remember how hard the first Pascha after Theo was. Not only had I not fasted, but Theo's birth was like a Pascha of its own. It felt the same way Pascha did, and not celebrating because it was Lent really felt wrong, so we'd been feasting for all of Lent and it really made Pascha a bit of a let down. This time around I don't even know if I'll make it to Pascha because the baby is due in Holy Week, but then, the baby will be a Pascha of its own-- one I SHOULD prepare for by cutting out unhealthy luxuries like coffee and upping my prayer rule.

But then, I've been fasting in my own way-- for nine months!!-- by virtue of being pregnant and hormonal. I can't have sushi and alcohol. I have to watch my sugar and caffeine. I threw up for four months, and now I'm waddling all over the place. I've got swollen feet and varicose veins and someone's feet in my ribs half the day. Does that count enough to allow some other little luxuries-- or comforts? Or is the joy of my new baby the Pascha to my Lenten pregnancy and the joy of Christ must be prepared for separately in some other way?

I don't have any answers. But I bet if I asked, God would tell me to stop worrying about the details already, be grateful, enjoy life, and just pray. Which doesn't exclude whatever fasting I end up doing.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Holiday Reflections

For the last several months I've been fighting off depression and trying to stay positive while feeling completely overwhelmed by the business of being "Mom," so when my family asked what I wanted for my birthday, there was no question about what was at the top of my list--TIME OFF!!!

I think I've had very little of it compared most of my mom-friends (at least the overnight or all -day kind), partly because I was lucky enough to have no troubles with breast-feeding whatsoever, so Theo was hooked on boobies until he was past age one. And partly because I honestly feel quite guilty (irrationally so) and really miss him when I pawn him off on other people. He was so easy to haul around with me everywhere for the first year, and so mellow. Now he's two and quite the hassle on some outings. Plus he's eating proper food now and has to be kept on a fairly consistent routine with meals and naps. And toddlers are just totally OCD about everything too. And since I'm pretty much the only one who knows all his little quirks and obsessions and I can understand his badly-pronounced words and how to get him to cooperate I often feel like I have to write a novel about how to deal with him when I leave him with people for more than a couple of hours.

But with the new baby coming in two months and me likely to have no sleep--never mind time off-- I was desperate to fit in a little parenting holiday before more chaos descends on me. So that's what I asked for and my family generously obliged and took him overnight so that I had a whole 24 hours to recall what it was like before Theo was the center of my existence.

Of course I had very big plans lined up for how I was going to spend all this spare time-- dinner out for my birthday, a pedicure etc. And my husband and I had a terrific time. We drove way out to a lake we'd never explored and had a lovely kid-free day. But standing in our kitchen in the morning-- the only morning we'd woken up in our own beds without the noise of a kid in two years--we couldn't help but wonder just what the heck we used to DO with all our spare time before the kids arrived. We stayed in bed till 9:30-- which felt stupidly lazy, but it was nothing compared to how late we USED to sleep in on weekends. And we took like an hour over breakfast and actually got to eat it together and it just felt ODD.

And of course half the conversation we had while enjoying our freedom was all about Theo and what we wanted to do with him in the summer and how cute he would look paddling a canoe. We went shopping for outdoor gear and the only thing we bought was a set of woolies for him. More than once I had to fight the temptation to call my parents and find out if he was behaving and whether or not he missed us.

It's funny how quickly you become "Mama" and "Dadda" even in your own minds after the kids arrive. I remember my dad telling Greg and I, while we were still engaged, that soon we'd have trouble recalling what it was like to be single, and that after the kids arrived it would be even harder to remember what marriage was like without them. He was so right. Of course I remember the freedom of marriage before kids, but it feels like it happened to someone else kind of. And I guess, in some sense, it did. I'm not the person I used to be before Theo came along, and in spite of stress and pressure (greatly enhanced by pregnancy hormones) I really don't miss it. :)