Tuesday, January 12, 2010

My womanhood...

So, I have witnessed the resurgence of an interesting phenomenon this past week. Now, I have experienced it before, but this week it has pissed me off in a way that I am trying to articulate.

"So, Anna, now you're married. When are you going to have a baby?"

This has come from various places... from my dad's wife joking that she wants a redhead to the older ladies from my home church wondering when I am going to "start my family." It has even come in the form of a question from an aunt that I haven't talked to in a year... the first thing she asks me is if I'm pregnant yet...

This week, however, the baby nagging has come from facebook...

I sneeze. A lot. I always have. This week I sneezed 21 times and posted something on facebook about it. A friend of mine replied jokingly that an old wive's tale says that for every three times you sneeze, you'll have a baby. Someone else replied, "7 Babies?!?!?" Now, I understand that was all in fun, but then the baby-craziness continued.

As I was perusing my school's website, I saw that the academic calendar for 2010-2011 has been finalized. That means that my graduation date from seminary has been set. I saw this and became really excited (rightly so, I think!) so I posted the date on my facebook in the status update that read...

"May 21, 2011 has a nice ring to it!"

One of the first comments that was made was, "Is that your goal due date?" HELL NO! Why does any important thing that I leave ambiguous in public immediately become related to babies? And then someone else commented that graduating from a master's program (seminary, M.Div.) is nice, but a baby sounds good, too... UGH!

"So when are you going to start your family?" I resent this. My family has been started. When I left the home of my parents, I started my own family. I branched out from the family of my parents and became my own. And I added to it when I decided to get married. I firmly believe that neither marriage nor a baby starts a family. A family is started long before then!!

Also, I am 23 years old (for a little while longer at least...), and I have a lot of living left to do before I even begin to seriously entertain the thought of having a child. Does this mean that I think that all 23 year olds need to wait? No! I think there are some wonderful parents who are my age and younger. But as for me, Anna, I need to finish school
at least before I can even think of being a parent to a human being. I even shy away from the notion that I am my dog's "mom" (I like to steal the language of my friend, KLM, who says that she is her pets' roommate).

I once heard a great (and heartbreaking) response from a woman when someone asked her when she was going to have a baby. She simply replied,

"What if I can't?"

I don't like to be one of those women who gripes about the double standards between men and women (ok... that may be a slight fib) but why is a woman assumed to be able to bear a child. I have never heard someone ask my husband, "So, when are you going to impregnate your wife?" Don't get me wrong, I don't want someone to ask him that, but why do I receive all the questions about reproduction?

I am not sure that anyone would claim that they would think me less of a person if I am not physically able to have a child, but I have certainly been made to feel that because my choice
at this point in my life to not have a child has somehow made me less of a woman. And quite frankly it ticks me off.

I want to have a child some day. I really do. And even as I fight of the natural maternal instincts in myself right now, each person that asks me, "When are you going to have a baby?" incites this tiny part of me that never wants one at all. And what if I reach that conclusion someday? Will that make me less woman or wife because I have made that choice for myself?

So friends, think twice before you ask a woman when she is going to have a baby...

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Love is all you need

"Anna... I have a granddaughter named Anna..." I can still hear the voice of Vern LaSala, the chaplain at Ohio Northern University, uttering this phrase time and time again is his deep and calming voice. There are many things I remember about my time at ONU shared with Vern... the way he could never admit to forgetting a name, how deeply he breathed when waiting for a staffer to respond during spiritual growth, belting Neal Diamond in the university van on the way to the nature center, his nerdy but oh so well loved books of the Bible tie, and many others.

The most lasting thing I remember though is Vern's email signature. It has been the same since I started in college in August of 2004. It simply reads

"Regardless of the Circumstance, Always Do the Loving Thing."

I have mindlessly read that phrase more in my life than I care to count, but this last year has been a year of me putting that into action. I returned to ONU for lunch with some friends, and I stopped in to visit Vern. The first thing he did was proudly present me with a rubber bracelet, orange and white marbled, that reads "Always Do the Loving Thing" followed by a heart. He told me that the heart put the phrase over the character limit for the bracelet company, but he pleaded until they let him include it (actually, I believe his wonderful secretary, Jody King, did the pleading...). This bracelet, but more importantly this phrase, has been the tag-line for Vern's ministry, and now I find it seeping into my ministry.

This phrase was brought to my mind this week as I read through the status updates of my friends... My friend Karen had posted a quote from Leo Tolstoy... now, I had never cared much for Tolstoy, so I am surprised that I actually read the quote. It read

"The kinder and more thoughtful a person is, the more kindness they can find in other people."

I have experienced in the past few weeks a lot of people who think that if someone is inconsiderate to you, you should respond in an inconsiderate manner. I have also experienced people who are just downright angry by nature. I have always known that I am not one of those people. I believe that kindness is key, and despite how someone is treating you, you should respond in the most considerate way possible. I give the credit to my mother for raising me in this manner.

But what I have come to realize is that current American attitude, by and large, will walk all over people who keep this kindness and love mentality. I know this because I have often found myself literally crying after some person has treated me poorly after I have responded out of love.

... But there are a few instances where someone has been downright sour to me, and I have tried with everything in me to respond in kindness and love. A rare time or two, the person with whom I am dealing ends up melting right in front of me, breaking down to show me some deeper issues that they are working through. It has become quite the interesting phenomenon to see!! I have seen how my friend and mentor, Vern, can place that one sentence about love at the heart of his ministry.

Love and Kindness get you places that Irritation and Frustration cannot. So if you see me in a sticky situation and have to bet on how I will react, you should place your money on me doing the loving thing, regardless of the circumstance.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


So, there was (is still?) a show on VH1 called Motormouth. I always loved watching this show, but dreaded what I would look like if I had been on it. On this show, a secret camera is placed inside the car of an unsuspecting driver to capture their in-car singing habits. Now, other than wondering which of my friends would turn me in, I often find myself wondering which song I would be caught singing.

Here are the 10 songs that I would most likely be caught singing.

1. "Taking Chances" - Celine Dion
2. "Take Me or Leave Me" - Rent
3. "Keep Holding On" - Avril Lavigne
4. "I Turn to You" - Christina Aguilera
5. "Bohemian Rhapsody" - Queen
6. "My Immortal" - Evanescence
7. "Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show" - Neil Diamond
8. "You Oughta Know" - Alanis Morissette
9. "Apres Moi" - Regina Spektor
10. "Bad Romance" - Lady Gaga

What about you?