There are a few main reasons why I write. It is both personal and communal. The personal part is that writing helps me give words to my experiences, feelings and thoughts. Words are the tools I use to process those things and to engage in the world. There is a life-long love affair being conducted between me and words. It's probably one of the reasons I talk so much! The communal part is that I recognize that not everyone has the words for their experiences but when they read someone else's words, their heart recognizes a friend. And I think that is so incredibly important. Seeing yourself in another person's experience gives you a sense of not being alone and sometimes it helps you feel like you're not crazy, which is something we often tell women when their feelings are big. Sometimes how someone responds to a situation is different than how you tend to respond and that's fascinating and maybe even helpful. The human experience of being isolated is so incredibly damaging to who we are. So, in my vulnerability, if I'm able to give words to another mother, another child, another whomever, I am willing to do that because I think this work deeply matters. Stories are life. And life is best when shared.
I recently shared an old story (if you can call three months ago old) that got a lot of response. I like response! It's kind of a writers nightmare to have no one respond to your work. It makes you feel like maybe your experiences aren't shared and that's sad. Some responses are hard to process, especially because they may hit on things that hadn't occurred to me or make me feel misunderstood or hurt. That's part of this process too. And that's okay. But it doesn't mean it isn't hard. It's really hard for me. And that bad ass in me who puts words to feelings is not always present when words are presented back to me directly. I need to be honest about that. I don't write because I can take a lot of hits. I write in spite of the hits that will come.
If there was any kind of "agenda" (does anyone else hate that word?) in my latest post, it was based in this place. This place that wants to give words and honor experience. This place that wants kids to be safe and adults to be careful with them. I think that's a good place to write from, even when anger pours out of it. Anger can be really, really good and that's something I need to continually affirm as anger was not acceptable for me to display as a child and it's still not okay for me to display as a woman, at least not without suspicion of some kind of intended harm. There was no harmful intent here.
It's funny because after the last writing-related blow up, my husband teased me about being a "pot stirrer." And we laughed, mainly because I stir a lot of pots with a lot of discomfort. I stir pots when I find opportunities to advocate for things more important than my discomfort. And that is true here. I wrote in hopes that other parents would have words for those moments when your heart gives pause and you don't know why. I wrote to inspire conversation with children, to empower others to allow their kids to have a say in what's taught to them and to make space for their process. I wrote to engage on a parenting front. This was a conversation I had between me and my daughter that I chose to make public. Fallout with other adults, teachers, church leaders was not even on my radar and frankly, such a lesser concern to me than what my post was about. I would like to point out that I was intentional about not being specific about who was involved or where we received this teaching. I learned that lesson and it was painful! If it was revealed in response who was part of this, that was not my doing. And I could care-take that I should have anticipated that as a possibility but I'm going to release that. I didn't reveal those things. It's not that I don't care how adults view my writing or my approach to my situation from VBS but it's that it entirely misses the point of my post. Adult feelings take a back seat to how we plant seeds in children's hearts about themselves and about God. That's why I didn't process my feelings about my kid with my kid. I processed my kids feelings with my kid and my feelings with other adults. And I did that when this happened.
I do want to clarify something that doesn't seem to have been clear in my original post.
I HAVE NO PERSONAL PROBLEM WITH THE TEACHER IN THIS SITUATION.
I have no relationship with this person. I do not know her. And if anything, I'VE BEEN HER. You guys realize that I taught things like this, right?!?! Mostly to teens, which was at least slightly more developmentally appropriate but still regretful (there is a future post here for sure), but I have been this person time and time again. And my heart twinged but I read the script (she followed the curriculum, which was why I was angry about the curriculum, not the person following it). And I did it with good intent. And I did it because I did what I was told. And I did it because I believed it. I meant what I told my daughter that morning. I told her we could extend her teacher grace and for once, thank God, I wasn't just trying to do the right thing and be a good example to my kid. I was actually able to do the right thing in that moment. I knew then as I know now that I was being triggered by a whole lot of baggage, decades of baggage, that had absolutely nothing to do with her as a person. So writing this story three months later came with absolutely no negative feelings towards her. And if for some reason, this stranger has come upon my writing (that could only really happen if someone deliberately shared it with her), I want to say - we're cool. I have no beef with you. And if my pain hurt you, that was not my intent.
I do want us to be careful with our curriculum selection. That was the only "to do" I was hoping to see in response. That's all :)
I also learned something about myself before things got really stressful in the response. I learned that I have allowed my perfectionism into the space of my theology and how I teach theology to my children. My anger came from a visceral response to anyone violating that sacred space. And that comes from a deep protectiveness that was not honored in my soul or in my husband's soul when he was fired. And having that first seed of dishonor planted in my child triggered me in a real way. This is trauma, friends. I was hurt. My husband was hurt. So anything that looks remotely like that trauma placed upon my innocent child brought out the mama bear claws. And honestly, I'm okay with that. I can validate those feelings with or without the understanding of my peers. Because trauma is a tapestry. When you pull at that thread, which I've been doing for six years, sometimes things unravel. That's how we get to the root of the problem. That's the personal side. The church of Christ side is that we've created a dynamic where we do what we're told, especially women, and we honestly believe it's okay to teach young children about sin. We think that's important. I don't. And that's not mine to hold. I get to decide what to do with my experience. It might look like not participating in VBS. That seems like a tidy, obvious answer. Except my kid might conclude that she's missing out on something she enjoys with her friends because she opened up to her mom. Right? I'm going to tread lightly in what this looks like for me in the future. And that's okay. Because it's October. I don't have to know what I'm going "to do" in this moment. Is it possible that there is nothing to do? Just to hold pain and acknowledge it? For me, yes. Sometimes that's more than enough to do for the day. So that's where I'll be today. Home. Holding my pain. And giving it the validation it needs. Hugs to you, friends. Whether you get it or not, pain is universal.