“sex is the most awful, filthy thing on Earth, and you should save it for someone you love”

So, I was doing some much overdue blog surfing… and went to one of my favorite blogs – http://parentingbeyondbelief.com/blog/, and I happened to see a post called: “sex and the balls of the evangelical”, and the following quote at the top of the page really cracked me up.

Life in Lubbock, Texas taught me two things: One is that God loves you and you’re going to burn in hell. The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on Earth, and you should save it for someone you love.“ –Butch Hancock, country singer/songwriter

Now, I don’t really know Butch Hancock’s work – but, this quote alone was enough to make me want to run out and buy his CD.  LOL

The rest of the blog post there was also verrrry interesting…  Read the rest of this entry »

Response to “spare the rod” post at PBB….

What  sobering posts over on the “Parenting Beyond Belief” blog  – called spare the rod (and spare me the rest)“, and responses to “spare the rod”.  He talks about how many people, like James Dobson with Focus on the Family, use the bible to support spanking and different views on this.  As I recently mentioned, I can’t stand Dobson or FOF. I worry about messages being spread still today, and that good Christian people (like my friend who is a new mom) might buy into because they do like FOF and Dobson. 

My parents didn’t agree on much… but, they did both believe in spanking.  I have to say that my brothers got it worse than I did… but none of us ever got it that bad.  I wouldn’t say either my mother or father was “abusive” in their spanking methods, but I realize that’s a relative statement and matter of opinion. 

I do have vivid memories of my father threatening “the belt”, although, he never used it.  He DID spank with an open hand, though… not very often… but, enough that we believed we would “get it” if he threatened it. Usually, he only had to threaten it, and not do it, but we knew he WOULD if we didn’t listen.  My mother was more sporadic.  She’d whack ya with anything in her hand, usually a wooden spoon, if you weren’t listening. But, she must not have hit us very often or hard, because we were not as afraid of her.  She’d save the important spankings for my father to dish out.   They both believed that was part of his fatherly duties.  The old, “wait until your father gets home!” thing. 

One of the more common threats that my Dad use to say was “I’m going to rip your arm off and beat you over the head with the bloody end of it!”.  Ironically, this was NOT something scary, but rather something my brothers and I found humorous.  We knew he meant it sarcastically.  He had a bit of a warped sense of humor (as do I).  This saying did, however, use to scare our friends when they heard him say it.  But, my brothers and I would just laugh and say, “aww… he’s only kidding…. he always says that… and look – we still have 2 arms”.  No, we were more afraid of “the look”, or the threat of “you’re gonna get it!”. 

I do remember witnessing my brothers getting spanked… never with a belt… and never bare bottomed…  but always dramatic.  Often, if one of us got in trouble, we all did.  And, usually he started with my oldest brother.   I was usually hysterical just from watching my brothers get spanked while waiting for my turn…  and, probably because of that, and the facts that I was younger and a girl, my dad would barely swat me, if at all.  This is something my brothers still like to throw in my face about what a faker I was to get off of spankings LOL.  But, I really wasn’t faking.  It really was traumatic just to watch and wait.  

My oldest brother would always try to act tough, and to not cry…  and so, he’d get spanked the hardest I think…  until he DID cry.  Spanking is all about breaking that will and humiliation, isn’t it?  So, ironic… now that I think about it, being taught NOT to cry… and then punished harder for NOT crying.   ??  (I never really thought about that before now… but, wow… that’s pretty screwed up! ? ?)

My other brother, would go the dramatic route.  Running around screaming and yelling “no no no!”… until my father could wrestle him over or force him to come and get it.  Because he was already screaming and crying (moreso out of anger and frustration and for the pure drama effect, I think), he didn’t get spanked as hard.  Except for the time he put a book down his pants… and when my Dad hit that with his hand, he was really mad.

Then there was me.  Watching and waiting… trying not to cry, but failing miserably at times like this…  obediently going over when called without trying to run… and, I must have looked so pitiful, that my dad couldn’t/didn’t really spank me most of the time.  A couple times, he shut the door so my mom and brothers couldn’t see, and he whacked the bed or himself instead of me for sound effects… and told me to not tell (my mother) that he didn’t spank me. 

This leads me to believe that he didn’t always want to be “the enforcer”, but did feel like it was his job… and like he needed to do it to make my mom happy sometimes.  Which also leaves me feeling a bit bitter and resentful…

Looking back, I can not think of a time that I feel these spankings were really beneficial.  I have a hard time remembering what any of them were even for??  All of the memories that I DO have of important life lessons, or times I DO think I learned something good – had absolutely nothing to do with being spanked. 

I admit to having spanked my first child a couple times… which was more like a swat on a padded butt…  and nothing like the “proper spankings” described in the post at PBB. Each time I did, I immediately felt guilty and regretted it.  Each time I did, I was completely frustrated, upset, and/or scared when I did it.  Like, when my son was at the defiant 2 year old age and liked to  say “no” and run away as most 2 year olds do.  One day, though, he almost ran in to oncoming traffic as I called him and chased after him.  When I caught him, I was both relieved and upset, and it was almost a reflexive swat that I gave him. Part of me thought it was just the normal and right response.  Like it was something I ‘should’ do, or ‘had’ to do… “for his own good” (ugg… I am wincing at that saying as a I type it).  Once I calmed down, a bigger part of me just felt it was wrong. 

I am glad that I felt that way, and that I did not continue to use spanking as a form of punishment.  I realized there were other ways….  better communication, and if necessary threats and punishments (time outs, no more TV or Computer, no treats, etc.) that I could follow thru on more easily, that were also more effective and obviously the better choice.

It’s funny, we do not spank our boys now (ages 5 and 10) and we do not go to church.  My boys are also probably more concerned with doing the “right” thing , and “being nice” than most of our friends kids that go to church every Sunday.   I’m not just bragging here, and I know I’m bias – but, I can’t think of ANY kids we know that have better behavior or attitudes than our boys.  Sure, our boys and aren’t perfect angels – but, I tell you what… they are genuinely GOOD kids.  You might not believe me, but, this is not just my opinion.  We constantly have have friends and family tell us how they are impressed by how well behaved our boys are. 

~smj

No more sleigh bells for my son…

Whelp…. my son is on to us (my husband and I). We will never be able to make him jump into bed again with threats of hearing sleigh bells on Christmas Eve…

I was reading my new “Parenting Beyond Belief” book… laying on the loveseat this morning with a cup of coffee, while my 2 sons were across the room watching cartoons. Or so, I thought!

I happened to be on the chapter about Holidays and Celebrations. There was a part called “To Easter Bunny or Not to Easter Bunny” (which was by, and can be found on “Agnostic Mom’s Blog” here)… and, as I’m peacefully reading, I suddenly hear my 10 year old say – “What’s that you’re reading about the Easter Bunny? HmmmmmMMMMMmmm??”. He was smiling and looked like the cat who ate the canary…

He caught me off-guard. Mostly because I thought he already was well aware that there wasn’t an Easter Bunny… he’s 10!

But it quickly dawned on me that he never really flat out asked or announced his disbelief. I just assumed he was going along for the sake of his little brother still. I smiled at him… and he smiled back. He looked like he was proud of himself – not upset. He started chanting, “There is no Easter Bunny! There is no Easter bunny!”.

I sort of shot a glance to him and eyeballed towards his little brother (who just turned 5), and told him to “ssssh”. Then, I called him into the other room so we could talk privately.

Me: “First of all… the book I’m reading was talking about all different holidays and celebrations and beliefs and religions… and how some people believe one thing… and others believe something else.”

DS1: “OoooooOOOOOOoooh. ….       But, IS there an Easter Bunny???? hmmmm???” (smiling)

Me: “what do you think?”
(I thought – wow… what good timing that I was JUST reading about this and different approaches to handle it! Of course, if I HADN’T been reading it, this wouldn’t be happening, because he wouldn’t have seen it! LOL)

DS1: “Nooooooo. I don’t think the Easter bunny is real” (laughing)

Me: “Well then, it sounds like you already knew then. And, yes… you are right. You didn’t really still think there was a bunny bringing you eggs and candy anymore did you?”

DS1: “Noooo. (more laughing). So what about Santa? Is HE real??”

Me: again, “Well? What do you think?”

DS1: “No. There’s no way he could go all the way around the world in one night! (more laughing)

Me: “Well then…. Again… it sounds like you already knew. So you aren’t surprised if I tell you that you are right again, right?”

DS1: “Ah HAA! I KNEW it!!!” (big grin)

Me – surprised: “So you still thought maybe there were?”

DS1: “Well.. I KNEW the Easter Bunny wasn’t real for sure… and I was 99% sure about Santa but wanted to make sure just in case”

Me: “Well… you know… the SPIRIT of Christmas and Santa is real – about giving to others and all”

DS1: “oh yeah…. Sure… but, there’s not a guy who flys around.  The presents come from you and Dad.”

Me: “right. But it was fun to pretend and believe in magic for a while, wasn’t it?

DS1: “yes”

Me: “so, do you think you can not tell your little brother just yet and we’ll wait til he asks? I think he likes to pretend too”

DS1: “I already tried to tell him last year that Santa wasn’t real – but he got mad and hit me”. (laughing)

Me: laughing back… “See? He doesn’t want to know yet. Let’s wait. He’ll know soon enough”.

DS1: “Okay”

I pause… studying his face briefly. He doesn’t LOOK upset. Still.. I can’t help but worry. It’s my job as a mother – to worry. I find myself wondering if he’s going to be damaged for life now and gingerly ask,

“So… what do you think about all this now that you know for sure?”

DS1 paused… and, blurted out, “I can’t believe when I’m a grown up I’m going to have to spend all that money on my kids!!”…

We both laughed hard… and I gave him a big hug…. I told him he didn’t HAVE to spend anything… you give because you want to… and that he didn’t HAVE to have kids… (to which he said “YAY!” ;)… but, I continued.. “But, you know… your father and I love you and your brother very much… and you are worth every penny.”….

=)

All in all… I think it went very well… I see no visible scars.

I know there’s a lot of controversy on this.  My Christian friends struggle with it too.  I always thought, my being NOT religious, made it easier to pretent because I wasn’t worried about sending the wrong message of the holidays not being religious enough. 

I seriously don’t remember being upset myself when I figured it all out.  I don’t even remember when I actually DID figure it all out.  I think I was like him, where I knew for a long time… but, went along for a while anyway.. just to make sure.. and because it was fun. When my next son wants to know the truth… we will tell him… but for now… I don’t think it is hurting him at all to have a little magic in his life.

 Of course, I could be wrong.  Someday – they might hate me for it…  and I’ll loose my mother of the year award – again. 😉

~ smj

My Dad…

Since it’s father’s day and all, it’s about time I talked a little about my Dad on this blog.  I’ve written quite a bit about my mom… but, not as much on my dad. 

First of all, yes – he was an atheist.  This was only something I was very aware of, because my mother made sure everyone in her circle knew it. To her, it was a BIG deal. But, “atheist” wasn’t a word that my father used much and isn’t one of the top adjectives I’d use to describe him (other than in this blog). It wasn’t like he ran around town with a sign or anything.  He simply told us he didn’t believe in God… and he wasn’t going to go to church with my mom… and he gave us our choice to go with her or not.  Ok – I have mentioned that part before… 

But, lets go way back… 

My Dad was a survivor.  He was in a major fire when he was 12.  He was burnt on 70% of his body.  My great grandmother kept a scrap book, and there are articles… newspaper clippings… pictures…  where they called him “Miracle Boy”… and said he was never suppose to have survived.  But, he did. 

He spent 3 years in the hospital… and many MANY visits after that.  I’ve heard many stories about those times.  Some terrible, but, true to my Dad’s nature – many were very funny.  Like, how they wouldn’t let him eat before surgeries, and he was hungry, and how someone had given him a fishing pole as a gift, and how he had tied the bed pan onto the end of it, with a note begging for food and lowered it down to the street.  🙂  He said folks would give him money, candy bars, whatever…  LOL  Or the time, he tried to escape in his wheelchair, and wound up in the maternity ward by accident…   or when his dad smuggled in his pet dog, Toby.

Anyway – he wasn’t suppose to live.  He did.  Then, he was in a wheelchair for a long time, and was told he’d never stand.  He forced himself to use crutches.  They said he’d never walk again without aid.  He did. 

My dad told me stories of how he’d take his dog, and go out in the woods where nobody could see him.  How he’d try and fall and try again to walk.  Until he could do it. 

Yeah…  he was a survivor.

They also told him he’d never have kids.  My mother already had my oldest brother when he met her.  He was just a baby.  My dad fell in love with both of them, and they married.  Then – viola!  My other brother and I come along a few years later. 

Moral of the story thus far?  Never listen to what “they” say. 

Now – some might say my Dad should thank God he survived.  And, some think my dad turned against God because of what happened to him.  My dad said, and I believe him, that neither was true. 

My Dad and I had many in depth, serious conversations on such topics.  He told me the main thing that made him not believe in God was when he was in the hospital.  Not because of the pain and suffering he went thru, but because of how much pain and suffering he saw close up that others went thru. 

He said, he couldn’t get out of bed, but he could use his arms, and the nurses use to let him help out with the sick babies.  They would let him hold the babies who just wanted that comfort of being held.  Many of them dying from cancer or other long term diseases.  He watched them suffer…  and the many treatments they went thru. and their parents pray and pray… and watched them die.  One baby in particular had a lasting effect on him… where the baby had some kind of metal thing on it’s head that was like a clamp.  He watched that baby suffer, and saw many die.  He couldn’t understand how any God would let this happen.  This wasn’t his only reasoning – but, it was when he first lost faith and began questioning things. 

Of course, I only heard stories of all this – and saw that scrap book.  But, I never thought of my Dad as a survivor or “miracle”.  He was my Dad.  As far as I could always remember he walked… with a limp…  but, other than that – he was strong, and tough, and I thought he could do anything. 

We didn’t realize that his scars were strange.  Or how much he had overcome.  Or how his legs and feet, just scar tissue and bones, hurt him immensely every day.  He winced every once in a while when we jumped on his lap, or banged into his foot… but, he never went around complaining of pain or talking much about it.  We never noticed how he stood still as a rock when we played catch.  But, wow, did he have long arms!  Us kids never noticed how he never wore shorts… and only went swimming in our pool at night when it was dark…  or changed the TV channel whenever a movie showed someone on fire….

It wasn’t until I was older that I learned more about his scars and what they all meant.  I never really noticed them before that.  But, as I grew older – we talked more – I wanted to know. 

My Dad taught my brothers and I to: 
 – treat others the way we want to be treated
 – put ourselves in other’s shoes to understand how they feel
 – do the right thing – not the easy thing
 – speak up for what we believe
 – stick up for ourselves, and each other
 – respect him AND our mother (and grandparents, etc.)
 – not to believe everything we hear… and only half of what we see
 – be kind to animals, and those smaller or weaker than us
 – have pride and believe in ourselves
 – the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence
–  that money doesn’t grow on tree’s….  and other life’s valuable lessons.
–  that family comes first

 

Oh – and this one was just for me…
 – “A guy always wants what he can’t have, and then, once he gets it, he doesn’t want it anymore”. 

Of course, there’s more…  but that’s it for now on Dad…

Thanks Dad!
~smj

“Why should we have “the fear of the Lord”, Mom?”

“Why should we have ‘the fear of the Lord’, Mom”?   – That was what my 10 year old asked me when we were at his cousins baptism recently.  We went to a very nice catholic church, beautiful.. and, it happened to have all these little signs/banners around the pulpit.  They read things like “Truth”, “Love”, “Respect”, and one said “Fear of the Lord”.  

 My 10 year old son whispered to me this question (“why should we have “the fear of the Lord”?”).  I guess he could understand the others good traits like “Love”, and “Respect”, but, being afraid of God just didn’t make sense to him. 

I thought back to my childhood… where regular church sermons with threats of Hell and fire and brimstone were the norm.  Where I was taught who got to go to heaven, and who would burn in hell, and why.  We prayed for those poor lost souls (like my dad and brother who didn’t come to church) regularly.  Yes, I KNEW what “the FEAR of the Lord” meant at a very early age.  And, I was scared back then.  I was sacred for my Dad… for my brother… for anyone who didn’t believe what I was taught.  And, I was scared for myself whenever I “sinned”.  Which was pretty frequently according to my mother.  As if being afraid of any punishment from my parents wasn’t enough.

But that all ended years ago.  Way before I ever had kids and decided “enough with church and all these threats and promises”.  My husband and I don’t go to church…. either do our kids.  We are “bad parents” in that way.  So, I guess this little banner would confuse my son.  “Fear of the Lord“??.  What little he did know about God was all good.  (Yeah, believe it or not, I do try to teach my kids the basic bible stories).  So, this made no sense to him. 

I was glad it didn’t make sense.  I felt like, it shouldn’t make sense, because it DOESN’T make sense!  SOOO much of it doesn’t make sense!!   Still, I couldn’t help feeling this tinge of guilt (and what else is new?), and I felt like  he SHOULD understand it. 

I quickly whispered back to him, “I guess it means that you should be afraid that if you are really bad God will punish you”.  My son shot me a bigger confused look… hinted with fear this time.  I quickly regretted saying that.  I didn’t want to scare him about this stuff (like I had always been).  I wanted him to understand, but, not be scared.  Understand, but, not necessaruly believe what this church and most christian religions preach.  So, I whispered… “like, REALLY bad… like, people who kill people…  they don’t mean God would punish you for just doing something little.”… I got the same confused look.   I was confusing myself.  I could see this wasn’t the time or place to discuss this.  “We will talk more later, ok?”, I said. 

And we did.  And when we did… I told him how people believe different things about God, and Heaven and Hell, and how you should bring up kids, and about what happens when you die.  I told him I didn’t want him to be afraid of what other people worried about…  and that he was a good kid  and he didn’t ever have to worry about that.  I told him many people got a lot of joy and comfort out of their religious beliefs in heaven and God, and from going to church,  and it wasn’t supose to be scary.  I went on to say that it was good for him to understand different beliefs / opinions and he could make his own decisions as he learned things.   

Of course he asked me what I believe.  I was hoping he wouldn’t… but, of course he  wanted to know.   I’m always hesitant and leary on sharing my wish-washy beliefs with anyone, let alone my own kids.  It’s one of the things I struggle with as a mother.  I feel like I am pretty jaded in this area and don’t want to say the wrong things.  I don’t want to force my skeptical outlook and agnostic beliefs on my children.  But, I also want to be honest with what I do believe.

So, I told him I wasn’t sure exactly what I believed, about God, or heaven and hell.  I wasn’t sure they even existed – but, it was nice to think that someday I’d see Pa again, etc.   I told him I did believe we live on thru our loved ones, and all the ways we impacted other lives and the world when we were here.  I told him I did believe that what goes around, comes around… and in the golden rule.  

 I also told him it was easier to say what I didn’t believe… and, that I didn’t believe a lot of the things I was taught when I was a kid.  I didn’t believe that if there was a God, he would send good people… thousands.. millions of them to hell for not being a certain religious faith.  I told him I didn’t believe anyone really had all the answers or knew everything, and that the ones that think they do should think twice. 

We actually talked for a while.  I even wound up telling him for the first time a little bit about my Mom, and how I think she’s a little sick.  How she was very over board with the religion when I was little and how it made me not like it.   It surprised me how interested he was in this.  And, how surprised he was.  He even got a little mad and acted like I should’ve told him about my mom before.  Maybe I should have.  But, I didn’t think he’d get it.  And, I didn’t want to turn him on her… he loves her…  and she is a good grandma to him.  But,I wanted him to understand.  I also wanted him to be aware in case she says or does anything a little off the wall around him, and understand why he never stayed with her alone.  He’s finally old enough to start understanding, I think.    

I asked him if he was curious to learn more about church, or religion… (since we don’t go), and he quickly said, “no”… and before I knew it, we were talking about school and moved on to lighter topics. 

I’m glad we talked, though.  
And, I’m glad he didn’t know why we should have the “fear of the Lord”. 

He has enough to worry about growing up…   

Still  – I bought a book called “Parenting Beyond Belief” (http://www.parentingbeyondbelief.com).  I think it might help me the next time we talk.    =)

~smj