Last night, I was lying in the bed, playing on the internet when my daughter needed some ointment. I told her it was on the top bathroom drawer and off she went.
“I’m going to call out what they are used for to make sure I get the right one.” She is 11 and smart enough that she purposely bombs the beginning-of-school-year reading tests so she can “read easy books all year.” She is also yelling this, though we are only 5 feet apart. The dog went beneath the covers at this point.
“Dry eyes. Minor cuts, scrapes, and burns (This was obviously the one she needed, which she knew.). Minor gum and mouth irritation. FUNGUS IN YOUR VAGINA.” She cackles. I wonder how long she waited for a cut, so she could need ointment, so she could “make sure she got the right one,” so she could yell FUNGUS IN YOUR VAGINA as loud as she could across the house. My husband laughed with her, and I muttered “Fungus. In your vagina, really” enough times that I sounded slightly demented.
And it hit me. AGAIN. I am not raising a demure, soft-spoken daughter. I am not a demure, soft-spoken woman. And my husband thinks we are both wildly fantastic, though somewhat inappropriate. We are just normal God-fearing, Jesus-loving people: our own normal.
Everyday I’m faced with pictures of what a Christian wife and mother should look like, the activities we should do and not do as a family, how my husband should lead, that I should support every idea he has, even the bad ones. I fall short of most lists, some lists I never even make. And it worried me, a lot. I’ve struggled with my identity as a Christian woman (see entry: On Being Tattooed and Christian); I’ve felt like we should be the genteel ones who break out into praise and worship songs and never deviate from KLOVE on the radio.
And last night. Last night when my child was yelling out FUNGUS IN YOUR VAGINA, I knew that I really like my family. Just the way it is. And here is my list of reasons why.
1. When my child is generally being difficult because she is 11; I tell her that she is acting like a butthole. It is my favorite word; it encompasses so much: snotty attitude, short temper, disobeying, being unappreciative. It is the only word I need, and while I use it frequently in correction, it has applied to every member of my family at one point or time.
2. My husband and child laugh ridiculously when the other one burps or farts. (Please note that I am excluded from this. It is a well-known fact in our house that I have no bodily functions that might be deemed “gross” by others. It is true. Accept it.) It is as if they have never heard it before; it will bring an amazed and wondrous look to their faces. More than once they have laughed so hard there were tears. Frequently, there are snorts.
3. We all laugh so hard that we snort. ALL OF US. Then we laugh harder because someone snorted. We once fell in love, as a family, with another family we were having dinner with: the couple’s baby laughed until he snorted, then the couple laughed. Then we laughed. And then someone snorted. Repeat.
4. We are all OK with being in the same place, but not being together. We are independent, and that is wonderful.
5. There are also nights that we all end up on our bed at 6:15 and spend the rest of the night in close quarters. Sometimes, we interact. Sometimes, we don’t.
6. My husband and child gang up on me. They make fun of the way my pinky is always raised when I am eating or drinking, the sound I make when I think food is really good. Just last week on our way back from Disney, I half opened my eyes to see my own reflection, asleep, inches from my face. I slapped away the iPhone, bolted up quick, locking the seat belt simultaneously choking me and ripping off my right breast, shouted, and then sat quietly praying I would not die from the heart that was beating 337 times a minute in my chest. I thought my husband was going to drive off the road. Baby girl was in the back, doubled over, snorting and unable to breathe, sputtering, “I was recording your snoring. (Please see above; no gross bodily functions, so this was obviously like trying to video Sasquatch.)” “You let her do that???” Before he could answer, SHE says, “Let me? He told me to!” Buttholes, both of them. (See it works in any situation.)
7. I like that we talk for the dog. Not just the occasional word. He has real conversations and a back story. He is somewhat neurotic, afraid that other dogs will make fun of him for wearing a t-shirt or sweater, worried that other dogs are out to get him because he is so handsome (and because his tweeter is so big; don’t fret he never mentions that in front of baby girl because she is his mother and that would be weird). When it is just my husband and me, the dog has a potty mouth and is obsessed with both losing his virginity and the fact that he only has one testicle and that it never descended. Did I mention he swears? Because it is funny. I once told someone this, and she said nothing about that was normal. I checked with my therapist; his response, “We do the same thing for Sugar. She’s a total tramp.”
8. When we go out to eat someone told us that we either look like a social worker taking a client and her daughter out for a meal or a father and daughter taking out a homeless person. This was a friend; she also snorts when she laughs. But it is true. I haven’t dressed up since our wedding (see entry: On wearing the pants in the family); nothing excites me more than wearing one of my favorite (read: worn and possibly with holes) t-shirts. My husband looks like a slightly more casual version of Alex P. Keaton at all times. Baby girl usually tends toward homeless chic, but occasionally out come the Bath and Body Works lotions, soaps, and glitter along with strappy sandals and a really cool top. He is never embarrassed that I am underdressed for most every occasion. We let baby girl look show she wants as long as her body is covered. I am never concerned that he wears trousers and dress shoes to the tattoo parlor. I just have to tell them that he is not the state health inspector.
9. As a family, we aren’t really mushy, but we are all each other’s people. We occasionally slap at each other as a sign of affection or thumb wrestle. More than once, baby girl will lie beside me and put her feet in my face and tell me to see how bad her feet stink. I tell my husband my favorite thing to do when I wake up in the middle of the night is to look at his hairy back. This is our love language. But if baby girl wakes up and husband is not home. She immediately asks where he is. She won’t randomly hug him or tell him that he is a great stepdad (She won’t randomly hug me or tell me I am great either.), but he is her people, and it is important that she know where her people are.
10. My daughter is not my best friend. She is not my friend at all. I can’t tell you how many moms are saddened when they hear me say this. But my daughter has repeated my standard phrase since she was a preschooler, “My mom is not my friend or my playmate. She is my mom.” I have some friends. Baby girl has some friends. She has ONE mother, and I don’t need to waste mothering time trying to befriend her.
11. We don’t agree on a lot. Actually, we don’t agree on most things. We all think we are equally right, and that the other is wrong. And that makes for great discussion and lots of free thinking. Baby girl knows I supported Obama and that the husband supported Romney; she asked why and listened to each of our thoughts. I am vehemently pro-choice, and I tell people why a lot (see entry: From post-abortive women: How the pro-life movement can really help); he has his own thoughts. He has a strong view on health reform and consumer responsibility; I think health care should be a basic right. We have never changed the other’s opinion; we haven’t really tried. And the girl knows that you can love others who don’t think like you and that she can choose to think however she wants.
12. We are diverse in our interests. How many families frequently watch documentaries on homebirth, an MIT lecture on black holes, WWII documentaries, the story if the female Pope, and NEVER miss professional wrestling on Monday nights? Yep. Though my husband did ask that I let everyone know that he and I both have Master’s degrees if I tell them we are professional wrestling fans.
13. Finally, we are all sinners, saved by grace. Someone recently told me that he had a moral code, and it really upset him when people didn’t live up to his strict standards. I asked him how since we are all equally a sniveling, rotten mess, worthy of nothing but eternal damnation. He meant that he was basically a good, honest person, and that when people lied and weren’t honest it went against his moral code. Yeah, I didn’t try to convince him differently either. But this three member family of mine is nothing but a mess. We have flaws and bad habits and all kinds of things. But we all know that we are imperfect, that NO SIN is better or worse than any other sin, and that as people go we all suck the same to God. Fortunately, we are all also worth saving. And we really try to improve and grow. And God helps us. Every day we get a fresh start with Him and each other.
We will likely never be the family that the Duggars see in the mirror, but in truth we don’t see them the way they probably see themselves. So while I love to hear read about and see those families I thought were “ideal;” I will just enjoy them because they are normal too. Just like no one knows the inner hearts of my little band of misfits. But we are all equally wonderfully made and horribly sinful no matter our choice of dress, length of skirts, family size, or worship style.
And don’t get me wrong; my family is far from perfect. We all 4 (the dog gets an active vote) equally get on each other’s nerves. And there is a long list of why I don’t like my family and they probably don’t like me either. But I’m not sharing that or even adding to it anymore. I think we do too much of that: comparing, finding fault with ourselves, how we measure up.
So today, go right now, and sit down. MAKE A LIST OF WHY YOU LOVE THE PEOPLE YOU CHOSE to spend your life with. And let them see it. And then tell the world. Because Jesus said to Love Him and each other and that includes ourselves.