Here’s How You’re Screwing Up Your Kid

There’s this funny phenomenon that occurs when you have kids. Ever heard that saying, “it takes a village to raise a child”? Well, almost from the moment you announce your pregnancy, the village arrives ready to shower you in congratulations and unsolicited bits of advice.

This is especially true if you frequent social media.

Articles and videos involving children are almost always guaranteed to be inundated with comments about what the parents should have could have done. No matter how innocuous or innocent the content, someone somewhere is going to be offended.

That’s a risk that comes when you use the internet. And I knew this the day I posted a public video of my 2yo after he smashed an entire carton of eggs on my kitchen floor. In the video, I didn’t know what to do. Laugh? Cry? Scream? It was one of those messes that takes your breath away, and leaves you wondering how someone so small can make such a huge mess in so little a time.

I stood there filming as he belly-flopped in egg guts and chased an unbroken yolk along the linoleum. I didn’t scream at him and make a scene, which, to patrons of the internet, automatically meant I did nothing–I let him make the mess by being a neglectful parent (where was the mom?!), and then, being judged by this one incident, I was accused of raising one of those wretched children who thinks it’s okay to walk all over authority and get away with whatever they want.

Am I upset about some of the comments? I was for about five minutes, before I realized that being upset was pointless. One, because I opened myself up to that kind of criticism by posting it publicly. Two, because no matter what I do as a mom, someone somewhere will not agree. Someone somewhere will slap “if that were my kid…”, or “my children would never…” into the comments. It makes me more upset when I see other parents catching flack.

Parenting blogs can be some of the most savage places on the internet. Why? Because the internet is full of Susie-perfect-mom’s. People who think they know it all when it comes to raising kids. They don’t take into account that every child, every parent, every household is different. They don’t take into account that what worked for them won’t work for some people.

But, hey. To each his own, right? Unless you’re a parent, in which case you’re probably screwing up your kid in some form or fashion. And I figured, since I now have all this amazing wisdom about parenting thanks to the digital village, I might as well share it with you guys!



So here’s a comprehensive list of all the ways you’re screwing up your kids so that you can avoid making these mistakes:

Helicopter mom? – Time to cut the cord, lady. How are they ever going to learn independence?

Free-range mom? – Admit it, you’re just lazy. We all know it.

Co-Sleep? – Yeah, your kid is screwed. They’ll be codependent the rest of their lives.

Let them cry it out at night? – How do you even live with yourself, you cold, heartless monster!

Breastfeed? – Don’t even get me started you promiscuous hippy. You’re probably just trying to steal my husband with your milk bags.

Bottle-feed? – Um, excuse me… do you even know what’s in that stuff?

Natural birth? – Okaaaay, and this makes you special how? What, you think you’re better than everybody? The only reason women opt for natural birth is so that they can brag about it. We all know it.

C-Section? – Oh, girl, please. You didn’t “give birth”, you laid on a table and bled for a few minutes. How are you even considered a real mom?

Feed your child? – But what are you feeding them? It has to be Vegan, gluten, and dye free otherwise your future grandchildren are going to sprout tentacles.

Feed your child a special diet? – Are they allergic to sunlight, too, or what? I mean, really. Enjoy your gross rabbit food.

Medicate for a legitimate medical condition? – I hope you enjoy being a puppet of the pharmaceutical companies. ADHD isn’t even a real thing. Duh. And Autism is only caused by vaccines which you totally could have avoided if you read those fifteen articles I tagged you in. Just sayin’.

Choose not to medicate? – Yeah, good luck with your essential oils and herbs there, witch doctor. Maybe you can smother some coconut oil on your brain.

Spanking? – You know who else believed in spanking? Hitler.

No spanking? – You’re everything that’s wrong with our society. Your children are going to grow up to be entitled and selfish just like you! The only real way to discipline a child is with violence.

Working parent? – What was the point of having kids if you were just going to let someone else take care of them anyways? Awful.

Stay-at-home-parent? – Must be nice to just sit on your butt all day long, sipping wine or drinking beer, and channel surfing. Bro, do you even work?

Public school? – Sure, if you want your child pregnant and on drugs by the time they’re 15. Public school is the devil.

Private school? – Sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll, but with embroidered uniforms and a cricket team. Woo-woo!

Homeschool? – Homeschool is for religious nut-jobs who don’t want their children to believe in science. Duh.

The moral of the story here, kids, is that someone is always going to have an opinion about the way you parent. Whether it’s your doddering mother-in-law, or strangers on the internet. You just have to take it all with a grain of salt.

Or, you know, you could surrender to the digital village. Because the digital village knows all, sees all, hears all.

lucille-portable

Our 4-Year-Old Is Obsessed with Makeup!

I used to love makeup as a little girl. Every our-4-year-old-is-obsessed-with-makeupchance I got I would ask my Aunt Tabitha to make me Cindy Crawford, complete with a little dot of brown lip-liner on the corner of my mouth and all.

I loved those roll-on lip glosses that smelled and tasted nothing like the advertised flavor, and the little butterfly-shaped eye shadow kits that didn’t come in complementary shades for your particular eye color.

Fast forward 20-or-so years and I now have a 4-year-old daughter who is obsessed with makeup the way most kids her age are obsessed with Thomas the Train or Barbie. Every chance she gets she is in my bathroom globbing ten coats of fingernail polish onto her fingernails (and my countertops), or fishing for my hidden stash of makeup so that she can “be pretty”.

And that right there is where I draw the line.

I never ever wanted my daughter to grow up with the mentality that she needs makeup to be beautiful. And I never ever want my sons to grow up thinking that women need it to be beautiful, either. I want them to value health over beauty. I want them to start with being more concerned about what goes into than onto their bodies.

Now before you go all that’s not what makeup is for! That’s not the only reason people wear makeup! And what’s so wrong with wearing it to help boost your confidence?!, let me say, I see makeup as a form of art. (Does that sound totally hippy-talk? Probably, but whatever. I’m slowly coming to terms with my inner hippy.) I see it as a channel for self-expression and creativity; something that takes time and effort (and money) to perfect.

To be honest, I’m a bit conflicted. On one hand, I see her love of makeup as something that can one day become a career. Which, if this is the case, why not support and nurture it? Why not help her learn how to do all kinds of makeup? Not just beauty makeup. There’s fashion makeup, theatre/stage makeup, COSPLAY MAKEUP!, film makeup… can you tell which one I’m most excited about?!

On the other hand, like I said, I don’t want it to become something negative. I don’t want her to think that, without makeup, she can’t be pretty. As if her beauty is dependent on her ability to properly contour and blend and shade with the right palettes. And I certainly don’t want her walking around looking like Mimi Bobeck, or as if she just stepped off an episode of Toddlers & Tiaras.

Who knows, maybe she’ll grow out of the makeup thing the way I grew out of Leonardo DiCaprio and wanting to be a famous poet who lived in a flat in Prague with my red-haired, bull-fighting husband. (Seriously, some of my phases as a kid were just weird.) Maybe I’m putting to much thought into something she won’t even care about tomorrow. Maybe she’ll wake up next week and decide she wants to be a storm chaser… which was also a phase I went through: me and Bill Paxton wandering Tornado Alley together 4 ever!

Either way, we’ll go with it. ❤

I’m Not Raising My Sons to Please Your Daughters

Raising children can be one of the most terrifying jobs in the world. The future of an entire human being rests on your shoulders. How you raise them to treat others will one day play into the lives of hundreds, maybe thousands of people they encounter. How they go out into the world will rely heavily on the values and morals yoim-not-raising-my-sons-to-please-your-daughtersu instilled in them from their first breath.

No pressure, though, right?

Now, I understand those circumstances when you do your best as a parent and they still grow up to get into unsavory things and become rather unsavory characters. It’s only to be expected what with free will and all. We can only do so much to try and give them the best shot at life, but once those wings take off from the nest, their decisions are their own, and all you can do is lay in bed at night praying your hardest that they’re safe and happy. Or, if you’re Catholic, you can pray diligently for intercessions from St. Monica whose son, St. Augustine, was basically a hot mess before becoming one of the most-loved Saints, Doctor of the Church, and author of the famous line, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.” (If you’re not familiar with the story, in short, St. Monica chased St. Augustine down both with her feet and her prayers until his conversion.)

From an early age, my husband and I try to instill in our children a respect for all peoples, for all living things, and for our planet. We teach them that all persons should be treated with dignity, even when they don’t treat themselves with much dignity; even when someone makes them angry, hurts them, or talks down on them. I know that this is counter-cultural in a world that is so vocal against perceived injustices toward the individual, but whatever.

For our sons, we teach them to hold doors. We teach them to be gentlemen. More than anything we teach them to see more than just a body when they look at another person. We teach them against the dangers of objectifying people; of the detriments not just to the other person, but to themselves as well when they take this view.

We teach our daughter that, while it’s polite for a gentleman to hold the door open for her, what’s more important is whether or not she holds the door open for herself and for others. And if a boy/man chooses not to hold the door open for her, not to take it as a personal insult to her femininity, which should never be determinant on how someone treats her, man or woman. Just like with all of our children, we do our best to teach her that her value should not ­be measured by another person’s thoughts, opinions, or actions. Nor should they expect that another person’s value is based on their thoughts, opinions, or actions. As Christians, we understand that a person’s value is inherent from God, through Christ.

And so—and pardon my expletive here—I will be damned if another person ever makes my children feel as if their existence revolves around that person’s happiness. I see it every day, these memes and cute photographs of couples that say things like, “a real man treats his woman like a queen”, or “a real man will do a, b, and c, to keep his woman happy [even if said conditions and expectations are completely ludicrous].”

I’m just going to throw this out there: our society needs to STOP trying to raise boys whose sole purposes are to cater to women. We need to stop treating boys and men like incompetent apes who can’t function without the guidance of a woman.

A stay-at-home-dad? Haha! I bet the kids eat nothing but macaroni-and-cheese and watch baseball naked; does the guy even know how to put toilet paper on the roll? A dad who works ridiculous overtime to provide for his family? Well, a real man would attend his little girl’s dance recital instead of working the hours needed to even put her in ballet if he really loved her. But wait, there’s a man who actually seems like a decent guy, who is helpful and competent and loving? His wife must have trained him well.

I’ll be damned if a girl or woman comes along and makes my sons feel as if they have to grant her every wish and whim in order to prove they love her, even if it comes to her doing things that are damaging to her well-being. Sadly, I’ve seen it before, where a man who truly loves and cares for his girlfriend/wife tries to keep her from self-destructive behaviors and she and everyone else turns him into a controlling misogynist with an intrinsic desire to oppress anything with a vagina!

We’re not raising our sons with the sole purpose of pleasing your daughters. We’re not raising them to treat her like a queen while she treats him like a peasant. We’re not raising our sons to be with women who think they have to be “trained” in order to make good husbands and fathers. We’re not raising our sons to be servants and henchmen. We’re raising them to be men who are respectful towards all people, who treat everyone around them with dignity, who will be helpful, charitable, and kind, but know when and how not to be taken advantage of. We’re raising our daughters the same way.

            We’re raising our children with the understanding that men and women are biologically different. They see, smell, hear, taste, and feel—both emotionally and physically—differently from each other, and that’s okay. Each gender has their strengths and weaknesses, and they were meant to be complementary. This doesn’t mean that one sex is better or worse than the other. This doesn’t mean that we have to treat the opposite sex poorly because of their short-comings. So please, parents, don’t raise daughters who look down on men. Don’t raise sons who look down on women. Raise kids who have respect all around. Raise kids who know their true value isn’t dependent on who loves them, who hates them, or how pretty they are.

Today on: Guess What Gayle Did! Vol. 46

Our 4-year-old is quite a character. With two older brothers, she is not a dainty young lady. She’ll dig in the mud, show you the food in her mouth (uninvited), participate in the daily wrestling matches that we’ve all but given up trying to quell between our boys, and so, of course, her favorite thing right now is poopcopy-of-today-onthe-world-of-gayle

Not Disney princesses, not Peppa Pig, not playing dress-up. POOP.

Tonight was Open House at the children’s school. For those of you who may not know what an Open House is, it’s when the school invites parents to come in, meet with the teachers, and take a look at all the different things their kids have been up to so far. Daddy was kind enough to take Gayle and her older brother, Isaak, while I stayed home with the babies and her oldest brother, Aidan.

Let’s just say that after tonight we’ve now come to realize just how deep her obsession with poop runs.

Gayle showed Daddy her activity book where she draws an assortment of pictures based on a prompt from the teacher. As Daddy is thumbing through the book, he sees a prompt for Gayle’s favorite color.

Gayle’s favorite color? “Poop”, as she said. Not brown, which was the color on the page, but poop.

He flipped to the next page where there were several small green-faced characters drawn around a very large character with a green face. Who was the large character? “Daddy,” she said. Why was his face green? “Because you’re pooping!” She said. And what did daddy have in his hand? A huge glob of–you guessed it–poop. She’d even drawn small piles of poop around all the smaller little stick figures. All of this she explained in the true fashion of four-year-olds, loud and proud for all the parents and students to hear!

Of course, I had to take my chance to pick on my husband so when he told me this story, I burst into hysterics and told him she must think he’s full of [expletive]. He frowned, I laughed harder. It was a good time.

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. She specifically chooses chocolate candy from the store so that, with every bite/piece, she can say, “Mom, look! I’m eating poop!” When I put chocolate syrup in her milk? “Look, mom, I’m drinking chocolate poop!”

We’ve pretty much stopped reacting to the whole poop situation, but tonight was just too good not to share. We hope this is just a phase. If not, maybe it means she’ll grow up to be a gastroenterologist or something? I’m all for a doctor in the family!

How to NOT Lose Your Entire Manuscript — Like I Did

I’m still pretty raw over the whole ordeal, so, without going into too much tear-jerking detail, I lost my ENTIRE manuscript last Friday. If you’ve never had this happen to you, good! I sincerely wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. It feels a lot like losing a piece of your soul. That may seem melodramatic but trust me, I can’t even delineate just how MUCH it sucks to lose your story. how-to-not-lose-your-entire-manuscript-like-i-did

Of course, I took to my writer’s group on Facebook to express my absolute sorrow, and while I was met with many condolences, I was also met with many wonderful ideas of how to safeguard against this happening EVER again that I wanted to share with you.


E-Mail Your Work to Yourself

Probably of one of the simplest methods to backing up your work is to e-mail yourself a copy of your work. You can do this however often you feel is necessary, but I would honestly suggest doing this everyday after you’ve written. Even if all you did was 300 words, that’s 300 words you’re going to hate to have lost later. If you don’t trust that it won’t get lost in your own e-mail, you can always e-mail it to your extremely trustworthy Aunt Eunice whom you know won’t steal your work.

External Hard-Drive and/or Flash Drive

My husband purchased a 1 terabyte hard drive a few years ago and it was one of the best ideas he’s ever had. But the trick is to USE IT. I didn’t. Don’t make my mistakes. Like with the e-mail, save a copy of your manuscript to the drive regularly. I’m leaning particularly toward using a flash-drive because of portability, but I also have this bad habit of losing small things, so if you’re like me, might I suggest getting one that you can attach to your key ring with your house and car keys.

Dropbox

I enjoy Dropbox. It’s an easy-to-use site and app that allows you to store and share (optional) files, photos, videos, etc. They have good security features plus file recovery. But, again, you actually have to utilize it for it to do any good. *pointed look at myself* I also like it because you can link up with other Dropbox users and share/swap files. I used it for work and it was a hell of a lot easier than sending a million e-mails back and forth.

Set a Recovery Point On Your PC

In short, a restore point will allow you to reset your computer’s operating system to a certain point of your choosing–or to an automatic point that was set by your computer. So say your manuscript disappears into oblivion and you hadn’t been smarter than me and backed up a most recent version of your work in other places, you can use a restore point to get your story back, or at least the most recent version as of the reset point. For information on how to set a restore point on Windows, go here. For Mac, go here. And seriously, don’t bother asking me any technical questions because my dad may have been accepted to MIT, but I didn’t get those genes. I got the artsy-fartsy genes instead.

Save Your MS Under a Different File Every Time

One of the suggestions I got was to always save your MS under a different name every time you’ve written–WITH DATES. That way, if you lose one file, maybe an older (or newer) version will be there. It sounds a bit neurotic but I’d rather be neurotic than crying over my lost MS for two days again. This is when an external hard-drive or flash drive will come in handy so you don’t bog down your computer with tons of files, which is especially an issue on laptops as I’ve learned.

Google Docs

I used Google Docs a lot before I got Word. There were several suggestions to save a copy of my MS to Google Docs regularly. My only issue with this is I’m uber paranoid about my account being hacked and my story stolen. My husband and myself had our Amazon account hacked and our bank account drained of what little was in there in the first place so now I’m flat out petrified of it happening again with something just as precious. -.- I don’t know what would feel worse, losing my story, or seeing it published under someone else’s name? Because, you know, that’s EXACTLY why people hack e-mail accounts.

If Worse Comes to Worst – Pay Someone To Fix It

More than anything, people suggested I take my computer to someone tech savvy. Fry’s, Staples, Geek Squad, you name it. They also suggested this for when your system crashes, you spill something on or break your computer, or you’re the unfortunate victim of a virus. “The file is there, you just have to get someone who can find it,” is what they said. If you’re capable and willing to dish out the dough, this would be my first suggestion if you did lose your work. Even if they can’t spare your device/computer, if they can at least save your files, right?

Don’t simply rely on auto-saves and traditional file saves onto your hard drive for your hard-wrought work. Stuff happens. Life happens. Technology can be a fickle, unreliable beast. Be a better writer than myself and backup your work! Be neurotic and obsessive about it if you must. Better safe than sorry, because trust me, trying to rewrite 40k words from memory because you’re also a Pantser writer who doesn’t plan your novels beforehand is a right pain.

Dear “Catholics” For Choice,

I am not here to debate on the legality dear_catholics_-for-choiceor morality of abortion. Let’s put that card on the table right from the start. I am not here to fling the hot-button words and mantras of both the pro-choice and pro-life movements. I have my beliefs, and in them I stand firm, but that is not why I am here in this moment.

Today I am here to plead with you to stop calling yourself a “Catholic” organization. Perhaps you are a group of individually proclaimed Catholics who believe that abortion is acceptable in the eyes of God when done ‘in good faith’, but you are not a Catholic organization. What you individually choose to believe is between you and God. Once, however, you bring the name of “Catholic” into your stance, once you begin to speak lies to the world under the guise that these lies are sanctioned by the Holy Catholic Church, then you have opened the doors to public admonition. And as this is still the Year of Mercy, consider this as our admonishing the sinners and instructing the ignorant.

To call yourselves Catholic–as a whole–is misleading. More so than this, it is damaging to those truly seeking to know the Catholic Church and her teachings; who wish to accept all that she teaches where you, apparently, have chosen to conveniently disregard one of the most sacred teachings of the Church, of Christ.

You see, our world is ripe with Christians who love nothing more than to cherry-pick from the Bible to support their own skewed agendas. You see this in individuals as well as in entire denominations of “Christianity”. If you need an example, may I introduce you to Westboro Baptist Church and all of the hate-spewing they commit under the pretense that their actions are fully justified in Scripture? You have people and congregations that, to this day, believe the story of Cain is proof that God meant for black people to be treated as less than the white man. They use it as an excuse to promote racism and genocide and bigotry.

Anyone can pick up a Bible and make it mean what they want it to mean. This is why Sola Scriptura is a dangerous practice. Maybe Bob sincerely thought that the Holy Spirit was revealing to him the meaning of Scripture, but then again Bob also needs an excuse to hate and persecute anyone who is LGBTQ. Insert: an erroneous self-teaching on the book of Deuteronomy. To be Catholic means that you believe what the Catholic Church professes as Truth; you believe that Christ alone handed down to His Church, our Church, the revealed Truth, and that it is non-negotiable.

As Catholics you must know that the Church is not a democracy. We are a Theocracy. We don’t get to cast ballots on teachings. We don’t get to  pander on the technicalities of what God meant by “thou shalt not kill”. We don’t get to amend the Fifth Commandment with our own convenient clauses as we do with our American Constitution.

However it is that you justify abortion, please do not do so while claiming yourselves to be Catholic. To do so is called “heresy”. If you are unfamiliar with the term, it’s strict definition as outlined in the second-most Catholic-y book only to the Bible, the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth* which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same;

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2089

(asterisk added)

* some truth, in this case, being the truth about abortion as also defined in the CCC. If you’re willing to look into this, you can find it HERE in the CCC, beginning at 2258, and more specifically 2270.

According to Canon Law:

“a person who procures a successful abortion incurs an automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication.

Code of Canon Law, 1398

This also applies to formal conspirators related to the abortion. I.e. “Catholics for Choice”.

This is all considering that you truly do consider yourself a “Catholic” organization, or a “Catholic” movement. If this is the case, then you are breaking Canon Law. You are breaking communion with the Church. If, then, you are not Catholic, and do not hold yourself to Canon Law or to the Roman Pontiff, then logically you cannot call yourselves Catholic in this regard, either. Simple as that. However you wish to view it, proclaim it, or hold it, to call yourselves “Catholics” for Choice, is a lie.

To end my plea to you, whether you heed it or not, I offer you the words of Mary Beth Bonacci in her book “We’re On a Mission From God”:

“Sure, we can decide for ourselves what to believe…. But to be Catholic means to choose to believe this–that Jesus Christ is God, that He died for our sins, and that He left an infallible Church that protects and transmits His teaching and His love to all generations. Either we believe that the Catholic Church teaches with the authority of Christ, or we don’t. If we do, it would be absurd to pick and choose which Church teachings to believe. That would be deciding to disagree with Christ. If we don’t believe that the Church teaches with the authority of Christ, why bother? We’ve rejected the defining tenet of Catholicism. We’re not Catholic.”

(emphasis added)

And there you have it. In a nutshell. Cut and dry. You cannot and should not call yourselves Catholic.

 

Americanizing the Church

I never realized there was this much

division within the Church when I became Catholic a little over five years ago. We belonged to a relatively small parish, a parish that was tight-knit, humble, and devout. We had an amazing shepherd who didn’t take any crap; none of that flip-flops and shorts in Mass, or loosey-goosey posturing when receiving the Eucharist. He tended his flock with purpose, and he did so diligently and with great love. From where I stood, we had a parish that, even with its many different ministries and callings, had a very simple purpose: to act as the sheepfold. And this is what we did. Each called to our own purpose through Christ, we came together as Catholics to celebrate our Lord and to spread the Gospel in our daily lives.

            Sure, there were differences. Some women wore veils during Mass, others did not. Some people held hands during the Our Father, some did not. While most would receive the Eucharist on their tongues, others would receive in their hands. No biggie, right? These can be differences in how we were raised, or how we were Catechized; sometimes it’s simply a matter of personal estimation.

            For me, the Church has always remained as a constant—the last stronghold of pure tradition and Truth in a time when we’ve all but lost these things here in the west. The Church presented the road map, as Dr. Peter Kreeft would put it, in a world that would rather find its own way and then complain about being lost and in the dark. No matter where we’ve moved, or what parish we’ve attended, this has always been the truth for me.

            There has been division within the Church since the beginning, I get that. While some of the apostles wanted to force circumcision on the older converts, others did not. They had to make decisions on topics that Christ hadn’t exactly been black or white about. They had to set aside their personal qualms and let the Holy Spirit do his work, to build the foundation of the Church that we know and love today.

Even knowing this, I can’t help but feel this sense of dread as I watch the darkness creeping deeper into the Church. Even seeing the millions and millions who went to WYD to see Papa Francis, and to celebrate together as Catholics, I feel this dread. I have enough division in my country, I don’t want it in my Church. I don’t want it amongst the clergy. I don’t want it amongst the lay persons. I certainly don’t want it in my family. And when division is there—which I am not so naïve as to believe there will ever be a time without it—I want us to handle it like Catholics, like Christians. None of this Americanized way of dealing with our issues: just make a few Memes, slap a “haha jk” on it, throw some vague Bible verses in there, and call it a day. Because that’s how we deal with things in this country, with poor humor, insults, and quotes from the Constitution or the founding fathers.

The Church is a church for all peoples. In my few, five short years as a Catholic, I have personally witnessed why it is One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. I’ve met people with so many different callings from Christ, with so many different backgrounds and crosses to bear, but who bear them gladly, and who all proudly call themselves Catholics.

I remember seeing a man waiting for the confessional who was completely sleeved (tattooed) on both arms. I’ve met women who go against the “dainty-feminine-flower-Jesus’-princess” archetypes well-known in the Protestant community, but who are no less in love with Christ and their faith, who are mothers and wives, and ROCK at it. I’ve met Catholic men who are gay, and who–GASP—haven’t been chased out of the church by pitchfork-wielding mobs who think their very presence will turn their children gay, too.

And then I’ve seen the more “conservative” side of the Church; the people who don’t agree with having tattoos, or dressing a certain way for Mass. I’ve met people who think it’s quite a scandal to hold hands during the Our Father, or to even watch television outside of EWTN.

These differences are part of what make our faith beautiful. Catholicism is not some exclusive entity: “only people who are already holy and ready for canonization can join”. The Church is not AMERICA; it’s not a democracy, it’s a Theocracy. We don’t force you to come, and we aren’t going to force you to stay. You can’t write your local bishop and demand changes in teachings. But we’ll take you as you are, if only you’re willing to let Christ take you where you need to be. It’s all up to you.

Stop, stop, stop, Americanizing the Church. Much like we try to dissect and make the constitution work for certain agendas within our country, I’ve noticed the same thing in the Church with Canon Law and the Bible.

Is this to say that we shouldn’t have opinions? That we shouldn’t raise issues when its needed? No. This is to say that the way we handle these things has gotten all wrong. Again, we’ve Americanized the way we deal with conflicts within the Church. We’ve stopped listening, we’ve stopped using words to create positive changes and instead use them to hurt others when we don’t get our way, or when we don’t feel “heard enough”, like children. We fight over language; whether certain sects of the pro-life movement are too caustic, while others are far too “nice”, and shouldn’t even call themselves pro-life. We fight over who is more Catholic because of A, B, and C. If you believe in Christ, and you believe that He gave absolute authority to the Church as He gave to Peter and the apostles, and you choose to go against what the Church teaches, then you are telling Christ He is wrong and that you know better than Him. If you DON’T believe that He gave the Church absolute authority, then you can’t really call yourself Catholic. It’s as simple as that. Take it or leave it. Stop cherry-picking your faith. It’s not a buffet. Stop bickering with each other over holding hands during the Our Father or wearing a veil to Mass. Stop crying because Susan down the street acts too pious with her homeschooling and not having a TV. Stop crying because Martha down the street acts so flamboyant with letting her kids watch Spongebob and go to public school.

Stop turning the Church into this circus ring of parties that we have in America, republican vs. democrat, liberal vs. conservative. This isn’t black vs. white, male vs. female, old school vs. new age. This is the Church. This is home away from home, and I don’t want confrontational division in my home.