Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sarcasm and Hyperbole

"Sometimes I feel like I've been tied to the whippin' post..."

I've always loved this quote from the classic rock & roll song by the Allman Brothers.  Since last summer, the summer of my discontent (another quasi-literary reference...sorry), this quote has had quite a new meaning for me.  Certainly, I don't liken myself to Job, whose entire existence worsened to a low point most of us could never imagine, but there are days I succumb to self-pity so intense that I feel like I've been tied to the whipping post.  STOP, I tell myself after a while.  JUST.....STOP.  I get a surge of energy (that I attribute to the Holy Spirit coming through for me AGAIN) and I make it over the hump once more.

It's very difficult to describe to people the uncontrollable parts of my MS...sudden and lasting fatigue, daily gradual loss of leg control, constant stinging and lack of coordination in my hands and fingers, forgetfulness, confusion...things easily dismissed by those who aren't around me constantly as "typical" of a mother of five or of a 40+ year old.  If you "get it", you can't dismiss it.  It's very real.  If it isn't rearing its INCREDIBLY UGLY head, it's lurking nearby, ready to POUNCE and ruin my otherwise lovely day.  Days or weeks can go by during which I accomplish only the absolute bare minimum of duties, leaving undone anything irrelevant to things immediate.  Regret...shame...anger...it's all there! 

This brings me to my title: Sarcasm and Hyperbole.  I recently described myself to my sister, Jeanette, as thin-skinned and sensitive.  My feelings are hurt easily.  I am really trying hard to work on "toughening myself up", but it's a life-long characteristic so it's hard to do.  I'm easily teased, since my reactions are genuine and strong.  Those that like to tease me know this.  While clever, they sting.  I have conveyed this to many of my friends and family--the teasers.  If they choose to ignore it, I can't stop them.  Perhaps, however, I can use the power of this blog to reiterate my plea: don't assume I can take it...'cuz often times, I can't.

I'll make a good attempt not to overpower my few readers with Multiple Sclerosis related or "poor me" subjects here.  Give me time, though.  And keep coming back!

I will end with an example.  No names.
an email sent to me recently, titled, "Jeopardy":

13+ ...


"Yes, Alex.  What are interval days between posts on Mara's blog."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Ok, everyone: this post is part expression, part invitation.  I am always aware of my guilty conscience; that is, what makes my conscience feel guilty.  I was cleaning the kitchen the other night and my thoughts roamed to all the little things I feel guilty about.  Shall I list?  I think I shall.  Then I want to see everyone else's list.

1.  Peanut butter jars.  We go through peanut butter pretty quickly, and I think it a giant chore to clean out the plastic jars for recycling.  We have a septic tank, so I'm hesitant to wash anything with that much oil.  Now, I suppose I could wipe it out with a paper towel and get all the bits out before soaping it up, but wouldn't that defeat the purpose of recycling it?  I'm pretty big on recycling.  I drive my husband crazy with, "Hey--why the heck did you just put that in the garbage???"  But I sneak the peanut butter jars.

2.  Dust.  It's not as bad around here as in Spokane, where I lived from 7 to 23 years of age, but I let it go.  I mean, I REALLY let it go.  I think my kids don't even truly know that we're supposed to dust frequently to keep things cleared off...how would they?

3.  Crying child.  This one has to stay secret from my husband.  Sometimes, when I'm particularly tired, I will pretend I am sleeping when awakened by a crying child from a far bedroom.  Not EVERY time, but sometimes...and I wait until he wakes up and let him go take care of it.  I know some of you will be saying, "But, MARA...there's NOTHING wrong with that!"  Still...a source of guilt.

4.  Returning phone calls.  I'm horrible.  HORRIBLE.  Those of you who know what I'm talking about, I'M SO SORRY.

5.  Yelling.  I was just telling Edward that I never yelled until we moved into this house (in 2003, when C/E/B were 4/3/1 yrs. old). Suddenly, we went from a split-level house in which the kids weren't allowed to play alone downstairs to a one-story, sprawling, curvy house in which sound can disappear.  I found myself yelling so they could hear me, then yelling to give commands, then just yelling.  It's a habit I hate.  It's a habit I'm passing on.  It's a habit I need to halt in its tracks.

These are merely 5 little sources of guilt.  There are so many more...but I really would like to hear from all of you!  Even if it's just 1.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Is It Possible To Love Laundry?

If you know me at all, you know that laundry is the bane of my existence. It consumes my free time (what's THAT?), takes up a huge amount of space in my home, adds to the ever-present septic concerns, and is the source of many arguments with and among my kids. WHY? Why can't we all wear the same clothes all week long like they did in the old days? OK, I know why. I am just venting. This is the main reason I fantasize about having a live-in maid. Cooking and cleaning has value, too, but laundry...I just don't want to think about it.

What if I could find some way to love it? What if, like St. Therese, I could remember to offer this minor misery to Jesus every day? This blog is, after all, about the mundane, right? And my resolution is to embrace it, right? EMBRACE, not merely ACCEPT. <sigh>...I suppose this means, then, that I have to love laundry. As I carry an armload to the washing machine, I will endeavor to imagine I am actually embracing it. I will think of it as a helpless child who needs me to get it clean. Too crazy? Perhaps, but weren't all the sacrificing saints a bit loony? My plan could work. And I think Therese would approve.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Hope Does Not Disappoint Us

St. Paul, my favorite spiritual writer of all time, reminds me not to give up. He encourages me to persevere. He inspires me to build my character. He promises that with hope, God's love will pour into my heart through the Holy Spirit. What a guy!  He's like a best friend I only hear from through written correspondence. All week, I've been reading a quote from one of his letters to the Romans: "Hope does not disappoint us"...it's on the reader board next to my parish office. I've really needed its message.

Today was a hard day. My body didn't work right. I wanted to persevere physically but couldn't. "My character doesn't need any more work," I used to tell my mother when I was having a hard time in my youth (replying to her statement, "It'll build your character.") I laid on the couch tonight for an hour, hoping to revive myself enough to drag my body to the dinner table. (It worked, by the way.) My beautiful big sister, Lucy, made a healthy, tasty feast for my entire family. There it was, piping hot on the table. An enormous amount of love went into creating that for us.

I've always liked the word persevere. It conjures up comforting, strengthening feelings inside me. (Joe just said he doesn't like it--he only sees the root word, severe.) Character is relative, isn't it? We "build" it, but to whose satisfaction? Who measures this? Hope is a word used in so many contexts, and I wonder sometimes if it's used properly by some people. Now, love...LOVE...ah, that word is the best word. Love is the reason we change poopy diapers. Love is the reason we stay up late talking to nervous spouses about the stressful events at work. Love is the reason we keep our mouths shut when our little kids relay absolutely ridiculous and pointless stories of their school day. Love is the reason we stand over the stove cooking dinner for "ungrateful children" at the end of a long, hard day when we don't think we can stand up one more minute...but we do. Love is MY reason for just about everything I do in my life. And God's love for ME is the one, true thing that calms me down when I feel like I just can't take it anymore.

So St. Paul reminds me of that love. THANK GOODNESS, because my pitiful cobweb of a mind forgets from time to time. As Lucy always says, "It's all about the love..."