Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Month: April 2013 (page 1 of 2)

Mousse, gel and childrearing

I remember Mr. Tipton teaching in the 7th grade about the use of the barometer and how it indicates weather changes. But after I survived puberty, I found I had little need for one. I could simply look in the mirror instead. 

As others born into my state can attest, naturally curly hair takes on multiple personalities, depending on humidity, weather and showering habits. While I’ve grown up receiving complements on my “beautiful hair” I’m tempted to reply with a statement of the unreliability factor that goes into such a look. I tend to change product with the leaves, depending on the tight hold of gel during the dry winter months while harnessing the natural power of spring & summer’s humidity with a less weightier mousse. (“What about fall?” you ask. That’s what I call ponytail season.)
Also, hormonal changes can be tacked onto the list as I “went straight” for 2 of my 4 pregnancies, only to see the rings return post-baby. It required a whole new skill set, dealing with less-than-scrunchy hair as these past several months saw me wielding a straightening iron. However, as I visited my stylist last time, she directed me to the life my curls were still living below the surface. 
So now, with seasonal and hormonal changes upon me, I’m left to ponder pre-shower the strategy of the daily tress. I can go straight, pushing and prodding and sometimes damaging my hair into utter submission, but it looks nice and it’s reliable. Or, I can open the gates, apply the mousse and see what happens. And the results will be an outpouring of the natural tendency. 
Essentially, I tell my hair, I can make you do what I want you to do, or I can let you be beautiful. 
Oh, how this challenges my sense of motherhood. 
I want nothing more than to depend on the straightening iron of discipline. These years of early childhood seem to me the easiest to fall into the trap – we have an arsenal of tools. Guilt, shame, punishment… all at a fingertip’s reach. People say “you can’t make a kid do anything” but I disagree, at least in these younger years. However, as my split ends will testify, it results in damaged growth. 
I wish for kids who listen well, behave like angels and put off an image that I “just stepped out of a salon”. But the reality is: that’s not where I live. And though they’re not perfection, they’re beautiful. That should be the goal. 
Perhaps child rearing is like haircare product and each has a season. And every once in a while we can break out the straightening iron, not in a means to control, but rather for added diversity. But on the daily front, let the lighter touch of mousse and gel do the holding and shaping. Granted, you may not like the results every day, but there’s something to be said for natural, honest beauty. 
So, mamas (and papas)… let us each allow the curl to run free. Stop asking or threatening it to be something it’s not, but rather embrace the fact that curls like that cannot be replicated so we must enjoy and appreciate them for what – and who – they are. 
*Sidenote: forgive me of my hypocrisy. Because I sat down to write this, I no longer have the time to be patient with my “natural look.” Friends who see me tonight, yes I’m going straight. This wind is fierce!!
**Strong influence for these thoughts given by the brilliant and beautiful Anna B. Guillozet. Last name spelled and pronounced differently every time I attempt it. 
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Unbreak my heart

I hold a master’s degree in talking and thinking about God, but most often I feel completely inadequate when it comes to talking to my kids about God. So, of course, the significant conversations occur when I’m flying solo and cannot look at JJ and say, “so, daddy, what do you think?”

I’m not sure where it came from, but H Boy tossed into conversation at dinner that we “don’t want to break God’s heart.” I think we read that in our storybook Bible and he clung to the phrase. With a deep breath, I asked – what does break God’s heart? “Well,” he responded, “when people are mean.” 
“I think you’re right,” I responded. Okay, I like the train of thought. “So, what else breaks God’s heart?”
“When mommy cries all by herself.” 
For. The. Love. 
It’s hard to express the emotion that welled up, but it came out in the form of tears. Some of it was the humility that comes with your children seeing you at your weakest. Some of it stemmed from sadness that my littles have experienced their mommy crying because I know how powerless you feel in the midst of someone’s hurt. In theory I understand that it’s okay for kids to see that you’re human and that it’s normal to express emotion. In practice, it takes every ounce of humility I have (which, let’s be honest – isn’t much). 
Often, in our teaching we become the student. In my attempt to teach my 4-year-old about God’s love and compassion, he turned the tables to remind me that God’s love and compassion extends to all of us. Which is probably an even bigger lesson for a little one to experience. I want each of the kids to grow up with an awareness of God’s deep love for them at a personal level; however I don’t want to forget that He feels the same about every person on this earth. It seems that H Boy is ahead of the game on that one. 
The conversation eventually turned to what makes God happy, to which we decided on 2 things – when we give hugs and change a clock. I have no idea where the second one came from. 
So, I suppose I can’t read too much into my theological conversations with a 4-year-old. 
But my heart is appreciative nonetheless. 
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When I grow up

I tend to live in patterns that make me challenging to categorize. They say that adolescence is this tumultuous time when you lack confidence and you’re very aware of your social surroundings. But my teen years (and into my early 20s) saw me content in my own personhood, oblivious to the mean, catty girls who plotted my social destruction. My 30s, however, find me paralyzingly face-to-face with my lack of connection. 

I tend to support ideals but shy away from putting them into effect in my own life. Like the fact that I support our 2nd amendment right to a gun, but don’t want one. Or that while I hope my kids carry a Bible with them to school, I don’t want the school to be the ones to teach it to them. I’m Katy Perry’s hot and then cold, yes and then no. 
So it should come to no surprise to me that I left university with some of my most conservative leanings in regards to faith, scripture, family life and how the world worked. Usually the know-it-alls with a diploma tend to live voraciously and then slow down later once the “real world” hits. But not I. All of a sudden, I’m rethinking everything. 
Most prominently, I’ve adopted more significant “feminist” perspectives which previously scared me. That word scared me. In honesty, I believed if you were one of those, then how did call yourself Christian? The two ideals simply seemed to conflict. 
Until I married. Until I had children. And most remarkably, once I gave up a paying job for staying home every day. The last change probably gave me the most freedom to take on the title. 
So, yes. I’m now a stay-at-home mother of (almost) 4 children, spaced in a way that one would inaccurately assume that my religious fanaticism opposed any means of pregnancy prevention. I look like a daycare provider when I leave the house. I cook nearly every meal from scratch, grow a garden and try to preserve the bounty. I bought a sewing machine to create crafts or even clothes. I make my own laundry detergent. 
And I feel the most liberated I’ve ever felt in my 32 years of existence. 
Last night, (ironically, as I was folding a pile of laundry) I reflected on my progression toward more egalitarian thought and began to feel a sense of peace with my decisions in life. Perhaps it’s because I feel like my daily work, though challenging and in many eyes, somewhat menial, makes a difference. Or perhaps my experiences as a mom of 3 unique children created an awareness that each and every person born to this earth is created equal and beautiful and that no system should purposefully limit what life would hold for them, be it in his role or her contribution. 
But most likely, I believe it’s my freedom to choose my role – in this season, staying at home with my kids each day – that has empowered me most. I could leave each morning for a job in the corporate world. I could spend my days leading a team in some sort of non-profit or ministry initiative. But I’ve been granted the permission to choose to do what I love. What helps me define “success”, what gets me out of bed each morning, what drives me continue to grow and learn and do – is my own
Generations of women lived being told they needed to stay home and raise kids as their contribution to society. I believe a generation of women followed who were told they needed to get a college degree and find a good job in order to fully thrive. And now I live among a generation of women who are sorting out “mommy wars” discussions to find that we finally get to choose to do what fits each of us best. 
Sure, we have a ways to go. Other factors, like class & social status (probably influenced by things like race and education) play a strong role in how “free” we are to choose. It’s easier for some of us to make considerations than others. But the fact remains: less and less are we as women being told where our worth comes from. And for that, I’m grateful. 
So as I’ve struggled to integrate this appreciation into my worldview of faith, I’m eternally grateful for souls blazing ahead and leaving me something to read in their wake. People like Sarah Bessey (I’m chomping at the bit to read her upcoming book Jesus Feminist) and Rachel Held Evans. And writers like Ed Cyzewski and Preston Yancy. I’m watching and hearing faithful people talk about Jesus and the Kingdom of God and how there’s room for everybody. In fact, Jesus led the way. 
I feel incredibly blessed. Incredibly loved. Incredibly grateful. Incredibly empowered. 
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