Decembers Are for Getting Sick (And Other Lessons I Learned in 2016)

Hello there! It’s been a while. I hope that you and yours enjoyed a lovely Christmas and that 2017 is seeming all bright-and-shiny new to you, exciting and full of hope.

I guess I’m there? Maybe? I’ve spent the past several weeks feeling alternately over-stressed and exasperated with myself – and cleaning up so! much! vomit! So I think I’m just ready enough to move on that I’m getting excited about the possibilities this new year holds.

Or I’m getting excited about having a crisp, fresh, new planner to fill out. One of the two.

Either way, it feels good to turn the page. And in turning it (so to speak), I thought I’d give you fine people a little dose of my end-of-year processing and beginning-of-year planning: lessons I learned in 2016. Plus some general catch-up stuff and cute kid pics.

I went way overboard writing it, though (length!), so I’m splitting the whole thing into more than one post. First, I give you:

(1) Decembers are for getting sick.

This lesson just about slapped me in the face the other day. At the beginning of December I was all hopeful and dreamy. “We had such a rough December last year,” I kept thinking to myself, “It will be great to actually enjoy this one!” I figured we’d, you know, be able to take care of our preparations on time, maybe bake a few cookies and invite some friends over, enjoy a few cheerful days with our extended family . . .

I don’t know what I was thinking.

Was I thinking that December owed us something? That last year’s bad December gave us immunity for any ailments that might try to strike us this time? That surely, surely we wouldn’t have two sick Christmases in a row?

It took until early January – weeks into a string of stomach bugs and the umpteen-million loads of vomity laundry that accompanied it – for me to remember: “Oh – that’s right. We’ve been here before.”

And in a flash I realized that we almost certainly will be again.

This year (er – 2016) we were mostly out of commission for weeks on end thanks to a long-lingering, family-wide stomach bug.

Last year we started the month with a series of weird pregnancy symptoms for me and ended the month with what was likely a mild case of Guillain-Barré syndrome for my husband. (So scary! So many hospital visits!)

Five years ago I began the month with a sinus infection, had an allergic reaction to the antibiotic I was given for it, and consequently suffered such a terrible, harsh cough that I damaged my vocal chords and was unable to speak above a whisper until mid-January. (So emotional! But I avoided surgery!)

In two of the intervening Decembers I was pregnant, all tired and unambitious-like.

So again – what was I thinking? For this small-kids season of life, at least, I think we should just expect that we’ll need to reserve Decembers for getting sick.

Which means that this year (2017), I want to get most of my Christmas prep work done before December even starts. I want to finish my Christmas shopping by Halloween. (Even the wrapping? Wouldn’t that be amazing?) I want to do a good “fall cleaning” of the house before Thanksgiving. I want to be ready to order my Christmas cards during the Black Friday sales. I want to decorate the house (and return the bins to the attic – somehow this step keeps getting left off) the weekend after Thanksgiving.

Come December, I want to have nothing left to do but decorate the tree and address those Christmas cards. By a roaring fire, preferably. And if we’re somehow able to escape whatever plague 2017 has in store for our neck of the woods, then gosh darn it I want us to be the kind of people who bake Christmas cookies and decorate gingerbread houses. Like those beautiful people on Instagram.

That’s my plan, and I’m totally writing it down in my crisp, fresh, new planner. Because …

(2) Planning is vital.

This one should be obvious – I know it should. But I am sometimes really slow on the uptake and so it is just now, at age 37, that is has clicked for me that life would be simpler if I sat down with my planner and planned things out. What a revolutionary idea.

I’ve only ever used my planner to record upcoming appointments. Never before have I thought to use it to mark out time to prepare for said appointments. Or due dates. Or holidays.

Generally what I do is know vaguely that I need to be preparing for x,y,z but spend my time wrapped up in the more pressing a,b,c items instead, so that when x,y,z comes due I’m startled and yes – unprepared.

But per the above, I’ve already framed out time for next year’s (this year’s? whatever) Christmas preparations in my planner. I need to sit down soon to do the same for other holidays and events. And I’d really like to reserve a weekly time for sifting through my papers and my planner and figuring out what I’ve got to tackle next.

I’m not under the delusion that I’ll ever be perfectly organized and prepared. But I tell you, the realization that I don’t have to go through life feeling startled every time I turn my planner’s page – it feels pretty darned great.

Okay. More lessons next time! ‘Till then, take a look at the front of this year’s Christmas card. (Isn’t he such a beautifully grumpy elf?)

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See you back here soon (I promise! It’s already written!) for the next installment of Lessons That Julie Just Now Learned But Everyone Else Already Knew.

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An Insufficient Response to the Election

(Everyday Bravery, Day 18)

I don’t know about you, but the results of last week’s election have left me feeling completely overwhelmed.

First it was the election itself: While I wasn’t totally shocked that Trump won, I was surprised, and I swear it’s taken me lots of mental heavy lifting to adjust from my Clinton-framed view of what the next four years might be like to a Trump-framed view. As I said on Facebook the morning after the election, “I always considered both prospects for the presidency to carry some big negatives and some less-negatives. I’m now trying to get used to a different set than I anticipated.”

Then there are the reactions of my loved ones – everything from despair to giddiness. Many have been thrust into something like mourning. Some are struggling to grapple with what has happened. Some are grasping at straws, trying for something, anything that might undo Trump’s election. Some have taken a more productive course of action, setting the stage for four years’ worth of opposition. Others seem to be pinching themselves, delighted that a culture that has been so dominated by one (progressive) view of the world has been disrupted. They’re eager for their chance to be heard.

(Read the rest at the Catholic Review.)

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This post is the eighteenth in a series called Everyday Bravery: A Write 31 Days Challenge. Every day this month From October through however-long-it-takes-me-to-get-to-31-days I’m publishing a blog post on Everyday bravery – not the heroic kind, not the kind that involves running into a burning building or overcoming some incredible hardship. Rather, the kinds of bravery that you and I can undertake in our real, regular lives. To see the full list of posts in the series, please check out its introduction.

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Interested in coming along with me as I share stories about my family and chew on the topics of motherhood, politics, and society? Like These Walls on Facebook or follow the blog via email. (Click the link on the sidebar to the right.) You can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram and you can find me at my politics blog at the Catholic Review, called The Space Between.

A Prayer For Our Country

(Everyday Bravery, Day 17)

A day before the election, I’m over at the Catholic Review offering a prayer for our country, including:

“Help us to give generously, to work hard, to understand that our citizenship conveys both opportunity and obligation.

Help us to elect upright, honorable individuals who will put the common good above personal gain.

Help us to remake our political parties so that they reflect different strategies for achieving human rights – not differences as to who deserves them.

Help us to weather this storm. Help us to awaken to its destructiveness and resolve to overcome it. Help us to renew our country, to remember its promise.”

(Read the rest.)

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This post is the seventeenth in a series called Everyday Bravery: A Write 31 Days Challenge. Every day this month From October through however-long-it-takes-me-to-get-to-31-days I’m publishing a blog post on Everyday bravery – not the heroic kind, not the kind that involves running into a burning building or overcoming some incredible hardship. Rather, the kinds of bravery that you and I can undertake in our real, regular lives. To see the full list of posts in the series, please check out its introduction.

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Interested in coming along with me as I share stories about my family and chew on the topics of motherhood, politics, and society? Like These Walls on Facebook or follow the blog via email. (Click the link on the sidebar to the right.) You can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram and you can find me at my politics blog at the Catholic Review, called The Space Between.

Why You Should Vote – Even When It Feels Like It Doesn’t Make a Difference

(Everyday Bravery, Day 16)

In which I make my case for why voting is so important, including a few points that voters in this particular election might keep in mind:

6) Assumptions can easily throw off a race. Are you assuming that the incumbent in your district is a shoe-in? Lots of other people are probably thinking the same thing. And when lots of people all make the same assumption… that’s when surprises happen. Maybe you like the guy, maybe you don’t – but when enough people stay home because they think he’s a sure thing, there’s a real chance that his opponent will catch him. Take challengers seriously. Don’t assume.

7) Your vote sends a message even when it’s not cast for the winner. Political types don’t just look to see who won a race. They look for how many people turned out, how close the margin was, how third-party candidates fared, etc. Maybe your guy won’t win. But if he does nearly as well as his opponent (or even just ‘better than expected’), that winner is more likely to tread carefully once he’s in office. Also, this election’s results may impact next elections’ prospects: a candidate who makes a good showing in one election cycle will likely have an easier time raising funds and attracting supporters in the next one.

9) Voting sends a message to your children that civic engagement is important. Maybe you live in a state (like I do) that’s completely dominated by one political party. Maybe you’ve rarely had one of your preferred candidates win an election. Maybe it feels like your vote has never mattered. But your children may find themselves in quite a different situation. They may go on to live in a different state, in a competitive district, where their vote makes a world of difference. Set the precedent now; help them to see voting as normal, as a responsibility and an honor.

Even if your children don’t end up in a district where they feel like they can make a difference, seeing you vote – in every election – will teach them something about stepping up. It will teach them something about doing their part, about trying to make a difference against all odds. Maybe it will even teach them something about bravery. Your example will serve them in more of life than just the voting booth.

Read the rest at the Catholic Review.

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This post is the sixteenth in a series called Everyday Bravery: A Write 31 Days Challenge. Every day this month From October through however-long-it-takes-me-to-get-to-31-days I’m publishing a blog post on Everyday bravery – not the heroic kind, not the kind that involves running into a burning building or overcoming some incredible hardship. Rather, the kinds of bravery that you and I can undertake in our real, regular lives. To see the full list of posts in the series, please check out its introduction.

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Interested in coming along with me as I share stories about my family and chew on the topics of motherhood, politics, and society? Like These Walls on Facebook or follow the blog via email. (Click the link on the sidebar to the right.) You can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram and you can find me at my politics blog at the Catholic Review, called The Space Between.

November 8 is Not the End: Sympathy Leading Me Forward

(Everyday Bravery, Day 15)

The turning point for me was Wednesday night’s debate. Specifically, the moment it became clear to me that Hillary Clinton was defending the indefensible (partial-birth abortion), I felt a surge in my chest: Sympathy. Every part of my clenched-up heart, which had for so long been agitated at the thought of all those pro-lifers supporting Donald Trump, just… released.

I still wasn’t there myself. I still wasn’t planning to ditch my write-in dreams. But when I heard Clinton express her support for that most tragic of offenses, I suddenly felt the weight of the obligation that many feel to support her opponent, whoever he may be. I experienced an explosive growth in the sympathy I feel towards pro-lifers who have come to a different conclusion than I have.

Read the rest at the Catholic Review.

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This post is the fifteenth in a series called Everyday Bravery: A Write 31 Days Challenge. Every day this month I’m publishing a blog post on Everyday bravery – not the heroic kind, not the kind that involves running into a burning building or overcoming some incredible hardship. Rather, the kinds of bravery that you and I can undertake in our real, regular lives. To see the full list of posts in the series, please check out its introduction.

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Interested in coming along with me as I share stories about my family and chew on the topics of motherhood, politics, and society? Like These Walls on Facebook or follow the blog via email. (Click the link on the sidebar to the right.) You can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram and you can find me at my politics blog at the Catholic Review, called The Space Between.

I Want My Kid to Be the One Who Sticks Up For Your Kid: Empowering Children to Stand Up to Bullies

(Everyday Bravery, Day 14)

This morning I was supposed to find my son an orange shirt to wear to school for “Unity Day,” the point of which has something to do with not-bullying.

I’ll admit to rolling my eyes when I read the email.

First of all, because I didn’t think the kid had an orange shirt and I wasn’t sure how well he’d fit into one of his younger brothers.’ (And I thought it was ironic that my son could end up feeling all left out at school because he didn’t have the right shirt for not-bullying day.)

Secondly, (and more importantly) because I find this passive “let’s all talk about how bad bullying is” thing to be kind of maddening. I’m pretty new to parenting a school-aged child, so I’m not super familiar with anti-bullying initiatives. But in the past five to ten years of Bullying Awareness, most of the efforts I’ve heard of have seemed… vague? Unproductive? Misdirected?

(This morning when I told my son about the wearing-orange thing he wanted to know what wearing orange had to do with bullying. “I don’t know,” I told him. “It’s silly. You don’t have to do it if you don’t want to.”)

I’ve heard a lot about awareness, about educating, about something something policies and procedures and something something environments. I’ve heard a lot about celebrities jumping on the anti-bullying bandwagon. I’ve heard lots of iterations of the most obvious message possible: “Bullying is bad. You do not deserve to be bullied.”

Quite possibly there are some good, solid lessons hidden amidst all those policies and procedures, but I wish this whole movement didn’t come across as so gutless.

Because honestly, I think the best way to combat bullying is to teach our kids to have some guts.

I know I want my kids to. I’m doing my darnedest to teach my boys to stand up for what’s right and to work against what’s wrong.

As parents, one of our most fundamental responsibilities is to teach our children how to behave in relation to other people. Hopefully we try to teach our kids to be loving and kind and personable and welcoming. But we also need to teach them to be strong and protective and just.

My sons and I have had lots of discussions about bullying. Sometimes they’ve been in the abstract, sometimes they’ve been in reaction to playground meanness or brotherly squabbles. But the message always goes something like this:

You need to stand up for what’s right. Stick up for yourself. Stick up for anybody you see being bullied. Especially stick up for those who are younger or weaker than you.

You go right up to that bully and you tell him or her to STOP. Sometimes that will be enough (bullies aren’t used to being confronted), but if it’s not enough and if the situation really needs to be dealt with, tell a grown-up.

(Also: Don’t you be mean either. You are not a mean kid; don’t act like one.)

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Turns out he had an orange shirt after all.

Some might say that children shouldn’t have to deal with bullying to begin with, that we adults should be able to devise ways to prevent it. But there are lots of things children shouldn’t have to deal with – illness, loss, violence, etc. They happen anyway. We don’t do children any favors when we prepare them for a perfect, protective world. We’re better off preparing them for the one we’ve got.

I want to empower my kids to tackle these situations head-on, especially at these young ages. I want my three- and four- and five-year-olds to learn to stand up to the playground meanie so they’re equipped to deal with the schoolyard bully. I want them to learn to deal with the elementary school bully so they’re ready for the middle- and high-school varieties. I want them to learn to deal with them so they’ve got something to fall back on when they find themselves in contentious adult relationships.

Childhood is a training ground for adulthood. Here is where we plant the seeds for the habits and values we want to see in our adult children.

And anyway, even putting aside the concept of a “training ground,” I want my kids to tackle these situations because it’s the right thing to do. I would rather my child face negative consequences for doing what’s right than to slide by consequence-free because he kept silent in the face of injustice.

I know it can sound like a tall order. Some might say that children aren’t up to the task. But I know it’s possible because I did it. I did it as a kid, as a teenager, and I still do it when those unfortunate opportunities arise.

At the end of the day, I want my kid to be the one who sticks up for your kid. I want my kid to be the one who stands up to that kid. (And I hope against hope that my husband and I have made a sufficiently big deal about right and wrong that my kid will never become that kid himself.)

Let’s give our kids a shot. Let’s see what they can do. Let’s teach them to be brave, to stick up for others, to stand up to bullies, to be the kind of people who stand up for the right and against the wrong.

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This post is the fourteenth in a series called Everyday Bravery: A Write 31 Days Challenge. Every day this month I’m publishing a blog post on Everyday bravery – not the heroic kind, not the kind that involves running into a burning building or overcoming some incredible hardship. Rather, the kinds of bravery that you and I can undertake in our real, regular lives. To see the full list of posts in the series, please check out its introduction.

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Interested in coming along with me as I share stories about my family and chew on the topics of motherhood, politics, and society? Like These Walls on Facebook or follow the blog via email. (Click the link on the sidebar to the right.) You can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram and you can find me at my politics blog at the Catholic Review, called The Space Between.

The Everyday Brave: Abigail Benjamin

(Everyday Bravery, Day 13)

Last year when I hosted a small conference for Catholic women bloggers living in the Mid-Atlantic, one of the women who came was named Abigail Benjamin. I had not previously been acquainted with her blog or her online persona and I had very little personal interaction with her that day. But it didn’t take me long afterwards to figure out what a gem we’d had among us.

Shortly after our conference, Abigail became our group’s greatest cheerleader. Each month she’d ask us what we were working on and what we were excited about. She’d rejoice with us, empathize with us, encourage us. In that group and on her own, she revealed herself to be bright, enthusiastic, compassionate, interested, and motivated. She had big ideas and a bigger heart.

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I shouldn’t be putting all this in the past tense, because Abigail is very much here and well and still inspiring me via social media. But in the past several months, I’ve been seeing Abigail as so much more than a kind-hearted cheerleader (though that’s a great thing to be) – I’ve been seeing her as an example of great bravery.

Abigail, who is a wife, a mother to six children, and a home educator to five of them, is also a lawyer. Until recently, however, she was not qualified to practice law in her home state of West Virginia.

Then came the summer of 2016. That summer (this summer), Abigail took the majority of her family’s small retirement savings and signed up to take the Bar Exam. She studied for eight to ten hours every weekday while being the primary parent for six kids aged 13 years to 18 months. She took the 12 hour test in 16 different legal subjects more than a decade after “retiring” at age 30 to become a stay-at-home mother. She passed the West Virginia Bar and was sworn in with little kids in tow.

Abigail did all of this without any certainty that she could practice law well once she resumed homeschooling her five children in the fall. Yet she persevered, for the sake of her family and herself, and for her rekindled passions for the environment, her community, and for justice.

I’m about 98% sure I could not pull off such a feat. (I can’t even pull off a write-every-day-for-31-days feat.) What bravery, what dedication, what tenacity, what hard work such a move requires. I’ve loved watching Abigail move towards her goal and I’m so excited to see what fruits this back-into-lawyering thing bears in her life.

(1) What in your upbringing – in your family and/or your faith – encouraged you to be brave?

I’m not sure that I felt brave while I took the test. Instead, I felt pretty stupid and terrified. My encouragement came from Pope Francis, specifically his encyclical on the environment called Laudato Si, published in 2015. After I saw the Pope briefly at a free Papal Parade event with my family in Washington DC in 2015, I decided to read Laudato Si with my parish priest. I spent three hours on two Wednesdays reading the Pope’s encyclical inside my parish hall. At the end of our study session, my parish priest said “I bless your mission.”

At that time, I thought my mission was about film promotion for environmental documentaries. Six months later, my mission expanded enough that I took the West Virginia Bar Exam to become an environmental lawyer in a State that I felt needed me. Nine months later, I opened a solo practice. Ten days after I opened my law firm, I was asked to represent a small environmental group pro bono in the middle of a 30 million dollar natural gas pipeline case.

Whenever I start to become intimidated by going against huge law firms with more than 15 years’ experience in this complex field, I tell myself mentally “I’m working for the Pope here.” Pope Francis might never know my name, but as a faithful Catholic, I feel that I get to claim Pope Francis as “my boss” in my work as well as in my Faith. The Pope’s words in Laudato Si guide me. The Pope’s energy for prayer and his love of people inspire me.

(2) What does bravery feel like to you?

To me, bravery is persistence. It’s doing the hard internal work of listening to God in the stillness of my heart and then working hard to reach God’s goal for me despite all obstacles.

(3) What most threatens your bravery?

I’m a perfectionist. I’m terrified of failure. Taking the bar in the summer of 2016 was a public commitment with a public result. I was afraid that people who knew me only as a mom of a lot of kids would think that I was dumb if I failed the Bar Exam.

(4) Do you think you’re brave enough?

I think our final act of bravery is dying with our hope in Christ. I have no idea if I can make that final challenge. I like to think of all the little acts of bravery like childbirth, or taking this Bar Exam, that will help add up to increase my bravery at the big final moment.

(5) Is there anything else you’d like to offer on the subject?

One thing that helped me was taking the example of specific saints, and tying them to the specific task at hand. I didn’t just pray abstractly to St. Francis of Assisi for help with my law practice. Instead, I might think “Saint Francis of Assisi would love to come help me write the addresses of thirteen lawyers involved in this natural gas pipeline case and then mail my packages at the Post Office with three grumpy children in tow.” That kind of prayer helped me view holiness as not something removed from my life, but very much connected to the daily irritations and hidden sacrifices of my life.

I also want to say that I found the decade that I spent as a housewife really grounded me during this transition. Now when I get a complex case with 144 documents from 13 lawyers I tell myself “this is just like doing the dishes.” I take that same pattern of not being overwhelmed, of matching like and like, and getting down to the nitty gritty without panic. Peaceful work is peaceful work. I’m really grateful to see work as a healthy companion to my prayer life. I’m finding the combination of Catholic, Wife, Mother, Lawyer, Teacher, and Writer to be a pretty nourishing mixture.

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This post is the thirteenth in a series called Everyday Bravery: A Write 31 Days Challenge. Every day this month I’m publishing a blog post on Everyday bravery – not the heroic kind, not the kind that involves running into a burning building or overcoming some incredible hardship. Rather, the kinds of bravery that you and I can undertake in our real, regular lives. To see the full list of posts in the series, please check out its introduction.

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Interested in coming along with me as I share stories about my family and chew on the topics of motherhood, politics, and society? Like These Walls on Facebook or follow the blog via email. (Click the link on the sidebar to the right.) You can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram and you can find me at my politics blog at the Catholic Review, called The Space Between.

Don’t Turn Away: Attempt the Politics You Really Want

(Everyday Bravery, Day 12)

I understand why people want to be done with this thing.

I understand why I’m seeing person after person complain on-line and in-person that they wish people would just stop talking about it. They want their Facebook newsfeeds to return to kids and puppy dogs. They want politics to stop encroaching on their neighborly conversations.

I get it.

But honestly, I don’t think we deserve that. I think we deserve to feel uncomfortable right now.

I don’t mean that as some sort of a punishment, some sort of Catholic guilt thing. (And I should probably find a better word for what I mean than “deserve.”) I just think that we should be present. We should inhabit the time in which we live. We should be attuned to the reality of our day, and today’s reality is uncomfortable.

Read the rest at the Catholic Review.

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This post is the twelfth in a series called Everyday Bravery: A Write 31 Days Challenge. Every day this month I’m publishing a blog post on Everyday bravery – not the heroic kind, not the kind that involves running into a burning building or overcoming some incredible hardship. Rather, the kinds of bravery that you and I can undertake in our real, regular lives. To see the full list of posts in the series, please check out its introduction.

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Interested in coming along with me as I share stories about my family and chew on the topics of motherhood, politics, and society? Like These Walls on Facebook or follow the blog via email. (Click the link on the sidebar to the right.) You can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram and you can find me at my politics blog at the Catholic Review, called The Space Between.

Snapshot (Not) Saturday: Fits and Spurts

(Everyday Bravery, Day 11)

What was that about blogging every day this month?

Sheesh. By now I’ve lost count of how many days behind I am. Part of me feels guilty about this failure but the rest of me just throws my hands in the air and sighs and acknowledges that I’m not physically capable of every day blogging. At least not until I can get a nanny. (Ha!)

And by “physically,” I mean physically. Earlier this week my friend Rita (who is also doing – as in actually doing – the Write 31 Days challenge) asked me how I was doing with it. I answered with three photos. “This is how I’m doing. And this. And this.”

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My house has become a wreck, just as I feared it would. My paperwork/school organization has come undone, just as I feared it would. And I became sick, just as I feared I would. (On the mend now though, thanks.)

And that’s with me having not-blogged most days this week.

But I’m not giving up! Not entirely. I’m still enamored with this project and I want to see it through. (Plus, I figure that if I want this bravery thing to mean anything at all, I’ve got to finish what I started.)

I’m just acknowledging that it’s going to take a good bit longer than a month for me to hit that 31 days mark. If I were very clever and organized, I’d time it to end on Election Day. But I’m neither of those things, so that’s probably not such a safe bet. We’ll have to see.

For now, allow me to share a few more snapshots with you from the past few days. We’ve been busy: On Friday I helped at my oldest son’s school and then took my two younger sons on a pumpkin-picking field trip. (With the best, bumpiest hayride.) Then on Saturday we took all four kids to the zoo to belatedly celebrate our son’s birthday, and on Saturday night I took the two oldest boys to my cousin’s farm for his annual moonlight hayride and bonfire. So much fun.

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Anyway, this afternoon, I give you this post. This evening, I’ll give you another. And I’m almost done with yet another, to be posted tomorrow. I suppose I’m doing this Write 31 Days thing in fits and spurts.

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This post is the eleventh in a series called Everyday Bravery: A Write 31 Days Challenge. Every day this month I’m publishing a blog post on Everyday bravery – not the heroic kind, not the kind that involves running into a burning building or overcoming some incredible hardship. Rather, the kinds of bravery that you and I can undertake in our real, regular lives. To see the full list of posts in the series, please check out its introduction.

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Interested in coming along with me as I share stories about my family and chew on the topics of motherhood, politics, and society? Like These Walls on Facebook or follow the blog via email. (Click the link on the sidebar to the right.) You can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram and you can find me at my politics blog at the Catholic Review, called The Space Between.

Loyally Yours: A Letter to the Republican Party from Pro-life America

(Everyday Bravery, Day 10)

 

Dear Republican Party,

I know that things have been seeming kind of questionable between us lately (or at least, that other people have been questioning our relationship), so I just wanted to take a moment to reassure you:

I’m not going anywhere.

Sure, there have been some bumps on the road, some unpleasantries. I can find you disappointing. You can take me for granted. Sometimes we fight a little. Sometimes we test the limits of our relationship.

But I’m here to tell you that I really am in your corner. And I’ll stay here as long as you do one little thing for me: Continue to nominate presidential candidates who claim to be pro-life.

I’m not asking much. Your guy doesn’t have to be convincing as a pro-lifer. He doesn’t have to demonstrate any knowledge of the issue or any attachment to it or to me. He doesn’t have to talk about it much. (A mention every now and then at a Christian college is plenty.)

He doesn’t even have to talk about appointing pro-life judges. I’ll do that for him. (And anyway, I know that you, Republican Party, will make sure the pro-life judges happen. Right? Right?)

Your candidate doesn’t have to demonstrate any character or guts or grit. He doesn’t have to be honest or trustworthy. His life doesn’t have to show that he respects the institutions of marriage or the family. Heck, he can even threaten to kill the families of bad guys.

He can be a complete jerk. I mean, come at me: He can be boorish, dismissive, overbearing, mean-spirited. He can demean and belittle people. He can show disdain for the disabled and the unattractive and the unsuccessful. (In other words, for the little guy. But just not for the littlest little guy, if you catch my drift.)

He can be just awful to women. And I mean awful. He can gauge their worth by their appearance. He can rate them. He can use them for his own satisfaction. He can cheat on them and leave them. He can even brag about going up to random women and grabbing their genitalia. I’m cool.

I mean seriously – I am really, really good at taking any issue at all – even the sum of lots of issues – and comparing them to one very particular thing: abortion.

It’s a big thing, to be sure. It’s a super important, super evil thing. It may not be the total of what supposedly makes up the pro-life cause (things like euthanasia and the death penalty and maybe even health care and poverty and war are in there too, I guess), but I’m not going to bother you about the total package. Nah – as long as your main guy makes that one claim, we’re set.

Oh – and he does need to have a pro-choice opponent. But that’s no sweat. We both know the Dems would never put up a candidate who says it’s wrong to kill teeny, tiny innocent babies.

Okay. Once again, just to make sure we’re clear: I want you, Republican Party, to know that I am yours. As long as you nominate a presidential candidate who claims to be pro-life (and I know you always will), I belong to you.

I am completely willing to cast my vote for your guy with a pit in my stomach. I am willing to feel disgusting for you. I am willing to cast aside everything else I stand for, I am willing to make excuses, I am willing to minimize whatever pain your guy might cause me and others (even rape victims).

I’ll do whatever it takes. I promise.

Loyally yours,

Pro-Life America

P.S. I was hoping to not have to spell this out, but it appears I should. This is SARCASM. I may be a proud member of Pro-Life America, but I am greatly concerned about the message the pro-life movement is sending the Republican Party this election cycle. If pro-lifers will support Donald Trump, who won’t they support?

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This post is the tenth in a series called Everyday Bravery: A Write 31 Days Challenge. Every day this month I’m publishing a blog post on Everyday bravery – not the heroic kind, not the kind that involves running into a burning building or overcoming some incredible hardship. Rather, the kinds of bravery that you and I can undertake in our real, regular lives. To see the full list of posts in the series, please check out its introduction.

These Walls - Everyday Bravery

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