Saturday, April 30, 2011

Parable of the Dandelion

Many of you are familiar with Hugh B. Brown's parable of the currant bush, where the gardener consoles the sad currant bush he is pruning by explaining that hacking off parts of it is necessary to help it blossom and grow fruit. I thought about it when I was de-weeding my backyard yesterday, and in tribute, here is my parable of the dandelion:

As I was digging around the dandelion's roots to pull it up, I thought I heard the dandelion say to me, "How could you do this to me? I was making such wonderful growth. I was almost as big as the daffodils I was growing next to. I thought you were the gardener here!"

So I replied, "Look, little dandelion. I'm sure if I left you alone, you would have been quite an impressive dandelion. But there are a lot of prettier flowers that I'd rather look at than you, you're kind of in their way, and besides, my neighbors don't like you and will be mad at me if I leave you where you are. I am the gardener here, and I know what I want you to be: part of my yard waste."

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I’m not a dinosaur. Really. OK, maybe I am, but I am a dinosaur by choice.

When it comes to portable technology’s role in my life, I’m as pared down as it gets. I have a basic talk-plan cell phone. I don’t have a data plan. I don’t even have a text plan. It isn’t because I’m not smart enough to work them, or because I don’t think I’d enjoy using them. It’s because I couldn’t stop, and I worry about the costs of that.

Librarianship is a great career fit for me because I love finding answers. I was notorious at the law school for immediately looking up the answer to every random “I wonder what…” question uttered in my presence. I love living in a world where it is so easy to learn so much about so many things. But I’m addicted. After a several month foray in leaving our computer in the living room, we moved it back upstairs, in part because it was so easy to ignore the mountain of laundry to fold when I could hop on and look up whatever random subject popped into my head – things that grow well in clay-based soil, Napoleon’s military campaigns, the employment background of previous FEMA chiefs, five different news agencies’ takes on a current event, etc. And I definitely think there is value in learning about the world around you. But there is too much of a good thing, and I decided to make a boundary.

An iPhone would be dangerous in my hands. If having the computer in the living room was a distraction, I can’t imagine what having Google in my pocket would do. I’d whip it out every time someone wondered how long of a drive it was to Dayton, Ohio. And while there are definitely circumstances where it would save me time, I’d spend a lot more time looking up stuff I really don’t need to know.

I want to be present in the moment. I want to give my undivided attention to the person I’m with, or the project I’m working on. I already have a toddler and a baby constantly dividing my attention, and focus feels like a luxury. I don’t want people expecting me to quickly reply to their texts, and I don’t want the temptation to whip out the phone when my toddler isn’t being particularly interesting that precise moment. I’m an introvert, and I value the little windows of time between things happening too much to constantly fill them. I want time to think and time to listen.

But then again, I’ll probably drive off a cliff when I take a wrong turn in the backwoods of South Carolina and have no idea how to get back to my relative’s house, and my last words will be, “if only I had an iPhone with GPS, this catastrophe could have been averted!”

So how have you negotiated the boundaries with technology in your life?

Friday, April 15, 2011

(Non-judgmental) advice for new parents

I know several of my readers are due to have their first baby any day now. You’re probably up to your ears in advice, but I’ve just been thinking a lot recently about what I wished I’d known before becoming a parent, so I thought I’d post a few things. And don’t worry – there will be no “I think parents who do _____ are lazy/stupid/overachieving/crazy” comments. Because who really needs that?

  • Learn to listen to your own instincts. No matter what choice you make, it will be wrong in someone’s book. You know your child best, your know yourself best, and you are ultimately the one that lives with the consequences of your choices. Be your own kind of good parent, not someone else’s.

  • Find ways to make your child a part of things you love. Me time is hard to come by, so do things you enjoy while caring for your child. If you sew, have your baby touch different fabrics and talk about their colors while you work. If you’re a musician, play for them. If you’re a bibliophile, read to your child (and read your own books while you feed your baby). I know I felt like I had to put on a constant educational and entertaining act for my child, but truth be told, they often love just being a part of whatever is going on around them.

  • Talk about it. I know it sounds dumb, but I can’t express how much it helped me when I was exhausted and frustrated and discouraged to talk to someone who had been there. It didn’t change my circumstances at all, but it made me feel better to know I’m not the only one who finds life with a newborn challenging.

Good luck, and I’m thinking of you!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Recently our congregation held an end-of-winter carnival. I wondered if Emily would be too shy to enjoy it (which was the case with the moon bounce), but Emily was in paradise. The reason: they had a cake walk. Emily's current favorite activity is marching around the island in our kitchen with as many people as are willing while singing songs. Match made in heaven. She literally spent an hour straight walking in circles. I lost track of the number of cupcakes she won. But she also thoroughly enjoyed eating nachos for the first time and getting her face painted.