Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Accountability needed. Please Advise...UPDATED

Yesterday, I posted some thoughts regarding the new editor at Catholic Digest and some comments/posts on the blogosphere that were related. My intentions and words were seriously misunderstood by some and although I thought I was clear, I obviously was not.

The dilemma is whether or not to remove the post. That particular action won't remove it from the internet (Google Reader apparently lives forever) and it won't clear up any harm that has been done. What I've decided to do for today is to leave it up (with the relevant comments) and ask for input from any readers who might be able to advise. This is also important because many have already read the post. Addressing it (as opposed to erasing it) is the only way to clear up any confusion.

To sum up: I wrote a post commenting on one woman's critical view of Danielle Bean's busy lifestyle. I wrote that I think it is between Danielle and God and her family... but that I can understand how a mother in a similar position would find it difficult to handle such a lifestyle. Specifically, I wrote that I would find it a problem for my specific situation. That was not a judgement on Danielle, only an observation about my own limitations.

At any rate, I have offended some good people in the process. I clearly need an editor. One of the primary things that I write about on my blog is my vocation. Many of you who read what I write know that my writings reflect a work in process as I try to figure out my role. This was one of those posts. Perhaps I should have kept it to myself.

I have consulted one individual I highly respect and was told that there was no lack of charity in what I wrote. But when someone writes to defend their wife... I have to think I missed the mark.

As with all written things, perhaps my tone was misunderstood. I would appreciate the input of all of you who help keep me accountable. I would specifically like to know if the post is too confusing and leads people to the wrong conclusion. Please feel free to leave a comment or to contact me personally via email.

My most sincere apologies for the misunderstanding and any offense. Lord, have mercy.

UPDATE:

I want to express my gratitude to all of you who took the time to offer your encouragement, wisdom and insights both publicly and privately. God has, once again, taken a challenging moment and made it one of  grace. Positive or critical comments alike... you took the time at my request and I thank you.

Also, just for the record...
I don't think it's objectively wrong for a homeschooling mother to hold a professional position. God can call us to whatever He likes. That's not what I wrote or why I wrote.

Thanks again to all. I am grateful for every word and prayer. Every single one.


10 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed your post yesterday. Instead of thinking that you were attacking Danielle Bean, I thought that you were pointing out what a gifted woman she must be, since she obviously has a lot on her plate, and seems to be doing it all very well. It's wonderful to have a Catholic woman like Mrs. Bean as a witness in the world.

    I have only two children at this point in time. Even with my small family, I feel like I'm barely able to manage things many days - so I tend to think your statement that "I am guessing that most women are more like I am than they are like Danielle Bean" is true.

    I re-read your original article, and the only line that I could find that may have triggered the response you received is "If she's like me in any of those categories, I do think she's doing the wrong thing." However, taking into consideration that you prefaced it with stating that you believe Danielle Bean is not like you, and mentioned how excited you are about the future of Catholic Digest, and are praying for Mrs. Bean, etc. I think that it was misunderstood.

    I cannot be sure what I would do in your situation. I tend to believe that I would leave the first post and this post up, so anyone that happens to find them can see the entire picture for themselves. You have apologized for your role in the misunderstanding, and I agree that there was no lack of charity in the original post. I actually felt like you were working to defend Mrs. Bean in the face of the lack-of-charity seen in the other woman's critical comment.

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  2. Oops, my first comment got cut short, what I was trying to say in the end, was that I actually felt like you were working to defend Mrs. Bean in the face of the lack-of-charity seen in the other woman's critical comment while reconciling it with the fact that most women probably cannot do everything that Danielle Bean does, and do them all well.

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  3. I think the problem is that you stumbled upon a very touchy division between Regnum Christi moms and other Catholic homeschooling moms. You may not have realized it.

    Most Catholic homeschooling mothers I know put their children first because they believe their family or domestic church to be their primary apostolate.

    The exception to this is Catholic homeschooling moms affiliated with Regnum Christi, since the movement "encourages" you to put apostolate to the movement first. I won't go into all the details but you can find them elsewhere on the net if you're curious.

    Of course Danielle Bean is considered the Regnum Christi homeschooling mom par excellence, having promoted the group, spoken at many of their events, and written for their publications.

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  4. Leave the original post up, for it speaks for itself. It was a paeon to Danielle, and I thought it very kind. Only you will know if that was her husband writing anonymously; whoever it was wasn't reading with a clear understanding of your generous words and intent. Women can be so harsh with one another, which is unfortunate. Motherhood is hard enough. Danielle is a praying woman, and knows how to discern God's will. We must assume that she and her husband have assessed their situation and know what's possible. I'm sure she'll do a great job.

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  5. Imperfect Hardworking Mom of SixNovember 30, 2011 at 9:59 PM

    I am only posting my opinion because you asked for it.

    While I believe your intent was not uncharitable, as a working mother of many myself (and a working mother who once believed being a SAHM was the only option for a true Catholic woman, I might add), I found your apparent assumption that you must be practically perfect at everything else in your life in order to have God's blessing to work outside the home mightily offensive. None of us are perfect or live in perfect circumstances, therefore none of us women would apparently meet your qualification for working outside the home without sinning.

    Nobody puts this kind of burden on working fathers. Without denying that mothers and fathers both play important but different roles within the family, I still have to wonder why the burden of proof of morality for working outside the home is so very high for women and so very low for men.

    What drives a particular family to make the decisions they do regarding working and supporting their family is really none of anybody else's business. You stated if Danielle is like you, it would be wrong if she worked outside the home. Maybe she IS like you in more ways than you think. You have no idea. Just because you don't think you could do it doesn't mean somebody else can't or shouldn't, even if they share some of the same limitations you have. And just because you don't think somebody can do it as well as you think it should be done doesn't mean it is not God's will for them.

    You asked what might have offended, so I answered. I don't believe you meant to offend. I don't believe you meant to malign or impugn the character of Mrs. Bean. But the mere fact that you seem to suggest that women have to be practically perfect at everything else in their lives in order to qualify for working outside the home without offending God could be read as highly offensive from those very imperfect women working very hard to do what needs to be done to care for their families, financially and otherwise.

    I am not Regnum Christi, nor have I ever been, in case anybody is wondering, although they tried to recruit me once. Way too cultish for me.

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  6. I re-read your post to see if I could "read into" it what other appear to be finding. And, I could not. It may be that I've been reading you for a while and think I know where your heart lies that I didn't find anything other than support for Danielle Bean. I took away from your post yesterday that you were excited to see what she would do with the magazine. I think that your comments were intended for you and others in similar situations (ie: SAHM home schoolers of many children). I did not find them to be judgmental.

    I have no idea what Danielle's family dynamics are, but I can assume that she has a very supportive and helpful husband. I don't know how else she could juggle so many balls unless she had a partner who was very involved in their family at all levels.

    Most women I know have some sort of hobby or recreation they spend a couple hours a day doing...knitting, sewing, exercising, reading, etc. Perhaps, her best recreation and time for herself are spent working/writing/editing.

    I would keep up the post. You don't need an editor. The beautiful thing about you is that you write from your heart and tell it as you see it. Occasionally, that will offend some. That's a risk you take when you put yourself out there....not just in the blog world, but in life in general.

    Let us all continue to pray for mothers everywhere, that they prayerfully do what is best for their relationship with God and family. May God Bless us all!

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  7. When I read the post, I did not find it negative. My thoughts are pretty much the same as Amanda's. This is my least favorite part of the blogosphere, where people misunderstand intent. I really enjoy your posts. I hope that brings a little encouragement. God bless you, Melody. May you find peace with this!

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  8. Melody, I too have often been misunderstood in my writing, and I feel your angst.

    When I was younger and unintentionally offended with my published words, it often taught me more about myself. Mostly that I needed an editor (ha ha). As I got more experienced as a writer, I learned to sometimes have one or more people read an article and ask me where it needed to be clarified or expanded. That helped me offend less people (I think).

    Some people read very quickly and "skim"... jumping to conclusions and perhaps getting defensive before they take the time to re-read. In fact, most people are too impatient to read an article slowly and thoughtfully.

    To be perfectly straightforward, when I read this particular blog, it came off as somewhat conflicted and I sensed that you wrote it to help you sort out your own feelings... which is often why we write blogs (and poetry and songs, etc.). That's okay!

    Don't be so hard on yourself, my dear! We are all misunderstood sometimes and we are all learning and growing. Your intentions were clearly innocent and your admiration for Mrs. Bean was at the heart of the blog.

    Someone advised me early in my writing career.. the first step is to develop a thick skin. You will never please everyone.

    Carry on! God gave you a talent and the world needs your perspective.

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  9. Very Imperfect Hardworking Mom of SixDecember 1, 2011 at 8:15 PM

    Melody,

    I am a straightforward person, and although I do my best to keep my mouth shut unless somebody asks for my opinion, when I AM asked, I am a straight shooter to the point of being too blunt sometimes.

    I hope I did not discourage you from your blog or from using it to sort through some of your own conflicted feelings through your writing (although when you do, you are probably bound to offend somebody somewhere along the line---this is precisely why I do not have my own blog and post under anonymous names. I simply don't have the guts of steel it takes to deal with the rough-and-tumble of blogosphere interactions!)

    Just to give you a bit of perspective from where I am coming from, I grew up in an extremely traditional Catholic household and went to what is considered one of the most orthodox and traditional of Catholic colleges. I graduated college believing I would homeschool and stay home because that is what I was supposed to do. And doing it nearly killed me--it certainly threw me into a great depression, and I was a what I consider to be a very poor, very unhappy mother in those early years and to this day see characteristics in my older children I can't help but suspect may have developed due to my own deep depression and disconnectedness in those early years I was so busy trying to be something that clearly I was not.

    Fast forward twenty years or so. It was a long journey, and like everybody's else's journey it was fraught with a lot of significant life stressors, including diagnosis with a serious chronic disease and one major financial disaster. Through it all, with the support of the my soul mate and the strongest man I have ever known, I managed to forge a career, get mentally healthier, and start finding a bit of joy in motherhood. I am now looking around at so many marriages of those we knew in college and seeing the results of the stress that trying to live the "perfect Catholic life" of staying home, having huge families, and dealing with the financial stress of trying to do it with one income in this family-unfriendly economy can wreak. What I am seeing is not pretty. Many of these couples are extremely unhappy, and their children are growing up in very stressful environments. You would never know that from looking at them in church on Sundays, though---they look like Catholicism Personified on the outside. It's only because I have lived in this small world of conservative Catholicism my entire life that I am privy to what is really going on on the inside of so many families that look so perfect.

    In my 40s now and feeling much more confident than ever before in the knowledge that each family must prayerfully work out what is really best, really and truly best, for everyone concerned (and not just what looks like the Catholic version of Best), when I read somebody like you who seems to be trying to still work this all out in her mind, I tend to get impatient and exasperated. I've just been there and done that too many times with too many people in my real life, I guess. But that is no excuse for me not trying to understand a little more where you are coming from.

    And to be very clear, I know of some Catholic families in which the mother staying home and homeschooling really IS what was in the best interest of all. Some very dear friends of mine are currently living this very life, and I say more power to them for discerning and doing what is right for their families.

    So while I do understand how your post could be taken as offensive--I was admittedly offended by the implied suggestion everything must be just so to excuse a woman for working outside the home--I also believe you have every right to write your feelings and use your blog to figure those feelings out.

    However, you ARE probably going to offend some people. Especially when you mention individuals who might feel their family privacy has been invaded and their choices publicly aired for judging of all.

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  10. Thanks to all of you for taking the time to write. I have read all attentively and am blessed for it.

    To Hardworking Mom of 6: I appreciate that you have taken the time to help me understand your thoughts and feelings on the matter. It is obviously very important to you. I have read everything you wrote and think you have misunderstood some things but can see how you did. I want to let you know that I think women who find themselves taking on the awesome task of working and raising a family... are seriously committed to love. I have no bones with with anyone who discerns this as necessary for their family.

    I, also, am a very imperfect mom of 6. I face my inadequacies every day and it's discouraging at times to see how much I can not do well. I do not think that kind of perfection is possible for me. I am happy just to get my dishes clean once a day.:) And if God calls me to do more... I'll just look around at the chaos and lay it at the foot of the Cross again. I expect it's much the same for most other moms. And I know: there is no perfect version of our vocation. We work it out with joy and suffering until the end. I think many women do get depressed when they imagine that they should be able to do it all... and then fall again and again. That is one of the primary thoughts I had while writing. We should at least be honest with ourselves that embracing additional pursuits is just super hard. Not necessarily bad. But definitely hard. There is nothing to be lost by challenging ourselves to think it through in our own vocations.

    Thanks again and God bless you. You sound like a great mom. :)

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