Friday, July 25, 2014

50 Shades of No Thanks

     The internet is buzzing with activity over the newly released trailer for 50 Shades of Gray (or is it Grey? I don't know). Women are practically lining up to be the first to see the big screen adaptation of the bestselling book. I won't be one of them, and if you have any respect for women as a whole you won't either. 

     I will admit, I read the books. In my defense I had no idea what they were about when I bought them. Seriously. I live under a rock. All I saw was a bunch of hype around this book, and heard how amazing it was. I saw it at every store I went to. I love to read and I hadn't sunk my teeth into a good book in awhile so I picked up a copy to see if it really was as good as it sounds.

     I got the book home and started reading. Then I realized what kind of book it was, no wonder nobody was talking openly about what it's content was. It. Is. Porn. Flat out...that's what it is. The gratuitous use of various slang terms for male and female anatomy as well as sexual terms belonged more in the pages of a magazine with the black plastic all over it than in a bestselling book sold at Kmart. If I were smart I would have stopped reading it once I reached the first page that made me look up and question myself as to what on Earth my eyes were seeing. I'm not all that smart sometimes unfortunately.

     I kept reading it because I had to find out what happened to the characters, I was already sucked in. There is a thin plot to the whole thing, and it is easy to become emotionally invested in the characters. I needed to know what happened to Ms. Anastasia Steele. There is a thread of a love story somewhere in all of the domination and masochism. I tried to look past the terrible things the main character, Christian (irony eh?), would do in the name of so called love. This was a mistake, because I kept reading.

     I later found out the book was a shined up version of fan-fiction written based on the Twilight series. Of course I liked the was Twilight with a twist. It's about a young, vulnerable girl who meets a strong, mysterious, and troubled man. They fall in love and the rest is history. Except...Edward respects Bella and would never intentionally hurt her. Actually he repeatedly tries to prevent her from getting hurt over and over and would rather deprive himself of the love of his life than have her be condemned to the difficult life that vampire immortality offered. He wants nothing more than for her to be happy. He does not desire to dominate her in anyway. Side note: Edward was also instant on no sex before marriage, they don't end up in bed until well into book 4 after the wedding. 50 shades...they are in bed by chapter 3. 

     50 shades...totally different story. Christian desires nothing more than to dominate Anastasia. He desires to inflict pain on her, he desires her submission for his own pleasure. At no point did I get the idea that he was genuinely, selflessly in love with her. I got the impression that he was more happy to have found such a vulnerable and weak woman to play his sick games and bend to his will unquestioningly.

     Curiosity is dangerous sometimes. I finished the first book and had no intention of reading the remaining two. Then somebody had to tell me how the series ended. Then I just HAD to know how these two characters who were obviously not in love
                                                       ********SPOILER ALERT********

end up married and having a baby. I mean really...this is not the kind of relationship which a child is a welcomed thing. Actually, he is furious and punishes her for it. No marriage should ever be what theirs is. 

     50 Shades of Grey is dangerous. Why? because it perpetuating a warped, twisted idea of love, not to mention it is very poorly written. Sure, there are people who might respond to this idea by saying, "but if that's what two consenting adults like then it's fine!" Whatever you want to do with your husband or wife is none of my business but that being is not painful, love is not vindictive, love is not meant to cause bruises and emotional scars. Love is not what Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele have. Love is a mutual trust, love is gentle, love is understanding. Christian Grey has none of those to offer.

     I read the books out of curiosity and it did me no favors. It did not sit well with my husband either, I mean I would be furious if he sat down next to me and started reading through the pages of Hustler. My sitting down to read 50 Shades was just as bad, but I didn't see it until I was honest with myself about what I was reading. I convinced myself it was a love story, but it wasn't. It was the complete opposite of what true love is. I had to be honest with myself and realize I shouldn't have read those books. I should have put it down the instant I realized what I had bought and never picked it up again.

     How such a book gained so much mainstream popularity I cannot fathom. Perhaps it is a symptom of our twisted culture in which women are told they don't need a man. So they look to books like 50 shades to provide some emotional and physical stimulation. Or perhaps it's our culture's twisted view on marriage. Marriage is no longer a living thing to be cared for, and nurtured. It is disposable, easy to throw out at the first sign of wear. Why work on an unhappy marriage when you can ignore the problem and find happiness in a fictional relationship instead? That's a whole lot easier.

     I learned from my mistakes of reading the books and I will adamantly refuse to watch the movie out of respect for my husband, my marriage and women. I can't unread what I have already read but I can be aware of what I allow in to my head in the future. I can be on guard for poisons which can come in seemingly harmless containers. Poisons which can wind their way in my life, subtle in their careful destruction.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Not In The Picture

     I've been putting together Lucy's yearbook, a little photobook with pictures from the past year of her life, and I came to a realization. I'm rarely in the picture. Sure I'm in the kids lives almost constantly, but if you looked at the photo evidence I seem to be missing. Browsing all of the pictures in this last year you see a happy daddy, grandma's and grandpa's, even uncles and aunts with the kids. Who you don't see is the person taking the picture: me.

     I noticed I only have two pictures of my little family all together. One of those is from Halloween and you can't really tell it's us. The other is our Christmas photo. That's it. Those two photos are the only family picture I have.

     I have tried to get more pictures of me with the kids but most of those are just terrible quality front facing cell phone camera pictures with a screaming or squirming kid. I cherish the few decent photos I have of me and my kids.

It's a problem a lot of moms have. Somehow we seem to get designated as the family photographer. I guess chef, maid, doctor, and negotiator weren't enough. We dutifully document every smile, birthday, holiday and happy moment. Only to exclude ourselves from the picture.

I love pictures because they bring back happy memories. I look through my pictures often and enjoy the happy times. I know one day I may not be fortunate enough to remember all of the happy moments. I may not be fortunate enough to tell my children and grandchildren about holidays and birthdays and fun trips but at least I could show them.

Of course the memories in our heads are the most important, and my kids will hopefully have happy memories of birthdays, holidays and summers spent together. The time I spend with them is far more important than photos documenting it. Still a part of me is sad they will one day look through the pictures of them as babies and perhaps wonder why mom isn't in them. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

My Mess Ups Make Me a Better Parent

Lucy turns one year old in just 30 days. Of course that sent my mind down the path of imagination. I imagine her as a sweet little girl going off to her first day of school, excitement bright in her eyes. I imagine her making the huge step from elementary school to middle school, and then I start freaking out. I imagine her as a teenager.

Of course the old joke among parents is always "just wait until they are teenagers!" I really can't wrap my head around being the mom of two toddlers much less two teenagers (HELP) but then I start thinking about my teen years. Maybe it is Lucy's approaching birthday that has me thinking about my teen years and growing up, maybe it's the "2000's Hit Pop songs" radio station I've been listening to but I have been thinking about my life as a teen often. Then I get scared.

I worry. I'm a parent. Duh.

I worry about the numerous times I messed up and will mess up. Without delving into deep detail because you reads this. I messed up a lot as a teen. Those years between ages 12 and 19 were filled with not only good choices but unfortunately they included some really bad ones too. Of course I never ended up in trouble with the law but I still made choices I regret. I made choices that forever altered my teenage universe. Even as an adult I have messed up. I've made choices that strained relationships, and tested my marriage.

Sometimes I wish I could go back and undo the bad choices. Travel back in time and change my fate. I wonder how my life would look then. I realized something though. Those times I messed up taught me lessons. I am stubborn (*gasp* NO?!) and sometimes I just have to learn the hard way. It is those mess ups which have made me a better parent.

I credit my not being a bum at the moment to two things:
1. My parents who actually cared enough to let me learn by making mistakes, taught me everything they know and guided me towards the right path.They kept an eye on me but let me venture out on my own to learn the only way I can. They trusted me (Lord only knows why) to heed their words of wisdom. They gave me support...even when I messed up. I strive to be as valuable to my kids as they were to me. Even if I didn't see the value then...I do now.
2. My then boyfriend, now husband. I've said it before but it is worth saying again. I firmly, 100%, believe God gave me the gift of young love to help me keep myself on the right path. Having a boyfriend who was not caught up in the drama of school, stayed away from the drug or party world so many of my friends were in, and genuinely cared for me made a very big difference in my life. I pray my children find a mate so perfectly matched to them as I have found because seriously...he puts up with far more than he deserves sometimes.

My mess ups taught me that messing something up isn't the end of the world. They taught me there are consequences to all choices and it's worth thinking about them before you make a choice. My mess ups taught me responsibility in taking those consequences in stride. They have taught me to learn from the mistakes I've made.

So now when I start having a freak out about my own children entering that trial by fire period of life known as being a teenager, with raging hormones and confused personalities attempting to figure themselves out, I know it will be OK. I know my kids are not perfect. They will mess up. They will probably give me gray hair. They will resist my advice, and then thank me for it in 20 years. Still...they will be OK. They will learn the lessons I did, and I will support them, love them and help them find the right path. With any luck though, they will make just a few less mistakes than I did. I can hope, right?