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Angels in the Architecture: A Defense of Repetition

Angels in the Architecture: A Defense of Repetition

A while back, an acquaintance asked me if I was “still writing for that website,” by which she meant Mockingbird. The question was delivered with a smirk that I interpreted as vague condescension from someone I know to be more into DIY than grace. I assured her that I was, in fact, still writing for […]

A Gift on Father’s Day

A Gift on Father’s Day

From Andrew Taylor-Troutman: This Father’s Day, my three children gifted me a bird feeder in the shape of a log cabin. Now, as they joyfully run amok in the playroom, I am reflecting on the gifts of fatherhood itself. Fatherhood has taught me that children are actually verbs. Also, that Legos multiply through their own […]

From The Onion: New Parenting Trend Involves Just Handing Children Bulleted List Of Things To Accomplish By 30

An inspiring new report from America’s Finest News Source. Visit here to read the entire thing…

NEW YORK—Several family experts confirmed Friday that the latest parenting trend involves just handing children a bulleted list of things they need to accomplish by the age of 30. “An increasing number of moms and dads are taking a more direct style of parenting that involves simply printing out a list of life achievements, handing it to their child, and telling them to get it all done before they turn 30 years old,” said Parents magazine editor Mallory Schneider, adding that the new technique encourages independence and has a built-in flexibility, as parents can customize their lists according to whatever specific expectations they have for their child. “These lists often span multiple pages and contain a variety of personal and career benchmarks… It really puts the power in the hands of the child—typically around the age of 10 or 11, when they receive the list—by allowing them to figure out how to achieve all the goals in the allotted time.” Experts also confirmed that many parents are giving their children a supplementary list of less-preferred, but still suitable, backup plans should they fail to complete the original set of accomplishments.

Parenting Is Impossible

A little snippet from Nick Lannon’s incisive new book, Life Is Impossible: And That’s Good News:

I think I first became aware of the impossible in my life—at least aware enough that it kicked off a sort of mini existential crisis—when my wife and I were approaching the birth of our first child. I realized, as the date came closer and closer, that I was becoming more and more nervous and agitated. I’d never been a father before, and I wasn’t sure I could be a good one. In fact, I wasn’t sure what to do at all! The choices seemed endless: cloth diapers or disposable? Jarred food or blend-your-own? Breast milk or formula? Spanking or not? Harvard or Yale?

In all seriousness, though, the decision tree that spread out before me was tremendous—never-ending, actually—and it was stressing me out. It wasn’t until later that I realized what was actually going on. It turned out that I was subconsciously convinced—in a way that I never would have admitted consciously—that if I made all the right choices along that infinite parenting decision tree, that my child would grow up to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court or the next Oprah Winfrey. You’ll say, of course, that such a thought is ridiculous…and of course you’re right. But we all think this way, all the time. Most of the stress in our lives comes from the fact that we’ve convinced ourselves—often only subconsciously—that the sum of our decision-making will determine how well things turn out for us. Who wouldn’t feel stressed? In that scheme, your happy future depends on every minute-by-minute choice that you make!

What finally gave me some peace, and the ability to approach the birth of our daughter with some mental stability, was the realization that making all the right decisions along the parenting decision tree was impossible. Not difficult, impossible. It wasn’t something that I could buckle down on, or something I could solve with parenting books or daddy blogs…there was no way to make my way through unscathed. No, I had to acknowledge from the very beginning that failure was my sure destination. “Success,” as I had subconsciously defined it, was impossible. Ironically and counterintuitively, it was in admitting failure that I found peace.

"I Do" Is Not "I Can": From Jason Micheli's <i>Living in Sin</i>

"I Do" Is Not "I Can": From Jason Micheli's Living in Sin

Thrilled to share this excerpt from Jason Micheli’s brand-new book Living in Sin: Making Marriage Work Between I Do and Death. The following comes from Chapter Three, “That’s What She Said” (pp 52-56). Strike what I said earlier against advice-giving because here’s some. But this isn’t just marriage advice, it’s Christian advice, advice on how […]

The Tyranny of Summer Expectations

The Tyranny of Summer Expectations

For the first time in recent memory, my kids are at loose ends this summer. As a parent who works full-time, with children who aren’t ready to stay home all day by themselves, I’ve relied on a complex network of expensive day camps and summer activities to keep them supervised and occupied. My parents moved […]

Be My Safe Space

Be My Safe Space

I can’t explain it, but here goes anyway: I’ve been consuming all things Madeleine McCann lately, and by all things I mean two specifically: an Australian podcast called Maddie, and the recent (critically lambasted) documentary on Netflix, The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann. This obsession is inexplicable because, since being pregnant with my first son eight […]

Captain Marvel-less

Captain Marvel-less

Recently I had a dream that I could fly. This isn’t an unusual dream, though not as common as the one where I find I haven’t completed my dental school requirements — naked — and am racing against the clock to save my career (which I am not currently practicing, btw). It’s also mentioned around […]

How Not To Raise a Daughter in Purity Culture (According to Sarah's Parents)

How Not To Raise a Daughter in Purity Culture (According to Sarah's Parents)

One night in high school, my very Baptist boyfriend and I had plans to attend Black Light Night with the Baptist youth group at the local bowling alley. If you are unfamiliar with this ritual of youth, it involved a dark bowling alley, the neon glow of black lights, and loads of N’Sync. We decided […]

It’s Not Up to You

It’s Not Up to You

You have to believe me when I say that it’s not my intent to carry on eviscerating children’s television. I’m only in my late-twenties but I fear my online persona at times comes across too curmudgeonly. Nevertheless, the vocals from my 2-year-old’s favorite Disney Junior show recently assaulted my eardrums…and my theology. I’m no stranger […]

You Can't Come to My Wedding Unless You're Just Like Me

You Can't Come to My Wedding Unless You're Just Like Me

I’ve been married for fifteen years and I don’t have any younger sisters, and so it’s been a while since I’ve been exposed to the bridal industrial complex except in a very peripheral way. But I do follow several advice columnists on social media for the high entertainment value of Other People’s Problems, and I […]

The Quiet Misery of Children's Birthday Parties

The Quiet Misery of Children's Birthday Parties

You get past the person at the front door. There’s throbbing music. You walk into a sea of black lights and unfamiliar faces. While this may feel like a bad choice you made in your 20s, this is not in fact a dance club in the meatpacking district. This is a children’s birthday party. It […]