Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I'm back

I was wrong. I miss this blog and the space it gave me. So, I'm back for now, at least.

I'm feeling overwhelmed by me-too-ism lately, and I don't know where to look for a solution. Last weekend, I was at a Religious Education teacher training for our congregation (which was inspirational and fun, a nice break for me) and our new minister was asking what brought us to teach RE. One woman, whose children are grown, said that when she was a parent, she felt a bit resentful that RE was left as the province of the parents only. No one else in the congregation volunteered. Now that she doesn't have kids in RE anymore, she came back out of guilt initially. She didn't want to be one of those uninvolved non-parents. Now she stays for several reasons, one of which is that she values the intergenerational dynamic and views it as worthwhile to help nurture the next generation of kids. Our assistant minister was present, and her response to the idea that older folks could give to the kids? A very quick hand up to be recognized and an emphatic, "The kids should be giving to the older folks, too." Very true, but also a definite "ME TOO!" moment.

PeaceBang wrote a post last week about the challenges single people face in a congregation and the assumptions and actions that make many congregations unwelcoming to people who aren't partnered or don't have children. My reaction upon reading it was twofold: first, I have no idea if the things she describes happen in my congregation, because I never get to do anything at church that's not RE-focused, and there aren't single people in our congregation who volunteer for RE. It would be fair to call me completely ignorant in that sphere. Second, her view of what it is like to be partnered or a parent in a UU congregation sounded romantic and completely unfamiliar to me. I didn't comment on her post because I couldn't speak to her original point. I made the mistake of commenting on Chutney's blog, though, when he posted a followup about PB's ideas, and was quickly chided for not getting it. It's put my day off to an awful start, because anyone who knows me in real life knows that one of my biggest goals is not to offend other people. I can stand behind what I wrote, but the fact is, it was a "ME TOO!" moment for me. She was talking about what singles need, and it made me think about what I need instead.

This phenomenon is so often present in DT's and my relationship, also, and it's never helpful. I'm (much much much) more likely than DT to speak up when I have a problem or when I need him to treat me differently than he currently is. Often, when I start a conversation like that, he'll have a "ME TOO!" moment and tell me that I also do whatever it is I'm asking him to stop. I'm left feeling conflicted. I don't want to hurt him, I don't want to be hurt, I want to be listened to, and I want to know that he will tell me these things when they happen instead of waiting for me to bring something up.

As with so many things, it all comes back to listening, I think. If we all have a space in which we feel listened to, we don't have to crowd others' space, looking for understanding. Our assistant minister obviously feels that children and youth have responsibilities that they're not acknowledging, and she had no place to make that point, so she honed in on someone else's space. I don't feel like anyone knows or cares that my congregation doesn't actually support parents of young kids, and I don't feel like anyone in my congregation wants to hear that, so I honed in on PeaceBang's space. DT doesn't like to tell me when I'm screwing up, so he goes along for the ride when I'm trying to express myself. End result in all three cases is that people on all sides of the conversation are/feel misunderstood and neglected.

If you have a solution, feel free.

If I'm posting again, you can look forward to exciting updates from the dissertation that refuses to age into adolescence! the committee that cannot exist together in the same room at the same time! the job search that is both too big and too small at the same time! the kid that is excited about potty training right up to the part where he might have to stop peeing in his underwear! the friend of a friend who appears to have a healthy pregnancy after a heartbreaking second trimester loss!

Actually, I think I just summed up a frightening amount of my last two months and used up my exclamation mark quota, to boot. Depressing. Off for coffee.

1 comment:

Jess said...

It does come back to listening! And honestly, I thought your comment was spot on. I understand the need for people to be able to vent their particular issues, which is what I felt PB was doing, and their need to be heard. But, when those issues are based on a misconception of another's experience -- that's a problem.

Her post raised a lot of thought in me, too, as a married-to-the-minister mother. Our churches have a lot of issues to work on around how we minister to individuals of all classifications, and somehow I think dividing everyone up into categories (YA, married, families, singles, etc) does more to keep everyone divided than to meet those individual needs.

For instance, I get more out of experiences with people across those categories than I do when I'm stuck in a room of all moms. (Man, do I HATE the PTA!!!)

Lots to chew on.