Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Parenting: Apologia Pro Vita Sua

I tend to walk accidentally into some minefields. I have been attempting to avoid the parenting minefield. It would be a satisfying feeling to meet with parents that hold to the same parenting philosophy as I do. I know that a lot of people have such communities or such imagined communities, but I feel startlingly alone. The problem in short is that I do not have a philosophy. This offends people. I remember a college boyfriend once told me, "Hey, I would be fine if you didn't shave your legs out of principles. . . or I would be fine if you shaved everyday out of vanity. . . but this shaving sometimes and not shaving other times is gross." Destroyed on the shoals of intentionality. Intentionality is hard for me. I once made a decision for Jesus. No problem. I made a decision to marry Doug. That was easy. But, in general no other decisions have ever been that easy. I am still not sure about what I would like to do when I grow up. I still become troubled about the question of denominational identity. And, then, there is the daily grind of decisions that really, truly wear at me.

What first attracted me to the work of the Christian ethicist Stanley Hauerwas was not his startling vision of the alternative Christian polis, instead it was his portrayal of the virtuous person for whom ethic is not the crisis of decision but an art-- a way of being that is seemingly seamless. At my best I hope that my parenting embodies my love and faithfulness and patience and that decisions are made correctly (a lot of the time) without recourse to a philosophy. At the worst, I fear that I worry neither toiling or spinning.

But, how to explain this to people who have very decided philosophies and who make me feel at times like a falterer and a fraud? Is there grace in doing nothing? I was never able to appease the boyfriend who believed that I needed to have a rationale for only shaving my legs some of the time.

I am a person of strong convictions and yet surprisingly meager intention. As, I often tell those dear to me. . . I am a plodder and not a plotter.

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