Enough is freaking enough.
Before today, I had already gone to Sean saying, do you think it's time we get rid of it? It's barely a blip on our budget, at $11 per month. And yes, we'll each occasionally binge watch shows on it. The kids have their favorites on it. Sure sure sure. But do we need it?
A while back, also, I read an article of the new lineup of Netflix-produced programming coming to my TV. No thank you.
And then today, I saw this headline and Drudge: "Netflix Under Fire for Suspected Child Pornography Scenes."
I clicked. I read a pretty graphic account of the scenes.
And I regret it. Why wasn't the title alone enough to make me take action? But no, I read about the sexual abuse of the children, and now that is something I cannot un-read. I'm not going to link to it here. The headline says what needs to be said. Here's a tamer account, for what it's worth.
We're canceling our subscription. I'm ashamed to say I've allowed--no, paid--to have that kind of material available on my family's television screen for far too long. That "movie," if it can be called that, was mere clicks away from my children. That "movie," which filmed the sexual abuse of two innocent, small children, was completely accessible to my family. Free of additional charge.
I'm horrified. I'm embarrassed that I casually allowed a streaming service into my home in the name of "entertainment."
The eminently quotable Matt Walsh is uncomfortably right on this, as he is on so many issues regarding our lost compass of cultural morality: if that TV show (or TV streaming service) doesn't bring you closer to God, don't watch it. Get rid of it.
This is a bridge I've tried to cross before. When Target's executives decided to let men use women's bathrooms, because #tolerance or something, I said then, too, that enough was freaking enough. And in the years since, I confess to crossing the threshold of my local store only handful of times. It wasn't and hasn't been a perfect boycott, but I've made an effort to keep that business out of my life.
I've read blog posts on boycotts, on how people don't like them. They don't "work." They don't make a dent. You'd have to boycott every company you use on a daily basis, they say, to be consistent. You'd have to throw out the phone you used to read Drudge. You'd have to toss the very computer on which you're typing this blog post. You'd have to forge your way in a world without Walmart, Amazon, Gap or Apple.
Yes. That's right. To be absolutely, perfectly consistent, yes, I would.
However, I've taken up a little motto: do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
I cannot be perfect. I'm a flawed mother who regularly loses her ever-loving bleep and barely makes it to confession, ever. I'm a hypocrite, a liar, and a self-righteous blogger. Yep.
However, I cannot produce my own smart phone. But I can produce or find wholesome entertainment for my kids. I can't make my own computer or sew my own clothes, but I can shop local thrift stores instead of buying everything new. I can barely make my own coffee, since I've also tried to swear off of Starbucks, which is one of the few major corporate sponsors of abortion.
I can start small, and I can try and get better. I can stop paying a company that is purely superfluous to my life and is sponsoring child porn.
I can cancel my Netflix subscription.
The world, it seems, was created for throw pillows.
And light gray upholstered furniture. And white rugs. And delicate vases on coffee tables.
The world consists of trendy home stores and "master bedroom reveal" blog posts. Even my own daydreams are filled with the stuff of grown-up living and kid-free zones (hey, I'm guilty of this myself). Just today I was spot-cleaning a throw pillow cover which up til now had escaped the perils of the laundry room, but this morning was mouthed by a child who had just consumed a bowl of half-frozen, extra juicy blueberries. No good pillow goes unmarked.
Saturday night of Father's Day weekend, Sean and I shopped around for some new outdoor folding chairs. We ultimately decided on a sturdy pair of these, but we poked through the "outdoor seating" departments of a few big box stores to get an idea of what else was out there.
Ha. You know what's out there? Outdoor throw pillows. Outdoor light gray upholstered furniture. Outdoor rugs, and delicate things to put on your outdoor coffee table.
All in all, it's stuff of such quality and expense that I wouldn't even want to put it in my living room, because it's TOO NICE, and my kids would stain in in two hours flat.
And so hubby and I sighed and laughed, and talked about how when we don't have little kids with blueberry-stained mouths running around, maybe then we'll buy outdoor furniture like this.
And therein, I believe, lies the problem. I've bought the two-part lie that the culture is selling:
1. the goal of life is to have "nice things"
2. "nice things" get ruined by children.
Now this is not a post that bashes capitalism and this is not a post that bashes interior decorating and this is not a post bashing NFP. This is a post that at its root is about, I think, contentment--especially the contentment that comes with building a family, not just a model home.
Even beyond just the tiny fingerprints and carpet stains, I see the other signs of age in my home that have nothing to do with its smallest residents.
I see "dated" pink and purple tile in the master bathroom. I see kitchen cabinets with peeling paint. I see old light fixtures with shiny brass trim and frosted white glass.
I see all of this and know I need to "update" all of it. But these updates are all the non-essential type. We actually had a "house updates" budget line item going, but putting in a new HVAC system last month quickly brought that line item down to $0. And while new air conditioning is a great luxury in the summer heat, it's not quite as instagramable as a new bathroom vanity with non-fogged mirrors.
Last month I read this article on Curbed by Kate Wagner of McMansion Hell fame. I've seen my house with new eyes ever since:
Remodeling and other house-fussery has become a national pastime. In 2015 alone, Americans spent $326.1 billion on renovating. Previously contained to affluent households and the glossy pages of architecture magazines, remodeling has been transformed by 24/7 media like HGTV and websites like Houzz, Pinterest, and Dezeen. While older media, like early issues of House Beautiful, discusses the process as mastering the careful art of interior design, newer media is more neurotic and self-loathing, describing houses in need of renovation with words like “dated”, “immature,” or “wrong.” Whether presented as a self-improvement project (update your house lest you be judged for owning a dated one) or a form of self-care (renovate because it will make you feel better), the home remodel is presented as both remedy and requirement.The answer? That's probably going to be different for every person. But it's interesting to think that in this age of "body shaming" and shame in general being such a bad word, I often look at parts of my house with guilt and shame, thinking that if and when I don't have little kids in my house, I'll probably be able to afford those updates.
Instead of falling prey to this thinking, take a moment to consider this simple idea: There is nothing wrong with your house.
Most of the time, this statement is true (especially if one lives in a house constructed relatively recently). The roof does not leak; the house is warm or cool when it needs to be; there are no structural or electrical issues; nothing is broken or needs to be replaced from routine wear and tear. Why, then, do so many of us feel dissatisfied with our perfectly fine houses?
BUT. What if that wasn't my mindset? What if that wasn't the mindset of even, say, every Catholic family? What if we planned and hoped for a lifetime of children in our houses--and made that a good thing, not a merely tolerated thing?
What if a block of families looked at their homes and said hey, updates and cosmetic renovations are all well and good and indeed can make us really happy. But even if we don't have the money to rip out our perfectly fine 1970s tile and replace it with white subway tile? Well, that's just fine too. We're lucky to have a home.
What if we saw the showrooms full of antique armchairs and Italian leather sofas, and laughed and said, "Yes, how gorgeous! Now, please direct me to the washable, slipcovered hide-a-beds."
What if we wished for a lifetime of children in our homes--little children, grown children, and grandchildren--and said yes, these are the "nice things" in life?
I write about this because it's hard for me to live with the contentment mentality. I want the new things! The clean things! The nice things! I want ALL the things! It's not even that I want to really limit my family size. With NFP, that the door is always open to God giving our family another baby, of course. And a baby is, arguably, a more tidy housemate than a child from ages 2-12.
These are merely the ramblings of a 30-something mother of four, pondering her life which still includes roughly 10 more years of fertility and about that many years of a mortgage. And taking this life (and this beautiful, lived-in, stained and sweet home of mine) and comparing it to the seeming perfection of child-free living always makes me grumpy. It gives me a bitter cup of never-to-be-fulfilled materialistic longing.
But contentment--contentment with this life, with this home, with these crayon-colored walls and blueberry-stained pillows... Contentment takes my cup of joy, fills it to the brim with a coconut margarita, and hands it back to me with a wedge of pineapple and a paper umbrella.
It's not perfect. But it's better than yearning for more throw pillows.
In a turn of fate that had zero to do with me and everything to do with other people believing that I could do this whole radio gig, I've had the chance to interview some incredible people lately. It's like my life has become this uber-Catholic and non-raunchy version of She's Out of My League, only it's called "They're Out of My League" and "they" are the people I nervously dial each week.
"Hi, is this Tim Staples? This is Mary with Mater Dei Radio."
WHAT?!? I don't know who I am anymore.
1 / Tim Staples
Tim gave a great explanation of the new Marian feast day added to the Roman Calendar by Pope Francis. The obligatory memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church will now be celebrated every Monday after Pentecost. Neato!
2 / Leila Lawler
AUNTIE LEILA! Even though The Little Oratory has been out for a while, I still enjoyed asking this domestic jedi about setting up a proper prayer table in the home. If you've ever sat and talked to your mom while she did the dishes after dinner (like I've done many, many times), listen to Leila. She's a gem.
3 / Steve Ray
Jerusalem Jones never disappoints! Steve's got an infectious enthusiasm for the faith and has spent the last decade of his life creating the Footprints of God DVD series--and I'm thinking that if I ever decide to homeschool my brood, I'm just going to turn on a Steve Ray DVD every morning and call it good.
4 / Sancta Nomina's Kate Towne
Holy baby names, Batman. Kate's new book is Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: 250 Ways to Honor Mary. It has the prettiest cover (and the sweetest content). Makes me want to have 246 more kids just so I can use them all.
5 / Fr. Joseph Fessio
Nothing has so changed my perspective on recent events as Fr. James Schall's new book, On Islam: A Chronological Record. Fr. Fessio expanded on some of Fr. Schall's brilliant essays, most notably on remembering then-Pope Benedict XVI's Regensburg lecture in 2006.
6 / Karlo Broussard for Catholic Apologetics 101
This may be the domestic apologist blog, but I've got so much to learn about true Catholic apologetics that it's fairly embarrassing. Karlo's been doing a fantastic job of going through common objections to the faith, and giving listeners real tools to help remove obstacles to believe in truth, in God, and in the Church.
7 / Ken Davison of Holy Heroes
Family goals: Ken and his wife Kerri built Holy Heroes with help and input from their eight sweet children, and today, their company is a household name in Catholic homes with little ones underfoot. I loved getting to hear more about their beautiful new little book, The Rosary of Saint John Paul II.
Linking up with Kelly--thanks for hosting!