I [heart] Davids It helps me to say these things aloud, I think.

May 18, 2009

Parenting Beyond Belief

Filed under: Mood — JeniQ @ 3:12 pm

From today’s News & Observer front page.

Parents gather to nurture nonbelief
by Yonat Shimron

RALEIGH — On Sunday mornings, when many of their contemporaries are taking their seats in church pews, a group of young parents mingle in the living room of a suburban home while their children run around playing games.

This congregation of Triangle residents has no creed or ceremony, just a desire to get together and offer each other support for rearing children without religion. Taking their cue from a primer of the same name, they call themselves Parenting Beyond Belief, and they meet nearly every Sunday, in a city park, an indoor playground or in people’s homes.

Americans unaffiliated with any particular faith have grown faster than any religious group according to two recent surveys of the U.S. religious landscape. These “unaffiliated” have doubled in the past 20 years and now account for 16 percent of the population.

Increasingly, they are vocal about their nonbelief and eager to speak out about it.

“No one should be alone in their disbelief,” said Keri Rush, 40, of Wake Forest.

Not everyone in the group is an atheist. Some prefer to call themselves “freethinkers” or “humanists,” or “spiritual but not religious.” Some are even believers. But they share a disdain for organized religion and a desire to rear their children with the tools to think for themselves.

Answering questions

These parents know what it’s like to fumble for the right answer to questions such as “Why don’t we go to church?” and “Is God real?” and they want to share their responses with like-minded parents.

For example, when 6-year-old Evan Spiering announced one day that “God created the world,” his father, Todd Spiering, answered, “Grandpa believes that. Some people believe other things.”

Spiering, 31, a self-employed carpenter who hosted the gathering Sunday, said he wants his three children to question and probe.

“We don’t have to act like we have it all figured out,” Spiering said. “I’m more comfortable not knowing.”

Only Minneapolis had a parenting group for nonbelievers when Dale McGowan, the Atlanta-based author of “Parenting Beyond Belief,” set out to write his book three years ago. Today, there are at least 32 nationwide by his count — the Raleigh chapter being among the most active. A father of three children, McGowan said the idea for the book came to him when his son began asking questions. “I felt like I was shooting in the dark and needed guidance,” he said.

Though only the Raleigh group takes its name from the book, the parenting groups consist of families wanting some kind of community to replace the religious one they left behind or grew up without. At last count, 71 people were on the e-mail list.

This group also wants to provide their children the opportunity to be with children from similar homes. On Sunday, parents ladled a cheesy chicken soup into bowls, while the children noshed on crackers, tortilla chips or sandwiches.

Atheism coming out

It’s not always easy being an atheist. A 2008 Gallup poll found that only Scientologists fared worse than atheists in the public’s views. Both groups ranked at the bottom of the favorability list. Those attitudes are more hardened in the South, where polls show more people identify as religious than in any other part of the country.

“Where I work, I’m not really out as an atheist,” Bruce Harris, 36, a graphic designer who lives in Cary, said during the gathering Sunday. “My boss assumes that everyone around him has some religion. It doesn’t occur to him that there are atheists.”

The group, Harris said, provides him an opportunity to be himself. “You don’t have to walk on eggshells,” he said.

A spate of books by atheists has helped ease some of the loneliness. Best-selling books such as Christopher Hitchens’ “God is Not Great” and Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion” have lent some respectability to nonbelievers, and at the least made their existence better known.

But members of the parenting group said they are not as strident as these writers. The Triangle is also home to several atheist groups, including one organized — like the parenting group — at www.meetup.com.

Several parents said they preferred the company of the nonreligious parent group. Whereas atheists are defined by what they don’t believe, members of this group want to be known for their desire to raise caring, responsible, ethical children.

“People think if you don’t believe in God you have no morals,” said Niki Ashmont, a social worker from Zebulon who attended Sunday. “That’s just not the case.”

May 10, 2009

Mother’s Day

Filed under: Babies,Mood — admin @ 4:40 pm

I’ve been contemplating for a while a post about motherhood, and this seems like the opportune time to write it. I’m not totally sure what I want to say, except to convey the amazing, radical way that motherhood changes your life. Or, to sound less pedantic, the way motherhood has changed my life.

I was never that into kids, and generally found them annoying. When I married Dave I made it clear that I didn’t really think I wanted kids. Even when we decided to start a family, I was ambivalent about giving up our glamourous, kid-free lifestyle. The moment I laid eyes on Henry, I was stoked about being a mom. It has been tough and nerve-wracking at times, but motherhood is so cool! Of course, that being said, it’s amazing how motherhood changes you.

The thing that I don’t think anyone who hasn’t had a kid can understand is the loss of self, the loss of identity. I’m not talking about the fact that for the next 15 years I’ll be known as “Henry’s mom” rather than “Jeni”. I’m talking about the fact that when I had Henry, I kind of gave up pieces and parts of myself.

When Henry thinks about me, he’ll think about me as his mom, whatever characteristics that might conjure up (silly, embarrasing, and wonderful come to mind 🙂 ). Wild and crazy fun mom that I might be, he’ll never know what the first 30 years of my life were like. Those intellectual, adventurous, formative years of my late teens and early twenties, those memories that I treasure so dearly as part of who I am, he’ll never really understand that. He won’t know (or wouldn’t believe) that I used to get into clubs for free just because I was young and pretty and he won’t want to hear glory stories of our girls’ trips to Las Vegas. He’ll never grasp what I gave up to have him. He’ll live his life with few responsibilities and wonder why I don’t relax more. He’ll never know that I had a life before him, without him. That concept will be foreign and won’t make any sense at all to him until he’s a grown man. Even then, he won’t ever really understand, feel it in his soul, until he has a child of his own.

I have a much greater appreciation for parents that I ever did. Thanks to all the moms and dads out there for taking 20 years out of your life to raise us.
Mother and child

June 25, 2008

Dead bird

Filed under: Cats,Mood — JeniQ @ 8:53 am

I might kill that cat myself if he keeps killing our songbirds.

Here’s the obituary for my cardinal.

Mr. Cardinal met with a tragic end on Monday, June 23rd, to the shock and surprise of his family. Mr. Cardinal is survived by his mate, and like all cardinals, mated for life. He was also a dear father to three adorable offspring, Cardinal, Junior, and Bubba. Sadly, one of his offspring also died recently, probably due to the same cause.

Dead Cardinal

June 9, 2008

Happy Happy Joy Joy!

Filed under: Henry,Mood — JeniQ @ 10:30 am

Henry went to bed last night at 8:30 PM and woke up this morning at 5 AM. 🙂

June 3, 2008


Filed under: Mood — JeniQ @ 7:23 am

It was a great first day back. I got my 5 year service pin and my boss showed this cute slide show and everybody seemed happy to have me back. Hoooray!!

June 2, 2008

Monday Morning

Filed under: Mood — JeniQ @ 7:53 am

Today is the day I go back to work. We’ve been up since before 6 (not counting the three times I got up to feed during the night). I have gotten myself all ready for work, packed lunches for Dave and I, and taken care of Henry. I’m ready to have a stellar day!

March 15, 2008

Celebrating Henry’s Due Date

Filed under: Henry,Mood — JeniQ @ 9:39 pm

Today we celebrate Henry’s due date! Of course, he arrived two weeks early.

I know I said that he might come early, but honestly, I was not mentally prepared for his early arrival. When my water broke, I was aware that the doctor would want to have the baby delivered within about 12 hours. So as soon as we’d figured out that my water broke, I knew that we would be having the baby by Sunday. It was disturbing to me to know that there was a definite end time to the pregnancy, it was rapidly approaching, and I had no control over any of it.

Ele talks about wishing she had savored the experience of the delivery more. I really felt like I understood what she meant, and had every intention of making a conscious effort to inventory, document and appreciate the birth experience. However, the whole experience went so quickly! I dilated so much quicker than any of us anticipated. It was also much more painful than I’d anticipated, even though I had an epidural. To add to that, the strain of physically pushing the baby out combined with the loathsome pain of reflux that occurred every minute I was pushing nearly put me out of my mind. In the middle of the height of pushing, my only thought was “get this baby out of me NOW and I don’t care what it takes.” So much for savoring the experience.

I went into labor on Saturday, and on Sunday Cristin and I had scheduled a photo shoot to do belly pictures. Once labor started, I was so disappointed when I realized we weren’t going to get to do the photo shoot. On Sunday, I still had a pretty big belly and for a moment, I considered whether we could fake it. I realized that anything else I wanted to do while pregnant was no longer an option. The last pictures we took of me pregnant are just that, the last pictures we took when I was pregnant. I am kind of reeling from the whole loss of pregnancy.

Now that Henry is two weeks old (golly!!), I am still trying to adjust to the fact that I’m not pregnant any more. It took a lot of time to get adjusted to the idea of being pregnant, and it turns out that it’s really nice to be pregnant (assuming you’re not having a difficult pregnancy). Being pregnant is like carrying around a secret. A little secret you share with this unborn person. A little secret that only you and the little person know about. You talk to the little person pretty constantly. He’s is your constant companion. He might annoy you occasionally but won’t wake you in the middle of the night. Once he’s born, your secret is out and he is suddenly so much less manageable.

There is a tangible loss with even the happiest of births.

As a side note, I’m going to take down my Pregnancy page, but you can still get to it from here.

February 8, 2008


Filed under: Mood — JeniQ @ 11:56 am

I don’t normally blog about work, and technically this isn’t about work, it just happened at work.

Yesterday I was chastised for raising my arms above my head. Apparently you can strangle the baby with the umbilical cord by raising your arms above your head. SERIOUSLY PEOPLE. I mean, have you even thought logistically of how that would work? It’s like, impossible. And wait, I’m sorry, when did you get your medical degree? Oh, that’s right. You don’t have one. You’re just crazy.

And today I was chastised for wandering through the hallway eating at 10 o’clock and told that “You’d better be careful, you know you have to get skinny again after you have that baby.”
Most people I work with are not phased by the site of me walking around the office eating – happens all the time and has for years. If you’ve ever met me, I hope you’ll agree that I am not and have not been overweight. I’m nearly eight months pregnant and I’ve gained a measly 22 pounds – not bad if I do say so myself.
So what the heck? I actually planned a light breakfast today so I could finish up my leftovers in the morning – it wasn’t even an impulse eating binge. It was tasty chinese leftovers.

And then there’s this trauma that Emily’s going through with nosy people of her own.

Gah, can’t people keep from being so danged nosy?

June 26, 2007

Food and Happiness

Filed under: Alcohol,Meals & Food,Mood,Shopping — JeniQ @ 1:26 am

With Dave gone, I think I’m a little down and less motivated. I haven’t been very inclined to cook for myself, which I have managed to do in the past when he’s gone. On the way home I knew I had to stop at the grocery if I was going to have any chance of eating a decent meal over the next few days. On spur of the moment, I stopped at Earthfare to get my groceries tonight. I figure I’ve been stress-eating lately, I’d be more productive if I stress-bought!

Here is proof of Dave’s theory that “organic” is code for more expensive.

June 11, 2007

On my mind

Filed under: Doctor Who,Mood — JeniQ @ 5:06 pm

I am so sad.

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