Friday, May 02, 2008

But Not Ridiculous

It is all good and well to joke about oneself, to claim to be the Richard Simmons in all of your lives and whatnot, but while I do want to be able to laugh at myself, I truly do not want to (or want you to) think of myself as ridiculous. Not that anyone accused me of such. And sure, there are plenty of things about me that are fairly ridiculous. But I am learning not to apologize for myself. Well, okay, maybe I am not learning it yet, but I am thinking about it anyway! So while I am a little bit zany at times, a total basket case at others, have what tends to be a wild and crazy head of hair, and have "what doctors tend to call a little bit of a weight problem" (Tommy Boy, remember?), I am not Richard Simmons. Not that Richard Simmons is ridiculous either. He's a person with dignity, made in the image of God. But anyway, I just want to assure you all that I know I am not really crazy. And while I do apologize for myself more often than most people can stand, I have a list here for you all of things for which I do not apologize, things that are many things, but not ridiculous.

First of all, the South is not ridiculous. I have been out of the South for a while and gotten a gigantic culture shock. This has helped me be able to see some of the ignorance that was my personal experience as a Southerner. This is not to say that all Southerners have the same experience or are equally as ignorant. And even if they all have a serious blind spot in some regards, Southerners are not ridiculous. You get around people sometimes who have a soapbox, a pretty good soapbox, but suddenly everyone else is stupid or wrong. This happens with many things, unfortunately, all too often within different parts of the Church. People are fired up about one sort of fruit and suddenly it is the only fruit, or at the very least the best fruit. The part of the Body they are is somehow more important than other parts. This is of course, not the case. And I am not sure if this has a whole lot to do with the South and am also not sure if anyone ever doubted my love for home, but just wanted to be clear, the South is not ridiculous.

Having said that, St. Louis? Also not ridiculous. Okay, so I am not a big city gal. I cannot find any restaurant to which I would care to go back. And I am hard pressed to find the kind of children's clothes I want my mom to buy. Nonetheless, St. Louis is not ridiculous. I can see why people love it. I get the Cardinals, and the zoo, and Forest Park, and frozen custard, and Imo's. No, I do not get Imo's. But I get why people are so excited about St. Louis, particularly people who were raised in St. Louis. They value these things, and these things are delivered. Not having grown up where there were pro sports teams and free entertainment, I don't place as high a value on these things as many people would. They are great things, but I put a high value on other things, like proximity and cute little downtown squares with boutiques and places with lots and lots of trees to run through. St. Louis doesn't have those things, but it is not ridiculous. Me not loving St. Louis though, is also not ridiculous.

And if St. Louis is not ridiculous, neither are my downtown squares and trees. Okay, so St. Louis has trees. But no Warner parks. And certainly no Payne Street. More importantly, my little children's boutiques are not ridiculous. This is a hard one for me, because this is the thing that stood out about me as soon as I got here. This is also the thing that earned me more negative remarks than I could've believed. Who knew it would bug people so much for me to dress my kids well? I put so many hours into the clothes I made for Amabel and August, and had so many people imply that this made me shallow, or superficial, or snobby, or uneconomical, or just plain silly. At the very least, it puzzled most people. And to a degree, I understand. We are "poor seminary students." So I find myself constantly explaining "my mom buys all their clothes" (or all my fabric). Not that it is anyone's business. I sort of wonder if what people assumed by me dressing my kids up was that I thought their kids were not dressed well enough. But why do I care what their kids are wearing? I just like what I like for my own kids. But I have been so uncomfortable with that. I have felt so ridiculous. I even started wondering, as some implied, that I was making my kids dress a way that was embarrassing or uncomfortable for them. I was so relieved to know they liked their clothes (and hair bows!). I have several really sweet friends here, one of whom dresses her kids even fancier than mine, who really make me feel like it is okay to enjoy kids' clothes. I am actually kind of their go to girl when they are excited about a new outfit for their own children. They know I will be excited too. Other times I feel like a pageant mom. Ugh, what a horrible feeling! But I am not a pageant mom, who, I have to say, are ridiculous. But I am not in the competition that so many people seem to perceive, and I am not in the business of styling and parading my children about for applause. I am in the business of buying, stain treating, washing, drying, ironing, mending, folding, hanging, and putting away my children's clothes (y'all know it's true!) and don't like spending that much time and energy on clothes I don't like. This, I can say with all confidence, is not ridiculous.

So you might be thinking "no one thinks that you are ridiculous." And that just means that you don't think I am. Thanks. But some people do. It isn't all in my head, I assure you (also not ridiculous- the idea that some people think I am ridiculous). The important thing is that I know I am not. And it is easier for some of us to believe the truth about ourselves than others. It's good for me to have this little exercise, and also to get it straight with you all, sojourners on my blog (can ya say that?), what I do and don't really think about the things I have been thinking about. These are those topics that keep floating up for me. The things I just can't decide, because these guys say this, but those guys say that, and I keep thinking the other. But I have made a decision. Not ridiculous.


the skocelai said...

I LOVE pretty clothes and am totally willing to iron, etc... to enjoy seeing my girl look so darn good! It is so sad that people perceive competition when you are just enjoying the beauty of what God has created, in fabrics we have available to us, the creativity of sewing or smocking, and (not to say the least) the adorableness of your kids. I say enjoy what your mom provides and apologize to no one. It's none of their darn business anyways. They shouldn't be so presuming upon your motives anyways.

Renae said...

Cool. Not ridiculous.

Also not ridiculous: paying for your kid's pizza with Romanian money. Can I get an Amen?

Abby said...

Amen, Renae! By the way, you are always so sweet about how Amabel dresses; I think you have said your oldest has the same tendencies too.

Hey Sarah! Thanks for your encouragements. :)

Jessie said...

Of course you are not ridiculous, Abby, really, I agree. I think you're great just the way you are. And you forgot "not shopping at Aldi - not ridiculous."

Wrights said...

Nope. You're not ridiculous. And I get the whole wanting to dress your kids well and others not getting it. And I live in the South!!! But the group of people I am around don't care about what their kids wear, therefore kind of make comments to imply that I am a snob and I, too, am constantly defending the way I buy the smocked dresses from consignment sales or on e-bay. Thank you for saying it's not ridiculous. I struggle with that but I also know that there is such a short window to dress our kids in sweet little smocked clothing. And I want my girls to know that it is o.k. to wear things that are pretty and feminine. ALSO, I never have thought of you and Richard Simmons being similar before and I don't think that you are him:)

elizabeth campbell said...

I totally agree with you Abby! I have to say that although I've never thought of you as ridiculous, b/c of this post, every time I hear that word now, I'll think of you :)

the good, the bad & the ugly said...

Do people really judge how your children dress? Are these other moms? Sorry to hear it! I'm sure your children look adorable. There are some things that you just shouldn't give up...even on a meager budget. I completely agree with you. Grandparents are so good to help us hold on to that one little thing when spending money is tight! I too, will think of you now any time I hear the word "ridiculous". You crack me up.

katie said...

I LOVE how your kids dress and I can only hope that your saving all of those cute dresses and seersucker suits for your future nieces and nephwes. ;)

Abby said...

thanks everyone! i pretty much figured the southerners would get the kids' clothes thing, because it's all over down there. it "goes against the grain" in these parts though. but i definitely appreciate the support from afar!

jessie, you are so right. i unapologetically stand by the non-ridiculousness of not shopping at aldi's, as you know. and i know you do not think i am ridiculous, but i tend to think it says more about you as in, you are a very loving and patient person, than it does about me :) oh, and also that you appreciate a cutey outfit when you see one!

katie, if you are prepared for the comments, i will see what i've still got when those nieces and nephews come along. they need a dad first though :) meanwhile, a lot of the existing nieces and nephews are cleaning me out! but i never give to one what the other gave to me. so if you, just for example, were to buy them a whole lot of cute stuff, you know, hypothetically, i'd keep it for you for sure. ;)

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