Call me the devil, if you’d like.
I have just completed the three-hour retreat at the church to prepare my son for his first communion. It was a long morning, to be sure, but during that time I decide I want to try to bring the family all together. I host such occasions often, at significant cost and personal effort, but I think it builds up love and community so I do it anyhow. I go home and begin sending out invitations for the gathering.
At precisely the moment of my welcoming, I learn that I have, once again, been directly charged by so-and-so, because I have worked in a professional capacity and (I am not kidding, dear readers) because I have not had my children in T-ball and Rec Center sports. I am accused of self-aggrandizement because I go to professional conferences (to which I also take my children almost without exception). I am charged with doing things for my own glory because I teach overloads and offer paid lecture series.
There is no acknowledgement that I work to eat and to earn income to support my children or that I have never had the option not to work outside the home. I am furious, of course, because I have heard this in varying degrees over the length of my professional life and time as a parent, including once on Mother’s Day. I’m tired of the insult, but when I respond after years of such claims in outrage, I am accused of being too angry.
But, life goes on, and so does the gathering. It’s a nice time, but after the gathering, I wake up to the boldly voiced disgruntlement of a friend who has been inadvertently insulted by a conversation that occurred at the table. The insult is derived from the charge that I did not say the right words when I should have. There is a very strong critique and withering suggestion about my core values at stake, since the issue is racial. I listen and apologize but am left wondering, “don’t you know me by now?” Have you not dined with me, celebrated with me, felt my love and friendship, outreach and appreciation? I am stymied. Am I here to be judged?
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