Where have I been? Freethinker Mom is Back!

I know, I know. It’s been way too long since I shared some tidbit of life as an atheist parent with you. I got a job outside the house last September and life has been a whirlwind of insanity since then.

So, here’s an update on life:

  1. I’ve lost 35 pounds since January 1. I’m super proud and I feel better than ever! And, I’m still losing about a pound a week thanks to the Keto Diet.
  2. My two girls are in summer camp at the YMCA here in Tulsa. Their experience has been great so far, and they’re loving being outside all day. It’s been very non-religious, which is wonderful for all of us.
  3. Work is going well. I’m doing what I love for a great company. Can’t beat that!
  4. I have so much to tell you! Let’s start with how I actually went to church for the first time in years, and on Easter Sunday, no less!

Yep, that’s right. A Christian got an atheist to go to church. A coworker and dear friend invited me to come to the inaugural Easter service of her start-up church where she would be preaching her first Easter service. I built their website as a favor to my friend because I truly believe in what she’s doing in her church. I decided to put my distrust of religion aside and go to support my friend and her lovely partner.

So we got dressed up and went to the service, which was held at the outdoor stage of a local downtown bar (YEAH!). It was misty and rainy, but I was glad to be there. I was proud to be a part of the service that day, for the message was clear and full of hope and love. I even sang along during worship!

You see, the pastor of this church is openly gay. She and her partner are preaching love. Pure, beautiful love. They are accepting, caring, and kind people. They truly understand the meaning of love, and I know my friend loves me, regardless of our differences in beliefs.

Of all the Christians I’ve met in this world, she is the truest follower of Christ I’ve ever known. It was her kindness and openness to my beliefs that compelled me to say yes to her invitation. Never has a Christian shown me the compassion and understanding that she shows me regularly.

So yes, Christians, you can get an atheist to go to church. And, while I did listen, and while I did agree with my friend’s message of love, I’m still an atheist. And you know what? That’s ok. :)

As a side note, I haven’t had access to the email address connected to this website, so I hope to get that resolved and answer any mail. I know I said I always write back, and I will – to each and every one of you –  because I’m sure there are some letters from someone!

Thanks for being patient with me during this transition to working outside the house!

Sincerely,

B

 

I have proof that I’m raising good kids!

The neighbor kid and my oldest daughter were talking during free time at school today. Then he said it – “Your mom has a really big belly.”

I asked my daughter what she said when he said this. She said, “I told him that is not nice and he shouldn’t say things like that. I don’t think you have a big belly. I think you’re beautiful.”

It was the sweetest, most wonderful thing she could have possibly said. She defended me. She stood up for me. She stood up for propriety, for kindness, for motherhood, and for love.

I am raising one hell of an amazing child.

On the other hand, it was a loud wake-up call. I have not been sticking to the paleo-keto diet that I have been trying so desperately to do. It’s time to start eating clean.

Let’s talk about the measles outbreak in Texas

If you haven’t heard about it, head on over here, but be sure to come back! Read up on the situation? Good. Let’s discuss.

This subject is important to me because Oklahoma has been put on “measles alert” due to our close proximity to Texas. My kids have been immunized so I probably won’t have to worry about it, but Tulsa is a very religious city with several “megachurches” and a lot of people who believe anything they read on Facebook. It could be a real problem.

My personal view on vaccinations is this: there is not enough solid scientific evidence linking vaccines to autism and other problems for me to jump on that bandwagon. Also, my girls have been vaccinated for chicken pox, so they’ll never have to worry about getting them. My chicken pox experience happened in first grade. It’s one of my earliest memories, and it’s full of pain and discomfort. I had chicken pox eve.ry.where. On my eyelids, inside my mouth and nose, in unmentionable places. They were awful, and I remember feeling like I was dying. My girls will never have to go through that thanks to vaccines. So, there’s that.

I realize that vaccines are unnatural, but so is the food that a lot of parents (including me, yes) feed their children. You think GoGurt was on the menu for Grok’s kids? Not so much. Driving isn’t natural. There are a lot of things we do, like going to the hospital when we break a bone, that aren’t natural. But these things improve our quality of life.

The thing that makes me angriest about anti-vaccinators is that they are putting their children at risk because of their religion. I’ve known people who refused medical treatment for a child whose condition could be greatly improved by being treated. It’s just not fair to the child. I can’t imagine doing anything but what’s best for my child. Faith healing, as it’s called, is just plain child abuse in my book.

Do you vaccinate? Why or why not?

Ring the bell! School’s in!

Ah, it’s been far too long, my dear freethinking readers!

School is finally back in, and I’m happy to report that my daughter is no longer in the same class as her religious friend. Something interesting has happened in the past week. My daughter, who got in trouble frequently last year for acting up, talking out of turn, and being out of line, has improved dramatically. She hasn’t had her “card lowered” even once, and had gotten special rewards for being extra quiet and attentive in class. I’m amazed. Granted, this has nothing to do with her friend being religious, and everything to do with the fact that the two of them aren’t in class together anymore. But still, I’m happy with the direction this school year is going!

My youngest daughter also started pre-k this year, so it will be interesting to see how different the two of them are with regards to school relationships and behavior.

Anyway, I’m back and ready to regale you with tales from the summer, so keep an eye out for new posts in the coming weeks.  I’m going back to school this fall (yes, I’m insane) to get my master’s degree, but I intend to keep posting and communicating with my dedicated readers.

Thanks for sticking with me while I took a short break! Be sure to let me know if there are topics you’d like me to write about. Just comment here or send me a quick note! Thanks!

They’re worried about my soul…

Apparently I embarrassed my dad on Facebook a few days ago because I stated publicly that I’m a “non-believer.” This led to a belligerent phone call during which I asked him to stop embarrassing me. But he said he was embarrassed of me, and told me I shouldn’t say I’m a non-believer on Facebook. He didn’t say, “where all my friends can see it,” but I know he was thinking that.

He told me he worries for my soul. I know he’s not proud of me and it really hurts. I don’t understand why he isn’t proud of me, though. I work hard, got my degree, and I’m raising two sweet, polite, and kind little girls. I have a great marriage and a happy life. What’s not to be proud of? I don’t believe in his imaginary dude in the sky…that’s all.

To that, I say, “so, what!?” If there is a god (and that’s a big if for me), I don’t believe it’s the god of the Bible. I believe the god will be proud of my life and my actions. I believe this god will not demand to be worshipped, condemn gay people, oppress women, and favor war. If there is a god, he probably won’t care whether or not people believe in him because he’s given us no evidence he exists!

 

He’ll tell you anything to get you into bed…

…and I want to make sure my daughters know it. I’ve discussed the sex talk in previous posts, but I feel the need to elaborate on one important aspect of young women and sex. He will tell you anything to get you into bed. It bears repeating. I’m not saying that all men are scum, or that all men intend to hurt women. Let me be clear; that is not what I’m saying. What I am saying is young men have a high sex drive, and they want to get some. It doesn’t mean they’re bad guys. It’s very natural. But this means that young women need to exert control over their bodies and make decisions that keep them out of harm’s way.

Would you like an example? Sure you would. I warn you, the content may be uncomfortable at times. But these are things that need to be said. In the style of my favorite TV show, The Golden Girls, I’ll tell a story.

Picture it – Oklahoma in the late 1990′s. A girl of only 15, with poor self-esteem and a desire to be broken and humble before her god, is introduced to a handsome older (18-ish) young man. The young man takes her by surprise, showing her attention she’s never gotten before. They begin to date with the permission of the girl’s parents because her parents believe he is an upstanding, church-going young man. Each date they have gets progressively more physical. The young girl, never having been told that a boy might grab her hand and stick it in his pants, doesn’t know what to do. He says he loves her, that it’s ok to touch him. She doesn’t resist because she is afraid the boy won’t love her anymore. In the end, the girl feels incredible guilt and shame from the (very minor) sexual sins she has committed against her god. She shies away from her boyfriend to avoid any sexual contact again. This hurts both the girl and her boyfriend (so she thinks). She begins to cry every night because she is so confused by her physical and emotional conflicts.

One day, another “upstanding,” church-going boy enters her life. This one is about 19 years old, the son of a preacher. She confides in him as a friend, tells him what she’s been through with her boyfriend. He tells her that it’s ok, that she might as well touch him there since she already sinned when she touched her boyfriend there. The girl touches him because her feelings are already in a turmoil and she’s terrified of hurting anyone else at this point.

The preacher’s son takes it upon himself to start feeling guilty and tells his father, the preacher. The preacher calls the girl’s parents to explain what transpired. The preacher’s son can’t keep his mouth shut and soon the gossip has spread through their group of mutual friends. This humiliates the girl, causing her to write things in her diary to the tune of, “I’m so alone in the world. I can’t understand what’s going on. Why is this happening to me when I’ve tried to be a good person and follow god’s plan for my life?” The girl becomes depressed, but doesn’t tell her parents because, well, they’re dealing with their own problems. The youth leader starts preaching about abstinence and sin and defiling the body and all the other evils of teenage life. It becomes unbearable, and the girl sinks deeper into her Bible studies and prayer, almost never missing a journal entry at night. The girl is miserable, and she hides it from everyone, pressing the feels deep, down inside and hoping for the second coming of Christ to rescue her from the big, bad world. Yeah, that’s healthy.

The girl’s parents never did talk to her about sex, but they sent the preacher’s daughter to talk to her, embarrassing her further and making her feel like a slut for not even having intercourse! The girl grew up thinking sex was a dirty, sinful act, but an act that is hard to escape. The girl felt shame and guilt for every sexual encounter thereafter, until she grew up and came to her senses about religion.

The moral of the story? He’ll tell you anything to get you into bed. I wish my parents had told me that. I wish they’d told me how to keep myself out of a bad situation. I wish they’d talked to me about sex, period. I may not have listened, but what if I did? What if they planted the seed that kept me from making a bad choice? I’ll talk to my girls about sex. I’ll make sure they understand that, while many men are wonderful, caring humans who will treat them perfectly, there are others who will take advantage of any and all situations in order to get some sexual contact. It doesn’t mean they’re bad, it just means they’re horny teenagers. Teaching abstinence isn’t the answer; sex education is. Respect and self worth are the answers, too. And just talking. Talking about sex is the answer. But ignoring it? That leads to disaster.

Also, religion sucks. That was difficult to type out, but maybe it will help someone out there understand how important it is to talk to kids and teens about sex. Do it. Don’t wait.

Six Year Olds and God – Keep a Level Head

My oldest daughter’s best friend, who comes from a strict Christian home, came over for a play date last week. The girl’s parents are in China on a “give a Bible to every Chinese kid” mission or some such arrogant nonsense. But I digress. I wanted the girls to get a chance to play under my supervision, so her sitter brought her over.

The next day, my daughter declared, “I can spell G-O-D and I believe in him!” This always happens after a visit with this friend. My husband and I calmly explained that, while it’s ok to make her own choices, we believe she is too young to decide for sure if she believes there is a god. We explained that as she gets older and learns more about the world, she might change her mind.

It’s so hard for an atheist parent to hear exclamations of belief from a child. I have to keep a cool head and remember that she’s only 6, she loves her friend, and she is mimicking her behavior. The best approach I can take is to set a good example for her because she likes to mimic me as well. I must give her space to explore her own thoughts. I didn’t have that as a child and I want to make sure she does. I want to steer her in the direction of science, logic, and reason, but she needs to come to her conclusions on her own. I hope that she’ll naturally choose reason over religion, and I think she will. It’s just so tough to hear her say she believes.

If you’re going through this with your child, hang in there. Remember they’re still young, and their minds are developing. Guide them, but don’t try to force them to believe as you do. The best you can do is show them the path and hope they take it after they’ve weighed all the evidence.

 

Summertime, baby, yeah!

Just a quick update. I was counting down the days until I didn’t have to wake the girls every morning, get them fed and dressed, and trudge to school in my PJ’s (and sans bra) to get them to school on time. Three days into summer vacation, they were fighting like cats and dogs. It. Was. Insane. I had to play the referee and it was getting old. They’re calming down now, with the novelty of being home together all day wearing off.

I’m enjoying having them home, even though I still have to get work done during the day. But I have fun things planned if this crazy tornado weather would ever give us a break. A new children’s museum opened up nearby, and I’d love to take them there to see what it’s all about. We got a zoo membership, so science activities are well covered. And a favorited family member is officially moving to town today, which includes two cousins/playmates for the kiddos. Super fun.

Anyway, not much is happening in the way of excitement. With school being over, we’re now able to choose who we spend our time with and what people we’re around. It’s been nice to get a break from the religious zealots that dominate our small community and school.

Anyway, if updates are few and far between over the next few months, rest assured I’m spending some quality time with my little freethinkers. I’m immersing them in fun activities, scientific exploration, and some general everyday couch snuggling. :) Happy summer!

We are ok!

If you’re wondering, the recent tornado outbreak that occurred in Oklahoma completely missed my area. Our family and our loved ones are fine. Others, however, were not so fortunate. The devastation is terrible. There are still several children missing.

It’s always hard for atheists in Oklahoma to be a part of social media during times of crisis. Everyone is praying, but I’m not. I’m taking action – donating, doing. Please, if you can help, donate to Atheists Giving Aid’s Oklahoma relief effort. It’s difficult to live here sometimes, but I still love this state. Let’s take action!

Go check out this post about an outspoken atheist child…

This is such a great post over on the Friendly Atheist blog about raising a polite but confident atheist child. Check it out here!

Not my normal post style, but I wanted to share. :)