It’s funny. I think back to when I read, Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret. I remember it as the book about the girl who gets her period and is excited about growing breasts to fit into her new bra (We must, we must increase in our bust.) And yet, it was about so much more than that. The real conflict of the story was somehow buried in my memory bank and all that remained at the forefront were the bathroom humor parts you giggled about with your girlfriends.
Rather than remembering her religious conflict, I remember bras, periods and maxi pads — and the even more salacious scenes between Katherine and Michael in Forever by Judy Blume. I know I read Forever way before I probably should have. I also went to Six Flags and the mall unescorted by adults way before I probably should have. I had a Skipper doll named Ginger who grew breasts when you turned her arm. Huh? (We must, we must increase in our bust.) I chalk all of this up to the fact that it was the 70’s. I say it often — we’re all lucky we made it out alive.
It’s week 14 and my tummy has definitely “popped.” I suddenly have this belly I have to navigate. My belly button looks different. It looks like I have a muffin-top when I wear jeans. I’m not at a place where anyone would dare ask me if I was pregnant for fear of being slapped. And yet, a part of me is ready to stick it all out there and really be publicly pregnant.
Last night Jonathan and I went to Souplantation for dinner. Exciting, I know. I only mention it because for the past week I have had to take a drug called Zofran before every meal in order to get the nutrition I need for the Dumplings. But last night … no Zofran. No nausea. I kept waiting for it to arrive, Zofran in hand, but it never did.
This is progress.
The interesting thing about being pregnant is how in tune you are with what your body needs. Your body is literally talking to you all day long. Eat this. Drink that. Avoid this. Sleep NOW. Eat grapefruit. Right now my body has me convinced that all onions will kill me, as will all chicken with a breading. Emotional eating is not possible. Your hormones are surging, your body is expanding, things are moving around inside — as natural as the whole process is (give or take a few bumps in the road) there is nothing mindless about it. I have never been so in my body and in the moment.
Today I met with Brenda, a blogger at Secret Agent Josephine and an amazing artist. She is going to be designing the masthead (top of the blog) for the new Terrilox blog design. I got a sneak peak of what she is planning, and I am very excited. We spoke for awhile and one of the things that came up during our conversation was religion. You always know someone is a kindred spirit on some level when you can have an unemotional conversation about religion.
This brief conversation got me to thinking about Are You There, God? It’s Me Margaret. As I was driving later in the day, I begin to ponder her religious conflict between Christianity and Judaism. Her mother was Christian and her father was Jewish. At the time, I honestly do not think I had ever met a Jewish person, or if I had, I did not know it. I did, however, have a Jehovah Witness in my 5th grade class. I only remember this because she wore dresses and was not allowed to dance.
I know the lack of a defined religious dogma in my life left me always searching, and in many ways it has made me more connected. More curious. And given all the work I have done to get to this point, my faith is pretty solid, and for this I am grateful.
Later in the afternoon, I went to Ellen’s yoga class for the first time in two weeks. No nausea. No fatigue. I found myself completely surrendering to the mat, trying to navigate this growing bump in the front of my belly. I was so happy to be there, I tried to embrace the struggles brought on by the added weight on the front of my body.
Towards the end of class, as we’re down on our mats in bridge pose, I begin to think about Margaret’s internal religious conflict and wonder about the Dumplings? I’m not going to get into a deep contemplative blog about the role faith will play in our family life and how it will manifest as the Dumplings grow, but it is on my mind. Jonathan and I will be navigating these waters together. As two Jewish people with secular tendencies — not overly religious by nature — we both see the journey ahead. For this, I am again, grateful.
I’ve always believed each person has an individual relationship with God. Throughout all the searching I have done in my life, I was always talking and praying; solidifying our methods of communication. After all, it’s a relationship, not a religion. The ritual of religion is important, but ultimately the quality of the relationship we have with God is what sustains us. Even if the relationship is no belief at all, it’s a decision not to have one.
I came home and found this excerpt from the book, which I vaguely remembered as I went in search of it:
Are you there, God? It’s me, Margaret. I’ve been looking for you, God. I looked in temple. I looked in church. And today I looked for you when I wanted to confess. But you weren’t there. I didn’t feel you at all. Not the way I do when I talk to you at night. Why, God? Why do I only feel you when I’m alone?
Like I said, it’s a relationship. How faith is represented in the home is how children come to know God. Like everything else, they watch you.
So, God, if you are there, it’s me, Terry. I’m pretty sure I’ve found you, but I am so very far from a model student. I’ve looked in churches, temples, synagogues, on yoga retreats in Maya Tulum and even at the summit of Macchu Piccu. And, like Margaret, the times I feel you’re presence the strongest are when we’re alone. I hope over the next several years you can help us navigate the journey to know you for our children. We think it’s pretty important. Make that very important. Thank you.