“If only you knew how mean she really is… You’d know that I’m not allowed to wear hoop earrings, right? Yeah! Two years ago she told me hoops earrings were her thing and I wasn’t allowed to wear them anymore. And then for Hanukkah my parents got this pair of really expensive white gold hoops and I had to pretend like I didn’t even like them and it was so sad. And you know she cheats on Aaron? Yes, every Thursday he thinks she’s doing SAT prep but really she’s hooking up with Shane Oman in the projection room above the auditorium! I never told anybody that because I am such a good friend!”  -Gretchen Weiners in the movie “Mean Girls”

(This was written originally is 2011, and updated in 2021)

Right before my husband and I started dating he went to live with The Missionary’s of Charity in Denver Colorado at an AIDS hospice.  A sector of Mother Teresa’s Sisters, he volunteered with them for four months.  In the last two weeks he lived there, I used a paycheck from my job at Mr. C’s Pizza in Yakima Washington and bought a plane ticket to go visit him. I was a Senior in High School and told my parents after I purchased the ticket, and I still to this day cannot believe they let me go. But since I would be staying with a bunch of nuns and volunteering I think they assumed I wouldn’t get in trouble.  The point of sharing this is not to say that Grace could ever get away with this sort of thing, which she couldn’t…EVER, or that I must’ve been a dream child for my parents to let me go, which I wasn’t.  At that time I was considering becoming a nun, so visiting my future husband who was getting ready to enter the seminary to be a priest but who at the time was just a friend who I thought repeatedly about marrying was actually a really amazing gift and way to start off a relationship that has been going on for the past 25 years. How’s that for rambling with a run on sentence?!

The nuns were amazing and holy, and completely human. While there,  I heard them say repeatedly to each other, “Is it better to be right or to be holy?”  Sometimes it was a question, sometimes it was as a statement.  When they said it, it cut all extra away from what was happening in the moment and the air changed.  It is a phrase that I have thought a lot about the past month, and has really made me think about who I want to be.  Who I should strive to become?

Is it better to be right or be holy?

I first started thinking about it after two days of reading some blanketed insults on Facebook. These insults were said a month or two ago …and  as much as I love being able to reconnect with certain friends, and feeling like I’m a part of my siblings day-to-day lives, I’ve begun to see the reasons why Chris got rid of his account.  People feel this need to better themselves by putting other people down, whether it’s because of a stupid sports team preference or even family planning.  Sometimes its religion, or politics, and sometimes I think people just argue with anything anyone says just to argue.  It’s draining, and there have been many times when my first thought has been to show how right I am, say my piece…but really there’s no point.  I’m realizing more and more the value of not saying anything, because I think life gives us enough drama without playing into crap on the internet.  Because some people just are mean. It’s that simple.

But it’s not just on the internet, or Facebook, it’s at our kids sports games, and in the PTA meetings. It’s at family gatherings or any place where you get people together with differing opinions and usually where someone wants to validate something.  I’ve seen it a lot in the past couple years in my own family, people who I loved and respected have become mean, spiteful, gossipy people.  I’ve seen it in the passive aggressiveness that comes from jealousy.   This under current of “I’m afraid you are judging me, so I’ll judge you.” or “Let me show you the level of my commitment to my choices and totally rip on yours, because I am better than you and you suck.”  And no this doesn’t happen all the time, and no not everyone is this way or extreme, but I’ve seen it enough since I’ve become a wife and mother to know that it happens, and to know that not everything that I’ve done is for everyone.  I also am the first to admit that I’ve made a million mistakes and had to learn from every one of them.

And I’ll admit it. I can be catty at times. I’ve gossiped about the Mom who laughed as her child was pushing my daughter down over and over and said in a sing song-y voice, “No, no, nooooo.” In fact my best friend Amy has the text messages to prove it.  I’ve also judged someone immediately after I met them when their first statement to me was, “Did I meet you at the club? It seems that’s where I see everyone.” And no they didn’t meet me at the “club” but they made sure I knew they belonged there. See? Me = Catty.

This is all even more apparent to me now that I have my Grace. And especially now that Grace is getting ready to head back to hybrid Middle School. I feel like we’ve kept her in this safe cocoon of family. She’s still Young.

I’ve read countless articles about how we need to work with our girls helping them to avoid being “mean” adults, but if we are mean to each other what is the freaking point? It’s like when someone bullies someone else for a differing opinion and calls it “discussing.” Yeah, whatever, bullying is bullying…discussing is actually listening to someone else and then sharing your opinion. I’ve never seen meanness like I’ve seen this last year. I blame it all on the beast that is what we’ve created in social media and news culture. We are all to blame.

If there is one thing I know these days is that nobody is perfect, and we could all do with a little more kindness and a lot less scrutiny.  I know I have some big opinions about certain things but sometimes it’s better to just be holy. And by holy, I mean…to shut it. Shush. Be quiet. Not say anything. Be silent.  And I’m not talking about if someone is in danger or is hurting themselves or someone else, or when God is truly calling us to speak up. And wear a mask because it’s about protecting other people. When did caring about others become a bad thing?

I know I’m not the wisest, or holiest, but I’ve been a woman my whole life, and a wife and a mother for a while now and I need to set an example in my own home first.

What do I want Grace to learn about being a woman?

That she can be feminine and strong.  That she can fight back when she’s being bullied.  That it’s never okay to make fun of someone else.  That you don’t have to pretend to be someone you’re not to have people like you. That being beautiful is not about what you wear, it’s about how you treat others, but mascara is a gift from God and mom-jeans don’t look good on anyone when they are riding SO high and I don’t care what any influencer says. A “friend” or “boyfriend” who calls you names, makes fun of you, hurts you is not your friend or your boyfriend, they are losers.(same goes for my boys in relationships) When someone loves you, they will not be mean to you. A gossip is a gossip is a gossip.  That Real Love is not selfish and jealous, or all-consuming. Real Love is staying true to yourself and growing with someone, not changing for them.   And that she is never ever alone…that we will fight for her when she’s depressed, we will fight for her when all the forces of this world threaten to make her feel less that who she really is…worthy of greatness. And we will be there when she needs us because we love her… she is a child of God who is going to be a woman of God.

Lessons for being a wife:

This is hard because I can’t imagine my Grace being anyone’s wife, she’s my baby…but this is off the top of my head. And this is only if she decides to get married. She doesn’t have to. But just in case she should have high standards. That romance is not overrated.  That you should be able to wear sweats or a dress and still feel beautiful. That you should always feel honored, and be honoring.   That you have to learn how to balance a budget and listen to each other, and that having a rich life  is not about money. That being healthy is a necessity to a healthy marriage. Laugh at yourself.  Marriage is hard.  Super duper hard. Sometimes you have to disagree, and stick up for yourself, and sometimes you have to just have to let them wear the poop colored mechanic’s suit with the fur collar to the soccer game and just pretend you don’t know them.   And that it’s a partnership…Never take any moment for granted.  Ever. And parenting is a team effort. It’s not a one person deal. And if that person isn’t willing to pray with you and for you, they shouldn’t be the person you are marrying.

So what kind of lesson do I want to teach my daughter about being a Mother?

Do not take having children for granted. It is a miracle and a gift.  And when you have kids…It does not make you less of a mother if you have an epidural(though when I was in labor with all my kids I went hiking up hill both ways while timing my contractions and shaving my legs…not really). It does not make you less of a mother if you end up having a c section(I have given birth vaginally and had a c section and thought the c section was just as amazing). It does not make you less of a mother if you cannot breastfeed, or have to give up breastfeeding early.  It does not make you less of a Mom if you adopt your children.  It doesn’t make you less of a Mother if you work or stay home, or if you have to put your kids in the gym daycare just to have a date with a treadmill.  It does not make you less of a Mom if you don’t home-school or send your kids to a private school.   Being a Mom is the hardest job you will ever have, there are times when you are covered in poop and puke.  And we don’t need alcohol to be a good parent, we need to stop normalizing that- and stop joking about that. Period. It’s ok to have a drink once in a while, but not if it’s becoming something we need. We need water. We need food. We need Jesus. We don’t need wine. That’s not me being catty. That’s me being real sisters, because I love you.  Because parenting is super hard, and adding addiction in makes it even harder. There are times when they are crying, and you still can’t figure out how to help them on their math.  Their hearts will be broken and your heart will physically ache for them… but it is worth every second.even when they are teenagers, and they break your heart every damn day.

And Lessons for being Holy:

I’m still trying to figure that out.  I still have a hard time trusting God when I see bad things happen to amazing people, when I witness the people I love the most having to fight cancer, when I still battle my own weakness.  I still feel the pressure to be more beautiful, to have more possessions, to fit in…but really we all know that having all those things doesn’t mean life will be good or work.  But I know, I know that prayer works. I know that Faith helps.  And I know that God loves me.  My prayer is that all my kids will find comfort in a God that is always present, and that they can learn to forgive others and live a life that is good and holy.  I’m not praying for perfect, I’m praying for happiness for them, that they feel and know Love.

And to the teacher who told me before they found out I had a learning disability that I wasn’t College Material, I went to College and didn’t get anything under a B.  To the boy who told me he could never date me because my skin was whiter than paper…I will look young when I’m old and porcelain skin will be back in style someday.  To the girls who spit on me and pulled my hair at my private elementary school and said I was ugly – I wasn’t, I wish I knew that then, but I know it now. I pray for you every day. I hope you are happy. I have a lot of regrets in life that keep me up at night, but I am thankful I was never ever mean.

But to all the people who have hurt my kids, I pray often that you are less annoying and mean, and there is some divine Justice, or that I get a chance to tell you off someday…except that I’ve promised my kids I won’t…sooooo…I’ll pray for you or whatever….

Yep, still working on that Holy thing. Pray for me would you?

I’m praying for you every day.