Fiona and I have been busy writing, but not blog posts.
She’s been writing sentences in kindergarten. I’ve been sorting out a book-project, but I’ve also been writing essays and such that come out in fragmented messes, require many drafts, take months to finish, stretch my brain, and propel me down research avenues like, “What’s the advice medical professionals give pregnant women?” and “What do disability scholars have to say about Jesus’ healings?”
I asked both of those questions in the past year while I was trying to get two different essays right. Several weeks ago, I published those two essays. Vela Magazine featured “SuperBabies Don’t Cry,” which confesses to my striving for a “perfect” pregnancy when I was first carrying Fiona, and unravels a thread of ableism both in my life and in society at large. Here’s a snippet:
…After a shift change, when a new nurse entered my room (someone who hadn’t just seen me squeeze a person from my vagina without medication), she asked a question that felt like a slap: “Did you take drugs while pregnant?”
No, nurse, I wanted to say. I took superfoods. I took reiki. I took electronica chords and affirmations.
This is the moment when I realized perhaps I hadn’t made a SuperBaby after all. And this, looking back five years later, was a good failure, the very best of my many failures to date.
The Jesuit publication, America Magazine, published my attempt at answering a question that has been plaguing me for a few years now: “Was Jesus a Crappy Disability Advocate?” (The editors didn’t keep that as the final title, probably because you shouldn’t put “Jesus” and “crappy” in a sentence together.) The answers in that essay are only partial, and I think I’ll be chewing on that question for a while, but here’s the first bit:
Over the past year, I started reading chunks of the Bible every day, and I was surprised by the man I met. I did not encounter the Jesus of my Baptist upbringing, that shampoo-commercial brunette who smiled beside children and lambs. I encountered a Jesus who pushes against the rules of religious and cultural authority. He says, I know your laws. I’m healing on the Sabbath. He says, Scratch your tribal divides, I’m drinking water with a Samaritan woman.
But on the subject of disability, I found a Jesus that is, frankly, disappointing. He usually does precisely what disability advocates rail against. He reinforces the idea that the disabled body is broken, damaged. He treats the disabled body as something to fix….“I’ve got a bone to pick with Jesus,” I said to my husband, an Episcopal priest. “Why does his primary miracle have to be un-disabling the disabled?”
America Magazine also invited me to their podcast, so if you want to hear me talking more about this essay and other stuff (we somehow meandered into “parenting in the age of social media,”) you can find that conversation here.
I’ve been writing a essays about my girl for about five years now. Six years into her life, Fiona has officially written her first essay about me. Fine-motor tasks are hard for her, so she’s not yet writing letters, but she’s working on sight-reading. Her speech therapist helped her compose this little ditty for Mother’s Day. The transcript is below the image. I can attest to the essay’s nonfictional nature.
[Fiona’s essay: “My mom likes hats. I like hats. My mom eats ham. I eat ham. My mom likes yoga with me. I love my mom.”]
Until next time…