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…
Fiona looks so pleased with herself in the last image!
Thank you, Heather! I love Fiona’s essay. I hope someday my son will have words to give me.
Thank you for the “America” essay. As a fellow skeptical church-goer, I think about this subject all the time in relation to my son, and you put many of my feelings into words. The comments from others are disappointing.
Love Fiona’s essay, too!
PHENOMENAL Jesus article! I loved it. And I totally agree with your husband. We don’t know what the miracle was. Lost in translation is a key concern of mine. And I tend to think it was often miracles of perspective and hope, transcending the present experience.
I like to think that Jesus would be a real dude. Ok with the swearing on the hard days, the frustration of the able-ists, and completely with you in the marvel of Fiona’s perfection.
Thank you for sharing.
I LOVE your piece in America Magazine. There is so much I resonate with, and I especially appreciate the lack of unicorns and rainbows (yet your love and acceptance of your daughter is unquestionable). Thank you for that piece. Do you do talks open to the public? I will have to listen to the podcast.
Thankyou so much. I’ve struggled with the whole ‘jesus’ healing thing too. My kid doesn’t need healing! It’s those around her who can’t see her value as a human being that might be more in need.
Missing you Heather. Hope all is well with you and your family. (Missing your little girls too) 😀.