Thursday, August 7, 2014

How Edel 14 Surprised Me

Update: For those of you unfamiliar with the Edel Gathering, it was a get together as a break for mothers. It's not meant to be a women's conference and I think it is filling a great niche that needs to be met. I'm not trying to say that it should be anything other than what it is, but I am saying that I'm glad that there may be a start of a discussion of how we can all be a greater community and support to each other, even when our paths in life are not quite the same.

I didn't go (obviously). I think it's a wonderful thing and a wonderful idea, but it's not for me. From the very beginning, it was meant to be this place where mothers can go and get support from each other and laugh and enjoy themselves with a brief respite from the cares of child raising. Let me say it again. I think this is a good thing, a necessary thing, a beautiful thing. But it is yet another place where I am left behind.

I am blessed to have many Catholic friends, and when I am in a circle of friends, I don't notice too much of a problem. We share each others lives, whatever that looks like for us at the time. Still, there are those moments. Like the one time where the conversation turned to how to get poop stains out of onesies. I got nothing, y'all. In those moments, it's so hard to be there. It's even worse when you're with friends, but also there's acquaintances and people meeting for the first time. Now the talk REALLY turns to those bonding experiences like pregnancy, birthing, breastfeeding, sleep training, discipline and whatnot. That's where it gets really hard. How can I get to know people when the "getting to know you" gig is all about stuff that I don't know? And the stuff that I do know is not something that moms of young children have any time to concern themselves with. This isn't anyone's fault, this is just the dynamic that happens.

When I first heard about the Edel conference, I just laughed a little to myself (maybe a little darkly, but at least it was a laugh). A whole weekend of those types of interactions, talks about being Catholic moms, and conversations revolving around Catholic mom stuff? No, thank you. It's a good thing I'm not really invited! All too often when I do read some of the bloggers that were going there, I have little to nothing to even say to topics they are posting about, even if I enjoyed reading about it or it made me think.  For a while, I couldn't even read Catholic mom blogs. It just hurt too much. In the last few years, I have started to read several, many of whom did go to Edel. I now really enjoy reading these blogs and the latest escapades various children. I love that they have made me appreciate in a new way how much of a struggle it really is to be wife and mother, even though it is also beautiful. I wish I could find a better way to interact, but I'm not going to lie, it's hard to find a way to connect, and I mostly continue as a reader and (mostly) lurker. And even though I think the idea of Edel is great, I admit that I was also a little sad, because here's this other great way for all these bloggers to connect and because I'm not a mother, I'm left even more to the outside that I already am.

Once Edel happened, I knew there would be a slew of blog posts about it, and I figured I could just skip those. But then I saw this one, and I thought, "Holy sh- moly! Someone actually saw it? Wow!" Then Cari followed it up with this article, and another blogger talked about it briefly here.

Here's the thing. All of the lovely women who (thank God!) do not have to be aware of what it is to be single or in/subfertile sitting in a pew week after week and going home to a too quiet house are not ignoring those of us who do know all too much about it. It's just that even though we all want more community and to be there for each other in all aspects of life, to learn from each other and help each other, even if we don't fully understand what the other is going through, we just don't always know how. As I watch this conversation begin, it seems like a fantastic place to start.

Can I also just throw a HUGE shout out to those of you that read here frequently as the mothers of several to many children and have been a big support to me in my struggles.  As well as to those of you who are also in that either single or sub/infertile life that are such a huge support and let me know that you get it and that I'm not as badly insane as I feel some days. ;) Also, to those of you who were struggling with this and went to Edel anyway. That is not an easy thing to do (as I said, I couldn't even consider it), and I admire your courage and willingness to open yourself up to that pain... Leading to the fact that there is this conversation.



14 comments:

  1. I appreciate this post. I really look forward to your comments on my posts, so I am happy you read my blog :) And I love coming here to read what you have to say. I don't always have anything great to add in the comments, but I always enjoy what you write about.

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  2. I hope you know who much I love you and your blog! Yes, all of these reflective posts coming from bloggers about a topic that is near and dear to my heart…well, it has definitely been an interesting week. I loved both of Cari's contributions - the original blog post and the article (even if the article had some umm…"interesting" comments). I think next year's Edel (well, at least I hope) will be filled with Catholic women from all walks of life and that there will be a wide variety of topics…and believe me getting poop out of onesies is a topic I don't even want to discuss! :) Great post M!

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    1. I didn't read the comments to the article, and I think I'll leave that one alone. I actually think it's fine if the conference continues to be geared primarily towards moms. I think there are great benefits to being able to share a particular struggle together where people "get" where you're coming from. Not everything can address every need. I just love that people are becoming more aware of other struggles and needs that can possibly be addressed in other places.

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  3. Edel definitely was a Catholic mom's conference which is why I am not really into reading stuff from it. I am glad that a lot of the bloggers who did attend are bringing up this pain they are struggling with due to miscarriage or secondary infertility or they noticed that someone was struggling with this pain. The interesting thing is the woman who the conference is named after was single so that's kinda cool. I think if people really care about you or getting to know you they will take the time to ask about things you are doing or interested in no matter how many little ones they are taking care of, at least that is my experience.

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  4. Never heard of Edel until this week. Had to look at the blog. I agree with Kat, if people want to get to know you as well...it shouldn't matter if you have children or not...you are a person with purpose and I can say...you have some interesting stories and your job...that's a discussion in itself. Do you really want to connect with someone who is close minded anyways?

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    1. I really don't think anyone is being close minded in this case. I think that it's more a case of some people that were unaware or minimally aware of the struggle that some people face when they want more than anything to have that large family and are not able to for whatever reason. Or perhaps people that are aware on some level, but have no idea what to do.

      In my opinion, if there is a lack of connection, it's something that comes from both sides. Most likely these moms would be just as interested in meeting me as I would be to meet them, but it might take a little more work to find that common ground when we are coming from different situations in life. Nothing wrong with that, just the reality of the situation. I'm only hoping that more conversation opens more doors to that.

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  5. OK this may seem odd.

    Its a case of the missing tile syndrome.

    I feel 'stuck' at times at home. Just this week I was 'excited' to go to a wake, because my sister-in-law had the kids for the day. I make efforts to go to alumni/professional events twice a year, as me time.

    I don't home school and no talent in home ecomomics. I'm a terrible home maker. I love the blogs, but Edel wouldn't be my ideal retreat.

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  6. I do love the idea of Edel, though I wish they could have made it a Catholic women's retreat, not just a Catholic moms' retreat. Then they could have break-out sessions that cater to our individual needs: being mom, being infertile, being single, etc. I think that would have been way more inclusive, and wouldn't be any more difficult to arrange. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think Edel was meant specifically for moms. I'm pretty sure no one meant any harm by aiming it only at Catholic moms, but it shows something we're already very aware of: that us singles and infertiles are often forgotten. It see it very much in the blogosphere as well. It's not like I want a ton of followers or anything, but mommy blogs are WAY more popular. The only IF blog I've seen with lots of followers was an IVF/surrogacy/embryo adoption blog. Sigh. So, to see all these mommy bloggers talking about the invisible struggle has given me some hope. Perhaps next year Edel will be more open to women from all walks, not just the mommy walk. I mean, the only way we're all going to make it thru is if we truly love and support each other, carrying each others' crosses when necessary. That would be a beautiful thing. Edel was a far cry from bringing all us women together, but it seems it might be headed that way. One can hope, anyway. Thanks for a great reflection, girl!

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    1. I know what you mean that it seems like you have to have the ticket of husband and passel of cute children to get "in" with the Catholic blogosphere. I know that's not always how it is, but it feels like it sometimes. As far as I know, Edel was for moms. I certainly didn't see anything that suggested otherwise. Which is why I won't be going! However, like I've said before, I think that if it stays about moms, that's fine, too. I do think it's fine to have those niche things, though obviously we're sensitive because we're already left out of some very important things in life, so here's one more thing! I don't want to say that Edel should become anything in particular. I think that if the calling is felt to minister to mothers, then that's what it should be. If it's meant to minister to Catholic women, then that might require a bit of change up. I don't want anyone to feel bad about having a conference for Catholic moms. But if some of the fruit of that is more conversation between Catholic women from all different situations in life, then hallelujah!

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  7. Edel is new for me, but from the sounds of it i dont think i could handle it. You are brave for reading Catholic mom blogs, i dont know if i could do it, except for a few select. I know that being a mon is probably one of the most difficult jobs out there, so im glad there is a place for support. I think those struggling with singleness and infertility need support too. So glad its edith steins feastday today, i love her perspective on the value of the feminine vocation, in all aspects of society, not just family life.

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  8. I am glad for the blogs of Cari and others who have shown compassion for those of us struggling with singleness and/or infertility. I'm glad they are trying to understand - and at least shine the light towards us.
    I think it is a good idea to have the Edel conference, but do like Stephanie's suggestion about making it a women's conference and then breaking off into sub groups when needed. Not just moms.

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  9. I had a similar reaction to you when I heard about Edel. "Oh, that's not for me." I wish I were a mom so I could have gone (or considered it) because it sounded quite appealing. But I like how you point out that it was filling a niche that needed to be met. From what I've read of the people who went, it sounds like it was just the spiritual/emotional boost that they needed, and I'm glad for that.

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  10. I kinda think we all can learn lots from each other and if they opened it up even in their language it would make more women feel welcome. Adding the the words, "motherhood in all it's forms" or "spiritual motherhood" (although that can be a loaded term...) Motherhood is a broad vocation. That being said, the conference seemed more like a place of refuge for weary women. It didn't seem like they had lots of time for breakout sessions. I'm a teacher. I wouldn't want to go to a conference for engineers. Conferences are really meant to be exclusive for a small, specialized audience. Maybe we should have a single, infertile, subfertile, and all their allies conference!!!! Hmmmm....

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