I like to follow the rules. I'm a little weird about it, and my husband sometimes gets annoyed, and at the very least, likes to make fun of me. If you are wondering what types of behaviors warrant my husband poking jokes at me, read on. I will share.
Example #1: Last winter a couple moms and I would take our kids to the local YMCA to swim. The open time in which we were allowed to swim ended at noon. At 11:57 if my kids weren't making their way towards the edge of the pool my heart rate would start to rise, and my gentle reminders of, "It's almost time to get out," (which incidentally started around 11:45) quickly transformed into a much more irritated, "It's time to get out, now!" I don't know what would have happened if 12:01 would have rolled around and they were still swimming. I realized this was a little strange when I noticed that it could be 12:02 or 12:03 and my friends might still be calmly and happily gathering their little swimmers from the pool, while I stood flustered and panicked from the close call I had getting my kids out of the water on time! :)
Examples #2 and #3: Do you need to use your turn signals if there is no one around? I do. I turn on my blinker when leaving our driveway, when we're out in the middle of nowhere, and even sometimes to turn into the garage FROM the driveway...where else would I be going?!!! That one, and the fact that no matter what, I will not, under any circumstances change lanes after the dotted white line turns solid, are the ones that REALLY drive my husband nuts. The conversation goes something like this: My husband, "Change lanes." Me, "The line is solid." My husband, "So, there is no one around, change lanes." Me, "I can't the line is solid. You are not supposed to change lanes when the line is solid." Life in the van gets really colorful when he's driving.
Example #4: Sometimes when it's really, really, cold out and there is a 4 inch layer of slush in the parking lot I am tempted to not put my cart back...but I ALWAYS do. You are supposed to.
Example #5: My almost 11 year old is still in a high back booster seat...come on, it's the national recommendation for kids to be in a booster seat until they are 4'9", and she's short, like me. I know it's not the law, but how can I not follow the recommendation??? Okay, even I am embarrassed about this one. Lucky for me she isn't embarrassed and actually likes it because she can see better.
I like the rules, and I like to follow the rules.
One day six years ago I decided I was tired of following the rules. I was pregnant. I was sick. I was tired of being sick. I had gone through two full term pregnancies, and 18 weeks of a third one, following every rule I could find. I followed rules people had never even heard of. Sometimes I felt stupid for following those rules. That day, I resented following all the rules. That day, I decided I was going to break a rule. That's right, I was tired of being the only pregnant woman I knew who avoided cold meat during pregnancy. We were at a funeral dinner and I wanted a ham sandwich. I decided it was my day to break the rules. I was going to break a rule and eat the ham sandwich. My husband, who doesn't mind my "following the rules" during pregnancy said, "You can't eat that ham sandwich." I responded with irritation telling him I was tired of being the only pregnant woman who DOESN'T eat deli meat. I proceeded to tell him I was going to eat the ham sandwich, and did.
Two weeks later our baby was dead.
It was a few days after delivery before I remembered the ham sandwich, and how I had broken the rule. My husband's plea for me to not eat the sandwich echoed throughout my head. I broke into hyperventilating sobs. I was certain that my act of disobedience and rebellion had killed our baby. I crawled into the confessional, a sobbing mess. Father talked a little bit of sense into me, but the truth is I would never know if it was that sandwich that killed our baby or not. Father didn't think so, and my Ob/Gyn actually laughed when I shared my theory with him. This helped. He remarked that about 95% of woman eat deli meat during pregnancy, and that he very highly doubted the ham sandwich had anything to do with our son's death. "Highly doubted," still left room for me to wonder though, and I still do.
I still wonder, but I don't spend much time beating myself up about it anymore. Reason that was not able to penetrate my mind in the weeks after his death, is now present in my mind, and I too, really do doubt that it was the ham sandwich. It doesn't really matter, even if it was. Nothing happens without God allowing it to happen and He brings good out of every situation offered to Him. I have never felt closer to Him or more dependent upon Him, than in the weeks and months after our loss. For a very long time I unsuccessfully held back tears every time I received Him in the Holy Eucharist after the death of our baby. The tears came in the same way that tears come when you are going through something rough and you see a friend, someone you know who loves you unconditionally. Maybe it's your mother or father, maybe your husband or wife, maybe your best friend. When all you need to do is look at them and know that they know just how awful everything is, and you know that they "get" it, and are there for you. That is what every Holy Communion was like for me during that time. I grew closer to Him. I'd count that as something good coming from something bad.
Tomorrow, October 27, is the six year anniversary of the silent birth of our 20 week old son. I try to allow the memories of him around this time of year to resurface and I'm not sure why, but this year, that dreaded ham sandwich came to mind again. Perhaps it's an issue I've shoved aside and the Holy Spirit is prompting me to reflect upon it once again. Maybe I need to forgive myself one more time. Maybe. I don't really know, but I do know that all the crazy things I share on this blog, tend to lead to healing for me, so I'm guessing that whatever the reason is, some ham sandwich healing is in store.
P.S. Listeria, I don't like you.
P.P.S. Maybe it's pride. Maybe I think if I follow all the rules nothing bad is going to happen, and that's just not the case. Maybe that's what I'm supposed to learn from all of this. Maybe it's just plain pride rearing it's ugly head in yet another way. So many weeds, so many weeds...