Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Unexpected Benefits of Being Pregnant

As I draw near to the end of this pregnancy, I have been reflecting on the positive side of these nine months. Of course there are the obvious benefits like getting to park in the expectant mother stall at Kroger or being able to count my ice cream ration as my "calcium supplement" ... but there have also been a few surprising pros that I didn't notice the first time around.

Benefit: first in line for the awesome food at your baby shower.

1. I know what the bottom of my belly button looks like. Don't deny that you've always wondered if you truly knew the depths of your navel--what was down there, whether it was alive or not, whether it was connected to some vital organ on the other side that you might damage if you probed with too much ambition. Now I know the secrets of the belly button. I can live there happily for some time, so whenever you feel like dying, feel free to visit.

2. No post-feast belly-bulge guilt. You know when you eat too much and it seems like the best idea in the world is unbuttoning your pants? Or else you are semi-consciously trying to "suck it in" to avoid looking like you are preggo? Guess what ... this all changes when you are actually pregnant! No more unbuttoning your pants because .... you are already wearing God's gift to pregnant women: stretchy pants! And there is no pressure to maintain a flat-bellied facade because everyone knows there's a baby in there ... perfectly able to camouflage the additional burrito baby you just ingested. Nom nom nom.

Dress slacks or stretchy pants? STRETCHY PANTS!!

3. You don't have to stand up during the rest hymn at church. Uh ... REST hymn. I really hate standing up to sing. I hated doing the Primary program every year for this reason. Up and down, up and down, up and down--INSANITY. These days, the exuberance of the chorister as she beckons the congregation to stand makes me surly. I know, I am a sinner ... but when you are pregnant you have a get-out-of-standing-free card. Brandish it shamelessly and keep your tush on the pew with pride.

What surprise bonuses have you experienced during pregnancy?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Future Conference Talk Fodder: Why You Should Run Over Squirrels

It's not like I'm aspiring to any calling or anything, but I figure I'd better be prepared for whatever comes my way, whether it be a spot at the legendary walnut podium or else at the front of a dimly lit early morning seminary classroom. Or maybe just on the couch across from my kids during FHE one night.

Found a peanut, found a peanut!

My experience: I was driving through my neighborhood a few days ago when two small squirrels rushed into the street in front of me from either side. I slowed a bit to allow them both to quickly get out of the way, like most squirrels know to do, but they both loitered in the middle of the road. So I pressed my brakes a little harder, giving them even more time to get out of my tires' path of impending doom. They finally scampered off the road, alive to chase each other up and down our neighborhood's pines for another day, all thanks to my merciful benevolence. For a few seconds I congratulated myself on not sacrificing the squirrels to the whims of my not-so-pressing schedule. But then I realized the more likely reality: by allowing those dumb adolescent squirrels to live I had inadvertently weakened the local squirrel gene pool. Perhaps the two survivors will now survive to maturity and have the chance to pass on their lack of a healthy fear of minivans. Those incautious squirrels will also continue to compete with other, smarter squirrels for resources. The wheels of my Toyota Sienna could have been the instruments of ecological harmony and justice, but instead I allowed my misplaced sense of mercy to allow two genetic scabs to exist one day longer in the delicate biome that is the Garden Oaks subdivision.

Oops, sorry.

This is where I would clarify that this isn't a metaphor about eugenics or evolution (save that for the fringe BYU biology professors), but rather a parable the helps us see how allowing weaknesses (however cute and fluffy and seemingly harmless) to fester in ourselves ultimately weakens us as a whole. We shouldn't have pet (punny!) sins or weaknesses that we allow to survive because we think they're funny or something that makes us interesting. Obviously there are seasons in our lives when we are focusing on different areas of our character, but that doesn't mean we look at a neglected area of our souls and rejoice that it's still not where it should be. It's one thing to acknowledge your weaknesses--and I'm all for self-deprecating humor--but it bugs me when people point to their flaws like they are badges of self-identity and coolness, like they're saying, "Look at all these awesome dumb squirrels I haven't killed, yet! Aren't I great?" All the while those dumb squirrels are breeding and taking resources away from the strong squirrels in your metaphorical ecosystem soul.

Be righteous. Run the squirrel over.