I’m not the most fervently practicing Episcopalian, but I enjoy going to church on a semi-regular basis, and I typically try to give up something for Lent. (Except in years when I’m pregnant – someone asked me when I was enormously pregnant with Georgia what I was giving up for Lent and I snarled, “Not a damned thing because I have already had to give up pretty much everything I love anyway!”) In years past, I have given up, with varying degrees of success, soda, biting my nails, chocolate and gossip. I’m still trying to decide what sacrifice I will make this year (Ruby has already decided: She is giving up Lemonheads, her favorite candy, which is kind of a bummer because she always shares them with me, and they are my favorite candy, too.) But here are three common Lenten sacrifices that I know for certain I will not be making this year:
- Coffee. It’s just not going to happen, ever. One of my favorite “Gilmore Girls” quotes is when Lorelai answers the question, “Do you like coffee?” with “Only with my oxygen.” Almost every night as I’m falling asleep, I think happily, “In the morning, I will get to drink coffee again.” At this point in my life, I don’t even think it would be safe for me to stop drinking coffee. It certainly wouldn’t be safe for those people around me.
- Wine. I like the way wine tastes, sure, but not as much as I like the way wine makes me not want to stab myself in the eye while supervising second grade math homework. I have zero problem with Common Core, but I just still can’t wrap my head around this particular math problem: It takes my kid two hours to do a worksheet – with one hour and 50 minutes of that time spent whining and 10 minutes actually adding and subtracting as directed. (Side note: I had a friend who gave up wine one year for Lent and spent the entire 40-ish days drinking champagne instead. “It’s not wine,” she said. “It’s champagne. It’s totally different.” Tim McNally, weigh in.) Anyway, although it is certainly not a necessity, a glass of wine is a lovely buffer between a long day at work and a long couple of hours of parenting. The wine can stay.
- Social media. I get this one; I truly do. Social media can be addictive and can take us out of the moment, away from our families. I have definitely been guilty of this, and after hearing my 2-year-old say, “Mama, put down your phone and look at me!” I resolved to do better and spend my time on Facebook more judiciously. But I don’t want to give it up completely. I love that I can, from the comfort of my sofa, offer words of support to a friend in Michigan who is struggling with secondary infertility while also chatting with my old college roommate who is struggling to get her son to do his math homework. With two young kids, I’m not able to spend a lot of actual physical time with friends, but being able to stay in touch with them is invaluable to my sanity. I have made a rule to not ever use my phone in the car, at the dinner table, or at bedtime, and I always put my phone down when my kids want my undivided attention. But that still leaves lots of time when Ruby is playing Adventure Beaks and Georgia is assembling some kind of bristle block/My Little Pony wonderland in which I can indulge in some much-needed long-distance adult conversation.
I think maybe instead of giving something up, I will try to do something good instead – give food to a food bank, volunteer as a tutor at Ruby’s school (just not for math!), bake cookies for my neighbors. And of course go to church more often. At least they have coffee there.