The Problem With Purity Rings

After days of conversation and hours of introspection, my husband and I have decided that on our son’s thirteenth birthday we’re giving him a necklace. Unlike the “chains” that so many others boast about this necklace will be a locket. Inside that locket will be a picture of me.

More than just a lovely picture of his forever smiling mother, this locket will be a promise between my son and I. It will be a promise that from the day he receives it to the day he says “I do”, he will love no other woman as much as he loves me. This necklace will be a physical representation of the connection between us. And it will always remind him that no matter what, Mother knows what’s best for him. Every time he wants to make a decision on what to do, he’ll feel the necklace around his neck and will think of me and consider what I’d say in the matter.

*record scratch*

What? Is that too Norman Bates for you?

If the concept of that Mommy Dearest necklace makes your skin crawl, then so should the idea of a daddy-daughter purity ring.

 

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Photo by Jacob Rank on Unsplash

 

Purity rings, also known as promise or chastity rings, are typically given to a young girl in the Evangelical community as a commitment to chastity. A fashionable part of the abstinence-only sex education club, the purity ring is like a wedding ring but in a creepy incestual sort of way. Typically silver and simple, some of the rings have witty little mottos stamped into the metal while some feature a cross wrapped in a lazy sort of swoop way around the finger. Diamonds or their lower cost alternatives are also frequently used.

Instead of being between two consenting adults starting their lives as a wedded couple, the purity ring is typically between father and daughter. It signifies that the daughter will remain chaste until she marries. Since “purity” is all that is clean and beautiful in their world, the ring will help keep the girl on the straight and narrow. It’s a giant bubble of Godliness that protects her from the filth of premarital sex and the temptations of the secular world. Because of course, a young woman’s worth is totally dependant on how “pure” she is. Who needs brains, talent, or personality when you can say you’re morally unsullied?

Two of the high profile organizations responsible for the popularization of the purity ring in America are the True Love Waits* movement and Silver Ring Thing* movement. The mission’s statement on the Silver Ring Thing  (abbreviated as SRT, cause abbreviated are cool) reads:

“To inspire sexual wholeness in this generation through the power of the Gospel.”

It goes on to explain a little bit more:

Silver Ring Thing is a radical response to culture’s view of love and relationships.  Our events inspire teens to defy the meet-up, hook-up, break-up culture of today and discover true life found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. This goes way beyond just ‘purity’ to embrace our identity and pursue a lifestyle that brings honor and glory to God.”

Sounds like some party people right? Part of the allure of groups like this is that they make their message seem hip. Most utilize a concert like atmosphere that rivals most rock bands. Some use comedians and celebrity testimonials to influence their audience.  More than that, they understand how the teenage brain works.

 

 

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Photo by Nicholas Green on Unsplash

 

Peer acceptance is a key element to a young person’s development. If you’ve known a young person for any amount of time, you’re well aware of how important being accepted is to them. So for this movement to prey upon youths desire to fit in is as genius as it is disturbing.

While young people who make pacts to lose their virginity is a topic for countless exposes, tv shows, and movies, the reverse is not true. The market for hive minded purity was largely untapped. That was until these movements began their “Purity is cool! God is rad!” message. Based on the way young people work, the message went viral. Not because it was actually believed but because it was believed in mass.

The creepiness factor of a father, mother, or organization stomping on a child’s bodily integrity is huge. Forcing a child to take a vow on what they do with their body is troublingly archaic. It’s a practice of eliminating the sovereignty of a child before they can fully understand the meaning. While the common joke is to call followers of religions sheep, that’s exactly what this causes. The children grow up not understanding that their body is their own. This causes a dependence upon a hierarchy that puts the child on the bottom with parents and the church standing tall above them.

In Conclusion

The practice of purity rings is troublesome. It’s a restrictive, oppressive act that teaches children they are not in control of the only thing they truly have, their bodies. It is no wonder that we struggle with body autonomy in this country if this practice is so commonplace. So much time was spent wondering how to control what children do with their bodies, no one thought if they should.

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* Call it shitty writing, but I’m not linking to the organizations mentioned in the text above. You’re welcome to Google them on your own. I don’t want to support them by sending any traffic their way. After cruising their pages for information, I feel mighty dirty.

  

 

Inheritance

My family medical history reads like a Cause of Death report

Any one of the illnesses I’m set to inherit

Would be the case close decision

For any dead body in any morgue

Anywhere

And if the high blood pressure, diabetes,

And likelihood of breast and/or ovarian cancer

Doesn’t clock me out early and in excruciating pain

Those genetic mental illnesses will

Double dipped chicken fried depression

Enough borderline to go over the line

[see what I did there?]

With more than a dash of attention deficit disorder

And some potential schizoaffective disorder for good measure

And I’m not even including those addictive personality traits

that course through my family tree

Like sap in the spring

Not that I was ever given any assistance

In learning how to deal with these second-hand things

No one taught me about eating right or exercise

Or even addressed calming techniques to quiet

My brain speeding around like an energy drink loving hamster on a wheel

But my mom did teach me

That chewing up Vicodin makes them work faster

And that drinking beer with a Twizzler is super funny

Both of those lessons came before I turned fifteen

I also learned that it’s okay to throw up after you eat

Its okay to do that in the Ryan’s Steakhouse bathroom during a rare family night out

And that its ok to take so many Oxys that you don’t hear your daughter calling

Or remember how to sign your name on her brand practice logs

I know I won’t be inheriting anything grand when my folks die

At most a couple of used cars,

Maybe an old goat or two

And a trailer overflowing with pill bottles and dust.

And that’s okay,

They’ve already given me enough

 

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Keep Your Village, I Have My Witches

Before we start, I want to be honest. While kicking around the idea for this post in my head, the working title was “Keep Your Tribe, I Have My Witches”. It was a response to how the word “tribe” is used in popular culture.The more I thought about it the more uncomfortable I was with using that word. I don’t want to offend or insult anyone and I know the usage of that word does both. I don’t want to add to the appropriation.The word “village”, especially in connection with witchcraft lore, works just as well.

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Aristotle said, “Man is by nature a social animal”.  Our need for comradery and connectedness is genetic. We, as animals, need each other. But sometimes it’s not that easy. Connecting with others, especially the “wrong” type of others, hurts us more than it helps. Finding the right crowd, the right circle to surround yourself with is so very important. And one of the hardest things you will ever do.

While I pride myself on being a nice person, I am not gregarious by nature. Not only am I a homebody, I’m an introvert who struggles with social anxiety. Honestly, maybe I am a homebody because of those things. Either way, I am not a social creature.

I also am not a collector of people. I know people who pride themselves on collecting friendships, like dead butterflies pinned in shadow boxes. I am not like that. I don’t need a huge chorus of yes wo/men. I feel like this does two things. It either feeds into a cult of personality or it devalues the quality of the friendships. I don’t want a group of fans following me around, regurgitating everything I say. I’m not Jim Jones. I don’t need a fellowship.

What I have, and what I’m exceptionally grateful for, is this small little circle of people who love and cherish me the same way I love and cherish them. What this group lacks in numbers, they make up for in true honest emotion.

From a young age, I was taught by my mother that love comes with strings. Every relationship was a maze through spiderwebs of obligations. It wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I learned that friendship doesn’t come with prerequisites. You just love each other. You support each other. You want the best for each other. It is not a tit for tat set up. No one keeps score. You both strive to be the best you can be and help the other person when they can’t be.
I’m lucky enough to surround myself with magical ladies who inspire me constantly. These women are my support network, my therapist, my comedians, my teachers. They surround me with love and set my creativity on fire. It’s because of them I’ve dived into researching and truly living my Craft. From books to articles to tarot cards in the mail, they have helped me find my true self.

It’s also because of them and their belief in me, I’m writing again. Their support and never-ending cheerleading is a huge part of why this blog and my recent accomplishments have happened. With them at my side, I’ve been able to trust in my abilities and pursue something I’ve enjoyed since I was young.

So while you may have a village, I have my coven. And for me, a tight group of inspiring and motivated friends is all I need.

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Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash

The Pizza Man Compromise

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It was around four o’clock when the nine-year-old popped out an earbud and asked, “Hey Mom, what’s for dinner?”

And there it was, the loaded question.

Silence fell across the living room as three pairs of little eyes turned to me. I’ve never been interrogated, but I would imagine it felt a lot like that.

My answer, handmade meatballs with bow tie pasta, was met with a chorus of groans.  

My heart dropped. But I had planned this out! I made dinner around lunchtime that day, just like I do every day the husband works. I packed up some for him to take, and I saved the rest for us to eat after he left. We were supposed to all be in meatball heaven within the next few hours!

As usual, everyone started talking at once trying to find a solution to our nonexistent problem. Then out of the chaos came the tiniest of voices from my soon to be five year old, “You could call the Pizza Man.”

(The funny thing about this is that not once in his little life have I actually CALLED the pizza man. Phone anxiety is my kryptonite so I use online ordering.)

And in that one sentence, dinner’s fate was sealed.The desire for pizza had gone viral. But what about my lovingly created meatballs? What about the bow tie pasta I had already worked out jokes for? What about all the work I did?

I tried to explain that I had dinner already made and it was going to be great! I even broke out a few of the noodles to show them how silly and fun it would be to eat bow ties. A song and dance may or may not have happened.

But my gang of pint-sized mutineers would not let the idea of pizza go. In a last-ditch effort, I turned to the husband for guidance, for wisdom, for some hope that I wouldn’t have to wave the white flag and give in to their demands. While putting on his shoes for work, he shrugged his shoulders, “Pick your battles, babe.”

Pick your battles.

If it’s not the official motto of good mothers everywhere, it damn well should be. As someone who is anxious by nature, I need plans. Plans get me through events and help me keep the feeling of the sky falling at bay. Even though I don’t believe in things having to be perfect, I need to have a plan, a backup plan, and a tertiary plan.

With kids, however, a lot of the time those plans become pretty much obsolete. It’s not so much of constantly giving in to the little monsters, it’s about compromise. It’s my belief that children, albeit still developing, are people too. They deserve the consideration we give other adults when it comes to the things they would like to do. (Of course, this is on the other side of basic safety and health-related items. I’ll tell a kid to take a bath and wear their seatbelt in a heartbeat. I’d tell an adult that too, actually.).

With kids, it’s much better if you don’t create battles out of things that just aren’t that important. If the only reason you are trying obtain a certain outcome is that you want to be the one that’s right, you’ve got bigger issues than what’s for dinner. There’s a line between being a leader and a being a tyrant. You can lead your children to adulthood and finding themselves without breaking them down drill sergeant style.

There’s no shame in assessing a situation and finding that your way is not the way it should go. Bending, not breaking, to the ideas of others, especially your own children, creates an atmosphere of acceptance and understanding. It supports the idea that their ideas are worthy and that they actually have a say over their own existence. It also helps develop their problem-solving skills. Figuring things out instead of just bluntly being told is good for kids. Even if it’s for mundane things like how to clean a room or what to have for dinner.

On the night in question, we did have pizza but we didn’t “call the pizza man”. I broke some frozen pizzas out of my personal stash in the freezer and we had an impromptu pizza party in the living room. The kids were happy, I was happy, and dinner was enjoyable and more importantly, stress-free.

Motherhood is about compromise. Sometimes if you let the mutineers have what they want, they let you keep the ship. But even then, they won’t let you pee alone. BBBBBB

P.S.: We did end up eating the meatballs and pasta the next day. It was not as well received as the pizza, obviously, but it did not go to waste.

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

Five sleep solutions from a reluctant sleeper 

Note: I am not a doctor and the claims made in this post are not meant to be taken as medical advice. Each person is different. Consult with your care team before you make any changes or take any new medication.

Sleep is a weird thing. When we were children, most of us raged against the dying of the light and hated going to sleep. ⅔ of the children in my house right now HATE going to sleep.

But now that we are adults? Man, what we wouldn’t give for five, ten, twenty more minutes. According to the CDC, a lot of us don’t get enough sleep. And it affects us immensely. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that fatigue is a leading cause in around 100,000 auto crashes a year. It’s also the cause of over 1,500 crash-related deaths. And if that doesn’t scare you enough, the disasters at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl can all be traced back to sleep deprivation.

Pretty scary stuff for something that we all at some point struggle with.

So how much sleep should we get?

Well, that depends.

According to The National Sleep Foundation, instead of a set standard, there is a sleep need spectrum. Depending on a host of variables (sleep debt, activity level, health, stress levels, and stimulant consumption), sleep needs are unique. What an active 19-year-old healthy male needs and what a sedate unwell mid 40s female needs are drastically different. You can view their recommendations here. For most adults (age 26-64), 7-9 hours is the recommended amount.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds like an awful lot of glorious, glorious sleep. I tend to go to sleep early and wake up early. I’d estimate that I’m still only getting about 6 hours a night, which is just below the ideal amount. My issue is that I have trouble staying asleep as well. So while I may be asleep for 6 hours, I’ve woken up roughly four times throughout that span of the night. Being primary caregiver to three kids, two cats, one dog and one husband, even if I wanted to supplement my sleep amount by napping, it wouldn’t be possible. So I need the sleep I can get through the night.

Getting the right amount of sleep as an adult is hard. Here are five things I’ve picked up that help.

Chamomile Tea

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From the Asteraceae family, chamomile is the name given to several daisy-like plants that have for centuries been used to make relaxing, sleep-inducing herbal teas. Most commonly made from the dried flowers of the German/Wild or English/Garden species, the tea has been found to have anti-anxiety effects. For me personally, it pretty much the liquid equivalent to having the Sandman throw sand right in your eyes. After a cup (or more cause I have a habit of drinking A LOT of tea) I’m pretty much done for. It’s a great way to relax and let the stresses of the day melt off. You can find chamomile tea commercially (Celestial Seasonings’ Honey Vanilla Chamomile is a personal favorite). You can also buy the dried herb in bulk. Add two or three heaped tablespoons to hot water and let steep 20-30 minutes. Then strain and add your preferred sweetener. Comfy pajamas, rainy days, and a cocoon of blankets may intensify the effect of the tea. Prepare accordingly.

 

Melatonin

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Available as an over the counter supplement, Melatonin is a pretty successful sleep assistant. As a hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness, it has many uses. Melatonin may be beneficial for people who struggle with sleep disorders, have irregular schedules due to shift work, jet lag, or trouble sleeping because of autism or ADHD. Some scientific claims have found insufficient evidence as of melatonin’s effects, but personally, it has worked wonderfully. I use it occasionally when I know I really need to sleep restfully. For me, it has no lingering effects and I awake the next day fully rested.

 

Moon Milk

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While the idea of warm milk before bed is something I’ve heard of for years, Moon Milk is something I just learned about. I came across this post on Facebook a while back and was inspired. Then I tried to make it and fell in love. Not only is it a great lactose-free alternative to the traditional warm milk, it’s steeped in magic as well. If almonds are not your thing, feel free to substitute any sort of nut you’d like. I used a variety of spices I had on hand and it quickly became a household hit. Like the camomile tea, it is an excellent way to relax and slow your mind and body down at the end of the day.

ASMR/ Relaxing Sounds

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Now this one might be a little out there. ASMR ( autonomous sensory meridian response)is an internet phenomenon that got its name in 2015 in a Facebook group. Previously talked about simple as “that unnamed feeling”, it’s a pleasure response to sounds that cause the feeling of “tingles” on the upper spine, neck, sides, and back of the head. It can be from sounds such as crinkling of paper, crunching of leaves all the way to whispered personal attention. Do a search for ASMR on youtube and you will find thousands of different videos. It’s something I use to relax and more than a few times, have been lulled to sleep at my computer by. It’s a great way to put your brain on pause. I will warn you, there are some ASMR videos and creators that push the envelope. As with anything, find what works for you and let others find theirs.

If ASMR isn’t working for you, there’s always the use of relaxing sounds. There are so many apps available now that provide various sounds to help you nod off. My favorite app has tons of sounds you can mix and match to create the perfect sleep song for you. It also has a timer. So you can set it and not worry about it running on your phone all night long.

In Conclusion

Today’s technology coupled with tried and true methods provide multiple ways to help those that struggle with sleeping erase the stress. Just like how the need for sleep is individual, the strategies that are effective are unique as well. The main goal is to find that works for you and do that. And then, get the sleep you deserve. The sleep of kitties snoozing in the sun.

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