Betty Duffy

Friday, December 11, 2009

Quick Takes

First of all, I want to say thank you to Jen, both for hosting Quick Takes, and for featuring me in her “Undiscovered Gems” series. It has been an honor to enjoy her shared readership. And while I know many readers may find this blog isn’t their thing, I welcome you all back.

Driving in the car the other day, my five year old daughter asked, “Which do you like better, Love or Biscuits?”

“I like Love,” I answered, consciously aware that biscuits are actually the less demanding of the two options.

“I like Biscuits better,” she answered. “Because if you eat Love, you won’t have any left to give me.”

This morning, my three-year-old and I sat on my bed reading a book. He’s an innately affectionate child, and delights always in being as close to me as possible. As he jockeys for a closer position, his elbow hits my full bladder, he pushes on my breasts to boost himself up, he pulls my face closer to his and says “See, mommy!” and I don’t see because I can only look cross-eyed at the item that is two inches from my face. Once or twice he’s tossed his head back and hit me on the chin or the bridge of my nose with his noggin. And for a minute, my reflexes want to push back, “Who just punched me in the face?” and then I realize it was my child, whom I love, and it was an accident.

I was about to employ a more librarian approach, “You stay on that side of the bed, and I’ll hold up the pictures for you to see.” I was thinking that affection sort of hurts, and that’s why I’m probably not an innately affectionate person.

Then it occurred to me, that this is actually not an affection problem so much as it is an etiquette problem.

When I was around eleven years old, one of my favorite activities was getting as close to my siblings as possible, right up next to their ears and saying, “Does this BAAAATher you? Am I making you UN-COM-FORT-A-BLE?” Of course it bothered them, that’s why I did it.

I decided to try the same tactic on my three-year-old. I got up nose to nose with him and said, “Does this BAAATHER you?” Sure enough he pulled back, and said, “Don't Mommy!”

This is the etiquette lesson I have been practicing almost my entire life to teach: “Stand back a few inches, you are making me uncomfortable.” Funny, that in rearing five children, this is the first time it’s occurred to me to teach it.

A couple weeks ago, I deleted my presence almost entirely from the internet. I deleted this blog. I deleted my facebook account. I was questioning the importance of technology in my life.

I was surprised, during that half of a day when my blog was gone, how bereft I felt without it. The facebook wasn’t hard to part with, but the blog had come to feel at times like my living room or parlor, at times like a member of the family, at time like an extension of my brain and its work. I felt, without it, like I’d amputated my right hand.

Naturally, I put the blog back up, and Blogger fortunately makes life easy for people suffering Blog Deleter’s Remorse. It was all still there, in the same form, same comments and all, just waiting for me to reconsider.

But since then, I’ve been considering a number of different perspectives for why I do this blog. On one end of the spectrum, it’s only entertainment, and completely self-serving. I have no responsibility to my readers, and they come here at their own risk. On the other end of the spectrum, this blog is an extension of my Christian work, or my Apostolate, and I have grave responsibility to my readers whose very souls depend on reading inspiring words here.

The comment boxes in the last two posts have provided a wide-ranging exploration of the gradations between the two, and I’m still not sure where my writing falls. But I loved a recent comment from Sally Thomas, who said:

“As I went through my day I kept thinking about all this, and it came to me that really, truly, the reason I have a blog at all is that I have to write. It's a total compulsion. And any time I'm writing, or thinking for that matter, I'm always talking *to* someone. Sometimes it's a real, actual person whom for whatever reason I've taken as Muse du Jour; sometimes it's an imaginary reader. But there's always a reader, ie a listener to my monologue.

And blogging is good because it's motivating to have real readers/listeners. Makes me do it. It's part literary endeavor, part thought-exercise, part dashed-off email, part notes for later, more developed writing, etc etc etc. It's thinking-in-writing -- but it's thinking *to* people, which does make me self-edit in ways I tend to think are useful rather than otherwise.

Also, when I write on paper, or in word processing, and it's just me and the blank space needing to be filled -- THAT's when I get writers' block. Never when I know I have these other people out there waiting -- breathlessly, of course -- for the next installment of whatever. Then I can just bang it out, because it's for them, whoever they are.”


I never seem to have seven quick takes, because my takes are not very quick.


Sally Thomas said...

Yeah, but they're good ones. I'm going to start today going up to certain of my offspring and saying, "Does this BAAAAAAAATHER you?"

If shouting is the new spanking, what on earth does baaaaa-ing in people's faces count as . . . ? Not that that would stop me from doing it, mind you. Not for one minute.

Fr. Christian Mathis said...

"I never seem to have seven quick takes, because my takes are not very quick."

I can absolutely relate to that.....especially this week!

confused homemaker said...

I'm glad you decided to come back to the blog as I just discovered you the other day via Jen.

I've done the "Does this BAAAAAATHER you?" before, it is highly effective unless your kid has no understanding of personal space like mine & then you're screwed.

Owen said...

Dear Betty, is this an "apostolate" or um not? :-) Just asking because now I'm all confusalated - nevertheless I'm happy you are blogging and I totally get the to tech or not to tech deal. Something most of us go through on a semi monthly (weekly, anyone for daily?) basis.

BettyDuffy said...

Owen, I'm just as confused as you are. I think though, you had a good idea--give the blog address to my spiritual director.

Any suggestions for a tech-savvy Spiritual Director? Perhaps Father Mathis?

BettyDuffy said...

Actually, the more I think about it, perhaps what the blogosphere really needs is a Church appointed patron Father of blogging, a priest, of course, who is as immersed in this culture as we are, and to whom we can go with questions like this one.

Karyn said...

I'm also glad you changed your mind about blogging as I have just discovered your blog through Jen as well - and I needed the good laughs I got from some of your entries. Especially the NFP entry Jen linked - I needed a good laugh as I sit here with yet another big pregnant belly!

TS said...

Thou dost scare me with crazy talk like the wilful juxtaposition of the word "delete" with "blog". Still, I do admire the admirable understatement with which you reported it. Not an exclamation point in sight. You've prompted me to save your archive on my Kindle! :-)

Dawn Farias said...

I've never had Blog Deleter's Remorse, but I've had Remorse Of Some Type. I've started and ended blogging about 20 times since I began a year ago. My newest one began just this week, less than two weeks after announcing (again) that I was done with blogging. I feel all those things in the quote from Sally.

Genny said...

I found you through Jennifer's post. So nice to stop over here and read a bit. You write beautifully. And I had to laugh at the love vs. bisquit comment. :)

I'll be back.


Enbrethiliel said...


Betty, I changed my template once (the template I had had for five years), had to get offline, and spent hours feeling Template Changer's Remorse! =P

Yet I think the question of whether or not to delete one's 'blog is something 'bloggers need to ask themselves periodically. It's the self-administered Memento te mortalem esse that keeps us from taking our internet following too seriously.

On the other hand, fair warning is only courteous! =) I have made friends with people I only knew online who deleted their 'blogs when I wasn't looking and left no hint of how to contact them again. I think I felt more bereft than they did after their "ultimate sacrifice"!

Jamie said...

HI- Just wanted to say that I came through Jen's site and after just a few posts, I feel like I've come home. I'll be back often- Thanks! :-)

BettyDuffy said...

TS, Glad to know my archives will be safe ...somewhere... if I ever go through with it.

I might have to come beating down your cyber door the next time I have Blog Deleter's Remorse.

TS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.