Ordinary Opinions On A Ordinary Life

My life is ordinary. I blog about the funny and serious moments. I attempt to bring them to life for you and for me.

I believe the significance of ordinary moments.

But I find myself hiding in my ordinary life. Wrapping myself in the day-to-day so I don’t have to find an opinion on Egypt or health care or Planned Parenthood. I find myself less likely to speak up and out. To give time and money.

When my son was first born, I wasn’t like this. We went to rallies. We left pamphlets in support of Obama on the front steps of our neighbors.

I wanted him to grow up with a sense of something greater than himself. I wanted E to know that we had so much and others had so little.

E and I ended up on the front page of MoveOn.org in 2007.

It was before health care got wrapped up in the misunderstandings about socialism and oppression. It was back when a few of us just wanted people to stop people from suffering in our E.R.s from preventable illnesses. We wanted to improve outcomes and access. We didn’t think caring was controversial.

I was proud to be there.

But I began to read accusations of politicizing our children. Subtle and overt. And I grew concerned

I also began to be more noticed on the Internet. I had a blog. People read it who we knew and didn’t know. When I voiced an opinion, I had to manage more responses. I wasn’t surrounded by people who only agreed with me or who I counted on to disagree with me (hi family!).

But I also realized that every thought and opinion that went through my head was not well thought out.

I needed to research those opinion pieces before I posted them. I could cause damage if I didn’t pay attention. Damage to others. And damage to my own reputation.

I began to care about my readers. Not just in the sense of WANTING MORE because controversy is a sure-fire way to find more page hits and readers. I cared about hurting them. Shocking them. I wanted to walk with my readers, not have them feel condemned.

I wanted everyone to have a voice. But it’s hard when I’m liberal and spiritual. When I love God and the power of prayer and hate guns and the death penalty.

And I don’t often have the time to research because today everyone is putting out an opinion. If I don’t find the source, I can’t make a solid argument.

But I have time to tweet about my kid’s pooping or how much I hate the car in front of me. Because it’s just my ordinary life.

And through my ordinary comments and posts, people were helped. Opportunities were given and received. Support. Love. Disagreement.

But I feel the folding into my ordinary life. The shying away from these matters. When I realized that I didn’t understand what was going on in Egypt for days, I was embarrassed.

I, originally, joined Twitter for the politics. I live in a conservative area, and I was overjoyed to connect with so many progressives. I couldn’t believe so many people shared my hopes for our country.

And I considered making my blog progressive and political. But I couldn’t. It wasn’t all I cared about or felt inspired to discuss.

So I combined the two at times.

And then, one day, I stopped. Oh, I, occasionally, would tweet something as if to prove that I still cared about the world beyond these ten blocks. I do care. But I wasn’t following up my heart with action.

I stopped giving to charities. I felt like we were struggling financially, but am I just not prioritizing giving rather than getting?

I stopped talking about my opinions on the world, our politicians, the policies that change our lives. I felt like my writing had gone in a different direction, but am I just scared of the consequences?

My life is important. And my words and stories about the ordinary are testimonies to the power of women and families and individuals. A friend told me before a social media talk: You’re the only one standing up for mothers.

And while I’m not really the only one, I believe in the importance of blogs to tell the stories of our lives. To give meaning and comfort and laughter and hope.

But I also realized that I would give up this blog if it meant health care for everyone.

I would give up Twitter for equal pay for women.

I am honored to give my voice to the ordinary. My life is wonderful, but it is small. And I cannot give all my time and energy to my ordinary life when there are extraordinary events that need me, too.

Thanks to Neil and his post on Memoirs for inspiring this post.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

30 thoughts to “Ordinary Opinions On A Ordinary Life”

  1. My life is also ordinary and I blog about it. It is a way for me to write down the stories of my children for them to read in the future and it is also a way to meet and connect with others. I have never really been into politics or world events so I don’t have the same struggles you do with your time and energy but I think you should write about what is important to you, no matter what it is.

  2. Alex, I always find your blog so inspirational, thought provoking AND funny! You have a way of making readers ( well me , for sure ) laugh out loud, think about things bigger than us and at the same time realize our family is what matters most !
    I really enjoy all you do ! Thank you!

  3. No one is ordinary.

    You think back on all the people you know, and you realize all that you don’t know about them. That makes them fascinating.

    But, I know what you’re saying: something has to give. And you’d give this up, to devote to another area.

    Because, we only have so many hours, so many minutes. And it all flys by, so quickly.

    I don’t want to ask, “where and how did I spend those precious moments?”

    Gives me the chills.

  4. I originally subscribed to your blog after I read a post of yours elsewhere about gays and Christianity/the Bible. I really like your deeper posts about bigger things happening in the world. That said, i understand not having the time and energy to do the research necessary to post.

  5. I think the ordinary moments are worth commemorating, and even if we aren’t explicitly discussing politics, our blogs reflect our beliefs and our viewpoints. It is very hard to stay current on politics and current events when motherhood calls, with its demands and its responsibilities. But even in your posts about the mundane, I have often seen your beliefs and values. Even if you don’t hit us over the head with them. And that picture of you guys from moveon.org is wonderful.

  6. I think this too sometimes.

    Although where you were shocked to find other people who agree with you, living my Nor Cal microcosm I was shocked to find people who disagree with me.

    Cause I’m brilliant like that sometimes.

    And once in a while when I think about writing that sort of essay on IPoMP, I remind myself that people really come there for humor, and that I’d really need to be able to offer something powerful if I were to depart.

    And I’m not powerful in that other place, just opinionated.

    Not the same. 🙂

    I’m not able to share those things the same way you are, and you are far more considerate than I.

    So I’ll always read when you feel compelled to talk about the bigger things.

  7. I have been thinking just this same thing a lot lately.. I am a new Mom. I left the workforce when the market imploded and began working for our family business in a small town. I have stopped reading about and by extension truly caring about these issues. I can’t formulate an intelligent argument on one side or the other of important issues because I have not done my homework… I read voraciously on childrearing issues, cooking, cleaning my home. I am barely recognizable to my 7 years ago self. It can be depressing and disgusting for someone who cared so deeply about larger things not so long ago!

    BUT I have read other women’s retrospective struggles with these issues. One woman wrote (and I can’t remember where I read this or who wrote it) that this is a unique time in a woman’s life when her children are small and her focus is also almost singularly on them and the larger world seems to be less important and these issues just out of the grasp of your ability to care about. I know that there will be plenty of time when my child (maybe someday children) will be in school all day, I will be back to working full time and sneaking reads of the WSJ and NYTimes instead of babycenter and Parents magazine. This is who I am right now not who I am for the rest of forever.

    I totally know what you are feeling and I am right there with you. I don’t discuss politics on playdates or even with anyone anymore. I am very open about not really caring right now – maybe it is a combination of what happened to this country over the past 10 years, what isn’t happening in Washington EVERY DAY and the FACT that none of the policies and doom and gloom seem to impact my life in any significant way right now (Gas prices high, yeah but not as high as 2 years ago and we had less money then and we survived; Healthcare bill passed, cool it still costs us $27,000 /year out of our pockets to provide our family of 3 with insurance since we are a small family business; EPA about to be dismantled, fine I guess since it was so gutted by the Bush administration that there is little or no ability for EPA officers to patrol our area and regulate what is going on in any real sense anyway). It is all so ABSTRACT! And I have smaller things to worry about that affect my life every minute of every day.. Is my baby sleeping, why isn’t he eating today, what is that funny noise he just started making when he swallows?

    Give yourself a break! Don’t stop thinking that someday you would like to rejoin the conversation. But don’t think that your experience is uniquely myopic. There are mothers all over the place who are hoping to go back to who they were before kids SOMEDAY and with the experience and perspective that this unique time in our lives has provided us. DO sweat the small stuff because it is those essential day to day things that make up a life and give yourself permission to not sweat the large stuff sometimes!

  8. This is so good. It’s how I’ve been feeling lately. Too comfortable. Waaaay to comfortable. I am stretched daily in little ways, don’t get me wrong…patience namely, and trusting God in things, and giving up my own control. But in the scheme of LIFE, too comfortable. What happened to the inner city teacher that wanted to change impoverished kids lives? To protect them? To make a difference. I am to my little L and R, but I always will to them. God wants us to to OTHERS. So, where are my others? Who has God put a passion in my heart about? Can’t wait to talk to you to tell you what I’m up too!

  9. I know and understand exactly how you feel. I belong to a group that sometimes discusses world events & happenings, politics, etc. and yet I hardly jump in with a thought or opinion. Generally this is because I just haven’t had the time to do enough research to have an informed opinion. Of course I have an immediate opinion, but I feel like putting it out there for the world to see, read and comment on, that I should have reasons and information to back it up. Sometimes I wonder how my life became so ordinary, yet other times I am grateful for ordinary.

  10. I hear you but I think what you call your ordinary posts are more than just ordinary. Ordinary is what causes us to formulate our opinions. Yes, we should do research on wordly events like what’s going on in Egypt or Libya but when it comes to what’s going on in the US usually people just use their own life experiences to formulate their opinions. (My husband has his PhD in Poli Sci and specialized in Public Opinion so I hear a lot about this.) It is what makes democracy amazing and America…America. You are more likely to support universal healthcare because you’ve seen the reprocussions of not having insurance through your ER patients. Whereas (even though I believe they are wrong) a small business owner wouldn’t b/c they don’t want to have to pay for it.

    And do I need to remind you of some incredibly inspiring and controversial posts that you’ve done about children, gender, and homosexuality?? Those are BIG topics when it comes to controversy in our country right now and you didn’t shy away from your opinions on those topics. Mostly because you were dealing with it so it was just ordinary for you. Sometimes what we see as ordinary can be controversial, inspiring, and eye opening for others.

    Bravo, Alex…Bravo!

  11. I’m thinking about this, because I understanding completely what you say. I felt it when I first started to wake up after months of sleeplessness with my first son, and then again when the fatigue of my second finally started to dissipate. Like you I used to be more vocal, and frankly more confident in my voice. Today I feel as if I don’t know enough to comment on many issues. But here’s the thing. I think that’s maturity too. It’s what we all go through as we grow up, particularly as we become moms. We focus inward, it’s natural and healthy. We recognize, as mothers, that the kind of change we can do is best done in our own kitchens, living rooms or blogs. That’s a powerful thing. I’m willing to place bets that the discourse we have here, or at my place, or on countless others blogs, are really changing the face of humanity for the future because they link us together in ways we never could before.

    Excellent post Alex. I love this stuff. Important stuff. Makes us feel alive.

    1. I love comparing a blog to our kitchen tables. When I get a few friends there we talk about life: we talk about sleeping habits and food choices, and we talk about marriage and friendship, about which car seat to get, about local politics, road problems, the world.

      I am less informed then I would like to be, but I know this haze of early motherhood will lift. In fact, I feel the pull of the world again. I’m just not sure where I want to go.

      Alex, use your voice to say what you know, what you feel, what you care about. Ordinary, political, religious – be you.

  12. I feel this way a lot too. Just today I was thinking – how can I write about my neighbor ringing my doorbell at 5 am when the whole country of Libya is in such an uproar? Just a few nights ago, I watched a documentary about the aftermath of hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and felt so bad. Sometimes when I listed to NPR, I cry. But what am I doing about it? Hardly anything. Sure, I throw money around here and there – like everyone else who gave to Haiti after the quake. But what am I really doing to bring about change? Sometimes I feel it’s just too much – we’re inundated with so much bad news from all over the world – maybe we should just concentrate locally. But then I look at myself, living in Santa Monica where there is a huge homeless problem – and what am I doing besides voting and paying taxes? Yes, at least I do that but I feel like I’m coming up short.
    To be fair, parenting small children is a daily struggle. Maybe these just aren’t our years to contribute to the world in this way. Maybe doing a good job here in our own family is the best contribution we can wake. Perhaps our time to pitch in and help elsewhere will come a bit later. I hope it will.
    Thanks for the post. Great thoughts.

  13. It’s important to think before you post about sensitive subjects because you might alienate someone who might otherwise be won over. (This is an general observation, not one about your blog. I’m liberal about certain things and conservative about other things, but I am much more the type to talk one on one about these things rather than in a blog (that’s just me) because I don’t see myself as a revolutionary and also because I believe the choices are made on an individual basis and that’s where the battles are.

  14. so well put, my dear. you’ve fell victims to one of the classic blunders. wait. wrong quote.

    did I make you laugh?

    so this is what I think: you’re special in that most people and most bloggers wouldn’t be so considerate and mindful. be proud of that. but also? just as with anything, we go through phases. all you can do is be you and write what you feel comfortable writing and give when you feel moved to give. just be true to your voice and you’ll be just fine. and remember? can’t please ’em all.

  15. I don’t know anything about Egypt, Wikileaks (am I even spelling that correctly?), or even who is up for an Oscar. I am not really ashamed of this, even though I used to think of myself as a person who was more in the know. Because I can’t help it. Somehow, motherhood has diminished, hopefully temporarily, my ability to take all of this in. To research, listen, form an opinion. It’s like my spirit is maxed out. I just can’t deal. And I hope that this will change.

  16. After reading this post, I wrote a sternly worded letter to the editor of the local paper and an equally stern letter to the producers of our local new station about a local issue.

    But…

    I’d never blog about my opinion. I can’t decide if I’m too much of a chicken or if I just want one tiny place that is free from the Great Divide.

  17. We. are. the. same. person.

    I am also a progressive liberal who is spiritual and is living in a WAY conservative area.

    Before the blog and the little guy? I was all shouting from the roof tops.

    Now? I avoid the controversy so as not to alienate my readers. I want Sluiter Nation to a community…a nation if you will. heh heh.

    anyway, I would also quit it all for equal rights and health care.

    and I am just an ordinary mom and blogger.

  18. Lovely.

    I think we go through phases where we are more involved in the world outside us and less involved in it. I know this is true for me. Part of it is sheer exhaustion – I cannot handle that much anxiety and despair when things go from bad to worse. It’s too frustrating. And then I cocoon. It’s o.k.

  19. Wow. I guess both you and Neil were in the wavelength I have been travelling this month. How do I write about congress’ attack on women’s rights through healthcare? What happens if I take a stand on a blog I only write twice a week because having 2 kids affords you very little time if you are a mindful and supportive parent/partner/human being/contributor to society. But they are opinions. And I think the art of discussion needs to be taught in school…and at home. This is a democracy we live in, right?

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