A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

WTF Wednesday – Struggle to the Snuggle

My friend Mama Cloud has a 3rd grade son who is not very cuddly. Every time she wants some sugar from that kid, it’s like wrestling with a greased pig. Eventually she tires him out and he consents to a few minutes of love. She named this phenomenon “the struggle to the snuggle.”

That phrase pretty much summarizes my relationship with God. 

Don’t tell my parents, because it would probably break their hearts, but I often find myself pretty damn unloveable.

Shhhhh. Don’t say a word.

This is between me and me.

So I keep busy. I declutter things. I take up new hobbies like running, and glass fusion, and wheat grinding, and over-sharing on the Internet. And of course, I drink a little.

All these things are marvelous distractions from achieving real goals and fixing broken relationships.

“Comedy is an escape, not from truth but from despair; a narrow escape into faith.”  ~Christopher Fry

But I think God’s unwavering desire to love me, the real me, “warts and all,” even when I can’t love myself, must be wearing me down a bit. I’m starting to let God put His/Her arms around me for a few minutes at a time. And I like it.

I’m in this kick-ass book study group I like to call the Renegade Catholic Priestesses. This is a group of about 20 amazing women I’ve come to know over the past few years, mainly through my church. We range in age from our 30s to our 70s and we come from a variety of backgrounds. These women make me laugh, think, and cry on a regular basis.

Yesterday we were discussing an idea from Fr. Richard Rohr’s book Everything Belongs. I was visibly wrestling with a concept in chapter 4:

“…sometimes we don’t do God or the Gospel a service by spending our life comparing ourselves to others’ gifts and calls.”


“The most courageous thing we will ever do is to bear humbly the mystery of our own reality.”

Oh crap.

I felt myself on the verge of an emotional outburst. It started with a heavy sigh and our fearless leader Marian jumped on it like a duck on a June Bug. Before my brain could stop my mouth, I heard myself lamenting out loud about my daughter Mini-Me and her struggles at school. “How can we not compare our gifts and calls to others’ when society obviously rewards very specific gifts! For instance, my daughter. I worry that she’ll never fit in; she’ll never succeed. She simply can’t behave like little girls are expected to act and as a result, she suffers. It’s so hard to watch.”

The group swooped in to protect their fallen baby bird.

“You’re a great mother!” “She’s an awesome kid!” “Don’t make her conform. Celebrate her!” “Is there any more pumpkin bread?” (Fine, that last one was me.)

But Marian smelled a rat.

She knows me too well and sensed that what I said was obviously code for my deepest fears: I’ll never fit in; I’ll never succeed; I don’t belong.

But everything belongs. Even a hairy, foul-mouthed, half-breed, Cafeteria Catholic like me.

Everything belongs.

Apparently, according to Marian, and my Renegade Catholic Priestess friends, and Fr. Richard Rohr, God thinks I’m awesome. I just have a hard time always seeing myself the way God sees me. But I’m trying. The good news about God and the struggle to the snuggle? This greased pig is no match against unconditional love.

I write about this today on WTF Wednesday because “WTF” isn’t necessarily a negative thing. Sure, we can use “WTF!” to express horror or shock or disdain for the crazy things people do, like this, or this, or this. But it can also be a question that leads to further exploration. As in: “I criticize my daughter constantly. WTF? What is it about her that reminds me of what I don’t like about myself?” (Uh, everything. You don’t call her Mini-Me for nothing. Der.)

And that simple question might be all we need to take the next step toward that next right thing.

“If God can receive me, who am I to not receive myself – warts and all?” ~ Fr. Richard Rohr

Everything belongs. 

Hey, guess what? God sends me love notes sometimes. Marian is one of his official transcribers.

“Someday, with God’s love,  you might find some more room in your heart for you.” ~ Marian

I hope you have a Marian of your own. If you don’t, I’ll share mine.

authentically yours, with slightly reduced self-loathing,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris. All rights reserved.


  1. Julie

    I love you for writing this. Here’s the thing. The ones who do “fit in” spend a lot of time looking at the ones who march to their own beats and wishing they had that courage, or that talent, or that unique attitude.

    Everyone, everywhere feels at one point or another that they don’t belong, which is odd because we, by our very existence, DO belong. We belong to each other. We were created for each other and for God.

    We do spent an awful lot of time being assholes to each other though, don’t we.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Beautiful comment, Julie. I’m totally singing “We Belong” by Pat Benetar now. Join me, won’t you?

  2. Lyn

    You are a doll!! LOVE LOVE LOVE this post! thank you

    • The Bearded Iris

      Smooches, Lyn. Thank you for being here.

  3. Pricilla - Famous SpokesGoat

    The publicist says that you will find that the older you get the less you care what other think. As for your adorable kid….she will find her way. We all did and it’s how we learn.

    Goat hugs

    • The Bearded Iris

      Oh Pricilla, your goat hugs are the best. Please tell The Publicist I said thank you for the wisdom and guidance from someone who has been there. xoxo

  4. Jill

    All so very true! I wish the internet had arms so I could hug you. But then that would be weird and other people would use their internet arms to icky things.

    So, I will just say “YAY IRIS!” because you can’t fully love anyone else until you love yourself and because Unconditional Love does really transform us into the person we were created to be. You were created to be one very hy-freaking-sterical chica. There is no one else like you. Finally, the secret: We all feel like this.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Thanks Jill! What wise words, and no surprise there, from a Sacramental Mother like yourself! I’ll take that virtual hug from you anyway, and I’ll keep it totally separate from the icky Internet arm things. 😉

  5. Sarah

    THANK YOU for sharing your heart. As another poster said, the ones who “fit in” can (unintentionally, probably) create a club that sends the message that if you want God, you have to stamp out who you are and act like a “Good Christian Woman.” Yeah, I think all church women know her. (I call her Mrs. P31 – from Proverbs 31.) Frankly, I find her rather boring, and a general pain-in-my-ass, and I’m sick of trying to be her – especially the rising with the dawn part.

    In the end, I try to remember that God created me – loud, silly, emotional, thoughtful, passionate, complicated, needy me. I choose to trust that he knew what he was doing. Maybe I can serve him better by being a loving, God-honoring, caring version of me, instead of by trying to fit a human ideal!

    Keep on with your bad self. I hope the self-loathing is melted away completely by His love!

    • The Bearded Iris

      My friend Lisa gave some great advice the other day about surrounding ourselves with like-minded people. I have a lot of Mrs. P31s in my life! Hmmm.

      But also, I am learning that it is possible to be a good Christian woman AND a foul mouthed cut up. God obviously has a good sense of humor or He/She wouldn’t have invented farts.

  6. Liza Martz

    I love this. Self-loathing is a hard habit to kick but it can be done. (Especially if you are wearing black cowboy boots with silver toes!)

    • The Bearded Iris

      From now on, I will call you Bootsie. Can you handle that?

      • Liza Martz

        I shall wear the moniker with pride!

  7. Joanne B.

    Amen sista! Your lament reminded me of something I read ages ago- “God don’t make no junk…” SOMEtimes some of us forget that, and SOMEtimes some of us overcompensate to prove that, but ALL the time, God is Good. If only we could love ourselves and others like he does us… Will we EVER get that?

    • The Bearded Iris

      WORD. I totally believe that God don’t make no junk too. I just wish I didn’t continually fuck up the masterpiece he made with my stupid free will. Wait, I’m doing it again, aren’t I.

      Thanks for being here on the journey, sista friend.

  8. Mel

    Wow! I’m running across this theme today. It’s such an important one; we really are okay just the way we are. Great post!

    • The Bearded Iris

      Really? There are others? Take me there…

  9. Mary Lou


    • The Bearded Iris

      Right back atcha, sister.

  10. robin

    You said a mouthful there girl…. AND to think, you doubt yourself….
    On that note, I might add, I am a card carrying member of the “self-loathing” crowd as well; seems from the comments we are quite the crowd!!
    your wisdom shining through once again!! 😉

    • The Bearded Iris

      Thanks Robin! Here’s to life after self-loathing.

  11. bernie bickers

    Name me ONE great person you would describe as having “belonged”? One person you admire, or who has changed the world, or even who you could stomach talking to for more than five minutes at a cocktail party. I’ll wait…

    You are WAY too cool to fit it and, FYI, fitting in would make your blog about as interesting as reading the ingredients list on a bottle of Poland Spring.

    Case closed.

    • mrs.frisbie


    • The Bearded Iris

      Dude. You are such a mensch. Thank you. Wait, you think I’m cool?

  12. Allysgrandma

    My youngest never fit in either. She was out playing soccer in the field with the boys while the other girls walked around holding hands gossiping. Thank God for sports. Mini-Me will find her nitch….even if it is after high school like my youngest who is now the mother of my darling grandchild.

    Mini-Me is a beautiful girl. Mother of 3 daughters, hand to God…it is not easy, but I cannot imaginge not having every one of them.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Thanks, Cheryl. You are a love.

  13. Gayle L.

    imho… excellence in blogging is telling your truth so loudly that sometimes your readers laugh until they pee. Other times they relate so completely they just can’t help but cry. You do both. I love reading your truth… it helps me know that I’m not the only one.

    The Mess

    • The Bearded Iris

      WOW, Gayle (The Mess)…that is beautiful! “…telling your truth so loudly…” Thank you so much for the understanding and for making me feel so appreciated.

  14. By Word of Mouth Musings

    Knew there was a reason that I stalked you on your blog – God had a greater plan 😉
    So now we just need you in FL, plenty of wine and we will talk til the wee hours of the many things we share!

    • The Bearded Iris

      That sounds de-light-ful, Nicole! I would love it. Thank you for the stalking and the love. I am envisioning us holding hands while we run on the babble.com beach together. Is that weird? 😉

  15. mrs.frisbie

    Dangit! I’m crying all over my keyboard. Thank you. You are a gift.

    • The Bearded Iris

      You’re welcome. Crying is good sometimes. Let it out, Sugar. More snuggle, less struggle.

      Thank you for the sweet comment!

  16. Fiveogrrl

    We all know that you have mad skillz and trix…. Or at least everyone knows that because it’s written in North Springs MARTA station baffroom. pfffft. Good story today:)

  17. Megan at declutterdaily

    Good for you for keeping your blog your own. Always write what you want and don’t ever worry about straying from formula. That is for T.V. show ratings not for blogs.

    About Mini-Me. You love her and you are trying. There is that.

    About you: we all have demons and they aren’t pretty. Mine are not. Good for you for working on yours.

    About me: You keep me laughing, You keep me inspired. You keep me in healthy recipes. You keep me shopping at Target for fabulous shoes. ( just got my leopard print flats last week…Meeeow!)

    Love you.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Wow Megan – that is an awesome comment. Thanks for being here and for all the encouragement and laughs along the way. Love you too.

  18. Kate

    You have me crying. Like seriously hit-close-to-home crying. I’ve struggled with my faith for more years than I haven’t (being a girl raised Catholic… Catholic school for 12 years, etc.) It’s been a hard road, but I’ve come to terms with my unique relationship with God and I don’t beat myself up over it anymore, not do I let my mother. What truly got me is when you said, “I criticize my daughter constantly. WTF? What is it about her that reminds me of what I don’t like about myself?” I feel that way about my son, when in reality, there are SO many things he does/says that came out of my mouth when I was his age. Only he has more friends and can fit in better with his peers. I was not so lucky in that department until I stopped caring, and by then I think I was driving. It’s so hard not to place my feelings of insignificance and inferioroty on him, but I’m trying to learn to differentiate between my insecurities and his individuality. You seem like a fabulous mother and your children will learn so much through your compassion and sense of humor. Thank you for sharing this with all of us.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Aw, damn, Kate. Now YOU have ME crying. I constantly project my unresolved crap onto my poor daughter. My sincere hope is that by us even thinking about this for one moment, changes can come. Good changes. I have hope. Ok bitch, let’s quit this boo-hooing and go take on the day! xoxo – Iris

  19. Crista

    “I criticize my daughter constantly. WTF? What is it about her that reminds me of what I don’t like about myself?”


    You totally nailed it.

    I need to think hard about this.

    Thanks, you petite fleur of insecurities, you!

  20. Joanne B.

    Where do I sign up for The Bearded Iris Roadshow/Florida Edition? If you come to the sunshine state, I’m there! (Well, actually, I AM here already- we DO just need you!)

    • The Bearded Iris

      Ahahahaha! “The Bearded Iris Roadshow/Florida Edition”!! Awesome. Sadly, I don’t think I’m allowed in the state of Florida due to an unfortunate Spring Break incident in 1991. Any chance you’ll be in the Peach State soon? I make a mean mojito.

  21. Shannon

    WOW, Iris! 🙂 You nailed it on the head for me, too! In more ways than I’d like to count… LOL We (my four kids and I) have just returned to church after a 10 year hiatus from a pastor we didn’t care for. I, too, struggle with the GOD liking/loving me ideal as it is so damned hard on most days to love myself let alone think about someone else loving the mess that is ME. 🙂 Glad to know that others struggle with it as well and I’ll just keep on keepin’ on…cuz, you know, what else is there?!?! I march to the beat of my own drum as well and, as a mother to four now, have a better understanding as to why my mom didn’t like me so much sometimes even though she loved me all of the time (or so she said)!! LOL

    Thanks, Chicka! Love reading/laughing/crying with you every day! 🙂

    • The Bearded Iris

      Thanks, Shannon. Definitely keep on keepin’ on. There are alternatives, but they all suck. I know people who have chosen other paths. The wake of destruction they leave for their kids and future generations is beyond words. I like your beautiful mess. You make me smile!

  22. C

    Beautiful. I often worry about my son and whether or not he’ll ever really fit in. Maybe my job is to lead by example and show him that he doesn’t have to be like everyone else – he just has to be the best of himself and he is loved no matter what. Maybe my constant nit picking isn’t exactly sending him that message? Maybe nit picking myself isn’t sending that message to my kids either? Thanks for helping me see myself and also for giving me a little giggle every day.

  23. The Bearded Iris

    EXACTLY! Let’s love ourselves first so we can love our kids better. How ’bout this…let’s try, just for today, to not nit pick anything about ourselves. Deal? Try and report back! 🙂

  24. Dawn@LightenUp!

    How could God not love anyone as awesome as yinzers?
    Srsly – girl, I heart you so much. I really, really like a good ol’ fashioned coffee-cup-hooch-drinkin’, underpass-paintin’, flawed, HUMAN Christian. Just like me!

    • The Bearded Iris

      What can I say? I’m a nut job. A yinzeriffic nut job. Baby steps. Raising my coffee-cup-o-hooch to you, darlin’! Wish you’d take me dancing in the back of your Ford Ranger someday!

  25. LifeLessons

    When I get to feeling this way, I either get the Goat Publicist to slap some sense into me or I play “Born This Way” a few dozen times to remind me He made us perfectly. This also serves to annoy my husband, so it does double duty. So roll your hair and put your lipstick on. You’re living your gift in your (over)sharing to make us all smile!

  26. Leighann

    I love this post so much.

    I struggled for a little while with my faith and then I read a great book that lead me back to where I needed to be.
    My faith doesn’t waver now, the way it used to, and I feel fully supported and with purpose.
    So glad that you have a group you can turn to.

  27. Livin In Duckville

    It’s a struggle every day, Iris. And God & I have big arguments over it….

    As for Mini-Me? I struggled loving the Princess – didn’t really realize it until God bonked me on the head one day after a Girl Scout meeting. Told me that I treated my ‘adopted’ girls better than my own girl…. Well – if that wasn’t a brick up-side the head… So I prayed that He would show me how to love her for herself….. ’cause she’s alot like me…. I’m happy to say He has….. and she’s wonderful….

    She didn’t fit it…. the tomboy, artsy, walk-to-a-different-drummer girl in a passel of girly-girls…. The cool thing? She’s come into her own…. she is her own person… she knows who she is & what she wants in her life… because I’ve let her be who she is & not who I wanted her to be (a conformist – so that she wouldn’t have all those bumps & bruises – just trying to be a protective mom). I’m so happy for who she is…

    She’s taking Culinary Arts at a local Tech School & recently she said to me: “Mom, I love being in the kitchen, it makes me feel whole, and so happy. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life.” I’m so glad she’s comfortable with herself to recognize that.

    You’re a great mom, Iris…. Letting her be herself & find her own self…. will help you find yourself too….


    • Meili

      Well, I somehow missed this post last month, and I wish I hadn’t, because I’m loving it now, and I could have used it over the past weeks.

      Duckville, you have convicted me. “…didn’t really realize it until God bonked me on the head one day after a Girl Scout meeting. Told me that I treated my ‘adopted’ girls better than my own girl….” I often treat the children of my friends with a lot more grace & acceptance than the way I treat the precious treasures that live here in my house with me. I think it is all because I am so afraid they’ll “turn out like me.”

      And what if they do? I mean, isn’t what Iris said about God making us who we are for a reason, and putting us where we are to serve His purpose meant to point out that God has His hand on who are our kids are, too? If they do turn out like us, or more likely like THEMSELVES, what’s so bad about that?

      I really gotta quit nagging those beautiful people who call me Mom everyday as mercilessly as I do, and start looking at them & myself the way God does. He thinks we’re awesome, and He wants to snuggle us and tell us to keep on keepin’ on!

      We are who we are because He wants it that way. (Not that we all couldn’t try a little harder to do what’s right and treat everyone as fairly as we can.) No matter how much we try to be something else (God forbid, a bunch of little Ms. P31’s!!!), we wont ever really be happy except by being who we are, and letting our kids be who they are.

      Thanks, Iris and friends. This is a very good way to end a pretty hard day here in Mom-land.

      • The Bearded Iris

        YES! You totally smell what I’m cookin’ with this one Meili! Sorry you missed seeing it the first time, but maybe you wouldn’t have been as ready for it as you were last night. Sorry you had such a rough day and I’m humbled that this could help you in some way. Hugs to you, beautiful lady, and to your kids who are so lucky to have you.

  28. Karen

    Iris: I don’t know how I missed this original post, but it couldn’t have come at a better time! I have to write a talk today for a Catholic retreat weekend. I am so stealing some of your thoughts. We all have feelings of self-doubt. I so remember not fitting in, & guess what? Now I’m one of the cool Catholich kids! You rock Iris! Wish we lived closer so we could share real life face time. (PS: My Renegade Catholic Priestesses meet on Wednesday-therefore many Wednesdays we participate in Wine Wednesday. You’re welcome to join us anytime!)

    • The Bearded Iris

      That’s awesome, Karen! So glad you enjoyed it. Would love to have Wine Wednesday with you and your Renegade girls sometime!! Have a great retreat. xoxo – Iris

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