Destructive Four-Year-Old vs. Sensitive Atheist Mom

I know my daughter is only four, but she seems to be a bit destructive these days. Recently, she cut up two of her toys with scissors — an alien and a dinosaur. I really don’t know why and it was kind of impressive how much damage she could do with a pair of kids safety scissors.

My husband thought nothing of it but I found it disturbing. I’m very sensitive and tend to personify everything. I name my belongings and talk to my plants. I’ve always been like that. I would have never purposely hurt my toys when I was little.

It’s not just cutting up these two toys; my daughter throws things away with no problem. If she makes a drawing or painting she doesn’t like, she throws it away. I still struggle with that, hence the numerous paintings in our garage. 

It seems like I can find a personal connection to or sentimental value in almost anything so I find it shocking when my daughter doesn’t give getting rid of something a second thought.

I know my daughter is only four and this is way more about me than her, but I am really curious if there are any other atheists out there with this kind of sensitivity. Obviously, I know people and things don’t have souls but I still somehow feel connected to things and feel guilty if they’re not respected.

Are there any other super sensitive atheists out there?

Pandemic Projects

Like most people, my job has been greatly affected by Covid-19. Our office closed in mid-March, reopened in mid-June only to close again two weeks ago. I am still getting paid and I do what I can from home. While I love working for a local nonprofit, the disruption in our programming due to the coronavirus has given me a lot of time to write. 

During this time I completed my poetry book and submitted the final manuscript to the publisher back in July.

I have been working on other projects — a series of essays on being on atheist with a mental illness and a collection of letters to my daughter of lessons from a secular childhood. I also started writing a chapbook of erotic poetry. There’s just so much I want to do.

I don’t know if I’ll end up having a job at the end of this pandemic, but I feel I have to live in the moment and take advantage of every free minute I have to write and explore new projects. When will I ever have an opportunity like this again?

The seriousness of the situation is not lost on me. I barely leave the house and when I do I always have a mask on. The thought of possibly losing my job is always in the back of my mind.

But right now I just want to write.

Has anyone else picked up some new projects during the pandemic?

A Progressive Couple with Traditional Roles

My husband and I are very progressive when it comes to political and social issues and we are passionate about the causes we support. I’m proud to say we are founding members of the Toledo Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.

However, we have very traditional roles. My husband is the provider. I have a part-time job but I spend most of my time at home with our daughter. It has been this way for about two and a half years now.

We never planned this lifestyle; it was just how the pieces fell, but I like it this way. With my husband bringing home the bacon I have ample time to work on art and writing projects and my husband is very supportive of the things that I do. I’m extremely grateful for that. 

On the flip side, I know this puts me in a bad position because I am completely dependent on my husband. I trust him but if anything were to happen, I’d be fucked.

I also wonder what kind of effect this might have on our daughter. I want her to know that this is my choice and she can choose whatever kind of lifestyle she wants as well. I like my daughter to see the different projects I do and I hope one day she will be proud of my work. I want her to see me doing cool things because she can do cool things, too. 

I know if I wanted to work full time again, my husband would be completely supportive. But right now I’m really happy with how things are. I would never dream in a million years that I would be in this position, but it’s really working out for us.

Atheist Voices of Minnesota

A few weeks ago a bought a book from the same publisher that’s working on my poetry book. It’s called Atheist Voices of Minnesota. It’s an anthology of personal stories.

The book sounded interesting and I was curious, but when I read it, it felt like something I really needed — you know what I mean? I don’t believe in fate or anything like that, but it was like I bought the book at just the right time. 

The first thing I thought was that Minnesota is in the Midwest, so they’re probably conservative like Ohio, right? Maybe not so much. 

The net proceeds from the sale of the book go to the nonprofit organization, Minnesota Atheists. This organization is mentioned in a few of the stories. This motivated me to search for atheist groups in Ohio, and I actually found a few. Albeit, not as organized as the group in Minnesota, but at least I know they are out there and I can get involved. I didn’t see any nonprofit organizations like Minnesota Atheists, but I found a Meet Up group and Facebook page. That’s something.

I was also surprised that the people that contributed to the book didn’t discuss family resistance to coming out as much as I thought they would. That also gave me some hope. I’ve always considered myself very fortunate that most of my family knows I’m an atheist and I haven’t been disowned or anything. It doesn’t come up much. I don’t think this would be true for many atheists in this area.

I also found these personal stories motivating, especially considering my current projects. I am working on a book that is a series of essays on being an atheist with a mental illness as well as a book on secular parenting that is a collection of letters to my daughter. Obviously, these projects are both really personal to me, so reading authentic and candid stories from the lives of other atheists is incredibly inspiring. 

One particular story is about a person overcoming alcoholism, and they mention the religious aspects of AA. I wrote about the 12 Steps last week on my blog. I totally get that. I have schizoaffective disorder and have also noticed spiritual aspects of different recovery programs. This is one reason why I feel the essays I’m writing about mental illness are important. 

And one huge highlight — our own PZ Myers contributed his story to the book!

 

Buy the book here!

Are you an atheist vegetarian or vegan?

It seems like recently I’ve read a lot about atheists who are also vegetarian or vegan. Is this common? If this is you, did your atheism affect your decision to commit to your diet?

I personally don’t know any vegetarians. I’m sure there are some in Toledo, but I’ve never actually met any. It’s definitely not common where I’m from, either. Several years back I met a man from India who was a vegetarian. That’s honestly the last I can remember. 

I grew up eating a pretty traditional Midwest meat-and-potatoes diet. While my husband and I don’t eat as hearty of meals now, there’s still a lot of meat involved. 

I know this isn’t going to make me popular, but being from a rural area I was raised with the mentality that animals on the farm are raised to die. That is their purpose. I guess that was enough justification for me — actually, I just try not to think about where meat comes from. I’m a pretty sensitive person and I personify just about anything with eyes. Also, I get grossed out really easily. Yeah — up until now I just tried not to think about it.

I honestly think if I ever decided to become a vegetarian the people around me would laugh and not take me seriously. Not that I’m really thinking about it; I’m just curious. 

I would love to hear about your experience.

Disclosure

So here’s a scary thought — I came to this realization while working on my book yesterday about being an atheist with a mental illness:

I am way more willing to share the details of my mental illness than to disclose that I’m an atheist. Even though telling someone you’ve struggled with psychosis is some pretty heavy information, I feel I am more likely to face discrimination and ridicule as an atheist than as someone with a mental illness. It’s just the reality of where I live and work.

I wish I could be open about both — especially since being an atheist has had such a profound impact on my recovery. I feel atheists and believers alike need to hear that story.

I have schizoaffective disorder and have been in treatment for years. I have no problem telling people about my recovery, but it’s only been recently that I’ve told anyone about being an atheist.

Does anyone have a similar experience?

 

Does anyone have any experience with AA?

I am working on my book about being an atheist with a mental illness, and in my 17 years of recovery from schizoaffective disorder and an eating disorder, I have noticed a lot of recovery or support programs have a spiritual aspect to them. Almost like you have to have a spiritual side to have any sort of balance in your life. I have included thoughts on this in my book.

I recently read in another book about an atheist not feeling welcome at Alcoholics Anonymous. I decided to check out the famous 12 steps online and I was shocked. God’s all over those steps. I thought maybe I was looking at an outdated document but apparently not.

Just for fun, I wrote my own 12 steps with more empowerment and less god. I’m trying to decide if I should include it in the book.

Does anyone have any experience with AA that they’re willing to share? Not for my book but just for my own curiosity.

A Letter to My Daughter About Death

I am writing a collection of letters to my daughter of things I hope she’ll learn from a secular childhood. I’m really enjoying this project. Here’s one I wrote about death:

 

Dear daughter,

I feel like death is a complicated subject when it shouldn’t be. It’s our feelings surrounding death that make things complicated. 

I am scared of death, which is natural, but I’m not worried about where I’m going in an afterlife. I’m scared because there’s so much I want to do in life; will I get to do all of those things? Will I have spent enough time with my loved ones?

I recognize my worries are pretty pointless because when you’re dead you’re not aware of your goals and wants anyway. Death is only sad to those still living.

The belief in souls, heaven, and hell really makes the idea of death murky. I have a simpler explanation; we return to the earth. 

It might be a nice thought to think you’ll live on in people’s memories, but the people with those memories eventually die, too. 

Instead of worrying about death, it’s better to concentrate on enjoying yourself now. Your time could be up at any time, so live your life to the fullest. 

My beautiful daughter — I am really enjoying the time I am spending with you right now, and that’s all that really matters.

Love,

Mom

 

What do you want to tell your kids about death?