Why are Catholic Mom Blogs So Awesome?

Why are Catholic Mom Blogs so awesome? You can almost hear the holy noise of their children playing in the other room while they upload photos from last night’s Candlemas dinner party. Joy spills onto every homepage like that glass of orange juice the toddler knocked over this morning. Intelligence lies open on every blog post like that big, spine-ripped heap of books the two-year-old threw on the floor—Brideshead Revisited, The Violent Bear It Away, The Wasteland, Dante, Harry Potter, and a Wheelock’s Latin primer. Tears stain the paragraphs. Frustration, too. And heartache. But these three remain: joy, holy noise, and intelligence. And love. In fact, mostly love.

The bytes and bytes of digital data that swell up from the maternal blogosphere remind us of the first things, the very fountains of life. “The first things must be the very fountains of life, love and birth and babyhood,” writes G.K. Chesterton, “and these are always covered fountains, flowing in the quiet courts of the home.” A mother’s kingdom is set in stone. Her nobility courses deep. By blogging, these Catholic mamas invite us to sit at the hearth of Christendom. They bravely lift the lids of their soup pots to share the aroma of holiness with a world that has lost its sense of smell.

Don’t Waste Your Life

What is more counter-cultural than a Catholic mom? A stumbling block to feminists and foolishness to Gentiles, she is a sign of contradiction. “I didn’t pay for my daughter’s college education so that she could waste her life wiping runny noses!” Innumerable women could have been lawyers, doctors, schoolteachers, Presidents of the United States of America, but instead they are wasting their lives.

What a waste, motherhood. What about money and power and sex? What about martinis and condos and a string of boyfriends who make less than you? What about getting your teaching license and “changing the world”? Nothing is wrong with being a teacher. Gainful employment is a good thing. But something is wrong with a world where people think being a teacher is more noble than being a mother. Chesterton puts it this way:

How can it be a large career to tell other people about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone and narrow to be everything to someone? No, a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute.

New York elitism would have us believe that every Catholic mom is holding a silent grudge. But the blogging mom proves otherwise. By speaking up, she reminds us what people are for. She scratches the skin of a professional fundamentalism that, like all fundamentalism, is shallow. Wendell Berry sees it clearly:

Why would any woman who would refuse, properly, to take the marital vow of obedience (on the ground, presumably, that subservience to a mere human being is beneath her dignity) then regard as “liberating” a job that puts her under the authority of a boss (man or woman) whose authority specifically requires and expects obedience?

…Is the life of a corporate underling—even acknowledging that corporate underlings are well paid—an acceptable end to our quest for human dignity and worth?

…How, I am asking, can women improve themselves by submitting to the same specialization, degradation, trivialization, and tyrannization of work that men have submitted to? …How have men improved themselves by submitting to it?

Please don’t misunderstand me. By praising Catholic mamas I mean neither to insult women who are not mothers nor to suggest that “working moms” are less noble than “stay at home moms.” There are some pretty savvy working mama blogs out there in the Catholic blogosphere and they’re nothing less than inspiring. By praising Catholic mamas, I mean only to thank them for reminding us of the first things in a culture that too often puts second things first.

What higher aim could we possibly serve than that of God and family? What is more noble than bringing glory to the Trinity—that uncreated family of Persons—through the created family? Catholic Mom Bloggers remind us that we are made in the image of the divine Family. Apart from the family, our lives don’t make any sense. Our contemporary culture, totally conformed to models of male domination, to borrow JPII’s phrase, is insane; it has lost the mind of Christ. Is it any wonder that when Catholic moms speak with so much sanity this crazy world thinks they belong in the mad house?

Subjected to stereotype and insult, disdained by both direct statement and innuendo, the blogging Catholic mom opens her doors to a huffy and condescending world. She shares the passion of being human, really human. She reminds us we are called to be Mother Church in a world that is desperately homesick.

Geography Incarnate

“Back off,” my wife said recently. “This is women’s work.”

“Um, excuse me,” I said. “Women’s work?!

Smiling, she shoved me away from the sink. “I’m proud to be a Catholic mom,” she explained. “I am a woman, and I’ve got work to do. This is my path to sanctity.”

I just stood there blinking, my hands dripping soapy water all over the kitchen floor. Where did she get such a wild and progressive idea? She’ll tell you. It all started with the Blessed Virgin Mary, the hard-won data of being a new mother herself, and…all those Catholic Mom Blogs.

It runs deeper than reclaiming the phrase “women’s work.” Much deeper. Sitting on the living room floor, John Updike looks over their three children to his wife and sees “Absolute Geography.” Robert Farror Capon says that a mother is geography incarnate:

To be a Mother is to be the sacrament—the effective symbol—of place. Mothers do not make homes, they are our home: in the simple sense that we begin our days by long sojourn within the body of a woman; in the extended sense that she remains our center of gravity through the years. She is the very diagram of belonging, the where in whose vicinity we are fed and watered. She is geography incarnate, with her breasts and her womb, her relative immobility, and her hands reaching up to us the fruitfulness of the earth.

Motherhood is not just a job. It’s not just to make a home. To be a mother is to be a home. And what should we defend and cherish most if not our own homes?

For the record, I still change diapers, fold laundry, and wash dishes. I am, after all, a member of my own family. But I’m also reading Catholic Mom Blogs. I can honestly say without exaggeration that my wife and I would not yet be Catholic were it not for Catholic Mom Blogs. They showed us where Catholicism meets daily life. Joy in the ordinary. Grace upon grace.

Over the noise of children playing, the laundry machine, and the baby screaming, Catholic moms are shouting the Gospel of Jesus Christ with contagious enthusiasm. They orient their family’s daily life to the liturgical year. They punctuate the mornings and evenings with prayer. They clean and cook and discipline and read and write and cry, and they are not afraid to share that in the midst of such grueling hours they have found grace, “grace and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ.”

God chose to come into this world through a mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Catholic mama of mamas. Is it any wonder that he continues to make his home in a world all too familiar with homelessness through home makers, through those women who have become through motherhood living homes, “geography incarnate”? Catholic Mom Blogs are breathing holy fire into the New Evangelization.

Subversive, valiant, joyful—nothing is so seditious to the status quo than a mom who owns it. And Catholic Mom Bloggers own it. Their homes are platforms for righteousness, beacons of praise to the most adorable Trinity, and weapons against modern disenchantment. And that’s why Catholic Mom Blogs are so awesome.

Tyler Blanski

By

Tyler Blanski is praying for a holy renaissance. He is the author of When Donkeys Talk: Rediscovering the Mystery and Wonder of Christianity (Zondervan, 2012) and Mud & Poetry: Love, Sex, and the Sacred (Upper Room Books, 2010). www.TylerBlanski.com

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  • Jane Ellen Hautanen

    Our Lady wasn’t Catholic. She was Jewish.

  • SnowCherryBlossoms

    Catholic mothers are the heart and backbone- the glue- that hold the Church together. Catholic moms are where Catholics come from, where saints come from, where Priests, Bishops and Popes come from. Women who follow the first Catholic Mother, Mary, are the salt of the earth! God bless every single one of them for the sacrifices and sufferings they endure for the Church and the world, without them nothing would work. God bless them for their YES to God! They have one of the highest calling on earth!

  • SnowCherryBlossoms

    She was Jewish, yes. Then Jesus Christ fulfilled the law and the prophets and instituted the catholic (Universal) Church, she then became the first Catholic 🙂

  • noelfitz

    Was Our Lady a Catholic Mom? You don’t have to be Jewish to be a Jewish mother.
    I am somewhat disturbed by this article. Nuns and women without children, and even men, are not all inferior to the Catholic Mom.

  • bringiton

    noelfitz…wow!…you’re reading something into this article that is just not there!

  • noelfitz

    Bringiton,

    I may be mistaken. I read here “What higher aim could we possibly serve than that of God and family?” THis seemed to me to imply that to be a Catholic Mom was the supreme achievement of humans, and that all others, such as nuns and males, were inferior to Catholic Moms.

  • Cari

    Don’t males serve the family? Don’t nuns, through virtue of their prayers, sacrifices, and service? Why so serious, Noelfitz?

  • noelfitz

    Thanks for replies to me.
    Am I too serious? Should we not be serious here? Did anyone else feel my concerns?

  • Liberty

    No, Catholic mothers are NOT the “heart and backbone . . . that holds the Church together.” That’s just silly. “Without them nothing would work”? Really? I didn’t realize you all were saying Masses and baptizing people. Don’t say “without mothers there wouldn’t be priests” because converts, without Catholic mothers, can become priests. We are all important, all the heart and backbone of the Church, we all make up the Catholic Church. It’s not a club for moms. Stop putting yourselves on pedestals.

  • Liberty

    THIS EXACTLY. This is a very prevalent notion in modern Christian circles and it’s completely wrong. We single women are dirt, I guess.

  • Liberty

    What an idolatrous piece of adulation. I don’t even know where to start. I’m a single, childless, Catholic woman in my mid thirties and before you accuse me of jealousy, I will say to you I am not at all jealous of married with children women. God has a different plan for each of us and it would be silly to be jealous of others for things in their lives which I don’t have, like they stole them out of my cart at the spouse store.

    As I have progressed further into my 30s as a single Catholic and joined social media, where I found Catholic people my age, I have really begun noticing that a lot of people seem to have this skewed idea of married motherhood as the be all and end all of life. It seeps out of their tweets and Facebook posts and their self-congratulatory blog posts. I hear it at Mass and on social media from priests and from proud husbands. From conversations with my wonderful Catholic mother and other, older Catholic mothers, I have come to believe this is a new, modern Catholic mother belief. It’s wrong. Just wrong. Catholic mothers around my age (and you fathers, it seems) really do think you are inventing the wheel and sliced bread in one fell swoop. It’s breathtakingly arrogant and astonishing.

    There have been about 2,000 years of Catholic parents believing in the importance of raising their children to be good Catholics and most of them did not have this elevated sense of self which pervades modern Catholic parenting (like this saccharine article). Every time I log onto social media I see another tweet or blog post about how humbly and sacrificially Catholic moms are exuding so much Catholic light that we hardly seem to need the sun (or the Son?) anymore. They give absolutely every last breath for their children and husbands without even caring if their carefully lace covered hair is brushed. They prepare every single meal from scratch with vegan cows raised in their own gardens and if they are too busy tending to every single tiny need of their family then they quickly put together something perfectly nutritionally balanced (but only eat 2 mouthfuls themselves since they are too busy giving their share to the homeless people camped on their front lawns). They swear they are not perfect while putting up 5 blog posts a day about how they herd their vegan cows, make vegan cheese, stitch modest but still cute clothes for their 30 children while keeping their homes spotless, homeschool their children in Greek AND Hebrew only, and the occasional post about how they had a messy house and thought “God loves me anyway!” Before the advent of social media Catholic mothers didn’t sit around telling their friends (and the world) what paragons of virtue and domesticity they were; they just did it and lived. They didn’t feel the need to compare or modestly boast. They didn’t send out directions on how to be virtuous housewives and mothers; they just tried to live it.

    These days though it seems like everyone’s Catholic mom around 34 has a blog with snazzy pictures and daily tales of her perfection and her *insights* into being Catholic and how it’s all about being a Catholic wife and mother.

    Except, that’s not what it’s all about. At all. We all are called to the same thing: LOVE. God’s love. Spreading God’s love. We’re just doing it in different ways. We’re all important and we’re all supposed to share God’s love in whatever sort of life we have: married or single, with children or without, accountants, lawyers, grocery store clerks, garbage men, teachers, step parents, grandparents, men, women, children.

    Luke 11: 27-27 says “While he was speaking, a woman from the crowd called out and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed.” He replied, “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” A woman tried to compliment Jesus’ mother (who is Mother to us all and the most important woman ever and a role model for all) but Jesus said no, blessed is the person who listens to God and does as he asks. The important part is listening to God and doing as he asks, not the being a mother. You don’t seem to understand this though. You seem to think the most important thing (it’s not an actual job anymore than anyone who cooks herself meals or washes her own laundry is doing an actual job and being paid for it) is birthing and raising children. It is important, just as being a good father is, just as being a good person is, but it isn’t THE important thing.

    There are good Catholic mothers. There are indifferent Catholic mothers. There are bad Catholic mothers. There are good, indifferent, and bad Catholics of every creed. We’re supposed to try to be good Catholic whatevers.

    You and plenty of others talk about being “counter-cultural.” We’re all supposed to be. The problem is when it becomes a point of pride, instead of a reflection of what God asks of us, then it is about arrogance and feeling superior to non-Catholics and to women who don’t have children. “I reproduced and am a mother and I can do everything and save the world by having and raising good Catholic kids.” Arrogance is a sin and it is often found on Catholic mom blogs (and in this piece you wrote). I see it in posts where mothers talk on and on about their 5+ children and how they are “repopulating the world.” If you are showing your kids off as though they are possessions or something you should be proud for producing then you are objectifying them. I see that all the time. Never mind the women who can’t have children or haven’t been able to find spouses.

    That brings me to being a single Catholic woman in this modern Catholic culture. I was really happy to find Catholic women my age on social media and thought “finally my people!” I am tired of having to defend my Catholic way of life to modern society, which tells me to have sex at random and do whatever I want. When I tried to get involved with modern Catholic moms I found I wasn’t good enough because I’m not a wife or mom. I’m not the only one who feels this way. Wanting to get married and have kids who I raise Catholic is not enough. Catholic moms rarely interact with me, even when I try or compliment them on their families and photos and posts. They immediately discount my experiences (I’m a teacher who has taught many different grades and babysat for a long time and though we are friendly enough on things like Twitter have rarely made friends with me on Facebook, even though they are friends with practically everyone else we all associate with on Twitter. Even if we share 99% of opinions I’m not good enough to actually become real friends with because I’m not a wife or mother.

    I have spent plenty of time on Catholic mom blogs and have seen plenty of disparaging talk about single women, such as “single women only think about how cute their outfit is” and the like. Doesn’t really make me feel welcome or wanted. “I’m superior to single women who I will accuse of being superficial because I got a husband and had kids.” Ok, then, won’t be going back to your blog. A lot of them seem to spend a ton of time blogging and doing their radio shows and going to conventions (which deliberately exclude single women though one is named for a single woman) and taking a million pictures of their kids to share on every social media site. I don’t know how they have time to do all that and give their kids better educations than at Ivy League schools and do all the cooking and other things they claim to do all the time.

    We single Catholic women (and men) who are trying to live authentic Catholic lives are also out there doing our own cooking, cleaning, caring for loved ones (including friends who don’t have time to think about us), going out into the world and evangelizing to those we come into contact with at our jobs and when we are doing most of the volunteering at our parishes, where we are usually forgotten and never mentioned at mass or invited over to family’s homes for dinner and fellowship. We are building our own little homes (alone and sometimes lonely because we all need physical tough and support) which we try to imbue with God’s light, too, and hoping that someone out there will love us for who we are. If we say we are sad around a holiday married Catholics tell us we should stop feeling that way because Jesus loves us and that’s all we need. We are of dual natures, too, spirit AND flesh, and both must be nurtured. Modern Catholic married parents don’t care though. They only have time for their families and they constantly get praised for that frankly selfish attitude.

    Plenty of us single Catholics are making homes for ourselves, inviting other single (and married and families) into them, and reaching out to nurture others in every Catholic way we can. I have nurtured more children with God’s love then you Catholic mom bloggers who focus solely on your own offspring. I do it every single day. I spend extra time and try to help the hardest kids to reach. I try to leave an uplifting word for Catholic parents, to lift them and their families up in prayer, to take care of my parents and sibling and grandparents and everyone I come into contact with. But you and the mom bloggers seem to think none of my sacrifice counts because I’m not doing it as a wife and mom. That’s just wrong, wrong, wrong. I’m doing a lot of the same things Catholic moms are doing, and some different things like going to work and doing all my errands, my chores, my living alone, with 99% less praise and reward than they get all the time. Moderns Catholics are making marriage and parenthood into idols, rather than seeing them as they have been seen for 2,000 years.

    You say Catholic mom bloggers remind us we are “made in the image of the divine Family.” No, we are made in the image of the divine God. That is all. In heaven we are not men and women, mothers and fathers, married or single. We are children of God, made solely in HIS image. Marriage and parenthood are choices. Hoping to be married and a parent but not finding anyone is not a choice. Stop praising yourselves for fulfilling the responsibilities of your choices. You aren’t a better person than I am because you get married and have a kid. You might be better than you were before that but that’s you. You might be more selfish after marriage or children, too. Marriage and children are not your rewards for being better people. Just stop.

    This isn’t about saying married Catholic parents are the worst people ever or single people are better. This is me saying you all need to stop idolizing marriage and parenthood. Stop making them your gods. God doesn’t like that and the rest of us think we’d be better off single if getting married and having kids makes you turn into arrogant kmow it alls who think they hung the moon.

  • Liberty

    No, it’s there. He quoted it.

  • Liberty

    P.S. I have always felt called to be a teacher and have done a lot of good so thanks for telling me it’s not good enough.

  • noelfitz

    Liberty,

    Thanks for your brilliant, honest and heart-felt contributions. I am here to be built-up in the faith, so I hesitate to be controversial, but I think of one who “was a friend of Plato, but a greater friend of truth.

    I read here “What a waste, motherhood. What about money and power and sex? What about martinis and condos and a string of boyfriends who make less than you?” Do Catholic Moms, like Our Lady, give birth without sex?

    But I disagree with you, Liberty. Throughout history the Catholic Church thought little of married women and men; the emphasis was on the holiness of celibate religious.

    Anyway, keep the faith, Liberty, as well as those who give
    thanks they are not like the rest of humans, there are sinners who hope for God’s
    mercy (Luke 18:10-13).

  • bringiton

    Noelfitz,
    Well…I certainly didn’t get that implication. I think Tyler, in his article ENTITLED “Why Are Catholic Mom Blogs So Awesome” was just giving a big “hurrah!” to Catholic Moms…he wasn’t dissing nuns, males, single women (Liberty!) or anybody else! If next time he does an article to give a “hurrah” to nuns or Godly men, should “Catholic Moms Who Blog” take offense at that?
    People need to grow a backbone and stop being so easily offended. Playing the “you offended me card” is getting VERY old! Speak the truth…and if the truth offends, so be it!

  • bringiton

    Liberty, you really have a chip on your shoulder don’t you?

  • bringiton

    P. S. S. No one said you’re not good enough!

  • John Keating

    You’re single? But how can that be when you seem so warm and charming?

    Oh, yes, I know, I’m being insulting. But as an older, single guy, I did not see any of what you’ve written. If you need someone to hug you and tell you you’re special and belong, see a support group. Leaving an essay in the comboxes is not healthy.

  • bringiton

    No one is idolizing anything here. Sorry, but God is familial…Family is everything! A family of Dad, Mom and Children is how God designed it from the very beginning. And the dad wasn’t a woman; and the mom wasn’t a man. The breakdown of the family is why the United States is in the toilet!

  • SnowCherryBlossoms

    I wonder what your Mother would have to say about your opinion on this?

  • SnowCherryBlossoms

    Praising Mothers is not excluding other women. It’s just praising Mothers.

  • Simon

    I love your comment. Its on point. Made with so much sincerity and love for God and His church. May God bless you and grant you your heart desires.

  • Katie Price

    Nope. She’s still Jewish. Her recognition of her Son as the Messiah makes her Jesus’ first disciple, no doubt, and the mother of the Church, but it’s really an overreach to say Mary “became” Catholic.

  • gigi4747

    I agree with a lot of what Liberty says, although I’m not sure how much of the “martyrdom by motherhood” I see in the Catholic blogosphere (which has had mixed effects on my faith and morale and which I now mostly stay away from) actually comes from the complaints of the mothers themselves; I think because faithful Catholics are discouraged by demographics, some of us tend to fawn over Catholic families because they seem like our – pardon the expression – salvation. As a single person, I got tired of the implication I saw the Catholic blogosphere that those who are married and have children are more thoughtful, selfless, etc, than those of us who haven’t been blessed with those things. I’ve never seen a correlation between being married or having kids and being an amazing human being. You’re supposed to sacrifice for your children. You’re not a hero for doing so, whether you’re male or female. Some parents are great people, some are crummy people. Most are somewhere in between.

    I also got tired of the whining on Catholic “mommy” blogs about how they brought their young children to Mass and the kids ended up – quelle surprise – annoying someone. Who then “glared” at them. And how therefore everyone is mean, doesn’t understand how hard their lives are, etc etc. I try to be supportive of stay at home mothers, but I honestly felt like some of the Catholic mothers whose blogs I went to could have used a part time job or something that would have given them some face to face interaction with adults.

  • gigi4747

    “You say Catholic mom bloggers remind us we are “made in the image of the divine Family.” No, we are made in the image of the divine God.”

    Great point.

  • QuoVadisAnima

    325AD? Tell that to St Ignatius of Antioch who wrote in his Letter to the Smyrnaeans (Ch.8) around 107AD, “Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude of the people
    also be; even as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.”

    It is clear from the context of his letter that he expects his readers to be familiar with this name as he gives no explanation of the term.

  • QuoVadisAnima

    The Blessed Mother is both – just as her Son is.

  • QuoVadisAnima

    You don’t sound jealous so much as you sound disturbingly bitter.

    As a Catholic homeschooling mom who has no time for blogging or much else, I just want to take some time to share with you that I have frequently encountered other Catholic moms with whom I just did not “click”. It is frustrating and some of those encounters have been hurtful because of possibly deliberate failures in charity on their part.

    At the same time, I also recognized that, though we had similar vocations, we didn’t all answer them the same way or with the same degree of knowledge, understanding or even enthusiasm – and so we didn’t actually have shared interests despite it appearing that we should. I prayed about it, while moving on until I found other people with whom I did have actual shared interests.

    Interestingly, the group we wound up joining eventually included a young woman who was a teacher to a handful of our homeschooled students after their parochial school closed, and she contributed a lot to our group in explicit as well as more subtle ways – we enjoyed our time with her and prayed for her discernment when she felt called to a religious vocation. God eventually told her ‘No’, and she is currently doing important biomedical research at a major university. She very much has been an integral part of our Catholic homeschooling group family within our broader Catholic family.

    I am truly sorry that you’ve been hurt and feel rejected – but why do you cast your bitterness out upon all instead of just the guilty? Better yet, why not practice forgiveness and give it all to God instead? I can promise you from my own repeated experiences, the peace of God’s healing, as well as the ability to forgive, is found by praying for those who have hurt us.

    As a Catholic mom of 5, I very much appreciate the encouragement that I get because every day I go to bed feeling totally inadequate and in over my head – and unappreciated. I know that there are other vocations that have their own challenges and need encouragement and deserve recognition, but in a world that rejects the vocation to imitate and model the Holy Family in ways that are constantly pulling our families down, if not to pieces, please don’t begrudge the efforts of those trying to build them up, even if it does get a bit hyperbolic.

    As Archbishop Fulton Sheen said, ‘You cannot build up by tearing down’. Let’s work on ways of building up all of the members of our Church without doing so at the expense of others.

  • MC

    I don’t think any self respecting Catholic mother would be allowing their children to be reading Harry Potter. It has been condemned by the head Vatican exorcist Fr. Amorth as evil. I don’t know any orthodox practicing Catholic families who allow their children to read Harry Potter.

  • Elizabeth

    Tyler, this is one of the most beautifully refreshing articles I’ve read about motherhood in a long time. You hit the nail… many nails… right smack on the head throughout the whole piece. Thank you for letting the Holy Spirit speak through you and creating such a seamless and necessary tribute to moms, blogging moms, to be specific. I’m going to share this on catholicmom.com’s facebook page. You’re a blessing!

  • goldushapple

    I was going to read your post, then I clicked the tab to expand to see it all – then I decided to just read the last paragraph.

    Yep, you’re a tool.

  • goldushapple

    Your tone fits the bill for a teacher: constantly complaining and thinking anything traditional is insulting. It must the personality type that’s attracted to teaching, or maybe it’s the curriculum …

  • goldushapple

    She does. I wonder what’s her thoughts on veils being worn in Church, or maybe her thoughts on a movement to bring it back? Such a topic tends to get the bitter Catholics and Christians out of the woodwork. I expect Liberty to produce a novel on the subject matter.

    Liberty is the type of Catholic/Christian that needs to see a counselor. It’s obvious she’s an obnoxious idiot.

  • goldushapple

    You awfully sound like a modernist complaining about family, trying to dismiss the importance and lay a “we’re all equal” platform out. Please get over yourself.

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