Not enough chocolate

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There is not enough chocolate to get me through these next few days. Baccalaureate mass tomorrow. Graduation the next day. In the words of Lillian, “What the?” (That’s all she says.)

I’m trying to gear myself up. I don’t want to be a cry baby. And so my gearing up seems to be manifesting itself into being one cranky woman. No one can do right by me. ‘Cause my world is in a tailspin.

Cherish every moment -- our biggest and littlest.

I’m really trying to be okay with it. After all, when we have children it is supposed to be our hope that they grow up, enjoy learning, work hard in school, graduate from high school, go to the college of their choice blah, blah, and all the stuff that goes with it. And I have hoped that and am grateful that things have worked out so well for Helen. And us.

I just didn’t expect it all to happen so quickly.

And I know everybody says that. I’m guess I’m just one more (happy and proud) mother (in a tailspin) verifying that well-known fact. Time is a gift. Cherish each moment with your kids.

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Three years

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May 24.

Three years ago today, a dear, dear friend died. It’s hard to believe that much has time has passed. But then, at times, the memory feels so distant because of all the stuff of life that has occurred between then an now.

My thoughts went to her all day today. Her smile, her laugh. Her huge brown eyes. Her innocence and understanding. She knew she was a child of God. And I loved that.

I will cherish the time we spent planning vacation bible school the summer before she died.  I was 8.5 months pregnant. She had cancer. What a motley couple. We laughed hard and worked hard. After that, we talked every day, that is, until she lost her voice. An unnecessarily cruel side effect for a woman who loved to chat on the phone.

Her death brought so many to their knees. She was so young, so faithful and so alive.

I will forever hear her voice ring in my left ear saying, “God is good all the time. All the time, God is good.” She was right, you know.

Pray for me, Saint Danalee. XO

LORD, my heart is not proud; nor are my eyes haughty. I do not busy myself with great matters, with things too sublime for me. Rather, I have stilled my soul, hushed it like a weaned child. Like a weaned child on its mother’s lap, so is my soul within me. Israel, hope in the LORD, now and forever.

Psalm 131

Who’s the fairest?

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Well we are. Of course.

It’s time for our parish fair, and the smell of cotton candy and gasoline generator exhaust is in the air. It’s always amazing how the space surrounding the church, school and parish office is transformed into our own little (yet action-packed) fair ground. The rides are major and so is the fun. The kids are running at a fever pitch. Lillian will be so excited to wake up tomorrow and realize that it is THE day.

Good weather predicted. As is a good time. Come on down!

Say what?

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Two things I hear all the time.

One.

“Are you done?”

Direct, to the point. That’s the question people often ask about my reproductive future.

Two.

“I’m so glad I’m past that stage.”

Always indirect, but equally to the point People don’t say it to me, but say it in earshot. They say it for me. It usually occurs when I’m chasing Cliff or Lillian, or excusing myself to change a diaper.

_____

No one who reads this should feel singled out should you be one who has said either of those things. Because, I can assure you, you are not alone. You are among very good company. And don’t worry, I’m not keeping track or keeping score.

I usually don’t answer the first. I just smile and let the question hang there.

When I hear the second, I admit, I always feel a little odd. I also feel a little old. Then I remind myself as I chase after my newly toddling boy, that although I may (technically) be old enough to be this baby’s grandmother, more importantly, I’m young enough to be his mother. And for that I am infinitely thankful.

Would I rather not be chasing him? The answer to that is the same as to a whole slew of other questions that go along with having a baby in the house … Would I rather not hold him and cuddle with him as he points to pictures in his books? Would I rather not hear his hearty laugh as Henry pretends to trip and fall? Would I rather not see him fold his sweet baby hands in prayer as we say these simple words, “Bless Us O Lord?” Would I rather not stare into his enormous brown eyes and be filled with the wonder and awe of the gift of creation that has been so graciously placed in the care of my unworthy hands and heart?

I’m happy for the chasing. I’m happy for the sleeplessness. I’m happy for the extra laundry and the carseats and even the diapers. I’m happy for the food on the floor, the baby proofing and the runny nose. I’m also happy for the growing, the wondering, the caring, the nuzzling, the learning and the loving. And I’m especially happy for that precious gift of life.

Life is an opportunity, benefit from it. Life is beauty, admire it. Life is bliss, taste it. Life is a dream, realize it. Life is a challenge, meet it. Life is a duty, complete it. Life is a game, play it. Life is a promise, fulfill it. Life is sorrow, overcome it. Life is a song, sing it. Life is a struggle, accept it. Life is a tragedy, confront it. Life is an adventure, dare it. Life is luck, make it. Life is too precious, do not destroy it. Life is life, fight for it.

Mother Teresa

Living in the hood

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Motherhood is a bit like living in Narnia. Parts are amazingly beautiful. Parts are a bit scary and unpredictable. There are strange little creatures all around doing equally strange things, and every now and then you feel like and are treated like a queen.

I truly love being a mother. I know that being a wife and mother is my vocation. I heard the call and listened. And those who know me well know there is a lot that goes into the statement.

I am grateful for having experienced a special (yet minuscule) glimpse into God’s awesome mystery of creation, but I know that giving birth does not a mother make.

I know this especially as I see my friend and her five adopted children. Or when I experience the hope and anticipation of adoption with my little sister. I see mothering in my dear friend as she loves and spoils her nieces and nephews. I mother my spouse when he’s ill or needs my care. I so vividly recall my mother mothering her parents as they advanced in age. And I recognize that I am fortunate to be mothered by many amazing women in addition to my own beautiful and wonderful mother.

I guess that’s why mother is a verb, a noun and in my life a very important adjective (as in Holy Mother Church).

It doesn’t matter how you get here–whether through a magical wardrobe, with an enchanted ring, by birth, courtroom, relationship, friendship or just by chance. You got here. Welcome to the hood.

God bless you and happy mother’s day.

Emanicpation Proclamation

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A few days ago, dear 17-year-old Helen asked me if I would consider allowing her to wear a bikini this summer. An interesting and surprising request. One that follows a long history of discussion in this very household on that very subject.

“I would choose something modest,” my daughter said. (Is that an oxymoron? Modest bikini?)

Apparently my contemplative look was quickly misinterpreted.

She jumped in with, “You know…in six weeks, I’ll be emancipated. I’ll be 18.” I’m not sure if she thought that would give credence to her request.

Emancipated? What does she think she is? An indentured servant?

Then for the cherry on top she added: “You know, then I could run away.” She was joking, of course.

I reminded her that if she indeed was going to be emancipated, then it wouldn’t be called running away. It would be called leaving or moving out.

Then she asked the question that got the “yes” she desired.

“Mom. I guess I am asking for permission to make the choice for myself.”

Yes. Of course you can. Permission granted. After all…she’ll soon be emancipated. As quickly as I agreed, I told her I was sure she would make a good choice. Because she will.

When I shared this little story, I was reminded by more than one friend that I wore bikinis regularly. And I did. I also remember one day at 17 or 18, my big brother stopping me, telling me I couldn’t go to the beach in a bikini.  And that I wasn’t leaving the house. I remember thinking he was joking, but then realized he wasn’t. Oddly, I don’t remember the outcome of that moment, but do very clearly remember the moment. In a split second, I became much more conscious of how I presented myself.  I saw myself differently that day. Now, of course, as a mother–especially of daughters–I see it all very differently. I don’t want them wearing burlap sacks, and I certainly understand the desire to be fashionable.  But I do want them to at the very least consider their modesty and what it means with regard to making choices on how they dress.

To top this off, I was going to put in a Bible or Catechism quote about modesty.  Even though I found many truthful and meaningful quotes … they all were a bit too radical in their wording. So instead, I’ll translate: God wants us to respect our bodies and be modest. And he means it … because it’s in the Bible a bunch of times. Popes have written about it and so have a bucket load of saints. Amen and cover up.