Other people

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This is a great, thoughtful post from Simcha Fisher at the National Catholic Register. She’s always so thoughtful, and often so funny. This one is more thoughtful, but I know lots of moms/folks can relate.

When women read about other women’s lives, we tend to think, “Oh, I’m a failure  as a mother! All I do is hang around reading with my kids all day, when I ought  to be doing liturgical crafts!” or “My husband must be so disappointed with  me—those other woman are so beautiful and exciting, and all I do is cook and  clean!” And meanwhile the kids and husband in question are perfectly happy—it’s  only the mom who sees a problem.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/other-peoples-souls/#ixzz1NMevmexe


Egg head


Trouble, trouble, trouble.

On the way to school the other day, Lillian asked the question. And I mean, THE question.

“How does a baby get in your tummy?”

I’ve learned over the years to do a quick evaluation. What exactly does a four-year-old want to get out this exchange? What kind of answer will satisfy that burning question at this very minute? I always think back to my friend Heidi’s five-year-old daughter’s inquiry about pilgrims. Heidi’s long explanation about religious persecution, traveling for months in desperate conditions, most people not surviving the journey, etc. Her dear (horrified) daughter’s follow-up response was akin to “Oh. So pilgrims are PEOPLE!” Ever hear of TMI? That’s an error I certainly don’t want to make on the delicate subject of baby-making.

I respond.

I can’t quote myself verbatim, because frankly, I have no real idea of what I said. But it had something to do with husbands, wives, love, God, creation, gifts and time.

Does not compute.

“No, I mean, how does the baby get IN there?” This time she’s pressing a little harder. Reminding me through her four-goinig-on-14 inflection that apparently, I am a dingbat. Do I, or do I not understand the question?

I sort of went back to my first answer. I expanded, and somehow in the midst of my caffeine-starved morning-brain stupor I made the mistake of using the word “egg.”

“Wait! Are you telling me that there’s an egg in those big bellies? Babies are born in eggs?”

Well, I tried hard in the two remaining minutes of the ride to unexplain that one. I am quite sure that worse than not giving her information is giving her life-changing, mind-altering crazy-pants incorrect facts, unintentionally or otherwise.

Whether I was able to undo what had been done remains a mystery. But I won’t lie. I was relieved when the trip was over and our destination reached. She appeared satisfied. That is, until our car ride home, when the string of questions that eeked its way from her sweet rose-petal lips began with something like, “Does it hurt to have a baby? How do you get the egg out? Is it hard? Does it come from your belly button? Is that why your belly button is so big”


Since I’d had some prep time and a cup or two of coffee, I was much more on my game. As a matter of fact, in this case I’m pretty sure I can give you a word-by-word account. It went something like, “Do you want Taco Bell for lunch? You can have a cheesy roll up if you’d like.”

“Can I have two?”

Sure, kid. You can have two.

You’re still a good mommy

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That’s what Lillian said to me today, just in case I was feeling insecure. I had forgotten to brown the pork roast before putting it in the crock pot. As she watched me disassemble the agglomeration she had seen me so carefully arrange just moments before, she inquired, and I confessed.

“That’s okay, you’re still a good mommy.” Well, that’s a relief. I was starting to doubt my mother skills completely (never mind my crock-potting prowess). I was feeling especially inadequate after Henry’s comment on Monday while waiting for his toaster waffles to pop. “Are you going to help me spread this butter or are you going to be one of those selfish mothers who doesn’t assist little children?” Then after a thoughtful pause added, “Mother’s day is over. Get to work.”

(He was kidding and performed this whole 30-second monologue talking to the toaster in most annoying whine he could muster at 8 a.m. on a very unwelcome school day.)


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That’s what I am.

You probably think I either have nothing to say. The truth is, I have too much and no time to tell.

Lent was full of lessons, wonder, sucesses, heartache, failure and ultimately joy (thank you God for Easter!). I want to tell my stories before they leave my feeble brain.

I’m just in a pinch for that all-illusive gift of time. Kids off from school. I’m paralyzed a bit by work deadlines, migrating to a new computer, doctors’ appointments, music lessons, fetching a college student after her first year (and all her stuff–which apparently reproduced), spring cleaning and another approaching “episode” of Saint Mom’s U at St. Joan of Arc. I so often need to catch my breath. And the moments I do that are when I’m crawling on the floor pretending to be a doggy or a kitty with Cliff, or punching out paper dolls with Lillian or talking baseball with Henry and laughing with Mary Claire or texting (sad as that may seem) Helen. I want stop and come here … and I will. I just need some stronger coffee and 48 hours in a day …

A sight to behold

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I looked outside and saw nine-year-old Henry riding his trick bike, wearing black baseball pants that might as well be leggins, no socks, cleats, a black Harley Davidson T-shirt, and a black suede Hop-Along Cassidy vest that is part of a Halloween costume he wore when he was maybe five at the most.

I watched him stop, put one foot down, adjust his banged-up Hot Wheel helmet and look west to admire the sunset. He scanned the sky and found the moon, then looked again at the back-lit clouds. He saw me. Gave me a thumbs up. Pointed to the sky, nodded in approval, got back on that bike and sped around for the last fleeting moments of daylight. He is his father’s son, for sure. Appreciating the beauty of this earth, even on the go. What a gift.

Gratitudinal pull


In the middle of the night, when I’m sitting in the dark living room, holding sweet Clifford, through my exhaustion, all I can think of is how truly grateful I am.

Cliff is a climber. At bedtime, he pretends he’s asleep so I’ll leave the room. And before the door handle latches closed, I hear him climb out of his crib. Then a little celebratory giggle. The key is to stand crib-side long enough so that he actually falls asleep as he’s pretending to sleep waiting for me to leave. And sometimes that takes a long time. If he raises his head, I cluck once or twice so he knows I’m there. And he quickly resumes the fake-out position.

I don’t think he’s ready for a big bed because he’ll never stay put. Except, I’m pretty sure with the way he hops the side of the crib, there’s not much of a difference. Perhaps I’m not ready for the big bed.

He’s almost two. He quit nursing early. After suffering through biting at every sitting for four-months, at 10 months, I finally got the hint. He wanted to see what was going on. I gave him his first bottle then, which he happily quit in one day just a few months later. And he’s never looked back.  Although he doesn’t say much, he plays and responds like a big boy. We had to stop strapping him in his seat at table because he complained the whole time. And not just once–I’m no push-over. But for months. As soon as we’d take him out of his booster seat, he’d scoot his plate to another chair, kneel up and eat. So, it only made sense. In his own non-verbal way, he’s very determined in asserting his independence. At lunch time, when he’s finished, he brings his plate to me at the kitchen sink without prompting. It’s one small thing. But it gives me hope. And I know a least a little more civility will (eventually) follow.

Wha? Who me?

So when it’s dark and I’m alone with him because he’s climbed out of his crib (again) at 2 a.m., I can only count my blessings.  Next year at this time, he’ll be rounding the corner to three, most-likely potty trained and needing two-piece jammies instead of one-piece fuzzy footies. He’ll be too long to hold the same way with his head on my shoulder and knees folded fitting perfectly the length of my torso. Who knows, he may actually be able to tell me a thing or two. I’m sure by then he’ll most likely have suffered through many more wounds from his wildness. More split lips and skinned knees are sure to follow him. He’ll so quickly go from toddler to preschooler in the same blink of an eye that brought him here from swaddled bundle.

He's dressed like an animal ... because he is one.

I’m not really sentimental about it, but I sure am appreciative. I still pinch myself in disbelief that we even have been granted the gift of this little guy. He’s certainly turbo-charged the chaos-o-meter in this household.

So, this morning, as I again moved all the dining room chairs to living room (to stop him from pushing them to climb on the kitchen counter), all I had to do is take one look at at that beautiful, wound-up brown-eyed boy–who was trying with all his might to move the piano bench into the kitchen–to be reminded again exactly how grateful I am. And I am easily pulled to my knees in thanksgiving.

40 deeds done dirt cheap


In addition to more prayer and observing church fasts, etc., some of my Lenten promises are

  1. to get rid of 40 bags of stuff around here (inspired by a post at Faith and Family Live).
  2. complete 40 tedious tasks –the stuff that doesn’t affect daily function, but needs to be done (like re-line the one kitchen drawer that needs it, fix the two-inches of peeled paint on a shoe molding in the bathroom, rotate children’s books, etc.). I know, it’s hard not to count the many tedious tasks of daily life in this, but apparently clothing and feeding my children actually affect daily life.
  3. Write 40 letters for life. The idea here is to send letters to corporations that have been tagged as donating to Planned Parenthood, and see if I can get their stories so we can make an informed decision about choosing not to purchase their products, etc. That has already been fruitful, and I’ve received several responses.

I’m not exactly sure how dirt cheap doing all this is. But I guess that’s the point of the sacrifice. I find it pretty much time consuming. Which takes me back to my idea of lentamente. And I’m wondering if I’m doing exactly what I didn’t want to do, and shooting myself in the foot.

The good part is, I do offer the darn tedious tasks and stuff-bagging as prayers. When I question what I’m doing, my heart does go back to Christ. In a round about way. But it makes it to him. I know I’m making my family’s life a little better, more peaceful, less cluttered,  and since my family is actually a product of my love for my spouse and our commitment to one another — through the sacrament of marriage — bound by God’s saving presence … I remember why I’m even tackling the task to begin with: it’s because I’m insane. And I know that even in my insanity, Jesus still loves me … see what I mean?

Just a closer walk with thee

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We sat down yesterday with the kids to discuss our plans for lent. Each of theirs individually, and ours as a family.

We talked about our family’s theme (which is actually my theme, but I’m the mom … so … what I say …). We discussed the prayer about Christ having no body but ours. Henry quickly reminded me of the song we know with those words. (Which we used as homeschooling  anthem a few years ago).

We talked about how each of us needs to think of Jesus before we speak to one another in an unkind tone. How we could all use this season to remember all the things we appreciate about each other — we are all God’s children, and brothers and sisters in Christ. If we think of him in all we do, our relationship with Him will change and with each other, too. And wouldn’t that be nice? And — after all — look at what our brother did for us.

“What?” Lillian questioned.

“He died on the cross.”

“But I don’t want Jesus to die. ‘Cause he’s walking around in my heart.”

Which is good. I’m glad she gets that part (sort 0f) and can only pray it sees her through.

Because after 7 a.m. mass and receiving ashes, she announced she needed to wash her face right away. I explained she could tell her friends at school that Ash Wednesday marks the day that Jesus went off to pray in the desert. And she quickly said, “Why would I want to tell anyone THAT?” Then marched in the bathroom.

Then in the mid-afternoon she melted in a puddle on the floor crying that she was exhausted from coloring her Lenten calendar and couldn’t do it anymore. Not quite how I was hoping this long season would start.

Wait, what’s my theme? Lentamente or insanity. Oh yeah, that was it.