Tuesday, May 19, 2015

When The Same Post You Wrote Goes Viral Not Once, But Twice, You Know You Hit A Nerve

Well, that's weird.

On Sunday I noticed several new blog notifications, which caused me to check my stats, something I rarely do anymore.  I just don't have the time or energy to police who is coming to this here blog these days.  However, I wandered over to that stat counter anyway because of all the new notifications and low and behold, someone had unearthed and re-posted the article Sorry, Catholic Parenting Is Not An Insurance Policy For Raising Well Adjusted Catholic Children.

Yesterday, at the two-day a week Classical academy my children attend, I saw two of my mom-friends and both said they had read the article over the weekend.  Both women also admitted they have experienced the same type of thing--judgment from like-minded women about their parenting practices--and that my words resonated with them.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Artist's Way Is Anything But Silly

Once I was at the park when a mom announced that her husband used to be a writer.

"He wrote for years before we got married," she confessed, "but now we have kids and I told him to put that silliness away."

I almost choked on my tongue so astounded was I at this woman's flippant disregard for her husband's creative life.

I've been reading Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way, a spiritual self-help guide for the creative who needs to get back in touch with his or her artistic side.  The first sentence of her book encapsulates the heart of why I was so put off by my acquaintance's commentary.

Cameron says, "Art is a spiritual transaction."

Yes, yes it is.

Friday, May 1, 2015

A Mother's Serenity Prayer

 *the photos in this post are dedicated to Aunt RaRa, who loves my kids so much it hurts

When the heat goes out and the temperature is negative two degrees outside and I wonder when the oil company will arrive to save us from this dangerous situation,
Lord, help me to accept hardship as a pathway to peace, to take as Jesus did the sinful world as it is, not as I would have it.

When we are on day three of no working heat and we don't hear the pipes burst and a child wakes us the next morning to tell us there is water gushing from the wall and pouring all over the living room floor,
           Lord, help me to accept hardship as a pathway to peace, to take as Jesus did the sinful world as it is, not as I would have it.

When a child wakes in the dead of night with a scream so blood-curdling I suspect the neighbors may have heard, a scream so loud it causes a second and then a third child to awaken and require middle of the night attention,
Lord, help me to accept hardship as a pathway to peace, to take as Jesus did the sinful world as it is, not as I would have it.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Tay-Tay Was Right: There Is Something To 22

Spring of 1999, the year we graduated.  We had these shirts made up because...we were 22.

The summer going into my senior year of college, I had my heart broken.  I fell hard for a guy, but it didn't work out mainly because there wasn't enough room in the relationship for me and his ego.

True story.

Much of the courtship (I hate that word) was riddled with game playing and even though I suspected the dude was trouble upon our initial meeting, I still entertained his friendship.

(I was a sucker for tall, dark, and handsome, which this guy most definitely was.)

Stupid me.

It was a good things didn't work out and I know this now, but at the time, I was pulled under by a tidal wave of heartache and it took me much of the summer to emerge from my love sick haze.

In the fall, I went back to Saint Mary's, the all women's college I attended, and twice a week I began volunteering at the homeless shelter in town.  It was here a bunch of other twenty-somethings and  me spent time with and tutored the children who lived in the shelter.

I loved my work.  It felt valuable to me, felt like I was contributing something important.  Most of my college years were spent obsessing about My Life:  my grades, my future job, and my social life, so to take a step back and think about someone else, especially someone so emotionally and materially needy, was a welcome change.

Every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, after my classes had let out for the day, I showed  up to the shelter and helped the the kids with their homework.  A funny thing happened that I didn't expect when I started, though.  I began to make friends with the other college kids who worked with me.  One guy in particular, whose name was Ben* (not), volunteered during my time slot.

A few superficial notes about Ben:  He was a football player at Notre Dame, was strong and good looking, and he volunteered his free time with homeless children.

My interest in him was a no-brainer, but I was still licking my summer wounds, so I kept my distance.

One night after work, Ben invited me to dinner.  I accepted the invite and we had a lovely time.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Motherhood Has Not Robbed Me Of Myself

I read this article the other day entitled Motherhood didn't Ruin Me, It Made My Life Better and in it the author writes:

Now I am writing the novel that I never “had the time” to write when I was too busy living for myself. In a way, it’s a paradox. With Sofia by my side, I am no longer free to do whatever I want, whenever I want, however I please. But, instead of that idea of freedom, I now possess a clearer focus of my true passion—writing. Somehow, in a way I can’t fully express in words, I am more alive as a mother than I was as a happy-go-lucky girl who traveled the world and reveled in freedom.

The entire thing is worth a read, but I've been thinking about the insights this young mom has gleaned in the short amount of time she's spent parenting.  The idea that she gave something up to become a mother, yet found a greater part of herself is truly profound.  Although the world sees motherhood as a complete imposition on a woman's freedom, the reality is that motherhood has allowed this young woman to discover a freedom she didn't know possible. 

It wasn't until I reflected on the author's words that I realized this has been my experience in my vocation as well. When I was a young mother with a bunch of toddlers running around, I was often bored with my at home duties.  The monotony of filling sippy cups and doing laundry and changing diapers came as a surprise to me.  Yes, I was hopelessly in love with the child who grinned at me while I wiped his dirty bottom, but I didn't realize motherhood would sometimes be so....boring.  I didn't realize I would not be intellectually challenged like I was for some many years in college and graduate school or when I worked professionally.  At school and at work, I was recognized for my contributions and successes, but at home, so much of what I did was hidden.  When John came home from work, it wasn't unusual for me to regale him with a list of all I did.

"Did you see I organized the pantry, John?"

"I folded all the laundry!"

Or my personal favorite, "Guess what?  I showered today!"

How was he supposed to respond to those Mount Everest feats?

"Ummm, that's great, honey?!"

I quickly realized if this whole at-home motherhood thing was going to work, I needed to find something to do outside of taking care of my family.  I needed a hobby or an interest to engage me while I fulfilled my main responsibilities.

So I took an inventory of Things I Might Like To Spend Time Doing So I Don't Lose My Mind (or something like that) and one of those things turned into a blog for family and friends.  For the last nine years, I've been writing on this little online journal, telling funny stories or sharing spiritual insights I've had.  I have written some really, really bad stuff  (my apologies to those who read these early pages) but I kept writing...in the morning, late at night, during nap time, and while I burned dinner.  I wrote and wrote and wrote and over the years, my writing got better, not New York Times essay journalist better, but substantially better.  I joined a Writer's Guild, went to a few conferences, read some writing books, made some contacts, and was even able to publish a few things online and in print.

Friday, March 27, 2015

7 Quick Takes: The Funny Kids Stories Edition

Did you think I had gone away never to return?  I thought about it, but then I wouldn't remember any of these funny stories from the kids, so I'm pressing on with this here neglected blog. Linking up again with Kelly for 7 quick takes.

1. Six year old, Christopher discovered a small insignificant toy of Camille's, on which he had designs.  I don't know where the stupid thing came from or how we got it, but as soon as he saw it, he wanted the spotted animal.

So he asked Camille to trade toys and the ensuing conversation between the two of them convinced me that Christopher will never have a chance when it comes to negotiating with calculating females.

There are only a few things in life Christopher loves and they are as follows:  Cupcake the Bear (which he sleeps with every night and Deedoe gave him when he was a wee lad), his Legos, and his toy sword found in the Narnia books.  Camille, who knows her brother well, is aware of this fact.  She knows these are his most prized possessions and she decided to use that to her advantage.

When he asked her to trade toys, she immediately responded,  "Sure, I'll need your Legos, Cupcake the Bear, and your sword then you can have the giraffe."

He left the room in tears because parting from those things was impossible for him.  Camille knew this.

I'm considering submitting her application for a seat as one of the Sharks on ABC's Shark Tank.

Camille will eat you for breakfast and then ask for more. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Three Good Catholic Reads

During the last week of January, when the grey had permanently settled in the sky and all I could see out my windows was a world painted the colors of a penitentiary, I received a late Christmas package: a box of review copy books.  

When I tore into the brown UPS package, my heart leapt with joy because although it was dreary and cold outside, there is nothing like a delicious stack of new books cure mid-winter blues (or in this case, greys).

Since it’s Lent and because I’ve plowed through a few of the titles since I received them, I thought I might suggest a book (or three) that might be of interest to Integrated Catholic Life readers.

Read the rest at Integrated Catholic Life.
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