Saturday, February 26, 2011

Toilet Paper Love

It has recently occurred to me that God has granted me a very special privilege. It's not very glamorous or even worthy of mentioning to my friends, so I thought I would write about it. He has granted me the opportunity to practice my love for Him on a daily basis through the experience of changing the roll of toilet paper in the bathroom. I say "the" bathroom," but what I mean by that is "every bathroom I come in contact with during the day, because it never fails that anytime and anywhere I go to the bathroom anytime and anywhere, it always just happens to be time to change the roll of toilet paper." It has always just run out before I come. This process began years ago and I became very bitter at the fact that I was ALWAYS restocking the toilet paper in every bathroom I went into. And then when I was pregnant it seemed that my experience grew to an even greater knowledge of bathrooms because as everyone knows, pregnant women pee all the time. After touring the town and then the world and replacing roll after roll of toilet paper, I discovered a few things...

First thing, that is not so useful for my soul, but kinda fun... they have some pretty cool places to stash toilet paper before it is used. In Italy in the seminaries they have a special cabinet and in Rome's hotel rooms there a small hook much like one you would hang your jacket on and the rolls hang on there until you need them. Sometimes I am hesitant to not use the rolls I find... found on the floor in the stall next to me (good thing I carry tissues) and other times in restaurants and such there are elaborate cabinets. In the Frassati House where I work it's pretty simple since there is a shelf next to the potty where they are all packaged nicely and I can get to them easily and at my parents house you tend to find it on top of the toilet which makes life easier. Rest stops, Chick-fil-A, grocery stores, department stores, other people's homes... the different cool places you find their "replacement rolls" has been eye opening. ;)

I have also found that certain brands of tp totally hate for you to open their packages... at least that is how it seems after countless minutes of using the small muscles I have to get in. Not nice. Especially because you usually try to open them before going potty. Who wants to search for and open rolls after going potty? Ha.

So there you have it. One of my secret jobs God has granted me is "Toilet Paper Replacer." It's very noble and no one ever thanks me... but in a weird, but simple way, it has helped me to love more.

The second thing I have discovered. As a wife and mother, we all know that our job is so monotonous. I could set world records for the times I have loaded and unloaded the dishwasher. Sometimes I wonder when my pots will fall apart if I wash them just one more time. And the amount of diapers I go through in a day just may reach the diaper hall of fame (until I think of some of my friends with more than 2 kids in diapers... and then I think... nah, maybe I would lose). Either way, these jobs come up every day and if you miss just one day, your house will fall apart. Three meals a day for all of us. Loads and loads of laundry (especially when you have sick kids), and the dusting, vacuuming and straightening up could sometimes be enough to make you pull your hair out. BUT, this is God's will for me. This is part of the kinda boring stuff that goes along with the totally amazing stuff... creating a cozy home and raising the precious souls He gave to me... and hoping and praying to make one man the happiest man in the world (Patrick Bentley!)

So, the point is... my job with toilet paper has grown on me, making me less and less bitter at the monotonous jobs in my life, making me less and less concerned about not getting a thank you after every meal I try to feed Gabriel and every diaper I change and every piece of furniture I dust and every meal I cook and every trip the grocery store where I haul to small children in and out of the car twice just to get 8 things. It has been an experience with toilet paper I never knew would leave me to love a little bigger. God has stretched me with this small hidden task I have (seriously, on a daily basis). So, next time you go potty in a bathroom, whether it's your own or somewhere else, and you see a brand new chunky roll of toilet paper waiting for you, you can thank Jesus for the generous heart He just gave to the person who refilled it for you! They surely didn't do it because they wanted to. God's grace can move us to all kinds of crazy simple love.

Thank you, Jesus, for every time you have given me the unique (very unique) opportunity to replace the toilet paper roll... all over the world.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Happiest Kid I Know

My sweet second baby boy, Anthony. I have done him a bit of injustice because I probably posted about Gabriel every other day and this kid hasn't had but one entry to himself since he was born. A small update: He is 3 lbs lighter than Gabriel (my almost 2 year old), he is turning over both ways, from his back to belly first and then just two days ago he started going from his belly to back... he did it backwards. He is getting his two front bottom teeth and hasn't complained for one second. He loves to grunt and he SMILES all day LONG! He has been a joy because I love having some chubbiness to hold on to and some huge cheeks to eat. Yummy. He giggles at just about anything. All you have to do is look at him and he busts out with a little giggle. He is taking two naps a day, one in the morning around 10am and another around 3pm when Gabriel is waking up from his nap. The boys tag team naps, so I rarely have a break, but I do get to spend quite a bit of "alone time" with each of them. God answered my prayer when I asked to have enough time for them individually. He is super laid back and chills anywhere we go. He is a great nurser and loves to cuddle. He is lately enjoying the johnny jump up so much and we discovered last night that he cracks up at the video, "Baby Signing Time." He spends most of his days making sure Gabriel doesn't lay on him to hard when he hugs him... and rolling around on the ground. He's the best baby ever. He is sleeping from about 9pm-5am and then going back to sleep till 8:30am when Gabriel gets up. It's great. I generally call him "Bubby, " "Fatty," or "Chunky Monkey" which are all super appropriate! He is the happiest kid I know!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sweet Detachment

This evening I watched my sweet two door honda civic with spoiler and sunroof drive away for the last time. We sold it. Ahh, the sweetness in letting go and ahh, the sweetness in being filled up. When my dad bought me that car I was a college sophomore and after many weeks of him asking me if I really wanted a 4 door Ford Focus, my mom convinced him that the 2 door civic was way cooler. Besides, who needs 4 doors, when it's just me climbing in and out?!

I am now no longer alone. Thanks to my Jesus. He has gifted me with an amazing husband and two incredible baby boys. So now, 4 doors would be more suitable. This only means that my life is more full. I reflected tonight as it drove away because it really was another sign of my detachment as mother. It's amazing how that totally amazing car that I adored just didn't add up anymore when I turned around and saw my two smiling boys.

Jesus, thank you for continuing to take away, so I may have more room in my heart to love people and not things. This happens so often. The car is just a tiny example of how he strips us of our worldliness and carries us closer to the heart of our vocation. It was my awesome job, it was my flat belly, it was my freedom to travel without hauling carseats, it was feeding myself before anyone else... it was my 2 door sweet ride... all for you, Jesus. Make my heart bigger, so I can love bigger.

And Daisy, my Honda, it's been real.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Genius of Women

Last week I was invited to speak at an event sponsored by Vanderbilt Catholic called "The Genius of Women" in honor of the beautiful letter written by John Paul II. I spoke to a secular audience and was asked to reflect on motherhood and fertility through the lens of my miscarriage, hence, a pro-life approach but without mentioning much about my faith life and I only had 3 minutes to do it... The talk took me days to write with such restrictions.... I thought I would share...

It was June 27th, 2008. I had passed out in my OB’s office due to the intense pain I was experiencing and I was rushed to the hospital for some pain killers to help me physically cope. Once I was aware enough, they rolled me into the ultrasound room. Although technically she couldn’t officially say, I bribed the ultrasound tech with my teary eyes and after a while she confirmed for me that there was indeed no heartbeat found on her screen. The sorrow in that moment was pretty overwhelming. I knew something was terribly wrong, but to hear it was heartbreaking. After all, like any other mother who was 7 weeks pregnant I had already imagined his face, what I would teach him, the kisses I would cover his cheeks with and who he would grow to be. It was a sorrow that I will carry with me forever. Being pregnant I started to learn to love as a mother. After losing my physical motherhood I realized that my ability and responsibility to love as a mother doesn’t just extend to my children but to everyone I encounter. As a woman I was given special gifts. I still had a dignity and value to the world.

I realized that the unique gifts I had been given could still bring a great vibrancy and life to those around me. I could bear fruit in my relationships with friends, co-workers, my students, my husband and my family. I was created with a heart to give and a heart to love. I was able to listen intently to a friend who was suffering. I was easily able to offer affection to those who needed a good squeeze on any given day. I was able to be attentive to details that others may overlook. I could be consoling without being asked to. I could cook a meal for someone who was sick. I could fix things that others didn’t know were broken. My motherhood was a gift to others. I was designed this way and it filled me up. As a women I realized this beautiful tendency to love was not out of duty but desire.

I eventually was given the unique opportunity to bear fruit physically. I cannot tell you the feeling I had the first time I felt Gabriel kick in my belly. I must have laid there for hours waiting for the next movement. There was a person inside me. What an honor and privilege! Over the next months I got to imagine how he was growing while watching my belly stretch so big. I don’t think a day went by when I didn’t look in the mirror and say to myself “Is this seriously my body?” I could eventually tell where his little feet were and were his butt was when he stretched inside. It was truly the most amazing experience of my life. I have now been fortunate enough to experience this two times. I have since had one more little boy, Anthony, who is not so little. He is my chunky kid and Gabriel is my little peanut. These boys have given me a bigger purpose in my life.

You see I didn’t wait till I had the big house or the picket fence, a steady job or income at that. My children have not been a check on my list, but more life in my life. With them I have come to realize the power in my hands. I have them in my grasp from the moment they take their first breath until the moment they walk out the door… and even then… I am still their mother. No matter where they go, no matter where you go… we all have a mother. They are esteemed and honored because they gave us life. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Don’t you talk about my mama?” It says it all. Mothers are respected in all circumstances.

As a home engineer I feel I have one of the most important jobs in the world. I wouldn’t trade it for any position or any cost. There lies a nobility in what I do. Yes, I do laundry and cook and clean, but that’s on the side. Leaving the job as a big CEO behind leaves me to influence people in a bigger way as a mother. I am the main source of forming my children to be citizens of this world. Motherhood is outsourced today and I can see why… this is the most I have ever sacrificed and struggled in my life, but it’s worth every penny. I helped with Gabriel’s first steps, I have read to him countless hours to help form a proper vocabulary, I have worked day after day to form manners and good habits, I have had to let him cry it out through the night so he could learn to get a good night’s sleep, I have tried to get him to eat well, and I am working on his kindness, compassion, responsibility, self-control, and most importantly I am trying to teach him how to love… which is only achieved by him watching my life and how I love. This is the responsibility on a mother’s shoulders… feel the pressure, ladies? You should.

You think they are not watching you, but they are… your every move. I was cooking dinner the other night and heard Gabriel in the living room talking. Anthony was kicking around on his play mat and Gabriel was sitting next him repeating the very words I speak to Anthony every day, “Hey little buddy. Howya doin’. Hey buddy. So cute.” One other instance was the other day while we met a little boy at the Children's Hospital. We were watching the train after Mass there and met a friend. When we went to leave I asked Gabriel to tell him bye. Gabriel looked up at me and said, "Hug, mommy." OK, go ahead, be sweet and give him a hug. And then before I could get to him he yelled, "KISS TOO" and planted a big wet kiss right on that stranger's mouth. Yuck. But, all my hard work in getting him to welcome people and say good-bye properly surely paid off. So sweet.

Just as I have discovered, you too have a great dignity and great responsibility to use your gifts to bring life and love to the world. So, bear fruit, ladies. The world needs you.