Monday, November 26, 2012

I am so grateful

I am realizing how rare it is to stay married. I am also realizing how hard it is for people to stay married.     The secular world dishes a great deal of poisons into our marriages and it doesn't make it easy. We have birth control, which leaves pleasure with no mutual consequences. We have birth control that allows infidelity. We have selfishness and counselors who tell those seeking help to do what they want, what feels best and to leave all else by the waste side. We have the television, which offers lifestyles... all and any lifestyle other than a wholesome one. We have people who hold grudges because they were never taught to forgive. And we have people who just plain give up and say they fell out of love.

Love, my friends, is not a feeling, but a choice.

I know that our time will come. Patrick and I will struggle. We will want to give up. We already have struggled in many ways, but have yet to have to put up a real fight. But, we are preparing for it. We have talked. We have prayed. When things get tough we agreed long ago that no matter what, even if only one of us thinks we need help, we will seek it. We have prepared by agreeing to spend one week each year together alone with no kids to replenish what has run dry and to talk and enjoy one another without feeding someone, holding someone or correcting someone much smaller than us! We have agreed to forgive, which is something we struggle with, but always do... and then place it behind us without holding is against the other. We have agreed to sit and constantly prioritize what we spend our time on. TV is the toughest thing to avoid at the end of the day when we just want to chill... but, this doesn't help us to look each other in the eyes and check in. That is hard. We have agreed to eat dinner together as a family as often as possible. We have agreed to get to Confession often... and always when we need to. We have agreed to never miss Mass... ever. All of these decisions have come from the great wisdom of those who have come before us... our parents, our good friends, and the couples we have seen make it... so, we have taken them seriously. This will not be an easy fight. If they did these things, we will learn from them and do them too.

My mom reminded me this visit to Atlanta that I will be disappointed often because I hold such high standards for myself... and I always expect the same of others. The problem is I don't expect the same of others, but I am sad to find that I many times want so much more for others than they want for themselves. This call to live the Christian life and to live a Christian marriage and to build a Catholic home is the call we all have been given. And as short as we will show up, we have got to try... He will make up for the difference.

I have been sad lately to be around so many marriages that have fallen apart. I have been sad to see broken homes and anxious, lost children who are a result of it. I am sad to feel out of control of helping it. I am sad. But, in the midst of it, I see where God reminds me of how much I have. It is a grace to hear Him. It is a grace to know and love what it means to fight the good fight. As imperfect as I am, I love that I have the freedom to love... love till the end... love till it hurts... love even if you don't love me back... love even when I don't feel like it. That's what children and marriage teach. And as hard as it is, it is a grace.

I pray for marriages. I pray for perseverance in my own.

I am grateful my parents and Patrick's parents have stuck it out all of these years. By doing this, they have taught us so much. I am grateful that I have seen so many marriages fight through alcoholism, depression, family deaths, disease, cancer, young pregnancies, and the list goes on. That is where hope can be found when all seems lost. Thank you to those of you who are faithful and fight the good fight. I am so grateful for you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Trick or Treat... the Eve of All Saints

It was the eve of All Saints Day... and we talked about praying for those of our family and friends who have died. This is something we do every night... so on this night, we got to explain how although we were going trick or treating, the Church was celebrating a feast... so, we ate candy to celebrate the SAINTS! We explained how it was totally awesome that there were people who had lived such great lives of love that they now got to be with Jesus all the time.

Our little men dressed up as a puppy dog, Spiderman... and Gabriel was a Power Ranger by day and Superman by night! He got to dress up at school that day and then changed his mind about his costume when he arrived home. (Thanks to both grandmothers we have quite a few super hero costumes around here!)

Patrick also got pretty excited about trick or treating and stole some hats! Thank goodness that beard is gone now!

We left around 6pm and went through the whole neighborhood in about 2 hours! Adam slept most of the time, Gabriel ran, and Anthony was the slowest guy in the pack. He walked soooo slow. I generally stayed back with him to make sure he said thank you and didn't fall into too many bushes. After a while I took his mask off hoping to speed up the process, but it only helped a little. My greatest memory of the night was when we arrived home to dump out the candy. Oh my! To prevent an overload of sugar, we have agreed for our kids to trade in their candy for other prizes. This is something we will continue to do... little boys are crazy enough!

Monday, November 12, 2012


I tend to go into panic mode when I find out I am pregnant. I am not pregnant. But, for Anthony and Adam I have felt a bit scared. Not because I do not trust in God's plan or because I don't think I can handle it. It's because I am afraid I will not have enough time for each one. I learned from having Anthony that Gabriel quickly learned to become a big helper. And I have learned once again from having Adam, that both the older boys have a new sense of generosity in them. Point being: I think giving your kids siblings has a built in teacher of generosity. So, no need to panic. If they learn generosity, I think many other virtues will follow. And that's the goal, right?!

Today as I was talking about how I needed to clean up the kitchen, but was holding the baby, Gabriel offered to help. He said, "Mom, I will hold the baby for you while you clean up the dishes." Then he proceeded to set up a barricade of pillows around the couch to protect the baby. The pictures below show you the time he spent "babysitting" Adam so I could get some work done. I realized that he gets this from his dad. Patrick is always trying to give me a free moment to get something done I would've done hours ago if it weren't for holding a baby!

Another example from today. We were driving Gabriel to preschool and Adam was crying. Without any prompting of mine both the boys starting singing VERY loudly "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." In a matter of minutes the baby calmed and fell right asleep. Gabriel looked at Anthony and said, "We did it!" "Yeaa," Anthony yelled, "He's asleep!" They are such great helpers.

Both of them bring me diapers. Both of them throw diapers in the trash for me. They are always handing my washcloths while I am preparing the bath. They put their shoes away. Gabriel often picks out Anthony's clothes when he goes to find some for himself. And I notice them even wiping eachother's faces after a messy snack. It's quite amazing to me to watch. When my hands get tied up in Adam, they always seem to find a hand for the other.

Mother Teresa did say to do ordinary things with great love... I hope their siblings are the school they learn this in.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

How do I know if I am a good mom?

First, I have decided to start blogging more. I hope this dream comes true. I want to write more and I want to capture more of our life on here... so, my goal is once a week or more. I have been inspired to share some stories...

I am so grateful for a group of ladies I get together with in a group called the Mommies' Club. We meet every other week and read the gospel for the upcoming Sunday and then we have a book we discuss. Right now we are reading Style, Sex and Substance (stories written by Catholic women bloggers) and it is AMAZING!! We also spend quite a bit of time telling silly stories about our kids (and doing impressions of them), talking about the terrible mistakes and shortcomings we have had in our vocation, and best of all, we support each other and encourage one another not to be too hard on ourselves when it comes to the all too thankless job of mothering.

I realized once again at the last Three to Get Married retreat that the world does not see the vocation and profession as full time mother as something worthwhile or something that women could ever consider themselves successful doing in the eyes of the world. I personally think women can be successful in many professions... and I include motherhood as one of those.

Because, yes, we are professionals. We have an alarm clock that goes off early, deadlines to meet, people to lead, money to budgeted, dinners to plan, clothes to organize, a house to be cleaned, and the list goes on. But, as every professional asks, how do I know I am successful? How do I know I am good at this job?

Well, first, since the good Lord hired me... I check in with Him. He's the boss. I am not sure whether the interview mentioned having three boys, but I did sign on the dotted line, so... I check in with Him every day in prayer. I offer the day to Him and then at the end of the day, I ask Him how I've done. In the silence He can tell me where I lacked in patience, where I didn't think of the other first, where I didn't pay enough attention, or where I got lazy. He reminds me to prioritize my sleep, my health, and most of all, my sacramental life. They are with me more than anyone else... my life of virtue will directly affect them... there is no way around it. I have to do my best and when I don't, I need to acknowledge it. I apologize to my kids often. In prayer, He also allows me to see the areas where I am doing well and that is always helpful too.

Secondly, I make sure not to hold myself to the standard the world has of mothers and to not compare myself to the other moms who I think are better, but to allow them to encourage me instead. I am not going to look like a swimsuit model after having three babies. I have to decide to be happy in this body. My husband helps me with this anytime I point to my belly, which has a little extra love on it, and  complain about it. His response is always the same... he tells me to take a moment and go look in the eyes of our children. And it's so true... they were so worth it. I also have to remember that the Pottery Barn homes are made for magazines, not my home. If it's kinda messy or really messy, it's OK. It doesn't make me worth less... it just means I am blessed enough to have a place that is lived in! I also have to remember that I am not the Super Nanny. She shows up, tries to fix things and then leaves. I am here all the time. I am here when things fall apart again and again... and that is OK. Everything is a work in progress. Progress is key here. Always look for the progress. Thank you, Jenny, for always reminding me that.

Third, like any other job, I believe that one of the main elements of being successful or "good" at what I do in my profession is the amount of time I put in. How often am I really "with" my kids? Am I checking out, looking at e-mail, making lists, getting ready for the next event of the day. Of course, sometimes these things are necessary, but I have to remember that it is key for our children to have us not only present, but to be really there with them... whether it be speaking with them, playing with them, dancing with them, praying with them, reading to them, surprising them with something fun, cooking, baking, being a super hero, or hiding the discomfort while getting dirty with them. More than anything else, they just want us with them, so be there as often as you can.

Fourth, we need to train them well. To love the Lord. To live kindness. To forgive. To share. To give to others who have less. I love that I still remember the things my mom taught me when I was so little. Even just the little things, like how to greet someone on the phone. This is where laziness can set in for us. Children need consistent efforts. They will test to make sure you follow through every time, so you have to. And they will learn from it. And so will you.

Lastly, I have learned that the most important thing to being the World's Greatest Mom is to love the World's Greatest Dad, their dad! More than anything else, they must see that Patrick and I are getting along and if we aren't, that we are working on it. They need to see us hold hands, hug, speak kindly to one another and about one another, and to do things to make the other happy. When arrived home last night, all the boys were cleaning up the toys. Gabriel came running to me and said, "Mom, Dad said we are doing this to put a smile on your happy face!" You could tell, that he thought that was great. This will teach them how to love one another. And one day how to love their vocation.

More than anything, I want young moms to know that they are good moms. I want them to know that they don't have to live up to the very high expectations that they have set for themselves, but to just love simply and place their profession in the hands of the Loving Father, who when they meet Him in prayer will guide them to be the best through His amazing grace. He will use us tiny instruments to make His beautiful music, so those souls entrusted to us will learn to love Him.

Tonight I pray for all mommies. I pray that God will guide us to be better. I pray that He will give us the grace we need to get through these tough days with small children, knowing that this is His will for us (otherwise, he wouldn't have given them to us!) and that our days with our little ones aren't here forever, so we will try to find the extraordinary awesomeness is our very ordinary days.

And I will end with this. Today I kept hearing my second child yell to me, "MILE AHHH ME, MILE AHH ME!!" What in the world was he saying?? What buddy? I walked to the living room to find him with my very expensive camera around his neck and in front of his little face. Oh, yes, I see now. He was telling me, "SMILE AT ME!" So today I found joy in the fact that I am one of those moms who loves taking pictures of her kids. And loves it even more when they smile at me.