Check out my first story as a correspondent for The Pittsburgh Catholic newspaper. I hope you enjoy this story about a fantastic person who uses his business to build community.
Last night, with my husband at a late working dinner, I picked my daughters up from school with designs on a nice dinner out that would make us all happy.
When I told my 7-year-old we were eating dinner out for “Girl’s Night,” she screamed “Subway!!!!” My heart sank. Not exactly what I had in mind.
I appealed to my more “sophisticated” 8-year-old, who was more to my line of thinking. She objected to Subway as well. However, the younger insisted, and we ended up in front of a sandwich artist. I was the one to throw the tantrum. “It’s not all about you!” I grumbled.
When you get married, and again when you have children, you often hear people say a similar line. “It’s not all about you anymore.”
In the beginning, when it’s just husband and wife, it’s not that big a thing. The other person is focused on you, so it doesn’t feel that different. But when the kids come along and they grow into walking, talking, little people with wants and needs and desires, it hits you much harder. It’s really NOT all about you anymore.
I grew up the younger of two children born to two people who had experienced what it was like to have little. My husband was the last of six children in a farm family, so his upbringing was more like my parents than my own. I was a child who received all my parents could afford and was heavily encouraged by parents, teachers and later friends to become everything I could. And I did. And people cheered me on. It WAS all about me.
My children brought great change to my life. After the birth of the first, my husband and I moved our small family, not only to a new home, but away from a job I loved and excelled at. I assumed at some point I would find more fulfilling work, but after a few freelance jobs and a few more health problems, it didn’t seem that I would be returning to my beloved PR world full-time.
I’m not sure if I made the decision to stop looking for full-time work on my own, or if God guided me that way by throwing up obstacles in my path.
But now that my children are in school and growing faster than the speed of light, I see clearly that what I needed was to empty myself for the good of others — my family.
“It’s not all about you!” Its the message God sends me everyday, and that I struggle with everyday. After years of being the princess, A-student, cheerleader and all around good girl so many loved and doted on, learning to be a mom dedicated to her family is the hardest role I’ve taken on. Namely because I had to put the fabulous “me” aside.
I know Jesus wants me to be more like Him. To put others first, to truly serve. I chose to follow that message. But I remake the commitment every day of my life. I still want what I want. I want pretty clothes, cool shoes, travel plans, and to eat at restaurants that don’t serve cold cuts and out of season tomatoes. I know many who have the material things I want, and at times I’m a green-eyed monster. And sometimes I even throw tantrums when I don’t get what I want.
But spiritually, I have felt the beauty of my sacrifice, and when my children fight over who gets to sit by mommy at dinner, or run back downstairs at night for an extra kiss, I know in my heart what I’ve done is right. If not easy. It has brought me closer to God, and showed me that there are rewards better than material goods to be had in our world by using your skills and smarts for the benefit of others.
My investments walk and talk. And one day, as God reminds me gently everyday, they’ll be paying it forward themselves, putting ego aside to make the world better.
Since childhood, I’ve always been encouraged to put family first. Now that I have a “nuclear” family of my own, that sentiment has come to have new meaning.
I realized this specifically last March when I found myself in the hospital, having a heart attack as a result of neglecting my diabetes. The only time I ever really took diabetes seriously was when I was pregnant with my girls. I was the lowest risk patient in my high-risk obstetrics practice. My sugars were in the perfect range through both 9-month periods. I exercised. I ate right. I was a machine. I thought of them, not me. That all changed when they were born healthy and happy.
Seeing those beauties at 6 and 7 staring back at me through the lines and equipment in cardiac intensive care took me back to those pregnancy days. As I sat in the hospital for the next few days, I realized that the “mamma bear” attitude I had in pregnancy was supposed to live on. It was supposed to become my new MO.
Family, I should have seen long ago, has more than one person in it. It has multiple – who have, or should have, a sort of symbiosis to them. Of course there are families, or parts of families, that have never realized this idea. And for those, I truly weep.
Families who allow the members in less than arms distance experience a world where the needs and desires of one are the needs and desires of all. My health and well-being isn’t about my lack of motivation or even my desire to look good. Its about being available to two girls growing into young ladies, who need to know to button their jackets in the cold and to sit with their legs together and their dresses pulled down. Its about illustrating that no matter how good that cupcake may be, you might want to put it down if you want the pretty princess dress to fit.
But its more. Its about being awake enough to support my husband after a long day of work, even if he is going to fall asleep in his favorite chair right after dinner. It’s about reminding him, when his mind is at the office, not to criticize the girls too much when they hate dinner or spill ice cream on their clothes.
My husband and my girls do the same for me – they remind me of the greater world of the family, and set me on course to play the roles and meet the needs within the family God intended me for.
All of this came back to me again today, as I was explaining to my 7 year old that “it’s not all about you.” She had been promised she’d share in whatever treat her older sister would take to school for her birthday, which apparently meant she now had the right to choose what said treat would be. We delved into the conversation about how she needed to stop passing on her chores, because having them done was important to everyone in the family.
Being a stay at home mom was not what I imagined God envisioned for me when I became a parent. I saw the Wonder Woman working in fabulous clothes by day, bathing and reading stories by night. Yet looking back, I see He has gone out of His was to place obstacles to working outside the home in my path. He was telling me “it’s not all about you.” I get it now, maybe. So my resolutions are:
Be a better house keeper
Get all of the laundry done at one time
Know which child has which activity which day
Recognize my husband’s contribution to the family
Be healthy so I can be available for my family
Thank God for the support and love in a family
Keep my glucose in check.
A family has many moving parts. I promise in 2014 to keep mine oiled and working for the good of us, not me.
“I’m most happy about Pope Francis, Mommy.”
The reply I got from my 7 year old daughter when I asked what she liked best about 2013. Give kids a chance. They’ll amaze you.
I’ve had ideas about starting this blog for a while. But I wasn’t really sure how to go about it.
It’s a hard time to talk about religion, let alone trying to live a Godly life. So much about religion, particularly Catholicism, is so misunderstood – often (but not always) purposely by those looking to promote some other philosophy or lifestyle. Its also often difficult to conjoin religious beliefs with the principles of a free society like the United States of America.
That said, my husband and I are raising our children Catholic. We believe they – and we and others – can live Godly lives, defend the tenants of free society and live in harmony with others who do not subscribe to our beliefs.
We are certainly not saints. We’re not even close to being role-model Catholics. But we aspire to be, and truly try. Life gets in the way. A lot. Things like illnesses, friends, family members, new discoveries, travel, employment, other people, other peoples ideas & feelings, entertainment. I could go on for hours. But I won’t. Thats what the blog is for.
Today is the first of the year. Always an exciting time, and one to spend with friends and family. Last night it was friends, today its family. The gatherings couldn’t be more different. But both are cherished.
I can remember the rush up to the dropping of the Times Square ball as a child. I remember that the little clock in the corner of the tv screen seemed to take forever to get to that :10 mark. My children, 7 and 9 now, had much of the same experience last night. Tired and anticpating, they waited, not always patiently, for the ball to drop.
At about 11:45 p.m., I quickly traded in ABC’s Rockin’ New Years Eve for Carson Daley on NBC. No way I was allowing my kids to see whatever Miley Cyrus was up to in that white fur coat. Likely less than at the VMA’s, but I still wasn’t taking the chance. I was comfortable at NBC, until some montage of the adult persuasion came on there. Had to vacate NBC as well. When Miley was done, I went back to ABC, but not after flipping through 200 plus channels in the meantime to kill time.
New Years Eve tv sure has taken a dive. Executives don’t seem to comprehend that there are millions of families out in tv land that night trying to mark the holiday together. It’s one of few nights small children are allowed to stay up late. And we get the optimal in family friendly tv: Miley, the cast of Modern Family, Jenny McCarthy, whats her name who stepped in it on World War II vets, and so on. Not one is appropriate for a kid under 10. Yet there they are, as if they were America’s finest, singing and dancing and kissing Donnie Whalberg (loved you since my teens Don; not so much after the Jenny episode last night).
I’m not about censorship in any way. As a writer, I cherish the right to say what I want to say, as well as the right of others to say their piece. But there needs to be some level of responsibility in television production. This isn’t specific to New Years Eve. A few months back my girls turned on NBC to see their favorite, America’s Got Talent, another show I’m constantly editing as if I were Winston in 1984. At 8 p.m. on a summer night, my senses were assulted by two no-talent wannabees, complete with dancers clad in gold lame thongs, singing the “B-O-O-TY” song, which I thought had gotten the red X weeks before. THIS IS NOT APPROPRIATE AT 8 p.m.
How can we expect our children to grow up with any sense of sexual morality when we bombard them with this crap before mom and dad have even had the opportunity to have the birds and the bees chat with them?
If it truly takes a “village” to raise our children correctly, television producers need to drop the Ari-from-Entourage act and get with the program. Somethings are appropriate at some times, and some things just aren’t.
At least I’ve got my girls graoning at the site of Miley Cyrus instead of fighting me for the remote. God help me keep it that way.