Monthly Archives: February 2015

Hey Mommy! This is Your Life.

I don’t use alarm clocks anymore. I have children to wake me up. To remind me every morning of my connection to the world with giggles and smiles.

But there seems to be a global alarm ringing on children that many of us aren’t  hearing. It’s a growing sentiment that children are “bad.”
In many countries, most notably Germany, birth rates have plummeted. And we know other countries like China have limits on the number of children a couple can have.
Abortion clinics in the United States are closing, yet a chilling percentage of women, particularly Black women, are still choosing to abort.

I know many people have valid reasons not to reproduce – age, illness, family history of genetic problems, etc. But It seems these days couples have more reason not to have children than they do to give life to a new generation. Kids are expensive. They’re not environmentally friendly, they’re messy, inconvenient, they aren’t welcome in our favorite places, they require a great deal of work, they take up too much space, they’re noisy, they’re gross, we’re too busy, our marriage isn’t stable enough, they’re hell on a woman’s body. Quite frankly, they cramp our style.

Many young women these days seem to actually FEAR children. They have placed such value on careers and lifestyle that many want no disruptions to their personal ability to do whatever they want, whenever they want. Last week, I was literally looked over and giggled at by two younger ladies, all dolled up, as I fought my way into Marshall’s with my two girls. They seemed to be saying “see what kids will do to you?!” It reminded me of being bullied in eighth grade.

I think I was this person once – I used to get torqued when someone would tell me I’d understand something better when I had kids. What did that have to do with anything? I hated the noise and whining on planes, in stores, at restaurants. I used to think if I saw a parent reprimanding a child somewhere that I should step in. Obviously this person was incompetent. Even worse, I didn’t think being a parent was going to be that big a deal.

Fast forward to now. Somewhere along the road, everyone I knew got married and -gasp- kids started showing up everywhere. Dinner wasn’t a night out, it was a night in at someone else’s house. Movies were on DVR. People disappeared for feedings. 

Me, the modern professional, I begged God for a baby. He made me wait. And wait. My friends were scared to tell me they were pregnant. And I still wasn’t ready when the baby finally came. Not because the baby was a problem, but more because I was.

Yeah, kids are the hardest thing you’ll ever do. I fail fourth grade homework, bake cute cupcakes, and drown in little pieces of laundry. I step on Legos in the middle of the night, sacrifice my tv time to X-Box, have no idea what to do with an avalanche of toys, got talked into, not one, but two puppies, and I can sing all the songs to Frozen. But that’s not it.

Ever heard someone say you truly learn about yourself during a crisis? Well, God has designed parenthood the same way. It’s like looking into a magical mirror and watching everything about yourself come up for evaluation. Sure, there’s the dimples, and his eyes and your hair. Oh, she looks like you! No she looks like him?!  

But wait, it gets more interesting as they grow. An elementary school kid with my husband’s stubbornness and quietness – a disaster at the dinner table and a challenge at school. Another with my big mouth and desire to eat the world out of sugar? Even worse.

Genetics is something that proves God has a sense of humor. Have a trait you don’t want known? Your kids will show it before you remember to hide it from them. My youngest could manipulate my mother before she was two. The oldest still has my dad eating out of her hand – she is all I was at 10 and more. I’ve even heard him call her by my name. The little one stomps when she’s mad like I do, and the other one cries for dumb reasons, again like me.

One of the hardest things in parenting, and one of the reasons I think many want to forgo it, is the coming to terms with the person you really are. Not the one you tell everyone you are. The REAL you. 

It’s hard. It hurts. Not only do you need to teach your kids against what you are in some cases, YOU have to change yourself. And that is much harder than steering the child.

Case in point. I had an unexpected heart attack two years ago. My children, 8 and 6 at the time, now know more about how this happened to diabetic Mommy than some of the nurses that cared for me. And they know what behavior led to it. I now live with health and wellness police. They even convinced me to give up my beloved Diet Coke for Lent. And I’m struggling.

In the end, that all may be good. But what happens when they’re 17? Will they be as weak with boys as I was? Or will they make good choices among their peers when faced with the really hard decisions? The possibilities based on my life at that age, and my husbands as well are the stuff of the old after-school special.

Kids in so many ways are the inspectors of our hearts and intentions. They truly can bring us all closer to God. Considering some of the ideas and practices passing for ok these days, I suppose I really shouldn’t be surprised so many younger couples run screaming from the idea of small versions of themselves. I hope they remember that everyone’s life comes to a day of reckoning. I’d rather face it a little everyday while I still have time to make adjustments.

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Giving it Up

My daughter announced this morning on the way to school that she was giving up ALL video games and tv for Lent. My younger daughter countered with chocolate chip cookies.
They wanted to know what I was giving up. But first, I thought it was important to discuss their choices.
Last year, oldest daughter gave up Disney Infinity. And she was successful, even though this was her favorite thing at that time. It may still be, as Grandma just produced a Jasmine character. She is a gamer at heart. X-Box, Infinity, Kindle, you name it. And she also loves tv (I know, this makes me an awful parent.)
I told her I didn’t think it was wise to set herself up for failure (and a month+ of moaning and trying to get me to buy her some video thing she didn’t give up.) So she began to qualify. She wasn’t giving up America’s Funniest Videos, cause that’s on Sundays. I told her to think about paring it down a bit more.
As for the other one, I asked when she last had a chocolate chip cookie. She didn’t know, but she told me she wouldn’t be able to have one at Max & Erma’s Free Cookie Wednesday. We were once regulars for that…..not so much since they started running on Wednesdays last September. Seemed a little too easy for her. So she suggested M&Ms. Which aren’t even her favorite candy. Let’s face it. She wants it to sound hard,but not really be hard. More thinking about what Lent is about.
I have to admit, I was like the younger of the two as a child. I was good at doing things that can’t be measured, like helping my mom or giving up gum, which I wasn’t really into anyway. These two have challenged me this year to give up my one vice. Diet cola. I think this is a good idea in theory. I have been working on cutting back, and I have, significantly. (It’s difficult and probably disgusting to discuss just how much I drink.) I’m fearful I cannot go without it.
My other idea was to give up naps. I’m pretty sure that’s impossible, since I take some meds that make me sleep. So, slight problem. (I’m convinced docs and pharma are in cahoots to produce drugs that make people rest, since we never really do. But that’s another blog.)
In my mind, I’ve always believed one of the most important parts of parenting was leading by example. I know this is true when I watch my beauties pick up on my stupid bad habits. Or, less regularly, when they pick up on the good ones. (I do have some.)
So, it looks like my beloved Diet Pepsi will be taking a little vaca. (I started boycotting Coke when they hired Michael Sam to represent them – not because he’s gay, but because he proposed to his partner on top of a Vatican building.)
This year will likely be the most challenging Lent I my lifetime. I know that sounds pathetic, but when you don’t drink, don’t do drugs and have diabetes, diet soda can become your only indulgence. (That and chocolate.)
I’m sort of excited about this. I know I can do it. I don’t know if I actually want to do it, but I think real sacrifice is the next step on my road back to the arms of God. I’ll let you know in 40 days.

Jesus Said There Would Be Days Like This

Before I get too far into this new discussion, I need to tell you something about me.
I grew up Catholic, surrounded by many Catholics. My town has just about 2 million of them. Literally. I went to Catholic school without really realizing it, from first grade until graduate school. I married a Catholic and now send my kids to Catholic school. Some people used to say that my maternal grandmother was holier than the Pope. People in my family still fear her influence with the Big Guy; she’s been dead twenty years.
So you probably won’t be surprised to hear that I’ve been astounded in the last few weeks to experience the depth of hatred there is in the world for Catholics. Not that I didn’t know we were looked down upon globally. I did. It’s the extent of this hatred I saw this week that chilled me to the bone.
The Diocese I belong to with my family recently announced that it had collected double the donation commitments for its first ever annual campaign than it was actually seeking. Somewhere in the neighborhood of $2.5 million.
The campaign, as I said, was the first-ever organized annual drive the diocese has promoted. They made a hard sell, especially to parishes and parishioners with means. But in the end, giving was of course voluntary.
The disapproval this announcement met with was…well weird. People came from everywhere to attest in online forums, newsgroups, Facebook and Twitter. Comments stated that the Church is nothing but a common thief, that it threatened excommunication to any Catholic that did not donate, that all money would be used for legal funds for defrocked priests and against sex abuse victims, that it would buy Pope Francis, the Pope who lives in an old hotel, more gold crosses (my favorite) and so on and so forth. Many if not most of these posters proclaimed to either be Catholic, or former Catholics. Almost all comments were laced with profane language or anger.
And here I thought my diocese just needed some help repairing our amazing cathedrals, churches and chapels. Keeping the heat on in older structures, and the air on in the summer. Paying the groundskeepers, handy men, contractors and laborers. Keeping up with code regulations and handicapped access. Fixing the leaking roofs in some of our most beloved and oldest holy places. Paying taxes. Funding parish programs, etc.
Don’t let the ancient pomp and decoration fool you. Even the Catholic Church needs money. You just don’t melt down historical treasures to pay the electric bill. To deny Bishops the right to ask for it – like every institution of higher learning, charity and non-profit regularly does – is crazy. You don’t want to help? Then don’t. No need to throw stones.
That was odd enough. But this morning reading my Twitter feed I came across yet another story on the evils of Mother Teresa. You read that right. Evil and Mother Teresa in the same sentence. Why, didn’t you hear? She was mean to her nuns. She denied patients proper medical care, and she only did what she did because she enjoyed misery. Are you kidding me? Oh, I forgot she took money from dictators. So, a once young woman dedicated her life to people living in filth in India, fed them, provided for them, comforted them and founded a legion of nuns to continue her work when she died and used money she guilted out of bad guys to do it and we think SHE’S the bad guy?
It seems lately any pot shot there is to be taken at Catholics is taken and then some. The United States government has us listed as possible “extremists” because we pray outside abortion clinics. Michael Sam, that gay football player who wasn’t good enough for the NFL, needed to rub our noses in our commitment to traditional marriage by proposing to his partner a top a sacred Vatican building. Then he signs up with Coke to keep us thinking “positive.” Nuns around the country are being forced to provide birth control and abortions to their employees. And no one cares at all about the decimation of the Christian faithful in Syria, Iraq and Nigeria.
But if Pope Francis says anything that might indicate he favors women priests or gay marriage, it’s front page news. Reality check people : there are things even he cannot change about Catholicism.
Catholics certainly have their issues, I won’t deny that. But currently, were the only ones working diligently at the abuse problem (ask any Catholic who wants to be active in their Church or school. I needed four hours of training and a state police background check to read a story to my daughter ‘s class and work in the lunch line. We all know more about sexual predators than we ever wanted to.) And as for our gay problem, talk to the multitude dying of AIDS who in their darkest days have only Catholic nuns and volunteers to comfort them.
We’ve all been taught through our Catechism to turn the other cheek. And we obviously do, or else we wouldn’t be such an easy target for everyone who wants to blame their morality issues on us. But there are times when we must stand firm and remind the world who we are as Catholics and what we do. We are not perfect. We are indeed sinners. But yet our tradition of loving, feeding, clothing, housing, educating, comforting and assisting all of God’s people shows not only our sincerity, but that we are deserving of carrying on in our journey toward Godliness.
Be proud to be Catholic.