Children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children born in one's youth. Blessed are they whose quivers are full. They will never be shamed contending with foes at the gate. ~Psalm 127:3-5

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Bad Day

Today is a bad day. Everyone is sick and we've all been battling other issues within ourselves as well. The children not so much... What inner issues do they have at this age anyway? They are safely tucked in their little cocoons of innocence, wrapped tightly in warm blankets of love and their dependence upon me and their dad. They are totally unaware of the craziness that swirls dangerously close to the surface of my mind. They could not even begin to imagine the roller coaster ride of emotions I go on almost daily. Or even the wider scale of the shape of the economy right now- what it could mean for our future and how we're already trying to cut back on a lot. Or the piling of bills that seems to overwhelm us this time each month. No, they have no idea of the things that wake me up in the middle of the night.

I could say Angelina has some inner issue of an attention disorder but it could just be her age and I'm pretty sure she's unaware of it anyway. So even that is not something she has to worry about right now. The only things any of these children really seem to worry about from day to day are when I'm going to get them food, if they can watch TV when they want, and how much time they have to play before nap. Ah, the life of a child! How quickly it's forgotten how easy children have it. Growing up, I can remember my parents telling me on several occasions that I just don't understand how easy my life really is as a child. And I didn't of course; not then.

But now I do.

I'm trying to figure out how to take this bad day and pull myself out of it- or, at least out of the wreckage it seems to have created so far. I think I've had some seizure issues this morning, though I can't really tell for sure. But just from the way I feel, it seems to be that same feeling I get when I know I've had them. The sickness that has plagued the family since before Christmas is still lurking in every corner - dark or not - and I've been battling a frantic 4 year old to install drops in her eyes to keep the conjunctivitis in check. All she knows about it is that she does not like to have drops put in her eyes. She does not realize it'll be much worse if she doesn't get them.

I've been praying this morning that I have some sort of clarity because my head feels full of fog - which might just be because I'm sick - and I can't seem to really think well enough to form a plan of action. Days like this definitely require a plan, especially when one has 3 small children to care for.

Maybe my plan for today will be to give it to God and do what I can (even if it's just the bare minimum) to keep us safe and alive. He must know about - and has already allotted for - days like these for us mothers. Would I be failing too much by giving Him the battle to fight for me, to take care of the things that plague our family without my help? Is this exactly what He is trying to tell me to do? And will He take care of everything, including all the things that go bump in the night?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Super Mom?

I keep hearing the words "super mom" used in reference to me and I really have to say, it kind of makes me feel uncomfortable. Would it be not-so-humble of me to say that I am too humble to use such words when talking about myself? I don't even feel like a super mom. For some reason, when I think about that title, I am instantly drawing pictures in my head of this strong woman who never lets her emotions get in the way of her duties; a beautiful woman who is so sure of herself that she welcomes age with open arms, including and especially everything that being a mommy adds to the aging process. This super mom has perfect little children who always say 'yes mam,' do as they're told with out attitude or complaint, and always clean their plates. This mom has an immaculate house and a happy husband who gloats about her to his friends. For me, "super mom" just seems to glimmer up there just out of my reach and I'm quite unsure as to why anyone would say that I am she.

A lot of people reference her when I am pregnant again. Like the mere fact that I can have more than one child without tearing my hair out and going completely insane warrants such an honor. Some just say it because they happen to be at my house when it's in decent order and the children are actually behaving. How do they know that I wasn't frantically cleaning just before they arrived - the pile of dirt I swept under the rug would be proof enough; and that I didn't give my children Benedryl so they would be too tired to act like brats? Of course, I really wouldn't do such a thing but in all seriousness, I just don't think that this title is for me.
A super mom can multitask as if it were going out of style. She can handle 3 children under 5 with patience and wisdom and understanding. She can fly through her chores with ease and make sure that dinner is always ready for her husband when he gets home from work. And she can do all this without it weighing her down, without it making her feel like she isn't a hundred years old with no life of her own. Her children will be content, having had the perfect amount of mommy time each and every day; which in turn causes them to behave. They will be respectful and will listen when she talks to them, understanding that everything she does for them is done out of love.

I'm not sure I fit that description in any way.

But I do know that I am doing what I feel God wants me to do. And some days I am just not quite able to. I fail a lot in my duties, if for no other reason than the fact that I do not have much control over my emotions, which are a large contributor to how I handle each day. I don't always have the house spotless and the children are not always behaving like angels. But I do teach them about love, specifically God's love for all of us as His children. I try to discipline them, though I don't always get it right and I am often impatient. I try to speak to their hearts, knowing that it is the heart that guides a person's behavior in life.

In general I am trying very hard. And if having a heart for God, that wants to do whatever I am capable of to raise these children to know Him, deems me a "super mom" then maybe I am she after all.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Change of Seasons Part Two- Winter

The first day of Winter was officially December 21 this year. Last week we had a couple of inches of snow and the kids were so excited! But then the sun came out and the temperatures rose to unseasonably warm digits and before we knew it, there wasn't much white stuff left to play in. A few nights ago, however, temps. were back to the low twenties and we had some freezing rain and more recently, lots of gusty wind. Despite this, however, I am blessed to find many wonders in the magic of the Winter season. As it settles into its own comfortable spot to dwell for the next few months, I am attempting to settle into a warm place in my mind that will allow me to enjoy the season with out letting in the cold.

Just like with the changing from Summer to Fall, this change that has been upon us is a time to marvel in God's beautiful world and how everything works together for the perfect cycle of life to take place. In nature, everything affects everything else. It's amazing how the birds know to fly South when the weather starts getting cold and many animals, like bears find their way to a cozy hiding spot to sleep the Winter away in a series of long naps. Weeks before Winter was even a gray glimmer on the golden horizon of Fall, other animals such as squirrels were storing food to last them these frigid months and those bears were already headed to their places of hibernation.

And while the animals are busying themselves for the lazy long-haul, hunkered down in their little niches of the world, we humans have been getting ready for Christmas. Now, Christmas is fast approaching and as I try to slow myself down some to be able to think about and appreciate the true meaning of the season, I am realizing how much we take for granted, especially this time of year. Instead of basking in the beauty of this past week's snow and glorifying God for His amazing abilities, I am betting a lot of people were grumbling about how it affected their plans to shop and their time schedules for work and play. I imagine that some people didn't stop to catch snow flakes on their tongue or throw a snowball or two at someone else for fun. As the scenery around us changed from a gray wet mess to a beautiful white blanket, I bet it was hard for many to just stop and thank God for His perfect creation and enjoy the weather in its entirety. I myself find it hard to appreciate the beauty that surrounds me when I'm freezing cold and just want to get inside.

My favorite secular Christmas song is "Baby, It's Cold Outside." I'm not exactly sure why I like it so much except I feel it portrays what many of us are thinking when we're warm and cozy inside with loved ones near, knowing that the time to leave is coming too soon. The cold outside portrayed in the song could have many different meanings and for a lot of us, especially me, I do feel rather cold when I'm not around my family.

But in my mind, I'm imagining that I am just Momma bear snuggling up with my cubs for the winter. And the chill outside is definitely not welcome in.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Angelina Ballerina

When I was pregnant with my first baby, I remember talking to my partner at work about names. I told her we'd probably name the baby Angelina if it was a girl, after Joe's grandmother. She said "like Angelina Ballerina." At that time, I had no idea who Angelina Ballerina was and thought she was just saying that because it sort of rhymed. Little did I know that the name Angelina Ballerina would become a major part of our lives, more than just the story of a little mouse.

Last Thursday night Angelina started her very first dance class. For at least a year, this is all she's been talking about. When she was a little younger, she was given several Angelina Ballerina items,including a movie. We often read her the first story written about Angelina Ballerina, in which Angelina the mouse doesn't want to do anything but dance all day. This story describes our Angelina very well! She also loves the Barbie movies featuring Barbie playing a character that usually dances, specifically Barbie in the Nutcracker and Barbie Swan Lake. She will watch these movies over and over, just so she can get up on her toes and flitter around the room just like Barbie does. She always talks about being a ballerina and dances and sings practically all day long.

So, after getting the information, we signed her up for dance class and as her first day drew near, she grew more and more excited. My hubby's mom bought her a pair of ballet shoes and over-nighted them to us on Wednesday. When I showed them to her, she lit up and her excited smile took over her entire little face as I handed them to her to try on. She immediately went up on her toes and twirled around like a true ballerina.

Thursday evening, as she got dressed for dance class, I couldn't help but wonder where my tiny baby went. After I helped her get on her leotard and tights and pulled her hair up out of her face, the reality that my little girl is growing up hit me once again like a ton of bricks. I was completely suffocated by emotion and could barely utter a proud 'yes' when she asked me if she looked like a big girl. I was taken back to a time when she was just a small baby in my arms, cooing at me, feeding at my breast, unaware of the fact that the entire world was hers for the taking.

And now she knows it is and she wants every piece she can have of it.

When Angelina got home from her first dance class, she was so excited. I watched with pride as she reenacted everything they did in class. And I sighed with content as I realized that this is just the beginning. But I'm looking forward to the day that I just might be able to end this story with the same words Angelina Ballerina's story ends with: "Angelina was so busy dancing..that she didn't need to dance at suppertime or bedtime or on the way to school any more. She went every day to her ballet lessons and worked very hard for many years....until at last she became the famous ballerina Mademoiselle Angelina, and people came from far and wide to enjoy her lovely dancing."

(Angelina Ballerina stories by Katharine Holabird)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Growing Diamonds

Psalm 127:3 talks about children being a gift from the Lord. I often ask myself 'who am I to turn down such a gift?' Our children are little human beings that will grow up to be adult human beings, the future generations for this world. God entrusted some to me. They are priceless treasures, like little rare diamonds. And motherhood is like housing a treasure worth more than you can imagine, like The Heart of Eternity - a very rare colored diamond with an estimated value of $16 million.

It's like that but so much more.

I feel like there have been tons of posts on here that visit the ever-important subject of having children- particularly more, taking care of them myself, etc. There have been these posts that state that I just don't know what I want, and ones where I even state I might actually want more. Then there are the ones where I very clearly state that I know I am meant to have more. This post is about the inevitability of such an event coming to fruition.

Psalm 127 goes on with vs. 4-5 with 'like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children born in ones youth. Blessed are they whose quivers are full.....' I took a test yesterday morning after much debate. I had no real thoughts that I was pregnant, just that I might be, from the way I've been feeling. But I could also have attributed that to my medication or my seizures. I just felt off; like pregnancy off. So I took the test. It was positive...

To be sure, I took another one this morning.

Still positive.

But rather than write about how it makes me feel emotionally, how stressed I am or even how my husband has been almost angry about it (as if I'm the only one involved in that scenario), I'd rather write once again about the difference between the worldly view and the Catholic view of babies.

Now, I'd first like to say that I'm not an idiot. I don't think that I should have a shoe-full of kids that I don't know what to do with,
just to have them, or just because I want them (especially because I really don't want a lot of kids) or any of those reasons that people sometimes give without thinking about the implications first. I would like to say- once again- that I do want what God wants. If God wants me to 'be fruitful and multiply', then I guess I will. (A lot to me is like 7 or 8 anyway....)

The world looks at children as something that you allow in your life only if you have the money, only if you're ready, only if you can take 5 seconds out of your life to have a planned c-section with lots of drugs and then go back to work 2 days later. (OK, I'm exaggerating a little on that last one but there is much truth to the foundation of that idea.) My mom was saying that the world is always talking about how it costs something like $285,000 to raise a child. I do remember reading that somewhere. But my question what? Why is the world always talking about money?

Some people have told us it's impractical and irresponsible to have more kids than we can 'afford,' that if we didn't have 'so many', we could be doing things we want to do and I could be going to work, etc. This is the worldly way of looking at things. The world views life as all about "me," doing whatever feels good and makes "me" happy. But life should not revolve around us. It should revolve around God's will for us and our obedience to that will. Also, I've said this before but I'll say it again.
.. I am working! All day; every day. Except I don't get breaks. I don't even get paid. There is no clocking out at the end of the day. There are no weekend vacations. So I really get upset when anyone says that I should be going out into the world to work because I know that it's just about valuing the almighty dollar more than valuing the little hearts of children and the work I do by taking care of mine.

And dare I say that it does make me feel good to raise children?? It makes me very happy to have children and do whatever I can to help them grow up to be what God wants them to be. It doesn't occur to the negative people telling me all those things that I might actually enjoy my children! How funny....and how sad. The world definitely has missed the mark on the importance of children and God's will for them in our lives.

The times we are facing right now with the economy are hard. People are worried about money and the security of their future and all of that stuff. It's hard to remember the fact that God is in control. It's hard to even know any speck of that fact when you just don't believe in Him at all. For Christians, however, our faith lies in remembering that His plans are not our plans and whatever is going on in the world right now is nothing to bear when we have the security we can find in Him. It's amazing to me how many people invest so much in the stock market and very little in their children. They don't see these little gems as stability for the future so they just don't try. It's hard when you can't put a price on something, I sort of understand that. But I see their value and it has nothing to do with money.

So now I'm taking on growing, birthing and nurturing another little heart for God. I'm scared. I'm excited. I'm very overwhelmed. But I know that by allowing my womb to be open to God's plans, I am pleasing Him. This baby may not be one of the rarest diamonds in the world, but I believe she is a unique and priceless treasure entrusted to me for God's purposes. And that definitely makes her a heart of eternity.