Life in the mother’hood can be a real mother

Life in the mother’hood can be a real mother

Motherhood is a motherBeing a parent is a bizarre and tremendous thing. All of a sudden, you’re expected to be completely responsible for someone you’ve just met, who has all manner of needs that you’ve never supplied before, and has various personality traits and proclivities that surely don’t come from your side of the gene pool.

But necessity is a mother. I am a mother because my children were conceived. And I had to figure out how to be a mother because, all of a sudden, I was one.

It’s inconceivable how small beings so thoroughly inexperienced and utterly helpless can somehow reduce grown-ups to puddles incapable of rational thought, but they can. And do. At least, they do in my house. Regularly.

Read more here

photo credit: Jordan Whitt

 

Life moves pretty fast.

Life moves pretty fast.

busy sidewalk

 

As noted 20th-century philosopher Ferris Bueller remarked, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

When I was younger, I couldn’t wait to be older. My Mom would say, “Don’t be in such a hurry to grow up, Heather. Enjoy where you are now.” Despite her sage advice, I was never content being whatever age I happened to be.

To my naive mind, if I could just be 5, or 9, or 18 — I could go to school with the big kids, or stay up later to finish that compelling novel or eat cake for dinner because I was old enough to make my own choices.

I guess you’d say I wasn’t a “bloom where you’re planted” sort of youngster. If I had a dollar for every time I said or thought “I’m bored,” in my youth ….

Read the rest here

Photo credit: Mauro Mora // unsplash

A letter to my children as they prepare to go back to school

A letter to my children as they prepare to go back to school

Back to school post

This summer has whizzed – and I mean WHIZZED by. Admittedly, this is mostly my fault. The time and space has been filled with lots of busyness and activity and not quite as much rest and relaxation as this Mama would like; however, time marches on, and the beginning of the new school year is staring us square in the face.

It is in the back-to-school spirit that I penned the following letter to the four (FOUR!) of my kiddos who will be in full-time school this Fall. You can read my Mea Maxima Cuppa column in its entirety here.

God bless y’all,

heather

Photo Credit: Green Chameleon in Bristol, UK via Upsplash

Quote

Dear Lonely Mom: you are not alone

woman-looking-at-forest-at-dawn

I have been a lonely Mom.

But first, a little context.

As the eldest child with only one sibling five years my junior, I didn’t spend a whole lot of time with babies or younger children growing up. I was too busy with my own activities and interests and friends. Sure, I babysat on occasion, but at the time, I was way more interested in making some sweet cash than practicing for any future vocation with my small charges.

Vocation? What’s that? Like, a misspelled vacation? Wait – isn’t a vocation what priests and nuns have?

I didn’t know that marriage and motherhood actually was a vocation. I didn’t know that marriage and motherhood would be my path – my call – to holiness.

I figured I would go to college, have an amazing career traveling the globe, fall in love, and get married at some point. As I learned more about my Catholic faith, I figured being married meant that I would have kids. I mean, I didn’t plan to not have children, but it was more of a default reality that I took completely for granted – you get married, you have kids. Eventually. That’s what most people do, right?

So I skipped the fabulous globe-trotting career and fell in love and got married. And then the babies started coming. And coming. And I really had no idea what I was doing. And I got overwhelmed.

And I got very, very lonely. And severely depressed.

I knew that these little lives were good, marvelous, beautiful (!!) blessings, but I didn’t quite know how to navigate the sheer upheaval in my life – changing body, hormones, responsibilities, identity, sleep – once they arrived.

I knew I needed to find people [yet] going somewhere — anywhere — felt like an impossible undertaking most days. Attending the moms’ group, the playdate, or the meet-up meant the little people and I had to be presentable, likable, and relatable. All at the same time. It seemed like an awful lot of ‘ables’ for someone who often felt like she was drowning in a sea of inability.

->Read the rest of my latest Mea Maxima Cuppa column – – over at the Catholic Sentinel.

So, how did I break through my feelings of loneliness and isolation? I wish I could tell you I had some sort of a magic formula I followed that would work for you, too. If I did, I would surely whip it up and airmail it to you if you lived far away or drive it over to your place if you lived close by.

Here are some things, though, that (eventually) helped me:

  1. Admitting I needed help. It took a while before I could swallow my stubborn pride and admit that whatever I was doing as a new Mom (or a Mom with littles) wasn’t working for me and that I really needed some help. At first, I wasn’t even sure what anyone could do to help me, but I knew something had to change. There is no shame in asking friends, family, neighbors, parishioners, and/or medical professionals for assistance when you need it. None. God isn’t calling us to go crazy because of our vocations! Once I admitted I needed help, it was easier (not easy, but easier) for me to actually seek out the help I needed.
  2. Maintaining a schedule. Moms with littles might look at the word ‘schedule’ and be tempted to roll their eyes to China. “Schedule?! Ha!!” And I know it’s true. I found that I’d roll out of bed after another sleepless night and try to leave the house only to have someone poop all over themselves or me and by the time we were all ready to get back in the car again, the activity we’d been headed to would be 75% over. Not worth it. But as much as I could, I tried to wake up, get dressed into something other than what I slept in (even if it was yoga pants and a t-shirt), brush my hair, and if I was really feeling lucky and motivated, take a shower before my husband went to work. Adding in the things that I knew I had to do – meals, laundry (oh, Lord – the laundry with spitty babies!), naps, etc. helped me to try to find some rhythm in my day.
  3. Nurturing my spiritual life. Our youngest is almost three and a half, and I’m just now starting to feel like I might have actually attended Mass on Sundays.  I remember many, many, MANY times when I felt like even attending Mass was an exercise in futility. What was the First Reading about? I couldn’t even hear Father’s homily! Did we just receive the Eucharist? So. many. distractions. But as time went on, I realized that there had to be some grace available to me just for attempting, right??! So we kept going. Every Sunday. And things have honestly gotten easier. Additionally, I think my prayer life has improved significantly since I became a Mom, simply due to necessity! I know that I need Jesus. Like woah. So, I pray. A lot. I pray for myself. I pray for my kids. I pray for my husband. I don’t always get the super high-quality before-they’re-awake-quiet-meditation-with-Jesus time in, but I am often praying throughout my day – as I scrub the bathroom floor, as I change the laundry over, as I’m chopping onions, as I’m cleaning up yet another mess – it’s there. And He’s there with me. IIn the noise. In the chaos. In the mess. And it has changed me.
  4. Quit worrying so much. I used to worry that I didn’t have my make-up on and my kids’ shoes didn’t match and I didn’t have a Pinterest-worthy snack ready before I’d head off to the moms’ group or play date. But you know what? Those worries were keeping me away from community and vital friendships. We were not meant to do this thing called ‘life’ alone, but how often do we convince ourselves that we’re not worthy of community? We are worthy! I’m not sure exactly when I stopped caring so much, but these days, I’m much more likely to be out the door with my hair in a pony tail and the kids usually wind up with some sort of shoe-like things on their feet. We might pick up donut holes from the drive-thu and are on our way. That’s where we are these days, and I’m okay with that.

So, from one lonely Mama to another – I’ve been where you are, friend. Loneliness in the trenches of motherhood can be a very deep, dark place. It can threaten to swallow you whole – I know, because I’ve been stuck looking down over the precipice myself more times than I care to recall. But I also know that you don’t have to remain in that place of isolation and anxiety; you really don’t. There are sisters and brothers who want to help you and know you and be your friend. Will you allow them to help you? Will you let Jesus in?

I would really love to hear from you – have you ever felt alone, isolated, or lonely? What do you do to re-connect with “the outside world” and to not feel alone in your vocation? Please let me know in the combox.

God bless y’all.

heather

Photo via VisualHunt.com

31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Consolation (Day 22)

31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Consolation (Day 22)

It’s fascinating to me how many “bad” days I’ve had since October 1st. Truly. I mean, right out of the gate things were wicked hard, and I wondered, “What have I gotten myself into??!” Or, to flagrantly (and poorly) steal from St. Catherine of Siena, I’ve definitely wondered, “Lord, if this is the sort of joy you bring to your friends, no wonder you have so many enemies!”

I hadn’t planned on letting this cat out of the bag until October 31 or even November 1 (assuming my brain still works at that point), but I must admit: the School of Joy has contained many more hard knocks than I anticipated. 

I mean, choose to write about joy, and surely God will load you up with all sorts of happy experiences and fun anecdotes to share with your blog readers, right? Right?!

Of course, it hasn’t all been bad 

And yet … it has been hard.

Praise the Lord for Pope Saint John Paul II, man, because I think he might have personally asked Almighty God to give me a break on his Feast Day today. And so I present to you, The Top Five Consolations for Thursday:

Consolation #1: NO MORNING CHAOS

I started the day with a quick trip to the lab (only a busy + exhausted Mom would consider a blood draw as a break, amIright?), thus completely bypassing the crushingly exhausting morning routine. I got home just in time to tag my husband, swap cars, and head in early (early! What a concept!) to school drop-off.

Consolation #2: HELPFUL HUSBAND

As I’m driving, I realize it’s Pope Saint JP2’s Feast, and think: “Wow! Since we’re early today, I can go to daily Mass in honor of JP2 on his feast day. How marvelous!” We arrive at school, and I don’t even have to search for shoes and coats for my little people because my husband already did that before they got in the van. He is so great.  We exit the vehicle and head in to Mass.

Consolation #3: TO MASS OR NOT TO MASS

Except … there was no Mass. Okay, so this is kind of a bittersweet joy, because there was no Mass. Honestly, I was hoping for Mass. However, because of schedules, there weren’t any priests available, so we had a Communion service instead. The joy (please don’t hate me for saying this) is that the Communion service took about 12 minutes. Twelve. My 4- and 2-year-olds didn’t even have a chance to think about doing (m)anything(s) naughty because it was over in a flash. And, yet, in that 12 minutes, we still said prayers, heard the Word of God, and received Jesus in the Eucharist … what a wonderful way to begin the day!

Consolation #4: CHILD’S PLAY

I played board games with my preschooler and toddler and I didn’t lose my ever-loving mind. There may be some of you with much more patient temperaments than mine. I have gotten so, so, sooooo much better over the years, but practicing patience is really energy-sapping for me. Because of this, I generally avoid playing games with my kids. Legos and blocks and imaginative play I can handle, but usually I  keep the board games on the tippy-top shelf  in the boys’ room (it’s almost as if they don’t exist!) so as to avoid the crying, ripping, etc. that happens when attempting to play a game in a civilized manner. For some reason, however, I decided to do forego the non-essential trip to Costco and head to Candyland with the littles instead.

Blame the loss of blood, blame the surge of energy gained by skipping morning routine or by receiving the Eucharist, but it was pretty cool. Okay, sure, the 2-year-old couldn’t wait his turn, and the 4-year-old had a crying meltdown because she wanted to wiiiinnnn, but the real joy was that I did it and was freakishly calm, even for the non-enjoyable parts. I mean, I’ve gotten much better at faking calm on the outside, saying, “Your brother’s game piece does not belong in your mouth!” while smiling through clenched teeth, for example, has become easier. But I didn’t even have to fake itI was calm on the outside AND on the inside. And that, my friends, is nothing short of a minor miracle. Truly.

Consolation #5: BABY LOVE

A friend picked me up to attend a new women’s study on – wait for it – one of JP2’s writings. And even though I didn’t get to participate in the whole meeting, it was only because I got to hold my friend’s squishy baby girl for a chunk of time. It was so great! Normally, I am ecstatic when I have a minute to be child-free, but it was really and delight and a joy to have tiny baby hands and suckling noises and coos and smiles staring me in the face. I don’t think I stopped smiling the whole time I was holding her.

So, there you have it, friends – an oasis of consolation in an otherwise terribly, horribly, Jesus-take-the-wheel, living one Glory Be at a time sort of month. And I do believe I have a Saint to thank for it.

Thank you, Pope Saint John Paul II! We love you.

Pope Saint JP2 Funnin