You Do What Ya Gotta Do

I think it’s interesting the way mothers judge each other.  And in some cases…the judges have become very coy and sneaky about how they get their judgments across.
Take the dilemma of getting your child to sleep on his or her own for example.  After Sarah, we really never had a problem doing this.  But Sarah was our first and she was a terrible sleeper.  She only slept about 6 hours a night even at 9 months old!  And I knew she needed more than that, but the child would. not. go. to. bed!!!  
Finally, I decided she really needed to have a set bedtime of 8:00 p.m. 
Now, I have been the recipient of judgmental comments about my last statement.  I have had people tell me that I should have let my child “lead” her own schedule.  I also have had someone tell me that it was selfish of me to require a bedtime at 8:00 p.m. (really???  haven’t kids been going to bed at 8:00 p.m. forever???)
Then, I could delve into HOW I got Sarah to go to bed at 8:00…and that leads to a whole new rainbow of judgments.  
We used a modified version of cry it out, I suppose.  But, I tell you, my child never cried more than a minute at first and more than 5 minutes at it’s very worst, with our method.  We started by praying with her, reading to her and singing to her and hugging her and finally putting her in her crib and leaving the room and shutting the door.  Of course…she cried.  But only for a minute because we went back in there.  And we picked her up, loved on her, held her, said, “Sarah, it’s night time…it’s time to sleep,” and laid her back into her crib, and left the room and shut the door.  This was our pattern for the first night until she fell asleep.  and it took about 45 minutes.  Over the course of a week or so, we lengthened the time between our visits into the room to soothe and love on Sarah and within a week and a half or so, she was sleeping at 8:00 p.m., getting herself to sleep and was quite content.
I have been told that our method is cruel.  That we destroyed bonds of trust with our daughter.  Stuff like that.  
Of course, Sarah is 9 now (almost 10!) and she seems to trust us very much.  She’s a lively, independent, vibrant little girl.
Now, my third daughter, Helen, slept in the bed with me an awful lot as a baby.  The same people who judged my parenting with Sarah thought this was a great idea.  Sleep with your baby!  She can nurse and be close to her mama.  I made them happy now.   But I heard the criticism from others…they told me I’d smother her…I might kill her!  How irresponsible of me!  How does my husband allow that!?!?
Something I’ve learned in my 10 years of motherhood is that I just need to do whatever works for me and my family.  And no…it’s not always the same thing that needs to be done with every child.  I’ve been fortunate that many of my parenting practices HAVE worked and been applicable for all of my children.  And sometimes one of my kids throws me a curve ball and I have to figure something new out.  
I’m not quite sure what it is about us moms that makes us think we have the best way for everyone and people who don’t do it the way we do it are bad mothers.  And I also am not sure if this is universal or if it is just an American thing.  But either way, I know a few “new” moms read my blog and I just wanted to put something out there reassuring them and any future moms that you will find what works best for your family and for your children and you may find that you do things a little bit differently each time around the block.  
When it comes to things like getting your child to sleep or reading them stories or teaching them how to dress themselves or potty-training or any of a myriad of things…there are two things I can most likely guarantee you:
  • One – you will figure out what works.  
  • Two – you will be judged rightly or wrongly and that it doesn’t matter what you do – SOMEONE will think you’re an idiot.  
  • BONUS:  Ultimately you’ll learn not to give a rat’s behind what anyone says or thinks.

Memories and Reflections

And there we were…a brother and a sister…praying together.
Last Monday, I prayed with my brother before his surgery.  As we began, the memories flooded my consciousness…
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I was young…maybe 3 or 4 and I had told on my brother for something.  Punishment was coming for my brother and I panicked and tried to stand between my parents and my older brother and beg they not punish him.  My parents (while chuckling and trying to hide their amusement) asked me if I lied about what I’d told them.  Of course I hadn’t and told them so.  And my parents assured me that since it was true, that my brother needed to be punished.  I cried again, “Please, don’t hurt him!”  In the end, it didn’t matter…he was punished, I couldn’t protect him.
I was 6 or 7…our family prayed the Rosary an awful lot.  We also went to Church an awful lot.  One time we had a statue of Our Lady of Fatima in our house for a week (or was it 10 days?) and we prayed the Rosary in front of her every night.  My older brother was old enough to be expected to stay on his knees for the entire Rosary.  I saw him many times praying on his knees even when we weren’t praying as a family.  He told me that the statue was in our house to try and help our parents save their marriage.  He told me to pray very hard that our parents would stay together.
Then, I was 8…and Dad and Mom were fighting even more and I was scared.  I don’t remember the exact words, but my brother informed me that the end was near for their marriage.  He was almost 5 years older than I was, and much more aware of many more fights in his lifetime.
And, I was 11, and a girl on the swim team called my brother a mean name, true to my protective form, I stepped up and I told her to stop.  My brother said I shouldn’t say anything…that he didn’t need me to protect him…he could handle his own problems…he didn’t care what they called him.  I remember being sad that no matter what, I couldn’t keep that from happening to him.
I was in high school and didn’t know what to do with the kind of attention I was getting from not-so-well-meaning-boys.  And my brother was talking to me and telling me parables and stories and trying to help me see that these boys were not good for me.  He was trying to make me see our situation the way not-so-well-meaning-boys would see our situation.  No father at home.  A mother who was busy trying to take care of her children.  A girl searching for love and acceptance from a male figure.  These boys didn’t respect me and didn’t love me.  They didn’t want the best for me.  And most likely, they didn’t realize they viewed my situation opportunistically since they were just boys, too.  But my brother was doing his best to help me.
 
I came to college (I came “home” after two years in North Carolina) and my brother was there to hang out with me, to set me up with a “good guy” who was much better than those I’d called “boyfriend” in high school but who still wasn’t good FOR me.  But, it was a vast improvement.  My brother also got me involved with the crew at college which was a positive experience.  And my brother helped me select a bunch of classes my freshman year that I really had no chance of doing well in…but that’s okay, I worked it out the next semester.  At this time, my brother was in a bad-for-him relationship, too.  But, with my troubled past in judging relationships, I didn’t feel like I was in any position to guide my brother differently.  However, through all of this, we had each other.
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Over the years, my brother and I have spent varying amounts of time in each others’ lives.  We both got married the same year (only a month apart).  His wedding was a last minute deal and some of my dad’s family put forth quite a bit of expense to come for both of our events.  Our marriages have seen different trials and endured through the years.  Through it all, though, one thing is constant…if we’ve known the other needed anything, we’ve tried our darndest to deliver.  
If there’s one thing I know about my siblings, it’s that we all think of each other as completely indispensable.  We need each other.  We rely on each other.  We support each other.  We guide each others’ children.  We revel in the success that each of us has.  We cry with and for each other when life deals us our lumps.  Somehow through all that life has thrown at each of us…we have been able to maintain a bond stronger than most siblings.  I can’t speak for the spouses…but I know I am very appreciative of my husband’s innate ability to understand the bond I have with my siblings and that he’s not jealous of it.  And he never underestimates it.  
I don’t know that I can provide an environment where my children can form as strong a bond with each other.  I believe my siblings and I formed ours out of necessity, due to our parents’ divorce and our situation with our mother and an absent father. 
As one of the older siblings, I had an inherent desire to protect them all (older brother included) from pain, suffering, name-calling…whatever.  It always pains me when I cannot protect those I love, even when it’s neither my place to do so nor within my capacity.
Last week, as my brother prepared to have a heart catheter inserted, again, I couldn’t save him from the fear or the pain.  But our Lord brought me there still.  To hold my brother’s hand and pray our comforting and familiar prayer.  No, I couldn’t protect him from a heart attack or from the impending surgery…but I could be there.  And so I was.  

And there we were…a brother and sister…praying together.

Easter 2011

I feel like I should write something about Easter, but I can’t find the words.  I know that I am simply joyful at Easter.  
It can be so overwhelming to understand that though I am not worthy of the gift of salvation, our Lord still did it anyway…for me, for all of us.  It’s such a difficult thing to comprehend.  I don’t know that I do fully, but I grow that direction the older I get.
Anyway, because I just don’t have words to do my feelings justice, I will simply leave you with some great photos of my children on this blessed Easter day.
First of all, this is a homemade card from my step-mom (Gammer).  
She makes the most awesome cards!
Next, how awesome is it that we have room for one more Easter basket next year?  🙂
This is Helen.  This is a very “Helen” outfit, too.
Here’s my handsome boy, Dominic.
And my Dani girl…
Finally, Sarah. 
And here’s one of all of them.

He is Risen! Alleluia!

Alleluia!  Alleluia! 

1When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might come and anoint Him.  2Very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen.  3They were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?”  4Looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away, although it was extremely large.  5Entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed.  6And he said to them, “Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him.  Mark 16:1-6

Blessed Easter!  May the Lord’s blessings be upon us all.

Holy Week

Confession time:  I’ve felt a little spiritually dry this Lent.  I started reading a book for spiritual growth…and it sits half-finished on my shelf.  I really don’t even have the desire to pick it up.  My plans for mortifications and sacrifices?  Buried with other resolutions in the wake of pregnancy. 

I’m not sure what the instigator is in this dryness…this barren feeling.  We have attended Mass every Sunday.  We’ve attended Mass every Wednesday evening.  I’ve been to confession twice.  
One of the things I have grown to love about my Catholic faith is the fact that even when I may not be “feeling it,” so to speak, I still have a place to go…to seek out Jesus in The Eucharist, to hear His Word, to receive His Grace through the sacraments.
This week has been one of the more trying weeks of my life in the past 12 years.  My older brother had a heart attack this past weekend.  Thank God he was at my sister’s house in front of my brother-in-law when he began having symptoms.  My brother-in-law was able to take him to the hospital.  
How blessed we were for the wonderful staff at that hospital who took great care of my brother.  And it was a nerve-racking cross that something prevented a priest (who had been called to my brother’s aid a day before his operation) from arriving.  
God provided an opportunity for me to stand by my brother’s bed pre-operation and pray a rosary with him.  God called on me – you know, the one who hasn’t felt too close to Him during the past few weeks – to be there and pray for our Blessed Mother’s intercession.  He called on me to be there and to pray with my brother like we did when we were little.  In hindsight, this is so humbling.  
And I believe Mary, our Blessed Mother, was there interceding for him and asking the Lord to watch over him during this operation.  
I praise God that our parish priest miraculously had a window of time where he could come and spend some time with my brother before he left the hospital.  
There are so many things I am thankful for.  But tonight, as I reflect on my period of spiritual dryness, I am still able to feel so blessed.  Amidst the chaos and stress of buffering my mother, comforting out-of-town siblings, communicating outcomes to parents and friends, I have escaped the whole ordeal with my sanity mostly intact.
Tonight, I finally broke down.  I had felt it building throughout the week.  But finally, the opportunity for the floodgates to open presented itself and I just let it all come out.  I sobbed uncontrollably for about 15 minutes.  
And even in that 15 minutes of despair, Christ showed Himself to me.  He was there in my children:  one brought me her “fifi” (blankie) and draped it over my shoulders; one brought me tissues and said, “dry your eyes, Mama?”  Silently, another came and embraced my leg, pressing his head on my knee in a loving caress.  
As I’m sad and feeling empty…Jesus is there, lifting my cross to carry with His.
So, while I might not have had the most holy of Lents, somehow, I still feel as though the Lord has prepared me to celebrate the Last Supper on Holy Thursday and to walk the Stations of the Cross on Friday.  
And I am ready to meditate on His Passion and Death.
And I am ready to marvel in the Joy of His Resurrection.
It’s not the way I envisioned it.  Not the way I planned it.  But it’s the perfect preparation.  
Of course it is.  

Because He has shown me a different path this Lent, this Holy Week, to the foot of His cross.


A Time to Share

I verified that Sarah completed her homework last night.  This is not something I do every night.  Many times, Craig has completed the homework tasks and verification before I get home.  This is especially true on Monday and Wednesday nights, when we have track practice.  But, last night, I checked it over for Sarah.  
As I verified all was completed (I didn’t check the correctness of her work, however, I’ve got my limits!) I saw she had a stack of papers in her folder and asked if they needed to be returned to school.  Sarah said “no” so I went through them.  There were spelling papers…a math paper on which she received a fairly low grade (and she reminded me I already knew about that one, LOL) and then…there was this:
As I read, it was all I could do to keep the tears from spilling over (hormone-impacted as I am, these days).  
In case you are unable to read it, it says:

“Heaven is more beautiful than the big Christmas tree at Zona Rosa.
Heaven is more awesome than going to Disney World.
Heaven sounds more fun than going on a plane by myself to New Jersey.
Heaven feels like getting another sibling and being loved forever.”

Okay, so surely it’s obvious that last line is the one that got to me most.  
One of the things I’ve grappled with throughout this pregnancy has been how Sarah *really* feels about it.  She’s never expressed that she feels anything but joy and happiness over the impending arrival of another sibling when we are around.  It absolutely fills my heart with love for my little girl that even with an open page to write, she expresses that getting another sibling feels like Heaven.  
Wow.  I just can’t even put into words how I feel right now, how I felt last night.  
I should never have tried.
I know I’ve written it before and I know I will have many reasons to write it again.
The Lord blesses me over and above my greatest needs and desires every day. 

Blog Makeover Giveaway WINNER!! – And some Monday Mumbles :)

Well, I decided to post at 6 a.m. instead of 8…so I could be sure and link on my twitter and facebook.  🙂
First, I want to thank all of you who entered the giveaway.  As I mentioned, this is my first time doing anything like this, but I really wanted to pay-it-forward so to speak as happy as I was with the way my blog look turned out.
I had 9 entrants and your number was assigned to your entry in the order they appeared on my comment page.  So, I had:
1.  JoAnna
2.  JoAnna
3.  JoAnna
9.  Joy
I am pretty technologically challenged when it comes to this blog stuff.  But thanks to Rebecca, who pointed me in the right direction, I went to Random.Org to generate a random winner of the nine entries.  I used their Sequence Generator and got the top number of 3.  I then had to screen-shot the order, save it in a document and then get it so I could embed it in this post.  Oy.
So, here is that document showing how the order panned out at Random.Org:
http://viewer.docstoc.com/var docstoc_docid=”75993359″;var docstoc_title=”RandomDrawing”;var docstoc_urltitle=”RandomDrawing”; http://i.docstoccdn.com/js/check-flash.js
JoAnna is our winner!  Congratulations, JoAnna!

And now, for a few Mumbles…since it’s Monday and all.  🙂  TOOJE sometimes Mumbles, but her computer is down, so she might not be Mumbling right now.  But maybe later.  🙂

1.  Track meet Saturday morning went VERY well!  All the kids ran their events and we had some great performances.  They don’t have all the official results up, yet so I can’t get everyone’s times yet.  But it was really great.
2.  We have one more week of Lent before Holy Week.  I. Love. Holy. Week.  It is my favorite week of the liturgical year.  I am going to try and make it to Holy Thursday and Good Friday services at our parish.  I probably won’t try to tackle the Easter Vigil with all the kids, though.  But maybe someday, I’ll be able to make the entire Easter Triduum.  
3.  Mother-in-law made it up to see the house this weekend.  Why is it such a big deal for her (or anyone really) to see the house where you live?  Oh well, everyone’s different and maybe I’ll understand when my kids are grown.  Funny story:  I’d been able to show her all the parts of the house except our bedroom.  Now, honestly, I wasn’t planning to show her that regardless of whether Craig was sleeping or not (but he was while we were showing her around).  Craig got up about 30 minutes before she left.  Anyway, before she left, she went to the restroom and I heard her open and close a door…  I thought, she’s going up in our bedroom.  She comes back down and says, “Well, I thought about asking to see your bedroom and then figured, nah…I’d just go look without asking.”  I guess moms do that sort of stuff.  I hope she enjoyed the chaotic mess that awaited her in there!
Later, we were trying to figure out where to stash the Easter Basket stuff I’d bought until Easter and Craig mentioned putting in our closet.  But our closet is kind of hot, so I said we better not.  Then I said, “just put it on the floor by the dresser.  Our kids don’t go into our room.  Especially without asking.”  LOL  I don’t know.  Maybe I’m weird…but I wouldn’t go into someone’s bedroom without asking.  Oh well, like I said…moms do weird stuff sometimes. 
4.  The weather has warmed up!  And I’m gonna bet on it staying fairly warm from here on out.  I decided to wash coats and put them away.  🙂
5.  I filled out all my Cord Blood Donation paperwork and the pre-registration paperwork for the hospital.  Holy cow, we’re gonna have another baby!

Have a great Monday.