Glimpse into Life as WOTHM With A Large Family

My experiences as a WOTHM are most likely shaded by the type of work I do.  I work in what could be termed, historically, a “man’s world.”  The Financial Services/Banking Industry – financial markets, stock markets, large amounts of money, big buildings downtown filled with lots of folks in suits – over the years, this has not been the most friendly environment for women.
Thankfully, women have made huge strides in this industry.  Women are CEO’s and CFO’s and Presidents and Vice Presidents and managers.  It is interesting to observe different women in various roles in an organization like the one that employs me as well as other organizations I have worked.  You can tell a lot about a woman and what she’s been through in her life by the way she behaves and treats others.
But, some other time, I might write about the traits I observe in women in general in the Financial world.  And some other time, I might write about the tradeoffs in the “career” of a WOTHM that men simply don’t have to make.
For now…I’d like to give you a little peek into my world of work as a Catholic mother of five.
  • Work is a place I go for 8-10 hours five days a week.  I rarely call what I do my “career” anymore.  I support my family by doing good work.
  • When I encounter new acquaintances, there is sometimes a bit of awkwardness when they find out I have five children.  It’s okay.  I’ve learned to give the benefit of the doubt. because most of the people I work with only encounter a mom of five children at church or school and it’s usually a part-time working mother or a stay-at-home-mom.  
  • I crave friendships with other moms of 3+ kids in the work force.
  • People like to tell me why they only had 2.  Some of the most common reasons I have heard over the years:
  1. The two I had were enough for me.
  2. I could barely function with my
  3. I would have liked to have more, but my husband went and got snipped
  4. The daycare bill for two (or three) about broke me, financially.

  • I never ask people why they only had 2 (or whatever number) children…they just offer up their reasons to me when they find out I have 5.
  • I get told a lot that I am lucky because I have a “good husband.”  This is absolutely 1000% true.  There is no way I could function in my life without my husband.  He is a solid, down-to-earth guy who loves his kids and his wife in that good ol’ fashioned sacrificial way.
  • I miss my kids.  I do.  I would be untruthful to say I didn’t.  I miss their parties at school.  I miss out on going on field trips.  I miss after school clubs.  This is probably the aspect that most identifies my sacrifices to work outside the home to support the family.
  • I often compensate for my absence by being far too lenient with my children.  Thankfully, I have that good husband to fall back on who reins in my leniency and disciplines as necessary.  And it’s not that I don’t discipline my kids, but I find that I’m no where near the heavy-hand I always envisioned I would be with my children.
  • We eat in restaurants.  A lot.  I’m a horrible cook and when that good husband of mine, Craig, isn’t around to cook dinner before heading to work, I will more often than not, settle for peanut butter sandwiches and chips, or a trip to Cici’s pizza or something like that.  I’m not proud of it…but it is the truth.
  • My house is a wreck most of the time.  Probably for about 20 minutes during the weekend it might get cleaned up.  Craig usually succeeds in getting things cleaned up on his days off during the week, but I’m lousy with follow-up.
  • I never do the grocery shopping.  Again, this goes back to that good husband I have.  He handles all of that.
  • I pay the bills and keep the books.  Whatever our financial shortcomings are…are all MY fault.
Finally, here is an example of some anxiety of a WOTHM mom of a large family.  I had a wonky cycle recently.  It was one of those things where my hormones were out of whack and it was hard to tell where things stood.  I was concerned I might have become pregnant.  
And you know what my biggest fear was?  My biggest fear was what everyone at work would say if I ended up needing to schedule maternity leave for the same time in 2012 that I was gone in 2011.  
But, we weren’t blessed with that particular circumstance.  I was neither saddened or relieved when the cycle ended.  But I was quite a bit perturbed that I felt anxiety about that particular aspect.

So there you go.  Just a glimpse into the life of a Catholic wife and mom of five who works outside the home. And I realize, too, that I couldn’t do any of it if I didn’t have a good husband.  🙂

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Faith and Me

I got to thinking about my Faith while traveling for my grandmother’s funeral.  Events where life and death meet have a tendency to cause reflection on life, death, afterlife and where we stand.
I fell away from the Catholic church as an adolescent and stayed away for much of my college life.  
Strange as it may sound, I don’t remember a time when I didn’t believe in God.  Or that Satan exists.  I have always believed that Heaven and Hell were indeed places where souls reside for eternity.  I believe there will be a day when I face God and receive final Judgment.  
Back when I was a teenager or young adult, though, I don’t know that I would have articulated it in those terms.
More often than not, in my younger years, I subscribed to some moral relativism.  Mostly, I believed that all I needed to do was be “a good person” and God would understand and forgive all of my missteps even if I hadn’t repented and turned from the bad stuff I was doing.
By most people’s standards, my “bad stuff” probably wouldn’t be considered all that bad…certainly not Hell-worthy.  However, I have learned over the past 11 years that it’s probably not in my eternal best interests to live by most people’s standards.  I want to live by God’s standards, as laid out through my faith, communicated through His Son and down through the church over the ages.  
So, yeah…I did bad stuff.  
I still do bad stuff.  The big difference now is that I’m much more aware of how bad the bad stuff is and the consequences on the grand scale.
I started to wonder why it is that I’ve never questioned God’s existence or His Love for me.  
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I WANT to doubt.  But, I hear of people who feel like God isn’t present to them, no matter what they try.  Or I read about people who pray and petition the Lord, but feel their prayers are never answered.  Or I know of those who are suffering some tragedy or painful event that seems to have no rhyme or reason why it should happen.  I don’t begrudge anyone their doubts.  Many people grow through them.  Some people lose their faithSome people emerge on the other side of doubt with a much stronger faith.  There’s doesn’t seem to be any hard core pattern to who ends up where.
I’ve had some bad things happen to me in life, but I haven’t ever felt like God abandoned me.  I haven’t always asked for His aid when I should have.  And no, every prayer of mine hasn’t always been answered with a “yes.”  I haven’t had a time where God had to make Himself known to me.
When my parents divorced would have been a prime time for me to feel abandoned by God.  But I didn’t.  I felt abandoned by my earthly father.  I felt confused.  I stopped trusting my parents. 
But I still trusted God
It seems to me that my parents’ divorce, and the way I grew up, I probably should have been mad at GodWhy would He allow my parents to get married and have five children together if they weren’t going to make it work?  Why would He give me the mother He did?  Why did He bless my parents with their fifth child even though the marriage was clearly on the rocks at the time? 
But I don’t remember feeling indignation toward God.  I remember feeling hurt by my mom and dad and putting blame on them.  I also remember feeling like it was MY fault things hadn’t worked out.  I remember thinking I must not have been good enough  as a daughter.  Or perhaps I wasn’t pretty enough.  I definitely was not smart enough.  Those were all potential reasons why my dad didn’t want me anymore.  I remember that I was not skinny enough to please my mom and I disappointed her because I couldn’t fit the image she’d created for me.
Looking back on my behavior in high school, it’s clear I was lost.  I was lost because I didn’t have a father in the home, so I looked for male affection and affirmation among boys who were nowhere near prepared for that.  My mom had stopped taking us to Mass several years running.  So, not only was I lost without a strong father figure, I was lost without my Mother Church and her love and wisdom and guidance.  
In college, I continued to search for male affection and affirmation in a long-term relationship with someone who was not prepared and completely lacked the desire to love me the way Christ loved His church.  So I floated along, trying to make something work that was doomed from the start.  
When that relationship ended—I initiated the break-up because I think, even though I would never have been able to put words to it, that I was growing tired of being used and was beginning to understand the relationship wasn’t going to end where I had hoped it would—even though I was crushed, I still (miraculously) turned to Jesus in prayer and tried to remember how to pray the rosary (and I failed miserably).  Somehow, I still fell back on the faith I had that God WAS there and that there WAS a planI just hadn’t been following it.
I know that to have faith is an incredible gift.  I know I haven’t done anything to create within myself the desire to know, love and serve the Lord.  Yes, I have tried hard to cultivate this gift over these past 11 years and I have tried to learn how to help my children cultivate the gift that has been given them.  But the fact that the faith is there at all, is the doing of Something Bigger and Greater than me.

And, while I know that faith is a huge gift, I also know that with that comes a great responsibility.

And that is where I know I fall far short.  

Help me understand, if you can.

How do I help others discover the gift that I believe is there for all?  Is that my charge?  How is that done when there’s such a danger of pushing people away if it’s done wrong? 


In the end, only God can change a heart.  I know that.  But, am I called to help that cause in some way?  

Is prayer my only recourse?  

Where do I start?  

(I must admit, I feel rather– “naked” –admitting that I am not sure in this facet of my life.  I want so badly to feel sure of how to move forward.)

Monday Mumbles – 13

Please go visit TOOJE for more Mumbles!

1.  These are gonna be quick because…well, I didn’t do them ahead of time.

2.  I had a meeting this morning with another professional in the HR (we call our department something other than HR but no one would know what department it was if I used our acronym) department and it went well!  yay!

3.  I hope you had a good Thanksgiving.  Me?  I gained 5 pounds.  Thanks.

4.  My siblings and I have our kids draw names to determine who buys whom a gift at Christmas.  We have to buy five gifts this year.  We have four done.  Go me.

5.  Just so you know…Vincent is completely in love with me.  I know it is true because I caught him staring at me many times this weekend with TRUE BLUE LOVE in his eyes.  OMGoodness, it took my breath away.  Unfortunately, if I would have pulled out my phone to catch it on film, I could not do the beauty of his loving gaze justice.  So you’ll just have to trust me.  I am the only woman for him.  🙂

6.  Dominic is so fun!  He has started acting out the part of Wyatt/Super Why while watching the show.  It. is. SO. CUTE.

7.  Oh yeah and Dominic also says, “That’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout!” whenever he wins a race, scores a play basket or anything like that.  I am LOVING little boy stage.

8.  Okay, that’s all I have time for.  Have a great Monday!

9.  Oh one more thing.  I only had Vincent Thursday night and so I loaded up a full bottle and headed to see Breaking Dawn.  Biggest thing of note…Vincent is an awesome baby.  He drank his bottle, chewed on his burp cloth for a bit and fell asleep.  I enjoyed the movie and so did everyone else in the theater. 

10. okay, now I am done.  🙂

I Don’t Have A Large Family Because NFP Failed

When I first mentioned to a few select family members other than my husband that we were looking into Natural Family Planning (NFP), I got raised eyebrows.  Then, a sigh.  Finally, the joke, “You know what they call Catholics who use that, don’t you?”  and then, “PARENTS!!!
When I tried to get information about NFP from the nurses and doctors towards the end of my pregnancy with my first child, I was met with resistance.  I learned the majority of the medical community’s opinion over the next few weeks and months:   “Well, that’s really not reliable…
When I mentioned it at my postpartum follow-up, I heard, “Well…here, just take this prescription, it’s a low-dose birth control pill.  You’ll be much happier with this method.
Over the years, I have heard grumblings — both within and outside of my family — whenever a new baby is announced.  No one in the immediate family ever has the guts (or maybe they are just smarter than this) to ask us if a child was planned or whether it was a surprise.  But plenty of folks outside of my immediate family (this includes a couple of uncles) have hit us with the typical, “Did you do that on purpose?” or something along those lines.
It’s occurred to me that there are plenty of people who see my family with five children and figure, “ah heck…that NFP stuff doesn’t work, see they ended up with FIVE kids!”
Here’s the thing.  I can’t speak for Craig completely on this, but I remember going through the NFP classes thinking…”I’m gonna learn this so well, that we’re never going to have an unplanned or surprise pregnancy!  We’ll have our two (maybe three) kids and show the world that this NFP stuff DOES work!” 
But something happened on the way to that place…
Viewing NFP strictly as behaving this way or that during a particular time of the woman’s fertility cycle has XYZ% chance that  baby is or is not conceived is something most people can wrap their heads around.  Going into this, I clung to an idea that children were what we decided to have and then decided to stop having after which we would move on with life.  
Five children later, I have a different perspective.  
Children ARE life.  Children are not just for one certain time of life….determined solely at our whim.  Children are not something that we always choose how many and when.  
Children are gifts, to which life is naturally open. Some people may receive them in abundance.  Some people may receive a prized and precious few. 

Regardless of the number, each fits into the framework of life in the degree to which life is opened to them. 

Using NFP opens the marriage up where it might not already be open.  For me, using NFP changed my worldview.  I stopped seeing my children, and the number of them, as something over which I had complete control.  I began to see children and marriage in a combined and expanded light.  I began to see our marriage and family not as a finite and firm circle with only so much space and time, but as more of an extension of Parkinson’s Law.  Parkinson’s Law states that “work expands to fill the time available.”  So a variation that might apply to the family is that LOVE fills the SOULS available to give it.
Or something like that.
I didn’t head into marriage with the idea I would have children at all.  And I didn’t head into the addition of NFP to our marriage with the idea that I would have five children.  I have a hard time feeling like we’re completely done having children until I reach the close of my fertility.
But there is something I can say with absolute certainty:  I don’t have five children because NFP failedNot once.  

I have five children because God gave me five children and, by God’s Grace, I was open to receiving them.

Thankful Thursdays (4)

I haven’t been able to participate the past couple of weeks either due to computer issues or traveling.  But what better way to commemorate Thanksgiving in 2011 than to join beautiful Rebecca at The Road Home and list those things for which I am thankful.
Today…this week…always, I am thankful for:
  • My dad who turns 65 today.  Happy Birthday Dad!
  • My family whom I spent time with last weekend at my Nana’s funeral
  • The many opportunities I have found already today to serve my family, particularly giving Dominic a bath and changing the sheets on his bed, sleeping much of the night on the couch holding Vincent because he’s just having a hard time sleeping through the night these days, and cooking breakfast for all of the kids.
  • An understanding and reasonable boss who is allowing me to modify my hours to accommodate daily Mass (YES!) starting on Monday.

Have a very happy Thanksgiving!

Catholicism Nerd: Questions Answered

It dawned on me recently that perhaps I have become somewhat of a Catholicism Nerd.  
I have decided to give you the option to become a Catholicism Nerd, too!  This will be the first (of many, I hope!) posts tackling something little (or big) that Catholics do and why.  I might explain a bit how I learned because…truth be told…I had 8 years of Catholic education and I didn’t learn most of what I know until I was in my late 20’s!
Just for some reference, Dictionary.com’s definition of the word, NERD, follows:

nerd

[nurd] Show IPA

noun Slang.

1.a stupid, irritating, ineffectual, or unattractive person.  (Nah, I don’t think I fit THIS part of the definition –Pipe Down in the cheap seats!)

2.an intelligent but single-minded person obsessed with a nonsocial hobby or pursuit: a computer Catholicism nerd.

I was recently asked by another lifelong Catholic (Catholic school educated and everything…just like me!) “Why do some people bow down during the Creed at Mass when we say, ‘by the power of the Holy Spirit’?”
I know I am not the only Catholic to have actually read in whole, or in part, the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) in an attempt to teach myself and my children the proper way to attend Mass.  It came in handy that I’d studied it though.

You see, I am one of “those people” who makes a profound bow at that point in the Creed.  

The first time I consciously noticed someone (a priest) bowing at that point in the creed, I was 28 and I wondered why he was doing it.  At first I thought that I should do it even if I don’t know why simply because the priest was doing it.  But then I remembered that there are some things the priest is supposed to do that the congregation is not supposed to do.  
So…then I was confused.  
Back then, whenever I was confused, I had a Catholic co-worker friend that I turned to whenever I needed answers.  I asked him about it and he directed me to the GIRM.  
While it’s intimidating to tackle the GIRM, it is helpful to understand some of the things we do during Mass.  I highly recommend you put the GIRM on your list of reference materials if you’re interested in learning more about Catholic Mass.
The GIRM addresses many details of “Mass With A Congregation.”  Since I’m sticking to the one question, I’ll only mention that part.  You can go to the site linked above and read through the GIRM on the Vatican website.
And now…
Why do those crazy Catholics bow during the Creed at Mass when saying “by the power of the Holy Spirit?”
The first (and easy) answer is:  Because the GIRM says so.  Really.  Item #137 under “Mass With A Congregation” states:

137. The Creed is sung or recited by the priest together with the people (cf. no. 68) with everyone standing. At the words et incarnatus est (by the power of the Holy Spirit . . . and became man) all make a profound bow; but on the solemnities of the Annunciation and of the Nativity of the Lord, all genuflect.

A more detailed answer is given here.  

The profound bow is to show reverence to the Incarnation.  We begin the bow at the words, “by the power of the Holy Spirit” and rise back up after “and became man.”  The profound bow shows that we understand and respect the importance of this event, of God becoming man.

So the profound bow occurs while saying the following (bolded) part of the creed:

…For us men and for our salvation, he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered, died, and was buried…

Furthermore, this article (137) of the GIRM mentions two times where you’re actually supposed to GENUFLECT at those words. If you’re at Mass on March 25 (solemnity of the Annunciation) or December 25 (Nativity of the Lord), you are required to genuflect as you say those words of the Creed.

On every other day that you are at Mass, if you see someone bowing at that point in the Creed…they are not doing anything wrong.  In fact, you should probably consider joining them.

And as you make your profound bow, you can join the rest of us Catholic Nerds when someone asks you why you are doing that!




Monday Mumbles – 12

Last week, I tried to post mumbles from my blogger app on my iPad.  That was an epic FAIL.  So, I really didn’t get around to blogging at all.  But, it’s now Monday…the 7th to last Monday of 2011…and I bring you The Mumbles!  Go visit TOOJE if you’re interested in doing or reading Mumbles (other than mine 🙂  )
1.  My grandmother passed away November 4.  I miss her.  I missed her before she passed away, but now I miss her in a different way.  Services will be held November 19 and my family and I are traveling to attend.  I had thought maybe I wouldn’t worry about the funeral since I went to see her in September.  But it just feels like something I need to do and do it with my family, too.  So…we will go.
2.  Our 5th grade girls made it to the Quarterfinals of the City volleyball tournament.  I am really proud of them.  They had a slow start to the season, and really came on strong.  Making the tournament was an accomplishment in itself (we took third in our league).  But I can say just about every girl made vast improvements throughout the season.  That makes me happy.
3.  Oh yeah, and I think they all really enjoy playing volleyball.  And that makes me happy, too.
4.  Last night, we had adult volleyball in our gym.  I had not actually played in a really long time (I might have been newly pregnant with Helen).  But since Craig was off work, I went and had a blast.  It was fun.
5.  My Dad and step-mom came to visit last week!  It was great to see them.  They got to hang out with the kids.  My step-mom and the girls processed one of our pumpkins and then they made pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread.  Delicioso!  (Is that how you spell that?)  
6.  Dani started basketball practice Friday.  She’s very excited.  There are 16 girls in her class out for basketball.  That’s crazy.  They will be splitting the girls into two teams for playing time purposes.  That’s good.  I wonder if Dani will like basketball as much as she liked soccer.
7.  Sarah’s not playing basketball this year.  Not enough girls were interested and I could have had her play up, but she is already basically a year behind girls in her own grade (due to Missouri cutoffs for starting Kindergarten) and having her play up to 6th grade would put her with girls basically two years ahead of her physically.  I might get her some volleyball lessons.  I know we’ll do some swim lessons.  She’ll probably enjoy some time off from an organized sport for the winter.
8.  I think I might be having some mild post-partum depression still.  I find it hard to get happy about things that usually make me happy.  I find myself kind of paranoid that people don’t like me or don’t want to be around me.  These are the kinds of things I experienced after I had Dominic, too.  It’s really kind of a pain in the butt, to be honest.  I don’t really want to take anything for it, though.  Probably just a mind-over-matter thing.
9.  At the auction the other night, Craig bought this t-shirt:
I figure with three daughters, we’ll get good use out of that.
10.  I took the girls shopping on Saturday.  I think I may have spoiled them…just a little.

Have a great Monday!