Helen Told Me She Wrote A Book

Helen told me from the back of the car last night that she wrote a book. I said, “That’s so good, honey, I can’t wait to read it!”

And then she gave it to me.

I will translate: 
The Book About My Mom
She loves me. She loves the tangs (things) that I mack (make) her. Your mom loves you, too. And all so (also) mee (me) too.
I miss you wean (when) you are goan (gone). She’s tha (the) Best Mommy ever maid (made) and I am so glad that she is my mommy.
Love Helen

The Book About Mommy
Your Mommy ❤ you too
so mush (much)

This one doesn’t really need a translation.

I thought it was cute she made it into a book and made sure to tell others that their mommy loves them, too.

This is standard fare for the kind of stuff Helen draws up for me almost every day. I am so blessed.



"Carry You, Momma"

Dominic’s language progression is about as normal as my other kids.  Some things have come a little fast, others not as fast, but overall, he’s learned to communicate with us rather well at this point (he is just about 30 months old).
One of the cutest things he says is, “Wah-nah Cay-wee You, Mom-ma!”  (I want to carry you, Momma.)
This is what he says when he wants me to pick him up and hold him.  I thought perhaps this little “-ism” of his had gone by the wayside because I couldn’t recall hearing it all that often lately.  But tonight as he was laying in bed, trying not to go to sleep, crying for me, I went in there and he said, “Cay-wee you.  Cay-wee you.”
So, I picked him up and held him and swayed with him.  Moments like that kind of get to me.  Especially with another baby on the way.  Pretty soon, Dominic won’t be the baby.  I mean, he’ll always be MY baby, and all that stuff.  But his world is about to be rocked as someone new and smaller joins this family and starts taking the lion’s share of my attention (in his eyes).  
It also made me think of what he was saying.  Even though he wants ME to hold/carry HIM, his language skills don’t convey that message and he says that HE wants to hold/carry ME.
It kind of made me think of how my prayer life goes at times.  Sometimes, when I’m praying to God about my struggles and my worries, I feel like I’m trying to place them at the Lord’s feet…but my words are all about me and how I can help myself…what I need to do, what I want to happen.  Sure, I often tack on, “oh, but THY WILL BE DONE, oh Lord!”  But do I really mean that?  In reality, am I still trying to do everything myself and solve all my own problems and get my way in everything?  Am I trying to convey, “Carry me, Lord” but incapable, due to my human state…so instead, I’m saying, “I’ll carry you, Lord” when that’s so incredibly impossible?  I mean, how often am I communicating with the Lord as though I am a simple 2-year-old who can’t quite comprehend and definitely can’t communicate what she wants?
I had to go back into Dominic’s room a second time tonight, which is rare.  Usually, I don’t have to go in and hold him at all…he usually lays right down and falls asleep quickly.  But, I went back in as he called for me, “Mommy.  Mommy.”  I laid my head on his pillow.  I reminded him where he was going tomorrow and that he’d be able to play with his friends.  
And then I asked him…”Do you love me?” and of course he responded, “Yes.”  And I told him I loved him and good night.  I didn’t hear any more from him after that.  I don’t typically ask my children that question.  Sometimes they offer up an “I love you” or they say it in response to my declaration for them.  I really don’t know what prompted me to ask it of my 2-year-old tonight, but for some reason, the words came out.

And even that exchange reminded me of my relationship with God, at times.  Sometimes I wonder if He feels like He must ask me, “Do you love me?” 

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…
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.
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.

My Kids Are Spoiled! (And I’m Okay With That)

Recently, my sister was informed by a member of our family that her four children were spoiled.  Specifically, she was told that her children have “too much stuff” and that they don’t “need” it all and that “they are spoiled”.
That got me thinking.  (of course)
I think my kids are spoiled.  Truly.  But I don’t think they are spoiled because they have lots of stuff.  Sure, they do have more than they need and it’s a constant struggle for me to ensure they understand that their needs are wants for many others and to remember to give praise and thanks to God for the blessings in their lives, material and non-material.
Yes.  My children are spoiled.  Here’s why:  Because they have their mother and their father, living out a Catholic christian marriage to the best of their ability.  Because they have a secure and stable home life.  Because they have parents who are present and ready to love them, listen to them, discipline them.  I think all kids should be spoiled. 
My life beginning at age 8 was a fairly unstable, insecure life without a father.  And many Christmases, the presents were not “wants” but regular things that I needed.  Often, Christmas was when we received an annual allotment of socks, underwear and clothing.  Very seldom was there something I had told anyone I “wanted” in my stocking or under the tree.  And even, then, when my father came to town and asked what we’d like for Christmas and we told him, we often got told, “You don’t really want THAT”.  I spent many a summer afternoon accompanying my mother into the Liz Claiborne section at Dillard’s so that she could pad her wardrobe, or sitting by her at the Clinique counter as she bought herself makeup.  I don’t begrudge her these things…I never really thought much about it until I became an adult and realized how often my own trip to get a new outfit or taking the time and setting the money aside to buy some makeup, gets pushed to “last” in the priority column.
My life was a constant balancing act of how to be a kid without further wounding an often delicate relationship with both my parents, even though I was not the one to break the relationship in the first place.  I’ve only just recently begun coping with the emotional and physical abuse I suffered as a child.  I mean, I’m only scratching the surface.  I can feel it brewing any time I start thinking of my next session with my therapist…there’s some big breakthrough occurring.  It’s slowly building and I can tell at some point, I’m going to finally hit that point where it all comes crashing in on me and I realize the magnitude of it all.  For now, I have bits and pieces.  What saddens me the most is how common my experience is.
However, I look at my kids and I truly believe they are spoiled.  They are spoiled with love and affection.  They are spoiled with a father who loves them and isn’t afraid to show it.  They are spoiled with a family environment they can count on.  They are spoiled because they don’t have to rely on their siblings to carry them through the day, they can come to their mom or their dad, cry on our shoulder or just cuddle.
And, honestly, I can say that my youngest sister and brother are quite possibly the most spoiled children on the face of the earth from my vantage point.  I see them as spoiled because they had MY DADDY…all their lives.  They still have MY DADDY.  Sure, he is their daddy, too.  But, I spend my time working on my relationship with my dad knowing it can never be what it would have been.  I’m moving forward and I believe my dad and I have a stronger relationship now than we have ever had in my adult years.  But, it’s still not what it would have been.  That can never be.  And that’s just my life.  There’s no changing it even if I wanted to.  But it doesn’t change the fact that they are spoiled.
I hope that I can always say my kids are spoiled.  I hope I can always say they have a dual-parental unit they can count on.  I hope I can conquer my demons and move on to a place where I can be a most compassionate, loving and merciful mother to my children.  I hope I can always say that every day, I look into the eyes of the man I love knowing he would lay down his life for me and our family.

Please, Lord, allow me to always strive to spoil the heck out of my children!

So far so good.