Nostalgic Pondering

She’s getting more independent these days. All I have to do is ask, “Is your homework done?” or “How much more do you have?” There is not a lot of help required on my part.
She does her own laundry. All that’s needed from me, for the most part, is a reminder that it needs to get done and a suggestion about when would be a good time so that it’s complete in between the many commitments she sometimes has on a weekend.

Four years old?
She eats meals with the family, but often requires nourishment outside the regular meal times and is able to handle this on her own.
When I put things on my calendar to ensure we get her to appointments of all sorts – I “add” her via her e-mail address and the schedule on her phone is synched. She is able to accept or turn down babysitting jobs or social outings. Often, she will sit down with me for 5 minutes on a Sunday evening and the two of us will go through the week touching base about where she needs to be and when – and what will still be required of her at home.
Gone are the days when I must keep track baths, hair combing and teeth brushing. She took over self-care with pride when we established the time had come. And now she helps me get the younger ones ready to take over their own…we’re really only down to the boys now.

Yes, my girl is growing up. Time flies. She looks more like the woman she will be and less like the little girl she once was.

Five Years old
But yesterday, on a break during pool play, soon after her team had just won their fourth (or was it their sixth?) set in a row, my baby girl came back to me. Her excited, beautiful brown eyes smiled at me. I heard my little girl say, “Mommy, did you see…?”

It was almost as if I was seeing my six-year-old Sarah after she got her first hit in softball and rounded the bases to score a run; or my third-grade Sarah searching the stands after making her first basket in a basketball game; and then my fourth-grade Sarah approaching me after she remembered all her lines in the Christmas pageant; and even my seventh-grade Sarah after she earned the “A Honor Roll” the first time.
I saw my eighth-grade Sarah and heard her five-year-old voice ask me if I saw one of her kills in that last set.

After a day of volleyball

My heart melted. You see, she’s my big, teenage girl, who just last week was telling me how she hopes to attend a university far away. Yet, she is still my young baby girl who thrills for me to see every accomplishment.

She’s spreading her wings and getting ready to fly. And her heart yearns still for her Mommy and the approving affection she’s known since her birth.

So, as she called me, “Mommy” and asked “did I see?” I answered her the way I always have – with a smile and a hug and my words “Of course, I did. You did such a great job. I loved that play.”

We went to the KU-KState game together over the weekend


One Year of My New Life

Remember this? Here I Go Again

One year ago today, I walked into the Weight Watchers At-Work meeting to weigh-in for the “first time” again. I am happy to report it was my LAST “first time” and I made changes that started that day and stuck with them now for a year.

One year ago on November 1 (tomorrow) I went to my first CrossFit workout. I had surgery six weeks before and had abided by the “no lifting” restrictions. But I was cleared and ready to go. I remember that workout like it was a year ago. 🙂 We did back squats. We did Cleans. And I was oh-so-very sore all weekend long. (I also came down with Strep that weekend, which was not so fun.)

Today, I reread several of my posts over the past year and I link them for you now:

Tomorrow, I will compete in my first CrossFit Competition. I’m nervous. But it’s the good kind of nervous. I am entered in the scaled division and I just hope to do the very best I can and see how it goes.

As I think about this past year the main thing that comes to mind is my focus on maintaining these changes I have made. AS my initial “Here I Go Again” post mentions…I had always been an active person, but the food was my problem. I’m not going to lie, even with the changes I made this year, the food is still my problem. It’s something I cannot ever let myself become mindless to ever again. I will forever need to keep track of the food I eat on a daily basis. I will forever need to regroup after my inevitable falls “off the wagon” and get back to tracking.

Actually, I’ve been “off the wagon” for about four weeks now. It’s just been crazy with our schedule and Craig’s new job. I’m hopeful I can get back on now. Does that mean that I’ve gained 15 pounds? No. But it means that if I don’t get it in check, I might. Does that mean I haven’t worked out? Nope. Still haven’t had more than a 2-day layoff for exercise in a year. But the exercise isn’t the problem.

I recently reviewed the time since November 1 to see about workouts and was pleased to see that it was true that I had not had more than two days in a row with no formal/vigorous exercise since then. Even when we had a 2-day road trip for our vacation, when we arrived at my sister’s, I headed out for a 5K just to get something in on that 2nd day. I try not to obsess, however, my anxiety kicks up if I start thinking I won’t be able to get a workout in if I didn’t get one the day before.

In the last few months, I’ve had some interesting internal struggles with what I’ve done and how it impacts my family. First of all, there’s no question I am healthier and a better mom when I feel good about myself — both my actual health and my appearance. Secondly, I know I’m showing my kids what a healthy life looks like and I’m proud of that. The struggle comes in where the potential for weight-related problems rears its head with my kids. My kids are growing right now and are active and make (for the most part) healthy choices in the kitchen. But it was recently pointed out to me what my transformation in the past year may look like to them — especially my Helen, who wants so much to be like me in all ways. I believe my kids are proud of me for making healthy changes, but I worry that my girls (especially my girls) gain or retain some part of MY insecurity with weight and body image by seeing me work so hard to change my own weight/body to fit something I am happy with. This is a real concern. I want my girls to know they are beautiful no matter what. I worry that because they’ve watched this transformation over the past year, that they may think that I don’t think I am beautiful no matter what. So, that’s probably a post for another day. But it’s something I’ve had on my heart for a few weeks.

For today, I am going to celebrate. I’m going to celebrate the fact that my weight is in a healthy range, that my cholesterol (both the good and the bad) are in optimal ranges, that my resting heart rate is fantastic and that my blood pressure is excellent. Today, I celebrate the fact that I know eating a cookie is not going to derail my health because I know to limit my intake to just one (or two! haha) and not eat the whole box. Today, I celebrate that I understand how processed foods and sugars impact my body and I know how to make healthy and moderate choices on those. I celebrate the fact that I can Back Squat 185 pounds; I can Front Squat 145 pounds; I can Hang Squat Clean 130 pounds; I can do good-form “perfect” push-ups to the tune of 10 at a time; I can do unassisted kipping pull-ups. I could go on, but I won’t. I feel so empowered from all the goals I have reached in the last year and for that, I am grateful and I want to celebrate it.

Many of you have sent me congratulations and celebrated my success over this past year. Thank you for that. I knew that I needed a lot of accountability and  checks to keep me going and I appreciate that you all agreed to help me with that.

My journey is still far from over, though. Because I believe the hard part is in the maintenance. Yes, losing weight is hard — I’m not going to deny that. But I’m discovering that maintaining those changes when the weight is gone can be its own kind of incredible struggle. When the focus is not so much on losing and you can widen your lens-of-life and look at more things everyday — taking the time and the part of your lens to continue to focus on your health still takes effort. Some days that effort is easier than others. But no matter what, I must continue to focus on maintaining these healthy changes.

My focus continues to be on these main things:

  1. Tracking my food in a food diary
  2. Exercise most days of the week (this typically means one true rest day per week and sometimes two rest days per week, depending on the schedule…usually NOT two days in a row if I can help it)
  3. Stick to the Paleo philosophy most of the time

So, I’m going to allow myself a “Birthday” Treat — if you will.

My New/Healthy Life is 1-year-old today.

Throwback Thursday Reruns — A Time To Pray

It’s Thursday and I’m ready for a Throwback Thursday Rerun. I have been thinking about this post lately because I’ve been thinking about praying the Litany of Humility again. Ugh! I kind of tremble when I think about doing it knowing what it can bring…but part of me thinks I’ve hit a point in my life where I need it again. Lord Have Mercy.

I hope you enjoy the rerun of this post from Feburary 2011.


I have had a rough 24 hours.

Have you ever heard of this prayer? Litany of Humility

A little over a year ago, I was introduced to this prayer. I prayed it fairly frequently for about six weeks. What happened was a sequence of events in which I was humbled. When the events happened, I didn’t really think of the fact that I’d prayed to become more humble. But as time wore on, I realized that I had been humbled by the events and I had even grown in my faith through this humility.

I haven’t prayed the prayer really frequently since then. I have thought about it and there is this nagging feeling that perhaps I should…but there is a human fear of doing it. Because, quite frankly, being humble is difficult. Praying for humility seems masochistic. I know that the Lord heard my prayer because He gave me a six month span of time in which I was humbled by my circumstances…and when I remembered that I had actually asked for it, it really put a block somewhere in my head and my heart about praying for humility again.

Humility is a virtue that is so difficult to grow in. Our society tells us that being humble is bad. We must “toot our horn” and make sure everyone acknowledges our gifts and talents. We expect affirmation at every turn. And those who don’t notice how wonderful and how giving and how talented we are somehow fall into this category of adversary.

I have seen this in a couple of different scenarios. While I think families are there for support, acknowledgement, affirmation and such…sometimes (and to the detriment at times) there is so much support and acknowledgement and affirmation that one might grow up in their family never hearing they have done something wrong. Parents don’t want to discipline or for whatever reason they don’t discipline and the children grow to expect that discipline is never necessary for their behavior. Parents step in and berate teachers for a child’s poor marks in school instead of searching deeper and perhaps discovering an underlying problem for their child with material. Parents may complete their childrens’ homework or check it long after such action is necessary in order to avoid their child ever experiencing a poor grade. To avoid a humbling experience, accountability and responsibility are thrown by the wayside.

Photo Found Here

Another place I have seen this is within my workplace. It’s difficult to work for people sometimes. I have found that perhaps I need to spend some time praying the Litany of Humility because lately, I have struggled with my management. Perhaps I need to pray and really meditate on,

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I,

Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it
That in the opinion of the world,
others may increase, and I may decrease,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I unnoticed,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

This is a powerful prayer. I remember when I spent time praying it for about six weeks. I literally CRINGED every time I prayed this part. My heart was crying, “NO!!! I want to be LOVED! I want to be ESTEEMED! I do NOT like to be SET ASIDE!!” And those cries were the little bits and pieces of my soul that cling to the world being chipped away so that I could be ready for the events that followed in the next six months.

So, yes, my friends. I have had a rough go of it the past 24 hours.

I have found out that I acted unkindly and hurt a friend.

I have been on the end of the phone shaking and my heart pounding, feeling helpless, while I listened to my sister suffer through anxiety attacks.

I have had a difficult conversation with a couple of people at work that have opened my eyes to my current reality and given me a certain focus for my future actions.

I have forgotten valentines for my sweet baby girl Helen’s class St. Valentine’s party.

I have lain awake in bed for two hours when I desperately needed to sleep contemplating many of these things.

And then…it hit me this afternoon square between the eyes. Prayer. That Litany of Humility Prayer. While it was painful to pray it prepared me for the events coming my way. and I’ve been feeling a building lately that more events are on their way and I must be prepared.

I must pray.

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, hear me.

From the desire of being esteemed,
deliver me, Jesus. (use this response after each line below)
From the desire of being loved,
From the desire of being extolled,
From the desire of being honored,
From the desire of being praised,
From the desire of being preferred to others,
From the desire of being consulted,
From the desire of being approved,

From the fear of being humiliated,
deliver me, Jesus. (use this response after each line below)
From the fear of being despised,
From the fear of suffering rebukes,
From the fear of being calumniated,
From the fear of being forgotten,
From the fear of being ridiculed,
From the fear of being wronged,
From the fear of being suspected,

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. (use this response after each line below)
That others may be esteemed more than I,
That in the opinion of the world,
others may increase, and I may decrease,
That others may be chosen and I set aside,
That others may be praised and I unnoticed,
That others may be preferred to me in everything,
That others may become holier than I,
provided that I may become as holy as I should.

All of the virtues are the key to living like Christ. However, the virtue of Humility speaks to me at times so much more than the rest. How humble Christ was to live and walk on Earth as a human. How humble Christ was to suffer and die…to be spat upon, ridiculed, beaten and crucified…for you and for me. For all of us.

Please Lord, grant me the perseverance to pray the Litany of Humility with all of my heart and to prepare to humble myself before You and before my fellow man.

And Now, I Shall Pour Out My Heart

I never know if I want to write what I am about to write.  I have written it many times in many ways and often let it sit in my drafts long enough that I end up hitting “delete” instead of “publish.”  I’m not sure why I haven’t been able cross that bridge to get it out there…but surely it has much to do with my pride.

How many times have I read a blogpost where another woman, mother, sister-in-Christ poured her heart out, expressed her frustration with her own inadequacies or wondered “aloud” whether she was alone?  I have often marveled at the bravery she exhibited in showing her vulnerability and believed it was beyond that which I was capable of.  Even now, as I decide to write these thoughts yet again…I wonder, do I have the strength or the temerity to actually publish?  But there it is, behind that thought where I think, “I would be naive and stupid to post these words, to show how unsure of myself I really am, to show my vulnerability so plainly.”

But…here goes nothing, as they say.

It is a daunting prospect for me to make new friends.  There.  I said it.  I am scared out of my wits to approach someone with whom I am newly acquainted.  I don’t make time for a lunch or a dinner or a time/event of any sort to learn more about them and, in turn, reveal more about myself to them.  I am afraid of rejection like nothing else.  It hurts to discover that someone I think I might really enjoy being friends with, most likely does not feel the same about me.  And therefore, knowing how that stings, I remain withdrawn.

It never occurred to me how much it would sting ME to realize there are kids who don’t prefer to spend time with my kids.  Or how it would feel when my child might not be chosen to an event or a gathering and be one left out of a group where s/he is normally included. 

One thing I have strived to teach my children as they have gotten older is that it is okay to be alone.  They always have Jesus by their side and I’ve told them Mom and Dad have their backs and will be there to support them and love them unconditionally.  It’s a regular occurrence in our house to express that every person is valuable and dignified based on their very existence, that no one needs to change who they are to earn love or respect. 

So far, it seems as though my oldest has learned this quite well.  If only I could learn my own lessons!  I find myself attaching my worth to whether I or my family are asked, consulted, cohorted with, or whether I am alone in my struggles.  I find myself questioning what I have said or done at certain points of time that might have pushed others away.  I find myself seeking to be someone I am not in order to obtain the friends I desire.

Even at this age of 38, when it is impossible to be someone other than who I am, I berate myself for speaking my mind, making the choices I do, living my faith life so openly.  Only sporadically am I able to step outside of my box, so to speak, and evaluate my words and actions objectively and even then, I slant towards the negative with regard to myself, my words, my actions.

I suppose I shall always struggle to accept the person God created me to be.  I suppose it will always sting when I see that I (or my child) is not chosen by those whom we would choose were the situations reversed. 

I pray that my own inadequacies in self-acceptance are not visible to my children who appear to understand that they are loved and accepted where it matters most.  I am almost in awe of my children in their own self-assurance and self-acceptance.  I’m almost sure they get it from their father.  🙂

And here is where I trail off…wondering whether I ought to hit “Publish Post” or “Save Now.” 

Here is where I wonder if I sound like a pathetic mess or if there really is something to these thoughts and feelings. 

I mean, the part of my brain that tells me to never let my guard down is screaming out, “Who are you kidding?!  Why are you sharing this?!” and another voice questions, “What is it you hope to accomplish here?”

I’m not sure who I’m kidding.  and I think I’m afraid to openly state why I have posted this here.  But, it’s my space where I’ve started to feel more comfortable.  And it’s what is on my mind and heart at this very moment and has been for a few days. 

So, here it is.

WOTHM Experience: Where Do I Fit In?

Over the years that I have been easing in and learning to walk with Christ on this path of being a WOTHM, I’ve been disappointed, at various times, in the level of support from the faith-based community for women like me.  But that disappointment is an opportunity for growth in humility and I would do well to remember that.
I have found myself in a sort of “no-woman’s-land” socially.  In the past couple of years, I have reached out to others in an attempt to establish a relationship with other mothers — both those who work outside the home and those who do not — but I can’t help feeling like it has often felt like a one-way street.  Again, this is more a reminder to me to humbly accept the opportunities I receive and not project my own feelings of inadequacy on others.
A woman blessed with the ability and means to be able to stay at home to raise her children seems to have many resources and lots of support, from my view.  There are mommy play groups that meet mid-week so the children can play while the moms have some social time.  Swim lessons, music lessons, sports practices (you name it) for your kiddos can be done during the week and during the day so that your weekend doesn’t have to be filled with that.  For those moms with a faith background who desire a Bible study, many churches and parishes offer Bible studies (ENDOW, Familia, etc) during the week (some even offer child care!) to meet the needs of those moms.
I think that is great.  Moms who spend their days taking care of their children and home need to have those resources and that support network available to them on their terms.  
A woman blessed with the ability and situation to work outside the home during the day and during the week has options as well, although they make family life a bit more busy and jumbled.  There are swim/music/sports lesson sessions in the evenings…at 5:30.  If you have any kind of commute, it’s almost impossible to make that without help from someone who can transport your child.  But for those of us with inflexible schedules at work, there is also the option to attend swim/music/sports lesson sessions on Saturdays.  Sometimes that works out and sometimes it doesn’t.  Depending on the number of children you have and their ages, the times provided for children of double-occupation homes may or may not be convenient enough for your children.  For the WOTHM with a faith background who might desire a Bible study or a Familia or ENDOW group, she is often tasked with organization and obtaining other WOTHM participants…or it’s something gone without.  It’s just a fact.  
Perhaps my view of what is available is also clouded by my family situation with a husband who works full-time in the evenings with days off in the middle of the week.  Perhaps if my husband worked a Mon-Fri 8a.m.-5 p.m. job, the difficulties I experience would disappear.
I have read lots of SAHM blogs over the years and I know many SAHM’s (my own sisters included) and I get the impression that social networks through Bible studies, swim/dance/gymnastics lessons are very important to them.  It “gets them out of the house” and “gives them routine” and helps them to meet people.  Many times they meet like-minded, similarly-situated women and form close bonds of friendship.  Especially for larger families, the moms find these connections invaluable…necessary.  It seems that an undercurrent runs through discussions with SAHM’s though that “because they don’t work outside the home” they need these things.  I would argue they need them regardless of their state in life.  We are social beings.  Women thrive on relationships and sharing experiences.  It seems that by insinuating that they might not need these things if they worked outside the home, they give the impression that a job outside the home for a WOTHM is her social life.
****Disclaimer****These are simply my observations around SAHM’s.  I do not intend in anyway to lump all SAHM’s in the same group and think they view things the same way.  I have a very limited view of it as an “outsider” but these are the things that have stuck out to me over the years.  And recently, an experience prompted this blogpost so I’m just exploring what I have observed, what I believe and how it impacts me as a WOTHM. ****end Disclaimer****
As a WOTHM, I readily admit that I have social interaction because of my job.  However, it’s not necessarily what I would call a “social life” and I don’t view my 40+ hours every week in the office as a replacement for fellowship and friendship formed in activities like a Bible study, Familia or ENDOW group.  Additionally, with all of the other things I need to work into my “off” hours (swim/music/sports lessons), there is even less time available for something like a Bible study in my schedule.  
Many of the women I associate with at work come from a very different background than I do.  This isn’t bad, but it doesn’t provide the most fertile ground from a fellowship/friendship standpoint.  I’ve been fortunate to have made and fostered one stronger-than-average friendship in the workplace.  However, when proximity of our respective jobs changed, it lessened the amount of interaction available.

And I notice I miss that.   

But most of the women I work with think I am one of those “crazy” people because I have five children and I refuse to declare myself “done.”  I may discuss my children and their activities with someone at work, but it’s more along the lines of informing and not necessarily a mutual sharing. 

There’s not a lot of opportunity in my day for social interaction.  When I interact with those at work, generally, the interaction is a requirement to achieving a common goal that once met, will be replaced with another common goal which will require its own level of interaction and so on and so forth.  
Also, I’m the only Catholic in my work group.  There are other non-Catholic christians, but the connection is centered on the commonalities between denominations, differences are not (and should not be) discussed, so that aspect to social interaction I desire is missing from the bulk of my life.
My social no-woman’s-land I referred to stems from the fact that I don’t feel like I “fit in” anywhere. 

I don’t “fit in” at work because my job is really a means to an end, not an end in itself.  I navigate waters of family planning carefully with women at work.  Many of the women I interact with have one, two or three children and know they aren’t having any more.  I really can’t fathom truly KNOWING that I am done having children.  That’s not to say I don’t entertain the thought of avoiding conception of another child for the remainder of my fertile years.  But “being done” is something I don’t truly know if I can comprehend.  At some point, I will  hit that magical (haha) stage of perimenopause where I can start to see the years of an open womb coming to a close, and perhaps then I will understand and comprehend what it means to be “done” with childbearing.  And maybe I’ll have five children.  Maybe more.  But this level of uncertainty is not a welcome sentiment in the working world.  And so, I wade in somewhat uncharted waters.  I know there are other women in the world who have worked while raising a larger family, but I just don’t personally know any right now in my life…and right now is when I feel like I need that.

I don’t feel like I “fit in” at Church/School either.  Many of the moms are able to be available to their children at school and at home much of the time.  Even if moms work part-time, they are often more available than I am.  I feel like I miss out on connections I could get with other moms.  Heck, maintining a connection with my own family is a challenge at times!

There are plenty of groups to get involved in – Familia, Bible studies, Ministry groups – but many of the meetings are while I am at work.  And even when evening meeting times are available, sometimes with kids activities and Craig working the opposite schedule, it’s difficult without getting a babysitter. 

Perhaps I am feeling this way because volleyball is over now and I am about to lose the one thing I am “in charge” of and provides me a connection with some other parents.  I am about to replace that with organization of our parish 5K/fundraiser for the spring, so maybe the feeling is fleeting.

Perhaps I feel this way because we’ve been at our parish now for 5 years and at a recent event , we were kind of on our own instead of sitting, visiting with some people we had begun to cultivate friendships.

It’s not a new feeling, though, that I feel like I don’t fit in.  It’s just that I had another wave of it recently.  And it’s also not a new feeling — this feeling that there’s not a good Catholic faith-based network for us Catholic WOTHMs of larger families.

And it’s also not new that I feel like it really wouldn’t matter if there were anything.  Because with Craig’s schedule and mine being completely opposite in times worked and days off…it wouldn’t matter because our situation is so unique there’s just no way to fit us in.  We really are in sort of a no-man’s land.

It’s times like these I retreat.  I try to remember St. Gianna, a WOTHM and a great pro-life witness.  I need an inspiration of a woman who has children, and also fulfills a purpose outside of the home, too.  And I have to take some time to reflect and remind myself that it’s okay that I work outside the home.  We are able to provide for our family through this sacrifice.  And I am living these fleeting years of motherhood realizing that the days really are numbered.  And all the social outlets that I find my life lacking at times are there, if I look hard enough.  I have to be a bit unconventional in how I go about getting what I need.  And yes, I often have to extend the invitations, make the phone calls, etc.  I never have been one to sit by and wait for someone else to pick up the reins and direct a relationship.  And while on some level, it would appear that I would like that, I don’t think it’s realistic to expect that to change.  Besides, I have found a level of support in the blogosphere that is unavailable to me in my day-to-day “real life.”  I am grateful for bloggers like Jennifer Fulwiler and Rebecca at The Road Home and Sarah at Fumbling Toward Grace and Elizabeth at That Married Couple.  There are really too many blogs to mention here, but those were some of the early ones I started following and continue to reap benefits from their writing.

So, I will keep on keepin’ on as they say.  What other option is there?  My job beckons.  My children’s needs are always there to be met.  At some point, I will have to learn to work my own needs into the equation and I should not wait on someone else to come along and work that out for me.  Perhaps that means an individual time of prayer and bible study with a guide for one (as opposed to a group).  Perhaps that means I continue to invite myself along on things I can make it to.  And most definitely it means that I must continue to pray for the virtue of humility, to accept the opportunities that come my way and not to disparage those things in which I am not included.

Reflection on my Role as a WOTHM

Today, I begin.  
Today, I got up in the morning, got my kids going for school (with their father’s help, of course) in addition to getting myself ready to go to work.  I kissed my 12-week old baby, his older brother and sisters goodbye and headed downtown for a full day’s work.
This time is a little different than the last four times.  This time I am not ashamed.  This time, I fully embrace that this is the path set out for me and I am walking on it with Christ.
For years, I had a complex about being a work-outside-the-home mom (WOTHM).  Due to our traditional leanings as we reverted deeper into our Catholic faith, many families we looked up to and prayed with were families where the mom was a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) and the families often home-schooled.  For a couple of years, I thought we would try to go that route.  I even thought we were called to it.  But we learned through discernment that home-schooling was most likely not in the bigger plan for our family
I used to feel shame that our family was in this situation where I was forced to be employed outside the home.  I felt ashamed because I borrowed so much money in student loans when I went to college.  I was ashamed because we hadn’t managed our finances in such a way that we could make it work on my husband’s income.  
When Craig and I learned NFP, we learned within context of the Church’s teachings on marriage and family life.  The method encouraged ecological breastfeeding (not the same as exclusive breastfeeding) and attachment parenting – two things, incidentally, I support wholeheartedly – but made no bones about the fact that the mothers belonged at home with the child.  I don’t think it was the fault of any particular individual, couple or organization that I felt the shame in our circumstances.  I only felt that way because I wanted to raise our family the way it was presented to us as we learned NFP, but had difficulty seeing how it could ever work, mostly in the financial realm.
I dipped into a pit of depression, maybe even despair, because I could not be home with my children.  God called me to be a wife and mother, why would He still expect me to have a role outside of that in the business world?  But no matter what we cut from the budget, no matter how many activities we eliminated, there was not enough money unless I was working.  Our debts were too large and my income (as a business woman with a MBA) was too much to sacrifice.
We heard lots of well-meaning suggestions for how we could do it.  We heard lots of reassurance that the sacrifices would be worth it and would return to us tenfold with holy, upright, well-behaved, trusting children.  I began to feel like a failure.  I contemplated confessing my “sin” of going to work and leaving my children each day.  I don’t remember that I ever actually did that, but I do remember wondering if I should.  That tells you the depths to which I had fallen.
Many of the blogs I read through our reversion were fairly traditional and conservative in nature, often written by SAHMs.  I loved reading them (still do!!)…except when they wrote  comments supporting their reasons for being at home.  My fragile state took their words all too personally.

I don’t think they meant the words to sound the way they did in my head/ears and most likely, my state of mind caused me to hear the words much more harshly than intended.  But when people wrote about “having their priorities straight” and referred lovingly to their children as “worth more than 8 hours a day at any workplace could ever be” it stung.  As a WOTHM, I wondered if other women who were SAHM’s thought I viewed my 40 hour/week job as a priority higher than my children.  I would like to reiterate, this is more a reflection of where I was emotionally and mentally to be thinking that way.  We can all benefit, however, from viewing the words we say, read and write with lenses that can show us how they look and sound to other people in all walks of life.

I think whatever circumstances people are in, they need support and to be lifted up.  I definitely don’t begrudge a SAHM the opportunity to hear that she’s doing “the most important work there is”.  I don’t.  Raising children IS most important work.  Absolutely.  That doesn’t mean that a WOTHM doesn’t see the same words and wonder just where she’s gone wrong in life that she must spend 40 hours/week away from her “most important work”.
Because many families we know and love are families with SAHM’s and/or home-schoolers, I am wary of ever calling myself a “working mother” because I am just as big a fan of saying that ALL mothers are “working mothers.”  Being at home raising children IS work just as it is work for me to drive downtown every day and ensure lots of money and lots of pieces of paper end up in the right spot all over the world.

So, that is why I use the WOTHM acronym. 

I remember when the tide started to turn and I began to accept my role as a WOTHM.  I read Pope John Paul II’s letter to women from 1995.  Read the whole thing here.  
Some quotes:

Thank you, women who are mothers! You have sheltered human beings within yourselves in a unique experience of joy and travail. This experience makes you become God’s own smile upon the newborn child, the one who guides your child’s first steps, who helps it to grow, and who is the anchor as the child makes its way along the journey of life.

Whether I stay at home with my children or I work outside the home…I AM A MOTHER!  I needed this affirmation at a very delicate time.  Even though I wasn’t at home caring for my children all day and all night, I was still their mother…I carried them in my womb and bore them.  I experienced the joy and perhaps my trek into work every day is just one form of the “travail” I am blessed to experience.

Thank you, women who work! You are present and active in every area of life-social, economic, cultural, artistic and political. In this way you make an indispensable contribution to the growth of a culture which unites reason and feeling, to a model of life ever open to the sense of “mystery”, to the establishment of economic and political structures ever more worthy of humanity.

This is a thank you to every woman!  Women who work at home raising our future generations full-time.  Women who work in offices or hospitals or any other place of gainful employment are important, too!  Work provides an opportunity for women to be Christian witness in the world.  We should never shy away from it and we should appreciate the blessed opportunity.

Thank you, every woman, for the simple fact of being a woman! Through the insight which is so much a part of your womanhood you enrich the world’s understanding and help to make human relations more honest and authentic.

And here…it is reiterated by our Blessed John Paul II that every woman enriches the world’s understanding…whether it is through the raising of children in the home or completing a job well done away from home, women are important.  Women bring to the table the ability to see with the heart.
Today, as I make my way back into the full-time working world, I am ever aware of the necessity of my work for my children.  I thank God that I live in a country and a time when I am not “put out to pasture” simply because I am a woman with children, like many women of past generations.  I thank God for my work, even though I would much rather be home cuddling and caring for my newborn son.

I can see where I have had the opportunity to make a positive influence in the lives of others because I work outside the home.  I think of all the people who have asked me, “Are you done?” referring to whether I will have more children.  I thank God for the opportunity to share the joy of a large family with them.  Perhaps a large family isn’t what God has planned for them.  But my presence in the working world while raising a large family can be a silent witness to the old adage that all things are possible, with God.

I think of the times I have shared information on Natural Family Planning with inquiring women in the workplace.  I don’t often try to persuade anyone to do it “my way” but I have found that women are often curious about “my way” and why I am comfortable with it or how I came to it.  Ultimately, it’s silly to call this path “my way.” 

So, I accept this path the Lord has laid out for me.  I will attempt to be joyful in completing my meaningful work throughout the week.  I will also attempt to maintain that joy for my children in the evenings and on the weekends, to experience the fullness of motherhood for those hours that are there for the taking.  I will try to make every action of every day a joyful song of praise unto my Lord, who has blessed me far beyond measure with a good job, a loving and devoted husband, and five beautiful children.

Love and Forgive

It has been 10 years since the day the US was attacked by terrorists and New York’s Twin Towers fell.
Thinking back, I remember how unreal it felt. There was coverage running over and over of one of the towers on fire with smoke and the second plane being flown into the other tower. The images played over in my mind of what it must have been like for the people there at work that day. It horrified me to think of someone on the phone saying, “Oh God” as they see a plane headed right for their floor. When I heard that some people on Flight 93 had actually spoken to loved ones on cell phones and worked together to crash the plane before it hit the intended target, I was in awe and at the same time horrified.
For weeks following that day, I had trouble sleeping. I had nightmares of terrorists breaking into my house and doing unthinkable things to my baby girl. I remember thinking that watching anything happen to my daughter would be worse than death. Most likely, I was suffering a form of anxiety but I worked through it without medication. I remember that Craig and I thought we would have no more children…what kind of world was this? And we felt horrible that our daughter was born into it.
I know those are normal feelings when something so terrible happens. But it doesn’t make it any easier to experience them. It was a scary time. It IS a scary time.
In our Gospel this week (Matthew 18:21-35) Peter asks Jesus if we should forgive 7 times. And Jesus says that is not enough. That we must forgive 70 times 7. As our priest said in his homily, Peter probably thought he was being quite generous offering to forgive seven times. The priest also said that Bible scholars agree Jesus is referring to infinite forgiveness and he follows it with a parable that reflects God’s Love for us and that he forgives us over and over…infinitely. God says we must forgive each other the same way He forgives us.  When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we pray that God “forgive us our trespasses AS we forgive those who trespass against us.”  That little word “as” sure makes a huge difference, huh?
I remember hearing this reading close to when the attacks happened 10 years ago. I was so angry and fearful then. It was a hard thing to hear that I must forgive this atrocity…even should it happen again and again. I still get fearful when I think of the events of September 11, 2001. It is difficult not to fear terrorism…fear is the desired result for those who commit terrorist acts. But the fear is often a fleeting thing; I feel it and then I move on because I cannot live my life in fear.
A common theme on this day is that we never forget. And I’m glad. I don’t think we should ever forget 9/11, even though we forgive. What happened on that day is a glimpse of true evil in our time.
We must always remember what evil looks like.  It is not often that evil shows its face so openly, we often must uncover the layers to find and identify and expose evil.  In this case, evil was right there to be seen.

The ultimate triumph over evil is love.  And love=forgiveness.  Jesus died on the cross forgiving the world’s sins that put him there.  Jesus loves us and forgives us infinitely.

When we forgive those who do evil to us, we love them the way God loves us.

So remember, yes.  And FORGIVE.