7 Quick Takes – 93 (A Rerun)

I went to visit Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum and get the low-down on how Quick Takes works these days. Because…as you know (undoubtedly) it has been a LONG time since I have participated. And I see that I have stumbled upon a week when Kelly has asked us to link up to our most amazing 7QT ever (paraphrasing…not sure those were her exact words).

I only have 92 7QT posts to choose from. That shouldn’t be hard, right? I decided to pick the one where I let my guard down a little bit and got a larger number (than usual) of comments.

Without further ado, here’s my 7QT Re-run. 🙂 Thank you, Kelly, for hosting!!

This 7 Quick Takes post originally ran in September 2013. Enjoy!

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Wow, it’s been a few weeks since I participated in the 7QT linkup! I guess I haven’t been feeling it on Fridays. 

Photo Credit
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I’ve had a lot on my mind that I haven’t been able to get into words lately. Suffice to say that if you remember this 7QT post where I asked for your prayers for discernment, I want to thank you for them. It’s been an interesting couple of months as my emotions have run the gamut of joy and satisfaction at the completeness of our family all the way to sadness and loss at the idea of never being pregnant again. NFP is such a blessing to our marriage that gives us the ability to discern and feel a little bit in control of what happens in that regard. I have decided to have the procedure that would mean we should avoid pregnancy until I hit menopause. I will still be ABLE to get pregnant, it’s just not prudent as I would have to have the procedure reversed sometime before late pregnancy and of course, it would have to be redone at some point after the baby was born. That’s not a prudent use of resources, and the issue I need addressed — well, it needs to be taken care of. And we thank God for NFP as an alternative to complete abstinence as we head into this period of life!
 
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I don’t really want to be cryptic or anything about the procedure I mentioned. It’s just a little TMI for a Friday blog link-up! But exploring the idea that perhaps God is leading us to a new stage of life has been … hm … grueling? I mean, the prayer, the thoughts, the emotions…Discernment is definitely not for the weak!!
 
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I have really learned over the past couple months — when I’ve let myself really pray and think on it — how much my older children need me. We often think about how much the little ones need their moms and dads — for their very survival! But the older children need us so that we can help them learn to be grown ups. 

For example, I’ve been helping Sarah learn to navigate the rocky waters of pre-teen/teen girl relationships but also how to approach adults in a mature way so she’s taken seriously. But that has required a good bit of my time and attention — and if I had a newborn right now, she would probably be missing a lot of what she needs from me, because let’s face it: I can only do so much at a time. 
 
So, Sarah’s needs were something we considered a bit more through our discernment process this time than when we have discerned adding to our family in the past. I don’t want her emotional and spiritual needs to go unmet because we decided to have another baby.
 
— 4 —
Then, I consider Dani and Helen. Dani just turned 10, but she loves being a little kid with a big imagination! However, I can see her body may end up forcing her into the realm of pubescent preteen much sooner than she would like. And she’s so excited to learn all the things she’s learning at school, and read all the books (she’s currently finishing a Percy Jackson series and asking for another one). 

Helen has always needed a lot of my attention — heck, she gets the bulk of it. And so I’ve needed to spend time in the evenings reading with her or sometimes just holding her in a hug on the couch for a little bit. Or brushing her hair. 

Dani’s and Helen’s needs are growing, and when we add that to the more complicated and time-consuming needs Sarah presents — the older kids need more of us than I ever realized before we reached this point.
 

— 5 —
This week, on Tuesday, was the Feast of St. Gregory the Great. I loved Rebecca’s comment on this post, btw. At school, during the morning announcements, they have the “Saint of the Day” and so St. Gregory was the Saint of the Day on Tuesday. I found out from Dominic’s Pre-K teacher that Dominic’s little eyes got big when he heard over the speaker that the Saint of the Day was Saint Gregory. And she said he listened intently through the whole bit about Pope St. Gregory the Great and a smile spread across his face while he listened. When it was over, he just went about his business, but it was very clear to her (watching him) that he really got something out of that.

Dominic is such a tender, sweet, sensitive, intuitive and strong boy. I am amazed regularly at him. Yes, he’s smart, too. But he just loves. He loves everyone. And he loves with the most pure, unadulterated joy. It was hardest to get past him as we went through this discernment because he has this huge capacity to love and right now that manifests in his ability to be such a great brother. But I realize that we can foster the growth of this quality in him so that he can spread it far beyond our family. He will often come to me and say, “I miss my brother, Gregory” and give me a hug. I find myself grateful that he was old enough to remember Gregory in my tummy and everything we went through saying goodbye to Gregory because Dominic has a beautiful way of loving us all through our pain.

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Then there’s Vincent. He’s such a sweet and rambunctious boy! He requires so much of our attention and it has only been through this discernment that I have realized how he may have struggled had Gregory joined us here on Earth. He’s grown up A LOT in the last couple of months, with going to bed on his own, talking up a storm and showing us all he is capable of physically. But…he still requires our constant vigilance as he’s prone to getting into things — especially things that might be dangerous — and so he tests our parenting wills on a regular basis.

As it is, he’s growing more and more every day. Soon (I sure hope!) he will figure out it’s better to go in the potty than in diapers and he will cooperate with potty training. And then, it will feel strange to be in a house that no longer requires diapers, but it will be freeing as well.
 
— 7 —
Of course, discernment took into account our marriage, both Craig and me and our physical, emotional and spiritual needs. One of the things that I kept coming back to was the fact that I’m not getting any younger. Pregnancy, Labor and Delivery take their toll on a young woman’s body and they took even more toll on my older, maturing body. Add to that the health issue I needed to address and we realized it was time. We have been so blessed. We praise God and thank him for the five beautiful, healthy children here with us and the one glorious saint He chose to bring into His presence ahead of us. We pray we will join Gregory someday in the presence of God. But for now, we continue to focus to help our earthly family continue to learn…to know, serve and love the Lord, and to move into a new phase in life that includes loving, honoring and serving each other.

Throwback Thursday Reruns: The Decisions I Won’t Regret

Last week, on Thursday, I posted an old post as a re-run and I kind of liked doing that. 

So. I am doing it again. I wrote this post as I was nearing the end of my pregnancy with Vincent. The only thing I could add to this post is that I still don’t regret the decisions since then. We were open to another child and God blessed us with Gregory. Of course, we miss him terribly, but on some level, I feel honored that God asked us to bring the soul of a saint into the world. It hurts that Gregory’s time with us was so fleeting, but it humbles me to realize I am parent of a soul so loved by God that He saw fit to bring Gregory into His presence so early in his life.

Without further adieu…my reflection from May 2011, on the Decisions I Won’t Regret.

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I had the opportunity to talk with my husband’s uncle and aunt at a party recently.  They have two beautiful daughters about 15 months apart who are now grown-up, successful adults (one is a doctor, but chooses to be home to mother her four children and the other is an attorney with her own practice).  Craig’s aunt mentioned that there had been times she had wished they might have tried for one more child.  Through the discussion, I mentioned that when Craig and I have discussed our family, God’s plan for how large it should be and such, one thing we’ve tried to keep in mind was that we would never regret having another child…but we might regret not being open to another child.  Both his uncle and aunt nodded and said that was a wise way to look at it, based on their experience.  These two people were/are very successful in their own careers and about to retire.  They enjoy their four grandchildren as much as any grandparents ever did and I’m fairly certain that they don’t have much to regret, but even if they did have a slight regret about their family size – it is just that – slight and most likely fleeting. 
But as I think about our family and where we stand today, with four active children and number 5 kicking away at my ribs, I think about my chances to regret….and am surprised to find that I really don’t regret much.
I do not regret my nervous discussion with Craig just about 11 years ago when I said I thought maybe we should try to have a baby.  Having children wasn’t really on our radar when we got married, and I was relieved that the most resistance I received from Craig was, “But…I thought we weren’t gonna do that.”  
When Sarah came along, our lives changed dramatically.  What was important before her took a back seat to what was important now.  Particularly, Sarah’s baptism into the Catholic faith was a major turning point for Craig and me to get down to business on knowing our faith so that we could pass it on to her.  I am not sure I could ever convey to Sarah just how very important she has been to her parents.  I’m quite certain that our acceptance of her was the catalyst to our acceptance to all the Grace and Blessings that could be bestowed on two people in the Sacrament of Marriage. 
I could probably write a post per child explaining the non-regret I have for each of them.  They have all brought something new and necessary to our family.  Watching them grow up together brings me more joy than any earthly experience I could ever imagine.
I do not regret my nervous discussion with Craig just about 10 years ago when I broached the subject of learning Natural Family Planning (NFP), which opened the doors to learning the Church’s unwavering teaching regarding marriage and sexuality.  I do not regret tossing those pills, learning how to read my body’s signals through its ongoing cycles, and giving a gift of my total self to my husband in our marriage.  That decision has been a waterfall of love and grace pouring down on my life, blessing me in my husband’s love and devotion, showering me in plentiful hugs and kisses from my babies, and gifting me beyond measure as my children grow up into people who continue to teach me.  Without a doubt, the blessing of NFP in our marriage has been a savior of sorts…much like I cannot imagine where my life might have gone without Sarah entering into it, I cannot imagine what my life would be without NFP.
I do not regret putting our children in our parish’s school.  While every education choice and decision comes with its ups and downs, our school has been a place of spiritual growth and cultivation for our children.  Our parish is a place I flee to when I need to confess and cling to when I need to pray.  We are so blessed by everyone we encounter at Mass, social gatherings, meetings and school functions.  There was a time in my life when if I had been asked if I would place my children in a Catholic school, I probably would have answered doubtfully.  (Maybe someday I’ll write about that.  Maybe not.)  Truth be told, it took a VERY special place to turn my heart around on the subject, and I thank the Lord every day, for our parish and school, providing a place for my children to grow in love of Christ, learn beyond perceived potential and a place where they can daily express the deepest desires of their heart to be close to our Lord and His Blessed Mother.
When we moved 5 months ago, I was going through a closet and found a piece of paper on which I had written goals over the next five years back in 2001.  Of course, we’re now 10 years past that, but it struck me funny how even in 2001, while I was expecting my first child and much of my worldview hadn’t changed from before her conception…that the path I constructed with these goals still lined up with what had happened over those five years.  
One of the goals was that we’d have three kids.  That one made me smile…because apparently, as soon as I grasped the idea of a blessing of one child, I jumped immediately to three (but it was clear from the goals I wrote, that three was the max…in 2001, at least).  One of the goals was to have completed my MBA.  One of the goals was to have met a certain salary requirement.  
Amazingly, even though I’d forgotten about this slip of paper with these 5-year-plan goals…I had met all of them.  We had Dani in 2003 and Helen in 2006 (3 kids in 5 years).  I graduated with my MBA in 2003.  And I had attained the salary that I had set out to attain by the year 2004.
My only sort-of-sad observation was that none of these goals I had written had anything to do with my spiritual life or growing deeper in my faith.  
Maybe what I should take from it is this:  It was never up to me in the first place.

Even though I didn’t set out at any one point in time to get closer to God, I was still pulled in that direction.  And quite possibly the reason I don’t regret anything I have written about here, is because I can see how it’s all led to the one place I want to be more than anything…closer to being in union with God.