Motherhood-complete with Talents and Guilt

On Wednesdays, my oldest has piano lessons so we all pile in the van to make the 25 minute drive to the piano teacher's home. During the lesson the younger kids and I stay in the car where E and A watch a movie (oh how I love our DVD player in our minivan. My mother was appalled that I would buy a vehicle with a TV! Obviously she enjoyed all of those family trips where us kids fought and bickered and got car sick from reading and bored from playing the ever-popular license plate game!). I use this time to journal in my Family Journal book by Rita Munn "A Homeschooling Mother's Companion." If you do not have this journal, I highly recommend it--Rita is an incredibly smart woman who not only embraces her life as a homeschooling mother and wife (she was also a military wife) but she offers much needed prayer and advice to other homeschooling moms-like ME!

Anyway, in today's entry Rita talked about our talents and how we as stay-at-home moms feel insecure about what we do... especially when we are surrounded by "career" women. I have to admit that I rarely feel insecure about who I am, but rather I feel I am not doing enough with who I am. Rita suggested that I make a list of all the skills I have acquired in my lifetime-even jotting down the things I would find trivial such as a great recipe I have made. She said I would be amazed at all the talents which Jesus has given me. She then went on to suggest I refer back to this list on the days in which I am feeling inadequate.

OK I thought, this is easy-no problemo. Yeah, right. I started my list and somehow everything on it seemed trivial. The things that were not so trivial, such as "good wife, good mother" made me think... am I really using all of my talents that Jesus has given me to actually be able to say that I am a good wife or mother?

This list thing made me feel lost and uneasy. It made me feel guilty. I thought "Oh Sweet Jesus, am I using all of my talents that you have given me, or do I complain about the things in my life that are demanding of my talents?" Is there more that God wants from me-is there more I can give to my husband, children, family and friends? These are questions that will surely occupy my mind tonight as I lay in bed contemplating this...

Saint Paul surely knew who he was... "I Paul, a servant of God, sent as an apostle of Jesus Christ for the sake of the faith of those whom God has chosen..." ~Titus 1:1 My question remains... Who am I, and how do I fulfill that title through Christ?


Sleep... For Wimps Only

I don't think I have ever really had a full night sleep. It doesn't count when I was a child because I have no memory of that sleep-therefore it must not have been so great. When I was in high school I wanted to be able to sleep but my bedroom was directly below the kitchen and every morning my dad would pound his foot onto the floor waking me up in the most pleasant way... I still hold a grudge against him for the years of therapy this caused me. In college... well that isn't really sleeping is it? It is more like a few years of being passed out so I didn't get the time to bask in the sleep-and besides, I was only an on-campus student for three semesters before I decided to fall in love and get married and throw out all dreams of a college degree until I was pregnant with my second child and thought "I just don't have enough to do, I think I'll go back and finish school!" (I was severely sleep deprived when I came up with that plan!)

I love all of those commercials about sleep where the person is in a bed of soft linens and plump pillows. My bed looks more "lived in" than slept in. Our sheets are so old that you can see the mattress pattern under them and the pillows are so flat that I may as well be putting a sheet of paper under my head each night. We also only have a queen size bed... I say "only" because I would give my youngest child for a king size bed. My husband is a "close" sleeper, whereas I am a "do not touch me" sleeper. He refuses to buy a king size for fear that he will have to sleep alone on his side--that sounds like pure bliss to me!

After I started sleeping with my husband-or should I say not sleeping, more like dodging arms and legs between cat naps, I discovered that he loved the morning. His alarm goes off and he literally JUMPS out of bed thrilled that a new day is upon us. He will then stand by the side of the bed saying things like "OK, get up babe, let's go, I'll help you make the bed, c'mon we have so much to do today" and so on... I could literally rip his arms off when he starts clapping and dancing to get me up. If you have not realized yet, I am not a morning person-I may not even be a good "awake" person.

After we had our fist daughter, she was a wonderful sleeper. 12 hours the first night home from the hospital. This may have been the only time in my life that I actually slept! Then we had our second child and he had an aversion to sleep--for at least 3 years! I was a walking zombie-do not ask me to conjure up any memories of those years because it is like I was abducted by aliens and they performed the ever popular mind-eraser on me (that is also the name of a cocktail I have had and the name fits it perfectly because I have no recollection of talking to that police officer's horse, or going to the bathroom on the expressway the night of my bachelorette party, but I digress...) Our third child was a good sleeper, until I became pregnant and was so exhausted that I could not see straight, this was obviously her cue to wake up 4-5 times a night... just to say hi.

And what is the deal with pregnant sleep? I have had many a conversation with God about this and it makes no sense to me. From the moment of conception I am in the bathroom numerous times a night to pee-this is so weird to me because the kiddo is the size of speck of dust and somehow my bladder cannot handle the pressure. Then, as the tummy gets bigger it gets harder to simply turn over. I have to wake up, move over, move my husband's arm and leg from on top of me, sit up, turn my hips and finally lay back down only to think "since I am awake should I just get up to pee? If I don't just go now I will just be awake again in 45 minutes." After returning from the bathroom I lay down only to think "am I supposed to be on my left side or right? Why can't I sleep on my back again? What did that pregnancy book tell me to do?" and so I lay awake worrying about all the ways to sleep and if I am going to fatally cut off some vital organ.

I always tell my children that they are driving me crazy (in the most loving way of course) and recently I have been thinking... it would not be so bad to be in a fully padded room. I bet they get great insulation so that it is completely quiet-that sounds like a sleep deprived person's fantasy to me. I know just where to book my next vacation--Loonies Are Us, where there are no clown suits and water towers for crazy people to climb for miles!


What is that Smell?

All day I have been blaming my dog for passing gas when we are upstairs. I will look at her and say "Sophie! You Stink!" To which she puts her ears back and makes a run under a bed. Later, I realized that it was not the dog after all (but how could I apologize, she would have no idea what I was talking about) - it was my son's bedroom that smelled so terrible! I decided to investigate, and in doing so I started to think of my son from the moment I gave birth to him.

A mother loves a son like no other. I of course love my daughters just as much, but little girls come complete with fashion dilemmas and drama by the age of 2. Boys just love you back throughout toddlerhood. I thought of my little boy when he so chubby and sweet-always smelling of soap. His hand was permanently attached to mine when we would go anywhere and he was always generous with his hugs and kisses. A little son looks at his mom as if she is the greatest thing in the world--a little daughter looks at a mother as the person who made her wear this horrible purple dress and tights when she clearly wanted to wear the yellow one.

Boys grow though, and eventually they become 9-year-olds. My son would not give me a hug now unless I guilt him into it-and then it is simply a "back-pat" hug. You know the kind I am talking about, it is a protest hug. Homeschooling my children keeps me in close quarters with them 24/7. I have never smelled breath quite like that of my 9 year-old son's... I have to admit that it is something like that of a dog who has been dining on poop and dead birds all morning. He is also at the age where he can take a 45 minute shower but forget to use soap and that is apparent by the smell of wet dog that follows him out of the bathroom. He also has so much wax in those ears of his that we could eat for weeks on those potatoes he has sprouting in there! You may think this is disgusting, and you may think that I am a mother who just simply needs "monitor" her son's hygiene more closely--to that I would say "you must have all daughters!"

Any mother with a son knows that she has to remind them to brush and floss for longer than 2 seconds. Any mother with a son know that she much remind him to use soap when he bathes-all the while listening to the condescending "I know!" that a son yells back as if he is a pro at cleanliness. Any mother of a son also knows that there will be dirty finger nails in church, only two pair of underwear in the laundry after a full week, and the occasional smell of a dog fart when they walk past. It is not that I do not try to get my son to smell good by even reverting to brushing his teeth (with great force I might add) for him, or threatening to smell all body crevasses when he emerges from his bath, but it is just no use.

Not all are offended by his smell... the dogs loves it. When my son walks by I watch as our dog lifts her nose into the air and takes in deep glorious scents of him and then she walks behind him with a lovingly proud look on her face. She must think he is a long lost canine brother of hers. Other little boys do not mind either, and if you are the mother of a boy, you know what it is like to drive a few boys in a car with the windows rolled up for any period of time. I usually have to gasp for air and drive with the air freshener hanging from my nose.

So, I thought of my son from infancy to now as I started to investigate the smell coming from his room. I found 7 pair of dirty socks under his bed and 4 pair of dirty underwear that definitely showed the signs of continued use. I found dirty dishes and discarded tissues, I also noticed the guinea pig's cage-which was dry of water and food and smelled like the poor thing had died. I wonder if the guinea pig realizes all of her forced hunger strikes are really just the neglect of her 9-year-old owner. I realized that he did not always stink, and he will hopefully eventually stop stinking... but what I say is true, a son will hold his mother's heart for a lifetime--stinky bedroom and all! Until he stops stinking though, I will keep telling him to shower with soap, brush his teeth, change his underwear and to give me a hug!


I've fallen and I can't get up...

My husband's back went out yesterday. We had a tree that fell in a storm and so the stump was left in the front yard. This time of year, we get all kinds of handymen going door-to-door looking for odd jobs and cash. Yesterday my husband's answer to his dreams knocked on our front door. Wally's Tree Stump Removal Company-complete with pick-up truck and stump cutter was at our door to offer their services. For the low low price of $85 and a beer, they gladly cut our stump down to 5 inches below the dirt level. After doing this, they left a mess and clean up was not part of the $85 price. Note: this job took a total of 20 minutes start to finish... not a bad hourly wage for ol' Wally. Anyway, my husband went to work hauling the old tree chippings and such to to the back of the woods behind our house. After about 15 minutes I looked out the front window to see him kneeling in prayer-or so I thought. His back had gone out. Does this stop that man o' mine--nope. He kept on hauling that dirt and wood until his back was good and injured. He never does anything halfway let me tell ya!

This morning, it was determined that my husband could not go to Church because of the pain. What used to be a strong viral man now looks like a fragile child with an "S" shaped back. I helped him into the shower and then out again--all of the time laughing because that is what you do to people who are in pain and look ridiculous... you laugh at them. Well, my laughter increased his anger which in turn increased his pain which in turn increased my laughter. I am a horrible person I know this--but it was pretty dang funny. I could not tell if he was angry at the fact that I had to help him put on his boxers and socks, or if he was angry with the fact that I found this entire ordeal humorous. Note: I did not really find it funny, but sometimes you just gotta laugh. And can I just say, it is incredibly hard to put man size socks on a man size foot that is still wet from a shower!

On a different note: I think I found a new friend. If you read my blog long enough, you will see that I am always on the lookout for new friends--especially since we are in the military and move so often. Having just been at our new location 7 months now, I am still on the lookout for friends. I am picky when it comes to friends though... I am nice to everyone, but it takes a special kind of person to be my friend. When I go to a function I usually look for the ladies who are drinking and laughing because those are my kind of friends... and if they tell me that they will pray for me when I am having a hard day--well then they will be my lifelong friend! The bad thing about being pregnant right after you move somewhere (which is the case with me) is that you are instantly dubbed as the "pregnant lady." Who wants to be friends with a pregnant lady? Not me because chances are if I become their friend they will want me to watch their kid once they pop them out--no thanks. Anyway, I changed my son's Religious Education classes and his new teacher seems like good friend material. We will see how it goes--I will keep you updated.

One last thing: My older sister sent me a 3rd degree relic of St. Gerard (patron Saint of pregnant women). If anyone would like me to place your name on this relic let me know! Have a wonderful Sunday-talk to you tomorrow!



I need to go to confession

OK, so I had one of those days. I lost it with my kids. I remember when I was a child and my mom would have "one of those days" and go crazy on us. My older sister would instantly feel guilty and start doing the dishes or cleaning her room-me on the other hand, I just thought my mom was a crazy lady for a moment... no sympathy, no guilt. Now that I am a mom, I can see how easy it is to go crazy. Of course I am not speaking in terms of "crazy" as in "going to the loony bin," no, I am speaking in terms of mom crazy.

Let me paint you a picture: I am pregnant and cannot sleep at night-so when I get the opportunity to sleep a little, I take it. This particular morning, my body finally succumbed to blessed sleep at 4am, so of course that meant that I was not up at the usual 7am to get the day started. I homeschool my children and when they woke at 7am and saw that I was not awake, that was obviously their cue to roll over and ignore all the morning schedules. I finally was blasted out of sleep by my three-year-old yelling at the dog to get into the bathroom with her (what she does in the bathroom with the dog I do not know--and thus far, I think it is better that I do not know-to dog keeps following her in there so I doubt there is little torture going on.) Eventually we all get moving-but my day had already taken that bad turn-you know the one I am talking about, where you just cannot turn off this already creeping foul mood. My middle child-my son-I have decided can do nothing without being reminded. Brush and floss your teeth, put your dishes in the dishwasher, make your bed, feed the guinea pig, put your dirty clothes in the hamper, change your underwear... you would think he would get so sick of me nagging him that he would just DO IT! My oldest is my easy child-she is obedient and sweet to me, but leave her in a room alone with her brother and little sister and she can be bossy and controlling to the point where I cannot take the bickering and the yelling. My youngest is three... that should be enough description to get me off in any court across this great nation of ours! She is going through a "I want everything-and I want it NOW" stage.

Anyway, back to this day... breakfast dishes were everywhere, clothes was just simply thrown where they were taken off, there was the eternal pee-drip on the toilet seat, toothpaste glops were permanently cemented onto the bathroom sink, army men were lined up in the hallway for any innocent bare foot to step on, winter hats were tossed all around the living room (don't know why), I was sorting dirty laundry and somehow clean laundry that I had done the day before had made it back to the dirty pile because my children could not be bothered with putting them in a drawer-it is easier to just have me wash them again, and when I said "get our your math" there were shrieks of horror as if I had just said "everyone line up for a tetanus shot!" That was it--I blew a plug! If I had yelled any louder I might have blown my mucus plug, but that is thankfully still intact. The bed sheets I was attempting to put into the washing machine went flying across the room, the dog ran for cover and my three-year-old put her little hands over her ears. My oldest jumped up and started putting the breakfast dishes away and cleaning up the winter hats, and my son... well he just looked at me like I was a crazy lady.

I would like to tell you that there was a soft resolution to all of this... but I cannot. Later in the day I took my son to karate in hopes that I would find peace in my hour prayer time in the car that I look forward to. I dropped him off, zipped over to Arby's and bought a large curly fry, an order of mozzarella sticks (which are sooo good) and a large drink and parked my mom-van back in the parking lot to eat fried food and pray. After my hour I felt better-calm-at peace. My son came out of karate and we drove home in happy harmony. When I pulled into the driveway I asked my son to please bring in the recycle bins-he said "OK" and got out of the car and walked directly into the house FORGETTING WHAT I HAD JUST ASKED HIM TO DO! So I ask you... does this just happen to me? Are all other moms like the ones I read about in my prayer books--so calm and Pius? Is their life full of white linens and obedient children? How is it that I devote myself to my Catholic faith, my husband, my family and I still feel like I am not getting this right?

When I called my mom to talk to her about my day she told me I was not sinning, I was being a mom. I told her that the worst thing about being pregnant on days like these was that I couldn't crack open a cold one in the evening.