Ten years ago on the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, together with two amazing friends, I consecrated my heart to Jesus through Mary and my life has never been the same. I shared more about this at Catholic Mom today.
Last Saturday, our family went out to our city’s annual festival 2 mile road race. My husband went ahead of us and I pushed the boys in a borrowed double jogger with my daughter running/jogging beside me. The baby wasn’t so into the whole jogger idea so I ended up carrying him on my back with my Beco and so we’d run until he cried from too much jiggling and then briskly walk and then run and so forth. I was impressed that my daughter kept going on for so long. Towards the middle of the route, I could tell she was getting tired so I told her it would be ok if she wanted to hop into the stroller for a little bit.
She was determind though and just shook her head and kept going. She started whining though so I offered her the seat again and she still said no. So I finally told her that she was either going to keep running/jogging with me and not complain or not do it at all and sit in the stroller the rest of the time. From then on there were no more sighs or complaints as she and I jogged along together.
After I’d told her that, I started thinking about how I could probably use a little of my advice in my own life. Being a mother is hard work. I can definitly say I am a working mom because there’s hardly a time when I am not doing something. Laundry, cooking, cleaning, mediating, driving, coercing, teaching, building, mending, etc, etc.
A lot of times, it is easy for me to see drudgery in these daily responsibilities instead of joy. I whine and complain to God or whoever will listen probably about as much as my kids do sometimes. Then I get these awful jealous thoughts and dream up all sorts of better lives for myself. I have several pictures of Mary around the house and I have to admit that I even get jealous of her sometimes. I mean, how hard could it have been to raise Jesus-the omnipotent and ever perfect Son of God? (to which she usually gently reminds about the time she had to watch Him suffer and die on a cross.)
A few days after our family fun run day, (yes I know that sounds way too corny and ‘perfect’ but remember that I had to run with a baby on my back for a good mile!) anyway…so after that day I was talking to one of my brothers who will be graduating and going off to start a new life somewhere. We talked about different possibilities of what he might do and somehow one of us said that it didn’t matter exactly what he did, as long as he followed his passions.
So the ever practical older sister reminded him that sometimes we have to set aside our passions for what is practical. Like when I have to do laundry instead of reading or writing or painting. But then he reminded me that my family is my passion and since I do laundry for my family I am still living out my passions. How could I argue with that?
On Mother’s day morning I woke up and the house was very quiet. My husband had gotten the kids up early to get me flowers and doughnuts. It was nice to have some quiet but I realized that it would be oh so incredilby lonely without them around to bug the heck out of me.
So what is the point in all this rambling? I’m not entirely sure except to say that this week, and hopefully next week, I have been smiling more as I work and sighing less. I’ve been praying for my family more as I work for them and thanking God for them more. Life as a mother is not all sugar and spice and all that is nice. Mother’s are made of hugs and kisses, giggles and raspberries, it’s true. But they’re also made of tantrums and whining, throw-up and poopy diapers, sassy know-it-all back-talkers and selective-hearing little monkeys.
This is what it is though, and it is my life. So I’ve got to just suck it up and keep running.
Tator Tot Meatloaf
This was an invention and improv thing and it was pretty good.
1 lb Ground Beef
3/4 Cup Bread Crumbs
1/4 cup wheat germ and/or flax seed
1 tsp salt, basil, oregano, pepper, and onion powder
1/2 cup of BBQ sauce
mix all this together and spread it into greased square pan. Spread a little more BBQ sauce on top and optional shredded cheese. Bake this at 350 for about 55 minutes. Next time I do this I might cover the pan for half of the cooking time as it seemed the BBQ sauce burned a little while cooking.
While that is baking, bake some tator tots at 350 or 400 for about 15 minutes. When the meatloaf is done after 55 minutes, add the tator tots on top (and optional cheese again) and then bake it a little longer, about 5-10 minutes or so.
Mom Management part I
Holly Pierlot’s, A Mother’s Rule of Life: How to Bring Order to Your Home and Peace to Your Soul, reminds me how important a daily routine or rhythm is in a mother’s day. As a mom of three young and unpredictable children, it’s important for me to be flexible and try and find a balance between being too controlling or too lax. I also have to be humble and realistic of what I can truly expect of myself and of my children and husband when it comes to establishing routines around the house.
I love our home. We’ve been here just about two years and every time I drive up to it or away from it I smile and thank God for blessing us with the home we have to grow in and love together as a family. As much as I love our home, I still have a hard time managing the responsibilities that inevitably come with home ownership. Pierlot reminds me though that our home and each room in the house needs to meet a two-fold purpose: It must be functional and beautiful.
Now for me I have to take that a little further and add that it should be functional, beautiful (at least to us), and ‘baby-proof’. I could decorate with all sorts of beautiful things for our home but many decorative items I’d prefer to dress my home up with would last maybe ten minutes before getting broken, marked on, or taken hostage in one of the many toy baskets around the house. So I try to remember that this season will pass and one day I’ll be able to set out an exquisitely fragile decorative plate and potpourri-filled metal balls next to the coffee table books full of beautiful pictures of faraway lands.
Recently, I gathered with other Catholic moms to discuss our homes and ways to keep them functional and beautiful despite our children (and, ahem, our husbands). Following the advice of the Fly Lady and Holly, we did a room analysis and wrote down a list of all the rooms in our homes. Thinking about the purpose of each room, we then noted the chores that needed to be done in each room including the when and the who for each, and also jotted down a list of any repairs or improvements that the room needed.
So in this Mom Managment part I (this does not guarantee a part II btw) I’m thinking about my kitchen:
The purpose of my kitchen is to provide a space to store and prepare food. It is also a place to eat and clean items associated with cooking and eating. In my kitchen we also do a lot of our artwork between meals.
So one thing that needs to done daily in the kitchen to maintain somewhat of an order is the dishes and dishwasher. Ideally the dishes would be cleaned, dried, and put away after each meal and before the next. Ideally, my children would each help in this process or at least leave me alone while I did it. But since they can’t really scrub and dry all the dishes safely quite yet I adjust my goals.
After each meal, the older two put their plates by the sink and their placemats are brushed off and put away. If the dishwasher is ready to be unloaded, they help put the utensils and plastic plates and cups away. I have them help as they can, even if it’s just entertaining the baby while I do it all. My husband would rather be tortured I think that have to do the dishes so as long as the baby is happy he gets kid duty after dinner while I get lost in soap suds and thoughts about future blog posts. Before going to bed at night I try and leave the kitchen as clean as possible. The best part of waking up is not Folgers in my cup but rather a fresh clutter-free kitchen to greet my eyes in the mornings.
My monthly or even yearly goals for my kitchen include pantry and cabinet re-organizing and deep cleaning.
Repairs or improvements for the kitchen include a new sink and granite (or something similar) countertops. That will probably be a long-time coming but at least it’s on the list.
Something to work on is keeping the kitchen floor cleaner but that requires extra work.
Stay tuned for part II: It will hopefully be about laundry,…if I get around to it.
There’s nothing like a fictional novel to become obsessed with when real life becomes too overwhelming. Thanks to my friend the last couple weeks I was able to find small escapes throughout my days of battling laundry, whining, and other injustices. Whenever it was time to nurse the baby, I made sure to have my friends from the The Friday Night Knitting Club close by.
At first I wasn’t sure how much I would actually enjoy the book but as I turned each page I felt myself falling deeper and deepter into the life of a single mom/business woman/yarn lover/knitter-extraordinair. With a love for yarn and knitting as our common ground, I found myself opening up to Georgia and the lives of those that interwove around her.
I was impressed with Kate Jacob’s talent to make such a fantastic analogy between life and knitting. Reading each page was like adding another stitch or finishing a row of knitting. In the end, I was pleasently surprised and gratefully satisfied with the finished project.
If the idea of engrossing yourself in other people’s dramas, even if fictional, and if you love yarn (or even, God forgive you, if you couldn’t care less about the soft squishy yumminess, you’ll most likely enjoy this book as much as I did.
Every now and then, while my daughter is at school or playing on her own and my middle son is playing with her or resting quietly, I get to steal precious moments with just my baby and me. He’s 6 months now, probably 7 by the time I actually get to post this. If this were a different post, I’d probably be complaining about how it’s gotten harder in some ways as he’s gotten older. But for now, I’m just thinking about how cute and wonderful he is when I get little moments with him in his happy times. I sit him down on the floor and set one of his toy baskets within reach. Without wasting a second, he seizes the basket and pulls it to him. With intense curiosity and interest he picks through the basket until he finds what he is looking for.
While he rummages through looking for just the right thing to satisfy his texture or noise-making craving, I settle myself next to him. I know now how fast time flies and how quickly my baby will grow into an older baby, and then a young toddler to a preschooler, school-aged child…
So I just sit there or lay there with him and I just watch him and take him all in. I take pictures of him and in my mind, hoping to leave a permanent imprint of these moments on my heart. I suppose that is what Mary did as she watched Jesus: “And she kept all these things in her heart”
Like some of the most expensive diamonds, these moments together are small almost insignificant little fleeting glimmers in the day. Just the same, they are my little treasures and strings of grace for the day.