Tuesday, May 31, 2005
I have been quite cranky all day, however, toward all those people who have no culpability for my insomnia.
So there I was, in the basement throwing clothes into the washing machine. Little Brother was at the top of the stairs, calling my name for what seemed to me to be no apparent reason. And in the middle of my very testy, crabby, downright uncharitable shout back to him, I had to stop in my tracks.
This is not his fault and I should not yell at him because I need a nap (or several more pots of coffee).
While I measured out the fabric softener I took a moment to ask God to help me soften my attitude, and I remembered the prayer we used to begin each class with at my Catholic elementary school.
Direct, we beseech Thee, O Lord, our actions by Thy holy inspiration; and carry them out by Thy gracious assistance, so that every prayer and work of ours may always begin from Thee, and by Thee be happily ended. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.
Saturday, May 28, 2005
Carrying the children to bed
Little Brother fell asleep on Daddy's lap tonight while watching a movie. I picked him up and carried him up the stairs to put him to bed.
Then I stood there in his room, holding my three-year-old whose feet bumped my knees all the way upstairs, but whose head still fits in that spot on my shoulder.
That heavy head has a buzz cut now, but it's still my baby's head.
My other two babies are way too big for me to carry--Big Brother is almost as tall as I and will probably pass me soon (eek!) and Middle Sister is edging her way toward my height too!
It's so nice to still have one small enough to carry to bed, and stand there in the dark just enjoying the moment of holding that sleeping child...the little one without a care in the world bigger than trying to finagle a cookie before dinner (a "da-nella" one, of course!)...that moment is just as sacred to me as any moment of prayer.
Your #1 Match: ISFJ
You have a strong need to belong, and you're very loyal.
A good listener, you excell at helping others in practical ways.
In your spare time, you enjoy engaging your senses through art, cooking, and music.
You find it easy to be devoted to one person, who you do special things for.
You would make a good interior designer, chef, or child psychologist.
Your #2 Match: ISTJ
The Duty Fulfiller
You are responsible, reliable, and hardworking - you get the job done.
You prefer productive hobbies, like woodworking or knitting.
Quiet and serious, you are well prepared for whatever life hands you.
Conservative and down-to-earth, you hardly ever do anything crazy.
You would make a great business executive, accountant, or lawyer.
Your #3 Match: ISFP
You are a gifted artist or musician (though your talents may be dormant right now).
You enjoy spending your free time in nature, and you are good with animals and children.
Simply put, you enjoy beauty in all its forms and live for the simple pleasures in life.
Gentle, sensitive, and compassionate - you are good at recognizing people's unspoken needs.
You would make a good veterinarian, pediatrician, or composer.
Your #4 Match: ESFJ
You are sympathetic and caring, putting friends and family first.
A creature of habit, you prefer routines and have trouble with change.
You love being in groups - whether you're helping people or working on a project.
You are good at listening, laughing, and bringing out the best in people.
You would make a great nurse, social worker, or teacher.
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Wearing my heart on my sleeve
I have a lawn sign in front of my house with a picture of the school on it. "Keep the Spirit alive at St. Peter's School."
Why, then, am I so hesitant to put on my Tau?
I wear it to church every Sunday but for the rest of the week it sits on my dresser.
The Tau is the distinctive Franciscan sign of the Secular Franciscan Order in the US. It is a T-shaped cross that was seen by St. Francis as a symbol of Christ's cross, a sign of salvation, and used by Francis as his own signature.
I have two of them. One was given to me on the day I became an Inquirer, in October 2000. I received the other one later, from a good friend of mine who is also in the SFO. Both of them are on a cord with the three knots similar to the cord Franciscan priests wear as a cincture.
Why is it that I hold back from wearing the Tau? Why is being a Secular Franciscan my best-kept secret? What am I afraid will happen if I wear it?
If I wear it, people will ask about it. The Tau invites questions because it looks "different." Do I worry about what people will think of me if they find out I am in the SFO?
Why do I care?
People already think I am (choose one or more) different/strange/a religious fanatic because I (choose one or more) send my Big Kids to Catholic school, refuse to do business with companies that support Planned Parenthood (this includes Disney), attend church regularly and participate in religious events/retreats/SFO events.
So, I have earned my reputation. Would wearing a Tau outside of church be any more different/strange/fanatical than I already appear to be anyway?
I no longer have a baby who will pull or teethe on my Tau. My baby is now three, and Little Brother likes to inspect my Tau. "I like your cross. What color is it?" And I can remind him that people who wear a cross (of any kind) do this because they want to be Jesus' friend.
Come to think of it, there may be no better reason to wear my Tau than that. I want to be Jesus' friend. I want my children to want to be Jesus' friend. If I do nothing else but put the idea in my children's head that they CAN be Jesus' friend, then wearing the Tau is certainly worth it.
So next time you see me out and about in my "St. Peter's SAINTS" shirt, you'll probably also see my Tau around my neck.
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
What's a mom like me doing in a fraternity like this?
Every so often the question comes up. I have been a Secular Franciscan since 2001 and "hanging around" the fraternity since at least early 2000. It's a fraternity full of lovely people, 90% of whom are considerably older than I.
As a mother, I get a lot of support from them. Most of the SFOs in my fraternity are women and most have had children. They encourage and compliment my efforts and welcome my children. That's nice, but it's not why I'm there.
Some of them remind me of my grandmothers, whom I miss very much. That's nice too, but it's not why I'm there.
I might also mention that the collective wisdom regarding cake-baking is amazing, and I rarely leave a meeting hungry, but that's not why I'm there either.
It's not the demographics of the fraternity that keeps me going back. Let's face it, I don't fit the demographic. I'm not a senior citizen and I'm not Polish (though I married Polish!) I'm not a parishioner in the sponsoring parish.
What I am, and what they are, is an ordinary person trying to keep sight of the extraordinary, the divine, while going about the ordinary stuff of daily life. That's why I'm there and that's all that matters.
This is not a club.
This is not your kegger type of fraternity.
I am privileged to be the Baby of the Family here. I have the opportunity to mingle with people who have been SFOs longer than I have been alive, who have "been there, done that" and lived to tell the tale.
In two more months I will no longer be the token Franciscan Under Forty. I guess it's time to witness better, to encourage other people close to my age and younger to join this group where they don't fit the demographic either.
Demographics aren't everything and luckily, in this group, they count for nothing at all.
Father Alban Butler writes:
- From the example of the saints it appears how foolish the pretenses of many Christians are, who imagine the care of a family, the business of a farm or a shop, the attention which they are obliged to give to their worldly profession, are impediments which excuse them from aiming at perfection. Such, indeed, they make them; but this is altogether owing to their own sloth and malice. How many saints have made these very employments the means of their perfection! Saint Paul made tents; Saints Crispin and Crispinian were shoemakers; the Blessed Virgin was taken up in the care of her poor cottage; Christ himself worked with his reputed father, and those saints who renounced all commerce with the world to devote themselves totally to the contemplation of heavenly things, made mats, tilled the earth, or copied and bound good books.
The secret of the art of their sanctification was, that fulfilling the maxims of Christ, they studied to subdue their passions and die to themselves; they, with much earnestness and application, obtained of God, and improved daily in their souls, a spirit of devotion and prayer; their temporal business they regarded as a duty which they owed to God, and sanctified it by a pure and perfect intention, as Christ on earth directed every thing he did to the glory of his Father. In these very employments, they were careful to improve themselves in humility, meekness, resignation, divine charity, and all other virtues, by the occasion which call them forth at every moment, and in every action. Opportunities of every virtue, and every kind of good work never fail in all circumstances; and the chief means of our sanctification may be practiced in every state of life, which are self-denial and assiduous prayer, frequent aspirations, and pious meditation or reflections on spiritual truths, which disengage the affections from earthly things, and deeply imprint in the heart those of piety and religion.
- That's what being a Secular Franciscan is all about: making my daily work holy and directing everything to the glory of God.
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
I love having Big Kids
Today one of my neighbors was down with the Flu. This afternoon she came outside with her children (4 1/2 years, and 14 months) and she looked so worn out that I told her to pass the kids over the fence to me and let the kids play here. My Big Kids were helpful with the children, and she got a bit of a nap. Then when she came back out for them, she said that the kids would be eating French toast for dinner.
French toast is Big Brother's specialty.
I told Big Brother I had a special catering job for him, and sent him inside to make enough French toast for the two little ones. Middle Sister helped him out, cut it all up and put it on plates for the kids.
We passed the children and their dinner back over the fence to their Mommy.
Big Brother bragged about his use of the Secret Ingredient (my guess is, it was cinnamon sugar).
I'm very proud of how my Big Kids were helpful to our neighbor in this way, and without complaining or whining. Good job, Big Kids! I will be sure they are justly rewarded even though (and maybe especially because) they didn't look for what was in it for them.
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Little Brother's Idea of an Anthill
Little Brother was outside with Middle Sister and Big Brother. For a few minutes he was absolutely quiet and still, just squatting and staring at one spot on the sidewalk. We asked him what he was looking at. "Come and see!" he told us.
There were two anthills along a crack in the sidewalk. Ants were busily going in and out.
"Those are the ants' houses," we informed him.
Then we got the full story, as only a three-year-old can tell it.
"The ants live in there. They have rooms. They like their rooms. And they have VIDEO GAMES, and a fire truck, and a fireman, and a hose, and a GIRL!"
Big Brother also reports that Little Brother believes that there are fish tanks in the anthills, and that he made a "road" for the ants by dragging his finger down the side of the hill of sand. "The ants like my road."
The little guy is very upset that one of the neighbor children swept up an anthill yesterday. I think he wants to ban all brooms from the neighborhood.
Big Brother wants to get him an ant farm for his next birthday, but I am vetoing that idea. We moms spend enough time trying to keep those particular creatures OUT of our homes. They may be part of God's creation and I am certainly glad that Little Brother is interested in them, and even though "all God's critters have a place in the choir" they do not all have a place in my home!
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
A Tale of My Two Boys
I spent a couple of hours today with Little Brother at the local Destruction Site where, as he puts it, they are "wocking down K-Mart." We saw three excavators in action as well as several dump trucks, bulldozers and other giant machines at work. What better way for a little boy to spend a spring morning? Of course, he spent part of the afternoon showing the neighbors'
children what the "bullbozers" were doing to the former discount store.
Now I sit here listening as Big Brother, a newly-minted teenager (am I really the parent of a TEENAGER?!) watches his favorite Discovery Channel show, "Mythbusters" where such things are tested out as:
--does eating Pop Rocks with a soda chaser really make your stomach explode?
--can you kill a person by flipping a playing card at him?
--will you be sucked down to the bottom of the ocean with a sinking ship?
--can you break out of jail using salsa?
I imagine that in ten short years, history will repeat itself and I will one again have a seventh-grader with a fascination for these questions. Why does it seem like only yesterday that I took Big Brother to watch the firemen wash the fire engines every week after our trip to the bank?
Monday, May 09, 2005
What could be nicer?
Little Brother has been very affectionate lately. He loves to give all of us hugs, kisses, high-fives and "razzicles" (raspberries). And sometimes when he is feeling extra loving, he gives me All The Kisses. That means hegives me as many kisses as he possibly can, as fast as he can. That's what he was doing this morning, just after eating a healthy breakfast of Life cereal and "tuna bread" (an open-faced tuna salad sandwich).
There's nothing like being kissed all over your face by a wiggly three-year-old with Really Bad Bed Hair, mismatched pajamas and tuna breath.
I guess it's something only a mom can appreciate. I know I certainly do!
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
Marian theology according to Little Brother
Little Brother (age 3) saw a statue of Mary on the shelf near the stairs.
"Mary's cool, Mom," he informed me. "Her's at church."
I told him he was right, and asked if he knew whose Mommy Mary is.
"FATHER'S!" he confidently replied.
As I reminded him that Mary is "baby Jesus's Mommy," I couldn't help thinking he was onto something. She is Father's, and all of ours as well.
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
Just a virus
That's the conclusion the doctor has come to after the rapid-strep test was negative.
Well, it's nice to know that it's nothing serious, and after 13+ years as a mom you'd think that I could just take these things in stride by now. But after 13+ years as a mom, sometimes I'd rather hear a diagnosis that requires a trip to the pharmacy for a bottle of "the pink stuff" because I know that within 36 hours, the child will feel better than new and (if school-age) will even readily consent to doing homework because it means that release from the couch (AKA prison) is on the horizon.
Not this time.
This time it's a virus and there's really nothing I can do for my daughter with the big sad eyes except indulge her by prescribing The Slurpee Cure: children with sore throats shall be allowed to have a gigantic Slurpee in the neon color of their choice for the duration of their illness.
There will be no "pink stuff" in this house tonight. She'll have to settle for a Slurpee and a hug.
I bet she feels a lot better tomorrow, though. And if not, we'll just have to go to the store for another Slurpee.
A little about me: I am a nearly-40 wife and mother of 3, Roman Catholic, Secular Franciscan (professed in 2001). My kids range in age from 13 to 3, so things here are never dull. I'm just trying to be a good person, partner and parent in a world that makes it tough to do things the right way.