Sunday, February 27, 2011


Hello Ladies. For some reason the comments still aren't working. If you read this please try to comment. If it doesn't work please let me know by sending a message to marianmoms at gmail dot com. I would love to hear some feedback. Thanks.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

In His Image

Have you ever really thought about what it means to be made in the image and likeness of God? When my son was born I would joke that it meant that God must be chubby and have kissable cheeks. When my daughter was born I joked that it meant that God had a smile that could light up a room and can scream like a banshee. 

All joking aside - being made in the image and likeness of God means that we were created to be in constant communion with Him. Let's think about this for a minute. It means that our most basic, natural state is to be connected to God. Our home is with Him, our Beloved, who formed us in our mothers' wombs out of desire for us. To have a relationship with God should be as easy as falling in love with the one person who you know will never, ever reject you or say that you are not good enough. Wouldn't you love to be in a relationship with someone like that? 

Yes, we have original sin. We are not perfect and we turn away from God. But God loves us so much that He is willing to lower Himself to our level and raise us beyond our own flawed capabilities. Some very powerful ways God leads us into relationship with Him is through the Sacraments. (I am personally becoming more dedicated to the Eucharist, Christ among us.) But unless we're very good, devout, and organized moms we might not make it to Mass. Or if we do we spend most of our time in the foyer of the church with a crying child. It is easy to get discouraged because we know that we rely on God but can't seem to do enough for Him.

This is where remembering that we are made in His image can come in handy. Yes, going to church is very important. Reading the Bible is very important. But for those days (and nights) that we've been dealing with a fussy, teething baby and a toddler who really is trying his best to get to the potty on time... Think of it this way: Imagine that you are having one of those days when the baby is in abject misery from teething, the toddler is running around like a maniac (and is smelly), the house is a wreck and lunch (which is late) is about to burn and Jesus knocks on the door. Do you say "Sorry, Lord, you deserve so much better. Can you come back when the house is clean, the children are clean and content and I can fix a lovely meal for you"? Or do you say "Lord, it's not much but this is my life and you are welcome to share in it. Would you like a grilled-cheese sandwich or hot dogs. Or we can always order pizza." 

There are times to be somber in the presence of God. There are times when we dress up, tell the children to be quiet and get on our knees before our Lord. But we cannot wait for everything to be perfect before we approach Jesus or invite Jesus into our lives. And we certainly don't have to climb high mountains in exotic lands and spend years chanting  strange mantras in foreign languages (well, maybe Latin) to find inner peace. Our natural state is to be in communion with God. So take a deep breath and for a few moments (you might not get more) be yourself in the presence of your Beloved.  Remember that Jesus loves you in the most perfect way. You do not need to be perfect. You do not need to have all the answers. Remember that being in communion with God is as easy as being yourself: the person God, out of love, created you to be. Then go and change that diaper.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Let's Be Honest

The strangest thing happened to me the other day. I happened to call a good friend of mine who I hadn't heard from for a while. (It was a bit more than 'just happened'. I really felt that I needed to get a hold of her.) When I was finally able to get her on the phone she told me that I was exactly the person she needed to talk to because she was going through a rough time. Through all her trials she was trying to be a good mother to her children. She felt overwhelmed and embarrassed. And why didn't she call me earlier? Because I send out a mass e mail to friends and family about my life and kids. Since this e mail goes to family members who are not always (or never) supportive of us I always make them upbeat. I didn't write them in that way to make us appear glorious. It wasn't for vanity. It was a form of self-preservation from cranky relatives who claim that their kids were potty trained, sleeping through the night and reading the newspaper by their first birthday. But my poor friend mistakenly believed that I had something that she lacked. In a way I do: a propensity to make sins of omission in my mass e mails. 

So let me be honest. 

I have been known to swear at my babies (obviously not my son now that he can talk) when they wake me up for the fifth time in one night.

I have turned off the baby monitor and let my daughter cry herself to sleep when she was tired and overstimulated and I couldn't sooth her.

My husband has found me curled up on the floor in the middle of the night crying out of frustration and sleep deprivation.

I am about to despair of feeding my son anything but cheerios and crackers.

My son is three and a half and is still not fully potty-trained. He does not read the newspaper. My daughter is almost a year old and will eat the newspaper.

I'm saying this because we moms get so much criticism that we tend to hold back instead of being honest and helping each other. I may be Theology Mom and my children are a gift from God but some days the only proof of the Holy Spirit is working in my life is that I haven't eaten my young. They are good kids. I love them. But being a mom is hard work. 

Maybe it's our brokenness, our weakness and imperfections that make us shine.

So next time you see a mom heading out to the street with a baseball bat because some motorist woke up her babies by idling his car in front of her apartment and playing loud rap music don't be so quick to judge. It's probably me.

To my Dear Friend: If you read this - you are normal and you are an AMAZING mom. You don't have to be perfect. You just have to let God work in your life.

On a totally unrelated note you, the reader, should now be able to post comments. It would be nice to see is anybody is reading this. :)

Saturday, February 5, 2011


DISCLAIMER - I have really been struggling with this post. I feel that I have some relevant things to say but have not had the opportunity to write it as well as i would like. Sadly I am at the point of not writing the blog at all so I would rather post something imperfect than not at all. 

Well, Ladies, January has been an interesting month. My son started pre-school. My daughter was teething. My father came home from a care center which is great but we were hoping he would be walking and not remain in a wheelchair. Certainly none of these things are bad but it does entail a certain amount of upheaval. It has been difficult to keep centered.

If you read my last post you know that I reached out to the communion of saints for help. Let me state that this was not a part of my Catholic upbringing so it is a bit new to me. I've written several papers about the theology of the communion of saints but it's easy to hide behind footnotes as it were. So I decided to get to know some of the saints personally. This is not a post about my discovery of the saints but where the study of them has led me.

One thing that I discovered is that God shines through in small but profound ways. Another thing I noticed is that average people were able to accomplish extraordinary things. Many of the saints are from religious orders. I know being in a religious order has its challenges but it got me thinking that it has the advantage of a daily routine. That's the point of many of them; you have a routine based on prayer. 

We moms try to keep a routine. We know this every time we curtail a shopping trip or something enjoyable to make sure that the baby has a nap on time. There is also the disadvantage that motherhood is not necissarely prayer centered. We have all met those mothers who might take care of the physical needs of their children but who treat them as objects. Then when the children get older and have no affection for their mothers the mothers cry: "Oh, I made them food!" or "After all I did for them!" And then they sneer and cry because it was always about them (the mothers). But if you look at it, people who work at soup kitchens for years prepare more meals than the average mother. Mother Theresa cared for more ill people than the average mother. So what is the difference? 

I think it is that many mothers do not having a loving focus. We have difficulty getting to church much less every day. And if a toddler decides he doesn't want to be at church... well, you know the result. So I prayed for something, a focus to get me through the days (and nights) of motherhood. This is what came to me:


The typical English translation of this is "Where there is charity and love there [also]  is God". I take issue with this translation because it does not fully encompass the meaning of the word 'caritas'. Caritas is not just charity. It is the spirit of love which prompts action. Caritas is what keeps mothers (and people who volunteer in soup kitchens) from burning out or resenting their role. Caritas demands action. 

There are a few more things I would like to bring up that might help us moms along. The first is that we must always remember when we deal with our children that they are God's children before they are ours. This means that we are NOT at liberty to do what we like with them. We will be held accountable for our actions.

The second thing is that our role as mothers (and fathers or caregivers) is to make our children fit for the kingdom of heaven. We cannot think that we are terrible parents because we cannot buy all the stuff our kids want. We also cannot think that because there is ample food on the table that we are amazing parents. We must take care of their physical needs. We must get our children to strive for their dreams. But we must also teach them to discern God's call in their lives.

The third thing that we must remember is that we are also God's children. This means that we must maintain healthy boundaries for ourselves. We are not perfect. We are not called to be perfect. But too often we think that we need to have all the answers. We don't. Or when we think "what is the most loving thing to do in this situation" the answer always seems to be giving more of ourselves than we can give. Perhaps a better question would be "what does God wish for me and my family?" The answer will be very different. It will not include "run yourself ragged" (we already do!) or "say 'yes' so much that you get no respect" or "let the man take the money and leave you and the children in a vulnerable situation". After much prayer you may decide it would be best to leave that high-paying job and scale back at home or even to get a job. What is it that God wishes for us? We are also His children.

So, Ladies, when we go about our tasks as mothers, tasks, might I add, that will go unnoticed and unappreciated but are necessary none the less, let us remind ourselves of God's love.


God is with us. He loves us. We do not have to do this alone even if we are in the house alone with sick children all day.