Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Tomb

Hello Ladies,

Today I have been thinking quite a bit about death. It's rather a scary thought, isn't it? For me it means separation from my children. Who would care for them? Who would remind them of my love for them? Who would give them snuggles and kisses? No, the thought of leaving my children is terrifying.  But I think there is something deeper than that. Death is the ultimate loss of control. Death reminds us that we are not the masters of our bodies or our destinies. 

Jesus died. Jesus died in the most cruel, humiliating, painful way the Roman Empire could devise. He was beaten, stripped, and put on display for all to see. Every groan, every bodily function was open to ridicule. And then he was hastily shut away in a tomb so the living could observe a religious holiday. His loved ones would have to finish preparing his body for final burial until after he had become putrid. So He lay in the tomb until...

Let's not get ahead of ourselves. We all know the story of the resurrection; Jesus conquered death. What happened in that tomb? How was Jesus' body transformed from a frail, human body to a resurrected, heavenly body? We won't know until we get there. But the message is clear: we need not fear death. And whatever happened in that tomb was done by God. 

I believe that motherhood is the path of small-deaths. Every day we put our own hopes and desires on hold so that we can care for our families. It becomes so entrenched in our beings that we forget to dream. (Don't get me started on lack of sleep.) Sometimes we have a vague sense that we are losing our way but what can we do? Most of the time we're lucky to get through the day. 

Ladies, we need to enter the tomb. We need to lie there in the dark and quiet and do absolutely nothing. We need to let God do His work. It need not be scary; Jesus has been there. Let it be the one time of the day when you don't have to prove yourself to anybody. You don't have to defend yourself. You don't have to say a dozen rosaries to prepare. You don't have to change a diaper or worry about the dishes in the sink. You don't have to deal with the bully at school. Nothing. Just you and God. And God is doing all the work. God is taking the responsibility. God is drying the tears after our tantrums and scraped knees. God is taking those small deaths and making them into something new. All you have to do is show up and just be... accepted. Loved. Cherished. Forgiven. Transformed. We need to practice saying 'yes' to God in preparation for our own death. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Clarification for Quo Vadis?

Note: This post is a clarification for the previous post Quo Vadis? and is not meant to be read independently. 

Hello Ladies,

I read last night's post to my husband and he didn't get it so I am going to clarify. This blog is pseudo-autobiographical. I try really, really hard not to get too political or to go on rants. I also try not to pick out specific people of my acquaintance who drive me nuts. It's just not helpful. But many of you, myself included, might rightfully say that we try to be good mothers. We probably are great mothers. What am I on about? Well, enter the rant.

There are certain mothers I know who work very hard to appear to be "good mothers" and don't really care about their children at all. They are not loving. They are not supportive. Their children would never go to them for help or advice because they are constantly berated. These mothers are not grateful when their children go out of their way to help them and are jealous when their children are successful. Then they go to others looking for sympathy because their children don't want to be around them. "But I'm their mother", they say. "I was a Good Mother! What did I do to deserve this??" Plenty, say I. 

I also mentioned a woman who out of despair killed herself and her children. One report said that she frantically tried to stop the process at the last moment but it was too late. She, too, was considered by many to be a "Good Mother" until "things got too much for her". 

In both cases we are dealing with isolation. In the first the mothers systematically isolate themselves from their children. In the second case the role of being a mother in this society was too isolating. She fell into despair. 

In the first case I have very little sympathy. We are not perfect and we sometimes behave selfishly. But are we selfish as a whole? Probably not. It takes a lot of energy and practice to be that selfish. That is why I think these women are, to put it nicely, cows. (Yes, I'm a harsh critic even to myself.)

In the second case I have much more compassion. Mothers are under constant scrutiny even by other mothers. Does your child sleep through the night? (Not my daughter.) Is your toddler potty-trained? (My son is FINALLY.) Does your child walk yet? (Not my daughter - thankfully.) Do you co-sleep? Do you make/ let your child cry it out? And do not get me started about cloth diapers and breast feeding. As long as the child is clean and fed who cares? The list goes on.

So what is my solution? Stop trying to be what society thinks you should be and start BEING LOVING. Our children do not care if you're worried about what the neighbors think. And we as mothers should be more supportive of other mothers. We need to be loving - not right. 

Just one more thing. This post is hastily written and not even proofread. It is meant to be an explanation of the previous post "Quo Vadis?". I'm sorry for any confusion.

May God Bless you.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Quo Vadis?

Hello Ladies,

Before I go much further let me explain where I am coming from.  Lately I have spoken with or heard about mothers with grown children who blame their children for their own unhappiness. ("What did I do to deserve this? He's ungrateful and not worthy to be my son.") There have also been stories in the newspaper about a mother who killed herself and her children. I do not mean to be unjustly critical. I understand that things like despair and post-partum depression are very, very real. I do not pretend to be a perfect mother. I suffered from depression after my daughter was born. I know what isolation and loneliness feel like. I get things wrong ALL THE TIME. If you meet my kids twenty years from now they might be in jail or maybe they will refuse talk to me in spite of all the food I fixed them growing up  (though I hope not). I don't have all the answers. But maybe I can start asking the right questions.

We are now officially in Holy Week and I am so totally unprepared it isn't even funny. I'm not just talking about Easter baskets for the kids and preparing the meal for the extended family, either. When I started this blog I imagined that it would be a means of keeping me faithful in my prayer life. All that I can say is: ha ha HAHAHA!! I feel that I've totally missed out on the spiritual preparations for the most holy day of the liturgical calendar. How could I let this happen? Have I been using my time more wisely? Have I been practicing what I preach and invited Jesus into my daily routine? I honestly don't know. How can I tell? I can't even keep track of the days!

I know that motherhood feels like being swept away by the current. (Some days it feel like being dragged down by the undertow.) So my question is how can we as moms make sure we like where we end up 20 years from now? Will our children want to be part of our lives or will they look upon us with fear or disgust? Because, Ladies, our future begin now.

Our future begins now. What are we working towards? Or, to put it another way, what sort of person would we like to be when we meet Jesus face to face? This is important because the greatest, most defining moments in our lives are small ones that go unnoticed. Do we support one another or do we think we're being clever by making a snide comment? Do we raise up our children or are we too busy "making them mind" and "putting them in their place"? Are we supportive of one another or are we too busy trying to compete? Because, Ladies, the woman who complained that her son won't talk to her calls herself a "good mother". The mother who killed herself and her children was considered by many to be a "good mother" who "just got overwhelmed". We all have our moments when we screw up or behave in a totally selfish manner. We're human. So how do we keep it from being who we are?

Maybe we should stop worrying about being a "good mother" (as described by a secular, consumer society) and become a loving mother instead. A loving mother will look for what is best for her children instead of trying to look like the best mother. A loving mother will look for a balance in her own life so she can care for others. A loving mother will tell her children 'no'. A loving mother will help another woman in need instead of judging her. A loving mother will let other mothers know that they are not alone in their task and will listen with compassion. 

Ladies, the gift of Lent is being able to prepare to meet the Lord. The gift of Easter is the knowledge of God's love for us and the salvation of our souls through the birth, death and ressurection of Jesus Christ. 

When it is our turn to meet Jesus He will ask us if we loved one another - especially the sweet souls that were placed in our care. Because, Ladies, God is Love. When we act with love (Caritas!) we introduce God into the lives of our children and those we meet. Isn't that what we are called to do?

Our future begins now and our most defining moments are small and go unnoticed. Practice at being loving mother. Let the rest go. And hopefully we will, through the grace of God and the friendship of others, be able to cope and even succeed. Hopefully our children will see beyond our faults and respond to our love for them.

May God bless you during this most holy week.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Why do we do these things to ourselves? Today I left the house wearing a Harry Potter novelty tee shirt with holes in it because I had been cleaning and forgot to change back into my 'nice' shirt before I left. I looked ridiculous. So while I was out with my family I scurried into a clothing store and spent too much money on a new shirt to wear while I was out. Vain? Pathetic? Yes. The funny thing is that I never would have done it when I was younger. But now that I'm older I want to present myself well. Suddenly what strangers think about me really matters.

Lately my husband and I have been struggling with jobs and housing. Do we have a place to stay? Can we pay our bills? Yes. So why are we driving ourselves crazy? Because we care what people think of us. We have imprinted in our minds the words of some of the more discordant elders of our family; you know, words like "lazy" and "unambitious" and "disappointing" and "worthless".  Basing our own life or the lives of others on what we think others think of us (as if they they think of us at all) is crazy. Yet we do it. And why? Because Jesus is not the center of our lives.

Now, I'm not some 'Jesus freak' who believes that nothing bad will happen to me or if it does I should paste a fake, strained smile on my face because Jesus is really in control so anything bad that happens to us is really ok and not that bad after all. I happen to think that Jesus loves us so much that he died for us. Me. You. The discordant elders in the family. Everybody. Nobody else can love us the way Jesus does. And being a mom I know a thing or two about love.

So why am I driving myself crazy over a shirt? Why is my husband so worried about 'where we will be five years from now' that it is difficult to appreciate the present? Beats me. Because I don't think Jesus will bar me from heaven because of a tee shirt. And I doubt He would shun our apartment because it's not 'luxurious' enough. 

Why has my life been so crazy lately (other than being a mom, of course). It's because I've been trying to impress the wrong people. But I'm keeping my new shirt. It's really cute.