Why Moms Need Other Moms

 

I think there is an undercurrent in our society that convinces moms that we should be able to do it all, on our own.  We need to be supermom; standing strong and taking care of our families, communities, and jobs.  Society tells us that we should not need help outside of our homes.  To ask for help is to be weak.  And we all know that weakness is the worst thing we can be in a society that worships the strong.  We are not supposed to admit that we don’t have it all together.

Gone are the days, at least in our culture, of doing community laundry at the river, or collecting water from the town well.  These were tasks that women gathered together for in order to share the workload, and quite frankly, to talk, socialize, and commune.  Women are social beings and instinctively know that we are not supposed to go it alone. Motherhood and marriage are tough.  That is why they are paths to sainthood.

The amount of socializing that we like to do definitely depends on our temperament and personality.  Some of us are introverts, which means that we like to visit with others in a limited amount of time, but we still need that interaction.  Some women are more extrovert oriented and really enjoy the company of others.  No matter our personality, we need guidance and support from other women, especially other moms.  Why do you think that Pinterest and Facebook are so popular?  It is a way for women who are isolated from everyone else as they stay home with their children throughout the day, to connect with other people.  It is a place to feel validated or to unload.  Social media attempts to alleviate the enclosure of our post-modern lives, but they are not enough.  We need actual contact with people that does not come through our computer screens.

Today I went to my first Mom’s Meet Up at my parish.  I had seen them advertised, but I had missed them for one reason or another in the past.  One of the reasons being that I am awkward around new people.  I am terrible at small talk.  With me you can just skip over the pleasantries and jump right into current affairs, politics, theology, or if you prefer, diapers and childrearing.  I really dislike the conversation that is predicated upon “so what do you do for a living”.  I am a wife and a mom.  Next topic.  I force my way through small talk, since I have gathered that is a necessary form of social interaction, but on the inside I am wondering when we will either find something we have in common or move onto something of more substance. Patience is not my middle name.  More than anything, I just hate feeling awkward.

I decided that it was time to check out the Mom’s group.  I already knew some of the ladies involved, and they are very nice women.  They also have children closer to my daughter’s age, which most of my friends do not.  Most of my friends have children who are at least 7 years old all the way up to adulthood.  So, this morning I packed Michaela up and decided to do a little penance by taking my toddler to daily Mass.  If there is one thing that should free souls from Purgatory it is dealing with a toddler during Mass.  What?! The consecration is coming up.  That is the perfect time to yell out “hello” to Father.  Let’s play peek-a-boo with mommy’s veil.  She didn’t really need it anyway, right?  We made it through Mass without any meltdowns.  Sure Rosaries and hymnals were scattered across the floor.  It’s an obstacle course for people to maneuver through on their way up to receive the Eucharist.  Daily Mass is done in our small Blessed Sacrament Chapel.  I digress.  Clearly I need to write about toddlers and Mass at a later date.

After Mass, we went to the Mom’s group that was meeting in the parish nursery.  That way our kids can play while we exchange war stories, I mean, how our lives are going.  An amazing thing happened when I arrived.  I was introduced to the women who I did not know and then we went straight into talking about our lives.  No small talk or awkward chit chat.  It was like I already knew the secret handshake by the sheer act of being a mom.  At first I was so amazed that I did not know how to react.  Am I supposed to already talk about my life?  You mean I don’t have to justify my life choices in this social setting?  Did somebody already mention how awful Obamacare is?  You mean I can talk about my HCG reactions without getting strange looks?  These women were comfortably talking about their husbands, kids, medical care, raising a family, the government shutdown, etc.  No pretenses, no fear of social rejection.  I had found the 21st Century well where women gather to talk.

There is this unspoken fear among mothers that we are being judged by other mothers.  What?! You sculpted the David in your child’s PB&J?!  I was lucky to find a slice of bread and peanut butter to put together. Your kids sit still during Mass with their hands neatly folded on their laps? My daughter threw Cheerios at the couple sitting in front of us and she was the one singing something that sounds like a cross between English, Latin, and a cow mooing during the Agnus Dei. Okay, so this might be a bit exaggerated.  She sounds more like a barking dog.

Here’s the thing, fellow moms, we need to stop worrying about judging each other and just help each other.  Stay-at-home moms like me who have infants or toddlers face a rather daunting task of raising their child alone all day.  My husband works all day and I do not see most of my friends during the day because they either work or homeschool their children who are much older than Michaela.  Moms need to get out of the house.  We need a chance to unload.  We need to be able to admit that we are exhausted and do not have it together.  We need to encourage one another on the path.  Christian community is about lifting each other up.  So let’s stop worrying about other parents judging our choices.  Absolutely no one can mother our children better than we can.  That is why God gave us the child or children he gave us.  He knew that we were the best for them and they are the best for us.  So sign off of Facebook or Pinterest or whatever other social media you are using to combat your loneliness and isolation, and head out to your parish to meet other moms.  If there is not a group in your church, then start one.  Also, take your kid to the library to meet other moms there.  We are not meant to be cooped up in our houses alone with our children all day.  This is the secret that the women before us understood so well.

 

Super Easy Smothered Burritos

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Do you need a quick and easy dinner?  Here is one of my go to dinners.  It is perfect for using up leftover chicken, beef, pork, venison, shrimp etc..  You can also use whatever you have in the pantry.  Here is how I made these smothered burritos this time:

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees

Chop up one medium yellow onion and sautee, add bell pepper (your choice of color) and soften, then add corn, black beans, and cut up cooked chicken.  Heat through.  Cut up one block of cream cheese and melt it into the pan.  Add one can of green chilis.  Turn off heat.  Fill 8 large burrito tortillas and fold.  Place them in a casserole dish.  Cover with green enchilada sauce and cheese.  Bake for 20-22 minutes until bubbly.   Serve with sour cream, guacamole, and other condiments.  Enjoy!  This is a family favorite and you can add whatever veggies you want. Try adding rice, or instead of black beans use pinto or kidney.  Make vegetarian burritos for an excellent meatless Friday dish.

A Vocation I Never Expected

A vocation is not necessarily where we thought we would end up.  Instead, a vocation is where God calls us to journey towards Him.  In short, it is how He makes us saints.  And that, my friends, is the meaning of life: to be a saint.  We either choose to answer is call or we don’t.  To be quite honest, I still struggle with openly answering His call in my life.  Being a homemaker, was not what I had envisioned for myself.  I have imagined myself having a career since childhood.  I guess that is just what a child of the 80s and 90s did, even though my own mother took a long break from working to stay home with us.  I also did not get married until I was 29, so I had been working for over a decade and I had lived all over.

I guess I left behind the notion of a big city career at some major university when I moved away from Washington DC for the last time.  I did not know it then, but I was making a choice for the life I wanted to lead.  I had really enjoyed city life for most of my Twenties, but by the last part of that decade of my life, I was burned out.  I craved quiet and nature.  And while DC is still my favorite city, whenever I go back, I know that I made the right choice.  It is not where I want to raise a family.

 
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When I met my husband we had agreed that we would homeschool our children.  Not only to raise them in the faith, but to ensure that they get a good education.  We are both products of public school and knew that we wanted  more for our children.  Not to mention that my time working in public school during college, showed me just how much things have changed since I graduated.  I also knew that I did not want my children raised in a daycare.  I had to make some touch choices and that is when I made the choice to be a stay-at-home mom and homemaker.
 
I think my mind began to change when I started to think of marriage and parenthood as a vocation, rather than a relationship and job.  I started to see that love and my family require sacrifices.  It meant that I no longer come first. A truth that I still struggle with greatly.  When I had my daughter it became even more clear to me that I belonged at home.  That did not make it easy
 
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I am the type of person who enjoys being engaged intellectually.  I like a challenge, I enjoy study, I am passionate about teaching, and I want to write.  Staying home with a two year old presents great challenges to these God given drives of mine.  It is difficult to feel intellectually stimulated when your day is full of incomplete sentences, diapers, and play.  My friends know when I have been in the house too long.  I talk incessantly.  Some days I am on the computer way too much, because I want adult conversation.
 
Here’s the paradox, when I fight against my vocation, I am the most unhappy.  Even though laundry, dishes, and playing house do not give me intellectual stimulation, they bring me the most peace.  That is because I am doing the right thing staying home with my daughter.  It is a great sacrifice, and I would not change anything.  God is making me a saint here in my home.  He is teaching me how to put others before myself, something that I greatly lack.  He is increasing my capacity for joy through my daughter and husband.  He is showing me the Little Way.  I am sanctified here, not out in the world.
 
If I had stayed on my previous path and pursued a high powered career, I do not think that I would be where I am spiritually.  I probably would not even be married, because meeting men in DC is a lot like trying to find a good man at a fraternity.  I had to give up that life in order to find God’s real calling.  Sure I have moments of nostalgia and miss it, but I would miss my daughter and my husband infinitely more.
 
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Yes, I will still have days that I will fight this “ordinary life”.  But, that is a part of my journey.  That is the Divine Gardener pruning away at my imperfections and sin.  That is not to say that my path is your path.  We all have to discern where God is calling us in the different stages of our life.  Who knows what God has in store up ahead?!

To All the Men Out There

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For decades radical feminism has beaten men into submission.  This is extremely prevalent within the abortion sphere.  Men are told that the baby is not theirs, but is only the woman’s.  After all, only wanted babies belong to the mothers AND the fathers.  Men are told that they should support a woman in murdering their child, because he should be enlightened and show women the respect they supposedly did not get pre-1960.  That’s right, the respectful thing to do is to knock a girl up and then drive her to the abortion clinic.  Do I think that this is how most women, who are scared and do not know what to do, feel when they decide to go visit the local abortion clinic?  No.  Rather this is the face of big abortion and radical feminism.  It is not the face of the young college student who is terrified from the positive pregnancy test, or the teenage girl who is forced by her parents to get an abortion, or the older man who takes his underage girlfriend to get rid of the evidence,  the couple who is terrified of having a child, the woman who is in an abusive relationship, or the poor woman who is just trying to make ends meet.  In fact, I would guess that a lot of these women want the men in their lives to stand up for them, tell them they will support them and their child, and that everything is going to work out.  And for the women who are victims, what they need is someone to help them, not kill their child.

 
Men, we need you to speak out.  We need you to take care of the women you are in a relationship with.  We need you to man up.  We also need you to take your place on the side of life.  We need ALL men to stand up, whether you have been personally touched by abortion or not.  We have all be touched by abortion, 1/6th of our country is missing and has been killed since 1973. This is not just a “women’s rights” issue, this is a human rights issue.  Over a billion men worldwide have lost fatherhood thanks to abortion.  55 million and counting have lost fatherhood in this country alone.  You have a right to stand up and say”no”.  More than that, you should witness to these women and show them what it looks like to be a real man: a provider, brave, strong, a man of God.
 
We need you to be praying with us outside of abortion clinics during 40 Days for Life.  We need young men (including teenagers and children), middle aged, and older.  We need all of you to show the world that fatherhood should not be tossed aside.  That murdering children and future generations is not acceptable in the false name of equality. That God created male and female in the image and likeness of God, each with a unique dignity.
 
Today, my daughter and I went out to join our parish Knights of Columbus in praying a living Rosary.  It was a powerful witness to Divine Love, mercy, and the Culture of Life.  We had men, women, teenagers, and a toddler asking Our Lady and Our Lord to convert souls and to bring healing and strength to these families who are torn apart by the scourge and lie of abortion.  I have met the courageous men who pray with me outside of our local Planned Parenthood.  I greatly admire them.  They have not bought the lie of the secular culture.  Instead they stand in front of the world and declare that they have a voice.  They pray for these women, men, and babies who are hurt and destroyed each day.  These are the real men of our age.  Please come join us!  Be courageous!  Be for LIFE!

Persevering in Prayer

Yesterday I had my monthly Lay Dominican meeting.  During Mass, the Homily focused on prayer.  Father talked about how we can underestimate the power of prayer and that it is essential to the Christian life.  It is the focus, along with the Sacraments, of the Christian path.  It was then that I felt like God was smacking me over the head with a hammer.  All week, I have heard the Spirit and my Guardian Angel, whispering to me to pray.  When I get stressed out, pray.  When the world is too much to take, pray.  When someone I love is struggling, pray.  While doing the dishes, pray.  Folding laundry, pray.  Scheduling my day, pray.  Better yet, schedule my day around prayer.  So that is why St. Paul said to “pray without ceasing”.  I can be a little slow on the uptake sometimes.

 
 Working my way to being received in the Lay Order of Preachers, means that prayer is what my day centers upon.  I start the morning with Lauds, go to Mass when possible, which is not quite as easy with a 2 year old, spend time in Scripture, pray a Rosary (I also like to add in Divine Mercy when I can), and then the evening with Vespers.  There is a natural rhythm to living this way, and yes, it is even possible with a toddler and a husband to take care of.  It just means that certain activities that I enjoy, or that control me, get less time.  For instance, the more I focus on prayer and study, the more I become disinterested in television.  After all, reading a book about Church history or Jesus Christ is way more interesting and enjoyable than the trash that is on TV these days.  Yes, I am a nerd and proud of it!
 
As I get older, I have begun to realize that the only thing I can control in life is how I react to things.  The world has always been a bloody and Fallen place.  Pick up any history book and you will see that man is a violent thing.  As Father said in his Homily yesterday, Adam and Eve fell and left the garden.  What followed?  Violence and murder through Cain and Abel.  That is why God had to come and die for us.  He knew that our sinful and violent tendencies could not be saved by anything less than his total selfless love.  Think about it.  We killed God and He came back in forgiving love (see Fr. Barron’s Catholicism series).  That goes against everything we know as human beings because we lack forgiveness ourselves.
 
How I react to my day-to-day affairs is directly tied to my prayer life.  If my prayer life is suffering, my family, and I suffer.  In forgetting to pray, I forget to give my life to God.  When I try to be my own centering force, the whole thing unravels.  My sins and temptations get the better of me and then my shame and guilt take over.  When I persevere, and yes, it requires great perseverance, in prayer, I am strengthened and reminded of God’s goodness and love.  I also remember his mercy in my own life and in other people’s lives.  I need to work hard to listen to the promptings of the Spirit.  The sloth in me wants to be distracted by Facebook, Twitter, my chores, and everything else.  In allowing those things to take me from my true purpose, I allow my vocation to suffer because I am not paying attention to my family, and my relationship with God suffers.  It is a great struggle for me.  Sloth, or the noon-day devil, as they called it in the Middle Ages, is a constant battle.  There are so many “more” interesting things that I would rather be doing than praying.  But, the truth of the matter is that when I commit myself to prayer, the better I become.
 
How is your prayer life?  Are there things that you could do to improve it?  Does your prayer life directly impact your vocation?

Pray and Fast on Friday

The world has been a mess since the Fall.  There are always storm clouds on the horizon for human beings throughout the world, including in our own country.  The USCCB has asked Catholics to consider fasting and praying on Fridays.  My husband and I started abstaining from meat on Fridays a couple of years ago, except on Feast Days, and during Easter and Christmas.  Have you thought about answering the Bishop’s call?  There is much to pray and fast for in our world, from hunger, to violence/war, persection, homelessness, abortion, illness, accidents, grief, attacks on family/marriage, our own messed up government (think HHS mandate and all of the petty shutdown activities), and the list goes on and on.  I encourage you to give up something on Fridays.  Giving up the Internet is a sacrifice for me, so I will be fasting from the Internet tomorrow. What can you give up as a sacrifice on Fridays?

No Quick Fixes

I have gone through my first series of HCG shots.  I am getting better at giving myself the shot, which I usually choose to do in my stomach.  If I pay attention it does not hurt, but if I do it in a hurry, I bruise myself.  The first few days I was feeling a bit better mentally and physically.  It’s the pregnancy hormone and I usually feel more balanced when I am pregnant, minus the projectile vomiting. The problem is, that it has not lasted, not that I expected immediate results (that doesn’t mean that some small part of me wasn’t hoping…lol).

I am still struggling with the same severe PMS symptoms: severe anxiety, fatigue, cravings, depression.  The HCG has had no impact on these symptoms even though my progesterone levels have risen to “awesome” levels and my estrogen is rising, it just still is not at the goal.  My estrogen levels were really low.  As my husband explained it to some of our friends, “here is average, here is one step below average, and here is my wife, way down here”.

Here’s the thing, there are no quick fixes, and I was not expecting any.  So if you decide to see a NaPro doctor, keep in mind that it will take a while to figure it all out.  Body chemistry, especially hormones, are extremely complicated.  It is amazing how much they impact our bodies.  It can be discouraging, but like me, you have to remember to be patient and not lose hope.

When you have days like today, like the day that I am having, where I am anxious, tired, and depressed, listen to your Guardian Angel and pray.  I keep hearing over and over again, “pray, Constance”.  Am I doing a very good job of listening? No, but I do know that it is all that I can do and it is the right thing to do.  I have been through these kinds of days hundreds of times, so I know that in time, things get better.  I also need to learn to cling to the Cross.  The Cross is the only thing that will set me free and my Guardian Angel is trying to smack me upside the head.  Have you seen this image on Catholic Memes:

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Keep up the good fight and remember to fall on Christ.  Have a blessed day!