As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Life These Days exhausting!  The last weekend of summer was a crazy frenzy of parties (for friends going away, visiting family, and birthdays) that I wouldn't have changed for anything.  Summer went out with a bang, and boy what a summer it was.

But then I didn't slide into fall quite as easily as I thought I would.  There was of course the neverending cycle of housework that went undone over the holiday weekend, that was mine to contend with.  Along with the start of a new school year, which in my household means homeschooling three little ones from K-3.  And oh yeah, I'm 36 weeks pregnant.  Which means that there is a neverending amount of work to be done, that requires a neverending amount of energy and motivation.   And some of those things are in short supply around here.

I have been feeling pretty desperate these days, as the reality sets in that I am getting bigger and am physically just not able to do everything I used to.  No problem, right?  In a few weeks the baby will be here and my body will be back to normal.  Wait a a few weeks THE BABY WILL BE HERE!!!  Meaning I will have all of this stuff to do on top of caring for a newborn!  How will I cope then, if I'm barely keeping my head above water now?

Through our school of community, a group of friends and I have been thinking about the question, "is reality always positive?" for some time, and these days that is what gets me through.  Because my particular situation - shere exhaustion and occasional overwhelmedness - is only a small part of reality for me.  Taken on its own, that's pretty negative, desperate even.  And yet, there is a bigger picture that is my life at this moment, that is anything but negative.  There is the joy of living with this incredible family, with these incredible kids.  There is the wonder of the new life that is growing inside of me, that I will (finally!) get to meet in a very short time.  There is the miracle of Christ present to me each day, in each moment of despair, saying, "I am with you, just breathe.  I will take care of you."  And you know, He really does.

Yesterday about mid-afternoon, I was standing over the sink about halfway through a mountain of dishes when I felt completely physically overwhelmed.  I could have put my head down then and there and had a nap.  My thoughts drifted to everything I had left to do - the vaccuuming, the laundry, supper - and I thought, "if I stop now, none of this will get done. But how do I work through this when I am so pregnant and so tired?"  I decided I would offer up the rest of this work as a prayer.  For sure I would finish the dishes, since it didn't make sense to leave them halfway done.  I had to do supper.  Vaccuuming fell off the list that day, and the kids were able to help with the laundry.  And though I pushed through, I still didn't feel good about my day, because I hadn't accomplished what I set out to do, what I could normally do any other day.

And then my husband came home. And the first thing he said was, "wow, the kitchen looks great!"  Then he went to the bedroom and shouted, "and you got a lot of laundry done too - you've had a productive day!"  And he really liked the supper I made, which is pretty good because I'm a kind of hit-and-miss cook (sometimes it turns out great, sometimes not so much!) and he is a very honest subject.  Then this morning he texted me from work to say how good it was to come home to such a clean house, and that he was so grateful that I loved him so well.  And all of it in the moment seemed to be so much work, and so much desperation.  But Christ was there, walking me through it, so that even though I didn't realize that the work I was doing was good, the good was nevertheless there.  It has been my great joy to see it in hindsight, having missed it the first time around.

I know the Lord is challenging me to let go of my own preconceptions about how life should be, and in particular what a perfect day should look like (how a good Mom does it).  As life continues to become more intense in my house, I pray for the grace to do the work I need to do, and the flexibility to change as is necessary for the good of my family.  To let go of the things I can let go of, and learn to depend on those around me.  To continue to do everything I can to care for the ones I love so much.  To not think any task is too small to make a difference, and do all things in love.  And most of all, to do all things with my eyes fixed on Jesus, who guides my weary feet along this path.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Five Years Ago

Five years ago, amidst many an "I hope this is a girl!", I delivered my third child who was, just like the two before him, a perfect little boy.  I can't say that I didn't utter those words myself, but it was very early on in the pregnancy.  It's funny, because with the first two it didn't seem to matter as much - your first is your first, and then to have another boy for my first to play with just seemed appropriate.  But when I discovered that I was expecting another baby, my heart just automatically moved to wanting a girl.

I knew that whoever this baby was, it was from the moment of conception.  And so, while I hadn't found out the gender of the baby for the first two pregnancies, I decided that I wanted to for this one.  I didn't want to spend the entire pregnancy hoping for a girl if it was a boy - I wanted to be excited for whoever this baby was.  Convincing my husband however, proved to be challenging.  And while he was adament that he didn't want to know, in my stubborness I decided I would just find out anyway (I could, after all!) and that I would just not tell him.  Thinking I wouldn't be able to keep the secret to myself, he resigned himself to finding out as well.  And just like that, the decision was made in my favour.

Somewhere along the way I was praying about the baby, and was really struck with the mystery of who this little one is.  The more I prayed the more I realized that the life this child was living inside my womb was one completely closed to my eyes.  And I imagined that it was a time, probably the only time in their whole entire life, where their existence would be just between them and God.  For nine months the baby lives in this world closed off to everyone else, and I just completely fell in love with that side of my baby, the one known by God alone.  I knew then and there that I wanted to leave it until the birth day, until I fixed my eyes on the baby for myself (and not a digital image), so we could meet each other for the first time at the same time.  I knew then I wanted to wait.

And the Lord changed my heart for this baby.  No longer did I find myself wanting one gender over the other - I was excited simply to be having a baby.  I was beside myself with joy at the announcement, for the third time, "it's a boy!" on the day of Stephen's birth.  I remember feeling so much peace in the weeks following his birth, and this sense of completeness that if this is all the children I ever have, I am happy.  If I only ever have boys, I am happy - he completed our little family.

To this day as the middle of our five children, he still has that unique way of rounding out our family.  From the very beginning he just slid right into our lives like he had always been there.  He was such an easy baby, and but for a few bumps characteristic of the early years, he continues to be that calming, gentle spirit that completes all of us.  He is bright, confident, and full of joy - and has a way of wrapping himself right around your heart.  He did that even before I ever knew who he was.

Five years ago, I could never have imagined what a beautiful boy he would become.  He makes my heart happy for more ways than I could ever put into words, but mostly because of who he is - my boy, my third boy, my little spark of life, my Stephen.

Happy fifth birthday Stephen.  You are the joy of my heart!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Wanting for Something

I am five weeks away from delivering my sixth child, and am doing some serious nesting.  Getting my little home ready for one more child has been thrilling, because with each new move not only am I closer to meeting my new baby, but I am also discovering that the space I have, while small, is everything I need to be happy and raise a family - even a large one, even with more children after this one (God willing). 

It was only a few months ago that I really began to feel settled in this space that I have.  For the first time in my life I have been living with the feeling of being completely satisfied with what I have.  None of my debt disappeared, my house didn't expand, and we didn't win a lottery - what happened within me was even more profound, a moment of grace where the Lord made me understand that what He has given me is good, is enough.  Since then I have been living with this euphoric freedom, almost giddy about my tiny little house, with as much children as can possibly fit jammed into small bedrooms together (two in one, three in the other).  I feel satisfied.

And then, through a school of community that meets at our house once a week to study readings together and share our own personal experiences of Christ in our everyday lives, we began talking about this word, satisfied, in the context that we should never feel that way, because then we stop searching.  And I struggled with this, because for so long (and even still) it is the word I most feel describes where I am at with life, and even with my relationship with the Lord - I am satisfied.  And I find freedom in that.

Who are you baby?  We will know soon!
This evening after tucking the kids into their respective beds, after a successful week of pairing my toddler and preschooler together in one room (even putting them down together, awake, without issue!) and spending some time in my now vacant nursery, with the blue blankets on one side and the pink ones on the other (we don't know the gender of the baby yet) I was filled with gratitude.  And as I puttered around my kitchen tidying up a weekend's worth of mess that had been neglected to spend time with family and friends, I was happy.  And it dawned on me that the change that has happened in me is not that I am totally satisfied with every aspect of my life, but that I am satified with the things that are given to me as a gift - that I am not longing for material things as much as I once did, the bigger, perfectly clean house that always looks spotless when friends come to visit. The Lord is teaching me that people are far more valuable than things.  But I realized also that this while satifaction with my material goods, simple though they are, is a good thing - it is not enough.  I need to allow that to point me Heavenward; to be satisfied with the little I have on earth is not enough by itself because it is not my permanent home, it is a temporary step on a journey to perfection that cannot be found in this world, but CAN be found in the next. 

Lord, may my happiness with the gifts I have been given in this world always allow me to feel Your touch, so as to awaken within me a desire for You and the joy that awaits me in eternity.  May my longing never be for material things, but for the joy found in You alone.