Friday, May 26, 2017

On Pancakes, Proms, and Princesses

There are so many phases of parenting that seem like they will never end! All those sleepless nights definitely spring to mind! Then, at some point, I blinked and little ones that needed my every minute of every day were all of a sudden much more independent. And it felt nice. I felt like I could breathe a little.

But then you blink again...

The independence grows. Their life revolves around school and friends. While it still feels nice to be able to focus on projects and areas that just a few years before would have been impossible, you also start to see the writing on the wall. Their independence will continue to increase and their worlds will continue to grow...and our rolls in their lives will change. And decrease.

It's such a crazy emotional time, I am proud of my young adults and excited for where they are headed in life....but I'm also a little sad because they are growing up and away from us. I have given my whole life to caring for and raising these children that God has blessed me with...and yet, I am working myself out of a job.

This growing up stuff is so.not.easy.

Yesterday and today, the "On This Day" on my Facebook page have had pictures from Andrew and Jon's high school proms from four years ago and three years ago respectively. Seeing them brought some tears to my eyes. It seemed like just yesterday that they were in high school and now they will be finishing up college next year!



Jon and his friend Amy making goofy poses: 2014

Andrew and his high school friends: 2013

Now it's Sarah's turn! Our first daughter will be attending her senior prom and it just seems impossible that we are at this spot again with yet another child! "How did this even happen?" is the question that I've been wrestling with the last couple of weeks. With Sarah graduating from high school, Ellie graduating from middle school, and Kate graduating from pre-school, it's a season of change for all of my girls.

...for their mama, too!

I've felt my anxiety levels ratcheting up all week. It has reached the level where I feel like everything around me is just beyond my control...all those balls juggling in the air feel like they are getting away from me.

I see all my older children around me turning into adults and I feel so very inadequate. All those failures I've felt as a mom, both real and perceived, haunt my memories and fuel my fears for their future. I hate feeling so "less than"; less than the wife I want to be, less than the mom I want to be...and now time has run out/will run out in giving my kids the best emotional, spiritual, and mentally healthy foundation that I can.

The question screams through all my inadequacies, "Can I ever be enough?"

I honestly didn't even have words to describe all that I was feeling. All I felt was a whirlwind of overwhelming emotion. As I drove to pick up Kate at preschool, I was listening to KLOVE and the song "Just Be Held" by Casting Crowns came on. You know when a song just speaks to your heart? Well, that happened to me this morning.
Hold it all together
Everybody needs you strong
But life hits you out of nowhere
And barely leaves you holding on
And when you're tired of fighting
Chained by your control
There's freedom in surrender
Lay it down and let it go
So when you're on your knees and answers seem so far away
You're not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world's not falling apart, it's falling into place
I'm on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held

I just may have started balling just a little. Thankfully, I had a few minutes to compose myself before Kate's teacher brought her out. It's amazing how sadness and grief can disguise itself...and how hard I can work to "be strong" and not give myself the time to work through hard emotions. 

As Kate and I raced to the car through the rain, she looked at me and asked if we could go to a restaurant and have "breakfast for lunch." There were lots of reasons why we shouldn't go...it's prom day, I was emotional, I still had cleaning to do, etc.

But then I thought about all of the reasons I should go. Because I'm going to blink, and it's going to be Kate getting ready for prom! So, off we went, just the two of us. I listened to her constant chatter and soaked in her cute little face and sweet little voice. I didn't rush our time together...I was present for every precious moment!
Who wouldn't want to have lunch with this sweet face?!?



Back at home, Sarah asked me to help her put on her pearl necklace....a beautiful 16th birthday present from some very special family friends. In my head, I blinked and had the future thought that, before I know it, I will be clasping those pearls around Sarah's neck for her wedding day.

Please pass the tissues....



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yutmTFtalKs

Monday, May 8, 2017

On Growing Up and Letting Go...

An old blogpost showed up on my Facebook page today. Borrowed Moments was written 4 years ago on the cusp of lots of changes: Mike graduating from BCC, Andrew graduating from high school, Sarah getting ready to graduate from middle school, Luke getting ready to enter pre school...

In a lot of ways, I'm in that same emotional place of letting go this year, too. In just a few weeks, Sarah will be graduating from high school and Ellie will graduate from middle school. Kate starts full day kindergarten(!) in the Fall, Andrew will be finishing up his college degree(he had a conflict so he needed an extra semester), and Jon will be entering his senior year of college and applying to grad school.

So.many.changes.

You think by now I would be used to this growing up and letting go stuff!

But I'm not...

I think going through it with daughters is like doing it for the first time all over again. Having your beautiful, almost 18 year old daughter heading to college is a lot scarier than when our 6'+ sons were heading off to start their college adventures. I didn't worry about their safety as much as I will worry about Sarah. And I'm not ready to have this young women enter even more into an independent life....she's my reliable helper and it's going to be an adjustment having her even more busy than she already is! We will all just miss not having her around....



And, Ellie....Somehow, I'm still so surprised that Ellie is grown up and ready for high school! She was the baby of our family for so long, that I guess I took it for granted that she would stay in that roll. That was clearly my mama "lala" world train of thought because Ellie is a 5'9" beauty with a big, braces free smile that is ready to jump into her high school adventure! The girl that was our baby for 6 years grew up right before my eyes!



Those bonus babies God blessed us with are no longer babies! Luke will turn 8 this summer and just keeps growing and growing! He will be as tall as his brothers before too long! (sigh)

The official "baby" of our family is a 5 year old learning machine who wants to know and understand everything. Kate reminds me very much of her biggest big sister! She is starting to read, wants to know how to spell words, and likes to create math facts for fun.  She wants to be "older" like Luke...and I just keep begging her to slow down and enjoy being 5!

Kids grow you and stretch you as a mom. Nothing ever really stays the same...even during the months, (or years), where it seems like you will NEVER sleep through the night ever again, when all you do is change diapers, wipe noses and do laundry, and the days are filled will the endless needs and cacophony of littles calling(screeching) your name.

And even though, at 24 years into this parenting adventure, I still don't always sleep through the night, still do lots of laundry, and my children still call my name....I don't mind so much. I know that the nights that Luke has a nightmare or Kate wants to snuggle and know I'm there are numbered. I sleep through the night as much as or more than I hear "Mommy" at 3am these days.

That laundry means that there are still people living in our home....and with our oldest already moved out and two others getting close to graduating and moving on to the next step in their lives, I know their daily presence in home is fleeting and I'm in no hurry for that time to pass quickly.

My children still call my name during the day, but it's less for squirmishes..(at least most of the time!).. and more for conversation. They talk about their days, their ideas for college, trips, and grad school, and their job opportunities. I do more listening and praying...they make more decisions. I'm grateful to hear their deeper voices and that I still get to be a part of their lives.

Ultimately, it's our goal for parenting...that they become independent, emotionally healthy, faithful adults.

Regardless of how proud I am as my kids grow and start to step out on their own, for us mamas, this letting go is not easy!
Image result for cartoon about kids growing up too fast

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Quiet Time And Grace

I signed up for `Dynamic Catholic's Best Lent Ever' series again this year. It's a really great program that shows up in my inbox every day that consists of one very short video by Matthew Kelly(about 4 min) and an even shorter video by someone on his staff(about 1 min) on a different topic every day during Lent.

Today's topic was about learning to love and see the benefits from fitting in at least one daily Mass every week. This is something I wholeheartedly agree with and that I have tried to do for many years during all of the different seasons of my parenting life.

I love going to daily Mass,,,,even with squirmy toddlers and squak-y babies.... because of the peace that I feel while I'm there. One particular period of time popped into my head in particular...

When Peter was diagnosed with Autism at 27 months, it was very challenging. We were reeling emotionally from the diagnosis and afraid for what it would mean for Peter and for our family. I began obsessively reading everything I could get my hands on, trying to figure out how we could help him. He had therapy through Early Intervention, a program that he went to a couple of times a week, a special diet we put him on that made a big difference, new doctors, ABA therapy at home, and far away doctor appointments that specialized in different types of therapy...just.so.much. All the while, we were looking for the "smoking bullet" that could possibly "cure" our little boy. I was terrified I would miss something!

Just prior to, and during, this second hardest trial in our married life(the first being the loss of our daughter Therese), I found solace in a Wednesday evening Mass that was my quiet time, (and my life line), at a Parish the next town over. The demands of a special needs, very difficult child, plus a 6 month old, 4 yo, 7 yo, 8 yo,and 10 yo were great! My heart was heavy, the sleep deprivation was rough, and my burn out was intense.

The 15 minute ride to and from the Mass, and the small, intimate Mass itself, was a silent oasis that my broken spirit was desperate for. I clung to God in that silence like a drowning person clings to their flotation device in the midst of a terrible storm. There were lots of tears shed and lots of pleas for help on those Wednesday nights. Lots of days when I felt I couldn't give one more ounce of myself because there was nothing left to give. Somehow, even on the nights that I drove home really, really slowly because I dreaded another sleepless night and children's needs that I felt no ability to fill, God gave me the grace to do what needed to be done.

I'm grateful for the graces that Wednesday night Mass gave to me in that season of life.  It was a place of peace in my emotional and physical unrest, a place to let my grief out, a place to let my fears out, a place to find God and try to wrap my head around the fact that no matter how out of control life felt, God was in control. It took almost a year, but I know that the graces I received in that quiet time helped me to come to a place where I realized and accepted that I couldn't live in a manic way, trying to "cure" Peter. I couldn't spend 95% of my energy on just one of my children while everyone else got the leftovers. I had to allow myself to accept Peter for who he was and grieve for the Peter that I thought he would be. Mostly, I had to believe that God loves Peter more than I ever could, and that He would provide what Peter needed as long as I did my part. God gave me the grace to stop trying to do my job AND His job...which was good because I was definitely doing it poorly!

I still made lots of mistakes along the way during those early years of Peter's diagnosis. Mostly because I didn't reach out and ask for more help or try to find more help that we really needed. I'm sure there were people that God would have provided if I had only looked for them.

Sometimes, God doesn't want us to be Wonder Women...especially when we are feeling like we're emotionally held together with duct tape! It's a tough lesson to learn...

If you ever find yourself feeling like you're life is falling apart in some way or if you have nothing left to give, spend some quiet time with God and ask Him to give you the grace for the help you need....even if that means humbling yourself and reaching out to family, friends, or someone else God will place in your life. You're worth the 30 minutes of quiet time no matter how crazy your schedule is....and the benefits of peace, hope and guidance are priceless!


Image result for picture of scripture for i know the plans i have for you