Discovering the Joy in Parenting

11 Jan

Disheveled comes to mind when I think of parenting. Hence my blog title. It’s not the tidiest gig in the world and it certainly can be humiliating to some extent. There is no paycheck involved and, most of the time, no praise. Parenting can be lonely. Boring. Monotenous. And just plain tiring.

After giving birth to my first child, my daughter Veronica, I (like many a first-time mothers) had no idea what I was doing. You’d think that because I grew up around little ones that it would be a cinch to take care of my own. But that wasn’t the case. This time this baby is for keeps…and I have to wrap my entire life around her. I must admit that, although I was willing to protect this little one with my life, I had a lack of happiness. It wasn’t baby blues, per se…but just the feeling of being lost and lonely. I was lost and lonely, though. My life changed in an instant, it felt. A year before that I was only planning my wedding. I was still living at my parents’ and was surrounded by all that was familiar and warm to me.  Before you know it I was married, then pregnant, and after pregnancy we moved into my husband’s parents’ downstairs space. Different city, new faces. And now a tiny, fragile one to take care of. Not to mention my struggling to be a good parent and my struggle with post-baby weight loss.

Above that I wanted more than anything to prove to everyone I was a good parent.

I realize now, however, that I spent too much time focusing on myself and worrying about myself. It was all about me. It hit me that the more I forget about myself and focus more on my children the happier I am. God wants us to give ourselves up for Him. And this is by serving others. In this case, I am serving my children by raising them with love.

When you look at gnarled, wrinkled hands you may be revolted. But consider how much work came out of those hands and that they were all works of love. The hands, in turn, are actually quite beautiful.

I will admit, I have stretch marks all over my belly. They have nicknames. Roadmap and tiger stripes. I love my stretch marks. You may think I’m crazy but they are a lasting reminder to me of my past pregnancies, that I carried my children lovingly and eventually suffered child birth to bring each child into the world. Just like the gnarled hands I find my pregnancy marks to be beautiful.

God didn’t choose people to be parents to make them miserable. It is only when we submit ourselves to our task do we find the joys of being a parent. When we accept the task, forget about ourselves for a bit and take on this wonderful vocation we do gain a certain and deep happiness that we can’t quite explain. Our children yearn for our nurturing and love. When they receive that they will most likely live life happily…and so will you. Of course, your child expressing their happiness and love just makes things even better! And that makes the task even more worthwhile.

So embrace those stretch marks. Embrace the greasy hair, the lounge pants with holes in it, the bulging belly that doesn’t seem to flatten out no matter how many crunches you do.  I’m a disheveled Catholic mom. And proud of it.

When it Rains of course it POURS

19 Nov

What will happen next? That is something I’ve been worrying about since the beginning of November. The weather as of late is so fitting for the darkness of this month and also very fitting for the recent turn of events that has my family and I sitting at the edge of our seats. It is amazing that, no matter how you prepare yourself, you will never truly be prepared in the end. But it doesn’t do to despair and wallow in sadness. Instead I keep my head high and look to God.

The outpouring of prayer in the last couple of weeks has certainly put things in perspective for me. We are all fragile and therefore, we must always be prepared. You never know what can and will happen. All you can do is pray and remain close to God. I was in constant contact with God one particular day this month. But then I should always be in constant contact with Him.

I love this month, though. The warmth of family and friends during this time of year. The wonderful aroma of turkey. Watching “Going My Way” while making pie and listening the croon of Bing Crosby. Green bean casserole!!!! I tend to volunteer to make green bean casserole and I will usually make a huge batch of it. Why? Because half the people in the house don’t like green bean casserole much so, therefore, there is plenty of leftovers to be had! And the cranberry sauce that one of my six sisters calls “Magic sauce”. All fabulous things. Most importantly, though,  it’s being thankful for this beautiful life that God gave me.

So…that’s it. I should be thankful. For everything. I am thankful for my family and the way I grew up. I am thankful for God’s grace and leading me back more fully into the faith. I am thankful that I have more of an understanding of why things are the way they are. I am thankful for my husband, his family, and my children. I mean, seriously, seeing my kids running around happily, making funny noises, laughing and playing together, snuggling with me…my heart is so full. The financial struggles, even, that my husband and I find ourselves in are really a blessing in a way and I am even thankful for that. I am thankful for our living situation at the moment even though I may at times so desperately want a house of my own.

Dark clouds may hover and it may pour on my life but I need to remember all the blessings that come out of it. I recognize now that blessings do come out of uncertain situations.

And that only brings me closer to God.

Handel, Gershwin and Madness

25 Oct

I’ve been working with preschool aged childred for YEARS. I should know better.

Last month I started homeschooling my 3 year old daughter, Veronica.

I imagined a happy, quiet, well-behaved little individual who sat cross-legged and hung on every word I said…with a smile and  nod.

I kept telling myself, “You’re crazy. You’ve dealt with preschoolers before, Kerry. Let’s be realistic here.” Okay. So I have tried to be realistic. But I couldn’t help but at least hope she’d hang on to everything I said.

Sigh.

My 3 year old daughter. She’s typical. I should have seen it coming.

It’s not that she isn’t interested. She is, actually. She enjoys “school”. Morning prayer, flag salute and calendar followed by “circle time” which involves stories from the Bible and books that go along with the week’s theme. Then there are additional craft projects and letter/number recognition, counting, and beginning handwriting. It’s all included. But it’s not necessarily neat and orderly.

I suppose my big failure is the expectation that it will be exactly like a classroom experience. There is an exact time when school begins and an approximate time doing certain subjects, etc, etc. But that isn’t so. Needless to say, I don’t have any outward frustrations if things don’t go as planned. I am surprisingly patient with my child…especially if she shows any sign of frustration herself. I just back off until she is willing to do it herself or asks for help. We’re flexible. And I think that is the beauty in homeschooling.

I recall being in grade school and feeling rushed to get certain assignments done. I stressed and spent many sleepless nights worrying. I was worried about what my teacher would think and, especially, what my classmates would think. To be honest, my school years weren’t the most spectacular. And although I do have lovely memories from my school days I am glad it is all over. Parts of it were just plain traumatic! In such a way that I vow my children should never have to deal with that at such young of age.

The best thing, I believe, for my child is not listening to Handel’s “Messiah” while drawing pictures of family members or when she is able to draw the first letter of the alphabet on the chalk board. I think it is the one-on-one time she has with me. All focus is on her and, with that in mind, I’ll be able to know exactly where she is as far as gaining knowledge. And I can be myself with her in educating her on God’s love for us. I can share my passion with her freely and honestly on what He has provided us with (which is everything!).

So, I suppose athough it’s not entirely neat and tidy….it is at least working. Somewhat. I just have to remember the word “lovingly”.

God

15 Sep

God is everywhere.

He is in everything.

He is in everyone.

He is the lap of water on the ocean shore.

He is in the gentle breeze that shakes the leaves.

He is in the awe of the most majestic mountain.

He is the sparkle of the diamond in my wedding ring.

He is in the softness of my husband’s eyes.

He is the delight in my children’s giggles.

He is the nudge of the baby in the mother’s womb.

He is in the intercessions of Mary. The saints and angles.

He is in our troubles.

Our wants.

Our losses.

Our sufferings.

And where are we for God?

Are we thinking of Him amidst the beautiful trees?

Is He in the breath of our wedding vows?

Is He the hand that glides over the pregnant belly?

Or the smile acknowledging a chatty baby?

Is He in our minds during our toils?

Do we ask for His company in our most sorrowful moments?

Are our hands extended to the service of others, in His name?

Do we live, daily in the service of He who created us?

He who is in everything and IS everything?

God’s love is everlasting. May we show the same in return.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Have No Idea What I Am Doing But I’m Going to do it Anyway…

13 Sep

While at Veronica’s little dance/gym class I noticed that the other little girls were carrying around the cinch knapsacks. Veronica was carting this tote bag around that held her dancing shoes and extra clothes. I was thinking of trying to locate something like what the little girls had so Veronica didn’t have this huge bag to carry around. Then I decided, what the heck, I’ll make her one. Veronica chose this pretty fabric that came from these bags of scrap fabric that I scored (for FREE) at a garage sale. She loved the blue clouds and that there was a blue rainbow. I cut the fabric into two identical squares…er…more like rectangles (and depending on how big you want the bag you can really just eyeball how big you want the rectangles). I had some leftover tulle from my wedding and I “attempted” to sew a few layers of it on one of the fabric pieces. This was to get the look of a tutu. I have to admit that tulle is a pain in the arse to sew but I managed to do it.

I placed both the fabrics together…the colored part facing eachother…and I sewed the bottom of the bag together. Then the sides. I folded the top part down about an inch to make way for something to cinch the back (in this case, I eventually used a blue ribbon because I have no rope). I sewed the top part except for a couple inches so I could leave room for the ribbon to be pushed through. I attached a safety pin on the edge of the ribbon and fed it through the top. After I made it around I cinched the bag and left about 6 or so inches of ribbon on both sides to use almost like purse straps and I knotted them together. Voila. You have a very functional…although, in my case, messy….dance bag!

Veronica’s First Day of Ballet!

13 Sep

A day of tumbling, marching, plies and leaps! Not to mention giggles, smiles and plenty of memories!

September Fresh

13 Sep

I’ll admit, I love September. Not because Summer is drawing to a close (because here is seems to have just begun) and the first hint of Fall blows through on the morning breeze. It is the time for new beginnings. Children are starting a new year of school and are entering into a whole new way of learning. And with it comes new challenges, new memories and (hopefully) new friends. It is also a time to start afresh and with a clean slate. And that is what I love so much about it.

This year is particularly exciting. Veronica is starting homeschool preschool and her ballet/tap/gymnastics lessons (the lessons run like this: ballet 15 min, tap 15 min and gymnastics 30 mintues). It is hard to believe she’s old enough for school. It’ll be interesting to see if I have the knack for this homeschooling gig. I feel pretty energized about it.

I feel refreshed, howevever, in a whole new way.  The past couple of months I have taken on several different new hobbies. Actually, I can’t really say I have taken them on because that would be a lie. I merely have an interest in them. Sewing. That is probably my new favorite hobby. I don’t ever have any time to do it, though. But from the couple of spare hours I had and would sew and I was hooked. I managed to sew a simple skirt for me and I am almost done with a skirt for Veronica. I have a long list of projects I dream of one day completing. Maybe someday I’ll be able to sew my own wardrobe. I hope…I wish.

I have also taken an interest in jewelry making. Only thing is…I haven’t made squat. What I have done is found rocks in my backyard, tumbled them in our rock tumbler, and drilled holes in the rocks with our rock driller. I have a vision as to what my Etsy store would be called and what my jewelry would look like….but….I don’t really know where to start as far as jewelry making. And it costs money to start making jewelry. In my dreams, my Etsy store has many admirers and “lots” of sales.

Did I mention to you that I am now the owner of a ukelele? Yep! And I have not played it yet. Luckily, YouTube has loads of tutorials so you can learn the basic steps online. My ultimate goal is to know how to play (while singing) “Tiny Bubbles” on a hot, lazy summer day. Maybe by next summer. If I have time, that is.

Time. I don’t have time. Money. I don’t have money. Sigh….

The sewing bit, however, I find useful. I wish I had always learned how to sew. But I appreciate that I somehow have found an interest in it. It’s amazing what  glass of wine and a sewing machine can do. Anyways, with this knowledge I can eventually use it to hem skirts, pants and mend clothing. Although, I will shamefully admit I can’t recall how to properly sew a button.

In the end, however, it’s fun picking up new interests and setting new goals. It’s what prevents me from losing who I am. And it’s a great learning experience…not only for myself but for my kids. They’ll see me trying new things and “succeeding” and maybe that’ll be something they pick up as they grow and learn. We’ll see.

But, for now, here’s to the month of September….and for all the opportunities it has to offer!