Search

mind-over-motherhood

Being more than "just Mom".. honestly.

Tag

Building Cathedrals

My Birds Don’t Fit Into Their Pretty Little Easter Baskets Anymore

(Don’t think you’re seeing things. I really have posted twice in one week after months of .. nothing.)

—————————————————————————————————————–

While I haven’t written in a long while – and I haven’t managed to spend any time reflecting on last year’s goals, much less make new ones of this year, I have had an eventful 2013 anyway.

For instance, I registered a kid for high school in the past month. Which may not seem to be a big deal to those who have already done this, but it hit me like a ton of bricks. While we busily went to meetings and interest sessions and learned about optional academies and scholars programs, etc., etc. I felt floored by the fact that high school now requires almost as much preparation as college did when I was the Owl’s age. While that was a revelation in and of itself, nothing – and I mean, nothing – prepared me for that moment when I was parked in the high school parking lot having just dropped off my little bobble-headed toddler’s high school applications. That’s when all the busy stopped and the reality hit me. . My time with him under my roof is shrinking at as rapid of a rate as he is growing. We only have four years left with him.

I have to look UP to him. His shoulders are broader than mine. His feet no longer fit on the steps of our staircase. At last check he was 5’6″ and 126 pounds. I get startled almost every afternoon thinking there is a random man in the house, only to realize.. it’s him. My kid. With a booming, deep voice.

Oh, and I took the Pelican to MIDDLE SCHOOL orientation. (I can’t even elaborate on middle school. It speaks for itself.)

And she has started borrowing my shoes (because they are now her size.) And coming into my bathroom each morning before school to borrow my flat-iron for her hair (there has to be some irony in the fact that I loved her baby blonde curls so much and all she wants now is to straighten them). And I had to teach her how to shave under arms.

They’re growing like mad.

I’m pretty certain that here on this very blog I’ve stated that I will not be that mom who is lost when my little birds have all flown the nest. But suddenly, I feel panicked.

Easter always makes me feel so nostalgic for little babies with blonde curls adorned by bows, monogrammed/smocked dresses, and peter pan collars… kids who would still sit with the Easter Bunny and take a photo. Toddlers who would run barefoot through the grass hunting Easter Eggs while their hair and linen dresses tried desperately to keep up with the speed at which they sought out those glorious candy filled eggs.

My kids could not care less about Easter Egg hunts anymore.

The other 51 weeks of the year I am quite happy that they are big and over all that stuff, but this one week of the year, I wish they were little again.

The years are flying by. Really. And I am panicking. Because I know what’s next: they’re going to hate me soon.

So, for the moment, I’m taking a nostalgic look back (blocking out what the reality of those toddler years was like) and missing them. And then soaking up the beauty of the stage they’re in now. While I can.

And just to end on a positive note, thank goodness my sister and brother waited years behind me to have kids, so I could have baby/toddler aged nieces and nephews now.

Easter 2000 2004 2006 0000585049324 Egg Hunting at Amy's on the Bayou - 2004 Easter 2003 Easter 2003Lauren was obsessed with Libby the puppy dog - 2005 (Some things never change.)
Advertisements

Renovating Our Own Cathedrals

I know I’ve been absent for far too long.

However, I did begin writing again earlier this week.  When I finish it, I’ll post it, but something else took precedence today.

And that’s just where I am this week. Pondering my absence.

In an attempt not to be absent in all facets of my life, I sent a text to a dear friend this morning to check in with her on a prayer request she had shared with me a few weeks ago.  Her response was a little like a mini jack-hammer to me. Not in a destructive way, but in a way that shakes you so as you can’t help but give it your full attention. She said that I had been on her mind and heart; that she had a feeling I needed to talk.

Little did I know, I really, really did need to talk.  So talk, we did. And it was Good – with a capital G.

————

I’ve talked about this before (Losing Myself in the Building of Cathedrals), but sometimes I think we get to a point in our lives where we are so busy building our little Cathedrals that we get lost in them. And well, there are times that it just has to be that way.  But there are other times, when we are busy working away on their little cathedrals, all the while thinking that our own cathedral – built long ago – is sturdy as a rock and standing the test of time – only to find out that maybe it’s not.

Usually things that were built way-back-when seem to be built better than the new stuff. It seems like older structures are more sturdy, more sound. But, guess what? Not always the case. Sometimes, the ancient things crumble. Especially if they aren’t getting the regular maintenance and attention they need.

This blog has focused on giving my cathedral the little stuff it needs so it can keep on standing firm while the building of the little cathedrals happens.

Sometimes that little stuff  means my cathedral just needs a new coat of paint.. and something like a girls trip to the beach adds enough color to your skin to take care of it. 🙂

Sometimes, our mom-cathedrals just need a little landscaping.. and a trip to the salon for a haircut – or a mani/pedi spruces things up and makes things feel tranquil again.

Sometimes it’s the simple little maintenance that holds it all together.

And then other times, a cathedral has serious foundation issues.. something for REAL that rocks it to the ground.  – People get sick. Really sick. People lose their way. They lose their partner. Or a friend. Or a parent.  — Serious foundation issues. — The ones that cause destruction, requiring total demo and huge construction crews to build it back.

Thankfully, my cathedral doesn’t have serious foundation issues right now.  But if it did, I know the construction crew that I would call in to do the job.

You know those friends. The Tried and True Friends. The friends that make you feel comfortable showing all of your cracks, at the same time making you confident in the beauty in your age.  They’re the friends that have Faith in the One Great Architect.  They’re the friends that He sent to me in my earlier building stages… and that the One Great Architect is still sending my way with each new phase of life.

——————

Today one of my most beloved and experienced construction crew told me just exactly what I needed to hear as I struggled to figure out what needed to be rearranged and renovated in my Cathedral.  It was simple really. Everything is in place;  she just reminded me that I need to clean the windows and let the light shine in on it.*  The light can’t shine in if you aren’t cleaning the windows regularly.

The important thing here is found in this quote I read today:

“How might your life have been different if there had been a place for you?  A place for you to go…  a place of women, to help you learn the ways of woman…  a place where you were nurtured from an ancient flow sustaining and steadying you as you sought to become yourself.  A place of women to help you find and trust the ancient flow already there within yourself…  waiting to be released… A place of women.  How might your life be different?”  ~Judith Duerk, Circle of Stones

Do you have an expert construction crew? Do you consult with them often enough? And do you thank the ONE GREAT ARCHITECT for them and the gifts He Graced them with? Because, today especially, I sure do.

 

*  I need to give my faith life a little more time and attention.

St. Louis Cathedral, New Orleans, Louisiana – photographer unknown

Mirror, Mirror On the Wall (from the Huff Post)

I just read an article on the Huffington Post Life & Style Blog, and it really hit home with me.

Kudos to this list! It’s spot-on in terms of what I strive for in my motherhood. (And it supports my blog premise perfectly, so that’s a bonus.)

And if you only read the bold parts of the lists, you’re missing out on the real meat of it.

Read the list here: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

#1 – Find things outside of your motherhood that help make you happy.  (The MORES)

#2 – (THIS is a HARD one) Learn to say no to some things. Find your stress threshold and accept that yours may not be the same as the Supermom on the PTO, and that’s ok. Your kids need you happy, not winning awards and stressed out.

#3 – Make time for yourself and your spouse (significant other). Find a good sitter and don’t feel bad about leaving the kids behind to focus on your relationship. It’s better for the kids!

#4 – (THIS is an even HARDER one) I love the quote she uses here. I’m practicing so I can become more like this, but I admit it: I yell first and apologize second sometimes. I think it’s equally as important to admit when you lose your cool and explain to your kids that it happens, because I’m human, too. But the important part is to come back and do it again with a level head, so they realize that (though my response may not have been ideal) what ever behavior set me off needs to be corrected (just like I had to make my overly emotional response right.)

#5 – I’ll be their friend when they’re adults. Right now I have to get them successfully to adulthood. No, I’m not letting you have a Facebook page when you’re 9 and then posting pictures of you posing in the mirror like a seductress and tagging you in them.  You’re the kid. I’m the parent.

#6 – Two of my favorite quotes:  “I have learned more from my mistakes than from my successes.”  and  ” If I had to live my life again, I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner.”  — I’d much rather that my little birds make the mistakes (THEY ARE GOING TO MAKE) now, while they are young and under our guidance and love… learn from those mistakes and put what they learn into practice as they move out of my tutelage.  Mistakes are the portals of discovery.

#7 – This one gets easier as they get older.. but I still struggle with it. I keep reminding myself that if I want them to be good decision makers (just like anything else), I have to give them the opportunity to practice making decisions.  Sometimes this means I have to stuff the urge to stop my 8-year-old from walking out of the house like this:

#8 – Again, I remind you.. this list doesn’t mean to say we have to be perfect, but these should be our goals. I hope my children don’t one day judge me based on the tone of our mornings, because I’m not a morning person and getting ready for school is a tricky one for us. None the less, I keep trying to improve on it.. and then we always end the day with our “BESTS” – Gratitude for the day. Sometimes I follow-up by praying for a little more patience in the morning. They pray with me and know I’m trying. (But the likelihood is that when they are adults, they’ll be telling their therapists horror stories about their childhood mornings..)

#9 – My kids get rewarded based on effort rather than results.  Performance evaluations and performance-based bonuses will soon be implemented in my house. (No, I’m not kidding at all, and there will be a blog post about that in the near future.)

#10 – Well, on this one, if you’ve only read the bold print, you’re covered.  Real isn’t perfect, and perfect isn’t real.

When Cathedrals Begin to Take Shape

They are rare. Sometimes you can’t remember the last time one happened. Yet, I’ve experienced them twice in less than 24 hours.

We’ll come back to this, but first you probably need a little background info to fully understand what I’m talking about.

Just like us Moms, each of our children has their strengths and weaknesses. They each struggle with some area of their life. And therefore, we, as their Moms (parents) struggle with some area of their lives. Sometimes that struggle with your kids feels all-consuming.

Watching your child struggle through the tough spots is just about as excruciating as it gets.

The last 2 years, really 3, have been quite a struggle (felt more like a full-on battle) – socially and educationally – for our youngest, The Starling. She is actually a very intelligent child. That is evident and always has been, however her behavior (even since she was a wee little one) has been less than promising at times. My mom and I have joked for years about whether she would use her powers for good or for evil.*  When she was little she was quite the demanding child, to say the least. When she was a toddler, I would refer to her as a little tornado. – Climbing and destroying everything in her path.

But goodness, she has always been cute. I’m not just talking about her big baby blues, precious (though sometimes quite mischievous) grin, or long blonde locks, but her personality is as funny and entertaining as they come. She could win over the Grinch in a split second. And you should see her dance. I can be angrier than you can imagine with her about one of her impulsive mishaps, but that will always be when she pulls out something absolutely hilarious or incredibly precious, making it all-together impossible for me not to laugh or smile.

I’ve been convinced for years that her extraordinary cuteness was a self-defense mechanism given to her by God, because it has saved her many times. Like when she flooded the house. But that’s another story for another time.

The Starling had always been the confident, strong-willed child. Full of passion for life, incredibly creative and out-going. Exuberant and funny, expressive and strong. Knows no stranger. Lives life out-loud – in the best way.

However, we have seen a change in her these last two years. The child who instantly knew everyone when we moved here 4 years ago was becoming somewhat of a loner.  The confident, self-assured child we once knew, had turned into a somewhat fearful, self-conscious shell of who she used to be.

In addition to her sudden lack of confidence, in these last couple of years all the “tornadic” (for lack of a better word) behaviors that used to seem like a lag in behavioral development didn’t go away. In fact, they got worse. And at age 6 she still wasn’t able to follow directions with more than 2 steps. Or recognize all the letters in the alphabet consistently. Or find her shoes. Ever. Or remember her friends’ names. Her BEST friends, mind you. She couldn’t sit and finish a meal. Not one. She would get frustrated to tears when trying to ask me a question, because she didn’t know how to verbalize what she wanted to know.

My nerves were shot by the 6th – 7th year.

At the time, I was convinced that she was making the choice to push the limits. That she just thought her cuteness and knowledge of when to use it would get her out of anything; therefore she didn’t have to work – you know, the typical last-born, “I’m the baby; gotta love me” syndrome in the birth order debate. And, I’ll admit it : there were times that part of the problem was that I was tired.  I wasn’t able to put in as much time and  consistent parenting with her, as I had been the first two.  My grandfather’s (who had 10 children) words came back to me on more than one occasion, as well: “Once you have three kids, it doesn’t matter how many you have. Once you’re out-numbered it’s chaos.”

Out-numbered. Husband traveling. Tired. Not enough of me to go around. Not enough consistency in my parenting. Birth-order. Her personality.

I didn’t really know what to blame it on, so I blamed it on a combination of all of it.  I hoped that with time, maturity and development  – and maybe if we could  get their WAPI Dad in a job where he wasn’t traveling.. well, maybe then I’d have more energy to invest in being more consistent, and maybe then it might get better.

Then, my WAPI husband changed jobs and was home all the time – just as she began kindergarten.. and the year progressed, but she didn’t.  I began to get concerned that her challenges were something more.. something that maybe – just maybe – she and I didn’t have control over.

Now, if I were to go into detail about the events and examples and trials and tearful, sleepless nights we’ve had in the last couple of years since Kindergarten, I would officially be publishing a novel instead of a blog post, so I will skip it and just say this: It’s been a difficult road. With potholes that seemed to be bottomless and speed bumps that you couldn’t possibly see over. I’ve cried a lot. And so has she. And I’ve been so frustrated that I thought I might stroke out. And so has she. — Same goes for my WAPI husband. And her siblings have paid quite the price for her all-consuming needs. When you have three kids and one needs at least 75% of your time, the other two aren’t left with much.

(And try though you may, you can ONLY give 100% of your being. All that crap you hear about “giving 110%”? Well, that’s just the biggest load of B.S. ever. No one has more than 100% to give. No one.)

Teaching her to read (and actually retain what she was learning) has proven to be more difficult than weaning, potty training, and sleep training combined – times 1000.

In addition to severe reading challenges, her particular learning issues have caused very atrocious hand-writing – to the point that it was often illegible.

BUT. Thanks to a lot of exploring, hard work, testing, diagnosing, commitment on our part, some bi-focal glasses, and one pretty spectacular teacher, we have begun to make headway.

Finally. (When I put it this way, it seems so simple. But trust me, it wasn’t.)

Not that the bumpy road will ever be completely smooth for her, but it’s getting better.

Now, at the end of 2nd grade. The work is finally beginning to take shape.

Last night I watched my once-struggling reader lie in her bed tucked into her daddy’s chest while she read to him by Kindle-light.  The reading was good. Really good. She flowed through the pages.  No help required. When she hit a word that stumped her she remained confident and stayed with it until she figured it out on her own. And it never took long. REAL second grade words and all. And she was happy.

There was something about the moment – with her precious little face framed in her reading glasses (it’s hard to learn to read when you can’t see the book OR the board) and lit by the blueish-white glow of her newly purchased Kindle Fire – I stopped and took a mental picture. So relieved that we were finally at this point, where she could confidently read and really fully enjoy her love of books, that I couldn’t even step away to get my camera** for fear that I’d miss the moment all-together.

It was a moment that made me smile so big that my face hurt, and my throat burned from trying to hold back the tears of joy.

As if that reading break-through weren’t enough, there’s more. Until today, I can’t remember an instance where I could read an entire piece of my daughter’s writing without having to ask her to translate a good portion of the words … or skip them and pretend that I knew what I just read, because she needed a confidence boost.

But here it is.  A Mother’s day gift that’s two-fold. I’m not sure what moved me more: the message.. or the fact that I could read it. All. By myself.

And this is what I meant up there in that first line.

Every once in a while in our motherhood, a moment happens where you can see a glimmer of the fruits of your labors. A moment when the endless laundry and meals and sleepless nights and cleaning up stomach viruses and all that other crap just disappears and you actually get to see the worth in what you are really doing. Where you realize that in between all the crap-jobs that are the major daily work of motherhood, you really are doing good work. Really good work. Important work.

Something makes you step back and get a preview of what it is going to look like in the end.. before you throw yourself back in to the work so closely that you can’t see it in your line of sight. The foundation is being laid and suddenly something makes you see the form of the cathedral beginning to take shape.

The reading by the kindle-light and the writing of a Mother’s day note. Twice in 24 hours I got a glimpse of the beauty that is The Starling’s Cathedral.

Happy Mother’s Day, indeed.

And if you haven’t had one of these moments in a long while  — hang in there.. your Cathedrals ARE taking shape. Even if you’re a little too close to see it yet.

* I typically inject some humor into difficult situations, not to belittle them or make fun of my kids or myself, but because it helps me gain some perspective.

** Those that know me know how huge a moment has to be for me sacrifice taking a picture of it, because I don’t want to miss it in person.

Losing Myself in the Building of Cathedrals

I can’t really claim this post as my own. I received what will follow my comments in an email from a dear friend today. It isn’t the first time I’ve received/read it, and it will not be the last. And yet each time I have opened an email that contained this forwarded story, it has happened to be on a day when I most desperately needed it. Sometimes in our struggle  to maintain some individual identity as M.O.M.s, we also have to figure out how to be OK with those days when it becomes impossible to achieve such a thing (and try again tomorrow.)

This post is for those days when it’s just unavoidable.. the ones where just me has no choice but to get lost in the motherhood. — And today was definitely one of those days…until I read this again. For those days, remember that it’s okay when “the building of great Cathedrals” trumps putting your name in the stones. (And by the way, I’m pretty certain that those who built the great Cathedrals also had some sort of separate life of their own when their work was done.)

As forwarded to me:

THE INVISIBLE MOM
One of the kids will walk into the room while I’m on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I’m thinking, ‘Can’t you see I’m on the phone?’ 
    
Obviously not; no one can see if I’m on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I’m invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more! Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?? 
        
Some days I’m not a pair of hands; I’m not even a human being. I’m a clock to ask, ‘What time is it?’ I’m a satellite guide to answer, ‘What number is the 
Disney Channel?’ I’m a car to order, ‘Right around 5:30, please.’
        
Some days I’m a crystal ball; ‘Where’s my other sock?, Where’s my phone?, What’s for dinner?’ 

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history, music and literature – but now, they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She’s going, she’s going, she’s gone! 
        
One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. She had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feeling sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when she turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, ‘I brought you this.’ It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn’t exactly sure why she’d given it to me until I read her inscription: ‘With admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.’ 

In the days ahead I would read – no, devour – the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: 1) No one can say who built the great cathedrals – we have no record of their names. 2) These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. 3) They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. 4) The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.
     
A story of legend in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, ‘Why are you 
spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof, No one will ever see it And the workman replied, ‘Because God sees.’ 
     
I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was Almost as if I heard God whispering to me, ‘I see you. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does.
       
No act of kindness you’ve done, no sequin you’ve sewn on, no cupcake you’ve baked, no Cub Scout meeting, no last minute errand is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can’t see right now what it will become. 
        
I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don’t want my son to tell the friend he’s bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, ‘My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for 3 hours and presses all the linens for the table.’ That would mean I’d built a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, he’d say, ‘You’re gonna love it there…’ 
        
As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we’re doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible mothers.”

* Thanks to my friend, Jenny, who sent this to me, then did the research that allows me to give due credit for this story to Nicole Johnson http://freshbrewedlife.sonacart.com/content/about-nicole – it appears that the version I have copied and pasted here has been paraphrased and edited by the hundreds of women who have forwarded it on via their email.

And just for fun — some photos of my very favorite “cathedrals” :

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: