Monday, November 23, 2009

Tiny Treasures: Thanksgiving Edition

Will: I am thankful for your sweet dimples and big smile. For your laughter, your insistance that you will crawl, your demands that your brother's cars go into your mouth.

Joey: I am thankful for your obsession with cars and dogs. Your ability to "accessorize," your absolute belief that every bald man is your father and every woman with dark hair is mama, the kisses you give your brother, the wrestling you do with your sister, the way you love to snuggle in Mama and Daddy's bed but know you want to sleep in your own, the fact that you imitate, evey when it gets Mama in trouble.

Shelby: I am thankful that you accept life and puzzle it out in your own way. That you trust us absolutely even though Daddy and I often have no idea what we are doing. That you jump ecstatically for Elmo and Spongebob but can accept Cars or Ratatoiulle if Joey insists. That you jump on the bed and rub the baby's feet when he is upset.

I am thankful God has allowed me to be part of your lives and trusted me with the responsibility to raise you as children of God.

True Mom Confessions 1

I have a favorite celebrity mom. Her name: Tori Spelling.

This weekend I caught a couple of episodes of a marathon of Tori and Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood. And I learned I have this in common with Tori:

1) We named our children normal names: for me: Shelby Clare, Joseph Patrick and William Christopher; for Tori: Liam Aaron and Stella Doreen.

2) We both felt after our first two children (one a boy and one a girl) that our family was not yet complete and wanted more children despite the world at large telling us we have the perfect set-up.

3) We both love creating the tradition of a family dinner.

4) We both fold our own laundry (gasp!).

5) We both enjoy creating family time.

6) Both of our sons are in love with the movie Cars.

7) We both see family as the #1 priority.

8) We both have incredibly stubborn husbands

9) We are both writers.

10) We both view many of our close friends as family in a very special way.

Now, obviously, some of those many women have in common and obviously there are some differences in our lives, but to me, Tori is a real "Mom." She juggles how to balance work and raising her kids. She struggles to balance life as a mom and life as a wife. I love watching her not for the Hollywood factor, but the mom factor. Watching her teach her son to brush his teeth, that sort of thing.

So, yes, I am truly feeling the sisterhood of mommy with one Victoria Davie Spelling McDermott.

A Festivus for the Rest of Us

I have to confess I am a HUGE Seinfeld fan. That show about nothing? Count me in.

I think one of the funniest episodes deals with Frank Costanza's made up holiday "Festivus." The holiday causes Kramer to lose his job, Jerry to break up with his girlfriend, Elaine to confront the men at the other end of her made up number, and all kinds of mayhem for George, Frank's son.

I think what I love the most about this episode though, is that it addresses what is fundamentally flawed with this time of year. Christmas is a holiday to celebrate Christ's birth. It is not an occasion to give presents first and foremost. Far too many in our world are caught up with material things year-round so why should Christmas be different.

Today, my husband asked his mother for her "Christmas list" and I cringed. Since I have only been back to work since August and he has been out of work nearly a year, I had planned on possibly pictures of our kids as presents. Something we could afford that we know she would want. After my husband asked, I heard my mother-in-law start to rattle off a list of about ten items. My heart sank. A couple of things would be big ticket for us and the others weren't to be found in the dollar store either. My husband could see the look on my face and said, "why don't you narrow that down to one or two and mail it to us." When he got off the phone I sat in silence and pretended to read the paper. My mother-in-law has unfortunately failed to grasp what unemployment means in these times. "We'll find a way to work it out," he said, "we always do."

My mother-in-law is not the only member of my husband's family who still has a Christmas list as an adult, neither is she the only adult I know period who does this. Each year we try to tell my husband's family that the two of us neither want nor need anything and to please spend that money on our kids. With the exception of his younger brother who has a child as well, they all ignore us and a couple downright badger us for items. While I will say, there is a certain spirit involved in gift giving, isn't it supposed to be about the people around the Christmas tree not the presents under it? And call me Scrooge-mommy, but is it wrong to try and encourage my children to understand the real meaning of Christmas not see it as a time to hand out a wishlist?

All of the materialism and secularism surrounding Christmas leaves me wanting...wanting a festivus for the rest of us.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Very Simple Pleasures

Finding Mountain Dew Code Red (yes I know it is evil) in a 12 pack.

Snuggling with my boy Joey

Will's smiles and giggles

Getting in and out at the DMV (true story, happened to me on Friday)

Planning to meet up with old friends

Going to a favorite family spot for Thanksgiving weekend

Feelin' It

Already people are asking what I will do for my New Year's Resolution. And already I am thinking of skipping that whole tradition altogether.

I really admire the wish to do better in the new year, but besides weight loss and quitting smoking, I rarely here the resolutions I know people need to make: to spend more time with God, to become better spouses and parents, to enjoy a few minutes of quiet, to read the Bible, to pray the Rosary.

So, I resolve that next year I won't make New Year's Resolutions. Rather I will take to task some of the areas of my spiritual life that are lacking in a quiet and reflective way. I will be accountable to God and myself.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tiny Treasures

William Christopher:
Say it ain't so, can it be? He is six months old! Tomorrow he goes for the big 6 month check-up and shots. And cutting our first tooth. It can't really have been six months, can it?

Joseph Patrick:
Joey is working on gentle affection. He is a little rough with his love for the baby, so we are toning that down. He is playing better with Shelby though.

Shelby Clare:
Shelby has taken notice of her baby brother. She will cup her hands around his face to kiss him. She bounces in front of him and laughs when he does. This is such a pleasant surprise!

Late Start

Things I am thankful for (5 each day!)

1) Cold spaghetti-- I can't explain it but I love it

2) Play-doh-- my two-year-old's new obsession, but we only get to play play-doh when we do something nice for our sister or if we are exceptionally well behaved

3) This recipe that I hope tastes as good as it sounds

4) Stauffer's Family Meals especially for days when I am super exhausted and barely got a nap

5) Family who come to help take care of the kids

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Motherhood in more ways that one

In the recent discussion of finding out a baby's gender, one friend of mine spoke in a really quiet voice that made me think. She simply started to say, "If I were able to have a baby..." she concluded with her feelings on finding out the gender but the beginning of that statement caught my heart.

My own struggle with infertility has colored my view on things such as large families, birth control, and even finding out the gender of a child, but being that I have children now, I sometimes forget those things.

However, this friend is a mother. Her one reason for living in this life was to have a baby. She married her high school sweetheart and after years of not conceiving she was given a reason. Unfortunately it was at that moment the marriage ended. Her husband did not want to try any type of reproductive technology (they are not Catholic) and also ruled out adoption. He only wanted a sure thing. She struggled through the next few years with the knowledge she we would not be a mother but also that she was no longer a wife.

But then, something happened. She met another man and was married and became a mother. No, she was not able to suddenly become pregnant and they did not adopt, but her new husband had children from previous marriages and she bore the title of step-mother and step-grandmother proudly. She was careful not to overstate her position, but her step-children and step-grandchildren love her dearly. She is Grandma "C" for the little ones. She has become good friends with the mothers of her husband's children and while it has always been an easy road, it has been fulfilling. As she told me, "I have the children God always wanted me to have, just not the way I had imagined having them."

I recently read similar sentiments from actresses Sandra Bullock and Betty White that experiencing pregnancy and birth were not necessary for them to feel fulfilled in a mother's role. That the gift of their step-children filled their hearts with love and helped them to feel complete in their role as a mother. I think this is a beautiful gift we tend to overlook because of the circumstances that put these women in their roles.

Divorce is an ugly, ugly thing. I married into a divorced family and the whole "walking on egg shells" bit was new and extremely unpleasant to me (after 11 years it's hardly new anymore, but still unpleasant). And the loss of a spouse the "natural" way is painful beyond words. For children going through these traumas, it can hardly be expected that they will trust a new person in their mother or father's lives. However, there are some men and women special enough to open their hearts to these children and love them without condition no matter what the circumstances. And for those suffering from infertility, a step-child can be a ticket into feeling a love only imagined before.

My husband's step-mother does have a biological child (my husband's half-brother) but that never has changed her loving my husband and his brothers. She introduces them as her sons not to diminish their mother's role, but because that is how she loves them, as if she had carried and birthed them and wiped their runny noses and kissed their boo-boos. So I have witnessed this love first hand.