Ramblings from us as we strive to live a holy life in the world, not of the world.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Our Lady of La Leche

I believe it was when I was nursing my fifth child five years ago that a friend gave me a holy card of Our Lady of La Leche from the shrine of the same name in St. Augustine, FL from which she had just returned. Admittedly I never heard of it, but it was a beautiful image and something that I could definitely relate to.

Since that time I have held that holy card in a devotional book that I've picked up from time to time.

I'm recounting this because St. Peter's List has a post of twenty images of Mary nursing the baby Jesus (well actually 19 as the last one is a painting of St. Bernard with a statue of Mary that 'came to life'). The post certainly affirms the maternal of our Blessed Mother.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Large family...impossible to be a good parent?

I've noticed over the past few years that ESPN has really towed the line as far as being politically correct. Many of their reporters have espoused those thoughts and those who haven't have felt the wrath of the powers that be at ESPN and lost their jobs, like Craig James or Chris Broussard. However when comments or portrayals don't fall under politically correct, like many other news media outlets, ESPN gets a free pass. 

The most recent outrage, although not from the main-stream media, but just in conservative circles is Sam Alipour's ESPN The Magazine's recent interview with San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers. Rivers is asked about comments that people make about him being a whiner. This was the exchange:

Six kids? Regardless of your profession, it's impossible to be a good parent to six kids. Not enough hours in the day.-- From TheBigLead.com comments
It's a two-year rotation: Once the diapers come off of one, we usually have a newborn. And we have another one on the way, due in October. I help when I can, but my wife, Tiffany, is the key. My big, growing family keeps everything balanced and grounded. My oldest is 11 now, and the kids are getting into football. They're Daddy's biggest fans, and they don't get on you as bad as most fans. If you throw an interception, they still love you.
Kudo's to Rivers who handled the comment diplomatically, but what does that comment have to do with his playing style or his on-field behavior? Why bring it up at all? Because six kids is obviously out of the norm and not covered by the doctrine of politically correct thought. The comment was obviously made by someone who doesn't have a clue about large families. Granted, our family likes Rivers and not just because he plays for San Diego, where my sister lives and we LOVE to visit. But because he is a man of faith who tries to keep his life in perspective. He is a leader on and off the field who hunts out the oldest church in the city when he's on the road so that he can attend Mass before the game. He's also dedicated much of his free time to charitable causes.

But back to the comment...Impossible to be a good parent to six kids?! No it's not easy, there is always a child who needs something. But as a mother of six, I can say that my children are hardly ever bored and there is rarely a time when a child feels unloved. Maybe parents of large families don't have the time to adhere to society's ideal of being a perfect parent. But considering our society's ideal, I'd say that's a good thing. No, my children are not involved in an exhaustive number of extra curricular activities. No, we don't let them attend every birthday party they are invited to (Since when has it become appropriate to have TWO class birthday parties for a six year old? No joke). No, we don't go crazy with play dates and outings and we don't agonize if we don't have a jam-packed fun-filled weekend scheduled for our precious babies.

So what we do have? Love, and lots of it. When my two college-aged children come home after a rough day they usually run right over to the baby or the five year old and scoop them up for a hug. When I am in the middle of fixing dinner and the seven year old wants something, he finds a sibling. When I'm nursing the baby and one of the children gets a boo boo, my high schooler is there to make it feel all better. Oh, and we have the squabbles too, but that helps our children learn to get along with others. We are a family that loves each other, comforts each other, and is there for each other. That doesn't mean that I pawn off my parenting duties to my children, it just means that there are more intimate connections for my children to make. That's what society doesn't get, because we don't conform to their ideals, they think that large families are anything but ideal and therefore open to bashing.

I'm not suggesting that small families are in any way less than a large family because they are small. I only need reminded of the Holy Family to humble my opinion. But a little understanding here would be nice.

We still try to give our children memorable experiences, but it isn't the focus of our existence. I would be willing to bet money (if I believed in gambling, ha ha) that my children would much rather spend evenings playing board games with each other, talking to their siblings, and having Mom snuggle with them then going to pee wee football practice every night or having dinner at McDonald's. I know that there are some sacrifices with large families. There are times that I haven't been able to give my children some of the things that they've wanted, either materially or time-wise. But, I believe in the long-term they will see the love that exist between my husband and me and the fruit of that love which is our children, recognize the sacrifice, and relate it to the love that God has for all of us.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Has it really been that long?

Well it has been almost 11 months since I posted. My own blog has now been labeled as a 'Dead Blog' on my feed. The fact is that I haven't felt called to post during those months and I thought that I'd just let my blog die. But for the past month, I have felt called to start blogging again. What happened during these past 11 months? She did...

When last I posted in late October, I had committed to writing materials for the year for a women's faith-sharing group and knew that I wouldn't have a lot of time to maintain a blog but I still thought that I could spend some time on it. But I also didn't realize that I was expecting. Although I didn't have many complications during the pregnancy, I felt awful the entire time. I have never known a whole-body exhaustion like I experienced with this pregnancy. Chalk it up to my 'advanced maternal age' I guess. But the moment that she was born, I felt instantly better.

Now she is a happy, and very doted-on, two-month-old. Here she is with her big sister.

Perhaps it was part of God's will that I take some time off, focus on the pregnancy, and get back to writing when I felt like writing or perhaps it was just my old body telling me to rest. In any case, I've labeled that time as 'The Lost Year.' Not that it was squandered, but many days I felt like it was just an effort to get the necessary chores for the day done. My wonderful husband was there to pitch in wherever I needed him, especially playing Dad and Mom at times to the other children. I am thankful to feel much better now albeit tired. I have a two-month-old after all!

Just a few more pictures of my little princess: Here is our family at her christening. My favorite deacon did not perform the baptism. We asked our pastor to do the honors. While he could have baptized, several priests who we consulted suggested that he would be performing two functions (as a deacon and as a father) and therefore he really should function only as 'the Dad.'

Yes, we are a busy household here. My oldest two are in college and living at home! My son has a 44 mile commute on the days that he has class and thankfully my daughter's commute is less. But we actually have five cars here now and between the college kids, the high school kid and the elementary kids, our house is always hopping.

Of course, this is the child that everyone pauses to kiss before heading out.

Entering the baby stage again, I noticed a few things of late. Because I'm no stranger to this whole gig, I chuckle at the comments from strangers and certainly don't allow them to fluster me like they did when I was younger.

Three observations that I've noticed as a veteran and mom of many:

1. Because I am so OLD or at least perceived to be reaching crypt-keeper status, I can't tell you how many people would ask me, "How old are you?" when I was pregnant. I don't remember anyone ever asking that with any of my previous pregnancies. I guess knowing that I had kids that were college-age piqued their curiosity, maybe they thought that the answer should fall under "Right to Know" laws, or maybe they thought I was trying to get in the Guiness Book of World Records. I don't know, but it did surprise me. Since the rest of western Pennsylvania has already asked me that question, there's no reason to keep it a secret, I'm 45...almost 46. Oh, and when they ask if this is my last one, I usually say probably, although my doctor told me, right after she delivered my baby, that her friend was born to his mother when she was 50. So who knows, maybe I'll make that World Record yet.

2.  Okay this has been addressed to my husband more than me, but still... We have been asked if all of our kids have the same mother/same father. At my husband's place of employment, they were even betting how many wives he has had. We have a 21 year span between our oldest and our youngest so I guess that I kind of understand but I didn't have my first until two years after I graduated college, it wasn't like I started at 15! But it really is a sad commentary of our society when an intact family with children spanning many years is the exception.

3. This is an observation that most moms will notice...having a baby means that that everyone has the right to give you unsolicited advice or tell you how to handle your baby. Perfect strangers in the store will chastise you if your baby is crying, fussing, sleeping, pooping, you name it. Even well-meaning relatives, who haven't raised a child in decades, will tell you what you're doing wrong. The difference between me now and my younger self? The me of then would have to leave the room crying. The me of now simply smiles and thanks them. Although sometimes I'll add that I'm the mother of six and that usually quiets them pretty fast.