A Time to Speak?

I often think of returning here. There are so many thoughts needing to be written out in order to become focused and coherent. For me, life experiences are more fully processed when made with letters and punctuation. Even when incorrectly used or spelled. Perhaps though I need to ponder them all in the private of my heart a little longer. God is good all the time.

The End, Part I: I Am An Independent, Prideful, Fearful Failure

This school year I enrolled four of the six school aged kids in the local public school. It was not an easy decision. It was a very difficult few weeks. I had to face and admit my own failings and the consequences they have for my children.
busFor the last couple of years I have been on survival mode, just trying to keep from drowning with the responsibility and demands of raising a large family, homeschooling, being pregnant alone with eight other children, the emotional roller coaster of a marriage in crisis, financial struggles, and illnesses.

My whole life I have been the responsible one, a hard worker, a “law abiding citizen” as my father would say. I accomplished a lot on my own, I graduated college in three years, married my high school sweet heart, traveled the country and spent time overseas. I had beautiful baby after beautiful baby, ran my home efficiently even on a very modest budget. I appreciated what I had, and didn’t feel I was missing out on the things I did not have. As the years ticked by I felt God’s blessings more and more. I had a husband I loved and respected; and kind, intelligent children. We often struggled financially but we had a roof over our heads and our bills were always paid even if sometimes late. We did not need to depend on government hand outs, we lived without many luxuries most people consider necessities in order to afford to remain open to life, to keep me at home with the kids and to give our children a quality catholic education. Homeschooling too was a wonderful experience. I loved watching my children grow and discover the world. They enjoyed learning and were children of strong gentle character. I was succeeding. God blessed me with everything; many children, home, health, faith… I was proud of our accomplishments, but they were not a complete picture of our lives.
drownI was overburdened, responsible for too much and often for things I did not control. Complaining was not an option because I was so blessed with all these wonderful things, it would have been ungrateful of me to say it was too hard, too much work. If it needed to be done, I was just going to have to find a way to do it. If I wasn’t the perfect wife, mom, friend, daughter, Christian, I would not be loved, I would not be wanted, I would be abandoned.

This was the dirty little secret no one knew…no one saw…no one except my husband. I was overwhelmed, and scared. Having his own poorly healed wounds too, he knew something had to change but didn’t know what. We knew something wasn’t working in ourselves, each other, and consequently us; but couldn’t understand the why and what. (I won’t talk about my husband here. This is a part of MY side of the story.)

While I was happy with my life and loved my family with all my heart I was not joyful to be around. I was always disappointed with myself, too busy trying to do everything I felt responsible for, too tired to “see” the very people I most wanted to know and please. I avoided people and things that reminded me of the skeletons and ghosts hiding in the closet or might cast light on weakness. Conflict was avoided at all costs because exposure to weakness or fear would mean risking rejection. It was as if not making eye contact with brokenness would keep it from attacking.

Asking for help was painful. It required vulnerability, dependence, and invited criticism. Needing help felt too much like failing. If I couldn’t handle something it meant I wasn’t competent, prudent, grateful, responsible…I wasn’t good enough. My obsession with being able to handle it all on my own was making me exhausted and miserable, but I couldn’t admit it. I couldn’t say it was too much because it would mean I didn’t appreciate what I had. It meant I would have to risk dependence. A shackle from my past was the unhealthy lesson that if I wasn’t perfect, if someone felt as if I needed them or depended on them they would see me as pathetic and weak, they would abandon me. It was not a conscious thought. It was a festering childhood wound that hadn’t healed right.

My needs couldn’t be as important as taking care of my family, being responsible, not burdening others. After all God had given me so much it would be wrong to complain about having too much work or being tired. My difficulties were challenges; other people had to deal with real sufferings. Who was I to say my responsibilities were too heavy to carry?

I was miserable wearing the mask of a super strong successful independent woman. I wanted to be happy, I wanted to be grateful, I wanted to be able to succeed at all the opportunities I was blessed with, especially raising a large family and homeschooling. I appeared on the outside to be succeeding. Deep down inside I knew I was not. This ugly truth crept out in unhealthy ways. I was too proud of an image and too scared to admit failings and these truths were killing me inside.
shatteredThen a bomb went off in my life almost two years ago and everything rapidly began to unravel. Surviving was the only thing that then mattered. While on survival mode I was still refusing to admit needing others (misguided lesson=dependency leads to abandonment); refusing to admit how overwhelmed I was (misguided lesson=not appreciating blessings will have them taken away); and refusing to admit I was failing (pure pride here) I was still digging a whole. A poorly placed whole under my own feet and even worse the feet of my children.

After years of trying to hold it all together my greatest fears were happening anyway and there was nothing I could do but watch it all crumble.

Part II coming soon.

Wednesday Night Mass

candle-200x300Shortly after we moved here four years ago we began to attend Mass on Wednesday evenings. It was an incredible blessing. There was something so special about sitting in the church surrounded by many of the people that were essentially the core of the church ministries. It occurred to me one evening sitting there with my husband and children that we were part of the church’s future. We were going to be the next generation to help fill the positions in the ministries that serve the community. The idea scared and excited me all at the same time.

When chaos entered our lives and my husband left, Wednesday night Mass did too. It was too painful to sit and watch the older couples I once thought we would become hold hands and pray together. The reminder of the empty space in the pew and our family was too much for me.

Last summer the kids and I went to daily Mass while a visiting priest was here and able to offer the opportunity. The effect of those Masses profoundly changed me. In many ways it was a peak of spiritual battle for my family and I already see just how important it was for the children and I to take part in the blessing. Even though daily Mass was positively changing my family I still couldn’t bare the idea of going to Wednesday night Mass without my husband. Until Father Arnaldo returns this spring we won’t have daily Mass and I have become more and more aware that I need more time in His presence then just Sundays.

Last Wednesday with what I can only assume was the Holy Spirit’s prompting I decided to symbolically reclaim my family’s role in the future of the church and take back a bit of my life that satan tried to destroy. We went to Wednesday night Mass. It was wonderful even if the babies made it exhausting.  It was a very real way to tell evil it wasn’t going to take the faith of myself or of my children in its attempt to destroy our family. Later that night I told a friend my thoughts about the Mass situation and the wanting to still have my kids know they were the next generation the church was depending on.

On Saturday the babies were very fussy and a couple of the kids were complaining of stomach aches. I told the children we were not going to be able to make it to Mass on Sunday. They were disappointed and Paul told me he had been asked to light a candle during Mass (he couldn’t remember why and I didn’t even know he had been asked). I felt bad, it seemed important to him and he has been especially struggling lately with feelings of loss. While I would miss it, I was determined to somehow get him there. My wonderful older children came to the rescue of their brother. Lucas and Amelia both said they had no problem being dropped off at church so I could stay home with the wee ones and Paul could still light his candle.

Sunday morning I woke up to a lot of laughing and running around.  If the kids felt well enough for all that raucous then they were well enough to attend Mass. So off we all went. Woohoo! Turns out that Sunday was the ministry fair. During Mass a candle was lit for the past members who served in church ministries by one of the original members of the parish. A second candle was let by a current ministry member for those serving now. Then, by name, my son Paul was called to the alter to light the candle representing the “next generation” to serve in the ministries.

Of course I cried.

God is good!

Washer Repair

washer-150x150I had been slacking on laundry for three days. With nine kids that is a very long time. The laundry pile was taking over the house. With much grumbling (just one of those days) I started the first load. Half way through my first load in the washer the machine started to beep. The dreaded error code message was flashing. With the aid of the Use and Care Guide I determined the cause to be the machine was not draining.

Step One:Think to self, hmm…this is going to be messy.
1) Detach the hose leading from the drain to the machine.
2) Take it outside and flushed it out with the hose.
3) With clean hose in hand take now muddy self back inside , reattach hose, and turned the machine on again.
4) Nurse baby to sleep.

Ten minutes later…error code again. Hmm…time to call dad (better known as grandpa in this home).

Step Two:Dad suggests flushing the drain pipe with the hose. Hmm…really going to be messy now.
1)Assign son one to turning the spigot on and off.
2)Assign son two to stand in the backdoor way and relay to son one when mom says to turn said spigot on and off.
3)Be genuinely surprised and pleased the laundry room isn’t flooded when the task is complete.
4) Turn machine on and test. The machine seemed to be running.

Step Three: Occurs to self that if the hose leading from the machine to the drain pipe was gross, and the drain pipe was gross then the drain hose in the machine is probably gross too.
1) Google machine and drain issues.filter_housing-150x150
2) Make mental note that according to do it your self help site the pump isn’t hard to replace. You never know…
3) Discover that there is a filter in the machine.
4) Read how to open machine and access said filter.
5) Make hungry kids food.

The machine completed the first load without further problems. Woohoo.

Step Four: Gather a few towels, screw driver, courage and determination.

filter_junk-150x1501)
Open bottom of machine and unscrew filter housing.
2) Become disgusted at what is there. 
3)
Call son one so he can share in the disgust find.
4) Take pictures for blogging. 🙂
5)
Clean filter, replace, close machine.
6) Change stinky accident done by two year old.
7)  Be very glad machine is working because of #6 above

Thank you God for the all the blessings that allowed for the happy moment(electricity and the miracles keeping it on, grandpa,  kids with dirty clothes, still up internet connection, etc.).

Step Five: Blog story.
   1) Down load pictures and type.
   2) Start the third load of laundry. 🙂

Blessed is the Fruit of Thy Womb

The children take turns reciting the decades of the Rosary at night. On Sarah’s night she still needs someone to say the prayers first and then she repeats what you say.

Mom: Blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.

Sarah: Blessed is the fruit of my womb, Jesus.

She repeats the prayer correctly when we use “thy” instead of “your”.

Aunt Sussie and Lubbers

lubber1

All my children have gone through a phase where they idealize my sister as the coolest person on the planet. This past summer my fifth child (Jane, 4yrs) had her turn. Sussette took Jane tubing (well, floating with a life jacket and noodle) down the river. Aunt Sussie also helped Janie with her bug fear by “giving” her a lubber (looks like a giant grasshopper) to play with at Troy Springs. Tragedy occured on the lubber day! While leaving the park Jane began to cry hysterically. She turned from from the front of the group and came to the back of the line where I was. After a few minutes of breathing “so mommy can understand you”, Jane sobbed, “I hate dose fire ants. I hate dem!” I asked her if ants bit her while frantically searching her body to exterminate the little demons that would dare hurt my baby. “Nooooooo, they killed my lubber! The lubber Aunt Shusie gave me.” As it turns out, on the path ahead of us there was a dead lubber being eaten by fire ants. We reasured her that was not her lubber because hers was healthy and wouldn’t let ants get him. She felt better, but said she still hates fire ants. I feel the same way.

Mom’s Insanity

Thanks to the encouragement, urging and well down right nagging of my husband I have now started a blog. As a teenager I kept really long journals to help vent and articulate my thoughts. Ten years ago I burned my journals realizing that my children never needed to read about my enormous learning mistakes, nor did I care to remember what an idiot teen I was. With the first three or four kids I received baby journals and had every intention of using them, but life happened and they have very few entries in them. Perhaps one day my blog entries can be like children journals for some of the events in their lives. 

I will not be posting enlightening or even entertaining blogs. Here you will find the rantings of a lunitic mother of seven who has not slept in ten years. Sleep depervasion seriously affects judgement, personality and basic logic.  I routinely lose track of days and on occasion whole weeks. For example while talking with my daughter and a friend about a tubbing trip down the river a few days earlier, I corrected my daughter saying it was last week. My darling husband then corrected me and I started to argue that I was certain I was right, when he pointed to his finger and reminded me he had lost his ring that day and could prove it with a blog entry date. Yikes, did I feel silly. How did three days turn into a week?  Days are not the only things misplaced around here. This week (could have been today or a month ago) I yelled at my son about not being able to find his phonics book. I made him look and relook in the usual dumping spots at least three times. While he searched I loudly lectured to all children who could hear in a ten mile radius what a waste of time it is when we don’t return our school books to the school shelf.  Where did we find the workbook? MY ARMS!!! Yes, right there in the folder where it belonged in the arms holding todays materiels was his workbook. Lots of hugs and I am sooooo sorries were dispensed. It is now safe to assume he will never believe another thing I try to teach him… Lets also not forget finding the fuses for the van in the meat drawer in the fridge or my keys behind the computer, in the laundry room, behind the dresser. Now you might be thinking with seven kids items always get misplaced, unfortunetely the kids are not to blame, it is I, “insane mom” a.k.a. “meanest mom in the whole wide world”.