Saturday, June 30, 2012

Will you be there, Mommy?

Although I had not had a sip of coffee yet, I was in a pretty lighthearted mood this morning (love those days!). I was getting dressed when my 4-year-old son Joseph walked into the room. On a whim, I picked up a small plastic statue of St. Joseph off my dresser (we are about to put our house on the market, so we are pretty St. Joseph heavy these days!). "Hello, Joseph," said the statue to my son (in my best statue voice). Giggles!

The conversation continued, and I could see my Joseph's delight at this unexpectedly happy mommy (trying to get everyone dressed, fed, and out the door does not often bring out my giddy side!). But, it was a Saturday and we weren't so rushed.

When my jaw hurt from my best statue voice, the Joseph/St. Joseph conversation ended with, "Be a good boy today, Joseph. I'm watching you from heaven today!" The smile vanished from my Joseph's face. He walked over to the bed and looked sad. Puzzled, I waited.

"I don't want to go, Mommy." I wondered if he was talking about the grocery store (I didn't really want to go either). "To heaven," he replied. OH...pretty serious topic before coffee!

He continued, "Do you want me to go?" The answer welled up inside of me...NO! NO! NO! least not until I'm there to welcome you, that is. Innocently, he had hit on one of my biggest fears...losing him (or one of his siblings).

I'm still a new mom (my oldest is not yet 6), but I used the reassuring tone that defied my feelings (I assumed this was the proper tone) as I told him that nothing would  make me happier than if he went to heaven. This is the TRUTH...but, suddenly I wanted to go back to our silly statue talk about spiderman.

I gave him a hug and turned away. "Will you be there, Mommy?" A memory rushed into my head of myself at age 4 asking my mother if I could hold her hand and go up to heaven with her. I still remember the shock when she said no...the raw emotions are still the same when I think of it today!

I told Joseph that I would love to go to heaven. I told him in the simplest words I could how I'm trying to be a good mommy and wife so that I can go. That I mess up (a lot), but I tell Jesus that I'm very sorry so that I can go. This seemed to make him very happy. He ran off to join the stuffed animal birthday party that his sisters were busy creating.

Our day went on. Thank God, it was pretty uneventful. We even took the kids to the mall this afternoon...a few other people had this idea on a hazy, hot, humid Saturday afternoon too! As I continued with the daily grind, I kept thinking about our conversation about heaven. Some thoughts were so peaceful, others brought tears to my eyes, but all forced me to remember my final goal on this journey. I prayed to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (who lost a child) and St. Gianna (who left her children). I asked that they intercede for me. It felt good to know that they are rooting for me. I might just have to take on the persona of a statue more often...but, next time, I think I'll have my coffee first!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The hardest year?

For those of you with teenagers reading this, I am sure that you will think, "This poor lady has no idea what's coming!" True enough! But for me, an experienced (ha!) mother of almost six years, age 3 is by far the hardest. I have survived it twice, and the third is fast approaching her 3rd birthday. This milestone year has arrived in typical mind-numbing fashion :).

This morning my adorable (God made them cute to remind you that they are the same sweet babies of yesterday) almost 3-year-old daughter made the morning much longer and more stressful than it needed to be. The morning is always a mad rush trying to get out to school (or today, summer camp). But, this morning was especially trying.

"What cereal would you like, sweetheart?," I asked...even though I was longingly staring at my cup of coffee yet to be touched! She quickly replied that she must have the one with marshmellows. She even remembered that it must be mixed with a healthier cereal and that she must "eat them both." She sat down so happy. Until...bigger brother and sister came in and chose another cereal. Suddenly colorful marshmellows were not joyful. Bring on tantrum!
"What outfit would you like to wear, sweetheart? Your sundress or your skirt and shirt (she's a very girly girl)?" The skirt and hesitation. I got to work ironing the pile of clothes for everyone to wear this day. Yes, I realize that this is self-imposed stress...especially for summer camp and hanging out at home...the two main activities of the day :). I hand the freshly pressed skirt and shirt to said almost-preschooler and expected (well, sort of) a "Thank you!" Instead...tears for the wrinkled dress that will have to wait for another day.

More examples could follow, but I think the point has been made!

I get the older kids to camp and head to "Summer Fun Time", a summer class just for 2-3 years old on Tuesday mornings. My daughter absolutely loves it because she gets to be a big girl! She happily runs into the room, pig tails bouncing and skirt/shirt looking sharp. A huge smile and wave for me and her younger siblings.

Two hours later, fresh from coffee with a friend and a quick errand, I pick up a tired but happy child. The first thing she told me was that, "America's (mispronouced) birthday is coming!" The next thing, "Does America eat cake and how old is America?" This morning's frustrations forgotten. I get that "I am SO blessed feeling" that wells up bringing me more joy than I have ever known. I ask her what she thinks. She pauses, "I think America eats vanilla cake and that America is going to be 3." I smile...what a great year it will be then!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A peaceful ride

I had a lovely afternoon at the playground with a group of "old" friends. Five and a half years to be exact...that's how long we've been friends. But, at this time in my life, when I meet new moms at every pick-up from camp, soccer games, birthday parties, etc., I feel like acquaintances and casual moms are who I spend most of my time with instead of these "old" friends. Friends who knew me way back when this most blessed and crazy journey of parenthood began! They have seen me evolve into who I am today, and hopefully will grow with me (and my children) in the coming years.

After two hours of watching children play, taking care of all the minor scrapes, continuously feeding and calming a fussy 2-month-old, and enjoying fragments of conversations (some silly, some serious, all reflective) with my girlfriends, it was time to pack up the car and go. The ride home was uneventful and surprisingly peaceful. Thank God for this.

It wasn't until I arrived home that my husband (who had just gotten home from work) pointed out that the baby had not been strapped into her carseat on the way home. I had been so distracted trying to prevent the others from melting (they were very thirsty, hungry, overtired, whiny), that I had forgetten that the baby had fallen asleep and I had not strapped her in. Again, thank God that the ride home was peaceful.

I, however, am not at peace. Emotions have been overflowing. I have thanked God, Jesus, the Blessed Mother, the baby's guardian angel and patron saint, and the legion of angels that I ask to protect my children daily, countless times. I have gone over in my head a hundred times the "what ifs" and the promises/changes that I will make in my "strap the kids in" routine to ensure this never happens again. My husband, strangely, did not seem mad at me. I would've been absolutely livid if I had discovered the same.

I went for a walk to clear my head, and I prayed while lovingly gazing on said baby (who came along for the ride). The truth is, this will happen again. Please God not this exact same thing. But, the fact that one of my kids could be hurt or worse. That it might be my fault. Though I hate this realization and I double my prayer efforts for safety and protection, I need to let it go. I said my prayers and I have asked forgiveness (if I hadn't been so short with my other kids and gently taken care of their needs, perhaps I would not have been so distracted). Now, I need to let go.

As I go to bed now, I will reflect on the gifts of the day. The gorgeous weather, old friends, healthy children, a peaceful ride home, and God's grace to help me to let things go and to remember how much He loves me...despite my shortcomings and mistakes. Easier said than done...yes...but I will try.