A new hat

The wedding of my oldest son, Corey to his beautiful wife Logan, was the highlight of our year this past July. The day was perfect, the wedding and reception were lovely and went off without any hitches, aside of course from the "getting hitched".

The wedding was a celebration of life and love. It was a Sacrament celebrated in the heart of our parish and witnessed by family and friends. My cup was running over and spilling onto the floor!

So began a new chapter of my life, and a new hat, mother-in-law!

I've thought, even dreamed about the day I would become a mother-in-law. How would it be? What kind of relationship would we have? Would it be warm? Would it be loving? Would my daughters and son in laws trust me? confide in me? turn to me?

Oh I hope so. It's not necessary to call me mom (but I would welcome it of course) what matters is what defines the relationship, not the name we give it. I want mostly for them to know they are loved. Truly, deeply loved. And not only in a love that's a "feeling" sort of way but in the kind of love that is a verb. A love that is an action, a behavior.

I take you into my family and I'm a little like the Godfather. Seriously. Never take sides with anyone against the family! leave the gun, take the cannoli! We're going to the mattresses! She is one of my cubs now and I will protect her, defend, and love her, always.

Having been on the other side of this equation, I made some decisions very early on, before an engagement was even impending, before the right girl had even been given to us. I decided that it is my job to make her feel welcomed. It's my job to earn her trust, her confidence. It's our job as a family to open our family up to her. She will never have to stand at the door waiting to be accepted. She will never doubt her place, she will always know and will continue to embrace it over time I pray, that she is family. I know it takes time, but this is my commitment.

I take that word so seriously. It means more to me than DNA. In truth of the matter, DNA has often proven the least effective means of creating family in my experience. Family is who chooses to be part of your life. Who stands with you in the hurricane, who holds you when the diagnosis is bad, who you trust with all things. We have a big beautiful family, pieced together like a quilt. Not a seamless garment we were born into but a warm piece of art that God designed and we stitched together across time.

Words are weak and empty, actions, tell stories. My only prayer, my great hope is that my actions convey the joy, love and commitment in my heart to this precious new daughter of mine.

I will fail. I've told her that, but I will crawl on broken glass to apologize, repair and atone when I fail her. My love is bigger than my pride. My family is more important than being right. She has my permission to call me on that commitment.

My son, I am so proud of him. He is brave and strong and good. His potential is without limits. His heart is as kind and giving as they have ever been made and one day he will accept that he is just one of the good guys. He's funny, and quirky, and he has been with me longer than anyone else, except my own mother. I was just 19 when I had him and he was my everything then. My inspiration.

Seeing him standing before God making this covenant, I held my breath. I didn't cry at the ceremony, well a tear or two were certainly shed but I never lost it and sobbed as everyone feared! ha! Should've taken those bets!  Nope, I lost it about 173 times in the months leading up to the ceremony though. Lost it because time had gone too fast. Lost it because I felt like I had finished a marathon. Lost it because I wanted to go back just a little bit, for a visit to the time when he was just my little man, chattering my ear off, being my constant companion, and making me smile all day, everyday. Back to the time when I was his best friend, the funniest, prettiest girl he knew, and when he never wanted to be away from me. I'm so grateful, so honored to be his mother.

All the emotions were well worked through in advance of the ceremony, so it was pure joy for me. Imagine if I hadn't worked through all that! yikes. My false eyelashes would never had stood a chance!

Look at this family. I am the richest woman in the world. Oh and yeah, they're gorgeous!

A Time to Grieve

I have been lost at sea in a storm of grief for many weeks. My words will fail as I attempt to give these feelings a voice.

I have lost 6 children in pregnancy, given them life in heaven, or miscarried them, which is not my favorite way to describe it. I lost them. They were here and now they are there. They were with me and now they are with Him. The most recent this past spring.

For reasons I will never understand, the grief I experience in this loss is not understood by others. The ridiculous, insensitive and ignorant things people say in a failed attempt to relate after you lose a child in pregnancy, boggles the mind. The bizarre words, which I grant you, are probably offered in an effort to say something even if it's wrong to show compassion, are more often salt in a gaping open wound.

If you are attempting to comfort someone who has lost a child in pregnancy I recommend this litmus test. Would you say this to a woman who had lost a 2 yr old child? Probably not? Then don't say it. Relate to them in the same way you would relate to any woman who has lost a child. Don't say, "you can have another one" or "better now than later, when you were attached". Yeah, people say that and so much worse.

This is the month, according to social media for infant loss awareness.  It's a nice sentiment I suppose, I am aware of my loss everyday.

Most recently my life turned a page and I began a new chapter. My oldest son married in July to my everlasting joy. We celebrated and rejoiced at the celebration of this Sacrament. 2 months later my daughter received a proposal and was engaged. My youngest is 14 and so far as I know not getting married any time soon but these changes began to settle into my soul a couple months ago and the reality hit me very hard.

My nest is hardly empty, my daughter and youngest still live at home. My son and his wife are here every week and my childrens' friends are treasures, like children to me and here all the time. But there is so much missing still.

So much missing that I never ever talk about. So much grief and I cannot contain it another moment. I think, all the time, about how old my lost children would be. What they'd be doing, how they would look. Clare would have been a flower girl, John Paul a ring bearer, the older ones in the wedding. I always imagined I would be the mother planning a child's wedding and nursing a baby. That was the life I was prepared to live. I didn't come to that openness to life easily. It was very hard, then to have that not be the reality was like an unexpected ice bucket challenge, a challenge I'm afraid I am failing in.

I think of how blue their eyes would be, and how busy my home and life would be. I long for it sometimes. I shouldn't be at the end of this journey of parenting, I should be smack dab in the middle. That's where I want to be at least.

I love my life. I truly do. I'm plenty active, running a business, volunteering, my life is full of love and laughter. My marriage is strong and I am more deeply in love with my beloved than I could have dreamed. Yet, none of these truths diminish the love and loss of my other children.

As my attempts to grieve privately have been failing recently I've had to explain to my husband and children why I am melancholy, or why I am crying over my morning coffee. They have such compassion for me, and love. Their comfort is like cool water on a sunburn. And yet, they do not understand. They can't completely. Perhaps my daughter understands more than others as she prepares and contemplates marriage this reality of mine, tinges the corners of her mind and she can imagine my pain.

In my prayers this morning I played this song which equally breaks me and comforts me. It is called Little Light by Audrey Assaad. I imagine it is sang over many sleeping, precious babies in nurseries often. But I sing to my children in heaven, who are being entertained my angels and bringing light and joy to Christ every day.

I imagine what they look like and I long to be with them again.

For my children and my husband who will read this... I know how sad my grief makes you. I know how you are tortured to see me cry. I am so sorry. I promise I am okay. I am not depressed, and I will be fine. You know how much I love you. I have devoted every day of my life to your care, your upbringing, your happiness and your education. You, my family are my whole world. Nothing can separate this family as we are united in Christ for all time. I just miss your brothers and sisters. Imagine if I lost you? I would go on, I would have to, but the grief would never leave me, because it is rooted in the depths of my soul in the love we share. I grew you within me. You were mine before you were the worlds, you were God's before you were mine and so we are intimately, intricately connected, you, me and God. What I feel is great love and great loss. I wouldn't give up either of them.

Someday you will have your own children, and I pray you are the kind of parent that loves so deeply, so unconditionally, so powerfully and unabashedly that it changes your life. I hope it grows your heart a thousand times, and stretches you and fills you up the way it has me. There is no joy that will ever compare if you allow God to grow this heart of love for your children. The catch is, with that kind of love, loss is felt in an equal proportion. Such is life little ones, but it is good.

Mom is okay. I'm going to wash my face, start supper, finish the painting project in the garage, listen to music, curl my hair and watch a movie with you later. Life goes on. Love goes on. My heart goes on but I will always grieve in a place in my heart until we are all together again. And that is ok.

Thanks be to God, my husband and my children for making me a mother, it is the only thing in my life that endures, the only work that matters. It is the source of all my happiness and joy.


Unleash the mob (again)

When I first saw this story of the Litigating Auntie I thought immediately here they go again. The media spins facts and ignores the truth. Facts and the truth are not the same thing. Having worked as an agent with State Farm I knew the deal and that the headline was clickbait. 

This aunt, as you probably know was injured when her beloved nephew jumped on her at his birthday party and broke her wrist. She was injured - there were bills, lots of them for surgeries etc.

Most likely the parents turned it in on their homeowners insurance. The insurer may have paid some of the bills, or maybe not, but ultimately they offered $1 to compensate her.

When the company wouldn't pay she had two choices - sue the company or pay $150,000 in bills. You can't sue someone else's insurance company that's not how it works. You have to sure the person and the company has to defend them or pay. Since the father and (now deceased) mother didn't cause the injury and state law says they can't be held liable for the negligent actions of a minor child she had to sue him personally, and he was defended, as an insured resident of the home.

This happens a lot in fact. Often people want and expect their insurance to pay for injuries to friends or family on their property but the company refuses and they have to sue. Oftentimes the insured is very helpful in the case. It happens in vehicle accidents too when a passenger is injured.
The issue isn't the case for me. My problem is how this case got spun and this is why we MUST STOP this mob rule/ mob justice thing people do now on social media. They get a whiff of something and go to war, most of the time having only read the baiting headline!

I'm glad the full story has come out, but most people again will not bother to read the details, they'll just shrug it off as the family trying to protect her.
$150,000 in medical bills is no joke. That can ruin you. Hope this woman can move forward now.


Sleep, oh why Doth Thou Evade Thee

I'm sharing some thoughts for the mommies so entrenched in sleep concerns, battles and worries. I hope it is encouraging, it is meant to be. I see so many young moms struggling in this area.
Last night I was up twice. At one point I was up for about 30 minutes before I could fall asleep again.
My 14 yr old told me the other day he couldn't sleep at all the night before.
My 20 yr old daughter doesn't fall asleep until very late every night, since she was born.
My 25 yr old son is an early riser, every morning since he was born.
My mother hasn't had a solid 6-8 stretch of sleep in 34 yrs.
I share this because I'm afraid as moms we forget that babies are just little people. And people do not sleep the same way, every night. That's ok.
Think about you. Sometimes your brain is just too busy to fall asleep. Sometimes you're overtired. Sometimes your stomach is rumbling. Sometimes you want a midnight snack or drink. Sometimes you have a headache. Sometimes for no reason at all, you wake up and can't go back to sleep. Sometimes your clothes are itchy, sometimes, there's a sound you can't ignore or sometimes it's too quiet. Sometimes your nose is stuffy, or you have a little ache, sometimes you want a fan, sometimes you're cold. Sometimes you're hot.
Why do you not sleep perfectly? Are you not sleep trained? Of course you are, but you are also human and a hundred things effect us everyday and impact our sleep differently every day.
Babies are exactly the same only they have no way to tell you what it is that is waking them or bothering them. They can only cry for you to come and try to help.
If you have a baby who sleeps great, doesn't sleep great, was sleeping great then stopped sleeping great, it may or may not have anything to do with you. Cut yourself and your baby some slack.
I know sleep training is a thing now, and if it works for you, I encourage you to give it a go. As parents we try out lots of things to find a good fit. But if your baby isn't sleeping great it is NOT your failure. It's just not.
I had never even heard of sleep regression until this board. I suppose it's when a child was sleeping well and then doesn't for a spell? All my kids, my husband and myself experience sleep regression every month. One late movie, one night with pizza too late and it takes me a week or two to get back into a rhythm. Or a vacation, yikes.
What I'm saying is, moms, just relax. It's not you. You are NOT doing something wrong, there isn't anything wrong with your kid and you can't spoil a baby under age 1.
Things go along great until they don't. Then you regroup, try something else and keep going. This is parenting, whatever the issue, it's exactly like this.
I encourage you to give yourself a break on the sleep thing. Give your baby a break, he's just a little person with every single experience I mentioned above on any given day just like you.
You have kids, you knew when you started and you know even more now, sleep is an elusive companion. It will be for awhile but it gets better.
Be careful not to get buried on information overload. Books, techniques, and all of it can be great, I have some I love too. But sometimes we get so focused on the goals and taking in information, we forget to enjoy the journey. And this journey is so brief, so very brief. Don't miss it.
One last thing,
Comparison is the thief of joy.
It doesn't matter how your sister-in-law's baby sleeps. There are 10,000 factors that are completely different than your babies experience and yours. Don't allow yourself to succumb to the comparison game at this or any age with your child. It will rob of you of the joy that you are entitled to in these years.
Take what is useful, leave the rest. You are doing your very best, and that is good enough.

yeah, it's me, I'm back, but I'm not staying

Here I am again, in a familiar place.

I've been so restless for the last few weeks. I've been working too much, been doing too many things which are not my first things. Whenever I stray at all from my vocation too many things begin to feel disordered.

Many years ago I learned to recognize discontent for what it really is and to get to the heart of it. I don't blame anyone for it, least of all the man who loves me more than anything. I know that the discontent is God's way of trying to encourage to correct our course.

I worked this morning and after a morning that was sliding sideways fast, I regrouped, and refocused and put my shoulder to the plow of my real work. My husband, my home, my children, my faith, family and love. In a few hours I felt the fog lift and the world returned to a sharper focus.

Do you suppose drifting is necessary to appreciate more fully the distinction between the lifestyles? I really wish I could avoid it, I really do. Because I hate it. I hate feeling stressed and in the wrong place, even if it is just a couple weeks.

I cannot imagine a life lived in the wrong place. What a tragedy.


My heart ached a little tonight. In the midst of a group of new friends, nice folks, fun folks, I felt a stab and took a pause. Oh no one said anything intentionally hurtful. No one noticed a misstep or recognized the forced smile on my face, or the way I dropped out of the conversation for a bit. Not even Steve.

Discussing children and couples were sharing their unplanned pregnancies from a few years ago, and how upset, sad, even angry and frightened they were to learn they were expecting before they resigned to it and got happy. And I just missed my babies. I thought of all the years spent in secondary infertility and praying for more children, only to conceive and miscarry. Life is such a burden in our culture -if you weren't planning it, it's received with all sorts of negative emotions. We so take for granted the gift of life.

They don't know me, they don't know my longing for children, or my loss. Most people don't. I don't need anyone to be sensitive to my feelings, or alter anything to protect me, I'm not that fragile.

I just wanted to shake my head again and ask God why He gave so many children to women who don't even see the precious gifts they've been offered.

Oh I know whys and what ifs are futile, even destructive don't worry, I don't indulge in them but I won't pretend like it doesn't cross my mind, because it does. I'm a good mother, why are bad mothers so able to conceive? ugh. Just a maddening reality.

But for a miracle, a surprise, a shocking, miracle of biblical proportions my days of pregnancy are over and that will never stop making me sad. never.

Teeter Tottering

There has always been so much that I have loved doing. I've always enjoyed working. Always. I love challenges and earning money for extra things for our family. I get bored, it's like I've always needed some new adventure.

Our new business venture has been fabulously successful and I truly love it but just as with everything else, I've ever done and loved, I find my life slipping out of balance. I love the work of my home and work always interferes with my home management.

I don't know why anyone would even want to have it all? Seriously even IF you have it all, you're too tired to enjoy it.

Walking my commitments back is certainly a possibility, but it never lasts long. I end up teeter tottering, focusing here and focusing there. All in here, then all in there. I try to balance in the middle and I manage it for brief periods but never for long.

I don't know if I will keep waging this battle of balancing, or if I will surrender to it's reality. I don't see how I can walk away, and I know it wouldn't make me happy anyway.

Mostly I keep thinking there is some key ingredient that I am missing. Some way of thinking, some energy, some system of organization or some combination of them all that if I could master then these feelings would go away but they don't.

I am pretty organized, I manage my energy, and I'm about one of the healthiest mentally strong people I know, so yeah I doubt I'm missing any magic beans.

So then what?