7-year-old: Do you have a crush on anyone, Mommy?
7-year-old: I think I know who.
Me: Who do you think?
4-year-old: Yeah. It’s definitely Jesus.
I actually had their daddy in mind, but I’ll take Jesus as my main squeeze any day.
This exchange reminds me of the beautiful quote from St. Augustine:
“To fall in love with God is the greatest of all romances; to seek Him, the greatest adventure; to find Him, the greatest human achievement.”
After one of Madeline’s homeschool co-op days she confided in me that there was a little girl who some of the other children were excluding. Madeline admitted that this particular child didn’t always listen well and that it wasn’t always easy to be extra nice to her. I encouraged Madeline to stand up for this girl and to do her best to include her during their free play time and lunch.
Following her co-op this week, my daughter hopped in the van and immediately told me that she tried to be nice to this child, but she threw a carrot at Madeline during lunch. I explained that sometimes when a child felt excluded or was worried about fitting in, she might not act like themselves but that Madeline should still be kind even if the girl wasn’t always nice in return.
“Love your enemies,” I added, hoping to turn this into a lesson rooted in Scripture. But then I realized that this little girl probably shouldn’t be thought of as an enemy just because she tossed a carrot at Madeline.
“Not that she’s your enemy,” I hastily added.
“No,” Madeline agreed. “It’s not like she’s Darth Vader or something.”
So much for a Biblical lesson.
Then my uber talented sister-in-law made Madeline a Star Wars dress!
Here’s a closeup of the pattern:
One of my most essential survival tactics in the trenches of motherhood is keeping a sense of humor. I have a post entitled “Laughing Matters” over at What to Expect where I share a true-life story of how I ended up laughing when I probably should have been sniveling.
Here’s a snippet:
Recently, I had the brilliant idea to gather my four kids 7 and under and emerge from our safe hole where face crust and wearing PJs for day clothes is perfectly acceptable and meet a friend for lunch at a mall food court.
I tucked my 4-month-old into a baby carrier, held my 4-year-old and 2-year-old’s hands, and asked my 7-year-old to not skip too far ahead, and entered the real world.
Lunch was not too catastrophic. My patient, generous friend helped out a lot when she wasn’t busy juggling her own two littles.
We sort of caught up with one another in fragmented sentences. “So how was your Christm….Stop poking your sister.”
“It was nice. How was…Watch out! You almost spilled your drink!”
Despite the constant interruptions, I was thinking it was nice to be out and about wearing chic clothes. No matter that I emanated Eau du Breastmilk – I felt almost human.
That is, until things started to get highly harried. Then I started to feel like I was morphing into a mommy monster.
My 7-year-old has a new obsession. Madeline can’t get enough of Star Wars. There were some boys in her homeschooling co-op who were constantly talking about things foreign to her: lightsabers, Yoda, and Jedis. She asked what this Star Wars was all about. We shared our Jedi Master knowledge, and she asked if she could she the movies. We decided we’d allow her to watch the original trilogy as part of her birthday gift this past November. Now Madeline knows why the boys are such devoted fans. A day doesn’t go by when she doesn’t talk about the force, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Darth Vader, or Hans Solo.
One of her aunts bought her this Star Wars t-shirt, and she wore it for my brother (a fellow Star Wars fan). He told her he loved the tee. She loved the Yoda nutcracker he received from my parents.
A few nights ago Madeline decided she’d make her Uncle Josh his own Star Wars t-shirt. Here’s what she came up with:
One of Madeline’s new favorite pastimes is wielding the glowing lightsabers my parents gave her. (As I write this, she’s playing with princess figurines while humming the Star Wars theme.)
When I gave birth to my first boy this past August, a lot of people told me I’d have a whole new world to discover. Funny, I think I’ve already started discovering it with my fiercely independent and confident girl – the same GIRL who had a dinosaur-themed birthday party this year and a pirate one last year. Madeline has never been afraid to like what she likes. I love that about her.
Another one of Madeline’s interests is photography. She’s psyched about a homeschooling photography class she just started. They’re learning all about perspective, which I discovered when perusing photos she had recently captured with my smartphone.
She explained that it’s supposed to look like her little sister and our dog are standing on the booster seat. I got that and thought this was pretty cool.
My babymoon is going so well. I’m tired, but I’ve just felt really happy and content this postpartum period. I’ve also really made peace with the fact that I just don’t have time to piece together perfect prose (or much prose at all) these days. I love this blog and writing, but they’re definitely not a priority right now.
It’s all good. Life is all good right now.
So for now I’m popping in here for a few quick notes:
2. My mom is back home today after having surgery to remove a tumor in her jaw. The surgeon is fairly confident it’s benign, and Mom once again amazes me with her courage, her optimism, and her refusal to give in to self-pity or to start complaining about anything. She called me today, sounding like her happy self. Unfortunately, the procedure has resulted in some worse pain from her trigeminal neuralgia. We’re hoping this won’t continue. She’d just started having a little relief from her facial and head pain. Prayers for this saint-in-the-making are always appreciated. (I also continue to be impressed with my dad and his dedication and love for his bride.)
3. Thomas slept one five-hour stretch last night. I’m in shock. None of my kids have ever done this. He’s just over five weeks. I probably should have kept my mouth shut because sometimes it seems like you just curse yourself when you yammer on about sleep milestones, but I’m just so giddy. The only bummer is I woke up with rocks for breasts. I did pump before I nursed him after he woke up (a crazy 4 ounces in two minutes – sheesh), but the poor guy was still gulping like a frat boy doing a keg stand. I had to keep him upright for a long time after he nursed, and wet burps and hiccups kept him from drifting off to Slumberland for about two hours. Still, it’s amazing how seven hours of fragmented sleep can feel like total nirvana to a sleep-deprived mama.
4. I recently received an athletic shirt from Mamas Movin’ with Mary, and I was blown away by the quality. I actually wore the shirt today when I braved pushing the double stroller with my 2-year-old and Thomas for a short walk (I stupidly took along our Great Dane-Lab mix and kept tripping over her). Not only do I love the mission of Mamas Movin’ with Mary to strengthen your body and your soul, but the shirt is made with moisture-wicking fabric, which is so much better to wear than cotton when you’re working out. It also features the creative words “Hail Marys Aren’t Just for Football.” Sweet Madeline said that Uncle Josh would love my shirt because “it’s Catholic and about football.” Do check out their mission and their great lineup of products. (I am not getting paid to say any of this. Promise.)
5. We’ve moved Mary Elizabeth (2) from my husband and my bed this week into the big girl bed with her sisters, and she’s doing great! The girls look so cute piled together on one bed. We have a top bunk for them, but no one wants to sleep up there alone. They’re much happier with the family bed, or I guess I should now say the sister bed.
6. Two great but very different books I read while on bed rest and the early postpartum period: Room by Emma Donnoghue and A Little Way of Homeschooling by Suzie Andres. Melanie Bettinelli inspired me to read both. I have lots to say about A Little Way and hope to get to it one of these days. What I’ll say for now is it’s a wonderful book to read whether you’re an unschooler or even a homeschooler or not. My family is still discerning what we’re going to do for next year, and the book really helped to remind me to pray about this and to know that my kids will be okay no matter what we decide. I went crazy highlighting passages, but I keep returning to these words:
“He says that His yoke (our work, done in union with Him) is easy, and His burden (which He shares with us in our daily duties) is light. How can we, alongside St. Thérèse, find a way to make our children’s education light and easy? For us and for them?”
That’s key, I think. Finding a path that does not feel burdensome or weigh you down. This doesn’t mean you won’t have rough days or even rough months or years, but there will be peace, even if it’s just on the interior and your life looks a little messy and chaotic, if you repeatedly turn to Him for help, guidance, and heaps of grace.
That’s all for now. My husband is around today, and he told me I should try to take a nap. He’s right. (He almost always is.)