Tag Archives: joy

Mommy Guilt

Is it seriously almost July?? On some days summer seems to be flying by,IMG_8624 but on others…you know those “I’m SO Bored” days, it is as if the second hand on my watch is taking 60 hours to circle. At the beginning of June I challenged myself to a New Summer Attitude. One filled with appreciating each moment and being truly present to my children, rather than my normal, “When are these kids going back to school?” attitude. But in this quest for a new attitude I have discovered one issue that is sucking the life out of me…Mommy Guilt.

As I’m cleaning the kitchen after breakfast the inner voice starts, “Clean up later, play with your kids now!” So I do, then the voice says, “This playing is great, but Katie needs to be working on communication!” So I switch gears, then the voice responds to my son complaining that I never play with him, “You don’t, bless his heart, that poor 3rd child! Oh and by the way, your house is a wreck, there are still breakfast dishes in the sink!” Then the cycle starts back at the beginning and continues all day long with me never accomplishing anything. Nothing I do is ever enough for ME!

IMG_8646I have an image of what a “good” mom is supposed to be, she’s featured in those Mother’s Day Hallmark commercials. She is patient 24/7 and NEVER yells at her kids, her home always looks as if her entire extended family is coming over, she always has healthy meals and would never think about using spray sunscreen. And guess what? On most days I feel the polar opposite of this mom, because my life is not “normal”.

Instead my oldest daughter is tube fed manufactured formula and many of our summer days are spent at the doctor’s office or therapy rather than licking popsicles in a hammock. I often think, I’d be a better mom if my life was “normal”. The guilt is intensified by Katie’s impairments. I know in my heart there is a neurological reason she can’t talk or walk independently, but I often wonder why I can’t fix it all by pushing harder. I ask myself, if she had a different mother would she be doing more in life. That inner voice is exhausting!!

So I pray, and recall a conversation I had with my priest a few years back (because yes, my mommy guilt is an ongoing issue). I asked him if guilt is from God or if it is just made up in my head. He said you truly have to look at the cause, guilt can actually be a grace from God when we are doing something wrong. But feeling guilty because you don’t live up to an image you set for yourself (hello, Hallmark commercial) comes from your ego…WHAT? He said when you are focusing on an image of perfection you are too focused on what you appear to be and that leads to false guilt.

We were each made in the likeness of God so when we set unreasonable goals and then beat ourselves up for not obtaining them it is like a slap in Gods face. It is the same as saying God you messed up, I’m no good. But He never messes up! The false guilt stills my joy, it constantly distracts me from living in the moment and enjoying my perfectly not so normal life. I’m too busy thinking about what I SHOULD be doing.

I don’t think I’m alone in my mommy guilt, I recently saw a video of moms watching their kids on camera talk about why they loved them. Each mom sobbed in disbelief, they couldn’t believe the special moments and attributes the kids were describing. If I could only see myself through my children’s eyes. Every day is dedicated to them, I am the only mommy they will ever have and in their tiny world I am the center.IMG_8589 If Katie could speak I know she would say you are doing enough Mommy, you love me and that is more than enough.

As I strive for this New Summer Attitude I have to also look through Gods forgiving eyes. He does not have unreasonable expectations, He simply wants me to get up every day and LOVE. It is that plain and simple! It is okay if Legos line my stairs and my kids eat an occasional Oreo, as long as live for Him. As long as I never take one moment for granted and stop “guilting” my life away.

I Hope You Dance!!

My entire body filled with heat, my heart opened and the only thing that could fill it was God. It was October 2012, I was doing two faith based book studies. Both books changed me forever. It wasn’t so much the books, they were both really good, but it was simply the Holy Spirit using this moment to take over my life.

After this moment all I wanted to do was learn as much about God as I could. In my spare time I read, researched, prayed, wrote and simply learned how to give myself to the Lord. I no longer wanted to watch TV, or scroll down Facebook…I wanted more and more and more God. I really cannot explain the feeling, it was amazing and all consuming.

I was then blessed by a group of ladies that started meeting for a Bible study once a week, we still meet today. Before this study my knowledge of the Bible consisted of two phrases, Old Testament & New Testament. Our leader was sent to us by God, she goes through the books of the Bible sentence by sentence and explains what the Fathers of the Church say about that passage. If you’re not familiar with that term. The Fathers of the Church are the early Christians, like St. Augustine and St. John Chrysostom, who were taught by the apostles. What better source? Jesus taught the apostles, the apostles taught the Church Fathers and they wrote it all down. If you have a question about what a certain passage or verse means, the Fathers of the Church hold the answers. We have finished the books of  John, Acts of the Apostles and are now studying Matthew. I finally feel like I know the stories of Jesus and what He wants from us.

“When you look for me, you will find me. Yes, when you seek me with all your hearth, you will find me with you, says the Lord, and I will change your lot…” Jeremiah 29:13-14

I can truly say this is when I began to feel true joy, joy that I had never known before. I finally knew my purpose on this earth was to do Gods will. Everything else was falling into place. Being a mommy to Katie, Lexi and Drew made more sense. photo shoot 2013 052My role as a wife took on new meaning. One struggle I’ve had writing this post is making sure that I don’t sound self righteous, I’m so far from perfect it’s not even funny, and I certainly don’t know it all, not even a quarter. I screw up every single day, but I’m just writing about what God has shown me and what I TRY to aspire to everyday.

image (17)God has revealed a beautiful message through Katie’s life. Katie was not blessed with legs that function, a brain that forms words to speak, hands that write or even eyes to see. But I got all that and more, so how dare I waste one single minute. A song that portrays my feelings is by Lee Ann Womack, I Hope You Dance.

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance, Never settle for the path of least resistance, Living might mean taking chances but they’re worth taking, Loving might be a mistake but it’s worth making, Don’t let some hell bent heart leave you bitter, When you come close to selling out reconsider, Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance, And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance. I HOPE YOU DANCE!!!! 

To me these lyrics mean to do everything you do with your whole heart and with all your effort. And since God is supposed to be the center of our lives. That means our relationship with God should have every ounce of our being. I am not going to even begin to say that I do this always. I struggle everyday because this world we live in has so much to take us away from God. Actually, I often feel this world is telling me God is not important. The world right now is so far from what God wants. I don’t think He wants us to modernize our values. He wants the single most important thing in our life, more important than our spouse, children, job, wardrobe, car and home; to be Him.

“Do not conform yourself to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2

The special needs journey or any struggle for that matter can be long, lonely and isolating. It doesn’t always lead us down the right path. I’ve taken many a wrong turns. But what I know for sure is the wrong road, the one in which we try to escape our struggles, will only lead us in circles. It only leads to more disappointment. As I’ve re-routed my GPS many times I found the only path is the one God wants us on, doing His will everyday, following His commands as diligently as we can. To keep myself in check, I try to reflect on the 10 Commandments and ask, “am I doing what God wants?”.

image (16)Another lesson Katie has taught me is that nothing on this earth will fulfill the longing we have. Katie has true joy and does not know anything about the materialism of this world. Again, I’m no model Christian woman, but I know God is my only source of true joy. I love listening to Father Robert Barron, he gives weekly homilies on http://wordonfire.org/. He often talks about this and once he had a fabulous example. Think about some of the worlds greatest sports figures. Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Alex Rodriguez, to name a few, were all the best of the best, they had home run records, world fame and all the money you can imagine, yet they chose to take steroids in hopes of getting more. When it comes to worldly things nothing is ever enough. Why?

photo (3)That longing that we try to fill, that yearning for more was given to us by God for one purpose, to bring us closer to Him. We try and try to fill it with success, money, friends, and so much more. I don’t know where you are on your faith walk, but if God is not on the tip of my tongue always, I ask, why am I not giving Him every single bit of me, making Him the leader in my life. Do I want to sit it out or DANCE??

In my next post I will talk about why I think we have to struggle while on this earth.

 

My Not so Normal Life

What is normal? To me it is typically everything that we are not…going out to eat for a family dinner, going to the movies as a family, everyone piling in our bed to watch Saturday morning cartoons. I felt like I was looking out of our window at everyone else living the life I wanted to live. I was in a much better state of mind at this point, but I grew bitter and jealous of everyone around me. The sad part was I didn’t even realize it.

At church I joined our MOMS group (ministry of mothers sharing). This group of ladies is like no other I’ve ever met. Although, people come and go, the group is so clearly led by the Holy Spirit. Before I had Lexi I attended a few meetings, but it just made me sad, in the mommy category I had nothing in common with these ladies. But once my life was more “normal” I opened my heart. And thank God I did because this ministry has changed my life.

We gather once a week and share our faith walk through book studies, outreach programs, and other fun mommy topics. I had never met a group of Catholic women who seemed so dedicated to their faith. Before MOMS group my Catholic faith was something dear to me, but I had never taken the time to really learn why we do what we do. In the Catholic faith there is ALOT to know. We have many rituals and deep beliefs that were founded by Jesus Himself. But I didn’t know all of this, it was just something I did because I always had.  No matter what your belief system is there is so much to learn, we should all know exactly why we believe every single thing we believe. It’s not enough to just go through the motions, I know that first hand because when in crisis I was completely lost.

“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, virtue with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with devotion.” 2 Peter 1:5

image (15)We had a taste of normalcy with Lexi and we were ready for more…more kids. In the world of special needs parenting the most difficult of all time subjects is who will take care of my child when I’m no longer on this earth. I am her only mommy, the only one who will ever love her with a mother’s love. If I’m not here, who will make sure her hair is brushed out of her face, who will give her ‘I love you’ ear kisses at night before bed, who will make sure she is loved and knows Gods love, who will make sure she has dignity every day of her life. That is often handed down to siblings. But that is a tall order for one, so maybe Lexi needs a brother or sister? I know that may not sound like the most loving reason to bring a child into this world, and there was much more thought and prayer that went into it, but in this special needs world practicality is a must.

When an ultrasound revealed we were having a boy, I nearly fell off the table. I wanted a boy, but never thought it would happen. Andrew Paul Crook, was born 5 days after Jesus’ birthday and he loves his sister in a way only he could. image (14)He always gives her kisses and wants to make sure she’s okay. But I worry, is that too much pressure for my children, will they feel burdened? And God asks, “Do you feel burdened” (No!) “I gave them what they need”.  But still the emotions surrounding this subject always bring fear.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

This new baby brought great joy, but another child also brought great stress. And this particular boy was a wild one. I adore Drew, but he has always been a handful, for goodness sake he broke his arm before he was even 2 years old. image (13)I began to loose my footing by putting way too much pressure on myself. Katie needs more therapy, she’s not communicating or walking, it’s my fault, my kids need to eat healthy and watch less TV, Lexi needs to know all of her letters before 4K , is Andy happy?, I need to be exercising more and on and on the spiraling thoughts went. It always ended in explosion. I was yelling alot! I’m talking snow monster from the movie Frozen yelling, you know the part, “AND DON’T COME BACK!!” I was not being the mother I wanted to be, so a friend recommended an amazing therapist.

I discovered that I was stalled in a grief stage. What? Katie was 8 years old, wasn’t I over this yet? She helped me realize that each new stage in life brings new challenges and I will go through this grieving period at each new discovery…(Great!) But once I realized I was grieving over this picture of a normal family life I wanted so badly, I started to heal. She helped me see that what everyone else has is not what it appears and probably not so normal. You know, the grass is not always greener on the other side. I’ve come to know that every single one of us struggle with something and when we look at each other some of those struggles are more obvious, but just because you can’t see them doesn’t mean they are not there. Ken and Barbie are not perfect! And the really cool thing is that God customizes us for our own struggles. I will keep mine thank you very much and you can have yours because that’s the way God wants it.

Next post I will talk about a very NORMAL moment in life that altered everything about me…for the better.