Little man turns 7

24173905_10156757647668906_1207327525275820917_oToday Little Man, aka, JP, Jonathan, Peezy, or Click-Clack Paddy Whack (don’t ask…)turns 7! I remember when I found out that we were expecting him. I freaked out and, embarrassingly, not in a good way. We had eight kids and I felt like we should be done. Silly, silly girl…I should know better than to think. LOL I found out that I was pregnant and I was kind of mad. We were charting and there really wasn’t any way that it should have happened, except that it did. I went in for an early ultrasound because of some weird clotting issues and they couldn’t find the baby. There was nothing. I immediately realized how much I wanted that little baby and I was devastated. They told us to come back in a week and they would check again, it might just be too early. I was 100% convinced that I had lost the baby and that it was my fault. For the next week, I lived in the dark side. I couldn’t get out of bed and I just kept crying. We went back in the following week for the ultrasound and I just laid there with tears streaming down my face. I knew that she was just going to confirm what I already knew…but then she turned the volume up and there it was…the heartbeat. I looked at the screen and you could see the distinct little lima bean baby wiggling around in there. I swore then and there to never take my fertility for granted and to that I would joyfully welcome any children into my heart that God blessed us with. The ironic thing is that shortly after Peezy was born, I developed fibroids that basically incapacitated me and I had to have a hysterectomy. He would definitely be our last little one. Let me tell you, I thank God everyday for the blessing that is Jonathan. In a house full of teens and tweens and hormones and angst, his funny little self is not only welcomed, but it is needed. He basically has the entire family wrapped around his little finger and keeps us entertained. The funny thing is that he is a very old, little boy. There is a wisdom that is there that just can’t be explained. He is always pushing to be bigger and I keep begging him to just slow down. My little man.

So this morning, I was sitting in my bed, reading the daily readings and he saunters into my room. He is wearing this lopsided grin and looked at me expectantly. “Happy birthday Buddy! How does it feel to be 7?” He says, “Pretty darn good. ” I am trying not to bust out laughing. I said, “Are you too old to come over here and give me a big birthday hug?” “Course not Mom,” he says. He climbs up on the bed and I pull him in for a big hug. I was holding him and I flashed back to that very first day. My mom and Brian had gone home for some dinner. Brian had planned to bring the kids over to meet the newest Hough later that evening. We had no idea that while I was laboring, we had been hit by a major ice storm. With the exception of my dad, who popped in on his way home from work, nobody could come to visit us. I remember laying him on the bed and unwrapping his blanket. I just looked at his little feet and tiny fingers. I couldn’t imagine a world that he didn’t exist in.  As I was patting his back, my mind back 7 years ago, he says, “Mom, I feel as if I should tell you something. I am going to fart.” Moment gone. I dissolved into laughter and so did he. Hugs from mom and giggling about farts, this is what it is to be a seven year old boy.

 

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The light

Wednesday evening was the usual level of crazy with finishing up dinner, assigning kids to dish duty (always super fun…NOT), enforcing homework time, bath time, etc. When I had finally said good night to the youngest two, I grabbed a cup of tea and sat down on the couch to enjoy some Olympics with the girls. Aiden, my eight year old, came back downstairs and stood by me. I looked at him questioningly, “Yes???” “I feel weird.” was what he said. Huh? “You feel weird?”I asked. He nodded. “What does that mean? Do you feel sick?” He shrugged his shoulders. “Does your head hurt?” “No…” he answered. “Your belly? You need to give me more than weird Buddy. What is going on?” I probed. He sort of crumpled into a heap on the couch and started to cry. Oh boy…so much for getting lost in my tea and snowboarding.

“Ok, what is going on?” I asked as I pulled him onto my lap. He looked at me and said, “What if I get shot at school?” Oh my…I took a minute and cursed myself for giving up wine for Lent and then I just kind of sat there. This was when I should have comforted him with some soothing, maternal words of wisdom. But instead, I had nothing. Absolutely nothing. I didn’t know what to say to him because those were things that I had worried about myself. We send our kids to school or sports practice or boy scouts, or whatever, and we expect them to be safe. We assume that when we go to pick them up, they will be safe and sound and whole. Sadly, that is not the case. So…what do we do? What do we say?

I looked at my little guy and was overcome with sadness that his tender little heart was so affected by this. I am not sure where he had heard about the recent school shooting in Florida. I don’t know if it was at school, or on tv or if he had overheard my older kids and I discussing it. I guess that it doesn’t matter. What does matter was how was I going to comfort my son when I was afraid too? How can I give him the assurance that he needs, really that we all need, that it is all going to be ok?

I think that it comes down to this…There is an ongoing battle and we are all under attack. Through our faith as Christians, we know who wins in the end. But I believe that the evil one is constantly looking for the weaknesses in all of us. He watches for the little opening where he can worm his way in and plant the seeds of doubt, loneliness, and hate. I just keep thinking that in all of these violent crimes, these senseless killings, what happened to the person behind them? What could possibly make someone feel that their only option was to take the lives of innocent people? What good did they think would come from their violent actions? How could that make them feel better?

I know that there are people who say that mental illness is to blame. Or that we need stricter gun control. Or even that it all comes down to bullying because kids these days are so mean. I am not denying that any, or even all of these things, are contributing factors. But I think that it all comes back to the ongoing battle that people choose not to acknowledge. There is an evilness out there and it preys on the weak, the isolated, and the lonely. It is that little mocking voice that whispers things like, “they don’t like you…you aren’t good enough…you are ugly…you are stupid…nobody cares…nobody loves you.” We have all heard it at one point in time or another. When we have those feelings of insecurity and self-doubt, they are right there mocking us. So why don’t we all just go nuts and turn to violence and anger?

The difference, at least in my life, is that I also allow the goodness. I invite God into my life each and every day and when I experience those feelings of doubt and insecurity, I remind myself that my value and worth doesn’t come from anything that I am or have done, but rather just in the fact that I am a beloved daughter of the King of Kings. It isn’t always easy, which is why I try to surround myself with people who know this Truth as well. They are there to remind me of this very thing when I fail to see it myself. This is what I want for my children. I want a support system around them that is positive and loving. I want them to be surrounded by family and friends that remind them that they are kind and important. They are loved and cherished. I want them to be that loving presence in others’ lives as well.

But that didn’t really answer his question.

I looked him in the eye and I said, “Here is the thing Buddy. We have no idea what each day will bring us, but we always know that no matter what, God is right there with us. He has sent each one of us a guardian angel to keep us safe and protected. I don’t think that anything like that will ever happen to you. I really don’t. But if it does, you know that you always have God right there with you through all of it. He loves you so much and so do we.” He nodded as he tried to process it all.  I gave him a little squeeze and told him that when I am worried or anxious about something, that I like to pray a rosary. There is something so soothing about talking to the Blessed Mother and feeling the beads slip through your fingers. It has helped me to fall asleep many anxious nights. I handed him my “special” rosary and told him that he could take it with him to bed. He gave me a little smile and walked slowly up the stairs to his room. I wasn’t sure if it had helped him at all. I don’t know that there is really anything that can help us to make sense out of any of this. I only know, that in this darkness that the evil brings, I look for the light. That is where our Hope lies.

 

Lent

Lent….the season of penitential prayer, sacrificial fast and alms giving. I must admit that I am looking forward to the spiritual reboot. In the days leading up to Lent, I have overheard my kids discussing what they were going to “give up.” These sacrifices have been everything from “all electronics” to “junk food” to “making my bed!” (That last one was the 6 year old. ) While I think that it is important to fast from something that will really challenge you, I think that is more important to ask yourself if it will bring you closer to God. Will not eating junk food improve your relationship with Our Lord? Will packing up the ipod or kindle for Lent make you a better version of yourself? Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way suggesting that you bail on the idea of making a fast from something. I know that I am spoiled rotten and I am a creature of comfort, so to “give up” some of these comforts can be very beneficial. At least it will be if I have the right frame of mind while doing it. Whining about the absence of doritos or social media isn’t drawing you any closer to God. If anything it will push your family and friends farther away because whining is…well, super annoying. But if you quietly offer up your sacrifice for a specific intention, you can give a redemptive quality to your suffering, no matter how small it may seem.

You might also consider adding something to enhance your relationship with Our Lord. That can be anything from praying a daily rosary or chaplet, to reading the daily readings, to just sitting quietly and listening to what it is that God is trying to tell you. That last one is a tricky one for me. With as much crazy and chaos as my daily life brings, you would think that I would revel in the quiet, but it is the exact opposite. I have such trouble quieting my brain and just slowing down. That is why developing a structured prayer life is at the top of my Lenten “to-do list.” I have no lofty goals of sitting in silence and meditating for an hour each day. I know myself and I would just end up planning out the next two weeks meals and grocery lists. Instead, I am going to start small with a daily rosary, the readings and 5 minutes of meditation. I am hoping to slowly bump it up so that I am eventually able to sit quietly and just listen to God for 15 or 20 minutes without hearing circus music playing in my head. Baby steps my friends.

What does your Lent look like?

 

***To all of my Sisters in Christ, if you are interested in praying a daily rosary and would like to be a part of my Lenten Rosary group, just send me a pm and I will add you to the group. I post a different intention each day for the group to offer up their rosary. Each year, I am amazed at the beautiful blessings that has come out of this group.