Friday, May 25, 2012

My Daughter and I Wrap Up A Successful First Year of School Together

We did it!  Grace and I finished our first year of school together.  It was a great learning experience for us both.

I look at her today, and I am amazed at how much she's grown, and how well she's matured over the past nine months. She started out "wishing" she had playmates. Now, she runs to greet them as she arrives at school. She began the year clinging to my ankles as I walked across the hall to teach a class. Now she hugs me and goes straight to her classroom.

She is growing in her autonomy and independence, and it's beautiful to watch. And while it could be said that much of this would have happened anyway as part of  the developmental process, I believe the structure of attending school has aided in the process -- both for her, and for me.  Heaven knows, I'm very much a free spirit when it comes to time management. Having a schedule and the necessity of establishing and following regular lesson plans seemed to weigh me down at first, but ultimately provided a much needed anchor to the rhythms of my day. And even the "break" of leaving my child in one room to accept responsibility for a half dozen others was a relief.

As we wrapped up the school year with a picnic, I was so impressed by what God has done for us through this experience in such a short time. He has given me the encouragement and support of other homeschooling moms like myself, and He's made it possible for Grace to learn more about His love through friendships I hope will last a good, long time.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The BIG Question: Are YOU Ready to be a Deacon's Wife?

It's been nearly five years since my husband Scott began discerning whether he might be called to serve as a deacon in the Catholic Church. It's a long process, so there's been a lot of time for him to consider whether this is where God wants him to be.
All along the way, I've been a part of the process. I've answered many questions. Yes, I feel he may be called. Yes, I think he's ready. Yes, I know it won't be easy. Yes, I support him 100 percent.

But then came the question I never saw coming:  So, are YOU ready to be a Deacon's Wife?

Hold on, I thought. A Deacon's Wife? Aren't "they" wise beyond their years, poised and calm in every situation, capable of calming the most rambunctious CCD class without blinking an eye, and able to leap tall pot-luck menus in a single bound? 

They're a different breed of women, for sure -- like superwives.  They're always there to help, and they never complain or find themselves searching for just the right words to say when someone's just lost a loved one or made a really bad decision that begs for better advice.

I stammered for a minute. "Um....I hadn't thought of it that way before," was the best answer I could muster. I remembered one day, early in the process, when there was a row of about five or six of these amazing women sitting before me. I drank in their advice eagerly and filed it away in a mental folder labeled "Someday". What was it they said? I should have taken notes! 

This whole time I've listened to the theology, cultivated a healthy respect for the liturgical rubrics, and even learned to say the Liturgy of the Hours on my own, without Scott having to mark the pages for me anymore. But as we prepare to leave the classroom environment and enter true "service" mode, I notice more and more eyes on me and mine (which includes a very noisy and energetic 3-year-old who seldom stays quiet during mass). I'm suddenly feeling inadequate and unsure of where I fit into this new role.  I'm pretty certain there's not even one liturgical supply company that offers a spousal "cloak of invisibility," though any company that could produce such a thing would certainly add to their sales revenue in no short order.

 No, there's no way around it, I thought. I am NOT ready. I'm willing. But I'm not ready. So being the procrastinator that I am, I set the question aside for a while, just like Scarlett O'Hara. "I'll think about that tomorrow, at Tara," she would often say, and so do I. Never mind that in my closet there's a box of things I've never decided what to do with (aptly labeled, "Tara"). But this question just won't fit in the box. So what else could I do, but "blog it out?" And at just about this point the words stop coming.

True, some answers flash quickly through my mind. God will give you what you need.  It's not about you.  But they sound so much like lines from a greeting card that I just don't know.... maybe ... if you're one of the superwives. My husband's potential ordination comes with an alb, a dalmatic, and a stole. But as far as I know, there's no "Superwife" cape for me, and no cloak of invisibility either. And now I'm smack dab in the middle of a huge "blog it out" question that I have no idea how to answer.

And then I hear it, that quiet little voice:  "Mommy, I threw up."

I immediately stop typing and take my daughter into my arms. I gather a washcloth, towel, and change of clothes for her. I take her to her room and clean her up. Then I clean "it" up (God does bestow on us mothers a grace I call "Love's Iron Stomach"). I soothe her, caress her, and hold her in my arms until she's sound asleep again.

Then I return to the laptop and ask myself, what was I saying? Oh yeah, the Hallmark answers that don't seem to ring true.

God gives you what you need. Well... Maybe... Yes. Definitely! He did, in fact, just send a sign (and a messy one, at that). Could it be that this "Deacon's Wife" thing is a lot like motherhood? You start out willing, but unprepared.

It's not about you. It's about the little one(s) God has given you. You may not be ready, but they still need you.  Somehow, out of love and joy for these little blessings called children, you "do your best, and forgive the rest."

Before long, you know what's coming. From out of no where, you have the patience, and the iron stomach, to do it. Then, one day over coffee, you're able to smile to yourself when your single friends say things like, "I could never do that." But you know they can, and they will, someday, when the time is right.

And so it is. I am not yet what I'll need to be. But I love my husband, and even more so, I love my Lord. And I love the Church he's given us here on earth. I'll do what I need to, one day at a time, because I love them.

God will give me what I need. I know it won't come all at once, just like the graces of motherhood. There will be mistakes (forgiveable ones, I pray).

And it's not about me.  Becasue  if it were, I'd never be able to do it.  

And ... the best is yet to come.  Wait, wasn't that a Carpenters' song?

No, we've only just begun.  Lord willing, we shall.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Mary, Ark of the Covenant, Pray for Us!

What touches me tonight, as I think of the great struggle in our nation to save the unborn and protect our religous freedom from recent attacks, is how we as God's people are now engaged in a great battle -- one of ideals and allegiances. Yet, though many of us ask our Blessed Mother for her intercession, few of us call on her in her capacity as the Ark of the New Covenant ( ).  Would this not be apprpopriate, since God himself revealed her to us as the Ark in Revelation 12? In the Old Testament, God's people carried the Ark of the Covenant with them into battle and were victorious.  Should we not also trust the Ark of the New Covenant as we battle the culture of death around us?

To her I've offered my rosary for our Nation this evening.  Please join me in prayer and petitions that Our Lady, the Ark of the New Covenant, will intercede for us in this battle, along with St. Micahel and all the Holy Angels and Saints in Heaven. May God be victorious, and may His mercy bring into to full conversion and communion with us all who oppose the sanctity of human life.

Add your rosaries to the count by commenting below and letting me know how many to add to the count above.  If the list grows too fast, I'll find a way to add a counter : )  I'm so "low tech"....

Friday, January 20, 2012

Sending My Two-Year-Old to School: Five Months Later, She's Blooming

E is for Elephant -- Grace works on a craft at home
during one of our "not at co-op" school days.

Last September, my daughter and I enrolled as student and teacher at a homeschool co-op in our area.  I had my doubts, and my reasons, for starting her out so young.

Those first few weeks tore me up inside, and there were even days when I wanted to give up. But, somehow, I stuck with it. And as the school year continues, I see more and more evidence that my husband and I made the right choice.

Grace has fully transitioned into the routine, and no longer tags along with me to the classes I teach. In fact, yesterday she went skipping down the hall to her classroom and said "Bye, Mom" so matter-of-factly that I stood there dazed for just a moment (Wait! I thought. You're not even going to cry for me, just a little?).  She plays well with the other kids now, has friends, helps her teachers, and comes running into my arms at lunchtime and at the end of the day!  Of course, she's not perfect and still has her off days, but overall things are going as they should.

The only regret I have at this point is that for the first few months I spent such a big chunk of my "not at school" time working on lesson plans, lecture outlines, and grading that I didn't get to spend as much fun time with my daughter as I would have liked. And for the first four months, I didn't get around to our "at home" curriculum at all.

Now, as the second half of the year is well underway, I've been able to resume our home lessons.  Today was one of those days when a breakthrough happens and can't go unmentioned.  She's coloring inside the lines, and able to trace some of the easier letters of the alphabet.  She's counting, reciting her ABCs well, and knows almost all of her basic colors and shapes.  Her vocabulary is impressive. And she's able to follow directions so much better than when we started out. 

Sure, much of this would have happened anyway since she just turned three recently. But, by homeschooling, I SEE it -- the fine motor skill development, the social play at school, and the seeds of independence that will no doubt haunt me and make me proud in years to come.  And there are 19 other children in my heart now, as well.  These are my students. I look forward to seeing them each week, hearing their stories, and sharing what I can of our faith with them in the classes I teach.  They are such good kids! 

And finally, I must not forget to mention the friendships that are growing between me and the other moms at the co-op.  It is so refreshing to share ideas, offer sympathy (on those really, really bad days), and know there's someone else who understands what it's like to always walk around with a handful of dry erase markers in  your purse that don't really write any more.

It's all been such a rich journey for us.  I know there are wonderful curricula out there for families who don't want to be bound by the choices others have made. I had my "ideal curriculum" chosen also. But without the co-op experience, I don't think I'd have the confidence to do it on my own.  I am one who can easily overdo it and expect too much, too soon.  So seeing what other children in my daughter's class can and can't do at this age has helped me go into this with much more realistic expectations.

The adventure is still ongoing, but I'm ready and willing to call it a success.  I can't wait to see how we're doing when the school year ends in May.  Maybe then I'll clean out my purse ...

Our "math" work -- not my favoite subject to teach,
but we still managed to have some fun and
do some counting.

Sunday, January 1, 2012