Thursday, January 22, 2015

7 Quick Takes: Milestones

So I wrote a little something. Then the hubby stumbled upon it on Google+, shared it on Facebook, and BOOM. I check my stats and see over 400 views. I know that is small compared to the many blogs I follow, but it was really a big deal for me. I’m super excited, and maybe blushing just a little from the sudden cyber-attention. So thanks for the love. It is really humbling to know so many people read what otherwise would have remained just a rambling monologue in my own nutty brain.

A friend of mine suggested that this video would make a nice complement to my post:

Yep.  Pretty much.

And then this blog post showed up in my inbox. So much truth! What I loved most was reading that according to some people, four kids isn’t a big family at all….

….which made me wonder, why are larger families less and less of the norm? This post from Mama Needs Coffee provokes a lot of thought.  Has the game of debt truly created so much fear of the future?  Jenny makes a valid argument.  It's all about freedom.

In other news, the baby’s crawling. Which means there will be CD and DVD cases pouring out of our TV cabinet, books pulled from the shelves, blocks dumped on the floor….

But the little guy is so excited he can do new tricks.

(Proud big sis taught him how to pull himself up to stand.) 

Of course, the day when Baby decided to start making his way across the living room floor was also the third day of a brutal cold snap. That particular day the temp never got about 10 degrees. Stuck inside for the third day, wind howling and heat blasting, and wheee! All 4 kids are mobile! But fear not (that's my theme for 2015). Abbey has a great list of indoor activities for the super cold days over at Surviving our Blessings. The Lynch Littles are particularly fond of blanket forts.
A blanket over a crib makes a snuggly little hideout. Good thing the little guy is so willing to share his space. 

Finally, I just wanted to give a big shout-out to the Blessed is She group of writers. The devotionals have been truly inspirational for the daily routine, and I've discovered so much good writing and so many uplifting blogs to follow. Especially during the bleak and bitterly cold days of January, it has been such an encouragement to virtually connect with so many talented and faithful women. You HAVE to check it out. Really.

Thanks to Kelly for hosting 7QT's!  Hop on over and read a few!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Don't feel sorry for me...

I see you looking at me as I herd my handful of kids into the supermarket.  I know that reaction well.  It usually goes like this: the eyebrows raise, then the eyes look down, and then either a silent whistle or a chuckle to oneself.  The body-language reflects the other all-too-common and maddening comments:

“Better you than me.”

“You got your hands full.”

 “You’re a busy woman.”

All of them are wrought with sarcasm, and I never understand how a passer-by would find these things helpful to say.  Are they trying to evoke some sympathy?

Listen.  I don’t want your sympathy.  I don’t say this out of anger or defensiveness, waiting to pounce on the slightest good intention and label it as misguided.  I REALLY don’t want or even need your sympathy.  And you know why?

Because I am actually happy.

It was completely unexpected for me too.

It may surprise you, but I never envisioned having a large family.  I don’t consider myself someone who is particularly good with little kids.  I used to be completely ambivalent about motherhood.  Sure, I wanted to be a mom.  I guess.  Someday.  But here I am, four children in tow, and you may be feeling sorry for the plight of my overburdened, frazzled, lost sense-of-self life.

Even though I may look less than graceful as I guide my darling little strong-willed versions of myself through the aisles, I am ultimately happy with my lot in life.  The scene at the supermarket may be intensely chaotic, but I have some other more peaceful moments in my day.  Don’t feel sorry for me.  Really.  It turns out I am actually quite happy.

But do you know what I feel sorry for?

I feel sorry that motherhood is considered merely a side show of a woman’s talent and education. 

I feel sorry that our children have become the next measure in the keeping up with the Jones’.  No longer is merely a big home and fast car the signs of success.  Now our kids’ academic load and athletic promise are lumped into the high stake game of comparing ourselves to others.

I feel sorry that any woman with more than two children spaced 2.5 years apart must be either a religious freak, uneducated, or both.  I am sorry that for the sake of choice we have left women feeling so pressured to plan the perfect family, creating yet another measure of success to be compared.

I feel sorry that the high costs of a college education, owning a home, and day care have all bore an overwhelming fear in young couples looking to get married and have kids.   

I feel sorry that there is a mentality that pervades our society, namely the equation that children = burden. 

I feel sorry that I believed all these things for so long and completely overlooked the potential for joy in my life. 

Because for all the responsibilities, worries, and frustrations that come with having kids, I have also experienced a whole new dimension to life’s purpose, and that happiness and love ultimately override the fears.   

So please don’t feel sorry for me.  I should not be the focus of your sympathy.  And even if I may not exactly be smiling right at this moment, please know that I am truly happy.

Monday, January 12, 2015

New Link Up!

Hey, I just linked up with the NEW Catholic Bloggers Network!  Check it out!

Friday, January 9, 2015

7 Quick Takes: Back from Christmas "Break"

(because do parents ever really get a break?)

Welp, it’s back to Ordinary Time….which means back to school, which means back to work for the hubby, which means back to mom vs. four again.  Sigh.  Here’s to some necessary reminiscing of the Christmastide.

We traveled to New England for Christmas, spending a few days with my folks and then a few days with the in-law’s.  Our kids thoroughly enjoy seeing the grandparents, and there were beaucoup de presents to be had.  But man, it is a rough trip.  No offense to anyone reading this that may be from Connecticut, but there is ALWAYS TRAFFIC IN CONNECTICUT.  It normally takes eight hours to make the drive, but we have learned to add on two extra hours to our itinerary, because well, four littles, and no matter which route we take, we always seem to end up in a jam somewhere in Connecticut.  At least we can pass the time with the minivan’s DVD player.  Now before you pass judgment, I usually abide by clear screen time limits, but the screen time quota was definitely blown on this trip.  Hey, anything to get us through Connecticut.

To further complement the too-much-TV-dilemma, the weather was absolutely crummy.  Certainly not a magical white Christmas this year.  It was too warm for snow, but too drizzly and raw to play outside.  My husband came up with a perfect outing: Bowling.  We found a place that was actually the same alley when my husband was a kid….and judging from the outside, I don’t think they have ever done any renovations since.  But it was so, so fun to introduce our brood to the sport.  And the best part was when the man at the shoe check-in looked at us, four little ones milling around our legs, and gruffly asked (but smiling all the same), “Ahr all these youhrs?  Wha-did-you-do, have ‘em all at once?”  Nothing says old school Boston with a sassy comment and snicker, complete with the notorious accent.  It was awesome.
We returned home a couple days before New Year’s, which gave us some relaxing time to unpack and unwind from all the driving.  And miracles of miracles, everyone slept in on January 1st (anything past 7AM counts as sleeping in chez nous).  Despite missing the morning Mass for the Solemnity of Mary, we calmly figured we would just go to an evening Mass.  However, as our minivan approached the church that night we were overcome by a sinking feeling: the parking lot was empty.  We actually drove to two other parishes and there was no evening Mass at either one.  It felt like déjà vu in Connecticut again….driving but not really getting to our destination.  In any case, even though it was not intentional, Happy New Year’s Whoops to us.  At least I got to meet two other lovely ladies at Confession a few days later. 

I’ve been reading so many thoughtful blogs regarding the New Year and fresh inspirations, and many writers have chosen a word for 2015.  I have not really been able to decide on one word for the year, but some phrases keep coming up in prayer: Peace amidst the chaos.  Fear not.  What words inspire you for 2015?

Looking at little Joseph sitting on the floor playing with a rattle, I can’t help but reflect upon Christmas time last year.  I was barely into the third trimester, but already uncomfortably big and quite self-conscious.  I was also so mentally scattered and anxious.  I endured the obvious-but-never-helpful comments about how large I was getting, the raised eyebrows and I-feel-sorry-for-her looks in the supermarket, and I grumbled incessantly about the pains of pregnancy all the way up until I went into labor.   And here he is this year, spending his first Christmas with his three crazy siblings.  

Of all my kids, he is the best imitator of faces.  I scrunch up my nose at him and he returns the goofy look.  Then he raises his eyebrows and turns his mouth into an “O”.  It is the Cutest. Face. Ever….as if to say, “Just laugh, everything is fine, Mom.”  Oh sure, he has caused me the expected sleep deprivation, he has added to an ever more chaotic experience at meal time, and his cries have rattled me on more than one occasion, but his smiley face and bubbling laugh also remind me that all is well, simply because he is here.  Peace amidst the chaos.  Fear not.  How I wish that was my mantra a year ago, but by God, by His grace, has helped me to sort through my anxieties.

Because we didn’t have Christmas in our house this year (we were at my parents’ house), we decided to make our own very special Epiphany celebration with presents.  It was a bit of a spontaneous plan, but it worked out beautifully.  We surprised the kids with a few presents under the tree because  1) we wanted to remind everyone of the story of the Magi bringing gifts to the Baby Jesus, and 2) it was so sweet to see our own kids experience the magic of Christmas in their own home, even if it wasn’t exactly December 25th.  That Christmas morning joy is an intimate moment for families, and I am really glad we decided to preserve it despite all our travels.
Elisabeth: Mom can you help me with my PJ’s?  The zipper is in traffic. 
Me: Oh, um, OK.  What does “traffic” mean?
 Elisabeth: “Traffic” means it is stuck and can only move slowly. 

And I half expected her to say her zipper was stuck in Connecticut.

Read more 7QT’s at This Ain't the Lyceum !