A debate is raging on social media because of the comments made by a Catholic writer. The writer, who is a mother, came from a family of 9 and in her comment she stated that all of her sibling and she are practicing Catholics. She then went on to outline what her parents did which led to the outcome of having 9 adult children who are still practicing their faith.
The raging debate seems to be focused mostly on the second paragraph of her comment. That’s where she begins by outlining a few of the things that her parents didn’t do. And she is right, you don’t have to check a bunch of boxes in order to form your children properly in the faith.
Do you ever compare yourself, your parenting, your kids, your husband or your house? Do you scan your girlfriend’s living room with those cute matching throw pillows and that neatly arranged pile of books on her dust-free coffee table and wish that you could just see the surface of your coffee table which is currently hidden under stray Legos, 15 overdue library books and a couple of sippy cups that may or may not be in the process of fermentation?
Or maybe you’re avoiding that family from church, whose kids are always impeccably dressed and well behaved because you’re not sure with your kids brushed their teeth this morning, let along brushing their hair.
And there’s that mom you know is going to ask what your son is doing after graduation just after she finishing telling you about her child’s full scholarship.
In my last podcast I talked about how my perspective on today’s workforce has changed since we purchased a restaurant 3 years ago. It changed, but not for the better. I covered the history of work and how men used to form at least part of their identity from the work that they did. Thomas Baker was a baker. James Carpenter built things from wood. I also mentioned that work was once viewed as necessary for survival. Laura Ingalls Wilder understood that in order to survive through the long winter in the Big Woods, they’d need to grow and store their own food, amass a stockpile of dry wood for the fireplace and maintain their livestock. Children in previous decades shared in the responsibility of work at home and they often watched work in action.
In my last podcast, I explained how the stay-at-home worker, computers and cell-phone are changing the face of work, such that children may no longer understand the difference between work and play.
Now let’s consider some more factors in the equation and come up with a few concrete antidotes that insure we are better teaching our children how to work.
“Your children are so well-behaved,” says the woman in the pew behind us. “We enjoy sitting near your family in Mass,” reports an older couple.
My husband and I hear these kinds of comments frequently. But before you judge me a braggart and quit reading, let me say that it has taken a lot of hard work (and maybe a bit of blood, sweat and tears) to make parenting look easy inside of the pew.
From the early morning battles to wake a sleepy head to the perpetually missing church shoe, we know first-hand the real life struggles (like loading 10 individuals into a maxi-van by 8am on Sunday morning). Additionally, there’s the antsy toddler and small-bladdered, elementary schooler to contend with during the gospel.
Truly, with 8 (strong) personalities in our care, you have to know that we fully understand the challenge of getting to and sitting in Mass every week.
“Would you ever stop loving me?” the little girl asked.
“Oh course not,” said her mother.
“But what if I did something naughty? Something really naughty? Would you stop loving me then?” the girl persisted.
“I would never stop loving you, honey. No matter what, I will always love you,” said Mother.
Growing up as what you’d call a cradle Catholic, I lived in an area of the country where Catholic churches demarcated the boundaries within every town. In my hometown, there were three. Sacred Heart on the south-side, St. Thomas on the north-side and St. Valentine’s smack-dab in between. Each boasted a grammar school and your parish (as well as your allegiance) was dictated by your address.
Coming of age in that setting, I considered my faith a de facto component of who I was. Just like my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother before me, in the line of my great-uncle the priest and eldest aunt the Sister, I was a Catholic.
On a Monday, my coworker pulled me aside. The company Christmas party was two days prior. My guess is that she’d spent those two days crafting the discussion we were about to have.
Though I’ve forgotten whether she opened the conversation with small talk or whether she went straight to her point, what she said has convicted me ever since.
Standing there in the aisle of Toys ‘R Us, my eyes darted left then right. It was such a hard decision; choosing how to spend my birthday money.
I can’t recall how many aisles we’d visited, but I do remember settling myself among the baby dolls. There were babies that cried and those that wet. There were molded-haired dolls and ones with blonde locks ready for brushing.
After a busy morning of wrangling my children followed by an afternoon manning a craft table at a children’s Christmas Craft Fair, I decided to appease the requests of my younger crew members (aka sons and daughter under 12yo) who’d been begging to visit Santa at the mall.
I had a few errands to run beforehand (think clothes shopping with 4 less-than-interested companions), so I figured that the promise of a stop-over to see St. Nick would be ample incentive to keep the whining at bay. Continue reading
With a wide range of ages in my household, I’m always looking for novel ways to include all of my children in the beautiful traditions of our Catholic faith.
During the season of Advent we try to keep the focus on anticipation and preparation. But it’s not always easy to keep those sugar-plum dreams of Christmas at bay for four weeks.
We’ve found that having a traditional Advent wreath can be a great help.