My perspective on work has evolved since we became the owner/operators of a small family restaurant. Before we assumed the role of employers, I hadn’t given more than a cursory thought to my children’s future employment situation. I mean, I knew they must have jobs and I recognized the importance of discussing vocations with my children, but I was unaware of the very real problems that are facing today’s youth when it comes to their long-term employment picture.
Now as an employer, I no longer enjoy that ignorance. Now I see first-hand the sad results of what happens when the workforce is ill-prepared for the duties of 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.
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
Heavy with my fourth child, I remember the phone call that alerted me to turn on the television.
With my college roommate on the other end of the long distance line, I sat on my bedroom floor staring clueless and confused at the screen. My three little ones (at 5, 4 and 2 years old) were carrying on around my perimeter with business as usual, completely unaffected by the troubles of the world.
The morning news cut to live footage of the first tower with smoke billowing from its side and the newscasters tried their best to spin a story while still devoid of facts.
As I listened to their banter and speculations, a second plane appeared in the New York skyline. Its purposeful trajectory made clear we were witnessing something very different than first considered.
The mews from beneath our trailer instigated some investigation. Following the faint cries, my husband crawled under the mobile house and emerged with a tiny kitten in hand.
Unaware that a mother cat had chosen the underside of our home as her birthing place, we were even more surprised to find she’d left this furry offspring behind.
Seeing as our little home was already bustling with two boys and two dogs, we figured what was one more mouth to feed?