Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘large family’

Dearest Little One,

It has been a month and a day since that moment that my heart must have stopped beating for what then seemed like an eternity.  I had been happily recounting to the lady in the room about your siblings and how crazy-happy it is at home with all eight of them.  I really think I might have gone on and on telling her about the family if I hadn’t noticed the heavy silence that seemed to grow in weight by the second.  I closed my eyes then in a vain and half-hearted effort to close out what I could sense was happening.

You see, sweet one, this lady in the room could not seem to find a heartbeat.  For you.  It should have been there, quite obvious for her to see.  But it wasn’t.  Neither was it there two and a half weeks later.  In between these two times, I must have cried enough tears to tire me out completely.  But there were always tears just at the surface, ready to fall almost without missing a beat.  A heartbeat.  I missed your heartbeat.

Little tiddlywink, I want you to know that in the short time you were safely alive in my womb, I loved you.  I still do.  And your daddy loved you.  And so did your three sisters and five brothers.  They could not stop talking about how excited they were about you!  (Personally, I think they would have eventually taken bets on whether you would be a boy or a girl, to be honest with you….)  They’re a crazy bunch, your siblings.  I am so happy that you were a part of the family for that time you were here on earth with me.  And of course you still are a part of the family — just apart from us for now. A Crazy Bunch

Sweetness, I want you to know that if you had continued to live and had been born, you would have been welcomed with open arms into a family that loved you from the first moment we knew you were there.  You are not the first that has gone before us.  There are two older siblings of yours that went the same way — early on in their lives in my womb.  They too were anticipated, mourned, prayed for and are still loved.  And your siblings all pray for them still.  They still pray for you.  We all do.

I do not know where you are, wee one, but wherever it is, I know you are in good hands.  I cannot pretend to be happy that you are not with me, but I am happy that God blessed us with you.  And because I trust in His mercy and in His love, I know you are in good hands.  I know that you are not alone, nor are you lonely.  Before I met you, before I loved you, God already did.  A friend told me recently that crying can be good because it empties the tear ducts and allows us to smile even better.  I believe that.  In this my sorrow, I have found a deeper joy because of you.

My dear baby, you have allowed me to share the good news of your anticipated coming to family and friends.  Your presence gave me a chance to be in awe of how wonderfully made the human body is.  The knowledge of your presence has helped to reinforce my commitment to be generous with our Father God.  I faced the temptation of feeling embarrassed that I was expecting again and fought it because I knew that you were a blessing and not a burden.  How could you have ever been a problem to a family whose faith has been tested over and over again in so very many ways?  You were a gift — a sure and real sign of hope! — and we were grateful.

Because of you, my little treasure, I cherish each of your siblings even more.  I look at each of them and am thankful for each little one that has come into our family.  You accomplished and inspired so much good in your short life — thank you!  I look forward to the moment that I can finally hold you in my arms for the first time.  For now, I hold you in each prayer I say.  My heart will skip a beat at the thought of you and you will remind me to be happy.  You remind me of why I am grateful to be a mother.

We won’t say good-bye, small fry.  Until we can be together, we will for now just say good night.

I love you always.

Mom

For hope to be real, it has to go deeper than the wound and be more substantial than the pain that has caused you to be in that position you are in.  Hope has to be that much broader and that more powerful to be real, because otherwise it is just like a band-aid.”
— Jon Foreman (Switchfoot), interview regarding film “Bella”, DVD (2008).

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

October is such a beautiful time of the year, and especially so in North America wherein nature transforms itself right before our very eyes.  It is a very inviting time that follows that period of scurrying around that is September.  October allows us to breathe.

The good thing about being able to breathe easier is that it gives you a chance to think about things better.  Has your life been so rushed lately that you’ve barely had time for anything other than running around “doing” things?  I know mine has.  September passed by in a blur of activities.  Well, my friend, please do not forget to stop every now and then.  You and I are not automatons; we are not negligible.  In order for us to do what needs to be done, we must remember to take care of ourselves as well.

Often, in our effort to give priority to our family, we make the mistake of forgetting about ourselves.  I am not suggesting we should all spend hours in the spa or buy ourselves a whole new wardrobe!  For the most part, we do not consider our needs right away because we either feel guilty for doing so or it just doesn’t occur to us.

Let us remember, though, that we cannot take care of our family effectively without being well ourselves.  What does this entail?  Firstly, we need enough rest and sleep.  In fact, even if it seems a luxury most of us need about 7/5 to 8 hours of sleep every night.  We need to eat right – mind you, not too much but certainly not just whatever is leftover on your kid’s plate or whatever you can grab on the run.  Mealtimes are a natural way for us to stop a moment and take a break.  Do not begrudge yourself this time to replenish your energies.

Neither should you feel guilty for finding a need to buy a new item of clothing or make-up or getting a good haircut when it is needed.  Are you really doing yourself or your family any favours by not taking care of your appearance?  This is not so much for vanity’s sake as it is for your own dignity and self-confidence.

Make time to get together with your friends.  You are still an individual with your own ideas and interests – these should not have gone the way of the dustbin when you got married and started your family.

We also need to fully appreciate that we, as human beings, are composed of body and soul.  If we make the effort to take care of our bodies, we must also take great care of our souls for it is within this very part of us that our very essence is contained.  Some people make every human effort possible to keep to a strict diet, work out at the gym and exercise.  A similar and even stronger fervour should be applied to care for our spiritual needs.

That said, if after all your efforts you still find yourself at the end of the day exhausted, spent and perhaps not just a little frustrated – take heart.  There will be days like this and you mustn’t be discouraged.  At the end of every day, we need to be grateful for what we have in our lives.  As Scarlett O’Hara said, “Tomorrow is another day.” Remember that, breathe and punctuate each breath with a smile.  It helps.

Read Full Post »

If you’ve cared to look for something new on this blog for the past two and a half weeks — I must apologize for not having posted anything at all. I didn’t fall off the face of the earth. I’m still here and am just finding my way back to blogging after being immersed in one adventure after another these past few weeks. I’m telling you the truth: Indiana Jones has NOTHING on mothers and the things we do!

Five days into T-TRAININGThis little girl you see in this picture is Daughter #3 who has been undergoing a most rigorous and intensive program of self-discipline involving the body and the will with our assistance and encouragement. Simply put, she has been toilet-training….or at least she is now mostly toilet-trained. At first, it seemed as if she was training us rather than we training her. Barely three days into the process of toilet-training, our family left for a road trip to Ottawa, about five hours away by car. It would have been so much easier to just put a diaper on her — but we resisted the temptation. It is three weeks since we started and she is — for the most part — disciplined enough during the day to make those very necessary trips to the bathroom when the need arises. This is quite a milestone for her and we are all very happy about it!

Our thirteen-year old daughter (Daughter #1) has also recently reached a milestone of a very different nature — a spiritual one. A new soldier of ChristOn May 7th, together with about 60 or so other young teens, she received the Sacrament of Confirmation at our parish. This is the final rite of initiation to the Catholic church. (The photo shows my daughter with our energetic parish priest, Fr. Vid.) I watched from the back of the church, holding onto the hand of a fidgety three-year old who had just been to the bathroom. Suddenly, my mind seemed to hurtle back in time nearly nine years ago to the day I watched this same child fall in line with other 5 year-olds on the first day of kindergarten. I had cried then, albeit briefly, feeling the poignancy of the moment. The same feelings came back, as I witnessed my daughter’s maturity over the years and thanked God for the immense privilege of having been blessed with her and her siblings.

Within these past weeks, our middle daughter (Daughter #2) also celebrated a milestone — she turned seven years old! This little girl, whom we prayed for and asked God to bless us with, was all of seven years old last May 1st. What a wondrous age seven is! She is now able to read quite a bit and loves to write up little notes for different members of the family. She has several friends, but I think her siblings are numbered among the best. She is a burst of sunshine and boundless energy, and is quite precious to us.

Each child in our family is allowed to invite friends to a bigger party to celebrate the birthday only on his or her 7th and 13th birthdays. (You can imagine how nutty it would be if we did this for every single child on every single birthday……not to mention expensive…..) So this seven-year old girl will be having a proper garden tea party with some very special girl friends who will be asked to come in their very best party dress. That will happen as soon as our party planner (a.k.a. Mom) gets her act together and organizes the whole thing.

In the meantime, we did celebrate her birthday with our family’s traditional “birthday cake” (chocolate cake with fudgy filling and whipped cream frosting), followed by the opening of presents. Here is part of the gang of siblings posing with the the traditional birthday cake (baked from scratch by Daughter #1, frosted with love by Mom):

(Note the general sense of gaiety and celebration made somewhat surreal by the presence of a grenade — just plastic, folks…..– in the hand of our impish three year-old daughter. The birthday girl is wearing the Dora the Explorer shirt. The boys are Sons #4 — left side — and #3 — right side.)

Of course, before this image was captured, there was a bit of thrilling action caught by my husband (a.k.a. The Cool Photographer), as you can see below: (Note his determined look and the toy pizza slice this little infant wonder is clutching in his left hand as he makes a grab with his right hand for the birthday cake his sister hasn’t even cut into!)

In between celebrations and training programs, I managed to give a talk at the “Mom You’re Incredible” event in Ottawa last May 3rd, got together with some very good and much-missed friends, went on a road trip with the family, did a bit of demo-cooking, went here, there and feel like I’ve been everywhere!

There are no better adventures I know than the ones you find within life with the family.

Read Full Post »

At the Check-out Counter

The FamilyMost people get excited for couples expecting their first child, and rightly so. There are still looks of pleasant surprise and congratulations with the second and the third. The fourth pregnancy can bring about moments of silence for some, looks of genuine surprise from others. It gets pretty interesting from the fifth onwards.

I’ve had people look at me in disbelief, one woman even ask me point-blank if I was crazy. People who see our family all together for the first time almost always have a reaction. It has taken some getting use to, and was not very pleasant at first. I had to remind myself that, in truth, my husband and I were not doing anything wrong even if there were those who acted as if we were committing a crime.

So it was not with dread that I heard the question asked again today. Let me back-track a bit here…..

I brought four kids with me to do some grocery-shopping. The kids are great to have with me since I can ask one to get an item, while another kid can get something else. At the check-out, the kids started getting some boxes for the grocery items while I started to pay the bill. The cashier smiled at me and said, “So……3 boys and 1 girl, eh?”

I smiled back at her. “Eight. There’s eight kids.”

Her eyes kind of popped out a bit as she stared at me. “No way….”

“Yes! Eight kids — a girl, then 4 boys, then 2 girls, and a boy. I gave birth last August.”

And then came the inevitable question.

“So that’s it, right?” I could almost hear her holding her breath in anticipation.

I had to laugh. This lady with a wonderful smile was still asking me if eight was “enough”! A lot of people had stopped asking at number 6 or 7 because they either got tired or figured it out for themselves. Or thought we were plain crazy. In any case, this lady wanted an answer, and I had one for her.

“No! Listen, I have a 12-seater van, you know…..Besides, God has never let us down. He’s always taken care of us, gives us what we need. And what we don’t have, we don’t need. That’s how I see it.”

And you know what? This lady got it! She smiled at me, looking really happy this time.

“Yeah, I know what you mean.”

It thrills me when people “get” my family. And if they don’t — well, there’s always hope that they will one day.

Read Full Post »

All in the Family

(This is taken from the November 2007 newsletter of a girls’ club we run once a month from home.)

Allow me to gush: I love being a part of a large family! Eight kids, all singletons –thank you very much! I have friends who have more than eight, and some who are close to the number. For now, we (my husband & I) are at “eight”. God willing, we will be blessed with more.

I have a very good friend who has told me more than once that being a part of a large family is an education in real life itself. Consider this: you do not always get your way. You must watch where you are going or else risk trampling on some poor, unsuspecting smaller member who has yet to learn how to walk. You must be on time for everything, including and most especially meals. (Hunger seems to preclude counting of heads to make sure everyone gets their share.)

On paper, we do not look too promising: one-income earner, stay-at-home mom, lots of mouths to feed. But life is not lived on paper, and the truth is we have what we need, and oftentimes more than what we need. Whatever we may lack materially, we more than make up for with the sense of family that is so much a part of our life.

Is this experience limited to large families only? Thankfully, it is not. It may be more pronounced in a large family because of the ever-present need to help one another. Rooms are almost always shared by siblings. Things are passed down from an older sibling to a younger one. There is a natural need to consider the others. The same sense of family can and should be present in all families, regardless of size.

When we take on the considerations of the mother of a large and poor family (as a saint I am greatly fond of liked to say), what is most important comes to the fore. The non-essentials fall by the wayside.

We use things well and are not frivolous with what we have. We look out for each other. We try to do our work well because what we do matters. There is no room for selfishness because there are always others to bear in mind. And what a great blessing it is to have others to consider in the quiet of our hearts and to fill us with joy!

We are all connected with each other — our very humanity underscores this truth. It is a gift we must pass onto and teach our children about. Our kids need to learn how to be compassionate, understanding, concerned for others. In other words, our children need to know how to love. And we are each blessed with opportunities to teach them by example, every single one of them.

Finally, this sense of family transcends space and time, and thus I invite you to remember those who have gone before us: those who we loved and those whom we never knew on earth. This month, keep these souls, both known and unknown, in your prayers and thoughts. They are gone, but not forgotten. They are, after all, a part of this family we call the human race.

Read Full Post »