Saturday, November 5, 2011

Taking the Road Less Traveled

On Thursday, I grabbed this book from the library.

The first couple chapters are a really hilarious read on a bad motherhood day. Some ex-Advertising gurus interviewed a bunch of mothers about their lives. For the first twenty minutes they got all sunshine and roses. At the twenty-two mark limit, moms let down their hair and started telling the truth about the cracks in the facade. My favorite quote was "I love being a Mother. I just hate doing it!"

It was a great read. Super fun. I thought it hit some of the emotional problems I face in my conception of motherhood right on the mark.

However, reading it left a bad taste in my mouth.

The problem is that the author's conclusions are things that are either unethical, or basically impossible to do as a practicing Catholic. Their cure for the "insane" expectations of modern motherhood were to "just drop a few things.

Here are some actual quotes with my reactions.

"My husband and I initially wanted to have three kids, but we decided after a long honest talk that we could really only handle two." (Ah, contraception is not really an option for me).

Or "if family dinner is too hard, why not aim for family togetherness at a nightly back-yard soccer game instead." (Sorry, much as I hate it, my crew needs to eat.)

Or "just say no to doing hosting a kid's birthday party." (Hmmm, tempting...)

This 'just drop all the unnecessary things" really ate me up.

But here is the thing, on Wednesday night, my kid's soccer coach put out an APB begging a parent to host a post-soccer season celebration party. After talking to my husband, I unenthusiastically agreed.

On Friday, I started throwing up at 8 AM and didn't stop until 2 PM. (Hello, morning sickness. Did you get the 'we are now firmly in the second trimester memo?) The house is a mess. I practically crawled through the Target birthday aisle on all four picking up party supplies with 4 kids in tow.

The whole time I thought "this is so stupid! Why is the only pregnant girl on the team hosting a party? And I'm the poorest one who has to give up her HEATING OIL money to host a party that no one has RSVP'd for? This is exactly the sort of 'crazy mothering thing' the book says to avoid!!!"

But in my heart of hearts I knew the truth. No one else had volunteered. Zip. And I knew why. No one else was going to clean their house for a bunch of total strangers except me, this silly Catholic girl who sometimes takes random stabs at extending "charity" and "hospitality."

Then my son's team won a ticket to semi-finals unexpectedly on Friday. That put me in a better mood. But I mean, I was still cooking a soccer cake at 10 PM (because of course, I had forgotten to buy vegetable oil and toilet paper, so my hubby had to make at 9:30 PM grocery store run).

Then this morning, an impossible thing happened.

We WON SEMI-finals.

You guys have to understand. We beat the team that hadn't had a single goal scored on them all season! My team, the guys that just believe that soccer should be fun, and use all the players on the team in every single game. We beat the intense coach who hand picks all of his players each year. And we didn't just beat them, we shut them out! The final score was 3 to 0.

(I sort of credit massive prayers made to Blessed Pope John Paul II. He was a soccer player in his youth, remember).

Then, almost as an anti-climax, we won the championship game 5 to 1.



So after this major Cinderella victory, everyone came over to my house. My tiny house. The adults sat in the living room and the kids played old fashioned party games that were really fun.


(trying to pop each other's balloons)
It was a fantastic time.

And it was all grace. I mean the angels cleaned our house, cooked the food and gave me energy to be "camp fun director" for three hours today.

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This kid, stuffing his face with my husband's homemade soccer ball cake just lost his mother to cancer four weeks ago. (I actually cried when I bought him chicken nuggets at the soccer field today. I was so honored just to be able to do something tiny for him. Then he actually came over to my house!!!)

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And this girl has a tough life and rarely smiled the whole soccer season. Look at her today!

I would have missed it all, if I had tried to be "sensible" about my limitations in motherhood. Thank the Lord we are Catholics. As Saint Paul said "when I am weak, then I am strong."


  1. Oh that is a sweet story. Your kids will remember this day for the rest of their lives.

    I do wish, though, that there is a way to not drive yourself crazy (I've been there and done that.) Probably some of the other parents would have been happy to pick up a cake at the grocery store....or even throw a few bucks in a hat to help pay for the party...

  2. I have such a hard time reading parenting books - or really any self-help book in general - that is not specifically geared toward Catholics, because of this same problem! But I find that there just aren't enough great Catholic books out there!

  3. Abigail, look what happens when we let God in! What a great story - I am so happy for you!

    And can you send those angels my way, please? My kitchen is a mess. ;)

  4. You know it's interesting Ann, I certainly thought about buying a cake and also asking parents to help pay for the party, but my dear husband was so insistent-- I really think he was guided by the Holy Spirit.

    First, he decorated the cake by hand and it was gorgeous. It really made the party (and still tons cheaper than trying to buy a store bought cake to feed 30 guests).

    Secondly, my husband said "when we go to the Nuns house for a party, we don't bring anything." I agreed. True charity is so rare these days. And honestly, everyone was so STRESSED. We played 3 soccer games within a 24 hour period. I didn't buy anything expensive--some tiny hot dogs and potato chips and $1 soda. So it was a small cost to give everyone else a chance to just show up for a party without having to contribute anything except the pleasure of their company.

    God will take care of our grocery bill this month. Even if we're eating extra PBJ sandwiches it's so worth it!

  5. Bonnie, unfortunately I think St. Zita's angels ONLY show up when you are actively doing an act of charity that is completely and utterly beyond your natural limits.

    So go feed some orphans tomorrow if you want your kitchen cleaned! :-)

  6. I am simply amazed at what you accomplished. Fantastic!

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  8. No me, it was all God Jen!

    But I am AVAILABLE to be a party planner for kid's birthday parties in China if you just provide the air-fare! :-)

  9. Wow. I don't know how you did it, so to speak! (I do know - divine assistance but still!) I got stressed just reading all you had to do while being sick and pregnant and all. I don't do stress well, personally, so things like this I personally try to avoid. But you did it and that is so awesome!

  10. Charity and hospitality are the hardest and clearest acts we are called to. You are my hero.

  11. You know little Jo Ann, I was SHOCKED. It is so clear that ALL children need a safe place to play and get to make new friends.

    The same is doubly true for ADULTS!

    Hospitality rocks, especially in our current cold climate where people are too busy to entertain.