You’re Doing A Great Job

I take great comfort in knowing that Mary and Joseph lost Jesus for 3 days. I imagine their conversation went something like this:
M: Joseph, where’s Jesus? I thought he was with you.
J: no…I thought he was with you.
M: NO….I told you to make sure he doesn’t dally.
J: Oooohhhh, I thought you said that’s he’s with Aunt Sally….

So they retrace their steps and of course he’s in His Father’s House, a 12 year old prodigy on all things torah-related.

But could you imagine losing your child for THREE DAYS? Oh my goodness. I’ve lost my children in my own house for 5 minutes and almost had a heart attack.

I’ve had some time to reflect on the Holy Family, given all the recent feasts since Christmas: Feast of the Holy Family, Feast of Mary, Mother of God, and just this past Sunday, the Baptism of Jesus.

And I’m taking comfort in knowing that not even the family of God was without it’s oddities and perhaps a certain level of dysfunction. Mary and Joseph weren’t even living together yet when Jesus was conceived. Obviously, it was to preserve her perpetual virginity that she became pregnant when she did, but think of the times they lived in. The scandal; the unconventionalism. And then don’t forget about Elizabeth, her cousin. She was PAST MENOPAUSE, people, and her husband even older than she was. And bam, a baby. You don’t think people questioned? Thought it was odd? And then to be born in a stable where animals live (the thought of the germs and the smell just kill me!). Packing up your family and running for your lives because someone wants your child dead? And then to lose Jesus for 3 days, just to top off his childhood.

Jesus! Where have you been? I've been looking for you for DAYS!

Jesus! Where have you been? I’ve been looking for you for DAYS! Don’t you ever scare me like that again!

I read a story the other day about a house that burnt down and killed a little 3 year old inside because her mom left her for the afternoon alone in her house. Heart-wrenchinging, I know. But stories like that remind me that I’m doing a pretty good job at this whole parenting thing.

A mom in my mom’s group last week asked that to our table: When was the last time someone told you you were doing a good job? Everyone was silent, and the first person I thought of was my doctor. Bless him, for telling us young mothers that. I know my husband and mom have also said it on occasion. But we modern day mothers can be so hard on ourselves. So I gave myself a little mothering test based on stories I have heard in the news.

Have I fed my children this week? Have I taken drugs around them or beaten them? Have I left them alone for long periods of time? Have I seriously neglected them or abused them? Have I buckled them in their car seat and put shoes on them when its snowing?

On the contrary, I tell my children I love them multiple times a day. I feed them a well-balanced diet and take them on trips to the museum, playground, etc. They have clothes and toys and games, and I do bathe them occasionally. We have prayer time at night and they know who Jesus is. They know their shapes, colors, ABCs. I nurse the baby on demand and change his dirty diapers, using rash cream when necessary.

Sure, I lose my temper sometimes and I yell, and I let them watch more TV than the doctor recommends. But it is winter and we have been sick and cabin fever is a real thing. So a little more TV and a few extra sugary treats to bribe them into good behavior and a “mommy meltdown” or two do not mean I am failing at being a mom. It just means I’m being human, and hey, the Holy Family wasn’t exactly perfect, either. (But close, poor Joseph.)

So I hope you take the test with me to see that you are doing a great job. Maybe I’m the first one to tell you: You are doing a great job! But even though our failings can overwhelming us sometimes, take comfort in knowing that God’s favorite way to come into a family can be very unconventional, and I do believe there’s nothing He likes more than to enter into our dysfunction and save us.

P.S. i really enjoyed these reflections on the 7 Sorrows of Mary. It reminds me that being a mother, especially for the Blessed Mother, wasn’t always easy.

Anything But Ordinary

I just saw that it’s been 3 months since my last post. And I’ll tell you why. The other week I had a thought while preparing dinner. Quesadilla begins with Q!!!! And I couldn’t believe that I’ve never seen a “q is for quesadilla” in any Alphabet book I have read to my children.

I have strict standards for what I post on here. And unless it’s thoughtful and carefully constructed, it doesn’t get posted. So that’s why there have been no posts. Plus I’ve been pounding away at mounds of to-do lists. And although I should be sorting the recycling to take later this afternoon, all 3 kids are sleeping so I’ll take a moment to sip some warmed-up coffee and write.

Write about what? Christmas. Getting ready for Christmas was so fun this year! Our newly remodeled room accommodated for a 10 foot tree. It was fun to decorate our new house for Christmas for the first time, and we even made a whole night out of hot chocolate and getting our tree at Tree Town. Prayer time around the advent wreath was one of my favorite parts of getting ready for Christmas. The story of Jesus’ birth plus blowing out candles easily lends itself to catechesis for the little ones. And when Advent was over we made a Christmas wreath with red and white candles (3 for the trinity!) and they blew that one out, too. Our simple advent prayer was, “Come, Jesus, Come!”

She only singed her hair twice this year.

She only singed her hair twice this year.

So come, Jesus, come. While it wasn’t in my top 5 of best advents in terms of personal prayer and preparation, Jesus still came. He was born into the world and into our hearts. And now today I have been taking down Christmas decorations, since the Christmas season ends this weekend. And it’s weird, because the house now looks plain. Ordinary, if you will, which I guess is appropriate since we are entering the liturgical season of Ordinary Time. But it seems too empty, like something is missing without the bells and lights and decorations.


Jesus came. And so, our lives can now be anything but ordinary. And they should be anything but empty because Jesus is here! His incarnation sanctified humanity and the world. It sanctified the family, as his chosen means to come to earth and bring salvation. My ordinary family cannot be so plain anymore. It must be filled with the spirit and with life. But without my wreath and candles and decoration, I’m just not sure how to do that now.

The liturgical color for Ordinary Time is green. “Green is for the growing time,” my 3 year old informed me, having learned that in his Catechesis of the Good Shepherd classes. Jesus came as a baby. And maybe Jesus is still a baby in my heart, and it’s time to grow some roots this season. My youngest baby Luke, has grown up incredibly in these last 6 months (as he is now babbling and rolling and sitting up and eating solids!). So how is Jesus going to grow in my heart and in my household this year, especially during this new season of “ordinary”? That is the question I will keep reflecting on as I go sort my recycling…

Goodbye Christmas tree

Goodbye Christmas tree