Road to Perdition

One thing I feel called to do in my own life, is to stop thinking of per-teens and teens as somehow on the road to Perdition. I/We must start to see everyone…as Christ did/does/and tells us to. I am thinking of my work with moms of teens/preteens going through hard times. These moms see themselves in a long dark tunnel and the light at the end, what light? For them days can seem like a long series of frustration, guilt and despair. the very common mantra is: “Where/What did I go wrong/did I do wrong. These can intellectualize that every child has been given by God gifts and talents that are to be a benefit to His people; but for right now they are doing their best to keep their preteen/teen emotionally-spiritually healthy. Thinking of the future is so far off it might as well be centuries from now.

Right now these gifts and talents are hidden under issues that have come to surface, but as they work on what God is calling them to do; their gifts and talents will shine through. I deal with moms of these trouble kids, and I tell them that the pain their child is going is going to be changed by God into wisdom. I tell these moms that their own pain has been changed into compassion, wisdom and emotional-spiritual strength. But these changes must come with the attitude of Christ: positive, compassionate, wise.

Video: I’m a spiritual director

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This the first video for Spiritual Lives Of Women.  I am using these animations to bring an other aspect to the ministry.  It is my hope that I can begin to broadcast an every Wednesday a Q &  A video.

Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary

what motherhood is like

We are going to a birthday party for our Godson; it will be his first, and an exciting time for family and friends. It is a time for us to rejoice in this little boy’s life, looking back at all the milestones, not just the little boy’s but the parents as well; and with today being the Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary it will be interesting for his mom to view this first year through Mary’s own experience.

Susan Netter wrote in her Facebook posting yesterday of Mary “pondering all these things in her heart”, and how parenting is hard, and we as “modern moms” ponder many things in our hearts. The Gospel this morning certainly reveals that Mary was going through experiences that we have go through or will with our own children. We see a teen age Jesus acting as teen age children do: exploring and expressing his own understanding of who he was becoming. And as older moms know and have experienced that process can be difficult, fear riddled and angering, the beginning of the letting process that is nature but not always liked by moms: seeing our children grow up, form their own response to God’s calling, and leaving the nest.

Did Mary, as she was searching for Jesus, look back on her life raising Jesus and see his milestones from infant to then and did she wonder if those memories would be her last? Did she vacillate between anger at Jesus being gone to her own doubts and worries to hope that Jesus is OK?

When Mary and Joseph stood at the Temple door looking in I don’t think they knew what as going on. It’s clear from the Gospel they didn’t, Jesus had to tell them why he was there and what he was doing. For our Godson the future is open, and the path being made. Mom and Dad are helping to forge that path, but it is our Godson who will be walking it. Like Mary and Joseph each decision whether conscientiously made or not helped shape Jesus’ journey but not the only influence, just as is true for our own children. And just as true of Mary and Joseph prayer, hope, and thoughtful guidance will be the best thing for our children

Responsorial Psalm June 27, 2014

smile to hideI have a friend who posts wonderful posts on Facebook that are filed with gentle wisdom about love, parenting and life. Today she posted the following which just rang in my heart as a prefect modern understanding of today’s readings but most specifically the Responsorial Psalm:

Responsorial Psalm PS 103:1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8, 10

Not according to our sins does he deal with us, nor does he requite us according to our crimes.

Her posting:

Pretending that painful or negative feelings do not exist doesn’t keep relationships more intimate. It can even create inner distance when I act as if the intimate relationship is not strong enough to hold pain, anger or hate. Powerful feelings can be frightening, but denying their presence keeps me from deeper layers of self. When my intimate relationships are able to hold the powerful, paradoxical feelings of love and hate, anger and forgiveness, something deep within me can relax and let go. If they are not able to do this, I need to withdraw from the relationship in order to be myself.

I can hold angst.

In this era of self-understanding and conscious efforts at parenting, we learn we should not come down to our children’s level. That is, we should not be as hateful toward them as they are to us. Yet, if we seal ourselves off they are cheated and burdened by the illusion that anger and hatred are personally inappropriate. Therapists are like parents. When the therapist comes down to their level, both grow from it when the generation gap is reestablished.

Motherhood Is Where I Both Lost And AM Finding God.

1040101_10151664786836738_19247959_oI understand wanting to have control of your reproductive rights, and soon the arguments about how the Church refuses to let women do with their bodies what they want will begin, AGAIN, an argument that has little merit: Natural Family Planning comes to mind.  But there is a little more to this, that needs to be looked at.

When I was a younger woman, college age, I was a feminist in the Gloria Steinem vane.  This period of my life was what I will call my man hater period, you see I had been raped three times, stalked by a very distributed neighbour, whom I never met but he was sure we were a couple, and just felt as if I had a magnet on my body that said: “Come and get her!”  At that time I would have been one of those in the picture to our left…holding up some sign declaring my womb off limits to anyone but me!  And frankly there was some justification to my feeling abused by men…because I was!  I was protecting the only asset that was truly mine…me; or at least that was my thought!

During this time I was also thinking that the Church didn’t have a place for me and only thought of me as a womb, and let’s be honest ladies that is very true for many denominations even now, so I was mad, very mad.  It took a long time to let go of all that anger and still on rare occasion it will rear it’s ugly head.

Now we get into the wonderful world of different perceptions, attitudes and values.  How many of these women have history’s like mine in the picture?  How many just don’t believe will never believe that its a baby.   How many have been made to feel less that human by a pastor, rabbi, priest that talked to them as if they were just a walking womb?

My mind was changed the moment I became a mother, the moment I knew I was pregnant.  I was surprised, overwhelmed and very upset; it wasn’t in my plans; but could I do that this little person?  No, I couldn’t.  This experience was life changing in a very deep sense for me.  A true shift in consciousness.  I was suddenly conscious of someone else’s presence in ME.  It was as if this unknown child, this was 28 years ago before ultrasound became the rage, before it was common to know who was coming into the world, wanted to be here, needed to be here,  the only thing I knew that there was someone in there; my womb was rented and I wasn’t going to evict.

This mind shift/soul shift, started 28 years ago, has taken many forms, but always toward the more positive.  The more I began to realize that my life was mine, but now had a deeper commitment to it because of a child, I felt more in control of myself because now I had to think of more than just myself.  I was truly a co-create with God!  Now it took awhile to come to that realization and understanding of it’s power in my life; something I have much clearer vision on now that I am on the other side of mothering: mothering our adult children, mothering other younger moms on this journey, but still a revelation to true spiritual-emotional power.

Motherhood/mothering is a strong commitment to life, my life, my child(ren)’s life.   It was a stronger understanding that now I was a mother; a mother that has journeyed through issues and attitudes about myself and my thoughts on motherhood.  Motherhood is where I both lost and AM finding God.  Motherhood is where I am finding myself, realize that I am a powerful spiritual person, that I am a Daughter of God, Priest, Prophet and Queen!  Through mothering and the modeling that is inherent to it, I am working toward creating a healthier, stronger, wiser me…the me, the mother, God has called me to be; all those years ago..even though I didn’t understand it clearly…then.

Knowing the Spirit of Your Child Through Song

here is a tribe in Africa where the birth date of a child is counted not from when they were born, nor from when they are conceived but from the day that the child was a thought in its mother’s mind. And when a woman decides that she will have a child, she goes off and sits under a tree, by herself, and she listens until she can hear the song of the child that wants to come. And after she’s heard the song of this child, she comes back to the man who will be the child’s father, and teaches it to him. And then, when they make love to physically conceive the child, some of that time they sing the song of the child, as a way to invite it.And then, when the mother is pregnant, the mother teaches that child’s song to the midwives and the old women of the village, so that when the child is born, the old women and the people around her sing the child’s song to welcome it. And then, as the child grows up, the other villagers are taught the child’s song. If the child falls, or hurts its knee, someone picks it up and sings its song to it. Or perhaps the child does something wonderful, or goes through the rites of puberty, then as a way of honoring this person, the people of the village sing his or her song.In the African tribe there is one other occasion upon which the villagers sing to the child. If at any time during his or her life, the person commits a crime or aberrant social act, the individual is called to the center of the village and the people in the community form a circle around them. Then they sing their song to them.The tribe recognizes that the correction for antisocial behavior is not punishment; it is love and the remembrance of identity. When you recognize your own song, you have no desire or need to do anything that would hurt another.And it goes this way through their life. In marriage, the songs are sung, together. And finally, when this child is lying in bed, ready to die, all the villagers know his or her song, and they sing—for the last time—the song to that person.You may not have grown up in an African tribe that sings your song to you at crucial life transitions, but life is always reminding you when you are in tune with yourself and when you are not. When you feel good, what you are doing matches your song, and when you feel awful, it doesn’t. In the end, we shall all recognize our song and sing it well. You may feel a little warbly at the moment, but so have all the great singers. Just keep singing and you’ll find your way home. 
Read more about this practice on The God Molecule. Click the picture

I came across this on my Facebook timeline and thought immediately of the adage that the nuns used to tell us at Saint Camillus that when you sing you pray twice.

These mothers truly sing/pray their children into the world.  That prayer follows the child all through his/her life even to death;  the whole village will eventually know that child’s prayer, and by knowing that prayer they know the spirit of the child.

Here is a tribe in Africa where the birthdate of a child is counted not from when they were born, nor from when they are conceived but from the day that the child was a thought in its mother’s mind. And when a woman decides that she will have a child, she goes off and sits under a tree, by herself, and she listens until she can hear the song of the child that wants to come. And after she’s heard the song of this child, she comes back to the man who will be the child’s father, and teaches it to him. And then, when they make love to physically conceive the child, some of that time they sing the song of the child, as a way to invite it.

And then, when the mother is pregnant, the mother teaches that child’s song to the midwives and the old women of the village, so that when the child is born, the old women and the people around her sing the child’s song to welcome it

Friday, December 6, First Week of Advent, 2012, Countdown to Christmas

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426681_464402880251064_874316376_nThe Kairos experience was great one for our twinnie girls, but like all things it does not last.  We as human beings can only retain that euphoria before we come back to earth with a thud.  And last night that is what happened.

The girls were very close as young children but as they grew older their personalities and coping measures truly showed just how different the girls were, more like oil and water than twin sisters.

Our eldest twin has trouble with deep emotions and is a perfectionist, while her twin  has a great deal of social unawareness and when pushed into a corner emotionally will shut down completely and refuses to speak.  During Kairos the girls made a promise to “live out the fourth” by trying to become “sisters” again and work on their relationship…something we have been trying to do for years. :)   I have no idea if it both were having bad days or our youngest just wanted to get under our eldest’s skin but last night was a doozy.  Remotes went flying, words were said, yelling was heard, and it left a hole in my heart.

When I became a mom I swore I would not be like my mother, I wanted to be prefect for my kids, boy there is a goal for you!  No one can be prefect for their kids and we all make mistakes, sometimes huge ones, but that is the nature of being human: making mistakes.  Our eldest twin has such trouble with powerful emotions and people not doing what she wants that she resorts to self harm, because of a commitment to herself and the work we have done she tries very hard not to rely on that coping mechanism; she will come down to talk or dance in her room, paint her nails, talk to friends on the phone…anything to not do her self harm.

Last night she did all of that, and I couldn’t be prouder, but unlike her dad who knows how to talk to her, really he studied her, learned her emotional verbal and facial triggers and puts his years of managerial experience to bare, (much of what my hubby does is so similar to what her therapist does its uncanny), that he is the best sounding broad for our eldest girl.   In the beginning I was not her best listener, I showed emotion, which was something I always thought the children should see…no, no, no,no; the kids aren’t interested in your emotions they want strength..mybad.  As our talk progressed I became the listener she needed: someone who our eldest twinnie felt safe blowing off steam and just let her vent.  She wasn’t looking for someone to fix it, she was looking for someone to just let her talk out her feelings with no judgement.  If I had not changed my state our eldest would be dealing with her need to “be there for mom”, very bad, she needs to be learning how to deal with her emotions, become the strong woman God calls her to be,

I began to think about all that: the wanting to talk to someone without judgement and it hit me like a ton of bricks: God!

If we believe that God is our Father than he is our parent, divine parent, but here is the rub; depending on how your parents treated you that is how you see God treating you, and in turn how you treat your children is how they will see God!  ACK!  Last night was the first time in a long time that I felt a connection to God.  As I sat there I realized that how much of what our eldest needed from me was the face of the Divine to be reflected to her, and my face was filled with too much fear.  It was so important to change my attitude so that our eldest could also change, giving her the strength to change her emotional state.  For the first time in a very long time I understood how connected we were to each other, if I continued in the state of fear and sadness that was the energy that I was giving my child. From God we get our emotional state, 2 Tim 1:7: For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. It was clear to me, in a moment, that I was being timid, that I was not being self-disciplined so I could not receive the  power God has for me.

That was the first time that I felt God in my life.

Why I think Tough Love isn’t Biblical or why My tongue was so bloody

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During the ’70s and ’80s the parenting concept of “tough love” was introduced: It is the ultimate parental nightmare: “Your affectionate child is transformed, seemingly overnight, into an out-of-control, drug-addicted, hostile teenager. Many parents blame themselves. ‘Where did we go wrong?’ they ask. The kids, meanwhile, hurtle through their own bewildering adolescent nightmare. ” (1)   It was thought that if parents wanted their children to respect them, the parents, again, become productive; than they had to kick, literally kick the defiant child out of the house.

Now we had troubles with our eldest, the kind of nightmare troubles that no parent wants to have, and there were times when, especially I wanted to, kick that boy out of the house; but my husband talked me out of it every single time. For us the idea of kicking a child out of the house is just plain wrong; but it was something that concerned friends would advise.

The whole philosophy of tough love is dominated by the idea that harsh rules and even brutal confrontation are necessary to help troubled teenagers. (1)

To my husband and me it seemed very much like we were giving our son a snake when he was asking for bread. Luke 11:11.

To throw him out of the house was going to be seen by him as if we thought he was garbage to be thrown away.  To throw him out of the house meant we were forever going to break trust with him.  Was he breaking trust with us….very much so.  Was he being disrespectful…in spades.  Did our having him stay part of the family mean we were doormats….in no way.   It meant we had to have stronger boundaries, rules and expectations.  It meant rehab, family therapy, and consequences for actions.

It meant jail time if necessary.  It meant that I had to think very carefully before I spoke because I had to speak words of truth but not blame: Words of anger but not cruelty; words of support but not saccharin.  It was not easy to be there for our son, to work with him, to watch him change from being so angry and defiant to a respectful man.

Years later our son told us he was so glad we stood by him because he knew people who were kicked out, whose families did use tough love, and those young men were now far worse, not better, for the experience. It was one of the most difficult ten years of our lives. It was not all rosy, but God does not promise us a life of ease, but he does promise that he will be with us to ease it.

The Trouble With Tough Love/Time Magazine (1) By Maia Szalavitz, Sunday, January 29, 2006

Not everyone has a hubby

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Mother and baby
Mother and baby (Photo credit: ECohen)

I have so many wonderful sister moms that do this vocation of mothering all by themselves.  So, who do they cling to.  I know a mom who lost her husband when her eldest child was 18 months and she was three months pregnant with their second child.  It was such a shock to lose someone you love so suddenly and so young: they were both in their twenties, just starting their lives together!

She had family to gather around her, she was very lucky and blessed to have family; not everyone is/does!  So, who do you cling to when you are alone?

For many single moms it means creating a family of their choosing.  Building a community of people who will be there for them: Ruth and Naomi come to mind.

In Hebrew the name Naomi means “my gracious one” or “my delight”; Ruth, meaning “friend.”  What appropriate qualities to look for when finding those to whom to cling: ones who will be gracious, a delight and who will be friend.

Cling

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English: Mother and child.
English: Mother and child. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one flesh. Gn 2:18-24

 

I was rereading last Sunday’s readings and the passage above, especially: and the two of them become one flesh jumped right out at me as if it was written for ME; I know I have heard this passage at many a wedding, but now as a mother it takes on a very different perspective.

 

As I always say the Bible is an ever living word and it has specific things to say to us over time, and this passage speaks to me as a mother.  It is the word cling that speaks to my soul.  When we first marry of course we cling to our husband, and as our marriage create children we can slowly begin to cling to our children.  How many times have you heard someone say: “Boy, she, (mom’s name here), really changed after having kids!”  My father-in-law had this very talk with his son, my hubby, when my hubby was a teen.  I don’t remember why they got on that subject but it was such a pressing point that my father-in-law had to say this to his son.

 

When my hubby related the story to me I was dealing with young children and NEVER thought that that would EVER happen to me; all the while, as I look back, I was engaging into what I call the mommy warp — children’s need stucking you deeper and deeper in and away from your calling/marriage/self.  Remember when you held your little one right after birth; all the sudden rush of love…

 

That is the start of the warp.  I am not saying don’t fall in love with your child, just don’t FALL IN LOVE with your child and forget to cling to your husband!  It is such an insidious trap this mommy wrap: Our children are so small, vulnerable, needy but it is our marriage that is the foundation of our lives.