Friday, April 25, 2014

Why I Love Easter, Child Spacing, Homeschooling and Other Random Thoughts.


For the first time, in well over a year, I sorta have writer's block. I can't really think what to blog I'll just let 7 things that have been rumbling around in my head, spill out on the computer screen.


I love Easter....probably even more than Christmas.  I love how we have the season of joy and celebration after a season of penance and suffering.  It's been said that you have to go through pain, to find joy and every year the Lent/Easter season reminds us of that.  You have to suffer through Good Friday and the reminder of the Crucifixion to get to Easter Sunday...the joy of the Resurrection. 


On a more secular note, I love Easter egg hunts and chocolate candy. The kids have an endless amount of fun hiding Easter eggs and finding them (even if they are empty), again and again and again.   Our kids even set up an Easter egg hunt for Ben and me.  I have to say, those eggs were well-hidden...harder than we hid them, anyway.


Easter reminds us what our faith is all about.  It reminds us why Christianity is so different from every other religion.  Jesus wasn't just a great leader, or a prophet or this charismatic guy that everyone followed.  He claimed to be the SON OF GOD.  That's a pretty major claim. And, then he died in the most humbling, horrifying manner possible. And, then he ROSE FROM THE DEAD.  Which is pretty darn amazing when you think about it.   Easter is really what our faith is all about..and I love that about it.  It's why Jesus Christ is not in the same category as Abraham or Mohammad or Gandhi or anyone else.  None of them ROSE FROM THE DEAD. 


Let's talk about something else now.  Let's talk about child spacing.  I love the Catholic blogosphere.  I love the Catholic community there.  But, one of the curses is that due to my own insecurities, I always feel super inadequate about my family size and child spacing.  As though, somehow we are "less Catholic" because we don't have a baby every 18 months-2 years.  By the world' standards, we have a large family, but by Catholic standards, it's pretty small for a couple who has been married as long as we have (13 years).  I will admit to feeling a teeny, tiny stab of envy whenever anyone writes something like "we had 4 kids in 6 years" or "5 kids, 8 and under" or "God blessed us 5 times in 8 years." or "I've been pregnant 5 times in 6 years" It's a badge of honor I don't get to have.  Somehow saying, "we had 4 kids in 11 years" isn't all that impressive.  It's just not.  I never get any nasty comments about my family size.  No one is really that impressed with 4 kids, spread out over a span of 10 years.  No one asks me "how I do it".  No one talks about us in awed tones "they have 4 kids, 12 and under."   I think this has been weighing on my mind more, just because I'm already 36.  I don't have tons of years of fertility left, especially since I wasn't all that fertile in my 20's (and breastfeeding really affects my fertility) so I highly doubt it's going to get any better as I get older.   


Other thoughts....any other homeschoolers find it INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT to balance time at home doing school with time outside the home, doing fun stuff, like coops, activities, park days, etc.  On the one hand, we really need to stay home to get our school work done.  The day is just too stressed if we try to do outside activities and school all in the same day.  I hate feeling like we need to be done by la certain time.  It just makes me and the kids stressed and I yell too much.  On the other hand, we really, really NEED to get out of the house and see other people and do fun stuff.  It's just SO HARD to balance everything.  Sigh  Any tips.  (and yes, that is a lot of capital letters...I'm feeling a bit dramatic tonight). 


I've been trying to eliminate my tired, stressed out voice. You know that voice...the one you use when you are just tired and stressed out.  Part of doing that is learning that I really need to just slow down.  I think a big part of my problem is that I have way too many expectations of all the things I want/need to get done in a day, so I end up spending the day just running around, being impatient and stressed out with everyone.  I've learned that I really need to just limit the amount of stuff I expect myself to do in a day and learn how to slow down, instead of rushing, rushing, rushing all the time. Part of that is realizing that it takes longer to do stuff than I think.  You would think after 4 kids I would have figured this out, but it takes longer to get out  the door, longer to eat lunch, longer to clean-up, longer to do just about everything...and that's okay.  Once, I realize it takes longer, I can work on not being so stressed and planning for it.  I must be an awfully slow learner, because it took me A LONG TIME to figure these things. 

And, I think I've used up my allotted quota of words in ALL CAPS for one blog post, so go see Jen for more 7 Quick Takes Friday (and congratulate her on her book). 

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  1. I feel your pain on number 5. For lots of reasons, we only have two kids. And it's not because we didn't want more. It's just how it is. (And we use NFP but I'm sure people assume otherwise.) I dont think anyone in the blogosphere is judging, but there are times, I feel less than adequate, or less Catholic but that's only because I'm comparing myself to others. And I've learned, that's just something I can't do. Comparison is the thief of joy!

  2. Gosh, I have so much to say to this post. First of all, thank you for linking up. I've been feeling lonely over at 3 Reasons and I always love your submissions. I like all 3 of your reasons but my favorite is #3 (take 4). Jesus *is* so different from every other religious founder.

    Take 5: I've felt like this lately too. For the first few years of parenting, we had a kid every 17 months to 2.5 years. But since Zeke, I feel like people might assume we are *done* when that is soooo not the case. Then this year we started going to a Catholic park day and we are one of the smallest families! Now that we're expecting again (thanks for the shout out!) it's a funny feeling. It's not like we ever weren't open to life, but people (including some family members) assumed otherwise. So here we are again, challenging people's assumptions and I must admit that sometimes my pride gets a little worked up. Rambling here, but basically what I'm trying to say is that I understand.

    Take 6: I totally feel this way sometimes. Something that helps is setting out all the schoolwork before the week starts and ten we just divide it up however we need to. This week, for example, we had co-op on Monday and a field trip on Tuesday, so all our book work got done in just 3 days. I've also gotten way more flexible about car schooling. Unless it's cursive practice, I allow them to do lessons in the car on the way to and from activities. It's funny: they actually do quite well with this, probably because I'm not hanging over their shoulders. :)

    And this was a novel-length comment! Thanks again for linking up!

  3. Oh #5! Don't even think for one moment that you are not a beautiful witness to being open to life. Your blog is an example of Catholic family life and being pro-life! That is one of the reasons I enjoy reading it.
    My quick takes today are about how hard it is for Catholic couples that are dealing with infertility. Our witness doesn't always look like being open to life and it can feel like being open to loss.
    We are part of a great big church family and we need to support and pray for each other - no matter how many or how few children we have.
    As Beth wrote, comparison is the thief of joy.
    I know you would love another baby, Amelia. I will keep you in my prayers.

  4. I agree with you on the Easter thing - it always seemed more special than Christmas. That may be because we've commercialized Christmas so much, and Easter resists that sort of thing better.

  5. Just a little note of encouragement to say that you deserve a "badge of honor." Four kids is a lot of kids! To be honest, I tend to roll my eyes at people who talk a lot about how many kids they've had in x amount of time (and we've had three kids in 3.5 years). I annoy myself sometimes, haha. I think it's my own insecurities that makes me feel like it's a competition somehow. I'm sure no one intends for it to feel that way, but sometimes one can't help but feel that way. The way I look at is that there will always be someone with more kids or more closely spaced kids than me, so who cares really. God bless you and your family.

  6. Amelia, you know I can totally relate to #5. Whether the judgement we feel is real or imagined through our own insecurities, we both have to remember that family size is NOT an indicator of openness to life. If you're open to life and following Church teaching, you'll end up with as many kids as God wants you to have. It might not be the number you had in mind or the number other people might expect of you (or Catholic families in general) but as Mother Teresa said "it was never about them anyway." I wish I could give you a hug! I think you're great!

  7. I love that you wrote about your feelings on family size and child spacing. I have had some of the same feelings lately. Though I did have three children in three years, I've been desperately wanting another and I'm 38 and it's not happening and. . . Well, you know. I'll pray for you.
    And I have the same feelings about homeschooling too. My kids are still young enough that I just go and do stuff and don't really worry about the schoolwork yet (they're all still preschool age). But once my oldest starts kindergarten next year, I'm terrified of how everything will fit into our days!

  8. So happy that you wrote about #5. I am 37, and we have three children (so 4 seems like a lot to me! :-) We are thinking about more, but for us it is complicated due to my health issues. We also experienced infertility before having our three miracles. So we know very well that for many families, the "choice" of how many children to have is complicated, and I never "judge" anyone based on the number of children they have.

    However, you point to something real. There is a definitely a sense in which that people assume that the best Catholic families are the ones with the most children (and, I think, even those families themselves can be tempted to think that they are somehow better than everyone else), and there is also a kind of palpable competition to get those minivans filled up with little bodies, to show the world just how Catholic one really is! In so many ways it is positive to have a large family, as there is a need for this kind of positive witness, but this can be the negative side of it - the petty competition and turned-up noses, which all people struggle with sometimes.

    However, don't let it get you down or make you feel insecure and inadequate. While it may not be apparent, many people know better, and do not equate the number/spacing of your children with how good you are as a Catholic, or anything else.

    Lots of children means that you have been blessed, not that you are a blessing.

  9. #5--I can understand. We have an almost 5 year gap between our third birth (twins) and our next child. I felt sad, left out, and like people assumed we were "done." Now that child is going on 2, and we don't have another one on the way, and I have the same feelings. You're not the only one!

    #6--YES, absolutely. We just can't bunch up our book work in fewer days. My oldest two struggle enough with sitting still as it is. Asking them to make up tomorrow's work so we can go somewhere? They just can't. This comes up for me any time we go anywhere during the day or have family come into town.

    I deal with this by counting all those outings, park days, field trips, doctor's appointments as part of the kids' learning experience, ie as part of school. And if the math book takes 10 months instead of 9 to work through, that's what we do! But it can be very frustrating. I get #7 too! I'm always trying to cram too much into too little time!


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