I woke up at 5 am to the frantic screaming of a little girl. I got up and changed her diaper and tried to put her back to bed. When it became apparent that she was having none of it, I relented and brought her in to snuggle in with us. She nursed and we dozed and nursed until almost 8 when she sat up and started chattering. Is there any better way to start the day? 

Then I got up and fed her breakfast, finished the pile of dishes in the sink from last night, made oatmeal and ate breakfast. Said my prayers while Isabella played on the living room floor. Nursed her and put her down for a morning nap. Read my email (including many wonderful comments from the blog), the daily mass readings and some blogs. When the baby woke up I gave her some lunch: turkey, cheese, grapes, banana puffs, bread crusts, water, applesauce, cereal.

We hurried out the door for noon mass. The readings were eerily appropriate in that way they often are, seeming to speak right at me. Especially since Dom was lector. The homily could have been written just for me as well. Father spoke about Joseph’s trials and accepting our crosses and oh I can’t remember what all now, but it was exactly what I needed to hear right then. Bella began laughing before mass started, beaming at the old lady across the aisle. She continued to punctuate the entire mass with frequent ‘ha’ laughs. I had to stick my finger in her mouth several times when she got too excited. I think she made half a dozen new friends.

After mass Fr. Murphy gave me the sacrament of anointing of the sick. Bella kept trying to grab his book. I felt peaceful. Father was very obviously charmed by our little girl.

Came home and put Bella down for a nap. Ran to the grocery store to get the stuff we were missing for dinner. On the way home I fielded a call from Stephanie, my best friend from UD. She’d just got my email, in a roundabout way from another friend who’d been forwarded it by a third friend. I got their addresses wrong and Stephie knew I must be in a pretty distracted state. She asked if I felt up to talking. I didn’t, not really, but I did want to talk to her. I’m getting tired of telling the story. At least I didn’t have to break the news to her. She’d had a bit of time for it to sink in.

Got home and Bella was still asleep. Dom brought in the groceries and then ran to the bank and post office. I finished my phone call just as Bella was waking up. Stephie got to hear part of the diaper change screaming, lucky her.

Then Bella played in the living room while I read a bit more of my email, a few more blogs. Then I gave her dinner while Dom cooked ours. White bean stew with crusty wheat rolls and shrimp with cocktail sauce. We put Bella to bed and sat down to eat our own dinner. Then Dom left to have a guys night out at the rectory with Fr. Murphy and a few other men from the parish, smoking pipes and drinking scotch. My husband, such a wild guy.

In a bit I’ll say my prayers and go to bed. I’m tired. I’ve spent the whole day pushing back: I’m not going to think about it, not going to wallow, not going to be afraid. I’ve spent the whole day trying to pray, most successfully at mass and when I was nursing Bella, but every time the thoughts started to rage, I held on tighter to God’s presence. I am awed by all the people who have responded, who are praying. I am moved that God has used our time of trial to show me so clearly the reality of the Body of Christ. Especially here on the internet.

A commenter on Dom’s blog today cast scorn on the idea of blogging as a form of ministry. Well, I don’t care what you want to call it, but I know God is using me, using this blog, for some purpose of his own. And for that and so many other things, I am very thankful. He has a plan for us and I trust in him.

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  • Apologies in advance for the lengthy comment but this struck a chord.

    I let my kids watch TV more than I should and it seems like they’re constantly being bombarded with descriptions of “family,” sometimes bad enough that I do what I should anyway and turn off the TV, sometimes merely setting me on alert. I guess the (sometimes) subtle point is that a family can be lots of different things including whatever group of people the kid watching happens to live with. Sometimes I actively argue and tell my son, “Actually, some kids don’t live with both their mommies and daddies, but that’s very very sad.” Kids who were abandoned or had a tragic loss don’t need to be told it’s good enough for them. They needed their fathers (or mothers.) I don’t spend a lot of time telling him about the woes of family destruction and how great our version is either, though.

    In 9th grade, Catholic school religion class we had a homework assignment to write about what our family structure was and to name both benefits and disadvantages. I find it really offensive that they asked divorced kids to discuss “advantages” to that situation—if it’s “dad doesn’t beat mom anymore” that’s still not matter for an everyday homework assignment for a basic stranger to read. My own father had died, so I kind of sarcastically wrote that I’d probably have to go to bed at a certain time and be more disciplined about homework if he were alive, but I didn’t think it was quite the even trade.

  • I think a little bit of “kids with problems like mine” reading goes a long way. How are our children supposed to strive for ideals if we discourage believing in them?

  • Very timely. I let my son watch a Disney show tonight. I was in the room with him. The kids wanted to have a surprise party for their friend, and invite both of his divorced parents. They hoped the parents would get back together. Of course this did not work. Lots of canned laughter. I asked my son if he thought this was a funny situation, that a kid’s parents were divorced and he could not live with both of them. He thought it was very sad…I like him to be aware that many things that our culture thinks are funny or normal are not. Constant vigilance.

  • But I don’t think most children yearn to read about people who are “just like me with problems just like mine”. They might be satisfied with that if it’s all they have (maybe).

    I agree with you here.  (Perhaps predictably!)  The great thing about reading, though, is that it encourages children to find similarities to their own lives in dissimilar situations—to apply abstract principles such as responsibility, generosity, and cooperation rather than trying to fit “fictional ready-made solution A” to “life event C.”  It encourages creativity in dealing with life issues rather than suggesting the ideal cure, which is not possible or realistic in every situation.

    Thanks for the post, Melanie!