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A Family Woman Ink Slingers Marriage Michelle Motherhood Proverbs 31 Catholic Woman Series Spiritual Growth Vocations

Ode to Feminine Genius: A Family Woman

This is the seventh installment in the series of Ode to Feminine Genius: Proverbs 31 Catholic WomanToday’s topic will cover A Family Woman.

A family woman

When I was a child I always said I wanted 9 children. In fact, I said I wanted 9 boys! I would tell people I wanted my own baseball team, not a softball team, a baseball team. Family was important to me and I hoped and prayed that one day I would find someone who would love me enough to want to marry me and start a family with me. I was very fortunate to begin dating my husband in high school and to marry shortly after we graduated. We added to our little family just two years later when our daughter Kaylie was born. I loved my little family. Sure, there were ups and downs but I was happy. I was right where I had always prayed to be.

As the years progressed and my husband and I worked out our roles as both parents and spouses, I began to feel like I was losing myself. Sure I had gone to college, I had worked outside of the home, and ultimately I made the choice to stay home with our children, but I found that often people only referred to me as just a wife or just a mother. I wanted to shout, “I am Michelle! Can’t you see me?” Resentment invaded my heart. Why was it that Mike could be seen as more than just a husband or father, but I couldn’t be seen as more than just a wife or mother? It didn’t seem fair.

why can't you see me

I don’t know what happened to change my heart, but one day I realized how silly I was being. After all, wasn’t I the one who dreamed of being a wife and a mother? Wasn’t I the one who claimed that her family was her reason for living? Wasn’t I the one who prayed daily that God would bless her with more children and a deeper, loving relationship with her husband? Why did being a wife and mother take away from who I was? My husband and my children filled every space in my heart and every minute of my day. I lived for them. I cherished them. I thanked God each and every day for them. I realized that my vocations as a wife and mother completed who I was. It was a startling discovery.

It wasn’t that I didn’t do my job as a wife and mother before that point. I did; and I did it well. But after I realized that my vocations as wife and mother were more important than any other aspect of myself, I found that I had a desire to do better. I wanted my husband and my children to be proud of me. More importantly, I found I wanted God to approve of the wife and mother I was becoming. This meant I had to let go of me so that He could mold me and make me into the woman He desired me to be. It was the easiest, and the hardest, choice I have ever made.

wedding-ringsThe Proverbs 31 woman does well by her husband. She respects him as the head of her home. While I had always respected Mike, I don’t know that I had allowed him to become the head of our home; the head of me. When I decided that my vocation as wife and mother was the most important calling in my life, I decided to actively submit to my husband. When we talk about submission we are often faced with criticism that no man should ever “rule” over us and that as women we are strong and should stand on our own. Submission in marriage doesn’t mean that the husband rules over his wife. In fact, more often than not you find just the opposite. You find a greater amount of cooperation and trust. You find spouses working together to make decisions that will affect the family. You find mutual respect and love. Submission often equals greater satisfaction within your relationship.

But what does it mean to submit to my husband? When I submit to him there are certain things I do to make sure that I am honoring him and holding him up as the head of our house. I encourage him in his work and in his fatherly duties. I speak highly of him to our children and to our family and friends. I never talk badly of him to others. I respect his views and his thoughts and consider all that he says with an open heart. I truthfully share my thoughts and opinions with him knowing that he also respects my views and wants to know what I think. I trust that he has our best interests at heart and when I am not sure that we are making a right decision, I trust him to lead us down the right path. I try my hardest to do nice things for him that will bring him joy and peace. I do not deny him any part of myself- my time, my attention, my thoughts, my heart, my body, or my love.  What I have found is that when I submit to my husband, he in turn submits his heart to me- he loves me the way Christ loves His church.

But the Proverbs 31 woman doesn’t just respect her husband. She also loves her children and nurtures them. She teaches them the ways of the Lord and trains them in the faith. She is a model of love and wisdom. Perhaps this is the harder role of the family woman. What a tremendous task to set out to accomplish! As I began to see that my role as a mother didn’t preclude me from being Michelle but actually made me a better version of myself, I could see just how important my role was in my children’s lives. I knew that I had to take it seriously. But how could I make faith an important part of my children’s lives? How could I be a model of love, wisdom, and care?

fritz family 1I started out the best way I knew how… I took my children to church. I made the decision that church was important and that meant we needed to go. And so, we went. I often had to go alone and I often wouldn’t hear the Gospel or the homily and would be sweaty and tired by the time Mass ended. But, each Sunday I was there I prayed that God would accept my offering and know that I was doing my best. The graces I received were innumerable. They spilled over into my everyday life. I was able to bring our faith into our everyday lives as well, centering our family around God and His promises. I had more patience and more hope. I found peace in the mundane and joy in the hardships that accompanied motherhood. I saw joy and peace spread into my children’s hearts as well. Their eyes sparkled and their laughter rang through our home. I felt fulfilled. I felt that my life was exactly as God had planned.

My vocation as a wife and a mother helps to make me Michelle. My family helps me to be the best version of myself that I can be. They help me to see the good in life; they help me to call on God when times are tough; they help me to trust and to love in ways I could never do on my own. When I take care of them I am rewarded in ways I could have never imagined. When I fall short of my calling we are all affected by those shortcomings. While I am not perfect by any means and fail more often than not, when I try to do my best my family thrives. I thrive. When I focus first on my family I become a better version of myself than I could ever be on my own and I uphold the calling I willingly accepted when God invited me to enter into family life. I become as much of a blessing to my family as they are to me.

 

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4th Commandment Domestic Church Erika D Homeschool Motherhood Parenting Raising Saints Ten Commandments

Back to Basics in {Catholic} Homeschooling

Back to basics in Catholic HomeschoolingThis article comes to you almost exactly on the anniversary of when we first introduced this series on {Catholic} Homeschooling.  As we recap the year I would like to take a step back and share some basics which we have brushed upon in the other articles but are worthy of compiling and giving a focus to in this article.

In the Letter to the Ephesians 4:1-6, the Lord tells us, through Saint Paul, “I therefore, a prisoner in the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy of the vocation in which you are called, with all humility and mildness, with patience, supporting one another in charity.  Careful to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  One body and one Spirit; as you are called in one hope of your calling.  One Lord, one faith, one baptism.  One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in us all.”  The vocation we have been called to by God, the vocation primarily being wife and secondarily being mother is one that requires much sacrifice and love of our part.  As we know that Holy Mother Church teaches, in her infinite wisdom, that the man is the head of the home but the mother is the heart of the home. Sadly, this world tells us otherwise; this world teaches that our focus should be on being successful outside of the home.  Even when you have the most lovely of professions (as I did instructing children for 15 years), our focus now is on instructing our own children within our home; the children the Lord has entrusted us with. Satan’s plan is to tear motherhood down, he hates our openness to life, he hates our love for our children, and our desire to raise them as God-fearing soldiers of Christ.  So he will do what he can to try to tear us down but we must arm ourselves with the necessary gifts the Lord has given us, through Holy Mother Church.

It takes time and practice to train children, it is the most exhausting job in the world but also the most rewarding! Alone we cannot do it, we need all the prayers and graces and intercessions available to raise God fearing children! We must fight for their soul because if we are not vigilant the evil one will snatch their innocence and corrupt their hearts. We must be strong in our own faith by being in a state of Grace, receiving the Sacraments, and setting an example always. I know it is not an easy task as children can be merciless and demanding of us day and night, but it is the right task. We must be completely selfless and devout ourselves 150% to this task at hand. God has entrusted each of us with those little souls to shepherd them to Him, please never give up on your children, ever. Pray for them always, ask for their Guardian Angel’s help with this task, when you cannot do it, turn to the Blessed Mother for guidance, and always keep your eyes on the Crucifix! After all, when God creates a soul the next human to love that child is his mother. Please friends, I beg you, pray for me and all mothers always.  As parents need to work together to raise the children, exalting our roles as mothers does not, in any way,  negate the important role of the father in the home.  It is just that mothers have the power and privilege of preparing the souls of their children.

So it is vital for mothers to train the child to keep order, be self disciplined, and to accept sacrifice. Mothers should wake up each morning and pray for the spirit of fortitude so that she can train her children well and by God’s laws and standards.  Ask yourself questions like: “Am I raising a Christian family? Are you raising priests? Bishops? or Religious in your families? If we want to change the world, we must raise up our children IN HOLINESS.  Saint John Vianney, over 150 years ago said, “The reason our times are so irreligious is on account of un-Christian families.”  The key to restoring order in this world is by raising Christian children by way of obedience and humility within our families.  Look to other families whom also were prime examples of these, maybe it is a family in your own parish or there are others like the family of Saint Therese of Lisieux.  The Holy Family is the perfect example of this and help us by their influence.

Am I saying we should be super woman or super mom? Not really.  See there is a huge difference between a woman who wants to show off and make herself better, bigger, and wiser than others…this is not the woman or kind of mother the Lord is calling us to be.  No, my dear sisters, the kind of woman the Lord wants us to be is valiant woman (which is why Catholic Sistas is starting the new Proverbs 31 Catholic Woman Series).  The Lord wants us to be a woman always looking to please God and not be a show off to others.  A woman that has her homeschool under control, knows what she wants from her homeschool and has a selected, well thought out curriculum and schedule so that there is order in the home.

“For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, for it is the gift of God; Not of works, that no man may glory.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus in good works, which God hath prepared that we should walk in them,” ~ Ephesians 2: 8-10.  

So we are to look for our peace in Christ through our works in our homes.  When we fail? Are we to be discouraged?  No, because we learn from failure and we are also reminded that God is always in control, not us.  We want our children to be Godly by setting an example to them; they will be good if they are being God-like. It is also important that not only do we teach our children but that we also spend quality time with them to establish relationship with our children. Lastly, the quality of events and activities we are involved in matters more than the quantity.  Do not over burden yourself or your children by running around all over town each afternoon.  We want peaceful families not busy families.

A Year in Recap: Articles on the How’s and Why’s of Homeschooling:

  1. 10 Steps to Start Catholic Homeschooling
  2. Goal Setting in the Catholic Homeschool
  3. Homeschooling Methods 101
  4. The {Catholic} Homeschooling Socialization Myth
  5. Order in{Catholic} Homeschooling
  6. Learning Styles in the {Catholic} Homeschool
  7. 10 Steps to Selecting a {Catholic} Homeschool Curriculum
  8. {Catholic} Homeschooling Beyond Academics
  9. Teaching Religion in {Catholic Homeschooling}
  10. Teaching the Love of Writing in the {Catholic} Homeschool
  11. Teaching Reading in the {Catholic} Homeschool
  12. 10 Steps to Teach Writing in the {Catholic} Homeschool

Sources for this article and suggested further reading/listening:

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Domestic Church Ink Slingers Marriage Michelle Motherhood Spiritual Growth Vocations

Three Things I Used to Know About Myself

I learned many things when I was in a junior in college and in my first year at the College of Education.  I took many classes and gained a lot of knowledge.  I have put to use most of that knowledge when homeschooling my own children, however, many of those classes are just a blip in my memory.  I retained the information I needed to succeed in teaching but the teachers themselves, the homework, and many of the students have become just a hazy memory.  There was one class though, that, to this day, comes to mind on a regular basis.

You see, in that class our teacher asked us the first day to make a list telling three things we knew about ourselves.  Then she asked us to pair up with someone we didn’t know to share our lists.  At the time my list was easy to write out:

  1. I am a great wife
  2. I am a great mother
  3. I am highly intelligent

The woman I shared my list with, Lisa, who would become a very dear friend, sat back incredulous.  Wow. That’s your list?” she asked me.   I answered that yes, it was.  I told her that I knew very little about myself but those three things were true and very important to me.  Thankfully our teacher gave us the time to sit and talk about our lists, otherwise, Lisa may have thought I was just full of myself.

I felt the third statement sounded the most like a fact and was easiest to explain and so I said, “I have a genius IQ and I have always been very proud of my intelligence.  As a kid it was the only thing that I thought made me important.  I knew I wasn’t pretty, I wasn’t athletic, and I wasn’t popular.  It was also what got me noticed by my parents when I thought I really didn’t matter much.  I clung to it and still do to this day.  It made me special and different from my siblings. It’s also important to me that others know I’m not just some dumb blond.  I actually am very smart.”  She said she could understand that, but what about the others?  Wasn’t it a little boastful and conceited to say I was a great mother and wife?  I blushed and shook my head and explained.

You see, at that time I had two children, was only just returning to school to finish my degree after taking time off, and had been able to dedicate every waking moment to being the best wife and mother I could be.  Being a wife and mother came naturally to me.  It was something I loved doing/being.  I was blessed with a lot of patience, terrific kids, and time to actually work on being a good mom and wife.  I would tell Lisa that there were few things in my life that I was ever good at and that these things were so important to me that they became the sole focus of my life.  Like an athlete who trains and practices to become good at his sport I had also worked hard to be good at what I did.  I was very proud of what I had accomplished.

As time moves forward I often think of that list and wonder if I was asked today what I know about myself, would the list be the same?  Unfortunately, I’m not sure it would be.  Sure, I am still highly intelligent, but what about being a great wife and mother?

Photo credit Vered DeLeeuw who blogs at Momgrind.com

There are many days now that I think about my actions and wonder if they are truly reflective of what is in my heart.  Am I the mom and wife that I hope and strive to be?  Most days the answer is no.  I fail so often.  I get mad and yell.  I lack patience.  I think to myself, “I can do this tomorrow.”  I don’t play with my kids as often as I would like to.  I treat my husband and children in ways I would never treat a stranger or a friend, saying things that hurt their feelings or make them feel bad or make them angry.  Why do I do that?  Why can’t I be that mother and wife I was 15 years ago?   I want to be that mother and wife again.

I know I’m not alone in my struggles.  I think all moms and dads/ wives and husbands face these kinds of problems.  I was lucky in those early years to have little to do other than focus solely on being a wife and mother.  Today it’s not so easy.  I now have 11 children, a husband who no longer works a regular shift but longer, harder hours, medical problems, outside activities, homeschooling, volunteering at church and youth group, friends, family, and the list goes on.  It’s no wonder I am not the same wife and mother that I was so long ago.  I have the world begging for my attention too!

Now more than ever I have to find that balance between the outside world’s demands on me and the needs of my family.  But how do I do that?  I think the answer lies in looking back at what I was doing right way back when I only had 2 children.   When I look back I can see that there were other problems that could have hindered me from being a great wife and mother, but I didn’t let them! That is the attitude I need to take now.  I need to commit, as I did then, to each and every day being the best at my job.  When I woke up each morning I didn’t sigh and think, “How am I going to do all of this?” Instead I thought, “Ok, today first I will do…” My attitude was definitely different than it is now and perhaps that is where the problem lies.

Mother Teresa once said, “Don’t look for big things, just do small things with great love….The smaller the thing, the greater must be our love.”  This is my new mission as a wife and mother.  I am going to do the small things- washing clothes, making my husband his lunch, getting up earlier in the morning to make a hot breakfast, bathing little ones, cleaning the kitchen, driving kids where they need to be, wiping noses- with great love and patience. My attitude is going to change.  Becoming the great wife and mother I once was will require this of me.

Mother Teresa also said, “Spread love everywhere you go; first of all in your house. Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to a next door neighbor. Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”   I know that others see me as a good wife and mother.  I’m often complimented but they aren’t the ones who live with me and see me as I truly am. Only my husband and children know how far I have fallen away from the woman I used to be.  I hope that my husband and children will feel the extra love that I am putting into everything I do for them and that one day my list can once again say that I truly am a great wife and a great mother.