Ink Slingers

Welcome Back One-piece

(Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

This summer I am welcoming back the one-piece bathing suit. And you can too! It’s not about hiding stretch marks or feeling more confident than in a two-piece (because I do!). It’s about reclaiming modesty.

I think most of us women can reflect on our coming of age years and realize that we hit a certain point––we didn’t want to be “girls” anymore; we wanted to be “women.” We wanted to grow up already. We wanted to wear makeup, shave our legs, and wear two-piece bathing suits (which are essentially a bra and underwear, right?!). We didn’t want to be “cute” anymore. Without knowing it at the time, we were also rushing to give up our modesty and innocence.

I don’t know about you, but that rush into womanhood (as defined by culture) led me down a path away from God and from who I really wanted to be. The culture taught me that my identity as a woman and my beauty was on the outside. I lost respect for myself and for others and that was revealed in my dress–too tight, too revealing, too short. Turns out, this way of living was not fulfilling, nor life-giving.

I suppose this is a prodigal-daughter-like story because God sent a beautiful holy woman into my life to show me what is was like to be a real woman. You might have heard of her, Mother Mary? I came back from a pilgrimage to one of her shrines and my life was forever changed. I first and foremost learned the truth––my identity and beauty came from being a daughter of God and Christ living in me. This changed everything. I gained respect for myself and for others and within six months, I had a new wardrobe.

Mother Mary taught me that her beauty comes from the fact that she loves God with her whole heart. The more I strive to do the same, the more I recognize things in my life that obstruct my love for Him. She has taught me that we must be pure to enter the Kingdom of God. Modesty guards our purity. Our childlike innocence is what lets us see the angels who gaze on God. Mother Mary is the true and best example of womanhood. From her, we can learn everything God desires of us as women.

So back to the one-piece bathing suit. Having learned what I have in my journey and now as a mother of two girls, I feel the importance of this responsibility to show my daughters what true womanhood is. Yes, the culture is still going to tempt them with the rush into womanhood, with manicures at four years old and two-piece bathing suits at five years old, but we cannot underestimate that they still look up to their mothers!

I’m wearing a one-piece bathing suit for my almost three year old daughter. You might be thinking, “She’s three! She doesn’t notice!” but when we went to the beach this past weekend, do you know the first thing she said when she saw me? “Mommy, we match!” as she pointed to her one-piece suit. I smiled and thought to myself, that’s exactly why I’m wearing it. I never would have thought that wearing a one-piece could ever feel so good!

As my daughters get older and we live strive to live the faith, which is often counter-cultural, I hope they always know that I’m on their side fighting with them. That I’m always striving to be a woman like Mother Mary. That they can look up to me. That we match, even if the rest of the world doesn’t.

Mother most pure, pray for us.

Faith Formation Ink Slingers Marriage Martina Parenting Vocations

Pushing Them through The Tears

Once in a while as parents, we have to do things we don’t like with our children in order to bring out a greater good. In my family it involves a lot of kicking and screaming and whining.

And then there’s the kids’ reaction. 

Shock of all shocks, my kids are a lot like I was as a kid. Crazy how genetics work, huh? And what an amazing built-in parenting tool this can be! I have identified that 75% of my children respond to new situations almost identical to the way I would have. Find the nearest rock and situate yourself comfortably underneath it. Wait for situation to pass and shyly come out. Breathe sigh of relief. Rinse and repeat.

While I understand how they work and know how to work with them to bring out their best attributes, I can’t help but bemoan that EACH. AND EVERY. NEW. SITUATION. comes with crying, whining, and outright refusal. I have to choose to endure the pain {metaphorical Brill-O pad  for purgatory, perhaps?} of their not wanting to do x, y, or z because I know deep down, they not only really do want to do it, they would come to love the new experience and would be good at it.

That’s one fast fish!

So I want to share two quick stories with you – one involves tossing the kids in the swimming pool and listening to {and often paying for} swim lessons that came with blood curdling screams and raised eyebrows that make onlookers question whether CPS should be called – AT – the swim place, mind you…only to quit, give up lessons until years later where said children learned how to swim – one of whom shocked the owner of a well renowned swim place with her pace of learning, going through two rigorous and thorough courses, Nitro 1 and Nitro 2 in a record less than six months, mastering all four swim techniques.

She made the local swim place e-newsletter

The other story involves screams and wails and cries {and asking Father Jonathan to please assure our own son Jonathan that everything would be ok} having to do with altar server training. Sometimes…just sometimes? You know your child is meant to live out that service oriented heart…but shyness attacks their ability to do something they would otherwise love doing. Recognizing this, I became his training wheels and encouraged him through negotiations.

Ok, Jonathan, I’m deciding that you will do the training, but you can decide if and when you serve. The training is only offered once this year. Let’s make a deal – if you do the training, I will not force you to serve. You can choose that, but I will decide that you do the training today. 

Peer led training by a fellow altar boy – here he is learning how to properly receive the gifts.

He, reluctantly through the tears, walks off to try on the different sized cassocks and attend the training. I have a five week old bebe with me and me and my husband and our littlest hang in the pews off to the side to avoid his laser beam death glare. He got that from me, too, by the way. The training ends. I hold my breath. I wonder if it took. I hesitate to ask how he liked it, so I talk about everything else. Later that evening, he comes up to us and casually says {roughly paraphrased} I don’t know if I want to be a priest, but I think I’d like to be a deacon. Not much later, he asked how soon we could take him to Mass to start his training {he had to attend and observe five Masses before being allowed to wear the surplice}.

One of his favorite jobs – candle bearer.

THEN he said he wanted to attend as many Masses as possible so he could get his surplice – that meant two weekends of attending Mass twice. That’s when we knew he was excited. Not once has he ever said Mom, I’m so glad you made me cry and I fussed and threw a fit. That part was AWESOME! but through his actions, he has made it clear that because we insisted on the training, the rest was left up to him and he acted in accord with God’s will. He has since become responsible for getting himself ready and at church a half hour early. He knows what Mrs. George expects of his behavior and he enjoys the quiet time to reflect, pray, and opportunities to talk with our priests about vocations.

Jonathan holds the prayer book for Father Jonathan as he prays for all the dads on Father’s Day.

I have found through experience that while I ultimately place their vocation in God’s hands, my husband’s and my responsibility is to provide our children with the opportunities to see all vocations in action. If they have questions, our job is to answer them and to pray for them and to encourage them to continually seek out God’s calling. And they will rise to the occasion if we provide them those opportunities.  How do you know? With my kids, it’s the kinds of questions they ask. And they ask doozies. One day he casually asked Mom, what’s the difference between making a decision and discerning? And God immediately put in my mouth to answer back with something he could digest at his level – you discern your vocation, you decide on a loaf of bread at the store.