3.29.2017

Remembering ~ 30 Years

This is a post I've started to write probably 30 times since I started blogging. Heck, as I start it, I'm wondering if this will be the time I actually finish it and hit publish or if it will be added to the scrap pile. Interestingly, this is not a post that gets started and saved as a draft. Each time I've started, I've hit delete. Maybe this one is just too raw. Still. 30 years later.

And what it is about this day that has me sitting down to write again? I could come up with a list of things, but each time I've thought it was time, it hasn't been. So I suppose the only way I will know if it is time or not is to write it all down again and see if I tap "publish" or "delete" at the end.

What do I think has influenced me this time? Perhaps it is the passing of St. Patrick's Day - the day that was the hardest day yet since my Dad died, as it is a day full of memories and when being Irish meant I was my Dad's daughter; perhaps it is all of the hangover of burying one parent and finding it extremely odd and unnatural to be comforted by the other parent, to wonder why she is even at the funeral home; perhaps it is my dear friend Michelle of Endless Strength writing her own story of her parents' divorce today and acknowledging that in so many ways our experiences are so very similar; perhaps it is finding out via social media that one brother flew in to WV from TX to celebrate the other's 21st birthday and that the only communication I had with either all day was to text a happy birthday message and receive a thank you; and perhaps it is CD1 and the emotions are always strongest when the hormones are going crazy.

Whatever it is that has brought fingers to keys here in this place today, all I can say is that I'm still understanding and processing what the impact of being a child of divorce has been for me.

30 years ago this month my parents' divorce was finalized, I was just about to turn 8. I remember the months leading up to the separation - it happened at Thanksgiving, my brother, mom and I went to my grandparents and while we were gone for the long weekend, my Dad moved out of our home and into his apartment across town. Those months before the separation were characterized by many late night fights. The kind that probably started as a hushed, tense conversation and eventually ended in shouting. I remember hearing the shouting. I remember one night my Dad saying {again} he was going to leave and coming into my bedroom and getting his suitcase out of my closet (where all the suitcases were kept). As he sat on my bed to extract it from the others, I sat up and put my arms around him, asking him not to go. He stayed, that night.

I remember the morning in the fall, it must have been an unusually warm Saturday morning for mid-fall, as my brother and I were chomping at the bit to go out and play, but our parents kept putting us off. Finally, we sat down at the table and they told us, my Dad spoke, "Your mom and I are getting a divorce." I shouted "NO!" and ran off to my room. I don't remember anything else specifically about that day. When I think about the years since that day, there are things I do remember and now can see better just how those things impacted me.

I remember everyone always asking how my mom and my brother were and commenting on how well I was doing. But no one ever asked how I was.

I remembering lying to teachers to get attention in 4th grade. And seeking attention from boys, from 5th grade on. Of being used and discarded and still seeking more. All the while desperately wanting my Dad to notice me.

I remember wanting to live with my Dad in 6th grade and how both of my parents manipulated me through that process - and I how ended up staying with my Mom.

I remember being the messenger between my parents for everything from child support checks to re-arranging weekends to changing pick-up and drop off times.

I remember years and years of insisting that it was for the best that my parents divorced. That it was better because they weren't fighting any more. Except they were. They never peacefully co-existed. Not really.

I remember saying how lucky I was to have not 2 but 4 parents who loved me. Only, I never really fit in. There was always this other life, with this other family, that both of my parents had. I didn't realize the impact of that until much later - within the last decade. There were in-laws who weren't my grandparents, nieces and nephews who weren't my cousins, and traditions I didn't understand and in which I wasn't able to fully participate.

I remember hearing the rumors of why my parents divorced. Of seeing evidence for myself of the rumors. And of denying them. Of defending my parents. Of refusing to believe or admit what was right in front of me. Of living a lie for more than 30 years.

I remember feeling victorious when my parents were civil to one another at my wedding - that seemed the greatest achievement of the day. And then, my brother did something to set them off and the brief glimpse of peace I thought might come disappeared and never returned.

I remember being at a conference on adult children of divorce and having the tears fall while trying to keep my composure. Hearing others say what my head had been screaming for years, but my heart didn't want to hear. Having my rose-colored glasses ripped away. And forgiving. Forgiving my parents for all of the things for which I would never, and will never, hear an apology.  And realizing that that has to be enough. I watched my heart soften towards both of my parents and the relationships become so much less stressful as I quit trying to fit myself into places I didn't belong.

This place of memories seems a good place to stop for for today. A glimpse into what life looked like. Perhaps this is why I don't ever publish when I write on this topic, because I try to make it everything all in one. These are just memories, but the impacts of what they meant for me are much greater. Other themes related to my parents divorce, that I have reflected on in recent years are: belonging; God as Father; Mary as Mother; and what family means to me now. I think it best if rather than trying to condense all of this into one post, I write about each of these separately from this.

For today, it seems the time is finally right to hit publish and begin sharing this part of my road Home.

3.01.2017

Living the Vocation of the Domestic Church

I used to give a talk with that title at marriage prep. And most days now I struggle so hard with it, well, at least by my own standards. If I'm 100% honest with myself, what I do is what I would tell others they were doing a great job by doing, and I would mean it. But that's because usually I was trying to get engaged couples to just do one small thing to connect their hour at Mass on Sundays into their daily life.

But...

I used to go to Daily Mass every day.
And I had most of the mysteries (and their fruits!) of the rosary memorized, not from trying to memorize them, but from familiarity of praying them so often.
I read Church documents and the writings of saints daily.
And...and....and...I feel like I could make a list as long as I am tall of all the things I used to do, in addition to what I'm doing now.

Then...

I have to remind myself. I worked for the Church. My office was right next door to the Cathedral and Daily Mass was at Noon. Traveling? No problem, I was going to be at a parish and could schedule most meetings for just before or after their Daily Mass.
And working for the Church means a freedom and responsibility to read Church documents and faith based books during the day.
I also remind myself I had a 90 minute one-way commute and prayed a lot of my rosaries at 70 mph. Or, I was traveling and away from home and had the time completely to myself to do with as I pleased.

Also...

I now live 45 minutes from our parish with an 8:00 am Mass and a toddler who is not an early riser, not even close. (For things other than Mass, this is great, not denying that.)
Praying a rosary during any other time than nap or sleep time means negotiating to get my rosary guide back, and explaining repeatedly "that's your rosary, this one is mine".

And so, 18 months into being a SAHM I'm still struggling to find the balance of a healthy prayer life and parenting and keeping the house clean and making meals and grocery shopping and everything else.

I'm grateful for the push of Lent to help continue to work on this balance (that I'm starting to realize will never really be achieved). I am figuring out which of the above are excuses and which are legitimate obstacles. For the excuses, I need to exhibit self-control and not accept them. For the legitimate obstacles, I need to discern whether I need to work to remove the obstacle or adjust my goal temporarily.

I've been getting the Magnificat magazine again and it's helping with the rhythm of daily mass, and so I'm going to continue with that. It's not the same as going to Mass, but they rhythm of the lectionary has been and continues to be a great source of comfort and support to me. When I think about what I'm missing the most, it is my daily conversations with Mary through the rosary. I still talk to her always and I probably pray 50 Hail Mary's per day at different times, but I miss the 1:1 times of a rosary.

I also need to keep working to find the balance between down time and getting household things done during nap time and after bed time. I'm on point with this some weeks and other weeks - hahahahaha.

And so for Lent, my prayer, fasting, and almsgiving will be taking the form of doing better at living the vocation of the domestic church, as I expect for myself, not the standards I would accept for another.

Prayer:
One individual rosary per day (in addition to our family rosary times).
Keep up with the Daily Mass readings using the Magnificat. Attend Daily Mass once a week.

Fasting:
I'm taking a 'self-denial' in general approach to fasting versus a strict food approach to fasting. Before I use social media, play candy crush, blog, watch TV, etc. etc. etc. during naptime, I must complete my daily 'household' chore.

Almsgiving:
Part of my feeling overwhelmed with household chores and tasks is the amount of stuff that needs to be worked around when something needs done. So, each week I will make one trip to drop off donations from cleaning out and getting rid of things that are not being used.

I am hopeful that these are goals that I will be able to continue after the season of Lent is over, having established a healthy pattern and better balance during the season of Lent.