Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Feminine Heart...

There is always a lot to talk about when you are with a group of women. Women tend to be highly charged, emotional, talkative (at least among our sisters/friends/moms) and easily driven to tears.

I see that this is often mistaken for weakness.  Some kind of abandonment of truth and reason. Women are "crazy" or " too emotional" or "hormonal". While we are indeed emotional, and often hormonal - that doesn't make what we say any less true. It doesn't make the way we think any less rational. I would love to believe that in 2014 we have earned enough respect among our peers, men and women alike, to be taken seriously, even if a tear falls as we speak.

I cry at Mass, almost every week. I sometimes get funny looks, though it has gone on so long that most people don't even seem to notice. But think about it for a minute. Why WOULDN'T I shed tears at the Mass? I am in the presence of Our Lord. The Blessed Mother is near - my own sweet babies in heaven are among the communion of saints. So I just let the tears flow. They are now tears of joy where once they were tears of sorrow. I used to hide behind my hands, knowing that is was pretty useless. But can you, knowing that I am allowing myself to be swept into the Mass, blame me for my tears?

Music moves me. I am no good at it. Can't sing, can't play an instrument, but I love it. So many songs hold deep meaning for me, as I am sure they do for most people. When I hear a song that takes me back to a certain time in my life, reminds me of a precious moment or allows me to feel close to someone now gone from my life, the tears will flow. Even if it is just the beauty of the music, my eyes will often well with tears.

Love for my family, my children, yes - my sweet and amazing husband - absolutely. But also for my grandmother, who is in a nursing home. I can't help but cry every time I leave her. She doesn't really know me, but I know that she would hate being there, not knowing who anyone is or why she is there. When I see a niece or nephew accomplish something - anything, great or small, my eyes fill. When I know one of my sisters or brother is in some kind of pain, I cry. My parents, who are the very center of who I am - my love for them fills me with gratitude and yes, tears.

I choke up when I think of my children and my sweet nieces and nephew who all lost much loved grandmothers this summer. The memory of these sweet ones' trembling chins will fill my eyes. The knowledge that my husband hasn't slept through the night since he lost his mother and knowing my father in law will never, ever recover from her loss will have tears falling down my cheeks.

I cry when I get mad. Anger - it's the fastest way to make me cry. Make me angry, and you will see tears. Act like my tears somehow deny the truth of my feelings or lessen my argument? Big, plopping, furious tears.

And yes, I cry at silly stuff. Commercials, current events, movies, happy thoughts and internet memes. I cry all the time - does this make me weak? Does it make me stupid? Hormonal, overly emotional, crazy?

Or does it make me a woman? Sensitive, feminine, emotional. Seeking something beyond what is in front of my eyes.  Even my kids say I over analyse - but that's what we do - that's how we problem solve, evaluate our decisions. It's how we empathize with the people in our lives and those across the globe. We lead with our hearts because our hearts are the softest place to land. As long as we always keep truth and reason, being emotional is nothing for which to be ashamed. Being emotional does not mean we are weak, it means we love. We have empathy. If we cry for you, we are sharing our love for you - for if you have the ability to make us cry, then you are important to us in some way.

"Why Women Cry"

Why Women Cry

A little boy asked his mother, "Why are you crying?" "Because I'm a woman," she told him.

"I don't understand," he said. His Mom just hugged him and said, "And you never will."

Later the little boy asked his father, "Why does mother seem to cry for no reason?"

"All women cry for no reason," was all his dad could say.

The little boy grew up and became a man, still wondering why women cry.

Finally he put in a call to God. When God got on the phone, he asked, "God, why do women cry so easily?"

God said, "When I made the woman she had to be special.

I made her shoulders strong enough to carry the weight of the world,

yet gentle enough to give comfort.

I gave her an inner strength to endure childbirth and the rejection that many times comes from her children.

I gave her a hardness that allows her to keep going when everyone else gives up, and take care of her family through sickness and fatigue without complaining.

I gave her the sensitivity to love her children under any and all circumstances, even when her child has hurt her very badly.

I gave her strength to carry her husband through his faults and fashioned her from his rib to protect his heart.

I gave her wisdom to know that a good husband never hurts his wife, but sometimes tests her strengths and her resolve to stand beside him unfalteringly.

And finally, I gave her a tear to shed. This is hers exclusively to use whenever it is needed."

"You see my son," said God, "the beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair.

The beauty of a woman must be seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart - the place where love resides."
 Author: Unknown

Friday, August 15, 2014


My Jonah turned 16 the other day. SIXTEEN. With this birthday comes much rejoicing. Jonah was diagnosed at the age of six with a seizure disorder. He originally experienced a seizure every 5-10 seconds. Later it went down to every 10-15 seconds.

This past year he began to develop headaches, some double vision and dizziness. We of course were concerned and reported everything to his neurologist. We had some pretty extensive testing done. Jonah was fitted with 28 leads all over his head which he had to wear for a week. He also had to record himself sleeping. When the data from the testing came back, his neurologist called me himself with the news. There was ZERO seizure activity for the week Jonah wore the leads. THANKS BE TO GOD. This news was almost astonishing after a decade of worry. This does not mean he no longer has any seizure activity, but it does mean he has made great strides towards outgrowing the seizures AND can begin driver's ed! This as you can imagine is really, really meaningful to a teenage boy, but as his parents we know that the ability to drive impacts his entire life. He will be able to get to work, transport his family, teach his own kids to drive one day. All enormously impact-full.

So, we are rejoicing. He has another MRI on Monday, but right now - rejoicing. We had a big party - celebrating the milestone birthday as much as the results of the testing. This child, for whom I have prayed unceasingly - is beginning to blossom in so many ways. He is funny. He has a best friend (to whom I give a lot of credit for Jonah coming out of his shell). He is doing very well in school. This was one of his leap years. He tends to grow, developmentally, about every two years. Just when you think the last stage is going to go on forever, this kid makes a giant leap, and suddenly grows into himself SO MUCH.

Oh, and did I mention his deep, deep voice (sounds just like his dad) and his skinny, 126 pound, 5 foot, 10 inch frame? Or the fact that he gets out of bed at 2 in the morning to eat? Or that the last couple of times he has gone with us to the pool there were young ladies clamoring for his attention, to which he gave the cool guy "What's up?" nod? Where did my baby go?

As much as he has changed, he is still the guy who is a great big brother who comes up at night to kiss Priscilla goodnight. He is still the guy who gathers his baby sister up in his arms for a hug, or takes her for walks in her little car. He still loves video games and computer anything. He is fantastic at geometry and horrible at algebra. He doesn't like to read, but is getting so much better about it.

This guy, with his heart stopping, shy smile, his generosity, his kindness and his loping, dinosaur walk. I love him to bits and am so, so proud of him. Thrilled for him, too.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

About the In-Laws...

It's been a rough summer around here. In May, my gentle and much loved mother-in-law passed away rather suddenly. She suffered a brain aneurysm and passed almost two weeks later. At the same time, both of my sisters' mothers-in-law were ill as well. One, thankfully, was very ill, but it was acute and she went home and is doing well. The other, sadly, passed away after years of illness that culminated faster than expected.

These events have had me reflecting all summer on the way we build families, how we live with one another, and the culture in America in general. We are not really supposed to get along with the in-laws. People make jokes about mothers-in-law all the time, running them down as interfering, or just plain mean. It is, arguably, rather difficult to get along with people you have inserted into your life because you happen to love one of their children. I was very, very blessed in this regard. My mother-in-law, Laquaita, was nothing but love and kindness to me, and especially to my daughter, Meg. Meg was treated as though she had been born to their family. For that, I have always been grateful.

Laquaita never made demands, was always so supportive and helpful, and never batted an eye when she found out we were having another baby. She rejoiced. I was always thankful that we could call her with the news of a new baby and know for a fact we would only hear joy. I know she prayed and worried for us, and shared my love for dressing the kids up. I loved getting my kids ready to go see her, as she made over them and fussed. She once told me that whenever there was a family event, she couldn't wait to see what I put on my girls because they always looked so cute. I loved hearing that, and made sure to dress them up because it gave her pleasure to see them looking smart.

Laquaita wanted her family to be harmonious and happy, but, as families are made up of humans with differing lifestyles and opinions, that was not always the case. She didn't try to intervene, but instead let everyone work things out for themselves, offering love in all directions. I personally think this must have taken a lot of strength, and a huge amount of tongue biting. She probably won a great spot in heaven for her restraint, a rare commodity in any family. I hope I am able to be as loving as she was when I become a mother-in-law.

As we have built our families from our original family unit, we have been blessed with wonderful people on all sides. The other grandmothers have passed on traditions, new vocabulary and recipes. Our lives have been enormously enriched by these people. My kids have adopted words like "brand clean, gummy chewies and grandma juice". They make the "I love you" sign when leaving and give giant, squeezey bear hugs. All things they learned from grandparents or their cousins' grandparents.

They have watched their grandparents and the grandparents-in-law persevere through health challenges with strength and love. They have seen their grandfathers grieve with dignity, while allowing the kids to see their pain and tears, revealing their great love for their wives.

We've been blessed by the people who have lived in our lives, both through birth as well as through marriage. I hope my children, nieces and nephews choose wisely when they marry, because you do marry the family when you marry the love. I chose wisely. We all chose wisely.