That’s what friends are for

Friendship. For this sanguine choleric friends make the world go round and the sun shine on rainy days (like today).

When we moved from Dallas I left behind an awesome group of friends. That was tough. That was a tough season for us though. Plus, Dallas is only 4 hours away, so i just think of those friends as out of sight not out of reach!

I was recently talking with a girl I know here in San Angelo. While were chatting a few days ago she told me that she felt like she had lost herself when she became a mother. She had never intended on being a stay at home mom, and the isolation made her feel as if her old self had disappeared. She is super smart and an accomplished artist, and suddenly she was reduced to changing diapers, staying up all night soothing a crying infant, sitting in her house all day with no adult interaction.

As I listened to her I thought to myself, I never felt that way. All I have ever wanted was to be a wife and mother. But as she continued I realized that I had felt that way, I still sometimes do feel that way. She beat herself up a little about being envious of the career her husband was building, and I told her that those feelings were totally normal! She had worked hard her whole life to have a career of her own, forge her own path, and bask in the glory that came with it. Don’t we all do that? And suddenly she felt as if her gifts and talents were useless and unnecessary.

In college I studied and went to class and got decent grades, but my true passion was in event planning. I loved it! I loved being on the inside, behind the scenes. I saw myself taking all of this experience, moving to the big city, and planning weddings and fancy parties. So, I totally get what she means. I know how it feels to sit in your house all day with your kid and go a little stir crazy. To attack your husband when he walks through the door with happy squeals and hugs (Edmund does that…ok…I do that too) because you are so excited to have company! I know how you get out of breath and dry mouthed from talking non stop about your day because he is the first person you could talk to without looking crazy (Hey nice lady who made eye contact in the canned vegetable aisle, you look like you have some time to hear a funny story or 6 about my kid).

I think that being a stay at home mom with young children can be extremely lonely and isolating. You are so busy that you don’t have time to see friends, let alone make new friends!

I have been thinking recently that I haven’t had a chance to be “Tricia” lately. When you hang out with your friends you can be yourself. You can share your thoughts and ideas. Edmund totally listens to all my ideas and he usually laughs at all my jokes (mostly because I laugh and then he copies my laugh, but I’ll take what I can get).

As a mom I think it is so very important to have friends and make the time to see them and spend time with them with or without your kids in tow. This morning I had a super crazy melt down. Edmund kept asking for something, but I couldn’t understand him. We had been up for 3 hours and it was barely 9am. Travis was getting ready to leave for work which meant 8 hours without another adult around. Nap time was still 4 hours away. I started crying, so Edmund was crying. And then Travis tried to take Edmund to another room so I could have a minute, but by then Edmund was terrified and ran over hugging me and screaming. What a mess. I blame this episode on the fact that it is Spring Break and both of my mom groups were cancelled this week. I haven’t had friend time in too long. I need those 4 hours each week. I need to be with my mom friends and be refueled by our common struggles and hilarious stories. I need a chance to step away from myself and focus on someone else.

Friendship is not one sided. To have a friend you have to be a friend, right? Well being a friend, giving myself to another person, supporting another person renews my sense of person. Being able to get out of my little world or house cleaning, diaper changing, and cooking allows me to refocus and see the bigger picture again.

I probably won’t be an event planner, at least not anytime soon. And that is OK. It doesn’t mean that my pre-mother self has disappeared. It just means that my kid will have really awesome birthday parties…just kidding. It means that right now God has bigger and better plans for me. Right now my main priority is being a good wife and mother. And for me, in order to do that, I need to have solid, loving, and supportive girl friends.

I am working on branching out and meeting new people. I am also working on fostering the friendships I have recently started with a few great women. But friendship takes time (this isn’t fifth grade, people). I am trying to be brave and put myself out there. Because now I am not the only one exposed, Edmund is always with me. So with new friendships come the fear of judgement. Will they judge my kid? Will they judge my style? My clothes, pants a little snug in the belly from un-lost baby weight, sweater with a little chocolate on the sleeve from wiping away the evidence of an m&m bribe? My hair, grease hidden with dry shampoo, bun falling down? Will they judge me when Edmund screams loud for no reason other than to be heard? Will they judge me when he tries to climb of booths in Chickfila? Will they think I hover over him because he won’t play in the play place unless he can see me at all times? Will they think I don’t discipline enough, or too much? Making friends before you have kids is a piece of cake compared to after you have kids.

I have also learned in making new mommy friends, that I have to be a little less sensitive. Theoretically I think that whole “it takes a village” philosophy makes a lot of sense. But practically it make my neck sweat when people correct my kid, and that is just silly. If I saw someones toddler trying to scale a booth and his mother was preoccupied I would gently try to persuade him to come back down. I do things like that all the time, even before I had a kid of my own. I don’t think that is a bad thing, but a mom is sensitive. A mom is tired and stressed. This mom usually has to remind herself that no one is calling her a bad mom by saving her child from a fall when she is paying for her meal or cleaning up a spill.

So in order to make friends as a mom, you have to let your guard down a little. You have to be a little vulnerable. You can’t be so sensitive. Other moms get it, they have probably been in your shoes (and if they haven’t, don’t worry, their time is coming). Moms need friends. We need friends to reassure us that motherhood isn’t second rate to the exciting career you always dreamed of. We need them to celebrate our victories, the big ones (husbands promotion, finding your lost debit card in the bottom of the toy box, going a whole day without screaming at our kids) and the little ones (going 10 minutes without screaming at our kids, getting your toddler to wear shoes, finishing your coffee before lunch). We need to laugh and be ourselves.

So, don’t let yourself be friendless. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, because I guarantee that there is another mom just waiting for a friend like you.

May the sun shine warm upon your face

I wrote this blog post a few months ago, but never posted it. I feel like now I would like to share it.

INTRODUCTION: My grandmother was a truly extraordinary woman. Today my family will be attending her funeral mass. While my heart aches because I am not able to be there, I am truly grateful for the time I was able to spend with her the week before she passed away.

Growing up I have had my fair share of tongue lashings from my grandma. She was never one to mince words, or let you get away with bad behavior. She had the sharpest tongue, the quickest wit, and the most sage advice. I have many memories of my grandma scolding me for being unladylike or gossiping or saying stupid things. But for every one of those I have 5 memories of her beaming at me with pride, holding my hand, defending me, encouraging me.

Our family is grieving a terrible loss, but in the face of this loss we are all able to smile and find peace because Jane Longo lived her life and her vocation as a mother well. She is a beautiful example of Christian motherhood. She instilled in her children and grandchildren a love for the Catholic faith, a deep respect for life, and a strong family bond that will never be broken.

With that being said, here is a post about some advice she gave me.

If you know my husband you know that he is a well dressed man. He never leaves the house in gym shorts, unless he is working out. Not even for a quick trip to the gas station! He takes pride in his appearance. When we were dating I asked him why. I remembered him freshman and sophomore year sporting t shirts and sneakers all the time…why the change? He had found different blogs and articles that talked about the presenting yourself in a way that reflects how you see yourself and how you want others to see you. A lot of these blogs used the term “man-child” to describe the way men dress today, Travis was ready to move away from that, to be seen as the educated and professional man he was working towards becoming.

If you know my grandma,  Jane Longo, you know that she is a woman who is not timid when it comes to speaking her mind! She will tell you like it is. Once my dad told me: “it used to drive me crazy when she was always telling me what she thought and what I should do…but after a while I realized she is always right…so now I just do what she says. You can’t even get mad…because you know she is just right.”

The woman has never steered me wrong. She has always been there with a quick witted (often smart mouth) response for every question you can throw her way. She raised 8 children, she has seen it all.

Last night I called her and asked her if people ever made comments about the number of kids she had and what did she tell them.

Well, talk about opening a can of worms (read: treasure chest of wisdom and wit).

She told me that when people said “how many kids do you want?” She responded, “None.”

When people asked “why do you have so many children?” She responded “Joe told me having another baby would cure my headaches. He said it would make me beautiful. He said it would make me smarter. He said we would be rich….so I believed him. But I never got prettier, and we never got richer, and I still had a headache!”

My grandpa, so tricky!

But let me tell you. She is beautiful. She is so wise. And although her 8 children, and 36 grandchildren still give her many headaches, she wouldn’t have it any other way! She never let the haters dictate how she should live. She lived out her vocation as a mother with style and charisma.

She gave me some very good advice, she told me that a mother should always take pride in her appearance.

I have been searching for some saintly insight on this subject, and I have mostly found saints who encourage wives and mothers to dress nicely for their husbands. But my grandma thinks it goes further than that, and I agree.

Motherhood is hard. If you are a mother, I don’t need to tell you…you know. Whether you have one child or 12, you know that being a mom sometimes feels impossible. Some days seem like they will never end. You don’t always have the luxury of a shower each morning before you have to run out of the house to do a million things. You throw on a shirt that you hope looks clean (is the smell of spit up coming from this shirt or just stuck in my nose?), tie your hair into a messy bun, round up kids and shoes and keys and head to Target or the grocery store or the library or the park.

Sometimes the last thing we think or care about is our own appearance. We dress our kids in cute clothes and matching hair bows, but we take no time to give our own clothes (what makeup?) any thought.

But I think that we need to take the time to dress well. We need to find a simple skin care and hair routine that looks nice and can be done on the fly. We owe it not only to our husbands and ourselves, but we owe it to motherhood!  We need to give motherhood a good name! We need to encourage other young girls and show them that being a mom isn’t all spit up and poop and tantrums…but even if that is the day you are having you don’t have to do it in sweat pants and a nursing tank! We need to let our outward appearance reflect our inner dispositions…we need to reflect the love we have for our vocations.

I know what you are thinking…shut up, Tricia. Take your own advice! Call me when you have 5 kids.

I am not saying it is easy! Believe me, I (and the 10+ postpartum pounds I am carrying around) would much rather do everything in a loose t-shirt and leggings. But, let’s be honest…that is basic.

When I started my freshman year at Ave they gave us a talk on modesty during orientation. Dean Dentino told us that pajamas are not allowed in the classrooms. He explained to us that you have to dress for success. If you wear pajamas to class, do you think your professor will take you seriously? When you are in your cozy jimmy-jams you want to do cozy things…watch Netflix, eat ice cream, sleep. Dentino told us that if you want to be successful you have to dress for success. You get dressed for class to reflect your respect for the professor and your integrity as a student.

I think we can apply this to motherhood as well! If you look frumpy, you feel frumpy. Every girl knows the power of a nice sweater or a good pair of jeans! That simple, pretty scarf that you throw on can make you feel like a million bucks! Wearing a little mascara and lip gloss can give you confidence!

Basically, I think moms owe it to themselves, their families, and the image of motherhood to look nice, dress well, and take care of ourselves. I am not saying you have to get all glammed up to go to the grocery store or to pick your kid up at school. We can’t all run around looking like Kourtney Kardashian or Gisele every day!  I am saying that taking time to dress yourself in a simple, clean outfit, fix your hair, maybe throw on an accessory, will not only make you feel better, it will give motherhood a good image.

Lastly…I know this has gotten long…I think the most important look we can wear to reflect our dispositions is JOY! Smile! Laugh! So many times I see moms walking around and I think, “Do I look like that? Do I look that unhappy?” I try to make a conscious effort to smile and be joyful. Because while motherhood is tough, it is also the most amazing gift!

IMG_297003135082908

Little Orphan Annie said it best, “You’re never fully dressed without a smile!”

A day will not go by that I will not think of you and pray for you, grandma. I hope that I make you proud and live up to your example.

May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
And rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand

Joy to the world…

“Half an hour’s meditation each day is essential, except when you are busy. Then a full hour is needed.” -St. Francis de Sales

IMG_3767

Being a mom is a whirlwind. Non stop motion. The days and nights blur together in a mess of diapers, toys, screaming, laughing, crying, playing, cooking, cleaning…you know…The usual.

I was baking cookies for the Feast of St. Nicholas (basking in my own greatness for getting 5 batches of cookies baked and frosted without burning any *wootwoot*) and I was thinking about everything I needed to do the next day, everything I had done that day, and I started thinking:

How do mothers with multiple children find time for things like baking cookies? Mopping kitchen floors? Having quiet time with their husbands? I thought about having to take a break to nurse an infant, or having one in a baby carrier while I frosted cookies. And I realized that mothers just do it…they just carry on. They continue cooking, cleaning, playing, disciplining, wiping boogers.

I started going to a MOPS group here in San Angelo and the speaker a few weeks ago must have known I was working on this post and wanted to help me find direction. She was great. She talked about staying focused on the true meaning of Christmas.

Advent is a time of preparation and anticipation. Preparing our hearts for the birth of our Savior. But as a mom there is usally a lot more being prepped: presents, meals, holiday parties, school projects/recitals/plays, decorations. It is easy to get wrapped up in all of the tinsel and lights. *wrapped…get it?!* And it is hard to not begin celebrating before Christmas because “i feel it in my fingers, i feel it in my toes. Christmas is all around me!” (Love Actually).

So a few weeks ago, I was already starting to panic about Christmas cards, photos with Santa, buying gifts, mailing gifts, making family traditions, putting up the tree. I wanted everything to be perfect. And just as I am about to kick it in high gear–Pinning away, seeking advice from seasoned mothers, reflecting on my own childhood traditions–suddenly this lady at MOPS basically looks me in the eye and tells me to cool my jets.

This time of year we all see a bazillion posts on why and why not to “lie” to our children about Santa. This most wonderful time of the year is yet another opportunity to pass our motherly wisdom onto other mothers and let them know how it’s done. Pictures of families that look way more organized than yours with toddlers way more calm than yours decorating cookies that look way fancier than yours pop up on Instagram and Facebook . Meanwhile my kid is smearing icing in his hair because he thinks it is body lotion…which maybe tells you a little about our post bath time struggles… We see the beautiful Minted Christmas cards arriving in our mailboxes every day with the smiling faces of beautiful family and friends.

It is so easy to feel competitive. It is so easy to feel like you aren’t doing enough, or that you are doing the little bit you can manage all wrong.

There are 3 days until Christmas. So, let me give you a little bit of advice and maybe we can spend these 3 days with less stress and more prayer.

Do what you do, and do it with love. Take time in your crazy day to pray and reflect. If you celebrate Christmas with Santa, do it! Enjoy that time with your innocent babes…but don’t let these chances for teaching slip by. If you don’t celebrate Christmas with Santa,  then don’t…but don’t get all high and mighty on us! If you still have to shop a lot to prep for Christmas meals, by gifts, do crafts…go for it! Be a shining light of patience and joy amidst the hustling and bustling and often irritated shoppers. If you have to drive a lot to visit family, use your time in the car to sing Christmas songs, tell the story of Christ’s birth. Pray every night before bed time that Jesus will fill your hearts this Christmas.  Give. Give of your time and treasure and talents. I don’t think you will be hard pressed to find a family who would appreciate some help this holiday! Don’t feel like you have to start the all time best family tradition this year, give yourself a break! Most traditions start on accident anyway.

Whatever you do in these next 3 days, don’t passively wait for Christ. Don’t go through the motions, checking things off your list and moving on to the next task mindlessly. Make these next 3 days a constant prayer. Pray in everything you do. Actively prepare for Christ’s birth through prayer!

I leave you once again with St. Francis de Sales:

“Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.”

I hope you all have a very blessed Christmas! See you in 2015! Spoiler: losing weight is still on my list of resolutions ;)

PS: We moved! Edmund likes our new house!

PS: We moved! Edmund likes our new house!