Monday, March 31, 2008

Modesty for Mama, please.

I did better this morning. I was awake at 6:23, which, had I actually continued with the openeing of my eyes and rolled out of bed, would have made my goal of 6:30. Alas, no. I rolled away from the clock, pulled the blanket snugly up to my chin and settled back in for another 9 minutes. Rats. But today I was downstairs by 6:40, and that was after having made the bed.


I am the sort of person who, upon hearing really good news, has a hard time keeping a lid on it. I guess growing up with not a lot of good news much of the time makes me that way. Or maybe it's the delight I feel when I see joy on the face of another person. Or maybe it's just a gift from God and I should stop analyzing it.

When I took my pregnancy test last Monday and saw that it was a faint line that I nearly went blind in order to see, I was happy. Only happy. Because, I reasoned, this cycle is the first after our loss, and there's a chance this is not what it looks like. I called my friend Mary anyway. Mary has the sense to be wisely happy--the kind of happy that isn't jumping up and down screaming, hauling out the helium-filled mylar balloons. Mary's response was something along the lines of, "That's great, that's really great. Are you going to test again tomorrow?" This is the wisdom that comes from a mom with a heart open to life, like mine, but who has also survived miscarriage, like me. Her caution was well warranted and much appreciated.

Tuesday was another story. When I calld Mary on Tuesday and said,"This line is fat, Mary! This is no shadow!" then Mary sounded like she wanted to grab those balloons. And that was ok--because I did, too! There was no hesitation this time, no thought that my body might be playing tricks.

Now it's time to prepare. Early? Well, probably. Because we chart my cycle very carefully, we know that we are four weeks, one day into this pregnancy. We're due in early December. That's a long time to prepare, I suppose, but prepare I must. First things first: I must be sure that I have the clothing I need to get to the end.

I think this is a normal woman thing. We see an occasion on the horizon, we buy appropriate attire. Going to a special dinner? Buy a pretty dress. Going on an anniversary date? Buy some spiffy new shoes. Planning on gaining 35 pounds and more inches than are on that tape measure? Go maternity shopping!

Now, there's really not much to buy. I have a friend who just brought me two boxes of clothes, and another friend who's due in May and has declared herself done with children--she said I could just keep her clothes. This is very kind. They are both dear. But there is one item that I don't suppose I'll find in either collection, and that is a Long Black Skirt.

I found the Long Black Skirt that I love at Dress Barn. It's cut well, it drapes nicely, it's unbelievably comfortable, and it hits about four inches above my ankles. I love it because it's incredibly modest, so when I sit on the floor (anywhere) to chat or change a diaper, there is absolutely no chance of flashing anything at anyone. This is of the utmost importance to me.

I had found the Long Black Skirt's maternity twin on a website, but it was $30, and I was hoping to save a few bucks. Ah, the frugal life. Since I'm always reasoning things out, I reasoned that to buy the kind and quantity of fabric I'd need, along with the notions and pattern, I'd be spending that much anyway. I absolutely refuse to alter the Long Black Skirt, because I will eventually be smaller than a baby elephant and will need to wear it again. And to buy another Long Black Skirt to alter would, again, be just as expensive (and more bothersome, for Pete's sake!) than just buying the one online. But there was a chance that I could find something on clearance at Motherhood, right? It's the end of winter. They want to rid themselves of all things long and warm to make way for light and breezy.

The problem is, they do not carry long and warm. If pants are what you want, that's great. They have pants. They have polyester and microfiber and terry and denim, and probably twelve other kinds. But skirts? Oh heavens, no. Since I was wearing the Long Black Skirt yesterday, I merely motioned to it and asked, "Do you happen to carry anything close to this?" I was given a look of absolute disdain. Ugh. How dowdy. So frumpy. I was informed that they do carry skirts, but they're just a little shorter. OK, I thought, a little shorter might not be so bad. It can be a little shorter and still be modest.

It turns out that "a little shorter" really meant "not even to the knee." When I said, "Oh, that's just not long enough for me, thanks," the look of disdain gained animation and I believe she may actually have laughed when I turned to leave. Not that I care. But I'm not lowering my standards just because that's what's available. Look, sister, I've had four babies and am already getting the poof of proof of number five. This body, in the first place, is only for the eyes of my husband, and in the second place, is most decidedly NOT for public viewing!

I amazes and astounds me that there are so few choices in maternity wear out there. No. It doesn't amaze me, really. When you look at how fashion has changed, how we are encouraged to show as much skin as possible all the time, it really doesn't come as a surprise that the options are so limited. For Pete's sake, there's actually a book called Stop Dressing Your 6-Year-Old Like a Skank. (not a word I'd ever use by choice, thanks.) Modesty, save for what seems to be a small segment of the population, has been put quietly in the corner.

I firmly believe that the pregnant body is absolutely beautiful. It's sacred. There's a miracle taking place in the body of every pregnant woman--we're partnering with God in an act of creation, and that in itself is nearly sacramental. So why should I dress my pregnant body in a way that is disrespectful? There are ways to cover my body that are fashionable that still show dignity and self-respect. (Not to mention respect for my husband.) I don't need the flesh of my expanding belly to show in order for people to appreciate the loveliness of pregnancy. They're going to know, for Pete's sake.

I will be purchasing the Twin of the Long Black Skirt. Shipping, shmipping. Modesty comes first.

I wish Dress Barn sold a maternity line. They'd make a fortune.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Perseverance, for Pete's sake.

This morning is the first time in a very long time that I'm up before the sun.

I used to do this often; I was a cook at a Catholic camp, and during the school year we had rental groups who, for a reason known only to the Almighty, decided they wanted breakfast at 8:00 in the morning. Seems reasonable, I know, but it also meant that I had to be present by 6:15 or so to begin preparing their meal. Did I mention we live 30 minutes from said camp? I'd leave home at 5:45 to make it there in good time. Also meaning I was up by about 5:15. And all of these times being in the morning, for Pete's sake. Really not my thing. At all.

I am not a morning person. I've never been a morning person. In high school, I would fly out of bed at 7:45 to be sitting in my first class at 8:15.

My usual pattern is to get as much done before I collapse in bed at night as I can...and then I read. It's not that I'm not tired when I get to bed; usually I'm exhausted. Need I remind you, I have four children and am terribly busy cooperating with the Almighty to produce the next. I'm tired alright, it's just that usually my mind is wound up and I end up staring into near-darkness (blasted streetlight) thinking about things I can't possibly affect at that particular hour, and then I can't fall asleep. So I read until my eyes begin to close, and I find myself reading the same sentence fourteen times in a row, and never really comprehending what I just read. Then I know it's time to close the book and turn out the light.

This getting up business, in case you're wondering, is not at all my own notion. I lay the responsibility for this one squarely at the feet of my dear friend, confessor and spiritual director, Fr. E.

I went to see Fr. E. on Friday. When I called him the week before Holy Week, I was rather down, and really just needed to process recent events. (In February we experienced a miscarriage.) Of course, Holy Week is a great time to get together with your priest! Well, at Mass anyway. But if spiritiual direction is what you're in need of, his time may not be as free as you'd like it to be. So circumstances being what they are with household schedules and all that, I finally got to get some direction on Friday.

Which brings me to this morning.

"Fr. E.," I said, "my days are not flowing as they need to. The structure is not there. I don't feel at peace." The usual Mom talk, I know. So we talked about the morning. No, I don't get up early. I'm spending time in prayer throughout my day, but hadn't really been praying the Morning Offering as I should. Or ever. Nor had I been laying eyes that were not sleep-filmed on my amazing husband before he left the house to provide for his family's needs. And this at the ridiculous hour of 7:30!

Yes, I know. Sloth is one of the deadlies (and the one I confess most often). But I had convinced myself that since I was getting so much done at night, this was all perfectly acceptable. We homeschool, so there is no need to get the kids up at 6-ish. And quite honestly, until it's garage sale season (so close!) I never feel the need to get up early. Perhaps if we lived on a farm.....but I digress.

"But," Fr. E. said, "that needs to change. If you want your days with your children to go well, you need to begin your day by offering everything to God, not just throughout your day, but most importantly, in the morning. And think how happy your husband will be to see you in the morning." Yes, yes. Things I know in my head, and even in my heart. But try to tell it to my eyes. They do not like this waning daylight business.

No sympathy. None. "Because," he said, "I am not a morning person either, and I get up at 5."


And the kicker: I am to confess the occasions that I do not follow through with this new habit. Yep. He'll get to hear about yesterday. I didn't get up until 7:20 yesterday. And today. Because while it's closer to the goal, I wasn't up until 6:40 today. I guess it's not as bad as all that, afterall. We'll see.

My goal now is to get up, pray, drink some liquid sanity, update my blog, check e-mail, and then (this one hurts!) shut down the computer. It sits in the living room, singing it's siren song to me all day....and I answer the call far too frequently. I'll be back in the evenings, hopefully.

Maybe time in the morning is really what I need. I can already see the benefits. If I have the afore-mentioned liquid sanity well before the children come downstairs, I likely won't be the fire-breathing dragon that they dread so, because I'll have more time to become human before I see their lovely faces (and they are lovely....).

So do help keep me accountable. Please encourage frequent confession. Heaven knows, I need it.

Today is Divine Mercy Sunday. I didn't know about it until about a year and a half ago, when I heard the Chaplet being prayed on EWTN. I'm no expert on feast days of the church, but this one is pretty awesome. If you want to know more about it, check out .

See you in the morning.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The First One

I guess this is the beginning. Genesis. The origin of musings yet to come.

I've been encouraged to begin launching my thoughts into cyberspace by several people, and have even begun once before only to fizzle into relative nothingness because I thought I didn't have anything to write about then. That was several years and one child ago, and perhaps I was just really too busy with three smallish children.

Now I'm busier. I'm a Catholic wife and homeschooling mom, and our family is involved with all kinds of activities...but with four children and one on the way, I really need a place to reflect, to connect, to find the timely wisdom that complete strangers can sometimes offer, and to use complete sentences with real grown-up words--and what a treat! Perhaps I'll receive nifty feedback or kind words or encouraging comments. One never knows.

So here I am. I hope to make a good run of it. Who knows? I might even have good stories from time to time.