“Jesus tastes like cardboard.”

It was May 7, the day before mother’s day. I had slept in sponge curlers for at least 36 hours. When I took them out my hair was still straight with a few added kinks and plenty of extra frizz. I wanted more than anything to be just like my big sister on her day. But, no matter how hard I tried, her hair is naturally curly, and mine is not. My dress was the prettiest acrylic lace a seven year old could ever imagine. Its hoop skirt made me feel like a princess, and only caused a little bit of difficulty when I was kneeling. I was the only little girl wearing a veil, and I loved it. It was a bright sunny day, and my smile showed every single one of my baby teeth. I ran as fast as I could to show my dad my dress. He was definitely impressed. I was the first to process in because I was just as small back then as I am now. I can still remember Father’s homily, and my psalm speaking part. I didn’t even need a microphone, but, it was realllllly fun to talk into one. I was confident in God’s love, and I looked like a toy bride. It was definitely one of the best days of my life.
Today, as I witnessed my second grade CCD class receive Jesus for the first time, I remembered my own day and all of the excitement with which it was filled. I cried 8 times during Mass today. Their smiles, white paten leather, fake taffeta, real taffeta, glitter nail polish, botched signs of the cross, the over zealous bowing, the “please, can you fix my veil again,” and “how many more minutes?!?!” and, in particular, the one very special boy in the all-white suit (my Godson Daniel) made those tears fall steadily and happily.

I tried to quit teaching CCD at least 200 times this year, because having a third baby and spending the little free time I have to teach a group of rowdy kids that aren’t mine, is hard, and, sometimes, annoying. I’m terrible at arts and crafts and that’s what second graders like to do. I’m also bad at disciplining, so on more than one occasion, they were running around the class drawing on each other with markers, knocking down chairs, or pulling the preschool kids artwork off the walls. The thing is, though, teaching second grade is the best way to learn about God, and what matters most. They confuse the Annunciation with Dewali, because those are both big fancy words and who cares what the name is when they know what happened. Gothic and gossip are pretty much the same thing and both are stupid and a bad decision. They give up putting on make up and eating skittles for Lent, because that’s the hardest thing they can think of, and they want to make God happy. They bring purses shaped like dogs filled with colored pencils and stickers, and wear shirts that say “Gangnam Style” because fashion is supposed to be fun and expressive. They make homemade cards that say “I’m happy you had a baby girl named Rita, God loves her and I hope you do too” because they know that all babies should be loved. They pray for their sick, dying, or dead pets every single week because they really like their pets and they understand mercy. They fight over what color lollipop they want, who won musical chairs, and whose turn it is to be line leader, prayer leader, bathroom leader, or door holder because they understand justice. They tell their teacher a lot of stuff about their parents that they shouldn’t because they are transparent and honest. They cannot possibly tell a story without squirming, because they really want to make sure its told properly and the truth matters. They absolutely love to raise their hands and say, “I forget” because forgetting is much better than being held accountable for a wrong answer. And If someone farts, class should be dismissed immediately, because there is absolutely no way to ever get them to ever pay attention ever again because farts are always funny and humor is a virtue. They tell you they are still nervous to receive communion and want to practice again, even when everyone did it perfectly 5 times in a row, because we are practicing with cheddar Goldfish and they really want another Goldfish. They squint their eyes really hard when they are praying because they want me to know they are seriously trying and that its important to pray. They are excited to make their first Reconciliation, and own their sins with no guilt at all, because they want to be best friends with Jesus. And on the day of their first Communion, their purity makes the whole church smile, and reconsider what that little piece of bread is really all about, even if it does “taste like cardboard.”

A big congratulations, and an even bigger thank you, to all of my second grade students on this very special day.

Mom confessions.

1) This morning it took me 47 minutes to run 3 miles. It’s not that I’m that slow of a runner, Josie is just that obsessed with putting toys in toilets and flushing.

2) Last night eating dinner took 60 minutes and produced 4 billion tears. Even when asparagus is wrapped in bacon, its still not cheese.

3) Apparently, I have been entirely too liberal with my justification “if you can’t make it to the bathroom when we are playing outside, it’s ok to pee in the grass.” Today, during preschool pickup, after hearing 8 people say “wow, looks like you have your hands full,” as well as, “can I help you carry someone?” James announced, “I have to pee.” I took a deep breath full of frustration, as the burn in my left bicep grew stronger from carrying the baby seat that weighs 400 lbs, at least, for too many minutes. We had gone inside 3 different times. The first time was to get his backpack. The second time, he forgot his homemade kite. The third time, he wanted a cookie and there was a whole table full of them displayed for all the children to see just before lunchtime. Just as I was about to open the door to go back inside yet again, he said, “it’s ok mommy,” and proceeded to pull down his pants.

4) And speaking of pee, who makes the best plastic sheets? We need some.

5) I was asked to make eggplant parmesan for a gathering this evening. Josie decided she wanted to help mid greek yogurt snack. The thing about Josie is one minute she’s happily sitting perfectly and quietly eating neat spoonfuls of a high protein dairy snack. In the next second, as I turned around from manning the stove, she’s on the counter with a handful of already breaded eggplant in her very creamy yogurt drenched hand. My apologies to all of the party-goers.

6) For some reason, I have a hard time paying attention to the actual temperature of one day to the next. On Tuesday, I saw the sun, and put shorts and tshirts on all of my kids and myself, because its almost May, and I already put the coats away. Tuesday morning was actually cold, and the hats and coats on every single kid at James’ school quickly drew my attention to my lack of it.

7) A few weeks ago, there was an incident with Rita, a grocery cart, a parking lot, and the wind. Guardian angels are real.

8) The first place commenter on this blog is…my mom.

Maybe I need a better Staff?

Hopefully, my sheep still heard Jesus’ voice today, because mine was repeatedly, purposefully, and rather skillfully ignored.

We began as we always do, with lots of pee and even more crying. Eggs were thrown, Josie confused water with milk and was really mad about it, and James put one singular cheerio in Josie’s eggs on the floor causing toddler war 56,798,987.

Somehow 8:53 came and went before we noticed and 9:30 Mass across the river was the only one we would make on time. I was mad. I really wanted 9:00 Mass at our normal church, where the kids know the drill, and the priest things crying and running up the aisle is entertaining. I blamed our inefficiency on Jim’s decision to stay up too late watching Gremlins, and he didn’t appreciate it.

My frustrations grew stronger when I realized somewhere over the bridge that my purse with all things baby never made into the mess of our car, and since we were going 30 minutes later, Rita would request food and my hooter hider nursing wrap was in the bag and would help me to hide nothing.

As I stepped out of the car, everything in sight was blue. Worse than the trick birthday cake candles, dry erase crayons look exactly like normal crayons and ruin khaki pants and make a freshly bathed three year old look more like a smurf. I used one of the too few baby wipes in the car, and prayed no one would poop.

As I stood in the back of the church where almost 5 years ago I was all dressed in white waiting to meet the groom of my dreams, I held and tried to nurse a bitey teething screaming 6 month old. The acoustics that once made me excited because wedding music is a big deal, were now making all of my children’s poor choice of words and cries more embarrassing and noticeable. I looked at the very spot where I stood before I revealed my bride-hood. Now, Josie was running by in socks, and performed the greatest Risky Business slide of all time, as the priest whom I couldn’t hear preached about lost sheep. James escaped the pew, and still nursing and trying not to expose myself, I had no hands to pinch, grab arms, necks, shirts, whatever it normally takes. My sheep were everywhere. Jim, calm, cool, and still blue-khakied, came walking back and gave me an “its okay, don’t cry,” smile. As we watched our little (black) sheep, disobey and like it, we gave up and made up. “Flocking awesome,” we (inappropriately) joked.

Still feeling a little defeated about how very ba ba bad my black sheep were during one of the only hours I really care about their being good, brother in law Dan made me realize Risky Business, blue crayon, snot, screaming, towers of missals, missed naps, echoes, and the need to re-read every single reading in the car on the way home so I felt like church would count for the week, wasn’t actually that bad.

“We missed you guys at Mass,” he said. “Everybody was pretty good, actually.”
“Um, seriously Dan?” Maria interrupted.
“Oh… that’s right,” Dan said with his head down. “I lost Bailey.”

His lost sheep would, thankfully, be found many minutes later waiting in the car by himself. Impressive and also horrifying.

Happy Sunday, Happy Herding.

If each of my children had a theme song…


James- “I can’t Dance” by Genesis

Josie- “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N Roses

Rita- “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins (this is merely a reflection of her surroundings, and less reflective of personality). 

I do not love you the same.

Dear James,

As Maria said earlier as you spit on Bailey and sat on his head, for the past 10 days you seem to be “back to the old James.” Since you are three and too young to be old, she is referring to your Bailey’s #1 terrorist days of 10 months old when you would crawl/walk across any amount of space to mercilessly tackle his 11 month old unsuspecting and terrified baby-self. The two of you are best friends almost every day, except for the last 10. It’s been rough, James. There has been a lot of spit and use of the word “hate” because the 6 and 8 year old boys next door sometimes say that word and you are a fast repeater of things I never would ever want you to say.

You are a rules man- so long as the rules are yours and not Josie’s, or mine, or dad’s. You are very sure, however, to make sure Josie is following all of the rules that you decide do not pertain to you and offer well thought out explanations as to why such rules are not for you and only for her. Dad has to continually coach me in not caving to your knack for persuasion. It’s difficult though, because you are usually hugging me as you explain because you know I like it, and its an effective way to get quickly out of timeout.

Cheese is still the only food your really like.You will settle for Frosted Flakes and carmel greek yogurt. Tonight’s massaman curry was definitely not either of those so I think maybe you are going to wake up at 5am because you are “so hungy.”

We toured a new preschool and you were more adorable while touring than the very adorable stuffed fox you received for being a prospective student. There are turtles in the science room at the school. Based on your zealous hold/death grip of their rock hard shell, they might not be as enthusiastic as you are about attending next year. I hope you are understanding in their likely decision to keep their soft little heads tucked tightly away whenever you enter the room. You are eager to learn and explore every single item of every single classroom, especially the ones with a million-billion puzzle pieces. You shook each and every hand of each and every teacher and your ear to ear smile revealed all of your chipped teeth. Four teachers asked me, “what happened to his face?” when they noticed the 47 bloody boo-boos that have been there since you started crawling and getting into fights. When I replied, “oh that’s what it always looks like,” I looked like a really bad mom.

As of late, every time I pick you up from school you are wearing a different outfit than the one you put on by yourself inside out and backwards, and then refused, under any circumstances, to change in the morning, because you play with the water and sand just like you do with the turtle. Your choice to pull up the navy tube socks past your knees is just as much as a fashion cringe. I know that Daddy does the same thing because he thinks its funny when I burrow my brow and squint my eyes at the way he dresses, so I understand why you think its cool.

You are totally and completely under Rita’s adorable baby spell. You wake up in the middle of the night to check on her if she cries. You climb into her bed to pat her bum so she will fall back to sleep. You feed her, kiss her, and she even thinks its funny if you lick her, but its really gross and I hope the phase ends soon. If you are upset, she smiles at you and all is right and happy again.

Dear Josie,

With every day that goes by, I become more convinced that the only appropriate career in your future is Ninja. Your quiet, skillful determination makes a mess at least 500 times a day, but you are really good at climbing on the counter to get the entire roll of paper towels to clean it. You grunt and put a lot of muscle into your cleaning. I’m beginning to wonder if I, unknowingly and hopefully not, do the same thing and that your scrubbing style is one of imitation.

These are things you currently believe:
All of the shoes in the entire house are yours.
It is not an all an issue for me to carry you and Rita anywhere you want to go.
If you don’t like what you are eating, spitting it out wherever you are, whenever you want, is perfectly acceptable.
Spitting is hysterical.
Books without pop-ups are not worth reading.
If you can’t reach it, you climb until you can.
Mom’s makeup and jewelry and fancy clothes are the greatest toys of all next to a soccer ball and hockey stick.
Ice skates should be worn, even when its hot and we are not going ice skating.
No request is too small if it earns ice cream.
Rita and baby brendan need to have their blankets at all times, and if not, your world will crumble.
All other children in this house and the one next door are wrong: stink bugs are not scary and are fun to play with.
Holding hands is for losers, especially in parking lots or close to streets.

Dear Rita,

Your skin is different than that of the older two. You definitely need sunblock. Your name indicates italian blood, yet your skin is more of an Irish Bridget or Shannon.

Two weeks ago you got your hands on a graham cracker. Your mouth, now, refuses to open for anything but a graham cracker.

9 people called you a “he” at Target today. I’m sorry, you don’t actually look like a boy. I think maybe the genderless baby has made things confusing for everyone. You were wearing a black and white color blocked onsie with red accents. Its a very stylishly feminine color concept and pattern. And your cheeks are the rosiest known to baby. Maybe its your lack of knees and several chins? Or your peach fuzz hair? I’ll be sure to put a bow in it to clear up the confusion next week.

“Peace be with you,” is what you say everywhere you go, not out loud, just by your presence. James is particularly sensitive to you and your smile. Keep it up, baby. Just please, open your mouth for green beans.

You had a really high fever for 5 days. When I took you to the doctor 7 people said, “how is she still so pleasant?”

Dad learned that you are obsessed with the spinning, singing, light up mobile. In an effort to comfort you while I was out, he took it off of the crib, holding it in one arm, and you in the other so that you could continue enjoying it while being held by him. When I came home to see it, I thought “marrying him was a good choice,” and also, “this is a great picture.” As I tried to capture the moment with my iPhone, he begged me not to “ruin it with media.” Hopefully, my description in words is enough for you to know how much he loves you because your dad is really weird about cameras, among other things.

Dear Jim,

I don’t usually include you in these letters because you are my husband and not my child. But since you think that I should email you my posts, or deliver them to you on Gold paper, I’m choosing to write about you to the 10 people on the internet that may or may not read this one day.

Every morning you eat two waffles with nutella and a banana. You try to hide it from the kids by wrapping it in a paper towel and taking it in the car to eat on the way to work because you know as soon as its spotted by them, it will no longer be yours. I’m really proud of you for making yourself breakfast, because that one time when we were on the way to deliver Josie and you said, “but, i haven’t had breakfast yet,” I almost killed you.

You had another concussion and haven’t been able to play ice hockey, so you picked up video games instead. You’ve somehow managed to trick James into thinking that he is playing with you by handing him the broken controller with no cord and telling him he’s the “player with the arrow on his head.”

You went to bed at 2 am because you were working on a speech to give to a group of high school kids about the sacrament of marriage. I’m hoping you had to stay up so late because you wanted your speech to be perfect, and not because it was difficult to come up with reasons why you like being married.

run on.

My sister slowed her pace at the sound of my cheering. She didn’t want to miss seeing us, even if it added a few seconds to her time. She excitedly waved through her sweat and continued to strike: left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot. it was a feat of mental strength and rhythmic repetition. It was mile 9. The sight of her husband and two children, Daniel age 8, and Jay 6, were the source of encouragement necessary to continue running on her fractured foot, mother of 5 joints and lack of time. The boys grinned with pride. They were also impressed. They had never really considered their hockey and soccer speed coming from Mom, until she ran by with such graceful determination, in one of the first main groups of female runners. I cheered for my sister because she deserved it. It was her first race, and she was fast, even after having a whole bunch of babies. She was happy, too. Humbly proud of her accomplishment, gaining confidence with every stride and step, in herself, and in God’s love for her.

As I try to settle my thoughts about Boston, the images of my sister running by, the smiles on the faces of her boys, the thousands of other families who shared such similar moments, keep flashing in and out of my mind. We attend and participate in these things because they are supposed to be fun, an opportunity to deepen our experience as becoming better, faster, stronger, human beings. Its freedom at its finest in a very exposed and obvious way. The more I try to settle, the more I become unsettled. Freedom makes us who we are. And that’s exactly what these crazies are trying to take away. They capitalize on its delicate purity in an attempt to destroy it with fear and violence. And they always seem to pick the things that are the most beautiful. Any time something like this happens, I once again start to battle between wanting to be safe steward of my family and myself, and being a crazy paranoid person who can’t sleep because I’m convinced tonight is the night someone is going to break in and do terrible, awful, things. I want to attend a marathon as a spectator, or a runner, and not think about getting blown up. The thoughts, the fears, the anxieties, all make me want to run away and hide underneath all of the covers and never come out.

But, then, I would miss it. I would miss my kids running in the yard completely naked because they see no reason to wear pants, or shirts, or socks, or shoes when its hot and we own a hose. And I would miss my CCD kids praying for whatever loser did all this stupid stuff in Boston, because “he doesn’t want to be friends with Jesus,” and for the boy who died, who is exactly like them, except now, “he gets to be with Jesus all the way and meet his guardian angel.” The terrorist didn’t expect runners to run to the hospital to give their exhausted blood. Nor did he expect restaurant owners to open their doors to hungry people and give away free food. He didn’t want unknowing toddlers to run around their yard giggling the next day, or CCD students to pray for him and rejoice in his victim’s union with God. God is still Good, the race is not over, and He is the finish.

I run.

I run.

I run to be faster, stronger, and a better me
To race against the last time, the doubt, and the anxiety
I run to escape myself, my responsibilities
but mostly to find out who I am, and who God wants me to be.

The soreness, the knees, the man, that hurts a lot.
Its all somehow worth it, and eagerly, consciously sought.

I run to think, to pray, to be
Peaceful, thankful, endlessly.

Nothing can capture the runner free
Not a thought, a judgement, an evil act.
The runner will beat them, smoke them, and then seek them,
to say, “its ok,” you’ve tried, but, you will never catch me.

My thoughts and prayers for all of those in Boston, and those not in Boston; those watching and praying, not understanding, who, what, how, or why.

Marathons make heroes.

I want Life.

I had been working there for a few weeks, at most. The phone rang, and I was the only one in the office. My lack of experience and newness didn’t matter. I had to answer. “Hello, Birthright, Regina speaking, how can I help you?” My voice fluctuated and quivered out of nerves and responsibility. “Uh…yea… how much are your abortions?” It was a young woman’s voice, and the scariest question I had ever heard. My heart raced, palms sweating, mind blank.

“I’m sorry, we don’t offer abortions,” I said scared. Was I doing it right? Should I say something different? Is she going to hang up now?

“What is it that you do?”
“We offer pregnancy testing, baby supplies, pregnancy support, connections to volunteer organizations that can help you after your baby is born…”

“Oh.” she said softly and in disappointment.

I was sure she would hang up. Too nervous to say anything I just stayed on the line.

“I can’t have this baby…I’m all alone,” she said.

Having little to no idea of what to say next, I tried to just be with her as best I could. I was a 20 year old virgin from a rich suburb. What did I know about unplanned pregnancy? Nothing.

“You feel all alone?” I eventually responded.
“Yea, my boyfriend left me. My dad is gonna kill me. I want to go to school and be somebody. I don’t want a baby.”

The conversation went on for a while. She told me that her dad would kick her out once he found out, her mom had been out of the picture for a long time, there was no desire for a baby, and certainly no money for one. I can’t really remember what I said to her or why, I just remember asking God to help me be a good listener.

“Do you think I could meet you?”
“Of course,” I said.

We met, and we talked almost everyday. I told her that I thought there was a life inside her with a purpose, but that only she could make the decision. She agreed, but she was really scared. I gave her all the contacts I could and told her she could always call me if she ever wanted to talk.

A few weeks went by before I heard from her. I figured she had chosen abortion like so many of the others. Then one day, “Hey, Regina…I’m gonna need some extra help. I’m having my baby.”

Occasionally, I’ll still get a call. She had a little boy, and although its hard, she’s happy, and grateful. Her gratitude puzzles me. All I did was answer a phone and listen. I told her where she could find cheap clothes and babysitting. I handed her a WIC form, and I bought her a onesie. Yet, apparently, that’s all it took for her to have enough confidence to search her heart and figure out what she really wanted to do.

Most of my clients were exactly like her. Poor, scared, and black. Some called for services, some looking for cheap abortions, others looking for a friend. Some chose life, other’s didn’t.

Ever since hearing about the Gosnell case, I can’t help but remember the women who I met, counseled, prayed for, cried with, cried over. They taught me, and showed me the face of abortion. It’s alone, it’s scared, it’s tired, and confused. The women who called me are the very same women who may have gone to Gosnell had they lived a few hours northeast. I think of the women who did. And their babies.

The whole thing is very confusing and very disturbing.

Pro life people are outraged by the deaths, by the lack of coverage, by the nature of abortion, and its business.
Pro choice people are complaining because as the head of NARAL says, women went there because of the picketers outside Planned Parenthood, and the state’s refusal to allow safe and legal abortions passed 24 weeks.

Political? Probably. Despicable? Definitely.

And yet our culture breeds the business. The man made millions, for years, and even those who knew, did nothing. As his defense lawyer said, “he was providing a service that women wanted.” Blood stained chairs, baby remains in orange juice cartons, and deathly amounts of anesthesia provided by someone with a 7th grade education is not what women want. And to think 3801 Lancaster is an isolated incident, or location is naive and irresponsible.

Tonight, Anderson Cooper headlined his show to discuss the unfathomable details. He asked CNN analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, why it is that there has been so little coverage.

He answered, “I don’t think its a political decision, not covering this is a business decision.”

A business decision? Not covering the death of women and infant children because of state oversight, and political pressure is a business decision? I imagine Gosnell may have a similar defense…

Tonight as I put my kids to bed, I thought about each of their births. The birth of James was the first witnessed by the nursing assistant assigned to me. She wept at the sign of new life.
My doctor cried with joy when Josie was born because, finally, someone in my family had a girl.
And when Rita was born, the same doctor cried, along with the nurses, because delivering babies to parents that are happy to receive them is just “so beautiful.” Plus, Josie had a sister.

Each of my children were welcomed, loved, known before their official entrance into the world, not just by me, but, by everyone there, because there is nothing more miraculous, or unbelievable than to witness the arrival of a human being that simply IS, whether we like it or not, want it or not, whether it is convenient or not. A human being IS. A baby IS.

I thought about their gestational age and how it made no difference. James: 42 weeks, Josie: 38 weeks, Rita: 40 weeks. All babies. And all smaller than some of the little ones that Gosnell’s business beheaded.

As I nursed Rita tonight, I continued to think of the babies, and their mothers, who thought they were exercising their freedom, their right as Americans and women who own their bodies and do what they want. After nursing, I got a glimpse of my body. Its aged. Its tired. It looks different than most 27 year olds. But, its mine. And I did what I wanted. I want Life.

7 quick tales

7 Quick Takes

This is my very first time participating in a blog link up. Here we go!

1) This morning I needed a few minutes to get dressed sans three crazies. I turned once again to that curious monkey, George, and bolted up the stairs with baby Rita. 10-12 minutes of teeth brushing, putting away laundry, accessorizing a necklace to my t-shirt (!! on a weekday morning !!), and I even managed to take a quick phone call that was never once interrupted by my having to discipline anyone. The lack of Josie’s scampering into my room to dump my jewelry box and ask for lip gloss was slightly concerning, but I thought/dreamed/wished maybe she and her brother were getting along. As I walked down to silent interrupted by friendly giggles, I knew. An entire box of chocolate peanut butter cups all over the family room, all licked, all wasted. The monkey might not be the greatest influence on a girl who manages to climb three shelves to find chocolate that I had hid realllllly well.

2) James and cousin Bailey are suddenly obsessed with good guys and bad guys, but mainly bad guys.
After seeing the sun for the first time since Rita was born.
Regina: Its going to be a nice day!
James: I don’t want to be nice, I want to be a fight!!

After previewing a movie on First communion for my CCD class.
Regina: Did you like the movie?
James: Yes. Jesus loves me. Also, he is bleed in a cup. Did the bad guys do it?

After witnessing a limp, lying on the grass still James.
Regina: Are you ok?!?!
James: Yea, just playing dead because Bailey and the bad guys shot me.

3) I began reading my old favorite book “A Confederacy of Dunces,” for the first time since college. Its now my new favorite book, again.

4) Ever since the weather became warmer than freezing, the kids have wanted to do nothing but turn on the hose and make a mess/soak each other and the neighbors. James offers the sensible rationale that he is “cleaning the mud with his hands because it is so muddy” by soaking the dirt and spreading it all over everything. I think maybe I should care more or tell them to stop, but they are so entertained. As long as I am able to intercept the water bill before Jim sees it, I see no problem with continuing.

5) Rita is borderline crawling. The sane part of me cheers her. The bigger crazy part of me is tempted to pick her up and hold her forever and ever and ever so that she never ever ever grows up so enabling her to permanently remain the relatively immovable ball of perfect joy and giggling, drooling happiness.

6) Yesterday, at my secret shaded park whose existence is unknown to most or all neighborhood residents was invaded by another mom and her daughter. “Are you the nanny?” she said smilingly. “No, I’m the mom,” I said, also smilingly. “To all of them?” “Most of the time!” I said with a chuckle. “Aren’t you a little young to have so many?” she asked confusingly. “Maybe…” I said. My thoughts began to become paranoid. Do I look like a teenage mom? Is it because I can still wear kids jeans? Maybe I should have kept my neon sneakers at home? I liked the park better when the only people there were the ones I invited and have just as many kids as me at 27.

7) I’m beginning to learn that children really do repeat everything they hear, including “I’m going to kill you,” among other unpleasant phrases. Also, they are unaware that they aren’t supposed to be said in public, especially not in preschool parking lots.

all day-er

As the hours rolled by, my eyes remained half way open and half way closed. I gently patted her back because it soothed her, and with every pat, I prayed, “give me the strength for one more.” She rested in my arms, and cried painfully, but, somehow still sweetly, when I put her down. While there was really nothing more I wanted than to put her down and see her again after 8-10 hours of rest (in my non-existent dreams), I knew in my heart that nights like this is what makes a mom. Is it her ears, or just a fever? Maybe tylenol will work? As the tiredness continued to cloud my judgement and reaction time, my jealousy over Jim’s ability to sleep through crying, shaking, poking, water pouring, the end of the world, grew stronger. Then, I noticed James crawling into the room trying to remain unnoticed. He found a pillow and layed next to her crib. “It’s ok, Rita. I’m here now.” It was our first real “all nighter” together.

And as the all night turned into the all day, I looked at the sun with contempt, and my pillow with envy. The sun was ready for the day, as I wanted a take two on the night, and my pillow will rest on that comfortable, beautiful, wonderful, the best ever bed all day. The questions of “how?” began. The answers quickly became “I cant’s, I wont’s, PUT ME BACK TO BED” and the borderline to tantrum was crossed. Making breakfast? Impossible. Instant Oatmeal? It tastes bad when you accidentally try to make it with hot coffee instead of hot water. Complete Sentences? Not a subject-predicate chance. The thought of taking 3 children to the pediatrician to get her ears looked at seems like something only a crazy person would want to do. I took a deep anxiety filled breath of why can’t children be healthy, and where are all the qualified daytime babysitters hiding?

It’s going to take a miracle. And, honestly, I’m pretty sure He’ll give it to me, because that’s what He does.

As sweet baby Rita Therese is about to wake from her morning nap, I know that the daunting daunting every so daunting pile in to the doctor’s will occur. And as I sit on the laundry floor typing as a form of procrastination and reason to ignore James and Josie’s decision to take off their clothes and make a river with the garden hose because the temperature is over 60 degrees, I have ponder two points.

First, I deeply wonder how anyone does this without God. I think I’ll ponder this one for the rest of my life. The number of times I have managed to blink is the number of times I have asked him to help me blink. And while I’m sure if He weren’t helping me, my kids would probably still be naked outside flooding my porch, I think it would probably bother me a lot more. And Josie’s last request for a “bull of parmOjohn” (bowl of parmesan) might not be nearly as funny as I currently find it to be.

Second, as I stare at the tremendously large pile of mismatched socks and I once again find myself facing the same question every mother since the beginning of time has asked and left unanswered. Where, oh where, does all the laundry come from?