Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A New Home and a Home Altar

So, you remember when we moved half-way across the country and into a tiny duplex a scant two months ago? Well, we intended on renting for a while but then we started "casually" looking--just for fun, you know.

It's all fun and games until you come across THE perfect house in THE perfect neighborhood--then you have to scramble to get approved for a loan before someone else snatches your dream home (4 beds, 2.5 baths, 1st floor laundry, and a screened-porch. Our wish-list verbatim). So yeah, it's been busy. And it's going to get even busier, because after we close next week we are planning on doing some minor renovations (painting, possibly flooring) before we move in. Fun stuff!

Soon this glitzy chandelier will be all mine.

But before all THAT happened I did this little project! And I'm just getting around to posting it.

I borrowed/stole this print (a detail of Raphael's Sistine Madonna) from my dad when I moved into my "own" place when I was nineteen. She's been with me in every place I've lived ever since! It's much prettier in person.

I had been meaning to put together a home altar for a while, and after a few garage sales I could finally get to work.

I gave everything a few coats of an antique white spray paint--more carefully than I usually do because I didn't want to paint the landlord's grass. I don't much care about my own grass, though.

I replaced the Madonna, put a piece of pretty pink scrapbook paper behind the glass in the smaller frame, gathered what few religious items I could find in our recently-moved mess and...boom.

That is two years worth of palms there, because we never remember to burn them. I'm very glad that they all have a home again--they had been rattling around on my dashboard ever since the big move.

The smaller frame became a makeshift whiteboard. Most--ok, some--days after breakfast CJ helps me come up with a prayer intention list. When he asks for us to pray for Princess Anna I usually substitute a general "people who are lonely".

Sometimes we make it through TEN WHOLE Hail Marys after that:) 

This crucifix has been with me since I was a kid. It is originally from the convent associated with the Parish I grew up in. When the convent closed they held a sale of all it's contents and my dad brought this home for me. 

It ain't much, but it sure makes me happy! Maybe after we move AGAIN I will be able to find my prayer cards and such to add to the shelf. One can hope!

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Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

That Small Catholic Family

This one's going to get a little Catholic, folks, so BUCKLE UP. Or, you know, click away. No hard feelings.

Lately, Cari Donaldson, one of my favorite Catholic bloggers has published two pieces about family size in the Catholic community, specifically how we in the pro-life culture have a tendency to objectify children and glorify the larger-than-average family. This not only alienates those in the community who don't have the revered "big Catholic family", but is also completely the opposite of what the pro-life culture stands for.

To Cari I say, YES. And thank you. I am so so glad that these posts are out there. They bear a very important message that I hope many people will take to heart.

Lately I have been struggling with some of my own issues related to the "bigger is better" mentality. 

When I was new to the NFP world I was (silently) a little judgey of the young married couples without children. Then, just as all of my friends and peers were starting their families, I was suffering from sub-fertility and multiple miscarriages. I learned the unspeakably hard way that lack of children doesn't always mean a lack of desire for children.

But that isn't the only reason that we need to tone down the baby-worshiping.

I've wanted to mother a large family for as long as I can remember. I came from a large family, and when I was an adult I came to admire the  wonderful Catholic bloggers out there, many of which run a 6+ child household with grace and poise. Some of the best Catholics I know run large families, and that fed into the whole misconception that in order to be a good married Catholic, one must have more than 2.1 children.

Then I got postpartum depression. It wasn't that I felt a little sad or a little worried; I went completely batshit crazy and had to be hospitalized for a week.

I struggled with a lot of things that week (and for innumerable weeks afterward), but what bothered me the most was that my dream of having a large family was dead. Something that had been so close to my heart for so long was abruptly and painfully torn away.

Not only had I lost my desire for more children, but simply seeing stroller on the street or a onesie set at the mall sent me into a full-blown anxiety attack. If ever the thought of another pregnancy entered my mind, my next thought was of throwing myself out a window. That's how bad it was. I made Nemo promise that we would never try for another, which calmed me somewhat--but I was terrified that stopping my child-bearing career at "only" two would label me a Bad Catholic.

Then some time passed, I did a lot of research, and I finally concluded that due to my specific circumstances, I was perfectly justified in practicing NFP to avoid having more children. The lack of desire for more children is not a sin.

Yay! Not a Bad Catholic.

Then more time passed. I've spent over a year reflecting on this issue, and I have come to a conclusion: I don't want my small family size to be "justified". I shouldn't have to defend myself, or feel the need to explain the absence of several more children given my relatively young age and my husband's gainful employment. I want my family, regardless of our numbers, to be loved and cherished by our Catholic community, end of story.

There are many factors that influence a particular Catholic family's size,  and it doesn't have to be something tragic or life threatening in order for it to be "ok". One of the most important things I have learned in the last year is that preferring a small family doesn't make me any less of a person, a mother, or a Catholic. It simply means that I respect the personality God has given me and recognize that it isn't a flaw that must be overcome. Maybe I can't handle more children; that doesn't make me less than a woman who can.

Sometimes it really is God's plan for a family to remain small. But for people like me, it is also necessary to leave our hearts open so we know when the plan has changed. In the past year I went from terrified, to the point of despair, of having another baby to quietly hopeful that we might someday welcome another baby into our home. My heart has truly been changed, and so dramatically that it can be nothing short of a miracle.

But even if we remain "just four", we are more than "ok". We are more than "justified". We are a family. And all families, whether large, small, or childless, are beautiful. Just love them, support them, celebrate them, and pray for them--no matter their numbers.

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Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.