When is “Enough” truly enough?

I am told that I have a plethora of patience. That’s not entirely true. I’m not a patient driver (and have a potty mouth when I’m driving too). Dealing with ignorant people is not something I’m good at. And then there’s this: the “friend.”

The “friend” is someone you have known much of your life. This person believes that because your friendship has lasted so long, they can therefore abuse it. He or she also is also known to blow you off at any given time but need you at the drop of a hat. And this person believes that your friendship supersedes all else in life: marriage, children, EVERYTHING.

We are dealing with one such person in our lives right now. My husband is much more forgiving of the situation than I am. I have a hard time with someone who claims we shut him or her out when this person has traveled to our city several times and not let us know he or she was coming and made no attempt to contact us while here to see about getting together. Or someone who believes that his or her needs comes ahead of our marriage and our kids needs. I pray for this person regularly.I bite my tongue. A lot. And if I say something it is to Jeff or one or two very close mutual friends who are also irked by this same behavior. But I’m beginning to wonder if this is enough.

A recent action by this person has me really stewing. This person dragged friends, acquaintances and one complete stranger into the drama (this person is grown, in his or her 40’s and is a total 12-year-old drama queen). I am praying and trying to offer it up, but I’m beginning to think there might be a reason I am having more trouble than usual letting go. Maybe (shudder) it’s time to confront speak up.

Here is my conundrum with speaking up. First, no matter how nicely I do it, this person will perceive me as being confrontational. I speak from the experience of witnessing more than one friend have the same experience. Second, remember, this is a Grade A drama queen I am dealing with. Even if this person were to take my message the right way, that doesn’t mean he or she cannot spin it out of control for friends and family. And make me look like a whiner. Finally, I know my husband wants to just keep on keeping on. He avoids conflict at all cost and normally I would as well.

The problem is that all this person’s friends are essentially enablers. They allow him or her to have his or her little tantrums and ignore them. But the problem doesn’t stop. It festers. My two-year-old does this, I don’t need to deal with grown adults who do. But it is much different dealing with a two-year-old who wants his own way vs an adult doing the same.

I arrive at this end: keep praying. I am fortunate I rarely have to deal with this person “in person” or the “enough is enough” and “grow up and leave drama in high school, most of us are adults with real problems now” talk might have already happened. And not in a very nice way.

Balance

A lot of bloggers I know are contemplating giving up the biz because of a lack of balance in their lives.

I completely understand this. There are these pulls in life. Family is the biggest one in general (it should be God, but for most people it is not) and then there is work if you have a job outside the home and now there is the internet. It pulls us to email to see if someone sent us ANYTHING interesting (be it dancing hamsters or a heartfelt tome). It pulls us to read about subjects we would never be interested in before. It pulled a friend of mine away from her doctoral thesis to google “lion vs tiger” for over 20 mins.

The internet can be a wonderful, wonderful thing. And a wonderful distraction.

So, why am I blogging about this. No, I’m not quitting blogging. My husband quit facebook. Maybe not forever, but for now. We’ll see what happens. Unfortunately I can predict that at least one CPU might blow up as someone pounds the keyboard because there is one person in particular who might get confused and think my husband blocked him. That’s part of the reason my husband wants to leave. He loves reconnecting with old friends, but hates how this device, this “facebook” can also keep him from doing what’s important right now. Reading Goodnight Moon one more time. Going out after dinner to kick the soccer ball. Potty training. Those things. Time with the kids and family.

There are other things but I am not at liberty to share too much more.

When he emailed me that he wanted to do this, I could read the relief he felt (he decided after the kids were asleep while I was napping before work). Like it was one less thing he had to check off each day. I feel badly that he felt so torn, but I have my moments too. I wish there was a way to not make email and facebook and blogging so intrusive in my daily life.

All things in moderation. That means the internet too.

Tiny Treasures Tuesday

image from Lerin at Beautiful Chaos

William– Will is climbing. Everywhere. We have pulled him off the tallest things in our house that are not our refrigerator. He has also mastered the art of pushing a chair where you want it to helping you climb. At 14 months. He is a quick learner. He also has learned that if you feed a dog some of your cookie or cracker, he will be your best friend. During movie night, we had a popcorn throwing incident that was an attempt to attract the dogs’ attention. It worked.

Joseph– Joey has started potty training. Sunday, after months of refusing to even sit on the thing, he came up to me and said, “poop Mama” which usually means, I’ve already gone and need a new diaper, but something told me to ask him if he needed to sit on the potty. He ran down the hall to the bathroom and said, “sit on potty mama!” So I ran after him and helped him get his diaper and shorts off and he pooped on the potty! He got much praise and a piece of candy (that he had no idea he was going to get). Then yesterday he didn’t do so well telling us he needed to go, BUT, he asked to wear his big boy underwear after his bath and wore them over an hour without soiling them at all (2 false start attempts at peeing on the potty) before it was night-night time and Jeff put a diaper on him. He is on his way!

Shelby- Miss Shelby is loving the pool! When her grandparents were in town last week, we took advantage of the pool at their hotel. She loved it. We are trying to locate someone willing to do private swim lessons to hopefully get her more comfortable with putting her face in the water, floating and kicking and maybe some survival strokes. Most places around us will only offer group lessons so fingers crossed that one of them will have a recommendation for a teacher!

When Can Etiquette Be Thrown Out the Window?

People who know me personally (I’m talking about you friends on facebook) know that I am pretty big on etiquette for a LOT of things. However, I do feel that there are times and occasions when etiquette gets severely in the way.

An etiquette gripe I have I have right now is about baby showers.

Let me start by saying that my baby shower was an etiquette buster from the beginning. For my first baby none of my friends offered to throw me a shower surprise or otherwise. They all told me, none to subtly, that they wanted invites, but they refused to offer to give me one. So, I figured I was on my own for EVERYTHING. Then my mother, mother-in-law and step-mother-in-law stepped in. Major etiquette faux pas. After the fact that no family member is allowed by Emily Post to throw any type of shower under any condition for any other family member for any occasion, it is a SUPER breach of etiquette for mothers to throw one for their daughters. And quite a few women told my mother so. However, my mother explained, I had no sisters, no female cousins old enough (or living close enough) to offer to throw one for me AND all of my friends were in this situation where they didn’t seem to want to be the one throwing it for me.

More recently I have run into the issue of gift registries. Now, aside from the fact that there are many people who are out pricing their guests with their gift registries, there is the simple issue of telling people where you are registered. While Emily Post maintains that you never, ever include your registry in any type of correspondence. Ever. The idea is that they are supposed to call the mom to be and ask. My mother did comply with this rule of etiquette. However, it is 2010. Quite frankly, that rule is outdated. Despite all the ways to contact someone, if you are sending an invitation to a person, then you expect that person to contact you back just to find out where you are registered? Does this person really have time to do that? I mean, I work nights and have 3 kids, anything that makes my life simpler, I appreciate.

I consulted about a dozen or so friends who have hosted baby showers in the past 12 months or so and all of them said they either had printed in the invitation the registry OR they included one of the cards the store provided them. Not one of them got a complaint and one even told me that one of her mom-to-be’s guests was an older British woman who found the idea charming and convenient. Unexpected allies are always good.

While all these women had positive experiences with the showers they hosted, a couple had attended showers where that was not the case. One shared with me a shower where the registry was left out of the invites and the mother only got clothes and diapers and not some of the less expensive but useful things she had registered for–like bottles, wash cloths, and the like. Another told me that she attended a shower with no registry info and the mom got several duplicates of the same item with no receipts attached. Now, I got two bouncy seats, BUT, six? That would  be excessive.

So, really and truly I think we can put that on the back burner of etiquette issues because in the end, it just shows that these days most people are concerned with time and don’t even realize what they are doing might be poor etiquette because the guests actually appreciate it.

One of the horror stories I heard came from a friend I’ll call Annette whom I used to work with. Annette attended a shower for a former co-worker of ours about a month ago and shared this event. The mom opened a large box from several cousins that contained a check with a picture of the stroller she had registered for. Now, I have family members who have done similar things, but I will go on the record that to ask the mom to pay the sales tax (which they did not figure in) and in this case shipping (the local store didn’t carry strollers) is very tacky. That’s part of what makes it a gift. If you are sending cash or a gift card, I think it best that you not specify what you want it to be used for and allow the parents to select something. I don’t know if Emily Post addresses this, but I think it’s nicer that way.

Now, we get to an issue that rankles a lot of people. A second shower. I was given a second shower by a very persistent co-worker because my second child was a different sex from my first. It was small and intimate. However, she insisted on including my family in the invites. So, I emailed them ahead of time and assured them I was not trying to be greedy and did not want them to feel as if they were obligated to send a gift, but an invitation was coming. They replied graciously that they thought it was wonderful my friend was doing this for me and hoped we had a great time. And my registry did not include large ticket items but mostly focused on clothing. I think that if a person is having a child of the opposite sex, there is nothing wrong with throwing them a shower, but be prepared to get some backlash. On a similar note, for second, third or more babies I have been invited to events that were deemed “showers” but had a theme. The most common was a “wipe and dipe” shower where people were to bring wipes and diapers. Another was a “pounding” where everyone made covered dishes. And I have been invited to “scrap book showers” where people made a scrap book page etc. Not so much about gifts but about making something for the baby. No matter, Emily Post says no, no, no to these. Technically, you shouldn’t even have a party to commemorate that child.

Again, I agree that a full blown shower is unwarranted for additional children unless the child was a surprise coming many years after other children and all items were sold or given away or the case of having an opposite sex child, but really, you can’t have a party where people bring diapers and wipes only? Or come and put items in a time capsule or decorate part of a patchwork quilt or scrapbook page. That seems rather harsh.

Finally, who to invite to a shower. It should be the parents’ choice period. Now again, Ms Post tells us we should allow grandmothers to invite their friends as well, but I’m not into that. If you are the friend of the mother-to-be, ask her who she wants there. Certainly if that many of the grandmother-to-be’s friends would like to attend a shower one of them could offer to throw one? Or they could send gifts after the fact?

Etiquette is etiquette. It’s a guideline, unfortunately it sometimes acts as a throwback to a time when things were quite different. And many, many people believe that any breach is verboten. While I do look to etiquette for guidelines quite often (for example, my friends who recently put items for their child on their wedding registry) I know there is a time to say, you know what, things change and the etiquette needs to change with them.

Movie Night x3

Friday night we watched Up! complete with popcorn. The kids thought this movie was great largely on account of the fact that there were lots of balloons and a dog who talked in it. Jeff and I fell in love immediately with Carl and the love story between him and Ellie. We were thrilled to have this movie join our collection!

Remember we were bemoaning not finding the Pixar Shorts Volume 1 film. Well, Saturday morning on a trip to Target success!  My all-time favorite, Knick-Knack is included and I have another favorite to add Mike’s New Car. Lifted was also very cute. Joey was a bit confused by Jack-Jack Attack and Mater and the Ghost Light because he knows those movies so well now. Honestly, there was not one I didn’t like. I was disappointed that You’re Friend the Rat was not included as it was very well done and I am a HUGE Ratatouille fan. I guess that’s what Volume 2 is for though.

Finally, Saturday night we watched Wall-E. I had some doubts about this one, I will admit, but knowing how much Joey loves robots, I was going to give it a try. I am so glad I did. I think Wall-E served as a very intelligent commentary on the dangers of over-convienence, abusing our planet and of course, complete reliance on robots. The “Auto-Pilot” was Hal 9000 remade for kids and a new generation and in the scene where the captain and the Auto-Pilot fight there was the 2001: A Space Odyssey theme playing. My kids liked all the robots. We decided with this movie to change it up a bit and do movie candy (since we had just been to Target where it was all $1). I was introducing Joey to Goobers which I didn’t want the baby to have (on account of the peanuts in them, not the chocolate for choking reasons as much as allergy ones). Imagine my surprise when I found the baby with chocolate on his face because Joey dropped one.

I’m not sure what our movie next week will be as we have a few we haven’t watched together yet. In the running right now are: A Bee Movie, The Muppet Movie, and The Love Bug.

Monday Minutes

1. We officially have 2 potty training toddlers in our house!

2. I guess a third child learns really quick because he has two older siblings to follow. Will can climb up anything.

3. Do you know how difficult it is to find bib overalls for little girls? We have to have them so someone does not remove her diaper at night. We finally found some and are awaiting their delivery.

4. Hopefully we will find someone to give Shelby private swim lessons soon. Fingers crossed.

5. Well, the weekend got away from me and while many things WERE accomplished. The toilets didn’t get cleaned (although one did get bleach put in it). Good thing no scorpions showed up.

For You O Lord, My Soul in Stillness Waits. Truly, My Hope is in You. ~Ps 98

Life is about trusting God and not always understanding why. I am learning about that now in this season of my life.

A few years ago, I couldn’t have imagined where my life would be today. I certainly never imagined 3 children already or having a special needs child, losing my job, Jeff losing his and many, many other things.

I seem to remember 2008 as being a turning point year in my life. Early in the year we lost Andy and then things seemed to tumble and spiral downward from there. Or maybe upward as we learned that year just how much we would need to rely on God. The year ended with me being pregnant and being told my baby possibly had a life-threatening condition (he didn’t) and Jeff losing his job. A few weeks into the new year, I was out of a job.

I prayed a long novena asking Our Lady of Kibeho for help. I am in an ongoing, lasting forever novena to St Joseph. Eventually, we found a reprieve in medical situations, Shelby’s therapy and I got a job so while Jeff did not have one, at least we could keep our heads above water.

I wrote the other day about Maria and Alex and it is true that we can take comfort that our pain is not all that there is in the world. But there are still dark nights of the soul afoot in our lives. God sometimes doesn’t give immediate answers to prayers. And sometimes the answer is no. Those two things are among the hardest to accept in life.

God, we are waiting as patiently as we can. We know there is no hope, but in You.

Batting Around My Brain

 

Rachel Campos-Duffy has been discussing how we dress for church. It’s a hot topic and one I reflect on fairly often.  

While I admit there is a lot of inappropriate attire in every church, I think there is a significant difference in not putting any attention into what you are wearing and doing the best you can in your individual circumstances. It’s a distinction I fear that too few of us think about.  

I hear people griping about clean jeans or khakis in church paired with a more casual (read: not a button down blouse) shirt or pants in general on a woman, dressy or not, or men not wearing a tie. Essentially, I think, this is splitting hairs. While jeans may not be the most dressed up item in the world, I can tell you that even with the most planning, you can’t plan for a baby to throw-up on you five minutes before you leave the house and those being the only clean “dress” pants you have so you pull the clean, wrinkle free jeans off the hanger in a moment of desperation. At that point the choice you are making is to be in the presence of the Lord in jeans or skipping it altogether because of your clothes.  

There are 2 chief arguments I hear in people arguing about what one should wear to church. 1) Some clothes are too distracting from the “message” or the “worship.” 2) It’s a matter of respect.  

Responding to #1, if we become distracted whether it be by a hemline or the cute baby in the pew in front of us, we should be refocusing on our attention immediately. If we repeatedly allow ourselves to be distracted, we are consciously choosing at that point to ignore the word of God.  

To #2, again, I agree there is some clothing that is never appropriate,  but in that vein we must also evaluate our own thinking. Going back to the jeans example, if I am a person who normally does not wear jeans to church and some sort of clothing incident occurs and I am now unable to wear my normal church clothes and am forced to wear more relaxed clothing (that is clean) am I being disrespectful? So, should I therefore judge someone else as being disrepectful, or should I adjust my thinking to maybe they had some kind of unforeseen incident. Or even better, should I just mind my own business?  

A few weeks ago I worked the rare Saturday night. As a result I went straight from work to mass. I was still in my uniform which is navy slacks and a lighter blue button down shirt. Not trashy, but definitely not Sunday best either. I got a lot of strange looks. And it turns out it was first communion mass of all Sundays. But I knew that God was seeing what was in my heart and that I was trying to spend time with Him and His Church, even if my attire wasn’t what it normally is.  

One of the churches near my parents’ previous home was quite liberal about many things, one of which was dress. One summer when Jeff and  I were dating (remember, he’s not Catholic) he completely forgot to pack Sunday clothes for a visit. My grandparents were also in town that weekend. What happened when we arrived at Mass with Jeff in khaki shorts and my grandfather in long pants was legendary. Jeff immediately wanted to return to my parents’ house out of embarrassment that he was underdressed. My grandfather (a cradle Catholic) wanted to go back to my parents’ house because “everyone is wearing shorts.” Which makes me wonder how many people change their Mass attire simply to fit in with the other parishoners.  

Several commenters on Rachel’s post point out that some of the most sinful people they know are dressed up receiving communion. Which leads me to another point, should our appearance dictate whether we are allowed to receive communion? A friend in a midwestern state recently told me that another priest in her diocese tried to implement a “no shirt, no shoes, no communion” policy. Basically it was a dress code he was trying to enforce. It failed largely because the Eucharistic ministers refused to comply. And quite a few people complained. To the Bishop. The Eucharistic ministers (my friends’ husband is one) refused on the grounds that they felt a dress code was completely subjective in this case and they felt it was impossible to judge the state of grace a soul was in by the clothes they were wearing. Ultimately, the Bishop agreed. I think it’s a tough call. It sure puts Eucharistic ministers in a tight spot because so much is subjective. Are skirts at knee level too short? Are those brown pants wrinkle free? These were calls people were being asked to make. However, I think that if someone is in a bathing suit, they should probably reconsider receiving at that mass.  

But the point of the state of someone’s soul is a point well taken. Plenty of people do not attend confession like they should and still receive communion. And who is to say that the person in jeans is therefore more sinful than the person “dressed to the nines.” It can’t be assessed purely based on outside appearance.  

What I leave all this discussion with is that while we should attempt to look our best at all times for the Lord, with mass being a special occasion to go more out of the way, we should not be quick to judge others. As Jesus pointed out about the Pharisees fasting in public so that others could see their piety was not the way to heaven, but our devotion to God should be hidden in our hearts. While that’s not a ticket out of dressing well for mass, it should be an indication that we should be looking beyond one’s clothing when determining his or her respect for the Lord.

7 Quick Takes Friday

1. This week flew by and I am at a complete loss as to why because it was no busier than any other week. Truly. I had my normal 40 hours at work. The kids had no appointments. Joey ran a fever one day, but that was it and he was in pretty good spirits despite that. Maybe it’s this new healthy lifestyle thing? I thought that was supposed to make me live longer, not faster?!

2. It has been brought to my attention that small acts and kind words do a world of good for people. I knew this before, but I never realized how much MY words and acts could impact people. Little things I thought were no big deal or normal acts of friendship have come back to me in the form of thank yous and very sweet notes. As blessed as I hope I made those friends feel, they have blessed me 100 times more.

3. I got Shelby to poop on the potty for a second time! Once again, I caught her trying to go and brought her to the potty. She seemed pretty traumatized by the whole thing, so to me, I don’t count it as potty training success.

4. Joey knows exactly how to work the portable DVD player. He was allowed to watch a movie while he wasn’t feeling well today in his room. Apparently Daddy forgot to take it out of the room when the boys went to sleep and he heard a noise down the hall and it was Cars playing on the DVD player. I guess Joey can say “My mama didn’t raise no dummies!”

5. While I love that so many of my friends are pregnant and there will be so many new babies to play with soon, I don’t like how hot it is now for those mommies to be. I feel like walking from my door to the car I can’t breathe, I hate to think of what they are going through!

6. Oh, we did not get to have movie night at the beach because their televisions were disabled to hook up our DVD player, but my kids were so wound up, they didn’t notice. AND after months of seeing it everywhere, we haven’t been able to find the Disney Pixar Shorts DVD. So, we did purchase both Up and Wall-E which we hope the kids will be enjoying in the next couple of weeks. And for a super sweet real-life take on Up, click here.        HT: to Ms Hallie @ Betty Beguiles!

7. Somehow this weekend, both bathrooms are going to be cleaned. Because lest a scorpion end up in my toilet (highly unlikely in southeastern NC, but still) I want to be able to take a picture and post it and email it to Jen.

Surf on over to Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes Dude!