Friday, February 15, 2013

Mommy Guilt, Meet Catholic Guilt

Every mom on the planet knows about mommy guilt.  It's that member of the guilt family that tells her she isn't doing enough for her kids.  She could be homeschooling ten kids and making sure each of the ten participates in the art/music lesson and sports team of his/her choice, making her own laundry soap and homemade granola, growing organic produce for the family, and piecing together fantastic birthday parties on a shoestring.  Doesn't matter.  She is never doing enough stuff, and doing it well enough.  Lest you think I come close to this depiction, let me point out that this is, in fact, a description of my personal ideal (though I only have four kids).  And yet, I am quite sure that if this woman exists, she still suffers from mommy guilt.  There will always be something that it seems as if someone else is doing that you aren't, or maybe they just seem to be doing it better.

In my particular world, the sink is full of dirty dishes (every time they hear the water running, all hell breaks loose, I swear), the floor desperately needs to be mopped, and I have been after the children to clean their bedrooms and do their chores for. . . well, ever.  Child #1 can't get along with #2, who can't get along with #3.  I am dealing with PMS, or so my FCP tells me, and they insist on pulling the mattresses off their beds to make a landing pad for flights from the top bunk.  ~sigh~  Nothing I try works, and it is on these days that mommy guilt moves in and gets comfy.

Now, since I began to explore the Catholic faith/culture, I've heard tell of a little thing called Catholic guilt.  But in several months of being a practicing Catholic (am I allowed to call myself that at this point?), I had never encountered it.  Or so I thought.  I realized this evening that I've actually been dealing with Catholic guilt for a while now.  It just disguised itself under the larger banner of mommy guilt.  See, during Advent, we started a little tradition of gathering around the Advent wreath in the evenings to light the candles and do our readings.  It was a nice thing, I felt.  A good tradition, and a way of bringing faith home for my children in a way my family never had as Baptists.  I wanted a new tradition for after Christmas, to replace the prayers, readings, and candles of the Advent season.  So, I made each of the kids a tenner (single-decade chaplet), and began, one at a time, to teach them the mysteries of the rosary.  We started with Joyful, since it was a natural fit for the Christmas season.  And I must admit that I fell off the wagon fairly quickly.

You see, my mother lives with us.  She is not Catholic, and feels (I think) alternately baffled and betrayed by my conversion.  Advent readings were largely applicable even in a multi-denominational setting.  Hail Marys, not so much.  So, I became uncomfortable with the whole thing almost immediately, for fear I was upsetting her.  

But the children were in LOVE.  However, other things, as they have a tendency to do if you let them, disrupted my routine as well.  So now, I face a new breed of mommy guilt--Catholic mommy guilt--at bedtime many nights.  Like when my sons want their Bible story, candles and prayers (usually brought up during the course of the bedtime wars as a way to put off sleep), and I have to tell them no, because I'm busy with other things that can't really be put off, and I think it's a bad habit to get them used to asking for different things at bedtime just to stay awake.

Don't tell me; I know.  What I need is a genuine bedtime routine that includes their prayer time.  I just seem to have trouble establishing one.  Routines have never been my strong point.  Perhaps it's something I should work on for Lent.

For now, however, I made the mistake of giving #4 a nap today.  Which means we're still awake at nearly 2:30 a.m. on a night when we have to be up at 6:30.  Bleh.  I love that awkward phase where a nap means you will be up all night, while no nap means your sweet child will become a holy terror by suppertime (and exhaustion means you will be babbling and publishing it, lol).  And I'm trying to figure out if there's a Redbull loophole for the person who gave up soda and chocolate (yes, it turns out I really am that lame) for Lent.  Thinking I'll be stuck with coffee, since Redbull is carbonated.  And surely even loopholes are closed on Fridays.  :)

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