To my dearest Tornado A,

Today you are weaned.  At 10 months.  And I am sorry.

Since the day you turned two months, I have felt torn, wanting to hold every moment in my heart, as you will most likely be my last baby, and wanting you to grow up so that I can have my body back.  It is not you that did this, not the want to finish with babies.  It was the implosion that shook our family, that tore a hole in my soul, leaving me bleeding and vulnerable.  When my flight-or-fight system is kicked, I fight.  I cannot fight with a baby strapped to my back.  I cannot protect you and your brothers from the dangers threatening your world if I cannot hold a weapon.  Every day I wanted to enjoy your babyhood.  Every day I prayed for you to get bigger soon.  Every day I felt guilty not enjoying these precious moments, dripping through my fingers, snatches of time I will never get back.

Like a prophetess surrounded by statues and chanting, I could see the dark path twisting in the smoke of incense.  But you were my calling.  Even after months of praying, meditating, debating, spreading out cards and stones, realizing that it was complete foolishness, I had to have you.  You were not the answer to a baby-desire, a girl-child, a completion of a set goal.  As I couldn’t wake in the morning without breathing, eating, or writing, I couldn’t walk the earth without you.  I held my guilt up at the temple of the guilt dump for the stone I was about to throw into the lake of my life and the ripples that would affect the surface and the bottom always forever changed because of that stone.  I trusted. I took the step.  I conceived you.

You are what saved me from hating that year, hating my life, cursing my mistakes.  You are the sun burning off the physical pain of your birth, the soul pain of betrayal, the fear of loss, the agony of lies.  You are my calling in the flesh.  When I watch you battle your way on hands and knees unstoppable, when I listen to your pure breath-catching laughter, when I feel your soft skin as you snuggle close, I know you were what was missing.


Your Mama

The Importance of Prayer: or Teaching Memorization to a Toddler and a Preschooler

The nice thing about being Catholic is we have a prayer for everything, FOR EVERYTHING.  You need a prayer to ask for forgiveness; we’ got several.  You need a prayer for hope, consolation, joy; we got those too.  How about one for your pets?  Yes.  Need a prayer for finding lost things?  Sure.  How about one to find a parking space?  Yup.  (I swear it works; I don’t know why because I would assume the Mother of God would have more important things to do than get some one a parking space.)  So when you have writer’s block when talking to the Big Guy, it’s nice to start off with a Catholic sanctioned prayer to get things rolling.


I’m a big believer in prayer.  I think it not only helps you talk to God, but it helps you understand yourself and goals.  I remember my mom telling me to “Give it to God,” which I felt was a cope out.  I felt that the challenges I faced were meant for me to handle, not pass off the buck to God; while, now I understand it’s more like letting God hold it for a minute as I do the mom-thing for a moment and when the kids are in bed, I can take back the burden and figure things out.  Since I do feel everyone should have some sort of relationship with God, I am trying to pass it along to my boys, and the best way I can think of is teaching them to pray, to talk to God as I remember my dad and mom doing with me and my brothers.


Every night we pray with the boys, and since I can’t stand saying “If I die before I wake” with my boys (because that’ll freak them out and that’ll freak me out and I prefer not to stay awake all night listening to their breathing.  I’m trying to get over that), we pray “The Guardian Angel” prayer.


Angel of God, My Guardian Dear,

To whom God’s love commits you here.

Ever this day be at my side

To light and guard and rule and guide.


Once in a while Evan will say it with us.  Though he would prefer to argue with me over the correct way to say and do “The Sign of the Cross,” which Evan insist starts on the right side, rather than the correct left, and gets very upset if I don’t do it his way.  Then we have to practice it his way, and that buys him another five to ten minutes of awake-time.


Another prayer I am teaching the boys is a prayer that I learned when I was a first grader in Catholic school.  Our teacher taught us a prayer to St. Theresa of Lisieux, the Little Flower, who believed we could all do little things, if we could not do something big.  So when we heard a siren, we would pray for the emergency and the people who needed help.


Little Flower

At this Hour

Show your Power.


I now say it out loud for the boys’ benefit (because it was so ingrained in me at six that I never stopped saying it and people give you weird looks if you start “talking” to yourself in public).  The other day, Evan, on hearing a siren go pass the house, yelled:


The Power!

The Flower!

The Hour!


Um, close enough. 


As I sometimes am a poor excuse for a Catholic (oh, you mean they have mass every Sunday?), we don’t pray every time we need to, like when we get up or before meals.  (Granted my Mom usually doesn’t pray before meals either, but now that my Grandma has dinner with them every night, you better believe that she prays.)  Now the beauty of Catholicism is EVERYONE says the same before meals prayer (as well as a lot of other prayers and the mass is always the same).


Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts

Which we are about to receive

From Thy bounty. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Two Thanksgivings ago when we sat down with my father-in-law and my Catholic mother-in-law for dinner, my mother-in-law asked us to pray.  She and I opened our mouths to say- Only my husband’s voice rang out, “Angel of God, my –.”  He looked around as my mother-in-law and I burst into laughter.  Of course, we thanked him for trying and went on with the “real” prayer.  (That story was for all the Catholics out there.)


Well, this Christmas, surrounded by Catholics, we prayed our before meal prayer with “The Sign of the Cross.”  Wouldn’t you know it?  Evan never argued on how to do it, just copied the rest, and amazingly, so did Sean.  When we got home and settled back into our routine, I made dinner, and after chasing everyone down for the meal and passing out food and plates, I forgot to pray, which is my usual reason.  But Evan piped up, “Mommy!  We have to pray!  Bless our food!”


I’m sorry Mommy is a bad Catholic; she remembers to fast on the right days but not to pray before the meals.


In closing, I will leave you the prayer my little brother would say when he was Evan’s age.


“Thank you for food, ‘prize, and patience.”


That was a prayer for the meal, a hope for a “surprise” like desert, and patience for my mom as she had three kids under the age of five and often she would yell, “God, give me some patience!”



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