Wednesday, August 10, 2005

A real job…

I went to college. And boy did I go to college! I was in college on and off for 8 years, more on than off.

I have several sheepskins to be proud of, including a Masters of Education specializing in Agency and Community Counseling. It was a long haul, studying, counseling, working, and at the end of the day I usually have cheerios in my hair.

Can I just tell you how many people really get annoyed with this? Many get upset, especially women. I had the opportunity to go to college, get good grades and a career that makes a difference. How dare I stay at home while women are needed in the workplace? How dare I be a “sell out” on my dream of being a career woman?

Simple, my dream changed. It changed the moment my daughter came into this world. As soon as I heard that raspy cry I knew where I needed to be, at home with her. I didn't lose my education and it doesn't go to waste.

Unfortunately my new job didn’t have a training course. I don’t get paid vacations or a 401K. I do get job reviews, they usually come in the form of “Mommy, you make the best Peanut Butter and Jelly EVER!” or “When I grow up I want to be a mommy like you.”. Not bad. I don’t get paid but my benefits include nighttime visits to sick kiddos or doing a few hundred load of laundry. My workplace pep talks consist of my hubby telling me to go take a bubble bath and relax or a smooch and a blessing before he goes to work.

You see, it isn’t about recognition or pay. I could go outside the home to work, (although New York State licensure laws really whomp). But, no matter where I was, if I wasn’t at home with the kids I wouldn’t feel like I was doing what I was meant to do. It is a personal decision but one I am very sensitive to.

The next time you see a stay at home mom who “once used to work” please be kind. Don't lecture us on our lost potential. Don't assume that you had a higher GPA than us. Don't underestimate us. Several years from now, when our children are grown, we could be your boss.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Welcome to my Pity Party

Warning: Today I am going to rant, after all a blog can have multiple purposes. No promises of wisdom or reflection.

Today really whomped.

Definition of whomp: To stink. To have something miserable happen. To have bad luck.
A general feeling of suckiness.
I am 30 years old, and what does the doctor tell me? I have Rheumatoid arthritis.

How do I feel? Well, I am sad, mad, confused, nervous, and wary. Well, you name it and I think it pretty much fits into my day.

So, I have been having pain and numbness and, for the amount of time I am on the computer, I just figured it was carpel tunnel syndrome. Well, I was wrong and now I have a little black rain cloud over my head.

Yes, maybe I am feeling a little sorry for myself. Yes, I cried today. No, there aren’t a whole heck of a lot of words to comfort me. (My pastor did however comfort me when he gave me the Anointing of the Sick today.) Is that okay? Yes, I think it is, because that is where I am at the moment.

What upset me most of all? The vision of older people bent in pain, suffering from years of arthritis. It upsets me that having more children could make it worse. It bothers me that the same medicine used to treat me could also cause serious repercussions.

My pastor told me a story about an elderly woman who suffers from the same problem and she is so joyful and wants to help others all the time. I say, God Bless her. I am not there yet. Maybe I need to be joyful in the suffering the Lord has given me. Maybe I should just focus on the positive. Or maybe, maybe I just need to deal with the reality of what this is right now. It is a disease I don’t understand.

I pray that God gives me the strength to be joyful in the future. Right now I am not even sure what to focus on. I am just a little too overwhelmed.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Back for just a moment...

I have been remiss in my blog duties.
A lot has been going on right now, more of which I will discuss later.
My husband passed on a fantastic article to me. I thought I would include it here today.
It is about remorse. I don't want to comment to much on it because I don't want to taint any personal gain one might get out of it. Needless to say it made an impact on me. I hope it does the same for you.

NEVER GIVE IN (By Karl Keating)

Dear Friend of Catholic Answers:

"Not to fall into remorse."That line sounds Pascalian but is not from Pascal. It is my formulation, and it encapsulates what a holy priest once said during his homily to the Catholic Answers staff. Do not mistake remorse for sorrow, he admonished. They are not the same thing. Sorrow is salutary, but remorse is a drag on the soul. It will drag you into a spiritual pit.

Sorrow is regret for what you have done or failed to do--for having sinned. The guilt associated with your sin is washed away in confession. At that point you should put that sin behind you and resolve to move upward in your spiritual journey.

Remorse, in contrast, is a useless pining for what might have been. "Why didn't I do this? What if I had done that?" You cannot change the past, and you cannot know what might have been. If you dwell unhealthily on your life's might-have-beens, you will make no spiritual progress. In fact, you will go backwards because remorse paralyzes the soul.

The priest's remarks were brought to my mind as I read Samuel Johnson a few nights ago. I have been working my way through his "Rambler" essays. In number 47, written in August 1750, he said this:

"[Remorse] is properly that state of the mind in which our desires are fixed upon the past, without looking forward to the future, an incessant wish that something were otherwise than it has been, a tormenting and harassing want of some enjoyment or possession which we have lost, which no endeavours can possibly regain.

"In this passage Johnson actually uses the term "sorrow," and I have substituted in brackets "remorse."
So has English usage changed in two and a half centuries. Back then, "sorrow" had a wider meaning and covered what we now call "sorrow" and "remorse."

In the next sentence Johnson gives examples:

"Into such anguish many have sunk upon some sudden diminution of their fortune, an unexpected blast of their reputation, or the loss of children or of friends.

"Perhaps you have been there yourself: If only I had not given my assets to that incompetent financial advisor! If only I had been alert and not allowed my name to be besmirched that way! If only I had brought up my children more diligently, so that they would not now have abandoned me!

Johnson summarizes what happens when people fall into a preoccupation with regret:

"They have suffered all sensibility of pleasure to be destroyed by a single blow, have given up for ever the hopes of substituting any other object in the room of that which they lament, resigned their lives to gloom and despondency, and worn themselves out in unavailing misery.

"Remorse does not fix whatever happened in the past. That is bad enough, but remorse also closes you off to present and future happiness because it occupies your whole mind. It even closes you off to spiritual advancement. You do not find examples of anyone achieving sanctity through remorse, but you find countless examples of people who achieve sanctity through sorrow.

Who has not committed blunders? I could spend all day cataloguing mistakes I have made--not even sins, just mistakes, innocent errors of choice (or at least they seemed innocent at the time). Each of those mistakes transformed my life, as did each of the wise decisions I made.

I spent twelve years practicing law and was grateful to leave that line of work. It turned out to be something I was not especially suited for, or perhaps it was not suited to me. I ended up entering a line of work I much enjoy, one that I imagine I have some facility at.

Were those twelve years wasted? It would be easy enough to say that they were and to bemoan my having devoted about a sixth of my expected life-span to a profession I now would not have chosen.

But what would I have chosen in place of law? Not, when I was 26, the practice of apologetics. That field was not yet in my sight--back then, it did not exist as a career choice at all--nor was I then equipped to enter it. (Some will say I was not equipped for it even much later, but we will not pursue that digression.)

So I could spend my time kicking myself for not having followed Robert Frost's dictum more assiduously. I could complain that I should have followed "The Road Not Taken" instead of following everyone else to law school. (And it did seem like everyone was going there: When I left the practice, there were 8,000 attorneys in San Diego alone.)

You probably have a past over which you could fall into remorse: the person you might have married, the career you might have chosen, the place you might have visited, the comment you might have had the wits not to say aloud. You can spend your time pining over what might have been, or you can move ahead. You cannot do both.

"Not to fall into remorse.

"If we were archangels instead of men we would not have this temptation. Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael do not mope around, fussing about wrong turns taken.

But each of us has made plenty of wrong turns. Some of us have made more wrong turns than right turns. What matters is where we look: behind or ahead. Looking behind guarantees that we will stumble off the path. Looking ahead means we have some prospect of reaching our goal.

Let us be sorrowful over the sins we have committed, grateful for the forgiveness we have received, and resolved to do better in the future, but let us not dwell fruitlessly on a past that daily slips further from us.

That is a true waste.

Until next time,