Our monthly Catholic Moms' Homeschooling Breakfasts have expanded to include a Thursday evening Dessert gathering for those who cannot attend on Saturday mornings. We met at both times last week for September. Here are the notes (blurry, crooked photos courtesy of my 4 year old with my iPhone!):
1. I explained why I am excited to study this book together:
· The book was given to me free this summer in our swag bags at The Edel Gathering, and I think the quote on the cover encapsulates my feelings about it. “…this book is a breath of fresh air for the weary mother’s soul. It will bring hope and encouragement to any mom who has ever uttered the words, ‘I can’t do this.’” I know all moms have been there in that moment, and I think we need to admit it, talk about it.
· Momnipotent is defined as “the special array of gifts given by God – lived out in particular through the vocation of motherhood – that blesses our families and the world.”
· I think as homeschooling moms, the mom part of our vocations can get lost under the curriculum and lessons and schoolwork. It’s important to me to nurture the relationships in our home, and homeschooling is one way we do that. Remembering that I’m first their mother, then their teacher is key to those relationships staying healthy. Hopefully, reflecting together on our motherhood will inspire us to treasure our vocation even more.
2. We watched a portion of the DVD, including the introductory video showing various mothers and children with the children sharing why they love their moms. Some of us needed Kleenex. We also watched Danielle Bean’s introduction to the study, where she explains how it works and the importance of women coming together to share about our vocations as mothers. The third segment we watched was where she presented three questions for reflection and discussion:
· How do you feel about the fact that we are meant to find fulfillment in our motherhood, not despite it?
· How do you feel about the worldly temptations to find affirmation and the perception that motherhood is somehow beneath us?
· How do you feel about the special gifts given to you as a mother by God, in which we can find true happiness?
Then, rather than watch the bulk of the video where the moms discuss these things with Danielle bean, we discussed those questions on our own…
3. How do you feel about the fact that we are meant to find fulfillment in our motherhood, not despite it?
· I feel so grateful to have a positive community around me. My family is full of stay-at-home moms, and they are very supportive.
· I want it to be normal for my children that moms stay at home, not rare.
· My homeschool friends are the most supportive.
· I want my daughters to have good mothers as role models.
· In the beginning, with my first child, I dropped my dreams of world fame and a prestigious career. Then, I was feeling very small and little, weak, but when I pray I find out it is a blessing from God.
· We have to sit down, think, and be at peace with motherhood.
· In Mexico all moms work. They ask me why do you do this to yourself? Why are you at home? It’s unacceptable, and they don’t understand.
· It is important who you spend your time with, family, friends, etc. Find who shares your goals and beliefs.
· Often people say we need to do “this thing” for our own happiness. They ask how can you stay home? Don’t you get cabin fever? Don’t you hate it?
· When you quit your career, your friendships shift. They go out to party, and I can’t imagine doing that.
· I am told I am wasting my education.
· My friends worry that my husband has power over me if I’m not earning any money. I do sometimes feel guilty spending “his” money. I need to shift my thoughts.
· It’s hard to get time for myself, yes. It’s necessary as a stay-at-home mom, but it doesn’t have to be excessive. We should encourage one another to take some mom time.
· When I go out on my own or with friends, I look at it as an opportunity for my husband to do things “his way” with the children. It is a chance for them to bond in a different way when I am gone, a gift to them.
· Some say “I’m a better mom because I work.” How is that possible?
4. How do you feel about the worldly temptations to find affirmation and the perception that motherhood is somehow beneath us?
· I miss the affirmation of others from the workplace.
· Working moms can have the correct attitude towards motherhood, too.
· Is the need for affirmation a healthy thing? Where should we seek our affirmation?
· As children get older, the relationship we have with them and their comments can encourage and affirm us.
· I am so comfortable having my children around me all of the time. When kids were in school and I had lots of “me” time, I did not feel connected to my kids.
· Public school kids often don’t want to spend as much time with their little siblings.
· I feel my daughter sometimes feels separated from the family even when she participates in her sport on her own. She has a need to reintegrate to the family.
· I am confident in my homeschooling, and I tell other about it.
· Look to Mary.
· Read The Privilege of Being a Woman by Alice von Hildebrand.
· There is such a focus on your college major. What do you want to be when you grow up? Pick one thing and study it.
· I knew I wanted to be a mom, even unconsciously.
· It has been hard for me to even understand the concept of a woman choosing not to go to college and earn a degree, but it makes a lot of sense if you don’t have a need to spend all that money or go into debt. I just grew up with that expectation.
· I am often asked when I’m going back to work or what I’m going to do to earn money.
· When I adopted a child, my heart was taken out of me. I had to take a year off from working due to the intense emotion in becoming a mother.
· My working years are my previous life. My children barely know about that time. Yes, our income is half what it was, and that’s a sacrifice.
· I was told I will regret quitting my job, but I don’t.
5. How do you feel about the special gifts given to you as a mother by God, in which we can find true happiness?
· The gift of gentleness shows when my children are sick or injured.
· Women are emotionally strong and can hold it all together.
· Relationships are important to women.
· We demonstrate empathy.
· We keep things alive, literally and metaphorically.
· The world thirsts for a mother’s love. They need it and don’t know it, so broken and hurt.
· I am afraid of being too awesome, so my boys won’t find a “good” wife. Pray for their spouses now.
· We need to love on all of our kids, touch them, especially the big kids. Begin with morning hugs daily.
· Connect with our children during Morning Prayer. Evening Rosaries or Night Prayers are good, but don’t start the day without praying together.
· I find happiness in the adventure of motherhood.
· Prayer helps me recenter.
· There is cultural pressure to “have it all,” but it doesn’t work.
· I am told to put my wants and needs ahead of children.
· We have lost the value of redemptive suffering in our world.
· But older couples in my neighborhood say they regret not spending more time with their children when they were growing up. And people with children often say, I could never stay home with them. Older people say, I wish I did.
· My family is not supportive. My parents test my kids on reading and knowledge. It’s frustrating.
· There is such a unique quality to family life, a treasure. There is more peace.
· The attitudes of my children and me changed when I brought them home from school. I am happier, more tired, but happier.
· If you had a stay at home mom, you remember that.
· Only moms can breastfeed, nurse sick children, clean vomit, stay awake long hours, be quiet amidst the chaos.
· We are nurturing. We are excellent at multitasking. We are cheerleaders for others.
· Read the book Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti. There is also a YouTube video with the basics.
· We bring peace to our husband’s anxiety. We are supportive and understanding.
· Learn about the Five Love Languages to be a better wife.
· If one is not willing to serve her husband or vice versa, divorce is likely.
· We are excellent organizers.
6. I closed by reading the reflection in the journal. It is about how we are the hidden, behind-the-scenes of our family life. We are rarely acknowledged, but we play a really important role.
7. At Breakfast, there were two specific questions from moms regarding homeschooling issues…
How do you work with a child who refuses to homeschool? She is 7 years old, very stubborn, possibly ODD, first year homeschooling.
· Spend a lot of time just playing and building your relationship with her.
· Let her learn what she wants for a while.
· Let her help with her younger siblings, teach them.
· Take the word “school” out of your vocabulary with her. Play games.
· De-school her for about six months. She will catch up.
· Losing a year is not a concern with homeschooling. We have so much more time with our children than the schools do.
· If she won’t do some work, she can clean instead, rather than be idle. Bathrooms.
· Have special time with just her to read stories and enjoy one another.
· Let your middle school kids take 30 minutes each with the two little kids, so you can focus on her.
· Read For the Love of Literature and use the booklist to learn by just reading and narrating together.
· Do lots of things orally, not written. This can ease her stress.
How are people/parish handling sacraments for their homeschoolers? I prefer not to use religious ed as we are more thorough at home.
· There is no archdiocesan policy as far as we know in San Antonio. It is up to each parish priest and DRE.
· There is often not usually a parish policy. Many approach this on a case by case basis.
· Go talk to the DRE and then to the pastor if necessary. They often make exceptions if they know you.
· Using the same books that your parish uses helps to get permission to do catechesis at home.
8. I closed by sharing the topics of each chapter in the book, namely the strengths of momnipotence and their corresponding potential weakness. Next month, we will be discussing how we as women appreciate beauty but are vulnerable to materialism and envy. The subsequent strengths are: We feel things deeply; We have high ideals; We are natural nurturers; We are naturally generous; We are master multitaskers; We notice the details; and We are sensitive to the needs of others and stand up against injustice.
If you're local, I hope you can join us next month! If not, look for the encouraging notes at the end of October.
Bless Your Heart!