Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Edel…the Really, Really Late Version Part 3: What I Took Home

You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

It is no small thing to say that an 18 hour event changed my life in a dramatic way. Edel healed parts of me that I did not realize were hurting and resurrected parts of me that I had lost amidst my immersion into motherhood.

I am inspired to be a better me:

As I finally write this post, I chuckle a bit that my Edel roomie Nell just wrote this piece on how you are not defined by your child. One of the things I took home from the event was the idea that I need to remember to be me, to be the unique, broken soul that God created.

After 12 years of motherhood, I know that my job is important. I know that I am the center of my children’s entire world. However, I often have focused a terrible amount of energy on orchestrating the world for my children, so much so that the work, not the love, has been my goal.

The only way to truly be me is to be the person God created me to be. The only way to figure out how to be fully me, then, is to grow closer to Him. I need God. I need to see things through His eyes and spend time in relationship with Him. Of course, we all know that, but my actions must prove my belief. Prayer has to be a higher priority than it has been in order for me to find peace in being me. To that end, I have finally made time to listen to the amazing Series on Prayer given by Fr. John Riccardo. I highly recommend it! (scroll to the bottom of the link or find them on iTunes)
Me being me


I am inspired to be a better homeschooler:

And I quickly shared on my FB page this gem posted at Simple Homeschool on the most important thing you’ll ever do for the success of your homeschool. Jamie’s words echo what the Lord has put on my heart most adamantly this year, that the focus in my home, in my homeschool must be nurturing relationships with each of my children.

A huge part of developing those relationships has to be in sharing about our faith. I do not just want to catechize my children. I want to evangelize them. I hope to teach them about the burning desire in my heart for union with God and what the Church teaches on how to know, love, and serve Him. I can repeat until I am blue in the face that the most important thing about homeschooling is not reading, writing, or arithmetic, but unless our homeschool lessons devote time to building relationships with each other and with God, I can not succeed. (By the way, I believe one of the best ways parents can build meaningful relationships with their children is reading aloud to them from birth to age 18, and you can find wonderful guidance for that by listening to Sarah’s lovely podcasts!) 

Praying at St. Mary's Cathedral in the quiet
I am inspired to be a better friend:

Although I have long been a believer in the absolute necessity of creating community among women, especially through my monthly Catholic Homeschooling Moms’ Breakfasts these past four years, the Edel experience urged me to expand my community. I was absolutely blown away by the diversity of the women that sacrificed time and money to attend the event, mothers, grandmothers, married women without children. They were first-time mothers, mothers of many, adoptive mothers, homeschoolers, public schoolers, and Catholic schoolers from Canada to Oregon, from Virginia to down the street in Austin. I  met converts and cradle Catholics, those who attend the TLM and those who embrace the charismatic movement. I quaked in the presence of online superstars and nonprofit founders and smiled in admiration at the moms who move mountains only within the four walls of their domestic churches.

As a result, I am even more convicted that moms often experience a “poverty of relationship” as Jenny said in her welcome speech at Edel. Through such wonderful opportunities as the St. Gregory’s Pockets being launched by the ladies at Like Mother, Like Daughter and the Spa Party Package my old friend Katie just published at Kitchen Stewardship, I am inspired to find ways to encounter new women, make new friends, and think outside the box when it comes to what defines my community.

Beyond these new approaches, I am also trying to stay in better touch with the friends I do have. My goal is to call a friend at least twice a week and actually talk on the phone, not email, not FB message, not text, but talk. I also get to have at least one and maybe two mommy dates with my closest friends every month! So far, my BFF and I have met for lunch at Panera, brunch at IHOP, and bowling with a little thrift store mining afterwards!

A renewed friendship thanks to Edel

I am inspired to be a better wife:

I have planned more dates for my husband and me within the past two months than in the past two years of our marriage. We have gone out a handful of times and enjoyed one another’s company so, so much! Part of this was made possible by the unexpected weaning of my then 16-month old when I returned from Edel. Originally I was devastated that he was refusing to nurse; it had been my biggest fear about leaving him behind. My other three babies nursed until right around age two, and none drank milk until they were three or four. But, it turned out to be a great gift to my marriage to be able to leave him with a babysitter and know he would be fine.

For years, I have lamented that it should be my husband who plans dates and takes me out! But, he is at work all week and loves when I arrange a babysitter for a night out or an afternoon getaway. It’s been so much fun! And, ladies, when you start to date your husband more often, it’s usually easier for me (and more enjoyable) to meet his needs in the bedroom, because your emotional needs are met! ;)
The quote on our dinner table
I am inspired to believe that I am a better-than-acceptable mom:

Yes, I am doing a good job. You are doing a good job. We love our children. They are a part of us forever through microchimerism. Go look it up. I’ll wait. (Here’s a brief article.) Therefore, our lives will always include them, even when they are far away from us. There is no such thing as the perfect Catholic mother, as Marion reminded us so eloquently at Edel, and yet, you are the perfect mother for your child. God gave you to each other and designed it so that even our DNA is intertwined, so of course, that must be true.

I am getting better at acknowledging the small victories in my mothering and remember that when I struggle to be a good mom, I am doing exactly what God wants me to do today. When I feel like a mean mommy for sending my 4 year old to time out for the third time in a row or when my heart aches to pick up the tantrumming toddler even though I know to redirect his whining, in those moments at least, I am getting this mommy thing right more times than wrong. I still say yell the wrong thing, and there is always room for improvement this side of Heaven. Edel taught me that God is happy when I try.

Dear college friends who happen to be amazing moms, too!

Now, if you read this far and are still curious about how other women experienced the 2014 Edel Gathering, head on over to Jen’s recap post Fill the Cathedrals and check out the links at the bottom! And, if you want to attend Edel 2015, here are the details. I am not sure if I have a roommate yet, but I do have a hotel reservation, so let me know if you want to room with me!


Bless Your Heart!