It’s OK if you can’t homeschool

RosalieContrite
August 29, 2017

Please be kind, and assume the best of my words. I fiercely love and care for both of my children with all of my being.

When my husband and I married, we met a vibrant and wonderful homeschool group and that has always been what we wanted for our family. I feared I wasn’t cut out for it, but we declared our plan early on in our marriage. That made my admittance that it might not be what was best for us even harder. It stunk of failure, of a lack of self-discipline. I thought, “if only I pray harder and bear my crosses better, then I will be able to do this.”

I struggled so much with what is right to do for our family and the decision of whether or not to send my five year old to a Catholic School this year over homeschool for a plethora of reasons: my health isn’t great right now, I want to get my masters, I don’t seem to be offering her enough mental engagement to keep her happy, and my two year old was really struggling. I felt like a chump who couldn’t handle being a full-throttle catholic, like I was a lesser mom. Maybe I am. *shrugs*

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School started last Wednesday, and ALREADY the special one-on-one time with my two year old is paying off in dividends. She was very prone to screaming and having outbursts under stress, which are normal for her age, though her older sister never had them. I chalked it all up to differences in personality and temperment. YES, I know kids are not all the same in one family. I assumed she simply had a shorter fuse. I was wrong.

Already, she has calmed down, talks more, and handles things better. Maybe its a coincidence, but I suspect that the special time together is the reason for the change. Just minutes ago, I laid her down for a nap and she blew me a kiss as I walked out the door, just as her older sister did when she was little.

 I feel so guilty that she may have felt unheard, even though we have well-spaced kids. I am even more heavily considering how soon the two year old would be ready to be de-throned as the baby. She needs this time and I won’t be talked out of giving her what she needs because people feel she’ll “be fine” or “she’ll live,” nor will I give her the short end of the stick because I simply want another baby. It won’t be popular for me to have said this, but it is the truth. Yes, we are always open to life, we follow the faith 100%, but we are also capable of planning and exercising self control, as un-fun as that may be.

Catholics are literally always thinking about when the next baby should come; it’s our hobby. (Someone would make a killing on a dice with TTA/TTC/TTW/Take a chance on it.) My oldest was three when the baby was born, and she was ready to be a big sister! She was so excited. I want that for my current baby.

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My mental health is so much better now, not that I was on the verge of a mental break. I just always felt like I wasn’t doing a very good job, even when others assured me I was. I constantly felt like I was going to cry any moment because I couldn’t manage all the tasks I needed to be managing with my sweet kindergartener underfoot. I don’t feel mentally out of breath. My oldest comes home tired, happy, and simply wanting to snuggle or talk about her day. She’s had her mind engaged, prayed, played with friends and I am much more patient and relaxed having gotten my day’s work finished. She and her sister are not jealous of each other now, but excited to see one another because they did not spend all day competing for attention.

I feel so right about this choice for our family right now, and want to tell other homeschool mommies, homeschool is wonderful and a gift but it’s OK if you can’t do it. It’s OK if it doesn’t work for your family. Don’t force something because of what others think or because you’re afraid of the effect of the world on your children. Both options are OK, and what is right for one kid may not be for another. I know that now. We may return to homeschool again one day if it is what’s best for our family, but rather than focusing on raising them a certain way, I will only be looking to do what is best whatever that may be.

It still bothers me that I can’t be the graceful, homeschool mother of nine that I envisioned before kids and marriage, but I think it’s a lesson from God. Even the image that LOOKS holy to you, that might not be where he’s calling you. You have to pay attention more and talk less.

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R O S A L I E    C O N T R I T E
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Why my dog is not a child

Recently while I was strolling for a family walk with our new puppy, a stranger remarked, “Three kids?! You must be busy!”

For a moment I paused, thinking this man knew something I didn’t. I quickly realized he meant that the puppy was my third child and a definite part of the parenting handful.

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Admittedly, I was once a person who thought having a dog was just like having a furry human baby. I honestly did. I wasn’t making a political or philosophical statement. I had even been a nanny. I just couldn’t have known what I know now. This shift in my mind about children and dogs post-parenthood has been on my mind, as we have added a bouncing, baby livestock guard dog to our humble home.

I’m 100% an animal person; I love them. I have a veritable menagerie! (#CatholicArk) Even with my great affection for animals, I still must relay what the experience of having a puppy and small children at the same time has highlighted for me. They are not even close to similar.

You cannot feed kids from a bag that requires no cooking or preparation, three times a day. Good luck cooking a meal and getting your toddler to eat it on a day they’ve sworn off eating. Or, to wear pants. To the childrens’ credit, I’m sure if I made the puppy wear pants he’d rip them off, as well.

More or less, the dog is super stoked to find crumbs on the floor. (As will be a child if it’s in public, only in public!) He never complains or gets picky, nor does he have special allergies that require hourly consideration and planning. It is frowned upon for you to put your children in a crate. It is also frowned upon to put them on leashes.

You cannot send kids to the family doctor when you want to go on vacation, and pay a nice, low, daily fee. I’m certain my family provider would break up with us if we tried this. Anyone want to try this for science? Let me know.

You cannot just give them something to chew on and leave the house anytime you want to go out with friends. You cannot watch whatever movie or say whatever you want around children. While the dog won’t repeat that you think Bob down the street is a “darned hippy,” your kids will. They will do it in front of Bob, obviously.

My puppy likes to drink out of the toilet bowl until empty or chew on a bone for extracurricular activities. His literacy prowess is not of concern, and worrying about his second language development is not high up on my list of concerns. If he understands “sit,” we will be doing well.

While the puppy may need a quick potty run in the middle of the night for a few weeks until he matures, the baby I had four years ago is still iffy on potty training some days and definitely, does not sleep in a crate, unable to wake me in the night with her concerns about unpainted finger nails or looking to be serenaded.

The dog also never says, “MOOOOOMMMMMMMM! WHY?!” 😂👏🏻

To some this will probably seem like I’m saying, have a dog instead of a child. That is precisely not what I’m saying. What I am saying is that the experiences are not interchangeable, and they do not fulfill the space the other leaves. Man’s best friend is not a human child, and a human child is not man’s best friend. They are both distinct and wonderful relationships worth experiencing. Dogs have been domesticated and bred to serve alongside man and to serve him loyally. Children are the absolute greatest good and the future of our species.

I hope this reaches someone who believes owning a dog fills this void or informs them anything about the life of a parent. It does not. It may be a nice appetizer to prepare you for keeping someone alive, but it is not similar.

The complex and natural, lifelong relationship I have with my children is completely indescribable and dissimilar to having a dog, no matter how wonderous your puppy may be. (Ours is THE BEST!) The love and joy I have found in motherhood is not something I can convey to someone who has no children. It is something that has to be experienced to understand. All I can do is try my best to explain that you truly cannot know what you are missing until you have a child. It is not something you will regret. You cannot know this level of fulfillment and joy until you experience it.

I know that sounds convenient, like we’re a child cult trying to convince others to join our misery, but surely there would be a whistleblower somewhere? Wikileaks? Bueller? Consider how many people there are who have only dogs that believe dogs are like children versus the amount of people who have both who believe dogs are like children. Would you trust a person’s opinion on two experiences if they had only experienced one? It’s like getting that annoying dating advice from Suzie who never has a boyfriend but totally knows all the answers to your relationship problems.

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A dog will never have my eyes or make the same strange gestures as me or laugh over shared memories at family holidays. He will never make me examine just how difficult I can be, by acting just like me. He will never make me relate better to other humans as I realize that everyone I encounter is someone’s baby. Ask anyone about feeling emotionally “re-sensitized” after the birth of their child. It changes you and for the better. I will never want to put my dog before myself and in doing so, become a more selfless person. I will not grow old seeing him flourish before me, because he will be in an urn in my library.

What am I saying? I’m saying I love dogs. Truly. They are helpful, joyful, excellent company, and loyal, but they are not even close to the experience of having a human child, another experience, I highly recommend. This juxtaposition of relationships begs the question,  if someone claims to want to be child free, why would this same person want to pretend a dog is a child. Doesn’t that defeat the child free plan?

If you need further proof of the trouble with pretending canids are hominid offspring, look to all of the dogs harmed by being treated like a baby. Forcing a dog to fill a natural human void, denies them their right to be a dog, something we literally created them to be. Instead of being lead by a strong master, they are left to mow over their owners and rule their homes creating anxious, insecure environments where they feel obligated to step in as alpha. Ask any obedience trainer what causes dysfunction in dog obedience and behavior. They need order, and above all, they need to be dogs. (See Cesar Millan)

Of course after a long day raising the future citizens of the world, it’s nice to snuggle a fluffy dog who doesn’t talk back and just wants a butt scratch. I highly recommend both experiences.

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How God is helping me to lose weight

RosalieContrite
July 30, 2016
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^ The video version for lazy readers.

I know what you’re thinking. “Why would God be needed to lose weight? Why would I pray about something so vain?” The fallacy is that losing weight is vain. It is a moral and truly justifiable self-care. I will outline for you briefly how God and my faith is and has helped me to lose weight. There are three main motivations.

  1. My body is a gift from God:
    Just as I must tend to and nourish my soul by attending mass and reading the Bible or other orthodox literary source, I must nourish my body. The ability to be healthy is a gift – one not everyone has been afforded. It is not respecting the gift God gave me, if I’m willfully allowing myself to become overweight or to develop hypertension or hyperlipidemia. Much of these conditions are within my control. I can do a lot to keep them in check.
    I must care for my soul, but not only my soul. My family, children, friends, and co-workers depend on me, and I am not being good steward of my blessings, if I do nothing to care for my health and well-being. Allowing myself to become ill will result in sick days at work, children without a caretaker, and medical bills. I cannot control all of this, but I can control a lot of it. I realized I needed to do the moral thing and help my family and myself when I could. A sound body, often has a sound mind. As my physical body improves, so does my spiritual state.
  2. My body is my gift to my spouse
    In the marital embrace, we make a very real gift of ourselves to our spouse. Our body is the actual, total gift we give to our spouse. What was I saying by giving my spouse a poorly cared for, willfully overweight, and unhealthy body? It seemed insulting to my husband, the more I pondered it. This goes both ways, not just for women. This is not to say that I need to be vain and obsessed with my weight and appearance, but that I want to care for the body God gave me and use this body to be a gift to my spouse. Bottom line: I decided I wanted to give him a good gift – one he’d be excited to receive!
  3. Extra food is food taken from those who have not
    This point will no doubt be hard for some to read, but I do not mean to indict you! I am overweight right now, as I type this, though, working toward not. Here is the premise: to maintain an overweight body, one must continue to over-nourish to one’s detriment, or you will lose weight. Weight must be maintained by steady caloric intake or our body uses it’s own stores, muscle or fat. I realized that the food I was taking in was being taken from someone who had no food. We produce enough food each year for 12 billion people. Why are there people starving, then? Some have too much, some not enough, and some is fed to livestock. I was taking what wasn’t mine and using it to hurt myself by becoming overweight. This was a hard pill to swallow, but now that I have, I can more readily accept and follow portion control. I have also begun cooking more for myself as pre-made foods are widely unhealthy.
    I am using the extra in my food budget to give to a local food bank or soup kitchen to further remind myself of the fact that the extra food I consumed was truly being taken from those who needed it. 


Aside from those three motivations, I also recommend asking for the intercession of the Angelic Doctor, Thomas Aquinas. History records him as being a pleasantly plump fellow. Surely, he can understand the plight of the overweight!
#EatPrayLose
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This Catholic Life #12: Special Guest, Haley Stewart

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ThisCatholicLife

I was blessed to have Haley Stewart of Carrots for Michaelmas, on this episode. We talk about her life, liturgical living, tattoos, and being the person you are meant to be. The books mentioned in the show are available on her website. Recording was a blast, and I hope to have her on again, someday!

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If the Biblical characters had Twitter…

For me, there is no better way than humor, to learn and share the faith. I give you my favorite imagined tweets from the Bible characters. Check the time stamps and handles, especially! I tried my very best. Look for more Bible Tweets, in the future! Be sure to share and subscribe so you don’t miss them!

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Bible Tweets by Rosalie Contrite

AdamsWifey NoahsBae Sampson KingDavid 3bros KingHerodTweetJoesWifey WaterWizardMoneyMatt JesusTweet

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