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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5 Ways being a SAHM transformed my faith

Preface: I want to be completely transparent and say that I do still contribute to my family income, albeit not near as much as when I worked outside the home. I, also, do not mean to denigrate or belittle those who must or choose to work outside the home or those who are well-to-do. I only mean to share my experience. I felt a strong call to go be at home with my children, and with that call, has come every grace that one could imagine. Pax Vobiscum. ūüôā #MommySolidarityNotWars

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The 5 ways in which being a stay-at-home-mom strengthened my faith:

#1. Reliance on God:
Nothing will make you pray quite like having a hospital bill arrive at the same time the car needs new tires and the toilet decides to irreversibly back-up, after a toddler threw some Legos in it. When I worked outside of the home, I had faith, don’t get me wrong, but now, I must put much more trust in the Lord. I have to believe that if I am living His plan, He will not abandon me.
We continually must turn to prayer and ask the Lord for guidance. I can no longer just buy my way out of every situation and sit smugly, knowing I can fix my own problems, completely of my own accord. Undoubtedly, I have a much greater appreciation for the Lord and how He cares for His flock. Time and time again, He has presented us with small miracles and clear paths. Thanks be to God! Matthew 6:25-34 is my constant motto!

#2. Reliance on the Christian Family:
Recently, my grandfather’s health took a turn for the worst. He lives far from me, and as it was somewhat unexpected, I need to round-up funds quickly to fly to visit him. When I was working, I would have just paid for overnight care for the kids, bought a ticket, and gone to visit him. Done deal. That would have been fine and good, but because of my situation, staying at home with the kids, our finances do not allow for impromptu splurges, no matter how necessary.
I took it to prayer, instantly. I talked with my friends about my internal struggle, and they prayed with me. As I shared my story with women close to me and we prayed together, no small miracle was granted to me. Many women who had heard of my sadness and plight, rounded-up funds, and they presented me with a paid in full, plane ticket. I weep when I think of the love and generosity that was shown to me that day.
I felt the true Christian spirit that day. I relied upon my sisters in Christ to hold me up when I was down, to pray together, to give to those who were in need, and I needed to be humble enough, not to deny this gift. I still weep when I think of the kindness of these women, many of whom, also, come from families with tight budgets. They did not cast judgement upon me, sneering at me for not making more money. They just loved me and were Christ to me. Again, I was reminded that He will never abandon us. I will never doubt God or His children, again!

The last picture I took with my grandfather before he passed, thanks to the women who cared for me when I was in need.
The last picture I took with my grandfather before he passed, thanks to the women who cared for me when I was in need.

#3. Money and marriage:
This is probably sounding a little redundant, at this point, but it’s important. Having a much tighter budget means that I MUST discuss purchases with my husband. I must get creative, and I must sort out what is truly necessary. My husband and I talk more than ever! If we need groceries, we can get them, but I must discuss with him what it is that he thinks is necessary and compare it with my idea of necessary.
This near constant finance dialogue may sound stressful, but it has actually been instrumental in reestablishing conversation. When I worked full-time, we both felt us slowly drifting apart. It wasn’t intentional, but it just happened. We simply did not need to talk as much, and so, we didn’t.
Now, we are a team; we are in this together. We are both called to this life by God, and as we live His plan together, He has showered grace upon grace into our lives through friends, gifts, peace, and love. I appreciate my husband as a reliable and earnest provider, and he appreciates me as a loving and caring steward of the home. We are definitely more in love, and communicating better than ever!

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4. Self-worth and value:
When I worked, I was definitely capable of much in my life. I am an intelligent, educated woman, who is good with critical thinking, with a love of science. I never felt very comfortable or sure of myself, though. I always doubted and felt the lesser party, in my marriage. I thought that would only get worse when I went home and quit my full-time job. I would be contributing even LESS, as I saw it.
I was so wrong! In order to make our budget work, I needed to become the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker. I learned to cut hair watching hours of YouTube channels, because paying for four hair cuts every six weeks was not in the budget. I learned to sew and to knit. I re-purposed my husbands worn out shirts into beautiful, one-of-a-kind dresses for our daughters! I learned to cloth diaper. I learned how to bake bread from scratch. I learned how to knit sweaters. I learned how to make everything from scratch because pre-made is more expensive. I learned to soak beans and to use them, instead of canned. I learned to can and to preserve. I found and drove to dent stores to buy discounted goods, and knowing what I know now, I would choose it all over again. I am so confident in my abilities and in God’s grace being sufficient, in all cases, now. I, also, think I would survive the zombie apocalypse, in case you were wondering….
I had no idea of what I was capable before, but I am, now, a woman comfortable in her own skin and capable of so much. Whatever my family needs me to be, I am confident I can become it, through the grace of God, if He be calling me to it!

My girls wearing some of those legendary, scrap dress. #HomemadeClothesFTW
My girls wearing some of those legendary, scrap dress. #HomemadeClothesFTW

5. Humility:
               I was blessed in childhood and young-adulthood, as I came from a well-to-do family with loving and hard-working parents. We had a lot of enviable and wonderful things in our lives.
As a stay-at-home-mom,¬† as an adult, given my husband’s single income, we are anything but well-to-do. I no longer have designer bags, shoes, or luxury cars. I don’t have fancy and restorative vacations. I don’t have new clothes. I don’t often get to indulge in splurges.
I must always be upfront about our means when we make plans with friends, about what we can afford. I have to be honest, and let go of my pride. So, Sally down the street knows that we aren’t swimming in money? Why does that matter? Admittedly, I thought it did at one point. I thought what I had was my status and my value. I was so wrong, and becoming a SAHM has lead me to that realization. I am not my bank account.
Our bank account does not determine our value before God. The billionaire and the beggar will both go before the Lord, equal in His eyes. I needed to let go of a lot of embarrassment and preconceived ideas about what was a NEED. Sadly, the latest Marc Jacobs bag wasn’t a need. (Le Sigh!).
This baring of self and honesty about our humble means, has lead me to a lot of personal humility. I am, now, a part of the league of the have-nots, and that’s OK, because, truly, I have the Lord. I can never be a have-not.

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Tell-all with women who saved sex for marriage: Part 1

Primer: I fully recognize that some may find this study and post offensive, unrepresentative, and/or disconcerting. Slowly, close your computer and forget you ever saw it. Please acknowledge that I worked hard to honestly represent the women who volunteered and that there are surely other writers who have presented other view points, which you are free to accept and champion.

This review post is going to be followed by my interview summary with women who did not wait for marriage. All women are catholic and volunteered to answer. No agenda was made and they were not pressured to answer one way or another. The women answered freely, on their own time, and were assured of their anonymity which will always be maintained. The following answers are not necessarily from the same women. Three answers were selected for every question to give answers most representative of the responses, while honoring brevity.

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 Observations from the case study:
 There was not a single woman who waited for marriage, who regretted it. There were no women who did not wait who were overly happy with the fact. Almost all of the women who did not wait, spoke of some negative life long influence stemming from the choice. Those who would not come out with overt regret, often voiced a resulting pregnancy or subsequent marriage to the man, as the reason for not having complete regret.
          Sadly, not everyone had a choice, as a few respondents were sexually assaulted. My overall impression was an overwhelming sadness. The women who did not wait overwhelming bore emotional wounds and regret, whether for having not waited for their husband or for having to remember past partners. Most women who succeeded in waiting had partners who had also decided to wait PRIOR to their relationship. As they say, don’t find someone who will respect you wanting to wait. Find someone who will wait WITH you. 
The largest complaint from the women who waited was that they took some time to work out the mechanics with their spouse, to make it enjoyable for both.
         One might argue that everyone must get to this point; however, some did this prior to marriage. I find this common complaint more of a straw man from those who did not wait, to rationalize the decision.

There can be no mistake. The effects of this decision are FAR reaching, for years, into adulthood.

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Are you glad you waited? Do you feel like it was worth all of the struggle?

– “Yes. I’m glad my husband, and I don’t have other partners to compare. We don’t have to worry about diseases, we already had practiced self-control before we started using NFP, we don’t see each other as objects to be used, we didn’t have the worry of unplanned pregnancy outside of marriage, and we focused on having a well-rounded relationship‚Äďwe didn’t have the emotional and physical connection of sex clouding other aspects of our relationship before we committed to each other in marriage.”
– “Yes, I am glad I waited. I was actually afraid of having sex but my husband was great.”
– “YES, my husband and I talk about it occasionally and are glad we preserved.”
What did you do to help yourself wait?
– “I think it made a huge difference that we both made this a priority, it wasn’t just one of us going along with the others’ wishes. We also had a pretty solid friends/family group supporting us who had the same values, so we weren’t the lone chaste weirdos.”
– “I don’t know, I guess I just thought about how I would hurt Jesus if I has sex before marriage. I also tried to avoid situations of temptation. I remember going to confession after making out for my first time because that felt wrong to me.”
– “I’m really stubborn and always said I’d wait. I think there could have been A LOT I could have done to help us, but I didn’t.”
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What was your significant other’s position on this topic?
 
– “He knew and respected the Church’s teaching and decided to wait, even before we started dating.”
– “He grew up Christian and wanted to wait in general but after some time dating he didn’t get why we should wait. Insert in my stubbornness and that’s one of the main reasons sex never happened. Also, my husband started looking into the Catholic Church and researching TOB. After that he point of view changed.”
– “He was very respectful of me wanting to wait. He didn’t understand it at first but after he converted to Catholicism he did.”
 
Do you have advice for those struggling with the decision to wait or not, currently?
– “Don’t rush the decision or feel pressured into something you’re not ready for! Set your boundaries early… when you’re in a relationship isn’t exactly the greatest time to decide how far you’re willing to go. Once you stop waiting, you never get that back. (That said, I’m not saying people should just give up and have all the sex because they lost their virginity. You can still have a pure relationship, despite what you may have done in the past and it’s still worth it.) Also, don’t put yourself in situations where it’s harder to resist temptation.”
– “No, expect wait. You will never regret it. TOB is truly beautiful and worth reading about.”
– “I would say avoid the temptation of sex. It is difficult, but if you treat the body holy, it is not that hard. I also would say find something you and your so can do together that doesn’t involve physicalness of kissing…like board games.”
Do you feel waiting damaged your relationships or sex life in any way?
– “No. We’ve had struggles in figuring out some of the mechanics, so to speak, to make our sex life good for both of us, but it’s not something that premarital sex would fix– that would have had it’s own problems for us. I’m glad we’ve been figuring out things together, in marriage, and that we didn’t have previous encounters/partners to compare to.”
IMG_8094– “Absolutely not, I think toeing the line at times before marriage damaged our relationship/required repairs. Sex within marriage is wonderful and amazing. My husband and I are decent communicators and talk about everything….and I mean everything, even before marriage. So after marriage all subjects were open to talk about, including sex….which I think helped.”
– “I don‚Äôt know. I know I feel unsure of myself because my husband has had sex before we met. Not unsure, but like..does he really like me or is he thinking about the other girls he has been with?”
Interview with women who did not wait, to come.
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You might be a Catholic mother if you:

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Have said:

  • Do not put holy water in your squirt gun!
  • Don’t drink it either!
  • You cannot baptize the cat in the toilet! No, the dog cannot do it either.
  • Where is my thermometer!? *sigh* What’s another baby at this point?
  • The Bible is inerrant! Stop coloring in it!
  • ‘Peace be with you’ means a gentle squeeze, not a bone-crushing war!
  • Ambulance! Three Hail Marys!
  • Put your heads down, kids (during NFL commercial breaks)! *Get wide-eyed and put your own head down, too*
  • Offer it up!
  • Saying JINX doesn’t count if you’re praying! Of course everyone is saying the same thing!
  • Mary is not full of grapes….


Have done the following:

  • Driven the town over to confess the epic freak out you had on your kids. You may or may not have used a foreign accent.
  • Tossed and turned and fretted and agonized over family members who may or may not be offended by not being selected as Godparents. Should you send them a pamphlet on the purpose of Godparents? Ugh…that would probably further offend them. I GIVE UP!
  • Prepared quips to comments about the size of your family.
  • Decided to homeschool because you can’t possibly mess your kids up as badly as the culture, right?! Hmm, challenge accepted!
  • Worried about the completely false headlines about the Pope in the news. Solidarity, Lombardi!
  • Shouted at other drivers in anger whilst saying the Rosary in the car. Much holy. Such wow.
  • Lived with persistent anxiety until you got your new baby baptized.
  • Attended a mock mass put on by a toddler celebrant, complete with potato chip hosts. Consecration not included.
  • Had a toddler try to bless you with his or her spit/water/mashed potatoes.
  • Not heard a homily in 5 years.
  • Haven’t had to fast for years because you’ve been pregnant or nursing


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Do you confess Christ?

RosalieContrite
October 13, 2015
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Matthew 10:32-33

So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Messages ping back and forth between a friend and I in the wake of another mass shooting. Facts had begun to emerge that victims were asked about faith and if he or she was a Christian. This sat like a ball of molten lead in my gut. These individuals were and are part of my spiritual family, my spiritual siblings. What a horrifying proposition that someone so similar to myself could have this occur. Inescapably, via text, the two of us pondered, “Would I have the courage to confess Christ under pain of death should the terrifying occasion present itself?”
¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬† I agonized over this for the rest of the day. Christ is so clear on this without mincing words or giving a symbolic parable. He clearly indicates if you deny Him, then He will deny you. I reasoned that in this situation, I could simply lie in the hope of being spared, and, later, go to confession, hanging my head in shame. Way to commit the sin of presumption while planning on denying Christ, Rosalie! Darn, I’m so holy! The courage is strong with me. NOT! What a coward.
           I sat on this passage for a few days, unable to let it fall from my heart and mind.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Seeing the distress I was enduring over the question, my friend finally sent a message, “Don’t worry! This sort of scenario is so unlikely.” Then, with a precipitous and lasting weight, an awareness shook me into exclamation. The opportunity does present itself, and daily!
          Why was I pondering if I would deny Christ when I knew I would avoid praying before my meal in a restaurant out of shame or embarrassment? Why was I pondering this scenario when I would try to conceal a book I was reading for fear of what others may think of me? Why was I thinking about this when I would send a housewarming gift to my friend moving in with her boyfriend?
          I was am denying Christ in small ways, often. I understood, in that moment, that all people are given the chance to acknowledge Him before men.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† We deny Him when we avoid charitably correcting our friends who are sharing an immoral choice with us for want of ‘peace.’ We deny Him when we go to support and see a movie or performance promoting immorality. We deny Him when we support political action opposed to the spirit of Christianity. We deny Him when we keep objective Truth to ourselves saying, “This is just my Truth meant only for me.’ (Faith is deeply personal, but it is not private.) We deny Him when we do not live out our vocations of marriage or holy orders faithfully and joyfully. Gritting your teeth and loving your spouse through hardship may be an equal confession of Christ, and, further, it may be the way He is inviting¬†you¬†to recognize Him.
            If I am not denying Christ, then it follows that it should be plain to whom my allegiance is in life, without my express confirmation. Ask yourself: Is my identity as a Christian obvious to all? Do I acknowledge Christ in my life, in all of my actions? Family planning? Spending? Choice of media? Clothing? Further, can we confess Christ without knowing who HE is? No. Seek to know Him! He revealed all we need know about Him, in order to acknowledge Him, in life, yet this gift often sits overlaid with dust and cob webs on a bookshelf. How tragic this is in the truest sense of tragedy, like a man starving to death with a plate of food right before him.
           A few in this life will be asked to confess Christ in such a black and white, dramatic fashion. God rest the souls of those who have; however, more likely, we will be in the large chunk of persons who are asked to confess Christ in smaller ways, frequently. Let us pray for the strength to not deny Him and to know Him, in these times, for He has been clear about the consequences.
In Christ,
Rosalie Contrite
 Related Passages:

Luke 12:8
“I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God.

Luke 15:10
In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Romans 10:9
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Revelation 3:5
The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels.