It's fitting that today is Memorial Day. For the past 8 days, I've been thinking a lot about military families and their separation during times of service. And even though I've tried each day to reflect on a different type of single parent home, for whatever reason, I keep coming back to those military families. I thought I had this whole "reflection/offering it up" thingy all planned out and set it up just right for God to teach me something about single parents. But I'm pretty sure I heard God laughing at me this week.
See, originally, my intention was to offer up my difficult moments for the parent who has full responsibility at home. And though I've got empathy for both parents in this situation, my perspective kept coming from the parent who was out fighting - not the one at home, like myself.
I'm attributing that to the fact that my week has been kind of easy (and that I can't tell God how to teach me stuff...). I haven't missed the "help" like I thought I would. Charlotte's been pretty low maintenance - sleeping through the night and keeping herself busy most of the time. It wasn't until yesterday that I finally got tired of holding her - and I was only tired because I had to hold her all during Mass.
And so, my focus wasn't on my exhaustion or the exhaustion of the parent staying home, but I was more saddened that Jude was missing out on us. At that moment, I thought he had the more difficult role and I assumed it would always be me.
I thought, what if she starts walking while he's away (and with no camera in my possession to capture it...)? What if she says, "Papa?" What if he misses all of these great milestones?
The men and women fighting for us, with children back home - especially infants - are missing these great moments. And it's not the same to check in for 20 minutes over Skype or watch a video or see a picture or hear the story over the phone. There's no high five, no kiss, no hug. And that's too bad.
When my kids experience something, I want us both there to enjoy it, to share in it together because they were made from the both of us. Just as much of me is in them as Jude. They came from us both, willed by God, and they deserve us both.
I'm so thankful to the men and women who sacrifice these things so that my family and I don't have to. And I'm thankful for the Holy Spirit, guiding my reflections and humbly reminding me that I know very little.
On his birthday, he told me over Skype that he had hidden something for me on our computer, but would give me no other clues. I immediately began searching through files and folders and ran across a folder entitled Secret Videos and inside this folder was a video named miss_you.
I thought about posting the video here, but you know what, it's mine.
Besides, you don't want to hear all that mushy-gushy stuff anyways.
I just got a new swimsuit in the mail today. And I. Love. It.
Finally, something that I feel modest and cute in.
I'm only boasting about it so that you too, may check it out. It's on sale at Lands End. It might be worth a look if you are, ahem, well-endowed - and even if you're not, it's still a cute suit. The straps come from the center preventing the swimsuit from sagging and revealing lots of cleavage, something that all of my other halter-top and side strap suits do.
The only downer is the potential for tan lines in the shape of a V coming from your chest - however, the straps are really thin. This shouldn't be a problem for me since I don't really tan and I usually wear shirts with higher neck lines anyway. For me, it's a keeper. Plus Jude likes it...
Today I got text messages, phone calls, and even a sweet card in the mail - just people checking in and making sure I was doing ok today. (If you've been MIA, my husband left for Italy for 5.5 weeks).
And today was a good day. Even though Charlotte seems like she's wanting to pop out another tooth (or maybe she's bummed that both her father and her favorite sister have disappeared...), and was a tiny bit cranky - I held it together. I wasn't frustrated or even a bit bothered by it. But yeah, it's only day 1...
I took her to the swimming pool at our friends' apartment complex. They're out of the state so she and I took their place. But my goodness, she's squirmy in the water. Here's us at a different pool right before Jude left. (I have a few photos and blog posts waiting to be published. I did my best to stock up on cute stuff before Jude left so that I can ration out the cuteness while he's got our camera.)
I kept the single parent with an infant in mind today, since I only had my baby Charlotte. And I'll have more on that later. But tonight, if you want, say a prayer of strength for those single parents who are the only ones available to comfort their crying baby in the middle of the night tonight. God be with them.
Now excuse me while I go see The Watchmen because somebody forgot to update the Netflix queue before they left...
Phew! I successfully planned a surprise party for Jude. His 30th birthday and Father's Day will happen while he's away in Italy, so I wanted to go big. But I was a nervous wreck. Especially right before he walked into the door - he and his golfing buddies were taking a long time to come up the back stairs and my heart dropped when I suspected that they were going around to the front. That's why this "surprise" video only captures the end of us yelling, the camera wasn't ready.
My parents and his parents were able to drive all the way here to help celebrate and I know that really meant a lot to him. We spent the afternoon at the ball park, watching the last game of the season (Thanks a lot Umps - you basically cost us the game. You're welcome, LSU.)
I guess we really did need the tent, chairs, and ice chest you got for your birthday...
And ironically, Jude got $30 from his Birthday/Italy donation box that was at the party (guests were encouraged to donate either $3 or $0 for his big 3-0), but Big Poppa had to chip in the last $1. And it's also note worthy to know that I kept all of the info for the party in a document on the desktop entitled, when bills are due. Jude never opened it, obviously.
This of course, would not have been possible without the help of a few good folks, Kaitlin & Ted, Amy & Dan, Mom & Dad, and Tootsie & Big Poppa - you guys were amazing! And thank you to all of the guests who were able to make it (and contribute a few bucks for him to spend in Italy) and to the guests who weren't able to be in town this weekend - we sure did miss you!
And if you want to keep up with Jude while he's in Italy, stop by his blog right here. I don't think anything's up yet, but he leaves tomorrow, so check back soon. Yeah, he leaves tomorrow. Pray for him. And me.
Last night was horrible. This morning has been even worse. Charlotte might as well be a newborn right now.
And I responded with anger, frustration, impatience, and sadness. I just lay in bed last night sobbing like someone died. So much so that my face began to tingle. Do you know the feeling?
And I wondered, do I have it in me? Am I even strong enough to last the 39 days without Jude and make it through with my sanity and with no regrets? I worry I don't. If last night and this morning is any testament to how I'll be the next month (given she continues to express her teething pains with crankiness and little sleep), I'll be a wreck.
Part of me feels silly that I'm reacting this way - it's only 39 days and I'll have help for most of it. People get by on way worse. And Jude's still here - I'm supposed be ok right now. Going crazy should be reserved for when he's gone - not me crying hysterically while he's still here and rocking Charlotte in the next room.
I so want to be strong. I don't want to make him feel guilty for going, or worried about me. But to give him a peace of mind now is like saying, (well it is to me anyway), "I'll be fine without you and I don't need you." And frankly, I do. I need him everyday, by my side. That's why we got married, isn't it? Because we were created to need and love one another. And from that mutual need and subsequent gift of ourselves to each other (which must be free, total, faithful, and fruitful), life is created in our children. (I know I could go way more Theology of the Body up on this, but I'll just leave it at that for now.)
So yeah. I'm a wreck now. But because love is sacrificial by nature, we only need to witness the cross to see this, I am preparing myself to sacrifice the ease and comfort that I'm accustomed to while Jude's gone. And if you read the comments from this post, you know that I have plans of offering this up for those single parents who carry much more than I've been asked to. God be with them. And with me. And of course, with Jude.
My sweet dad. You are an amazing father, full of integrity, honor, respect, and gentleness. You're just a stand-up kind of guy. And I am blessed to be your daughter (and though some might mistakenly pity you for having 3 girls and no boys, you have always made sure to correct them that we're exactly what you wanted - and be honest - you've got a pretty great middle daughter...)
Today I'll be keeping in mind the moments and memories that I hold dear, like teaching me to drive at the W.W. Lewis parking lot, which happened years after you took us there to ride our bikes, roller skate, and drive remote control cars.
I'll remember walking to McMurry Park and practicing softball from your pitches (I wanted to be so good at softball for you...). I'll remember that crazy rust colored recliner that we had to pry out of your fingers when you guys were remodeling. I'll remember being concerned about a fire safety plan and where we were going to store extra clothes until you calmed me down. And I'll remember the contradicting stories you and mom share about your first trip to Eunice and who won the infamous race (wasn't there a garden involved?).
So these will be with me today, Dad, even though you aren't. May this birthday bring you lots of cheer and joy!
"Joan, will you just rub my face softly? I'm sleepy."
"Well... I'm just kind of busy tonight. I'm brushing my hair."
"My Momma, there are a lot of children at the park."
"Yeah, Joan. There are. Are you one of the children?"
"Uuuummm. I think I am one of the children."
"Aw, Joan. You have a boo boo on your nose."
"But how did it come here?"
"But Momma, I don't want to go home."
"It's too dangerous."
"I like your purse, Momma."
"Where did you get it?"
"At a store."
"What kind of store?"
"A purse store."
"Oh. Burp Cheap?"
(Even more funny if you know that I like to shop at a discount store called Dirt Cheap.)
Joan comes running up to me shouting,
"Tear, tear! Tear it up!
Then I hear Jude laughing hysterically, saying,
"No! You were supposed to say, 'Get Tor Up!'"
(Even more funny if you know that my highschool's mascot was the Golden Tornado and we always chanted, "Get Tor Up!"
"What's this, my Momma?"
"A starcrunch? I've never eaten that before..."
"Yeah. Don't tell anyone, either."
Did you know that Jude's going to Italy this summer? Did I forget to mention that? Yeah, I don't really like to talk about it (or in this case write about it) because it's a reality that I'm not sure I'm ready for...
He leaves in a week and will be gone for 5 1/2 weeks. Yuck.
He's teaching a summer course there and while he's gone I'll divide his trip in three by trying to stay in Starkville for a while, Sulphur for a while, and New Iberia for a while. But, he sure is gonna be gone a while...
And even though I'm so excited that he accepted the opportunity, (which was hard because he knew we wouldn't be able to pay for me to go along because a house, who's address shall remain nameless, still has a For Sale sign chillin' in the front yard...), and even though I know that I'll have awesome help from my parents, my in-laws, and my friends, I'm going to miss him. That word miss seems a bit lacking.
But I'll miss his affection, his help, and his humor.
I'll miss my husband, the father of my children, and best friend.
(And I'll miss the camera, too, but on a much lesser scale)
I mean, watch this video. Wouldn't you miss this if it was yours?
I'm thinking about getting thirty-nine 5 Hour Energy drinks, one for each day that he's gone, just so I can "do this."
And so now you know he's leaving. I'll try my hardest over the next month and a half to not whine, complain, or vent too much. Key words: try, and too much...
These are the pics from our weekend in LA. It starts with all the Guilbeaux ladies and their kids, the sweet cousins (and yes, Steph, we're counting your little Lily), Madelyn's baptism, and a few from the Landry side. Enjoy!
Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer
Joan's birthday was so nice and easy - we just had a Friday play date over at the house and a friend brought over an inflatable jumper. The pictures make it look like I put lots of work into it, but I assure you, I made things very easy for myself. I think the table cloth makes everything look fancy... I'm debating keeping it up year round for this very purpose.
Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer
We had the blessing of being in LA this weekend with our mothers, so the blog is just now getting updated. We wrote this prayer for them that we will recite as a novena to St. Anne. We are sure of their faithfulness in prayer for us and our intentions, and we just wanted to give them the same attention in prayer. Thank you so much, Linda and Cindy, for your beautiful, holy examples - we love you!
And for me, my hubby did a first - he bought me a dress. It's been an understanding that we don't exchange gifts for mother's day and father's day, but he saw it in the window when we were taking a walk downtown and thought, "I think Alisha would look pretty in this," and he bought it. Sweet, huh? But still on his "design list" is an updated version of the illustration of our little family that he plans to do each year. I'll post it when it's ready.
And I'll have the photos of Joan's birthday party, Madelyn's baptism, and Mother's Day up throughout the week, so stop back by.
There's so much to celebrate today - The Beatification of Pope John Paul II, St. Joseph the Worker feast day, and Divine Mercy Sunday. And since today I actually had time (and energy), we did a few little things to remember them all,
Joan made a paper mitre - well, I made it and she "bedazzled" it. And we watched some youtube clips of the beatification.
Then we talked about mercy (and tried to remember what it means) and colored a picture of St. Faustina with the Divine Mercy image.
And tonight our church will have a St. Joseph's altar and dinner after mass to honor our parish's patron saint. We'll be asking again for his intercession for our house selling stuff and continued peace because I can feel the small tinge of anxiety creeping in a little and I so badly want it to remain at bay.
Oh and today is the first day of May - the month in which my baby Joan turns 3! I'm looking forward to the Strawberry Shortcake Shindig on Friday. It might actually look like a birthday party.