Sunday, January 27, 2013

Bless me, Father...

Matthew will make his First Communion this year. For non-Catholics out there, this means that, following a ceremony in the Spring, he will be able to take the communion wafer and drink the communion wine.

I did not make the Parent Meeting about this important event, though I had intended to. I can't remember why, but for brevity's sake, I'll blame Mark.

Thankfully, I have a very good friend called Janet who is a MUCH better Catholic than I am (read: she attends Mass more than six times a year) and who has been feeding me information via Facebook.

Today, she informed me that there will be a special ceremony next month, involving baptismal candles (which I cannot find) and school photos (which I know are around here somewhere...) and a first visit to the Confessional Box for our children, which is meant to be preceded by MY visit to the Confessional Box.


To prepare myself, I googled "How to Confess Properly" and found a neat  little website which lists important questions to ask myself whilst holed up in a darkened box, listening to someone else waiting to pass judgement on my...well, life.

This is how I imagine things will go, assuming Fr. W. calls me back following the guilt-ridden, apologetic, rambling message I just left on his voice mail:

Photo courtesy of "Catholic Home and Garden"

Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been approximately 30 years since my last confession.

When was my last good Confession?

Alright fine, it was 32 years ago. It's been so long, I lost count. Happy now? It's even worse than previously thought.

 Did I receive Communion or other sacraments in the state of mortal sin?
Nope. God will have noticed that I didn't take communion for many, many years. He knows why. I'm good with keeping that between me and Him, if it's all the same to you.
Did I intentionally fail to confess some mortal sin in my previous Confession?
Nope. My last confession was around the age of 9. Pretty sure the worst of my sins were wishing my brother harm and thinking grouchy things about having to do chores. Ah, simple, magical times.

Did I seriously doubt my faith or put myself in danger of losing my faith through readings hostile to Catholic teachings or involvement in non-Catholic sects?
Absolutely. In fact, during a clearly troubled period, I converted to another religion, which I swiftly decided was a cult, but who am I to judge? I steered clear of the church for so long, my parents despaired. And then my first child was born and when I held him for the first time, I knew that I was touching God. Since that moment, I have been on a long, slow journey back to the church of my childhood and to a quiet, but strengthening faith.
(Except for when my brother died. Then I pretty much raged against everything and everyone, especially God. He waited me out. We're good now.)
Did I engage in superstitious practices: palm-reading, fortune telling, etc.?

Yes. And while I'm here, I may as well confess that I really, really, really want to visit a local shaman. I've heard wonderful things about her and am looking for all the help I can get, letting go of old stuff and embracing challenges yet to come. I feel sort of compelled to see her, actually. I'm pretty sure God knows that. I'm pretty sure He'd steer me away, if He felt threatened or that she might do me harm. I mean, she's His child too, right?

Did I take the name of God in vain?
Is this even a real question? Oh my GOD, yes. I know. I suck. I'm working on it, I swear to G...never mind.
Did I curse, or take a false oath? 
EFF. Please see previous response.
Did I miss Mass on Sundays or holy days of obligation through my own fault, without any serious reason?
Yes. Sometimes for no reason at all. Mostly laziness. Followed by guilt. And then guilt about the lazy and then guilt about the's never-ending, this guilt. Can we talk about that sometime?
Did I keep fast and abstinence on the prescribed days?
Clearly not. Have you SEEN the size of my bum?

Did I disobey my parents and lawful superiors in important matters?
Yes. But my parents, much like our Father, are loving and forgiving. They forgive me because they love me and they know that I am working hard to become a better person, even when I fail miserably. Does speeding on the 401 or rolling through stop signs count? 'Cause if so, I think you oughta know that I'll do it all again, so confessing is sort of...wrong. Right?

Did I hate or quarrel with anyone, or desire revenge?
 Yes. I still do.
 Did I refuse to forgive?
Yes. Mostly myself.
Did I hurt or cause to kill someone?
God, I hope not. I'll pay more attention at stop signs, though.
Did I get drunk? 
Yes. There were shooters, you see. And I like shooters. Especially the ones called Butter Shooters...
Did I take illicit drugs?
No. That's weird, right? You can thank my dad for that. When I was a teenager, I promised him four things:
1. I wouldn't smoke.
2. I wouldn't do drugs.
3. I wouldn't drink alcohol before the legal age.
4. I wouldn't have sex before I got married.
I had to keep at least ONE of those promises. By default, it was #2.
Did I consent to, recommend, advise or actively take part in an abortion?
Yes. I'm pro-choice. God knows it. I know it. I will always support a woman's right to choose, yes, even now that I am a mother. ESPECIALLY since I've become a mother. My feelings about this topic have not changed.  Is this where things are gonna get awkward?

Did I willfully look at indecent pictures or watch immoral movies?
Does Magic Mike count? I haven't seen it. But I've seen lots of shots of Channing Tatum  half-naked and will admit to thinking that he is one of God's finest creations. Ditto Angelina Jolie when she was Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.
And God said, "Let there be perfection..."
 Did I read immoral books or magazines?
50 Shades of Grey. I read all three books in the series, hoping it got better. It didn't. Frankly, I think reading that drivel was punishment enough. Um, also...I read "Flowers in the Attic" in 7th grade. Please don't tell my mum.
Did I engage in impure jokes or conversations?
Did I willfully entertain impure thoughts or feelings?
Yes. I only feel guilty about that sometimes. Can I get half a Hail Mary for half-confessing? As cheeky as that might sound, it's kind of a serious question. What happens when only someone/thing else believes that what you're doing/thinking is wrong, but YOU don't? Confessing to it would be lying. Sort of. Can we talk about this sometime, too?
Did I commit impure acts, alone or with others?
Yes. Some of my favourite memories involve impure acts. Some of my favourite memories involve some of my favourite people. I kind of don't want to forget those people or those memories. Remembering's OK, right? I mean, it's not like I'm gonna do those impure things with those people again or anything. Outside of my head, I mean...
Did I take contraceptive or abortifacient pills or use other artificial means in order to prevent contraception?
Take, no. Use presently, yes. I have Matthew, Mark and Luke. I'm gonna name my dog John. I should get bonus points.

Did I steal or damage another's property?
I stole my Across-the-Road Neighbour's fur-lined hat last night. Mostly, is was due to the Butter Shooter consumption, but she's going to a warm country for a few months and won't be needing it. I'm pretty sure she's OK with that.
How much?
It's fur-lined. Probably $50? I'll have to ask...
Have I made reparation for the damages done?
No. I have no intention of giving it back. I DID give her a bottle of wine, though. That's  PRE-reparation. Sort of.
Have I been honest in my business relations?
 Mostly. There may have been some creative number-crunching on my tax form from 1997, but I'm also hopeless at math so it's hard to know for sure.

Did I tell lies?
Yes. Hell, yes. I can say that, right?
Did I sin by calumny, or detraction telling the unknown grave faults of others without necessity, even if they are true? 
 Do you mean "did I gossip?" Yes. Have you met me? Sometimes, a LOT of the time, my mouth engages before my brain does. That said, I am MUCH better at keeping secrets since I spilled one of my Dolphin's and there was that weird, dreadful silence at the table. That sucked, even though, technically, I didn't KNOW it was a secret...wait, what was the question, again? 
Did I judge others rashly in serious matters?
Before I became a mother? You bet. Before Karma handed me my own shit back, you mean? You bet. Now? I try not to. And frankly, I am pretty clear about my own shit, Father. I know when I've been mean or spiteful or wrong. I don't LIKE to admit it when I am, but I do. Mostly, I do so on my blog. Or on Facebook. Some people might refer to it as "oversharing." but others might see it as "unofficially" confessing. I'm just saying.
Surely the fact that I am here, in this box, this moment, this LIFE - imperfect, hopeful but a little bit afraid - should mean something. Something good, I mean. 'Cause the thing is, Father, even though I'm terrible at attending Mass and I holler at my kids FAR too often and I curse my husband to Hell...God has forgiven me for everything. He loves me.
This is how I know:
Me: Matthew, I love you. Thank you for choosing me to be your mummy.
Matthew: I love you, too, Mummy. And I didn't choose you all by myself, you know.
Me: What do you mean?
Matthew: God helped me choose you.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

On Slogging, Life Lessons and the Kindness of Strangers

Went slogging on an indoor track tonight, Reds in tow. I was happy to have them along because they were so excited by the idea of running with me that I got excited, too.

There were a LOT of other people there. More than we've seen before, but it's a new year and resolutions have been made. Kudos to all of us, I thought, as I laced up my shoes.

I reminded the Reds of the rules:

Run on the outside lane only,
Gently call out "Pass!" if someone's not aware that you're there.
Be aware of where others are around you,
Walk on the inside track only,
Be respectful,
No weaving,
No racing,
No foolishness,
Have fun.

They were off like shots, grinning their adorable freckled faces off. I set off a light slog, determined to keep a slow and steady pace. Determined not to die, frankly.

I watched their progress around the track. Yes, they were passing people, but did so respectfully, on the left. Yes, they were passing people, period. They're children. They're young. They're fast.

Every once in awhile Matthew or Luke (or both) would catch up to me ( or I'd catch up to them) and we'd walk a bit together, holding hands. We stopped a few times for water, but in the overall, spent a good 20 minutes sweating happily, going around and around and around.


As I turned into one stretch, I spied some staff members talking to the Reds. They'd been pulled from the track and were peering rather anxiously down the track, looking for me. I picked up my pace and then came to a halt, breathing fast:

"It's OK," I gasped, grimace/smiling, "They're not up here alone. I'm here. They're just faster."

The Staff Member smiled uncomfortably. "I know you're up here,  but we just had someone at the desk concerned that might trip and hurt themselves or someone else. They'll have to run with you."

I looked down at the Reds, at their crestfallen, scared little faces. Sighed. "But they're faster than me. And they really weren't doing any harm..." I trailed off, aware that many around us were listening, walkers and runners slowing as they passed.

Took the boys aside and tried to explain the situation, assured them that they weren't in any trouble but that the rule was that they had to stay with me. Matthew, in particular, was very unhappy with this news, more so because there were other children running and THEY hadn't been singled out.

"Why did the lady complain about only us, Mummy? Why do only me and Luke have to run with you? Those other kids should have to run with their mummy, too. Tell them, Mummy!"


It's one thing to explain "unofficial" rules to small children whose days revolve around so many of them - school rules, home rules, bath rules, car rules, bedtime rules - but another thing entirely to explain the concept of doing the right thing and getting treated unfairly anyways.

I sputtered and fumbled, but Matthew was undeterred. "Mummy! You SAID to pass on the left so we did. We didn't even touch anybody. Nobody tripped. It's not FAIR!"

He was right. It WASN'T fair and I struggled to find the words that would make it so, found none. Then, a runner stopped and smiled at them, at me: "They really were fine," she said.

And then she extended her hand to Matthew, "Would you like to run with me? I'll try to keep up. My name is Julie!"

At Matthew's questioning look, I nodded and off the two of them went, laughing.

Another runner stopped - a man this time - and urged Luke onto the track and the two of THEM tore around the track while I stood at the edge of it, trying to catch my breath and feeling so grateful for these perfect strangers and their random acts of kindness.

In the end, I spoke to the Staff Member at the desk, who admitted that there is no official rule about kids on the track, but that she'd been at a loss. I nodded, understanding, but took her boss's business card anyways - perhaps this incident will spur someone into creating some signs and posting them for all to see. Mine are not the only children who love to run and who love seeing their mama out there, huffing and puffing her way to healthy.

In the meantime, the Reds and I will return and I will try to keep up with them. If not, I hope that there are some more kind souls there who can...and will.

*  *  *

UPDATE: The centre rang and the woman I spoke to was forthright and apologetic and funny. She assured me that the Reds are welcome to run for as long and as quickly as they'd like. Signs are in transit already, they're working on a response to offer staff should (when) this situation come up again. And - in an unexpected and delightful bonus - she gave us passes for the pool. All's well that ends well, eh?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Farewell to Baileys

Dear Baileys,

Oh, sweet nectar in a glass, how I love you. I love you best when the Reds have settled in for the night and I can sip you slowly, while listening to their snoring goodness via the monitor.

I love you in my coffee on the weekends, while camping, at the cottage and at the end of "those" days, when my heart is weary and there are still three loads of laundry to fold.

I love you over ice, in my ice cream and in a tiny shot glass with my name on it....


I must leave you.

It's not you, Baileys. It's me. I need something different. I've changed.

 I have committed myself to Exercise and Healthy eating instead. Yes, this is painful and no, this is not easy, but I have to do this, for me.  I need to get in shape and lose weight. You don't help me do that, Baileys, and Exercise and Healthy Eating have promised me that that they will.

Farewell, Heaven-in-a-Glass!
You've been a part of my life for so long now, I can't imagine you not in it. I know we'll see each other again - but right now, I need to focus on other things. Better-for-me things.

In April, maybe, we can touch base, see how things go. You'll be fine, Baileys, there on the shelf next to Tequila. Tequila and I had to part ways too, long ago - you'll have that in common, at least.

I hope you understand. I will always cherish our nights together, in my heart. You are one of my favourite memories, already. I shall raise my glass of Water to you, often.

Be well, Baileys. Know that you are loved and will be missed.


Saturday, January 5, 2013

5, 4, 3, 2, 1...

Five short months from now, I will graduate from Loyalist College, as a Developmental Services Worker. Frankly, I can't believe that so much time has passed and that I have learned so much. I am happy. I am sad. I am hopeful. I am terrified.

Four short months from now, we will be putting our house on the market, preparing to move back to our home town. I am sad. I am hopeful. I am prayerful. I am terrified.

Three short months from now, I will be finishing up my 11-week second tour as one of "Quinte's Biggest Loser" a weight-loss/fundraiser organized by our local hospital. I am hopeful. I am terrified.

Two short months from now marks the 4th anniversary of my brother's passing, a day I begin dreading as soon as each new year begins. I am thoughtful. I am terrified.

One month from now I will be fully ensconced in my final placement - a group home for elderly folks with disabilities. I am hopeful. I am prayerful. I am terrified.

Mostly, for all of these things, I am grateful: for the hope, the prayerfulness...and the terror.

They let me know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be, in this, my 40th year.

The best is yet to be.

And you?
What are you looking forwarding to?
What scares you, these days?