Wednesday, November 13, 2013

"Rationalizations" (in which I talk about the Awesomeness of my Husband)

A long time ago I received a comment on a post where I was talking about the difficulties of attending Mass on my own with the kids that simply said something like:  "And where was your husband during all of this?"

I kind of shook my head when I read it, because in the post I'd explained exactly why he wasn't able to attend with me.  I've actually mentioned it just about every time I've talked about this particular struggle for that very reason, but it still comes up (in a more polite, curious sort of way most of the time, which I don't mind) and so I thought I'd devote a post to this particular subject, so that anyone who's wondered and hasn't asked can have their curiosity sated.

I'm actually considering making a FAQ page up at the top, where I can throw the answers to such burning questions (which come up more often than others) such as "Why don't you attend Mass as a family?" and "Do you force your daughter to wear dresses?"

I know, I know, some of you are probably thinking "Don't do it!  This doesn't even deserve a response!" because I get that response quite a bit too (maybe in direct proportion to the other comments?)... but it's come up quite a bit and so I thought I might as well address it.  And I also thought I'd write it because every time I've that sort of comment pop up on my screen I've felt like defending my husband since apparently my words haven't sufficiently expressed just how awesome he is and the commenter has somehow missed it.

Here it is, for anyone who's wondered and missed it the other times I've explained, the answer to:  "Why are you alone with your kids at Mass?!?!?!"

My husband is pretty amazing.  He gets up early with the kids on weekday mornings and gives me a chance to get dressed, write a quick blog post (when there's time, which unfortunately has been less and less often lately) and get dressed.  Then he hurries upstairs and gets ready for his day while I get Sadie ready for school and Mae ready for therapy.

He rushes out the door, usually before the therapists arrive at 9 and heads over to the law school.  On days when his schedule allows, he comes home for dinner and to help out at bath time.  After that the little kids go straight to bed. And while I finish cleaning the house he heads back to the library (or an open room in the law school after the library closes) and studies until... oh, I don't know... one or two in the morning.  Then he comes home and sleeps for somewhere around four hours before he gets up and does it again.

Starting on Friday there's an extra twist.  He gets up and goes to class.  Then he comes home at lunch time and we eat a quick lunch before heading out to do any errands that need to be done for the week.  This is my time out of the house.  I've been known to drag my heels to make it last longer... because I know that when we get home he's going to be studying.  Some weeks, if he's very, very lucky, he squeezes in a nap before his shift as a doorman begins at 7pm.

He heads out of the house to get to work at around 6, because finding parking around the brewery that he works at can be crazy and it can be hard to tell exactly how bad it's going to be so close to the university and fraternity houses on a Friday night.  He stands out in the cold and checks ID for hours.  After closing time they have to clean the place, which usually brings him to around 3 or 4 in the morning, depending on how well the football team did and how bad the mess made in the aftermath of the celebration was.

He pretty much repeats this on Saturday, getting up at around 9 after a few hours of sleep, and fitting in a full day before heading back out to work.  As often as not he finally gets home and gets to bed at around 4 am.

Now I know this next part may be hard for some people that haven't been around a child with our particular brand of special needs to understand, but Mae is particular about the Mass we go to.  We have one choice.  9 am.  9 am gives me about a 50% chance of things going smoothly.  And when she acts up at the 9 am Mass it's what I would call "moderate" (and what most parents would likely call "severe").

If we go to a later Mass it's like an hour of the worst experience of my entire life (slight exaggeration).  I have stood outside the cathedral while she screamed, an ear splitting sound, for an entire hour.  At any other Mass, when we walk in the door there is a 95% chance that she will scream the entire time while I sway and walk and hold her outside.  So if we're going to go, 9 am it is.

I guess I could begrudge Paul the sleep he gets on Sunday morning.  I could insist he get up and watch Patrick and Mae while I go to Mass with Sadie.  After all, he gets four-ish hours on plenty of other mornings... shouldn't he tough it out on 28 hours of sleep a week?  I try to let him get a solid eight hours on Sundays, but as often as not, he doesn't.

And so I have rejected the oft suggested "leave the kids with him and go by yourself."

You see, by Sunday morning he is so exhausted that he is virtually dead to the world.  I can (and have) stood next to him and shouted his name and he sleeps soundly through it.  On Sunday, the week of not sleeping while working and studying and going to school have finally caught up with him.  And if you know a little bit about Mae you can probably understand that the level of supervision she requires at all times is more than being sound asleep on the couch offers.

I've seen him try to stay awake in this state and have only learned that he can fall asleep while sitting up perfectly straight.  So, the answer to that question is a definite no.  After all, Maggie and Patrick are not appropriate baby sitters for each other by any stretch of the imagination.

Don't worry.  I'm not blowing off Mass altogether.  I do plan on going on those days when I'm not limping (a ruptured vertebrae at L5-S1 can make baby wrangling a bit tougher...), and when no one's having a "bad day."

To be honest, these days I don't drive anywhere with all three kids by myself because the logistics of getting Maggie and Patrick into their car seats make that pretty much impossible.  When you have someone bent on escaping and another child that has to be held until they're in their car seat, logistics that I'm certain other parents take for granted become a bit more tricky.  That's one reason that we generally walk everywhere (and because Paul usually has the car so he's not biking home in the ice at 2 in the morning).

I guess on those "bad days" I'll just be grateful that the Church herself has been a bit more understanding than many on this particular topic... and I'll allow her to guide me, thankful for the merciful understanding that sometimes caring for another makes fulfilling that very serious obligation an impossibility (yes, I know it's serious).  

To answer that other question I receive on this topic:  Yes, my husband is Catholic and does go to Mass.  He's absolutely the person who brought me home to the Catholic Church.  He has a Master's in theology and is serious about his faith.  And he does go to Mass on Sundays... but it's a Mass (night time) that is absolutely an impossibility with two of our three (believe me, we've tried more than once).

So there you have it.  I know some people will say that it's a rationalization (I've already heard that this week!) and will believe that I'm absolutely wrong for occasionally admitting that every bone in my body hurts and that I just can't do it.  Some people will think that it can't possibly be that bad... and those people have likely never tried to take a child who's struggling with processing the world and communicating with even those closest to them, to a place where they're expected to be silent for rougly 90 minutes.

Deep down somewhere I hope that there is some virtue in discovering this weakness which has caused me to realize my own limitations and be grateful for the chance to see the world through this new lens of understanding.


  1. Oh my gosh, you and your husband are saints! My husband and I are finding things trickier and trickier these days. He's in medical school. I've actually been meaning to email you begging for your advice on how to manage having a husband whose course of study is so enormous. I just have the one baby so far and feel overwhelmed and lonely a lot of the time. (We're like you guys- moved far away from family and any support system.) And like yours, my husband is an awesome family man and offers to help any chance he gets! Oy.

    For what it's worth, I think you are doing just fine. And the only judgment you need be concerned with is God's, and trust me- I'm pretty sure HE thinks you're doing just fine, too! Blessings to you and your beautiful family.


  2. Isn't motherhood humbling? All the things we "knew" before we had kids, or before we had two or three or more kids - most of those really get turned upside down, don't they? The things we may have judged others for in the past have a way of coming around to humble us later on. What we need to remember is that everyone is fighting some type of battle, so we should err on the side of kindness and understanding so as not to make their struggle more difficult than necessary. It sounds like you and your husband are doing the BEST you can. Who could ask more of you?

  3. I am so sorry you ever feel like you need to justify yourself or your family to nosy, rude, judgmental people! You are an amazing family, and if I were in your place I would do EXACTLY as you do. Bravo for all you do, Cam. You're an inspiration, and your husband is awesome, too.

  4. You guys have a very rough schedule with a lot of special circumstances and it is maddening that people are giving you are hard time! It's so easy to judge. God knows you and your husband and your family and he loves you all just the same whether you are at Mass once a year or 7 times a week!

  5. You don't owe your blog readers any explanations so never feel like you do. I had to laugh when I saw that people ask if you "force" your daughter to wear dresses. Those are the people who probably have never had a little girl. All of my girls have gone through phases where dresses were all they would wear and I'd have to make them wear pants when it was just too cold to wear a dress.

  6. Some folks just have to find something to criticize; perhaps they must try to make themselves feel superior. They are certainly barking up the wrong tree in your case, with what you accomplish, particularly given Paul's schedule, your own business, homeschooling Sadie, addressing Mae's special needs, and dealing with a very active almost-toddler. Just let it roll off your back, as it's not worth letting those folks disturb you for even a minute.


  7. I haven't been following your blog for long, but it's fairly obvious to me your husband is an awesome human being who I wish had an available brother who was the same way. :-) And that you have three kids under 5, with one very special one who needs more time, attention and energy than the others, and you are trying to keep the household going while he is attending law school AND working, well, you are, in my mind, fabulous people who are getting it right. In fact, just in reading your blog, I have thought Cam, you have found a really great guy who is serious, committed, and sacrifices himself for the sake of you and the kids. And he probably doesn't complain either! I know what it takes to get through law school. It is no cake walk. And he is doing this after having started a family. He's no slouch. I love reading your blog because you and Paul give me hope. Your values and how you are living your lives speak of virtue, and I applaud you and Paul. I love how you speak honestly and forthrightly about how hard it is, and the challenges you face. For some reason, it makes it easier for me to face the challenges I do. God bless you. Bonnie

  8. You don't really have to answer to anyone. You guys are doing the best you can with the hand you've been dealt. If it makes you feel any better; it's not even your situation; people are just judgmental in everything. My dh is doing a start up where he works 24/7 on the product (robots) He's also not only allergic to most incense but we've been in other churches with mold problems etc. (and right now I don't have any kid issues as my youngest two are 18 and 10) But I've had people say stuff like "oh I didn't realize your husband was Catholic" (cause he's never here) Or maybe they just take me for a single mom (they never look at the ring). Do you ever look at the "perfect" families with the mom and dad and perfectly behaved children? Don't even worry; everyone has some kind of challenge in their lives even if they make a great photo op in the pews. I think your dh sounds awesome (like mine! LOL) and eventually he'll be out of school; Mae will be older and calmer and one day you'll look up and life won't be such a struggle. Praying for ya!

  9. Prayers for you and your family tonight during Holy Hour...

  10. I can't believe how ridiculously rough people are on you. Also, apparently no one realizes this is just a temporary thing. Not that it would give them any say, but it isn't like this is your lifestyle choice forever and ever. Eventually (I know it feels like it!), Paul will graduate, get a job with traditional hours, stop spending every waking moment at the library (I don't miss those days : ), and you'll all go to Mass together at Mae's favorite time.

    I just want to sit down with these commenters and yell at them with you : )

  11. Please do make one because there are many of us some who are new readers some old who ask certain questions that im sure uve asked 100 million times

  12. You and yours are in our prayers.

  13. You and Paul are doing great. Some seasons are just exhausting but God knows we do our best. Let those who would pass judgement on you account for themselves.


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