Mother’s Day Survival Strategies

The holiday we all hate to hate will soon be upon us.  Mother’s Day is an emotional minefield for those of us who don’t have kids, and while I can’t do anything to make it a happy day, after 11 years of being married without kids on Mother’s Day, I’ve learned some ways to make it suck less.

1.  Go to work.  This has been my strategy for the last few years.  My job requires occasional weekends, and you know who really does not want to work on Mother’s Day?  Mothers.  When they’re scheduled to work on the 2nd weekend in May, the working mothers in my department jump at the chance to trade weekends with me!  They get to spend the day with the fam and I get to focus on something other than “woe is me.”
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2. “But what about Mass?” The Catholic readers cry.  Darlin’, I hear ya.  Mother’s Day Mass and First Communion Masses are the most mascara-ruining Masses of the year for me.  (Luckily, they’re both in spring and I can tell people it’s just my allergies, but I digress.)  Anyway, here are some things that have worked for me:

  • Go to a really early Mass.  You know who really does not want to get up for a 7 AM Mass on Mother’s Day?  Mothers.
  • Go to a really late Mass.  You know who really does not want to drag everybody back out of the house after dinner on Mother’s Day? Mothers.  This one goes double if you…
  • Go to Mass at the Newman Center.  I’ve blogged before about how wonderful Newman Centers can be even if you’re not a college student.  No kids?  No problem.  Single?  No problem.  You’re the norm at the Newman Center, not the exception.
  • Go to Mass at a convent or monastery.  Reverent, quiet, and if they mention Mother’s Day at all, it’s because they’re praying for their own mothers.

3.  Spend time with the Blessed Mother.  Mary had only one child at a time when large families were the rule.  She became pregnant with Jesus before she was married at a time when pregnancy out of wedlock was an extreme disgrace.  She may not have carried your exact cross, but she certainly knows what it’s like to be left out and the subject of gossip.

You’ll notice I did not mention spending time with your mother.  I’m sure this will be great for some of you, but it won’t work for everybody.  Maybe, like me, your mother lives far away and spending time with her isn’t feasible, or maybe, like Donna, your mother is in Heaven.    Maybe you and your mother don’t have a good relationship and spending time with her would only upset you more.  Even if your own mother is unavailable or a letdown, the Blessed Mother is there.

She's got your back.

She’s got your back.

Do you have other suggestions?  Leave them in the comments.

Job Hunting Update

So, last week I had an interview at a town ~1.5 hours drive from where my BIL, SIL, and nephew live.   For those just joining us, DH and I live in the Midwest but that branch of the family tree lives in the Pacific Northwest.  While this job isn’t as close to them as I’d like to be, a 90 minute drive sure beats a whole day in an airplane.

I had a phone interview with this employer last month and they wanted to schedule an on-site interview right away – and since they offered to pay for my plane tickets and hotel, I figured, what the heck?  DH and I used it as an opportunity to see the family.

The job had a few drawbacks regarding the schedule and there would be a few things I enjoy at my current employer that I wouldn’t get to do as often there.  So when I walked in, I had these lines from I Love Lucy on my mind:

Desi: Lucy, there is one word that means the same thing in English, Spanish, and in French. You know what that word is?

Lucy: What?

Desi:  NO.

Once the interview started, it was a whole different ballgame.  It was probably the most laid-back interview I’ve ever attended, and while the stuff I don’t get to do is still an issue, they have concrete plans to add that to their activities in the next few years.  Plus, the setting is gorgeous, the town is nice, and I would get to see adorable toddler nephew more than once a year.  DH and I would like to be in Big City with the family, but the Big City employers won’t give me the time of day.  (I imagine they see where I live and wonder if we even walk erect.)  We agreed that if the employer in College Town makes me an offer, we could live there for a  year or two and then make the hop to Big City.

So, that’s where it stands.

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7 Quick Takes – Alleluia!

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1.  People ask me why I read mommy blogs when I’m childless.  The best explanation I’ve come up with is this:  Suppose I’ve always wanted to live in London, but because of reasons, I can’t.  Yes, the initial disappointment is terrible, and yes, for a long time I won’t be able to deal with hearing about other people’s trips to London.  But eventually that time will pass, and I will want to hear about your trips to theaters and museums, and even hear your complaints about the weather and the traffic and the Tube.  Sometimes I read about your life in London to get a glimpse into the life I wanted.  Other times, I read your blog and feel grateful for my own life.  Either way, I’m glad I read it.

2.  By the time you read this, I will be finished with my job interview on the West Coast.  When I wrote this on the morning of Holy Saturday, I had pretty strong feelings about the job.  If I still feel that way after the interview, then I know what my answer will be if I get an offer.  (Was that cryptic enough for you? :) )

3.   Is it me or is Holy Saturday the longest day of the liturgical year?   The Easter Vigil is my favorite liturgy of the year but it doesn’t start until evening, and I can’t do anything I gave up for Lent until after I get home from Vigil.  Since this year I decided to challenge myself by abstaining from Facebook and Twitter during Holy Week, that’s one less thing I could do to pass the time until the Vigil.

4. Next week is our last frost!  I’m planning to shake things up garden-wise this year, mainly because I realized that most of my garden beds had tomatoes in them last year and it would be unwise to grow tomatoes in them again.

5. Having said that, I’m not putting away my winter clothes yet!  I’ve lived in the Midwest long enough to know not to put away the winter stuff until Mother’s Day, because if you do, you are guaranteed to be snowed on.

6.  I promise I will be back to real content after this weekend!  I have another book review in the works, plus there will be photos of my baby plants after I bring them home from the greenhouse.

7.  It’s Friday, so we need a song!  This is “Shaolin Monk” by Glove and Boots.

For more Quick Takes from Kelly and others, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum!

Lent 2015, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Divine Mercy Chaplet

So, now that I’ve suffered through my 40 days of Lenten observance, rejoiced on Easter Vigil, and feasted on Easter Sunday, it’s time to take a step back for a moment and reflect.  What did I learn this Lent?  Were these Lenten observances worth doing?  And will I keep them up now that Lent is over?

Discipline #1: Giving up fashion magazines.

Miranda Priestly does not approve.

Miranda Priestly does not approve.

I did this out of a sense that fashion magazines are Not Good For Me, however, it also wound up being a decluttering exercise –  I had a year’s worth of magazines in my bathrooms!  And once they were gone… I really didn’t notice.  I didn’t find myself wishing I could read them, didn’t wonder what I was missing when the April issue arrived, and didn’t wish I could dig them out of the recycle bin and find that eye makeup trick I’d been looking for.  On Easter, I enjoyed the April issue, but instead of letting it sit in my bathroom for a month, I’ll probably throw it away.  And maybe cancel my subscription.  (Maybe.)

Verdict: HUGE SUCCESS.

Discipline #2: The Divine Mercy Chaplet.

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I admitted at the beginning of Lent that I’ve never understood the Divine Mercy Chaplet, in part because I’ve never made the effort.  That includes the most basic effort – you know, praying it.  So, on Fat Tuesday, I downloaded this recording of the Divine Mercy Chaplet and played it in the car on my way to work throughout Lent.  I have grown somewhat in understanding this prayer in that it’s a beautiful way to ask for God’s mercy, not just for ourselves but for everyone else.  It’s also a lovely tool in forgiveness – remembering someone who has wronged you during this prayer and asking God to be merciful to them is a great penance.  What still troubles me about this prayer is the “I offer you the body and blood, soul and divinity…” part.  How can I offer that to God?  I know Jesus gave us all that at the Last Supper, but… I don’t know, it’s just odd to me.  I’m keeping it up for the Divine Mercy Novena, though.

Verdict: Work in Progress.

Discipine #3: Complain less about work.  The place I complain most about work is the car, and during Lent I listened to the Divine Mercy Chaplet on the way to work and the Rosary coming home, I did complain less there.  But I started complaining more at work (mentally, that is).

Verdict:
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Christus Resurrexit, Alleluia!

Alleluia, Christ is Risen!

I hope all of you are having a blessed and joyful Easter!  I participated in Lenten Prayer Buddies this year and I am pleased to announce that I prayed for…

Lynda of Flowers for Francis!

In honor of Easter, here is one of my favorite Alleluias:

Book Review: Less is More by Cecile Andrews & Wanda Urbanska

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Less is More: Embracing Simplicity for a Healthy Planet, a Caring Economy, and Lasting Happiness is a collection of essays edited by Andrews & Urbanska on the subject of simplicity.  Voluntary simplicity – choosing to work less, spend less, buy less, and live in less space – is an excellent topic for Lent, so I dove in.

Andrews begins by defining simplicity, and explains how a simpler life is a social justice issue.  When corporations go profit-mad, workers are exploited.  When individuals go consumption-mad, Earth’s resources are wasted, leaving less for the poor. If we use up all the oil, there is none left for other nations; and if we’re buying new gadgets every week, we have less money to spend on charity.  [People accuse me of zero-sum thinking when I say things like this.  You know what?  When there’s a finite amount of a resource someday it will be gone.  The solution is not to plug our fingers in our ears and continue using it profligately until we get a rude awakening; rather, it’s to use the resource wisely until we can either find a substitute or make more of it.]

However, the book is not a recitation by Debbie Downer or a polemic designed to make us all feel guilty for breathing!  Instead, it’s contains the perspective of a  individuals who chose a simpler lifestyle and the positive effects it has had on their happiness, their relationships with family, and their communities.  Contributors include:

  • Social scientists who found that people who lived mindfully and according to their values were happier than people who did not.
  • An American Swede who explains the Swedish concept of lagom, or just the right amount.
  • Practical advice how to prevent your children from being over scheduled.
  • A woman who gave up a lucrative career in advertising to move to her parents’ native Poland and work at factory making hand-blown glass Christmas ornaments.
  • A couple who formed an association that reinvigorated their Minneapolis neighborhood.
  • A doctor who made drastic changes to his life after a smoggy day in Washington, DC (have a handkerchief handy for this one).

Last month, I reviewed Christianity, Climate Change, and Sustainable Living, which did a great job on the whys of simplifying our lives but had fewer suggestions for the hows.  This book has the whys but also gives us some of the hows.  It’s not an instruction manual, rather, these individuals explain how and why they revamped their lives, and in so doing, provide us lessons for how we might change our lives.  And while it’s by no means a religious book, lessons from Christianity are sprinkled in here and there, including my favorite quote from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton:  “Live simply so that others may simply live.”

Overall, an enjoyable read, and good food for thought!

Two More Quick Takes

All right, I know it isn’t Friday, but I have two more quick thoughts that aren’t big enough for their own post.

1.  Remember that phone interview I had on Thursday?  They want me to have an on-site interview next month!  We’re still working out the details and hopefully the openings in my schedule will mesh with the employer’s availability.  (Thank God I work four 10’s!)  I really appreciated your prayers on Thursday, and pray that all goes well with the on-site interview.

2.  In honor of World Down’s Syndrome Day, here’s a RR orphan that squeaked in to the Voices of Hope challenge:  Blessing!  And what an apt name that is!  When Blessing turns 16 in June she will age out, meaning she will be permanently unavailable for adoption.  According to families who have met her, she is quiet and calm but very sweet.
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Do you know a family who could adopt this angel? Maybe you do and you don’t know it yet! Spread the word – that’s the only way kids like her can find their families!