EMN Carnival #1: Tea Time!

I wanted this, our first Carnival, to be a friendly introduction to the women you’ll be hearing from now and again through EMN. We’re just getting started, and I’m hoping this time next month there are many more entries for you to peruse. But for now, just pour yourself a favorite cuppa, and “come and see.” (This is a picture of my favorite teapot … just ignore the tree!)

Today at “Mommy Monsters” I posted a blog about my recent trip to Sacramento, and how wonderful it was to relax and absorb the hum and bustle of the city as I sat and sipped a solitary cup of tea.

What I did not mention at the time is that I was gobbling books with my petit fours, and spent most of my time in the city offline. (By the end of the week I was wishing I’d left my cell phone behind, too … but I digress.)

On my way to Sacramento, I devoured the book that was the basis of one of my all-time favorite movies, The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio. I’ll be reviewing it in an upcoming issue of SMM … but for now I’ll just say I was struck by the fact that this busy mother of ten refused to learn to drive. Absolutely refused, even though it might have been far more convenient and “liberating” for her to get her license. Instead, she stayed close to home and provided the emotional anchor her family needed to survive their particular (nightmarish) version of Life with Father.  Evelyn Ryan was a true “Extraordinary Mom” in the second sense of the term: Extraordinary in the personal challenges she had to face.

(There are three main types of EMs: Those who are extraordinary in their calling — especially adoptive and foster mothers as well as step-mothers and others raising children to whom they did not give birth; those who are extraordinary in life’s challenges — those facing infertility and other reproductive issues, domestic violence survivors, and mothers of large families; and those who are mothers of extraordinary children — those with physical or emotional problems, or with chronic or terminal illnesses.)

Next I gorged myself on the latest of Jodi Picoult’s novels, Change of Heart.  I’m glad I picked this one up in hardback, since (unlike her other books) I don’t plan to give this one away when I’m done with it — it was that good. Reiminiscent of The Green Mile, which also explored the “human side” of the death penalty as well as themes of faith and redemption, Change of Heart  captured my imagination because of my own connection to the foster care system (the main character in the story spent his childhood surviving “the system”) and because, as a convert to Catholicism, I find myself grappling with issues of faith in much the same way as Father Michael.

Never one to duck the hard issues just to produce a happy ending, Picoult examines the gray matters between innocence and guilt, victim and perpetrator, faith and ignorance. And she keeps the inner dialogue moving along … right up to the very last line. (I confess that when I read My Sister’s Keeper  I wanted to throw the book through a window when I got to the final page. This time, I just sat there — stunned.)

The final book, which I was “matched” with unexpectedly at a store in the Mpls airport (I told the clerk I was looking for a gift for my daughter, and she handed it to me), is called Things I Want My Daughters to Know, by Alexandra Stoddard. As I perused her “life guide,” I couldn’t help but wish I had known this woman five years ago, when I was struggling to become “Mommy” to three little waifs. I wish I had realized that motherhood is a marathon, not a sprint — and that only those who pace themselves survive.

And so, I want this our first Carnival to be a friendly introduction to the women you’ll be hearing from now and again through EMN. We’re just getting started, and I’m hoping this time next month there are many more entries for you to peruse. But for now, just pour yourself a favorite cuppa, and “come and see.” (I’ve inserted a picture of my favorite teapot at the top … just ignore the tree!)

At From the Field of Blue Children, author and EM Cathy Adamkiewicz offers a touching tribute to her daughter, Celeste Marie, written on the third anniversary of her infant daughter’s “homecoming.” In upcoming issues of EMN, Cathy will be contributing self-care tips for grieving mothers. Thanks, Cathy!

“Patjrsmom” at Building the Ark, whose family recently welcomed their seventh child (a girl from Ethiopia), offers advice for adoptive parents who want to have their adopted child baptized. What if he or she was already baptized, but is simply missing the records? This article will help you decide.

At East of Eden, Anne shares what it is like to wait eighteen years to be called “Mom” — and the jubilation of hearing that sweetest of words at long last. And here she shares the story of how she became truly pro-life, shortly after her first miscarriage. Thanks for sharing so generously, Anne!

Tracy Jo Devereaux presents her report entitled “Selection of Summer Programs for Youth Improve with Age but Still Lacking for Kids with Special Needs” posted at “Moms In A Blog.”

Kerry presents her family’s story of their journey and her personal call to motherhood in A Field Made Ready.

Although the following friends didn’t formally submit a post this time, I’d like to take the liberty of introducing you to a number of women who belong to EMN, who have expressed a willingness to share their experiences and empathetic listening skills to those who need them!

Therese at The Apostolate of Hannah’s Tears presents “Love Can’t Endure Without the Pain” as well as a wealth of resources for those who are enduring infertility or miscarriage.

Kitchen Madonna, our EM Step-Mom and all-around encourager, recently ran this healthy muffin recipe, which I thought perfect for our tea party. When Sarah and I visited with KM a few weeks ago, I was struck by how beautifully she lives, how much feminine energy that is given over to the details of her life — beauty and order and tranquility. How I wish she lived next door!

That’s all for now, dear friends. Please join us next time — and invite your friends — here at EMN!

Blessings, Heidi

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