Not-So-Miraculous Monday: Feeling Overwhelmed?

The kids and I spent the day in our jammies … me never more than a couple of steps from the bathroom. Yes, that kind of day. Craig put off going to work until after lunch — but then it was just them and me and a snowy afternoon just yawning out ahead of us.

Since Chris wasn’t feeling much better than I was, he was happy to snuggle next to me and watch a movie. Sarah, however, was not a happy camper. Alternatel poking the dog and changing outfits and standing between Chris and the televison to get him to emit squeals not commonly heard in nature.

There are times, my friends, when you just hunker down and deal. And so, today I’m sharing this tidbit of wisdom that I encountered when I came up for air on Saturday afternoon. When motherhood gets to be a bit of a load, managing your own expectations can be 9/10s of the game.

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Miracle Monday: The Boy with the Perfect Heart

Today I’d like you to visit “Over Here in the Bonny Glenn” and read about a sick young man with a large (though ailing) heart.

I’m telling you, if I’d been that radio producer, Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce would have beaten Paul Newman, hands down!

Miracle Monday: The Story of Michael Oher in “Blind Side”

This weekend Craig and I slipped away on Saturday afternoon to take in a matinee.  Blind Side is a movie I NEVER would have picked in a million years . . . if I hadn’t already known the remarkable back story. As it was, it was so compelling I scarcely noticed the football.

The gentle giant (played by Quinton Aaron), found wandering in the frigid Memphis air, is picked up by the Tuohy family (Tim McGraw, Sandra Bullock) who proceed to take him home, feed and clothe him, pay for a private tutor, and teach him the business end of a football. Out of the thousands of kids who languish in the system, or worse, this kid gets a chance . . . and, despite all odds, he makes the most of it. Today he is offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens (NFL).

Perhaps not surprisingly — the issue is raised for us in the first few seconds of the movie — not everyone see the “rescue” as a good thing. Some even hint that the “poor black jock” is simply being exploited by his adoptive family, who only want to offer him up to their alma mater.  What other reason could a wealthy white couple have for taking in a poor black homeless kid?  This kind of cold-blooded generalization is articulated all too well in the following article by Steve Sailer entitled “The Next Liberal Fad: A ‘Stolen Generation’ of Black Children?”

Reviewing Blind Side and Precious, Steve Sailer observes, “These two films help us understand the common denominator of the demands increasingly heard in the media for mandatory preschool, longer school days, shorter summer vacations, and universal post-high school education. They flow from the inevitable logic of the following syllogism:

What isn’t clear to me is what, exactly, is the preferred PC alternative. Leave Michael on the streets to find his way back to the Projects, so he can die like the rest? Sure, the Tuohy’s offered Michael opportunities he wouldn’t have had if he had stayed with another family in the projects — and in many ways, I’m sure his life would have been easier had he been able to stay with the family friends who’d originally had him placed in Briarcrest. We’ll never know, since that option was not available to him.

Ultimately the standard has to be “best interests of the child.” And sadly, those interests must sometimes be prioritized because there are simply no options to cover them all. Had the black family in the beginning of the movie continued to raise Michael in their home, it is likely he would never have been drafted to the NFL . . . although he could have.

And yet, the reality was that Michael’s choice was not between a black family and a white family. It was between a white family and NO family, since neither his father (who had disappeared) or his mother (who by her own admission could not care for him and did not even want to see him) could care for him.

Can anyone seriously argue that being raised by the Tuohy’s was less desirable than returning him to the gang in the projects, to be devoured by gangs and drug peddlers, not much better than animals themselves? Of course not.

Nuture vs. nature. In the world of adoption, it’s never an either-or proposition. To thrive and reach his full potential, a child must have both. Invariably, it involves the kind of support for which Michael Oher became famous: an instinctively protective “I’ve got your back.” And from that position, it’s very easy to turn a “blind side” to everything else.

Miracle Monday: “When Autism Speaks” with Ellen Bry

lostandfoundRecently CatholicMom.com ran an interview that I did with Ellen Bry, star of “Lost and Found Family.” Ellen is the mother of three grown children, including two sons with autism. I was delighted when Ellen took time to chat with me about what it’s like to raise — singlehandedly — two young men with special needs.

One of the greatest challenges of parenting the special-needs child is managing one’s own expectations. “There’s a kind of smugness among very bright, accomplished people, an engrained bias that being bright and accomplished is somehow being ‘better.’ When you have special-needs kids, you realize immediately that intelligence in merely another gift that you’re lucky enough to get – but not a God-given right. It’s surely as much of a fluke as being good-looking. A sharp intellect is a gift, nothing you deserve, just something you’re lucky to have. Other human qualities are more important – love, decency, compassion, goodness, and kindness. My two special-needs kids have those in abundance.” When parenting the special-needs child, love means learning to appreciate each child for who he is, rather than what he can or cannot do.

Want to read more? Just head over to CatholicMom.com and check it out. While you’re there, you might appreciate another CatholicMom.com post, “Prayer for Families Touched by Autism.”

Miracle Monday: “Strong Women and Holy Mothers”

mother teresa windowToday I’d like to share with you a lovely post I found over at “Happy Catholic,” who writes about Drana Bojaxhiu, the mother of Blessed Mother Teresa (patroness of foster families).

Favorite quote: 

Mother Teresa said her mother used to tell her: “When you do good, do it quietly, as if you were tossing a pebble into the sea.” That is a beautiful image of the hidden life. Of the life lived totally in the presence of God. It reminds me of what St. John the Baptist said: “[Christ] must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).

Now … go and read the rest!

Miracle Monday: “Aren’t I Beautiful?”

Today I stumbled on this story from columnist Joe Orso (LaCrosse Tribune), who talks about a teacher who finds a naked kindergarten child with Down Syndrome in a school bathroom . . . and who still remembers the inspiring encounter years later. I thought I’d pass along the joy! Click here: share

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Miracle Monday: Teaching Our Kids to Handle Adversity

At the website for Psychology Today, Francis Beckwith’s sister Elizabeth blogs about her new book, Raising the Perfect Child Through Guilt and Manipulation (HarperCollins).

Recalling the “sting of gender misidentification” in which her mother responsed to an emotionally charged situation in her teenage daughter’s life with calming (albeit a tad catty) advice, Ms. Beckwith reminds us all of the nature of good parenting: teaching our children to negotiate the landminds (even those of our own unintentional making) until they are strong enough to do it alone.

In the words of my kids’ Vice Principal: “How are kids ever going to learn to handle adversity if they never encounter any?”

Reading Ms. Beckworth’s blog, I was immediately reminded of a disasterous haircut of my own — seventh grade, I think — involving a pair of pinking sheers. Not a pretty sight — had to walk with my head tilted to one side to make my bangs look straight until they grew long enough to cut!

For all you parents out there who wonder how your kids are going to survive your parenting efforts: Take heart! With any luck, most of them won’t grow up to write a book about it!