Of sacrifice, suffering, and skipping Starbucks

Every week day, I pack up my two kids and drop my husband off at a train station about 20 minutes away. Then we pick him up again at the end of the day. We commute with my husband, sort of. He commutes much farther to NYC… but we commute too.

Back to our weekly routine… picking Daddy up at the train station #njtransit #commute #hardworkingman #family

A post shared by Michelle (@a_meal_shared) on

The other day we were picking Bodie up from his train and it was later in the day than usual, the kids were crankier than usual, and there were no parking spaces at this particular station. So I’m just doing the carpool circlin’ thing and I get this text…

“Train’s stopped, not sure for how long.” or something like that. Ugh.

I thought, noooo not today! Not on this day that is already late, and with fussy babies and no parking places! Typing it out now it sounds silly. That text could have been something MUCH worse, it wasn’t so bad, but at the time it seemed pretty bad.

So I start thinking to myself, I could go to the drive through Starbucks and get a really delicious caffeinated treat. Yum. Oh I don’t drink coffee anymore. Well, when we lived in LA and I was pregnant, I used to go to the McDonald’s drive thru (I know, worst mom ever) and get those little McD’s soft serve ice cream cones… I could go get one of those now!

So I sat there, thinking about treats I could give myself to make myself feel better about the suffering I’d have to endure waiting for my husband. And then I stopped. Because that seemed so… kind of wrong.

I thought about suffering. I thought about why we suffer. I thought about sacrifice. I thought that actually,  I was being pretty silly and my husband’s train would start moving soon. We would all be just fine. I didn’t need to panic and go find something to make myself feel better right now.

This small example is relevant on a much larger scale.  We humans sometimes have this constant need to fill our lives with joyful things; to avoid sacrifice, to escape our troubles and sorrows both big and small. But those escapes, the things we fill that hole with are never enough. They always make us feel worse. We can only truly be fulfilled by accepting our suffering both big and small (and really, really tiny as this ended up being).

healing, suffer, suffering, sacrifice, parenting, family, life, chrustianity, catholocism

Christianity delves deeper into this suffering and sacrifice and rightly notes that by doing this, we are drawn closer to God, and to goodness. In practice, offering up my own little sufferings and not trying to fill my life with things that bring me immediate joy only to disappoint me later has brought many cathartic tears, and much true happiness.

On that day at that train station, it turned out that I had misread my husband’s text. He had said that the train was stopped, but he didn’t think it would be for long, and they weren’t far away. He came home, the kids didn’t totally fall apart.

If I’d sought out immediate gratification, perhaps the caffeine or sugar would have made me cranky. Perhaps I wouldn’t have been back in time to meet his train arrival. Perhaps lots of things, but it definitely wouldn’t have made me truly happy. Being willing to endure suffering gives us peace, real peace, peace that is not rocked by minor upsets or even major problems.

Continue Reading

You know, he’s a boy.

Last night I was writing to my mother in law, who is coming to visit soon.

I wrote, “You are visiting at a great time. James now gives hugs and kisses.He also pulls hair, punches, and kicks… you know, he’s a boy.”

Then I paused. He’s a boy. And boys will be boys, right? If he was a girl, would I accept his playful punches, or correct them? Am I teaching my son that I will tolerate these things?

He is five months old. He has a sweet little loving heart and he sometimes doesn’t know his own strength. He definitely doesn’t yet understand that with strength, comes responsibility.

Tonight we went to a restaurant, and my strong, curious, little boy pulled our waitresses hair, broke a ceramic spoon, and then broke a plate. It was one of the most embarrassing experiences of my mom life to date.

13652952_1122320261162946_7696546170526495725_o

And yet, it is on me. I let him too near the table, twice. I haven’t taught him that he can’t do these things. I have thought to myself “he’s just a baby” or “he’s such a boy” and made excuses instead of teaching him not to hit or grab.

And, he is just a baby, but better for me to learn this now and begin to teach him, than start when it’s too late. My corrections may go over his sweet little head for a bit, but eventually they’ll stick.

My son may be a boy, and act like one… but I will not excuse myself from raising him well from the time he is young . I will up my parenting game and teach him to know his strength and to use it responsibly.

Continue Reading

Family homeschooling, thrush, and successful homemade pizza

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links, which basically means if you buy something from Amazon after clicking my link, I get a small commission. All thoughts, opinions, etc. are honest and my own.

1. homeschooling successes

Miriam can find Waldo. All credit to her, and to Grandma who introduced Miri to the Where’s Waldo book. Last night she also had much success with the Highlights version of this game, and seems to finally be old enough for some of the stories and activities in the magazine. Bodie’s teaching addition and subtraction, and we’re also learning about color patterns using these big blocky lego things.

2. thrush

We’ve got it, or at least James does. I hear it’s really hard to get rid of? How bad is this going to get folks? So far, we’re all fine, James is taking medicine and I’ll eat some extra yogurt or something.

3. family time outside

flag outdoor spring playhouse toddler
and some good ol’ fashioned patriotism
Continue Reading

My huge baby, a few favorites, and weekly meal plan

This post contains an Amazon Affiliate link, which basically means if you buy something from Amazon after clicking my link, I get a small commission. All thoughts, opinions, etc. are honest and my own.

week in review

big grumpy baby
big grumpy baby

1.  My huge baby is huge. At his one month check up he’d gained just about 2 lbs above his birth weight, some of which he lost in those early few days. He’s sleepin’ great (I highly recommend letting your child cluster feed all evening… as annoying as it is, I get to sleep at night!) and we love discovering new things about him every day. For example, I now know that when he won’t eat and starts to flail around and punch my chest, it means he wants to be burped.

2.  Blogging looks a little bit like this:

mom life nursing oatmeal real life keeping it real
what? you don’t usually blog while nursing and eating cold oatmeal?
Continue Reading

Welcome sweet boy! Baby James’ birth story

Welcome to the world James! We love you so much already, and you aren’t even a week old.

welcome james birth story oh the simple joys second child postpartum childbirth

James was born Tuesday, January 26 at 2:04pm in the afternoon. He was an unexpected 10 lbs 7 oz, and 23.25 inches long!

My OB had mentioned to me, “I don’t think you grow little babies” (Miriam was 8lb 9 oz) but truly we were all surprised by how big he was. 

The week James was born was the most incredible week of my life. Bodie and I got married! Then there was a huge blizzard. Then baby James was born! All in one week. I’ll share more details about those things later, this post is all about our new little one.

And now for his birth story…

Monday I did some serious nesting, in fact I think I nested myself right into labor. I was setting up the guest room / kids’ room, sorting baby clothes, etc. and just as I was grabbing some empty diaper packages to recycle, my water broke right there in front of the changing table. I had just said to Bodie “We need to get this, this and this done before your parents and the baby come”, and then next thing I was screaming for him from the other room to tell him my water broke.

Continue Reading
1 2 3 6