Saturday, February 14, 2009

My Valentine

It was a great day. First and foremost, Zoe joined in the family, playing ultimate frisbee, going out for ice cream (a Federoff tradition- Matt and I met over ice cream on Valentine's Day!) She skipped like a kid. It was lovely to see. I need to keep finding ways to work on our relationship. It all keeps going back to unconditional love. Wow, thats hard. Nothing erudite to say about it- just do it.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Thy Will Be Done

“We must consider that there is no vocation that has not it’s irksome aspects, its bitterness, and disgusts. And, what is more, except for those who are fully resigned to the Will of God, each one would willingly change his condition for that of others: those who are bishops would like not to be; those who are married would like not to be; and those who are not married would like to be. Whence comes this general disquietness of souls, if not from a certain dislike of constraint and a perversity of spirit that makes us think that each one is better off than we?
But it all comes to the same: whoever is not fully resigned, let him turn himself here or there, he will never have rest...
But this is not all: we must not only do the Will of God, but in order to be devout, we must do it joyfully.... not only am I obliged to do what this trying vocation requires, but I must do it joyously, and must take pleasure in it and be contented. It is the saying of St. Paul “Let each one stay in his vocation before God.” (1 Cor 7:24)

How could I let the feast day of St. Francis de Sales (patron of writers) pass without notice?

I am trying to resign myself to this new aspect of life- living with a distant, belligerent, anorexic daughter who is weight restored but far from healthy and happy. I miss the chaotic predictability of mothering a large family- I’ve exchanged it for the certainty of relying on God’s grace for the moment. I miss the hopeful expectation that God will work miracles in each child’s life- I’ve exchanged it for the certainty that each life will have it’s own tribulations. I miss joy- and I haven’t found it’s equal yet in doing the hard Will of God.... but I’d like to.

Sometimes I have doubted my vocation as wife and mother. St. Francis would not approve.

There have been many dark moments these past 2 months. Sadly, I’ve noticed that when I am deep, deep down in the well of misery, my daughter is at her most clear headed, but as soon as I start to pull myself together, she slides back down. Maybe she enjoys berating me up when I’m down and showing her maturity in the face of my raw, uncontrolled instability. My poor husband has felt alone. My other children have been bewildered and saddened by the stranger who looks like mommy, but cries and screams and beats her head against a wall... who can’t make simple decisions for fear of making a bad parenting call and scarring their little psyches... who constantly second guesses what the “right” response is to any interaction with each child. I have doubted, not God’s love for me, but my ability to respond to that love. I have despaired. I have been on my knees at 2 a.m. I have had to repeat like a mantra “Mercy, Lord, mercy, have mercy on me, let this pass, mercy Lord.” I never felt the pressure to be perfect before, but now I’m scared that unless I DO make all the right choices for my children, they will wind up as unhinged as Zoe. And that has unhinged me.

But I have been alright for most of this week. God sent me Darlene, Christy, Amy, Amanda, and Chris. George was awakened by his Gaurdian Angel at 2 a.m. to pray for us 60 miles away. Regina told me “I think it is the hardest thing in the world to accept criticism of yourself as a  parent because, like marriage, it is a job that is so hard and in which no one is ever perfect. We are trying to image the divine: of COURSE we are going to fail.” AND, Noah had his First Communion, so of course we’ve had special graces. Kim assures me “this is a time of pruning.” And I have taken to heart the cousel of St. John Bosco to practice “Reason, religion, kindness” in my dealings with my children. All except Zoe. I can’t seem to make a bridge to her that is fireproof.

So my vocation is to practice unconditional love, like God has for me when I am distasteful to Him. The child who needs my love the most is the one who pushes me away the most, and that I find most irksome. Go figure. But I keep trying again.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Mirror, mirror on the wall.... (or, we need a couple of screws loose)

Oh dear. This is amazing. Zoe believes her head is too small for her body. Its called "Body Dimorphic Disorder" and she is on anti-psychotics for it. Trust the experts, right? More therapy.... good drugs... thats what she needs. NOT! 12-year-old little sister comes to us and says "Hey, I KNOW why Zoe thinks her head is too small.... it's the mirror in our room. It's like a funhouse mirror. Dad put the top screws into the wall too tight, so it's warped. It makes your head look small!" (Dad had put this mirror up in the girl's room about 2-3 years ago, and hasn't touched it since!) SO, dad fixed it the night before we brought Zoe home, and now it gives a MUCH truer image of head-size and shape. It was just a matter of loosening the screws.

Sadly, the damage has been done, and Zoe still believes her head is the wrong proportion. Its hard to remove a belief so easily that has stuck in your head for years.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Still a Rebel.... at 40!

Well, THANKFULLY family week at Remuda Ranch is over. It was brutal. The other families who shared our week only got to see our family through the eyes of our ill daughter. When it was their turn to tell us their opinions of our family, (mostly negative, in the sense that we try to hard) it was mercifully cut short by time constraints. My head and stomach are still churning from the experience. I came home unsure of how to parent, for every decision I made seemed to have such possibilities to be misconstrued, fall short, or be more than necessary.... depending on my intent and how the actions were received. In other words, I came home constantly second-guessing if I was doing the right thing. Do I let the child cry over spilt milk, and thus express negative emotions.... or do I try to help them learn optimism and risk the accusation of putting a good face on a situation that is false? Do I have standards for behavior and set the bar high.... or do I let the kids do what they feel like and risk latter that they resent me for not teaching them social niceties? Do I use nicknames, as we have always done, or are they demeaning? Needless to say, I cried for about 48 hours straight when I got home. Freaked out my kids. Took a walk on our country road in the pitch black night, praying for 4 miles that the wandering mountain lion or rattlesnake would relieve me of my misery. Came home unscathed and disappointed. It was a sucky 40th birthday. At moments, I thought how symmetrical it would be to have the same dates for birth and death on my tombstone.

BUT I am coming out of the fog. More on specifics latter. But I am humbled by the prayers of friends, and I want you to know that Zoe tells us she is 90% committed to recovery. If I had to go through hell and be humbled to give her a shot at regaining life, then I don't care if a bunch of families I'll never see again think I am a nutcase.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


I'd LIKE to be reading "The Brothers Karamazov." I'll probably take it with me for Family Week at Remuda next week. But, at present and for the forseeable future, I'm reading the above book and finding some comfort in it.... though not as much comfort as I find in "The Brothers Karamazov." Dostoevsky speaks to my heart of the evil in the world, and our part in it- our possibility, every moment until death- of our redemption if we just accept it. Hmmmm maybe these two book WILL have something in common.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Happy Birthday baby daughter!

My littlest girl turned 9! (The four babies after her were all boys, which I used too think quite unfair of God, but after dealing with oldest girl, I am GRATEFUL for boys!!!) Belle is a ray of sunshine, compassionate, intuitive, optimistic. Neat kid! Happy birthday, darling!