Category Archives: fathers

Maybe that wasn’t the best tactic, after all?

Have you ever entered into a conversation with a loved one, only to have it turn into something very negative?

A while ago, DH and I were talking about Christmas traditions that each of our respective families celebrated when we were growing up. If I had to characterize the differences, it would be best to say that the celebrations in my family where more Christ-centered, while DH’s family was more family-centered. That’s not to say that my family ignored the family aspect of Christmas and it’s not to say that DH’s family ignored the Christ aspect of Christmas, but it is to say that the emphasis was placed differently and we both have pleasant memories of Christmas and want to bring both of our traditions to the plate and meld them seamlessly.

So that’s how the conversation started. It finished not so civilly.

It’s no secret that DH and I are in different places on our spiritual journey, couple that with our personalities and you get a hot mess. According Myers-Briggs typology, I am an ESTJ. If you know me personally, that should not be a surprise. For those of you not well acquainted with me here are some ESTJ characteristics:

ESTJs are practical, realistic, and matter-of-fact, with a natural head for business or mechanics. Though they are not interested in subjects they see no use for, they can apply themselves when necessary. They like to organize and run activities. ESTJs make good administrators, especially if they remember to consider others’ feelings and points of view, which they often miss. (Myers-Biggs description, emphasis mine.)

ESTJs are civic-minded individuals who dedicate themselves to maintaining the institutions behind a smooth-running society. They are defenders of the status quo and strong believers in rules and procedures. ESTJs are outgoing and do not hesitate to communicate their opinions and expectations to others. (Keirsey description, emphasis mine.)

ESTJs thrive on order and continuity. Being extraverted, their focus involves organization of people, which translates into supervision. While ENTJs enjoy organizing and mobilizing people according to their own theories and tactically based agendas, ESTJs are content to enforce “the rules,” often dictated by tradition or handed down from a higher authority.

ESTJs are joiners. They seek out like-minded companions in clubs, civic groups, churches and other service organizations. The need for belonging is woven into the fiber of SJs. The family likewise is a central focus for ESTJs, and attendance at such events as weddings, funerals and family reunions is obligatory.

Service, the tangible expression of responsibility, is another key focus for ESTJs. They love to provide and to receive good service. The ESTJ merchant who provides dependable service has done much to enhance her self image.

ESTJs have an acute sense for orthodoxy. Much of their evaluation of persons and activities reflects their strong sense of what is “normal” and what isn’t. ESTJ humor is frequently centered around something or someone being off center or behaving abnormally. (from typologic.com, emphasis mine)

Also, according to typelogic… Simon Peter was a type ESTJ.

So where does this lead us? Well, DH is not an ESTJ and in fact it would be great if he would find out his typology! But he won’t because he’s not a big fan of that “mumbo-jumbo.” ūüôā

But what did I learn?

1. I am not the boss of others.

2. I cannot impose my will on others.

3. Jesus met people where they were. So should I.

4. God is sovereign and has an ultimate plan that I neither need to know nor am obliged to know the details of.

Now, I know all of this, but it does not make it any easier! I see husbands that are involved with their church and are Catholic/ Christian not just on Sunday and I can’t help but think how great that would be for our family if we were truly united in the faith… if only my husband was as on fire as I am for Christ and for His church. But he is not and no amount of talking, chiding, nagging, conversing, suggesting will change that.

Man does not have the ability to change the heart of another… only Christ can do that.

Do we attend Mass at least 98% of the time as a family? Yes.

Is my husband a good man? Yes.

Does my husband believe in the existence of Christ? I think so.

So, why isn’t that good enough?

I blame my personality.
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How Formula Marketing Came to Be: A Bit of Satire

Scene: The year is 1939. War is raging in Europe We are in a high-rise office over looking the big city. It’s late. There are two men sitting inside, wearing suits and ties and smoking. Because, after all, smoking is cool.¬†

Man 1: So, so, so! (Slapping Man 2 on shoulder) How’s fatherhood treating you?

Man 2: The boy is great! He’s quite the little man, I’ll tell you. Strong, happy but you know what? He takes up all of my wife’s time.

Man 1: (Guffawing) And that’s a bad thing? Take my wife, please!

Man 2: No, I am serious. Every time I look at her, she’s holding him or playing with him or cooing at him or feeding him. He’s only three weeks old, but it’s as if he’s more important than me! The feeding is the worst part… those used to be my toys. (He looks wistfully out the window.)

Man 1: But she’s still fulfilling her wifely duties, right. After all, that’s her job too.

Man 2: (makes a rude noise) NO. Because whenever I start in on her, that baby starts crying or smacking his lips and she’ll push me off to “comfort” him. And when he finally does go to sleep, she tells me that she’s (takes on a whining tone) “tired” and “doesn’t want to be touched anymore right now.” Fine. I won’t touch her, but I have needs too, dammit! (hits the table with fist.)

Man 1: Wow. That baby’s taking over everything. You can’t even touch your wife anymore. (starts laughing)

Man 2: You know it would be just better if there was a way for her not to feel so worn out. I think it’s all the milk the baby takes from her. He’s sucking on her every two hours.

Man 1: You know, that sounds familiar… hold on there, sport. (takes a drag of his cigarette and walks over to a paper-strewn desk. Begins to rifle through the papers.) Here it is! This was submitted a few weeks ago and I didn’t know where to go with it. It’s for an artificial infant feeding mix.

Man 2: How’s that?

Man 1: According to this, it’s based in evaporated milk and has a bunch of other stuff thrown in. I don’t know the science, I am just supposed to sell the stuff.

Man 1: Who’s it for?

Man 2: It’s supposed to be for mothers who can’t make their own milk, but it’s just not selling.

Man 1: If I could get some of that to my wife, I might get her in bed once in a while. I mean if that evaporated milk stuff is as good as her milk and it can buy me some time with her, I am all about it. When is the ad campaign due?

Man 2: (Takes another drag.) It’ll be tight. I have to make the pitch in 2 weeks.

Man 1: OK, let’s work on this. Because you know that ¬†am not the only man out there cast out like a dog because of the baby. We need to figure out a way to make the regular way of feeding seem inconvenient and lower-class. We need to make this stuff sound futuristic and better because it’s made in a factory. How about this, we spin it so that we “Dads” can get more involved (snorts) because we can “help feed the baby” giving our wives more time for themselves! Do you think they’ll buy it?

Man 2: We’re smoking aren’t we? People will buy anything if you sell it right.

(Scene)

OK, yes, this was a little satire… ¬†but for a little history: From Wikipedia:

In parallel with the enormous shift (in industrialized nations) away from breastfeeding to home-made formulas, nutrition scientists continued to analyze human milk and attempted to make infant formulas that more closely matched its composition.[4]¬†Maltose and dextrins were believed nutritionally important, and in 1912, the¬†Mead Johnson Company¬†released a milk additive called¬†Dextri-Maltose. This formula was made available to mothers only by physicians. In 1919, milkfats were replaced with a blend of animal and vegetable fats as part of the continued drive to closer simulate human milk. This formula was called SMA for “simulated milk adapted.”[10]

In the late 1920s,¬†Alfred Bosworth¬†released Similac (for “similar to lactation”), and Mead Johnson released¬†Sobee.[10]¬†Several other formulas were released over the next few decades, but commercial formulas did not begin to seriously compete with evaporated milk formulas until the 1950s. The reformulation and concentration of Similac in 1951, and the introduction (by Mead Johnson) of Enfamil in 1959 were accompanied by marketing campaigns that provided inexpensive formula to hospitals and pediatricians.[10]¬†By the early 1960s, commercial formulas were more commonly used than evaporated milk formulas, which all but vanished in the 1970s. By the early 1970s, over 75% of babies in the United States were fed on formulas, almost entirely commercially produced.[4]

When birth rates in industrial nations tapered off during the 1960s, infant formula companies heightened marketing campaigns in non-industrialized countries. Unfortunately, poor sanitation led to steeply increased mortality rates among infants fed formula prepared with contaminated (drinking) water.[19] Organized protests, the most famous of which was theNestlé boycott of 1977, called for an end to unethical marketing. This boycott is ongoing, as the current coordinators maintain that Nestlé engages in marketing practices which violate the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes.

I read something somewhere and it much more succinctly sums up the whole breastfeeding/ formula feeding debate. While breastmilk is superior, Formula is not bad. Formula has helped countless babies over the years who otherwise might have fared worse. Formula Marketing is the problem.

Now, people could say that breastfeeding doesn’t need to be marketed, because it’s always there, but what does need to be marketed is how breastfeeding is a normal activity and not sexual and not deviant. We need to market that if you want to breastfeed your child, and you need help, find help and we need to market where that help can be found.

When I was pregnant with The Bear in 2006/7, I remember on my first office visit walking out with a book about fetal development and formula samples. No information about La Leche League or other breastfeeding support groups, nothing. On one of the later visits, when I made my breastfeeding intentions known, I walked about with the “Just in Case” sample bag with the cute little “Breastfeeding Kit” tag. It was a shoulder bag filled with formula samples… just in case I needed it. Again, nothing on breastfeeding support.

Why do moms fail with breastfeeding? Because they don’t have help and they don’t know where to find help. I chatted with a young mom at the park last week. She had a four month old with her and she nursed baby for one month. When I told her I was a volunteer working with nursing moms, she told me that she stopped nursing because baby would choke, cough and pull off whenever she tried to nurse, so she thought that something was wrong with her milk! (Any thoughts as to what was going on? Sounds a bit like oversupply to me.) Had this mom been with a group of ¬†other breastfeeding moms she might have been able to nurse her baby a little bit longer, maybe even to her goal of six months.

I know that it sounds like a radical departure for a self-professed lactivist, but again… formula in and of itself if not bad. But the marketing sure is. And I am sure that sexually-deprived ad men are not to blame for formula marketing, but it does make for an interesting plot device, no?
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Tomorrow is the last day to enter to win “The Invisible World!” Click here to find out how to enter. I’m drawing the winner tomorrow!!

Pax Christi!

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Until we meet again, Father

Yesterday was the last regular Mass at St. Joe’s for Father Martin. He celebrated the 6:30a Mass and then there was a little reception afterward. What was kind of funny, besides this mama hustling two children under the age of 4 out of the door at 6:20a to get to church was the fact that because the floors in the main church were being redone, Mass was being held in a side room… a room that could comfortably hold maybe 50-70 people.

While quarters were cozy, it really made the Mass that much more special and intimate. Sometimes, Mass can kind of take on an impersonal feel when you are in this huge, cavernous Cathedral, when you feel so small that you don’t think that you even matter, but being at a celebration of Mass in this smaller room made me think that was how Mass was originally celebrated… 2000+ years ago.

So there we were, all snug together. Actually, I arrived a bit late with the girls (we arrived right after the opening prayer) and I need to make a quick trip down the rabbit trail: I kind of forgot that Mass was in the other room and so we get there and of course, there are no open seats. But no fewer than three (3!) gentlemen offered their seats (almost simultaneously) to us when we arrived. It was very kind, not that it would have been an issue to stand with the girls, but it is a bit easier to corral them, so to speak if I can hold them on my lap. OK, back to the point at hand. The room was warm and Father’s voice was so clear and everyone could hear. There were no kneelers, so technically we could have all stood for the consecration, but most everyone knelt right there on the ground. And as soon as it started, it was done (as weekday Masses go) and it was time to say, “Until we meet again.”

Father Martin will be missed by the people of St. Joe’s but I know that he will not be far away. After all, it’s not like he’s headed to Rome (yet?) Plus, he’s the Godfather of one the the children of one of my BFFs, so I am sure I’ll see him around there. (In case you are counting, yes, I have more than one BFF. I don’t believe in only having one as they all bring something special to my life. In my mind, a BFF is someone you could consider more like a sibling than just a friend.)

And for Father Martin:

May the road rise to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

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Pax Christi!

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Top Ten Things to say to encourage a nursing mother

It’s Time for another List!! Part of me is thinking about making Thursday my “List Day.” My post about breastfeeding this week kind of got me thinking about some of the other “booby-traps” that moms run into, and negative comments tend to be right up there. Honestly, I think it’s because people just don’t know what to say to a nursing mom. Here’s an idea: Just talk to her like you would any other mom. The fact that she is nourishing her child with breastmilk shouldn’t sway your conversation (and that applies if she is nursing right next to you or just nursing in general.)

Top Ten Things to Say to Encourage a Nursing (or Any) Mother

10. You are doing great!

9. What can I do to help you out right now?

8. Can I make you dinner tonight?

7. Would you like a glass of water?

6. You been nursing for (2 weeks, 6 weeks, 8 months, 3 years)? Congratulations!

5. Nurse where ever or how ever you are most comfortable.

4. Your baby looks very happy/content.

3. Any amount of breastmilk your baby receives is fantastic for his health.

2. Formula and Breastmilk can work together, it doesn’t have to be ‘all or nothing.’

1. I am here if you need me, even if it’s just to listen.

I know that it sounds kind of counter-intuitive, coming from a self-professed “lactivist,” but I have really been thinking about why I began breastfeeding and why I wanted to help other mother’s breastfeed. I believe that breastmilk is superior to formula but I am also a realist knowing that not all moms will make the choice to stay home with their children (or that it is financially feasible.) So if I mom decides that pumping her milk for while she is away is too much of a hassle and would rather use formula when she is away, that is what works best for their family.

But there is the flip-side, I do believe that more should be done to remove some of the barriers that impede the efforts of nursing mothers. I mean, you figure if a mom wants to nurse her child exclusively for 9 months and goes back to work when the baby is 3 months old, she’s requiring time to pump for 6 months. When that comes up, all of a sudden there are calls about how it’s not fair that this mom has to have:

1.) time to pump

2.) a private location to pump that’s not her car

3.) storage for the milk (optional)

I think back to when I was working (before teaching) and our workplace was smoke-free, when the smokers could go out willy-nilly to have a “smoke-break” in addition to their mandated breaks. Did I think that it was fair that me, as a non-smoker, didn’t have that luxury? No, I didn’t think that it was fair, but to be honest, I was happy that I wasn’t saddled with a nicotine addiction, so it was a wash. But we have to remember, fair does not mean equal. ¬†When I was teaching, I used an easy way to illustrate this: Is it fair that I have to wear glasses while my BFF has perfect vision? No. Should I stop correcting my vision or should she wear corrective lenses so we are equal? No.

When my DDs were little, they both wore a cheeky one-sie that we bought in Chicago. It read:

” Thank You for not giving my parents unsolicited advice.”

I think new parents are so bombarded with advice, that they forget to follow their God-given instinct. Mothering is hard enough as it is and we make it harder by always wanting to either out-do each other by being the “better mother” or by thinking that somehow we are doing something wrong because we are not following the latest expert advice to a “T.”

But I think the best thing you can say to any mother is:

You baby/ children is/ are beautiful and you all look very happy.

And that’s music to any mother’s ears.
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What’s the best or worst advice you received as a new mom, nursing or not? Share below!!

Pax Christi!

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A letter to His daughters

Father’s Day is right around the corner and I thought that this would be the perfect time to share this one with you. This coming Saturday will be the last Mass, at our Parish for one of our priests, Father Christopher Martin. He has been appointed to a new position within the Archdiocese as the Director of the Office of Vocations. While he will be very much missed at our church, he is going to excel in his new role… especially since he is such a shining example of the priesthood. You can read a little about him, right here.

Anyway, about two years ago, I worked with Father Martin organizing a series of talks for the women of our Parish. The four talks revolved around the phases of life that a woman goes through and how it parallels her spiritual life. The topics were:

1. Daughter of God

2. The Wifely Vocation

3. Mothering

4. Being a Child of the Spirit

The talks were fantastic because we were challenged to look at ourselves in different ways, to look at ourselves through the eyes of our Heavenly Father and it was also a gentle reminder that we are called to be wives and mothers, that we don’t just choose that route. Just as easily as I was called to matrimony, I could have instead been called to be a religious sister.

For me, the highlight of the “Daughter of God” talk was a letter that Father Martin read to us. Let me explain the origin of the letter. He told us he was sitting in Adoration, praying for wisdom and guidance as to what to say to the women. (If you are a non-Catholic reader, Adoration is a time when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed and one has the chance to sit in the Holy Presence of Jesus. It sounds odd if you have never experienced it, but once you have experienced it, it is amazing!) He said that he began writing and writing and when he stopped, a letter was on his notepad. For you skeptics out there, I personally have experienced this in Adoration. While everyone experiences Christ differently, I always take pen and paper because my questions and concerns are written out for me. It’s hard to describe, but I can really tell the difference from my¬†own thoughts and the thoughts that are coming from God. I asked Father Martin if I could share the letter with you because I refer to it often. I have it printed on pretty cardstock and it hangs where I can see it in my bedroom. It’s great for a pick-me-up when I am down and Father says to share away as the words are God’s words, not his.

So without further ado, here’s the letter. Share it as you please, but please do not change the wording. And if you are asked where it came from, you can attribute it to “God, as given to one of his young priests in St. Louis.”

Postmark: Heaven 2009

To my dearest daughter,

How pleased I am with you, and with this opportunity I have to speak with you directly! My voice is often drowned out by the busyness of your life, but even greater still by the lies that you have been told and begun to believe about yourself, and in turn, about me. So let me be clear…

You are beautiful. You are the masterpiece of my creation. You are not an afterthought or a solution to a problem. You are my delight. Before time began I loved you and I love you still. You are beautiful because I am beautiful and you are a reflection of me. If only you could see yourself as I see you! Your body expresses life; receptive and nurturing. Your soul reveals my wisdom, my compassion and my grace. You heart reveals my mystery. You are gloriously mysterious, and I alone comprehend the fullness of your mystery.

You are worthy of my love. You are desirable. You are my desire. My enemy has attacked you through the actions and inactions of some of my sons. Their own struggle with self-worth, insecurity and weakness gives rise to objectification, neglect and abuse toward your beauty. Do you see how these wounds affect you? Their doubts cause doubt within you. But I have no doubts, no regrets. The shortcomings of men do not define you. I define you. I am wiser, stronger and greater than any man. For I am Wisdom, I am Strength, I am Greatness and I delight in you.

Allow my Son to heal you. His love is my love. His healing touch is my healing touch. He is the true man. He restores you and makes you new. With Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him, for He speaks Our truth… Your truth. He stands before me now and speaks of you. I send Him to you so that you may know this important truth: You are not alone. You are not abandoned, nor will you ever be. We are with you always, my dear one. You are my precious daughter, and that will never change.

Looking forward to having you home,

Dad

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Happy early Father’s Day! And Thank You, Father Martin!!

Pax Christi!

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