Time Out For Mommy!

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To My Children On Mother’s Day

12 May, 2019
JoAnne
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Dedicated to my husband who made me a Mom, to all of my beautiful children and to all of the Moms out there rockin this Mom gig! Happy Mother’s Day!

You were conceived in my mind before you were ever actually conceived.

I always wanted to be a Mommy.

When I was a little girl I loved playing with baby dolls and real babies.

When I grew up I spent a lot of time roaming the world to figure out what God had in store for me always thinking, in the back of my mind, that YOU were part of His plan.

There were times when I questioned God and did not think it would happen; it being finding the right man to be the gift of your Father.

But of course I would find your Daddy in His house, at Church!

We knew that we both wanted children and Daddy always said that he wanted a football team and some cheerleaders.

Fun fact: did you know that NFL football teams have a total of 53 players? So I guess Daddy can still say this! (giggle)

What we didn’t know is that God would give us our firstborn, Peter, pretty much right away after we were married!

And, as you know very well, the rest continued to follow…Anthony, Maria, Bella, Nicholas and Thomas, Andrew, Joseph, Philip and now Christian.

How we were and are blessed! God has been so good to us!

I never could have prepared myself for soooo many things…

During pregnancy:

  • My body stretching so much!
  • My weight gain!
  • My back pain! There were times I could not walk…
  • My sinus and head pain! There were times I could not get out of bed…
  • My nausea and tummy issues! Forget about it! This was the worst when I had it!
  • My sleepless nights!
  • Peeing so much!
  • Sleeping so much!
  • Relying on Daddy so much!
  • Constantly worrying if you were OK because you didn’t kick enough…
  • Worrying because the Doctors would tell me one thing (but you would end up perfect!).
  • The utter fear and panic of going through labor and delivery every single time.
  • Having oxygen masks on my face to help you because your heart was decelerating!
  • Being cut open for an emergency C-section!

And so many other pregnancy symptoms!

After pregnancy:

  • The awful recovery of a C-section!
  • Other painful issues associated with recovery!
  • Having my boobies in so much pain from nursing!
  • Not being able to nurse!
  • ALWAYS nursing!
  • Not being able to sleep at all!
  • Staying and worrying in the hospital extra days because you needed more help.
  • Visiting the NICU when Nicholas had issues!
  • Thinking you would die of a virus I had no control over.
  • Suffering from postpartum depression and anxiety and experiencing the worst year of my life…

After postpartum:

  • Raising you! What the heck am I doing? How do I do this?
  • Trying to understand your different cries, needs and wants.
  • Trying to navigate being sleep deprived, working for a job and making sure all of your needs were met for ALL of you.
  • Feeling guilty for working and not being home with you all the time.
  • Working too much – in the house and for my job.
  • Worrying in the night about things I said or did wrong.
  • Not being a good example to you.
  • Not spending enough time with you collectively or one-on-one.
  • Failing to teach you better.
  • Praying you would turn out ok as children and young adults.
  • Not being the best Mom I should be

And many many more things…

And yet, here we are… Me and You. All beautiful TEN of you.

Some women can’t even have one.

Some women lose their babies.

Some women take their babies lives before they are born.

And yet somehow I am here FULLY BLESSED with all of you.

And guess what? I would not take it back for a second…

And I would do it all over again. And again.

There may have been a lot that comes along with getting the title of Mommy but there is no job the earth as rewarding.

I may look in the mirror and not recognize myself most days.

I may want to be someone else or look like someone else.

But the wrinkles I have are from the all the joys and sorrows that Motherhood has brought me.

The stretchmarks are signs that my body carried you and nurtured you.

My sagging boobies are proof that I fed you.

My overused and abused uterus represents NINE pregnancies and TEN beautiful children.

No, I am not the same person inside or out. I am completely different. I am better because of you…because of being your Mommy and for that I am eternally grateful to you.

So no matter what I say or how I act, and no matter where I am in this world or the next – with you or without you – just know that I am and will always be very proud of you and to be called your Mother. Thank you for the gift of life times ten. Thank you for being you. Thank you for putting up with me. Thank you for all you do for me and for our family and your siblings. I love you, my children, more than you will ever completely fathom. My life is yours; now, always and forever.

  • Mom – XOXO

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Loss continued…

19 Nov, 2018
JoAnne
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One day you are here the next you are not.

One day I am blogging a lot the next day not so much.

For seven months I have, as always, have blog ideas in my head…I even have some written out in my head.

But, I don’t want to write… You were my number one fan; always either commenting on my blog posts or commenting about them in email or on the phone. You are a writer…You were a writer… That is where I get my love of writing from.

I fear if I write it would almost take away from your death. Writing is therapy for me and maybe I am not ready to give up…to let go.

I loved to write. All the time… even just in my journal but not anymore.

You left and I went through a really bad time. I think maybe the only reason my heart did not stop beating was because I had a baby inside me waiting to be born. And…go figure he reminds me of you. His little face has some of your expressions at times and it’s wonderful in the most sad way ever if that makes any sense…

I knew God before you left. I clung to God after you passed. I found God in a new way for many months and then there was nothing. Physically I was better but spiritually there was nothing really there. I am not sure why…

I am happy…I feel good and I am sure that is in thanks to you…in to what work you are doing from the other side. However, every single day there is a hole left in my heart. Only one who has suffered loss understands that. Yes, “it changes and things get better and you learn to live without that person in your life” BUT…it’s still hard and I find myself wanting you back…wanting a sign of you…wanting to know where it is that you are? You can’t be unhappy in heaven but how does one whose loved ones are suffering “enjoy” the afterlife? How is that even possible.

Thanksgiving is in a few days and that was one of your favorite holidays. It will clearly not be the same without you. Who will I call the morning of to ask how long I should bake my turkey? Even though there is google… I called every year and asked the same questions. How do you make your gravy again? Though I know how to… I’ll be thinking of you when we eat and especially when we have our leftovers which was always your favorite part. I miss you Daddy. I love you. Thanks for taking care of us from wherever you are… #ripdaddy

The Day I Found Out My Daddy Passed Away…

18 May, 2018
JoAnne
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Sunday night…8:45 p.m. I had just finished talking to my oldest son about life…

I decided to go to bed and I shut my phone off.

First night in who knows how long that I actually do not wake up in the middle of the night nor turn on my phone to browse the net.

Nope, the only night I sleep soundly and flip on my phone at 5:30 to a frightening text message from my sister from the night before around 9:30 p.m. – A mere half an hour after I went to bed…

“Call me ASAP! It’s Dad!!!”

What a frightening message… no voicemail and yet what I didn’t realize is that there was a voicemail from my BIL and from my brother as well as several Facebook messages.

I immediately call my sister’s cell phone – knowing she is normally up or about to get up at that hour- and no answer. WTH?

So I called my Dad’s line (my parent’s house line which is stored as “Dad” in my phone). My oldest Brother answers the phone…

“Kevin, why are you answering Dad’s phone?” I think I asked him twice before he could manage to get the words out… “It’s Dad, JoAnne…he’s gone.” I immediately jump up from my sit in the room off the master suite and I burst open the door, flicking on the light and hap hazardly making my way to the edge of the bed next to my husband who has jumped up in a frantic because of my screaming. “What??? What do you mean, “Dad’s gone?” WHAT DO YOU MEAN, KEVIN?! As I sit there on the bed he calmly begins to tell me the story and as he does so my fingers are practically into the sheetrock of my walls as I grip the wall for bearing all the while trying to process what he is saying. My Mother picks up the phone half awake and I just continue to ball my eyes out, breathing heavy and trying to get the word out, “Mom!” It was the most profound way I have ever uttered the word, the beloved title of the woman who is closest to my heart. I honestly do not really remember what I said but I think I was asking her if she was ok or something to that affect. My brother tells her he will inform me what happened and she can get on the phone in a little bit if she wants. I did not realize they had just gone to bed about 3:00 a.m. so everyone was out of it.

My brother explained to me what happened. As I listened my husband sat next to me and though my phone was not on speakerphone he gathered what happened and pulled his hoody over his head and just started crying. To see my big strong man like that is a sight I don’t want to see again. I have seen him cry before for other reasons…injustice, sin in the world, etc. but this cry and pain was unlike I have ever seen before in him and we have been married for almost 13 years so…yeah, you can only imagine.

After my brother told me what happened my sister got on the phone. The sister who originally called me. They were trying to console me but nothing they or anyone could do would console me. My world was utterly shattered and no amount of tears or silence could ever reflect what was going on in the depths of my being.

My mother got back on the phone and she was very calm. I am sure looking back that it was that she was in a state of shock but also, I will say that since the manner he passed in was so very peaceful and because she is such a pillar of faith her calmness was validated in that way.

Because of the time and because they were all so sleep deprived I had to get off the phone so as to get my children ready for school. I got off the phone and broke down in the arms of my husband. It did not last long because I was in mom mode so I had to get moving timewise. I remember standing in the shower after that, water coming down on me and just feeling like my knees and legs would not support me. I was standing there crying, “oh Daddy! Daddy!”

I got out of the shower and I informed my husband that we were not telling my kids just yet. They would not be able to focus on school or anything and I still had to process everything. Originally our friend Wendy offered to pick me up and bring to my parent’s which was about an hour away. It sounded good because I did not think I could drive. But then I decided I just wanted to be alone and so I decided I would try to drive myself.

As I was downstairs with the kids getting them ready I remember vividly blank staring into the abyss and so much and for so long maybe that my eldest son actually came over to me and asked me if I was ok. He broke my trance which was good and I continued on getting everything and everyone ready and out of the house.

My husband and I finally got everyone on their way and I opted to leave early to go to the Church to pray while he took the day off to take the kids to school. I arrived at the Church all glad in black and crying, of course. There was only one woman in the Church and the Church was dark (as in it was barely lit-how apropos). The woman was just about to pray the rosary so my timing was great. I knelt there in the front pew just crying and crying and I was praying with her in my head because I didn’t feel as if I could speak. I honestly do not even think she knew I was praying with her; just that I was crying. I went from balling to crying lightly to sobbing. Every word of the hail Mary and prayers were heart wrenching. I had never heard nor prayed the rosary that way before. It was intense, “Pray for us sinners now AND AT THE TIME OF OUR DEATH.”

People began to roll into Church, the people who, in one way or another are kinda like my second family since I go to mass there a lot during the week if I am able. They could tell I was crying and I am sure they were wondering why. When the Priest, Father Leo, entered the Church I cleared myself up so as to ask him if I could talk to him after Mass to which he agreed.

I relocated myself to the back of the Church because that is where I sit for Mass. I have my reasons for doing so; it’s not really a preference. At any rate, as I was walking back to the pew I saw a friend of mine, Corey, and he immediately asked what happened. He was the first person I uttered those very sad words to, “My Dad passed away suddenly last night.” Saying those words were like swords in my heart; swords I knew were real but so painful they numbed me as in disbelief. He couldn’t be dead. My Dad could not be dead! But he was…

My husband, older son and younger son arrived at the Church. I entered into the cry room with them but told my husband I would be sitting in the main Church today. This was one Mass that I needed to be focused on or try to for the sake and soul of my Father. Before I left the cry room I told my eldest son to offer his Mass for Beaupa (my Dad). He asked me why and I ignored the question.

Mass began and forget about it – I was a hot mess. If I thought praying the rosary was intense that was nothing compared to the “weight” of the words of the Mass. Death…resurrection…all the time. The whole mass: blaring at me: DEATH, DEATH, and DEATH! I knew at that moment that I would never hear the Mass the same way again (which, in the end, was and is a good thing). Communion…communion with the Saints…that was another whammy for me. Ironically at the time of communion I never felt so far and yet so close to my Daddy. Hard to explain unless you have experienced it.

Mass ended and I went to talk the Priest. I wanted my conversation to be my confession actually because of what had occurred the day my Dad passed away. We had gotten into a fight which I won’t go into but you can read about it here. So I was talking openly and honestly with Father Leo and in between somber looks and chuckling (because the reason we fought was kinda funny especially from a “devout” Catholic standpoint) he listened to me and gave him words of consolation and blessed me. I guess God did not want it to be my confession even though I mentioned it to him. There have been times in my life where the Priest or my spiritual director has refused me absolution because my sins were not sins and maybe I was being too scrupulous.

I left Father Leo and returned to my husband who had informed my eldest son what happened. I guess when I had left the cry room he pressed my husband to tell him why we needed to offer the Mass for Beaupa. I had some moments there in the Church alone with my son and it was heart wrenching. He cried a lot and told me that he knew that Beaupa was in heaven because he was a good man. I nodded my head to console him but didn’t say anything… After some moments together I left him, my husband and my little son so I could go to be with my Mom and siblings. It was very hard to leave them because I wanted to be with them especially to try to offer any strength or consolation if I could because that is how we Mothers are; we console and we rally even in times of utter despair.

Of course the day I found out and after he passed it had to be pouring raining. As if it were hard enough to drive a car with a broken heart and spirit but to deal with it in the pouring rain was no fun. I felt that heaven and the earth were crying with me. Maybe they weren’t but that’s how I felt. It felt like a long drive, a drive in which I just prayed and cried and thought…a lot.

I arrived at my parent’s house and it was surreal. I was surrounded by my three siblings since my other brother was too far away to travel there yet. When I walked in my Mom was already laying out my Dad’s outfit for the viewing. It was like a scene from a movie… I asked my brother to retell me what he was trying to tell me on the phone that morning because it was all kinda a blur. He told me as did my Mom tell me specifically what happened and how my Dad passed. I was numb and consumed with grief from the inside out.

We launched into the role of children…children who had to take care of my Mom and plan the burial of our Father. Unreal. And because they were so sleep deprived and I was so numb there were several times that day and the days to come that nothing made sense to us and we would end up laughing in the most delirious belly laughing way. God is good and gave us many graces and love and laughter to get through…

After a very long day of being at the funeral home and working on funeral plans I headed home. I purposely headed home with enough time before bed so I could tell the kids what happened. I did not originally want to but after talking to my siblings I thought it was best to tell them so as to prepare them for the viewing and Thursday which was a mere three days away.

When I got home I sat the kids down with my husband and told them that I was about to tell them something and that they couldn’t leave the room. They could ask questions or whatever but they couldn’t leave the room. I honestly wish now I would have recorded (audio only) the conversation because I do not remember a lot of it but I know that some things that were said by kids, including my just turned five year old were profound.

I do not remember exactly what I said but something to the effect of, “Yesterday you all had a wonderful day with Beaupa and Bel-Mehr right?” And they all nodded yes. I continued, “Well after they arrived home, Beaupa, right as he was going to bed peacefully passed away.” I waited to see their response which, for the most part was complete tears and crying from everyone including the three year old. I said, “You understand what I mean, Beaupa has died… he is no longer alive.” They did and they cried and cried. They were definitely shocked. We talked through it. Of course some of them immediately talking about purgatory and heaven. One kid would say he was in heaven and another would responds saying, “We don’t know that.” It made me proud to listen to them and thankful for their Catholic education as well as our education as parents. At one point my oldest daughter, age 9 was crying and said, “Why?! Why do we have to die?!” to which my youngest daughter, age 7 said, “Well, let me tell you about that Maria – you see, if Eve didn’t eat the apple none of us would have died! We would have lived forever!” I looked at my husband and was astounded and said, “You are absolutely right Bella.”

After some time talking and hugging and crying I left them to be put to bed by my husband in general because he always does bedtime but also because I was utterly spent from head-to-toe and I was worried about my pregnancy having only been about 16 weeks pregnant. So I went up to my room and just sat there on the couch in the master suite crying and look for and at pictures of my Dad and me.

It’s been almost 6 weeks since my Dad passed away. The time from the day he passed until now is a story for another day…

Rest in peace Daddy.

I love you and miss you so much,

Your Princess Penance and Old Faithful daughter, JoAnne

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The Dream I Had About My Dad

1 May, 2018
JoAnne
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3:38 a.m. April 25, 2018

I was not asleep long. Mom and I had just gotten off the phone around 2:40 a.m. I don’t know what I was dreaming about but I was in the driver’s side of a car (like an old Cadillac) and what appeared like Jacob (from the movie Twilight) appeared without a shirt next to the passenger’s side window. He didn’t say anything and I was afraid. I thought he would hurt me. I asked him, “What are you doing here? What do you want?” He didn’t reply. I do not know if he obsessed with me as in love with me but he seemed obsessed. So I started the car and proceeded forward into what was like a car wash. I knew it was crazy to go in it but I could not go backwards in order to get away from him. Once inside it was like a roller coaster (but in my car)- down, up, around, and I was afraid and thought I might die. I also thought he was chasing me. It was the feeling not that I saw him doing this. I had some type of mask on so I removed it so I could drive, steer and see better. I went downwards and to a place that was like a basement with concrete floors. There was a lot of food stored up there like a pantry in preparation for something. At this point it was almost like I was in a ride and I did not need to control the car…but I could not go fast or slow or stop even if I wanted to. I say this because at one point there was like a mini-altar/shrine to something and I could not read the words quick enough to see what it said but it was as if it was in another language and I did not see my name or anything like that but I was wondering if this was Jacob’s and if it was about me or not but all I know was that it was bad. It was not good. I felt like Jacob was obsessed with me but there was no picture of me. I kept seeing all of this up and down and eventually I was not in a car but up as in up inside above ceiling tiles – the pop up type. I started asking someone who was talking to me but not visible (I do not even know if this person was communicating to me internally meaning without a voice and body). The place where I was had a lot of people. It was very busy, lots of action. There was someone on the ground with a man doing CPR. The man was fat and semi naked but it was not anyone I knew. I asked the person who was with me but not visible, “Where’s Daddy? I want to see my Daddy! I want to see his face.” And then I saw him…he looked exactly like I remember him as a little girl – maybe when I was age 7? He had a suit and tie on and he was working and laughing with people. He looked like the days where he smoked. He was so skinny and he had dark hair and that smile… I saw him walking back and forth with people with what seemed like business papers in his hand. At this point in the dream I knew it was a dream and I was afraid my heart would stop (because of the grief of seeing him again and I could feel it racing) so I tried to move. I tried to open my mouth with my right hand but I was in such a deep sleep that I couldn’t. I couldn’t handle more but I saw him again in the dream….He didn’t see me (either time) but I saw him and wherever he was he looked like he was running the place. He was walking back and forth with people talking and laughing with him but still like he was the boss, papers in his hand and all. I somehow forced myself with my left hand to wake up and used everything in me to pull myself out of the dream and I cried, I wailed. I had to catch my breath and control my heart and my grief. Nick woke up from hearing me like so. I immediately got up and wrote everything down so I would not forget the dream. I went back to bed and told Nick that I saw him. I started crying as I told him the story…

Note: the image in this post is verbatim how I saw my Dad in my dream. I found it a few days after the dream…

 

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My Love/Hate Relationship With Facebook

8 Apr, 2018
JoAnne
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Almost 8 years ago my husband saw me suffering with a mild bout of postpartum depression. In an effort to take my mind off of what I was thinking, feeling and experiencing he encouraged me to create a Facebook account. I did and immediately his goal worked! I had a lot of fun creating my profile and etc. But after a short duration I realized how public some of my pictures were (like the profile pic and cover photo pic) and I read about the safety issues around it and then decided not to be on it or to change what I posted and what I did not. Eventually, however, I succumbed to just having whatever pictures I wanted up and I did not worry about it…which is probably not a good thing.

My original intent was always to just have a Facebook page for me and my family (as in my children) so that they had one place to go to read about mostly them but yes, my husband and me too. I have always been a huge journal and keepsake person but as you can imagine it is hard to manage nine (and now ten!) journals so this was and is an easy fix! It is also great that “The Social Book” now exists so that you can actually print your entire Facebook page! I love that idea but only if I can remove things that would not apply to my children like news, politics, etc.

But, as the years went on I ended up using Facebook for more than my original purpose. Instead of it just being for me and my immediate or extended family it ended up being for and with other people. There is nothing wrong with that if that is what you are looking for in your social media account. But again for me personally that was never my intention.

I recently gave up Facebook for almost a week and I learned a lot. I learned that I actually only really use Facebook for: me/my posts (at times it can be like I’m just talking/venting to myself!), following my closest best friends (the ones that I actually see and talk to on a daily or monthly basis) and family members-near and far, buying/selling, weather and religion. Otherwise I did not use it for much else. I also realized that guess what? Maybe not all of my “friends” on Facebook actually follow me. If they did they would notice that I was gone, right? Or notice that I returned, right? Right. What is a “real” Facebook friend anyways? Is a Facebook friend a real friend or an acquaintance? I also learned that guess what? Those people who actually follow me probably do not care about what I eat, where I check in, and etc. Lol! I am sure they sometimes love my drama which I do openly share… I would imagine a lot of them grab a bucket of popcorn some days and just watch what unfolds with my sometimes chaotic posts. And hey, that’s ok! But I actually discovered that I am probably doing them – the people on my page that are probably thinking “just shut up!” or “stop posting so much!” or “keep your issues to yourself!” a favor if I “unfriend” them. I hate the word “unfriend” as I feel it is harsh. It is not as if I am truly “unfriending” people when and if I ever do it which is not often. No, it is more that I am just bringing my Facebook page back to its original intention which I mentioned a few times already. I also know that people often joke about how open I am on my page. I know there are several people who just want me completely off of Facebook all together and I get that but that is not who I am! I will likely always be open and I will likely always be on Facebook even if I take more breaks from it. I kind of feel like “take me or leave me for what I am worth” (or not worth). But, in the end, I am who I am…

I have learned that Facebook can be a great business tool (for this my Mom blog). It has a lot of benefits but it also has a lot of downsides. It has become an advertising nightmare. It is one reason I do not like to look at my newsfeed. I would rather go to April’s page (for example) to see how she is then to go through my newsfeed for hours until I finally get to April’s one post. Lol! All of these suggested pages and posts are annoying and a joke! You search for one thing on your phone and immediately and somehow cryptically Facebook knows it and hits you with an advertisement! The games on Facebook? I do not play at all and I ignore invites (sorry). The Facebook forwards? “If you don’t share this message you will die!” is another annoying aspect for me which I also usually ignore. But again, this is all me and part of my love/hate relationship with Facebook.

Obviously when one goes off of Social Media you see what you miss and what you don’t miss. You see how much freaking time you save by not being on it! You see how -OMG! – you are actually so much happier and at peace when you are not on Facebook so much! Why? Because the politics and religion can depress you. Your “friends” – real or not- and their views who may be totally against your views may upset you. It is actually crazy that we do this to ourselves. Lol.

So thanks to my little break from Facebook and from some recent private happenings in my life I have decided to reign myself back in. My personal Facebook page will once again be for the intention of my children. My Professional Page will remain and of course I will share pictures of my kids and etc. there every so often. But for me both pages and the content within themselves will be kind of like a separation of Church and State. My Professional page will be focused on my blog, books and etc. My personal page will once again be me being open about my kids, family, maybe dramas (lol) and about my passion for my religion.

I used to feel bad about not accepting requests or liking certain pages. I have and do feel bad about the “unfriending” but I do not know why I do – maybe because the climate around Social Media has convinced me that I should feel bad when really I shouldn’t.  I do not think I should feel bad…as my friend just told me yesterday, “it’s your page!” You can actually really be my friend and yet NOT be on Facebook at all or be on my Facebook page OR you can you NOT be my friend and yet still be “friends” with me on Facebook. In the end, you know who your real friends are and it is really up to you whether you want them to be involved in your Facebook “life” or not. It’s all about how you interpret the word “friend”.

For personally I am always praying for another conversion, a daily conversion and with that being said that is why I have changed things up a bit with regards to Facebook. I have removed all old public profile and cover photos. My plan is to keep those photos generic but not of me and my family (let’s see how long I can really last with that!). I also hope and pray to not spend as much time on it anymore. I also hope to try not to post a lot but to make the posts I do post meaningful in one way or another (again with the main audience for me being my kids). I know, some can read this and think WOW she is taking this Facebook thing or page too seriously! But I am because again, it’s really for my kids…

So, for those of you who are my Facebook “friends” thanks for the ride! I know it can get a little crazy at times. I would never ever blame someone from unfriending me or even blocking me! Lol. Trust me when I say that contrary to popular belief I actually don’t “like” myself. Lol!  And I do remember the first time I was blocked and unfriended. I will not lie, it hurt a little but I understood why the person did it and I respected that. And what I had to and still do have to remember is that in the big scheme of things-for crying outload!- it’s just a social media account…whether it’s just mine or just yours… Now if God was on social media that would be a different story but let’s just thank God for His sake and for ours that He is not on social media. God only knows how many dislikes He’d be shooting out and how many people He’d be unfollowing (likely including me!)! Lol.

With all of this said…happy posting my peeps!

God bless,

JoAnne

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