For Moms Who Feel Like They’re Failing

The Many Faces of Failing

Well, I lost my patience. Again. The kids were absorbed in playing a game and forgot to take our puppy out. Then he went to the bathroom on the floor. As the lone adult in the house for nine hours each day, I know I should be able to be the mature one and maintain my calm, but sometimes I fail. I take in a slow deep breath and prepare to make amends, feeling as shattered as my kids’ hearts at my sudden harshness.

I loaded the dishwasher as fast as I could while my youngest screamed for more candy. I had already given her the chocolate chips as a distraction so I’d have time to finish this one chore. But I got distracted by another kid asking a question and by the time I got back to it, the tot was screaming and holding an empty bowl up to me in chocolate smudged hands. Completely overstimulated, my hands start shaking and I’m not quite sure how I’ll get it all done.

Sometimes, I yearn for quiet. Not a stolen moment here or there, but quiet I can count on. I want to be left alone long enough to take a long shower, or read a full chapter of a book, or think a single complete thought without interruption. In and of itself that isn’t bad, but the surge of guilt I feel over even having those feelings becomes its own kind of failing, too.

Often, in the middle of all these failures, I’m completely overwhelmed by the fact that there are four tiny souls in my care and it’s a huge part of my work on this earth to help them get to heaven. I know that I want better for them. I know they deserve better. I look at pictures of our Holy Mother and feel so far from being like her that I have to turn away.

What Do We Do When We Feel Like We’re Failing?

When my book came out, I would hyper-focus on negative reviews and dismiss the good ones, even though there are so many more good reviews than bad! It became necessary for me to stop reading reviews as a whole so I could keep a healthy balance as I wrote the next things. If only I could stop reading my successes and failures in the same way and live in some mythical land of neutral ignorance.

But we can’t just avoid our weakness or our triumphs in some assumed ignorant bliss — we have to live them all. And we have to reckon with what they mean.

So, what do we do when we feel like we’re failing?

To start, my many failures make it abundantly clear that I’m not a saint yet. I sin, I am flawed, parts of me are broken. I’m not fully the person God made me with the potential to be.

I think we can do two things once we have that realization. We can think that we never can be saints, that sainthood is reserved for the Mother Marys, and Thérèses, and Lucys, and that we’ll never quite make the cut.

I like to think that most days, when the dust settles, I look toward an option two. Option two is the voice that tells me there have been many quiet saints made of mothers throughout time, most of whom we’ve never even heard of. It tells me that this calling can purify me and build me into an example of holiness for my sake and the sake of my children. It’s the option that tells me I’m not a saint yet.

My kids see me struggle. They see me kneel down and ask for forgiveness for being impatient, or raising my voice, or assuming the worst.

Perhaps one of the most important things is that my children see me not give up. They need to see me go to Confession, they need to see me say I’m sorry and work to make amends. They need to see me practicing the faith and receiving the Sacraments and working every day to open myself up more to Grace.

Because, when all is said and done, they’ll have their own paths to sanctification. Maybe it will be smooth sailing and Grace will flow in them and through them from an early age, filling them to the brim. But maybe it will be more of a rocky road.

And if their path includes stumbling and picking themselves up, over and over, then maybe, just maybe, they’ll remember their mom struggled and never gave up, too.

So, to all the moms who feel like a failure. Let’s keep going. Let’s show repentance and penance and let’s show redemption. Let’s let our children see us lean into our faith when we struggle. Most saints are made, not born that way.

Our little future saints need examples to follow, not only in the great saints of the Church. They also need to see it inside the walls of their home. God has been so faithful to convert so many hearts, I have to trust that he can take what mine has to offer and mold it into something beautiful and fruitful, too.


Also Published on CatholicMom (May 2021)

How Being Catholic Informs My Life as a Writer (AKA: I Have A Book Coming Out… Really Soon!)

Hello friends of This Catholic Family!

I hope that this blog post finds you all well. Navigating the waters of 2020 hasn’t been easy. We are so happy to share that Felicity was able to receive her First Communion in a private family Mass in May, and our church has been open and we’ve been able to attend again on a regular basis. It was very challenging to be away from in-person Mass for so long, and we’re thankful to be back.

First Communion 🙂

The News

Which brings us to the next major event of the Savaryn year, which is… that I have a book coming out in just over a week! On one hand, it feels like it’s been a long time coming. On the other hand, it feels like it’s sneaking up on me super fast.

I received a 2 book deal from Penguin Random House, and my first book is called THE CIRCUS OF STOLEN DREAMS releases on September 1. It’s for middle grade readers aged 10+, and anyone who loves a good magical, hopeful tale.

I’ve worked really, really hard on this story for such a long time, and I’d love to give a brief synopsis and share how my Catholic faith informs my writing for the mainstream market.

The Story

A dream world turns haunting nightmare in this spellbinding debut novel, perfect for fans of Circus Mirandus and The Night Gardener.

After Andrea’s brother, Francis, disappeared, everything changed. Her world turned upside down, and there was nothing she could do to right it. So when she discovers a magical dream world called Reverie in the woods near her home, Andrea jumps at the chance to escape her pain and go inside. But the cost of admission is high: Andrea must give up a memory in order to enter. And she knows exactly which memory she’d like to give up.

Once inside, Andrea discovers tent after tent of dreams come alive; she can fly on a gust of wind, brave swashbuckling pirates and search for buried treasure, reach for–and wish on–a tangible star, and much, much more. But Andrea soon realizes that not all of Reverie’s dreams are meant to delight, and the Sandman behind the circus tents seems to have plans of his own. When Andrea finds a tent in which her brother’s darkest nightmare has been brought to life, she realizes the dark truth: Reverie is not an escape; it’s a trap.

Will Andrea and her new friend Penny have what it takes to find Francis, figure out what’s really going on in Reverie, and break free from this nightmarish dream world?

A wonderfully inventive, deliciously creepy debut novel that is sure to linger in readers’ minds long after the last thrilling page has been turned.

Praise for The Circus of Stolen Dreams:

* “Savaryn’s unconventional story makes for a bewitching debut, filled with dazzling descriptions and real surprises.” —Booklist, *STARRED REVIEW*

How My Faith Impacts My Writing

I write stories for kids for the mainstream market, but as a Catholic, my faith is part of who I am, and it plays a role in my life as an author in so many ways.

Above my mantel, I have a large piece of wall art with a quote by well-known Catholic GK Chesterton that reads: “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

When I think about the kinds of stories I want to write for kids, it always comes back to that underlying pulse of hope.

I want to write stories that show that good, and beauty, and truth can win the day, even when things feel very, very hard, or even scary. My book is a bit scary at times, but life is sometimes scary, even for children, and I think its important for kids to see themselves in books, from the safety of a story, where characters wrestle with and then overcome really difficult things.

I want my stories to show how beautiful and good things can come out of suffering. That you can learn to be brave. That love is stronger than anything that comes against it. All of that and so much more stems from my Catholic faith.

There are so many wonderful Catholic authors that have come before me, and who have written books outside the official genre of Catholic literature, but who have contributed wonderful, timeless stories to the world. Tolkein is the first and, perhaps, loudest that comes to mind. Flannery O’Connor, Victor Hugo, Mary Higgins Clark continue the long list. I’m in super good company, and I can only hope to tell stories that end up beloved and on shelves for a long time to come.

I feel thankful every day for the ability to tell stories for my work. It would be an absolute honor if you would consider buying a copy for your family.

Signed copies are available through The Book Stall here (just request on order notes that you’d like it signed and who it should be made out to)

General order link through Penguin is here.

My book is also being released as a Kindle edition and as an audiobook, available through the above link as well.

And I’d be delighted if you’d join us for my virtual launch party at 6:30pm CST on Sept 1, hosted by The Book Stall. Registration is free, but you do need to reserve a spot to attend. Register here.


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Finding Hope in Uncertain Times

Hello friends,

I hope you and yours are safe and healthy.

Let me just start by saying this: What a year this month has been.

Just a few weeks ago, we were going about life as usual, and now it feels like almost everything has changed. Where I live- in space, in time- my day-to-day life hasn’t really ever seen this level of disruption. I suspect many others could say the same.

Missing Mass

I miss Mass. I miss it so much, it’s one of the few things that’s brought me to tears ever since COVID-19 started rearing its ugly head in our country. Facebook just popped up my memories from four years ago when I was confirmed at the Cathedral of St. Paul, and my stomach just sunk knowing that we won’t be able to attend Holy Week services as usual this year. I miss the Eucharist. Felicity is asking if her First Communion is going to be significantly delayed. We’re watching Mass each Sunday on the computer, and it’s been a blessing to attend Mass virtually with priests and family that we might not get to often in real life, but when the source and summit of our faith is accessible only through a screen, it is achingly clear how much things are not the same.

I know this won’t last forever, and I am going to rejoice so very much when I can receive Jesus again in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. When I can go to confession. My soul longs for these things.

I’m going to spend some time over the next week thinking about how to celebrate Holy Week as a family in our home. I found a good post here on Catholic All Year that I’ll use as a reference point to start with. My goal won’t be to do more than I can handle, but will be to do a few things that will make the week meaningful in this strange situation.

Missing People

I’m an introvert by nature, and there are a lot of people in my house, which means sometimes mommy goes and hides for a couple of hours, and that mommy also is sneaking a lot of chocolate in the pantry, haha, but mostly we’ve been enjoying time at home together.

Even my introvert self misses the ability to enjoy face-to-face interaction with family and friends. Video has been a huge blessing, but just knowing we can’t visit with family in person, or share a glass of wine with our friends just doesn’t feel great.


A lot of what’s going on right now is anxiety-producing! It was really unnerving for me to go to the grocery store about a week ago and to see so many shelves empty. The produce and fresh meat, nearly gone. There was a lot of expensive cheese left, and also a lot of ice cream, but so many of the normal, every day things I go into the store and buy each week without even hardly giving it a thought were nowhere to be found. That’s going to be something that will stick with me long after this is all over. This week, the supply at the store was much better, but it’s still strange. People out in masks and gloves. At home, we can kind of live in our little family bubble for days on end. But when I go to the store, it’s very apparent that things are not business as usual for the world right outside our home.

Our family is relatively young and low-risk, but it’s still been scary to hear stories of people our age who have had severe reactions. I don’t want anyone in our family to have to fight for a hospital bed. I want to protect my husband, myself and my children. But it’s hard to know how to protect yourself from an enemy you can’t really see! It’s hard to know how much disinfecting is enough.

All of that has given me some anxiety the past few weeks. I’m thankful for my faith, and for my kids and their snuggles, and the nightly routines JP and I keep up just to hang out and enjoy some normalcy in all the strangeness.

The Good

It’s been helpful to pay attention to the good amidst all that is not right now. Here are some things that are helping us through.

Homeschooling. We’ve been considering homeschooling the kids in the future, and I don’t know, it isn’t exactly a ‘trial run’ because of all the stress and isolation, but it’s been a chance for us to see what educating at home would look like, at least to some degree, and it will aid us for sure in our discerning process. And, honestly, I’m no homeschooling supermom, but I’ve been having a mostly lovely time digging into some fun learning and projects with the kids.

Connection. We’ve been using this time to connect with family and friends over video. We’ve had a few virtual dance parties, and we have an extended family Rosary on the calendar for tomorrow evening, which I’m looking forward to. I feel like we’re investing a bit more into creative, meaningful modes of connection, which I hope will continue when this is all over.

Here are 2 videos our family has made, hoping to bring a smile to our friends’ faces while we are apart:


I feel like for once our world is shouting about the dignity of the human person, with a special focus on the aged and vulnerable among us. We are being called to sacrifice our personal freedoms for the good of the other, for the health of the other, for the life of the other. And, as someone who believes in the dignity of the human person, from the smallest to the largest, the youngest to the oldest, the strongest to the most vulnerable, it’s been a refreshing side to all the stress. Yes. Sacrificing our personal comfort, our desires, what we want for the good of the other is of the utmost importance in this time. May we translate this care moving forward into other areas of life, to protect the vulnerable around us, no matter the personal cost.

Let us Pray

Our family is praying special intentions right now for those who are critically ill, who have died from the virus, those who are alone, lonely, and frightened. For the healthcare workers on the front lines, and all those who are keeping things afloat while we shelter at home. The grocery store workers, postal workers, truck drivers, first responders. For the scientists working on medications and vaccines. And so much more.

If you or anyone you know is feeling despair, please reach out for help.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

This won’t last forever. You matter. So very, very much.

Hang in there friends. We’ll talk to you soon.



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Not Watching the Clock

This week, we had the second anniversary of the day we lost my aunt to suicide. It was something I had been dreading… the lead up to that date is always tough, and then figuring out how to navigate the day itself and the days surrounding it hasn’t been easy.

We have a few anniversaries… the date she died, the next day when we found out she died…and a few more along the way as well.

In the weeks after we lost her, I became a detective in the worst sort of way. We were able to piece together a timeline of what happened, and a lot of “this is when she made that decision” “this was her last communication” types of things.

And because we have that timeline, it’s been very tempting for me to ‘watch the clock’ on the anniversary dates, to remember what she was going through at the exact moments she was going through them. But also, the decision to watch the clock last year made me feel extra sad.

So this year, I called my mom to check in and we talked about our plans for the evening and how it was weird to decide what we were going to do and how we would spend our time. I shared that it was hard for me to not watch the clock and she said the same.

We both decided that this year we wanted to try to have a normal evening, and to intentionally not watch the clock and instead choose to engage in some self-care. For me, that meant watching a show with JP and eating chips and salsa and microwave s’mores.

And I honestly think that was the best decision I could have made.

One, it made the night much more tolerable.

The other big thing is that two years ago, when my aunt died, a very deep darkness won. It is horrible and awful and it will always be horrible and awful that darkness won that day.

But we don’t have to keep letting the darkness win each year on that night.

I pray for Jeannine every day. I intend to keep praying for her as long as I’m alive. I grieve for her. Sometimes I grieve deeply. That is a part of the process too, and I respect that and validate that when the waves of grief crash heavy on the shores.

I also think it’s important for me to make the choice each and every day to live. For me, this year on the sad anniversaries that surround February 4th for our family, I chose to engage with my children. To visit with friends. To eat snacks and snuggle with my husband. That felt more powerful to me than forcing myself to relive the darkness by watching the clock and letting some of that darkness in.

It’s a tough balance, managing a loss like this one, but this year I’m thankful for the conversation my mom and I shared, and that we both were able to, as much as we could, not let the darkness claim another victory by stealing from the precious time we have.


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Emerging From the Fog

Lent is always an appropriate time to reflect on suffering, and over the past 12 months, This Catholic Family has had some rough times.

I’ve shared a few times about the loss of my aunt to suicide in February 2018. The grief from that, and the slow path toward healing, has been a part of the fog that made it hard to write at times on this website. I poured a lot of my energy over the past year into writing a fiction manuscript about a young girl who experiences a loss, and finds her way to healing. Using words in that way for that time helped a lot.

The other fog we experienced has been for a much happier purpose.


We found out in December that we are expecting Baby Savaryn Number 4! New life is the happiest of news, but for our family, we also knew it would be difficult for a while. I, to varying extents during my pregnancies, suffer from hyperemesis gravidarum. This is extreme nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. A condition that used to be fatal for some mothers, and is slowly gaining more publicity in our current times for its devastating impact on an expectant mother’s health while she suffers.

This time, despite proactively taking nausea medication and planning for my care, I ended up incredibly sick. As it amped up, I wasn’t able to be in the kitchen, or prepare food, or eat much. It felt like I was on a boat with severe seasickness 95% of the time I was awake. Movement and smell made it worse. Relief only came when I slept. Then, I hit a point where I couldn’t keep anything down and hadn’t had something to eat or drink in over 18 hours. I had to go to the hospital, where I ended up being admitted for three days until they could rehydrate my body and until I could eat and drink on my own without getting sick with the help of some additional medication.

I was this sick with my son, who will turn five soon, and I had much better medical care this time than I did with him, but it was still one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through inside my own body. And when it was at its worst, it was very hard for me to see the light beyond all the darkness in the struggle to survive moment by slow moment.

Friends came through and brought us food, and there were so many praying, and my husband was good about reminding me that this would all be worth it.

It was still so difficult to lose myself, even for a little while.

The Hope and the Grace

But in suffering, there is grace.

I was fed by the Eucharist during my suffering, and I weakly attempted to unite my own suffering with that of Christ. In many ways, I do not feel like I suffered ‘well.’ But I also knew Jesus would carry me through, and that if I was willing to walk this path for Him, that he would not forsake me.

On the first Sunday I was home from the hospital, I was still confined to my bed, and the family had to go to mass without me. I hear the door open as they returned home, and in moments, my two oldest children entered my room with their hands folded in front of them in quite reverence.

JP soon followed, and produced that which had fed my soul so many times during this sickness.

A priest at our parish had helped JP bring Jesus in the Eucharist to me right where I was, and I was able to receive communion, right there, in my bed. When I couldn’t get to mass, Jesus came to me.

And there is such hope in new life too. Sometimes it’s hard to wrap our heads around the idea of redemptive suffering. That something good can come out of something hard.

It has helped more than a little to know there is such a clear and redemptive reason I went through all I did. I am bringing a new life into our family and into the world. At 18 weeks now, and finally feeling much better, I can feel our little one kick. I can speak to this baby, as it now can hear my voice. I can reflect on the phrase ‘this is my body, given for you,’ in a new and profound way. I can understand just a little bit better, in some small, small way, how Jesus gave his body for us, and the love that must have been there for him to go through his passion.

Let the Sun Shine In

The fog is clearing away from the difficult year we have had, and the very, very, dark and cold and grey winter. The days are getting longer. The sun is shining a bit more. And our family is soon to embark on a vacation to the beach, a much needed bit of togetherness and warmth and light.


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The Inescapable Beauty of Hope

Breathing Hope

So much of my life is framed by hope. I hope the kids will sleep well, I hope the weather will be nice, I hope I’ll have time to drink my coffee. Hope, hope, hope. Little things like that. And big things, too. I hope I’ll be a published author some day. I hope my kids will grow up to be kind, good adults. I hope JP and I will live long lives and be able to see our children’s children grow.

But there is also a deeper hope than this. And it is also part of my every breath. It is something that brings me such joy, even when things don’t go as I hope on a small scale, or even big.

And it is the hope that there is something more than just the physical world we encounter during our short time on this earth.

A Crutch of Hope

For example, I have to hope that this intense love I feel for my children and my husband is more than just biochemistry for biochemistry’s sake. I have to hope that humanity is an echo of God, and familial love is an echo of heaven. I have to hope that my attraction to beauty and harmony comes from something deep and vast. And that my anger at injustice comes from a connection to an ultimate source of Good.

Some people may say I’m weak for leaning on a crutch like that. But I’m okay with going through my life on a crutch of hope. A few years ago, when JP and I were figuring out the worldview by which we would live our lives, I experimented to see if I could find meaning dissociated from a higher power. And maybe some people can. But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t get myself to a place where I could believe we didn’t have souls, and that there was no ultimate source of Good, and there was no point, and never would be for our existence, and then along those lines still believe my life had value, or that it mattered how I treat others, or that justice of any kind was important other than to further survival in a segment of our species so we could live long enough to be burned up by the sun.

If I lost that hope, I couldn’t find a way to justify, other than a desire to procreate, why I would have brought three more meaningless souls into the world. But if there is hope, then procreation is co-creating with the Ultimate Creator, who is also the ultimate source of Good. My children, like all of humanity, carry souls and are stamped with the image of the Creator.

So, for these and many reasons, I actively, and with great intention, chose hope.

My True North

Hope in something more is my True North. It is the direction by which everything else in my life is set. It’s how I frame my own minutes spent on this earth. It’s how I frame my actions towards other people. It is at the very foundation of the value and dignity I believe every human inherently carries by virtue that they exist.

It is this same hope that underlies my belief that there is still a chance my aunt, who we lost to suicide in February, has found or is finding peace and healing. That her story doesn’t end with ultimate despair. That all our stories don’t just end.

I choose to believe that Aslan will defeat the White Witch. That Good will defeat Evil. That wrongs done on this earth will be made right in a way that will more than atone for the suffering people faced.

Once I decided to live a life believing something bigger than us out there, I also chose to believe that higher power is all Good, is all Love, and is all Truth. That next step helps me to further frame how I build my life.

If There Is…

Because if there is Good, then it matters that I learn what is Good, and that I choose Good over its opposite.

Because if there is Love, then it matters that I learn what is Love, and that I live a life built around willing the good of those whose lives cross paths with mine.

If there is Truth, then it matters that I learn what is Truth. That I sift through my own personal biases and preferences, and even my own selfishness in order to recognize Truth and assent to it.

A Life Well-Lived

I hope to look back on my life one day, and have peace that it was well-lived. Lived for others, lived in the promise of something more, something beyond, something that is the source of all Good and all Love and all Truth.

It gives me great peace to hope we are all a small part of something bigger, something ultimately Good. It doesn’t matter if someone thinks I’m foolish for leaning on a crutch. That person doesn’t have to answer for the minutes of my life, or for how I choose to experience my existence. But in the name of hope, I will always hope that all those I encounter are able to find their peace. The compass by which they can walk this journey of life.

And that, in a nutshell, is why and how I have chosen to frame my life through a lens of hope.



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Donuts After Mass and Other Hopeful Things

Well, we’ve made it to Illinois! Though the move wasn’t too far, mileage speaking, it was far enough that we are having to reset many aspects of our life. In the next few weeks, we will be finding new doctors, dentists, playgrounds… pretty much everything. We keep checking things off the list, but new things get added as well. They all keep telling me it will settled down at some point. And I will choose to believe them. I look forward to the day when all the big stuff is done. But we are here. And that’s a good start.

So here’s a little update on the goings-on of This Catholic Family, now of Illinois.

Donuts After Mass

We think we’ve found a parish! St. Raphael the Archangel. It’s a gorgeous church built of multiple old churches, just a few minutes from our house. I have grown to love beautiful churches so much in the past few years, and this one just felt right for our family, almost as soon as we walked in. The beauty is there, and the history, and the hope of something new. They are still installing the stained glass windows, and have additional work to to in finishing the build of the church so we feel like we are a part of a beautiful beginning, but also something that has roots.

One of the things we were going to miss about moving was our family tradition of donuts after Mass. We would go to O+H Danish Bakery in Racine frequently after Mass for donuts. As we were preparing to move, I looked and couldn’t find a bakery in our area that would quite feel the same. St. Raphael’s, it turns out, offers donuts and fellowship time in the basement of the church each and every Sunday. And you can bet we’ve checked it out! I wish more parishes had something like this, and I am so thankful St. Raphael’s does. It’s helped us get to know a few people already. We are optimistic about joining our family life with the life of this new parish.

Emptiness = Potential

There’s a lot of empty in this house right now. Empty walls, waiting to be painted then filled up with art and pictures. Empty rooms waiting for furniture to arrive. And the emptiness that comes from living in a space you haven’t made many memories in yet, which feels a bit lonely at times. But that kind of emptiness is also filled with potential. The potential for all the memories that we are going to make. It’s been helping me during this transition to pay attention to when a new memory shows up in this new town, in this new home we are forming for ourselves.

A few examples:

When the kids came to the the house for the first time after we moved, they ran and squealed as they went to find their new rooms, and checked out the space. The kids have their own rooms now, but August went right to Felicity and said “My door is always open.” It was so sweet.

There’s one.

A huge rainstorm came through. We can see a lot of sky from our front yard, and when the rain passed, the dark purple rainclouds brushed away to more open skies with streaks of clouds containing every color of the rainbow. The burnt orange sun slipped down toward the horizon, and I stood outside in that salty, warm air, and saw a sunset I would have never been able to see from outside our old house. JP joined me outside and we just stared at it for a while together. I could have looked at that sunset forever.

There’s one.

This weekend we had a family movie night, and watched The Greatest Showman with the kids. At the end credits everyone was dancing and twirling around the family room until we were all pretty dizzy.

There’s one.

Slowly, but surely, this empty house will fill up. With furniture, with kids projects from school, with pictures on the wall. And with memories. This will be the house we think of first when we tell our family’s story. The emptiness of this space has so, so much potential.

And we found a way to still have donuts after Mass. 🙂


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Strong But Not Superhuman

The Swells and Crests of Life

We had a period of time this fall into early winter where things were relatively calm. I remember thinking to myself during that time, Remember to appreciate this. Be thankful for this.

Because I’ve been around at least long enough to know that life comes in seasons, in swells and crests, and that something would come to stir up our temporarily calm seas.

Mary was in the hospital for two nights just before Christmas, and RSV spread through the rest of the family for most of Christmas break.

Then, in January we caught our breath.

In February, we lost my aunt to suicide, and we are still recovering from that loss. The pain continues to come in waves. There are good days, and there are difficult days. The air leaves my chest and my stomach sinks every time I go in the basement and see a pile of boxes there. All her stuff. Filled with clothes and baking supplies and art that I have no idea what to do with and no clue if or when or how I will be ready to see it, to touch it, to use it again.

Coming to terms with the pain she felt, our own powerlessness to do anything to change it, and the hope that my prayers can help her still all make for a complicated mix of emotions. I can’t control when the grief hits. And when it does, it isn’t always convenient.

And it just seems like right now there is an abundance of regular but personal and professional business that make finding balance more tricky than it is at other times. I’ve wanted to have time to write more on the blog, but it’s been difficult to find the words to say amidst all the sadness.

I’m struggling with knowing the best direction to take my novel, and in discerning if it’s time to let it rest for a bit and start something new. It’s tough for me to leave a thing unfinished, in any area of life. And it’s also tough for me when there is no clear end point. I can’t say for certain when it will be ‘done.’

We are making some positive, needed, good changes, like moving to a bigger home to account for the growing number of people in our family. I’ve started being asked to speak even in different states, which is super cool and exciting.

Managing Self-Care

But compartmentalizing is tricky for me. It’s tough for me to keep everything in it’s own separate baskets in my mind and things tend to spill over. Today, I wrote an outline for myself to make sure I’m managing my self-care. Blocking time to write, to read, to exercise, to sleep. To make sure I respect the rhythm of my own body and the way God has made me. I recharge my batteries by having time alone. By writing. By reading. And by prayer. If I don’t make it a priority, then I can go too long without making it happen, get caught up in the current, and I start to feel anxious.It was good to take time to actually write out those priorities.  And it’s amazing what a quiet hour by myself can do for my peace of mind and ability to be present for my family.

The long and short of it is, I need to remember to give myself a break! I can’t be All The Things All The Time to All The People. I can’t read an article while Mary is crawling on my lap. I can, however, set aside time specifically for Mary crawling on my lap and other kid related endeavors, and also set aside different time to read that article.

I am strong, but I am not a superhero. And I think consistently trying to do more than one thing well at one time is a way to drain this momma fast.

If I need some time to grieve, I need to take some time to grieve. Not grieve AND feed the kids dinner. Not grieve AND coach a teacher. I need to open up time to just let myself grieve, at least at some point during that day. And respect it. Likewise, I can’t write a super cool blog post AND interact with my kids (with any level of patience). I can work on house hunting/building stuff, but not at the same time as I pack my lunch.

It sounds so simple, but it is something I try and do so often! Not only am I going to do this one thing, but I’m going to do more than most other normal people and try and do more than one thing at the same time and then take pride in the fact that I am able to be so productive and efficient!

But at the end of the day, I just make myself tired.

So this is a good, recurring lesson for me. We won’t ever be able to finish All The Things when all is said and done. And learning to let myself take a slower pace, or set something aside for a while will only help maintain some much-needed balance. During the times when the seas are calm, but also when they are rougher too.


What helps you keep balance when things get busy? Have you had seasons of your life where you learned new ways to keep a healthy perspective?

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Walking Through Lent During A Time of Loss

It’s been a bit quiet over here on the blog for the past few weeks. A great sadness entered into my family’s life on February 4th, and it’s taken me a while to figure out exactly what I wanted to say. It didn’t seem right to write about anything else besides this, and I felt stuck until I could find the words. But I think I might have some now.

I had a very cool aunt named Jeannine. She used to live in New York City. She was 47 years old. And, due to a very tragic mixture of difficult circumstances and struggles, my very cool aunt chose to end her life on the evening of February 4th.

There has been an ocean of sadness as our family copes with this loss. I have never been so closely touched by suicide, and I hope to never experience this pain again. I know in time the acuteness of the suffering will fade, but the struggle and sadness from this loss will last a lifetime.

We’re left with so many unanswered questions. We know she struggled with addiction, and mental distress, and that she searched for good, but lost herself sometimes along the way. We just never in a million years would have expected it to come to this. We will deeply miss the beautiful person she was, and mourn the memories that will never be made.

Right now, I’m thankful for the moments of good. The snuggles from my kids. An evening eating chocolate and watching a TV show and talking with my husband. A moment at work where I am helpful to a teacher. Writing words.

But in it all, I have not felt close to God. And I think it’s important to be honest about that, because it is the reality of my current situation.

How odd this is all happening during Lent. I told a friend recently that I identify more with Jesus’ 40 days in the desert now than I ever have. Lent feels like a desert to me. Dry and barren and merciless. I see mirages in the distance. Moments when I forget this happened, and imagine my aunt is still out there, somewhere I could visit or give her a call. But, like mirages, the moments fade and in the sunlight, our new reality is blindingly clear.

I may not feel like God is near, I may not feel close to Him. But that doesn’t mean He isn’t there. God doesn’t exist or not exist depending on me.

So, right now, I’m going to Mass. I’m saying prayers. And none of this is because I feel it is true. It’s because I believe it is true regardless of how I feel.

I look forward to the day when I’ve emerged from these tumultuous seas. But it’s a process. And I trust my God is patient. And there. Whether I feel Him or not.

He doesn’t change like I do. And I know He won’t let me go.

On Easter Vigil, I will be at Mass, standing with my mother as her sponsor as she is confirmed into the Catholic Church.

And oh, I hope and pray that the power of Easter Sunday breaks through me. That it finds its way past the numbness and the anger and the pain. That the power of the hope of all things one day being made right will reverberate inside me and settle in my soul. For my aunt, and for us all. The hope that she is at peace, tucked safely in the arms of Love Itself. And that those of us left reeling from this loss will find our way back there as well.


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The Prayers of My Children

The Prayers of a Child

My kids, well the ones old enough to talk, talk to God like he’s a friend. They just tell him what they hope for in their own lives, and who they want to intercede for. Felicity for the longest time prayed for her preschool teacher who had a bothersome tooth. Auggie prays for his baby teeth to come out, which I think is his three-year-old way to tell God he longs to be bigger and more grown up. He’s had to show a lot of patience while waiting to be big enough for things like a big boy bike, and to be old enough to play soccer, and to be able to occasionally skip nap. They just lay it out, no holds barred.

Then we have our family prayers. Our kids know The Angel Prayer, where they ask their guardian angel to watch over them, The Lord’s Prayer, Good Night Dear Lord, and a few others, including the Hail Mary.

The Blessing of Continuity

And, though I never in a million years thought I’d send my kids to Catholic schools (particularly in my pre-Catholic days,) we have been so blessed by St. Lucy’s Catholic School, and our kids have only been going there for 3 months. Particularly, I’m loving the continuity between our home life, church life, and school life.

And a couple weeks back our kids came home with a mini rosary. Ten beads strung on pipe cleaners and twisted together at the end. That simple little tool has added a whole new layer to our family prayers at the end of many days.


Felicity leads us in the decade, holding on to each bead as she prays, and we join in. I watch the ease with which she asks for Mary to pray for us. I feel peace wash over me as it so often does when praying a prayer I was once so afraid to pray. In the prayers of my child we settle in as a family and draw nearer to Jesus.

Unity At Last

It is such a visible, tangible, audible reminder of the unity of our family in faith. Ten years ago I didn’t know how we would handle our different faith traditions when we had children. I didn’t have much reason to believe that this level of unity would one day be a part of our lives. But I hoped and prayed for it as JP and I found our way.

And, as I listen to the simple and pure prayers of my children, I realize just how deeply that desperate prayer has been answered. And it is such a beautiful thing.


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