This morning, as I sip my coffee and read over my email and social networks, and continue my training phases for my new job, I realize more than ever, that I am truly grateful for those brave men and women, moms and dads, friends and family, that have gone before me doing something unknown. How I mean that is…..
Marriage. When I first met my husband in our choir at our church, and we eventually became engaged, we attended the parish marriage classes with four other couples. None of those couples are still married to each other. Yes. We are it…going on 25 years this fall. We are profoundly grateful to our marriage sponsors and the classes they taught, and our parish pastor at the time for really bringing to light the SACRAMENT of marriage and the unselfishness involved in being husband and wife, and involving children. I don’t think we would have made it this far had it not been for actual classes and a network of support that was meaningful and full of substance – not shallow secular motives/materialisms and “me-isms”, as you see so often today. It doesn’t hurt that my husband’s family is enormously prolific and strong in the marriage and family departments and are devout Catholics, giving their lives to their parishes from here in Ohio to the pocket of them in California. We have had excellent role models.
Next, I have learned by those quiet but helpful mentors in religious education. I had a great catechetical team teacher I worked with over 20+ plus years ago now, who showed me how to really use the book to draw out the lesson, how to plan your yearly schedule, and how to really teach. Had it not been for her, I doubt I would have been teaching the same 2nd grade class for the last 20 years. I hope I can be that same role model-mentor for the next teacher.
Enter children. I can name a couple mothers just a few years older than myself, or my age, that helped lead and show me the way, whether through their generous giving faith and devotion to Saint Gerard, prayers for me personally before and during my pregnancies; breastfeeding help (even my pediatrician, said, “ignore everyone else and just do it!”, which became my philosophy also later with home schooling….) those mothers really meant a difference in my life and the quality of what I would give to my children in the long run.
Home schooling…the unpopular thing. Going against the norm of friends and family and doing the thing that was most unpopular, skeptical and under terrible scrutiny at the time…..I am ever grateful for a small band of families that I listened to give testimony on the benefits of home schooling and the practical ways it could be done….back when my first born was only a year old. I had NO CLUE what home schooling even was. After a weak “yes”, I would consider it…in four more years……to my husband, in walked the first ever Catholic home schooling family I had met, and they not only brought the message of home schooling at the time but also of Natural Family Planning. It was a double-blessing. It gave me strength as a Catholic mother to embrace what God was putting right in our paths – accepting it and following through with it…..and now 18 years later, not one of our children so far has been anything other than home educated with the finest Catholic home study program. So kudos and many thanks for one family that showed us a different and solid way to become a stronger and better family unit, and raise and educate strong, responsible Christian children.
I also must include the families that went before us in home schooling through high school right into college. The ones closest to me – who stuck by us, who I can name on one hand because it’s been one family. Without their wisdom and help, without countless hours talking with this mother, which made that endeavor all the easier….I doubt it would have been such a seamless experience. She also helped us to get our children driving, working, schooling at home and being responsible. Such a good example. I am very grateful for that mother’s courage in paving the way, leaving a good path for the rest of us.
And finally, AUTISM, and anxiety disorders; while I paved the way for others regarding the help and treatment of anxiety disorders/OCD amongst my peer mates, due to our own son and that experience, I am grateful for those who are still carving out paths for others in the case of Autism – those creative and brave fathers and mothers helping their autistic children find a voice and a way in this life. One such person is my alumni friend who lives in Thailand, Bangkok – whose son is more severely autistic than my own son, who is high functioning. Spectrum disorders are funny business. They are best diagnosed. I am in awe and learning how my friend is helping his son with a project – art project – to give him a “place”, a responsibility, and a shared experience. …a network of support, backers and the capability of producing a product for the public, if not for the satisfaction of himself. It is a beautiful endeavor! Such a sweet thing a father can do for his son. It gives me SUCH HOPE for the future of both my sons that have such invisible yet ever present disorders…… So, I leave you with that here – please watch this wonderful video presentation and consider a pledge toward the project.
May God bless you with many who come before you, leading the way, making the path smoother and showing clear direction signs on how to get to where you are going….