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Miscarriage: love and loss 23 years later

My annual tribute to the baby I lost 23 years ago today, the baby I call Grace:

For the past few days I’ve been looking at the numbers on the calendar, growing more and more introspective as we inched closer to August 6. It was 23 years ago today that I learned the baby I was carrying, my second baby, had died 11 weeks into my pregnancy.

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Sometimes children know best

Dennis and I were sitting around the kitchen table one morning talking with our son, Noah, who is home from college for the summer and working full time for the Diocese of Albany. Although he lives away more than he lives at home these days, when he does return for visits or extended stays, Dennis and I tend to revert to the parenting mode we favored when he was younger. Read more

9/11: Remembering like it was yesterday

Here’s the Life Lines column I wrote 15 years ago, in the days following 9/11. So much has changed since that time. Our world has changed. My family has changed. And yet, for me, this column still resonates with things that feel very much in tune with our world right now. Here’s wishing all of you, all of us a future of peace — peace in our hearts, peace in our homes, peace on our planet. Read more

Miscarriage: Love and loss 18 years later

Usually I run the same annual post in this space on August 6, the day I lost my second child to miscarriage. But this year feels a little bit different. As always, I became aware in the back of my mind that the anniversary was approaching a few days out, and last night I intentionally remembered by baby as I went to bed. Then this morning, when I opened my eyes, the baby I call Grace was incredibly present in my heart and mind, and so we had a little silent mother-child talk. And I told her that even though I call her Grace despite the fact that I have no way of knowing whether she was a boy or a girl, the name fits, because she was all grace and for the brief time I was allowed to carry her in my belly, I was filled with a little extra grace because of her.

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Miscarriage: loss and love 15 years later

My annual post in remembrance of the baby I never got to meet:

For the past few days I’ve been looking at the numbers on the calendar, growing more and more introspective as we inched closer to August 6. It was 15 years ago today that I learned the baby I was carrying, my second baby, had died 11 weeks into my pregnancy. Read more

Entering the ‘Twilight Zone’ of parenting

Noah headed out on a winter camping trip tonight. The angst leading up to his departure made it clear, once again, that we have definitely entered the dreaded teenage years. And that reminded me that I had not yet posted this recent Life Lines column about this new adventure in parenting. So, without further adieu, here it is:

By Mary DeTurris Poust

Just last month, Dennis and I entered the Twilight Zone of parenting, also known as the Teenage Years. Noah, our first-born, reached the magic age on New Year’s Day, giving us the chance to ring in not only a new year but also a new era.

Fortunately for us, it hasn’t been a total baptism by fire. Noah has been kind enough to ease us into teenage life. For the past six months or so, he’s taken to glowering at us from under half-closed eyelids and responding to just about everything we say — from “Hi, Sweetie. You look nice,” to “What happened to that permission slip?” — in the same annoyed tone. I figure right about the time Noah starts pulling out of this semi-permanent funk, Olivia will be moving in and then Chiara right behind her. We’re looking at 15 straight years of teenage angst here, people.

Of course, not everything having to do with teen life revolves around the teen (despite what said teen thinks). A lot of what will happen in the coming years, already is happening right now, has to do with how we respond to our teen and what kinds of freedoms and limits we give him.

It’s Noah’s job to test boundaries and to pull away, even as he secretly wants our affection and attention. As I roll my eyes and sigh with exasperation every time he growls his morning greeting, I know in my heart that this is how it is meant to be. For my part, I have to do a little letting go while being careful not to leave him in a free fall. He has been very sheltered for 13 years. Now it’s time to trust that what we’ve taught him will get him through some difficult growing pains. I vaguely remember those early teen years; they were no picnic.

And so we enter into this new era together, albeit from different perspectives. As Noah wrestles with the responsibilities and decisions that come with being a teen on the way to adulthood, we wrestle with the choices and reactions that come with being adults in the midst of a new phase of parenthood. It’s uncharted territory for all of us.

Just this week, we talked to Noah about ending the piano lessons he has taken for more than five years. He just doesn’t seem that interested anymore. Rather than the simple responses we may have had as parents of a toddler or young child – time out, for example – we have to find a new way to make an impression. So we asked Noah to think about why he wants to continue lessons and why we should continue to fund them and then tell us without shrugging his shoulders or saying, “I don’t know.”

We got a two-page written response, proving that he can present quite a persuasive argument when he puts his mind to it. The three of us approached the piano problem as adults and near-adult, talking instead of lecturing (on our part) and listening instead of ignoring (on his part).

We know the next few years will be fraught with difficult decisions for all of us. There will be times when we will have to tell Noah he cannot do certain things no matter how ready he thinks he is. And, there will be times when Noah will prove that he is ready despite our fears and hesitation.

As I look ahead to the big events in Noah’s life – driving a car in only three years, graduating from high school in five – I realize that a lot of what will happen in our relationship over the next few years will hinge on my ability to accept that my baby isn’t a baby anymore and on my willingness to step back and watch him spread his wings, even as I am quietly waiting in the background, ready to catch him at a moment’s notice.

To read previous Life Lines columns, visit my website by clicking HERE.

When your kids are driving you crazy…

I’m in a bad way this week. Too much work, not enough time. The usual thing. I’m doing a lot of feeling sorry for myself as I sulk about my incredibly difficult life. (I’m rolling my eyes now.) Then this afternoon, because I hadn’t really checked up on my usual favorite bloggers, I headed over to Mom’s Night Out and was immediately humbled by what I read there. Kathy of Mom’s Night Out is a foster mom, and, as if that doesn’t sound difficult enough, she’s the kind of foster mom who takes especially troubled kids, kids who are in crisis or just released from the hospital, kids who fall through the cracks because they’re not the right age to receive government funding for behavioral support.

From today’s post:

“So, here comes Andrew. At four years old, he’s my youngest yet in the program. He’d been in seven placements already. The previous placements were all family members and he’d been abused and neglected in each of them.

“He came into our house one ANGRY little guy. Huge behaviors, spitting, kicking, throwing things, hitting, crying, CUSSING like a serious longshoreman. His tantrums – and I use that term loosely, because they were really rages – lasted up to three hours. For real.

“This went on for weeks. Every single day, at least once a day. Sometimes, two or three times. It was a bumpy ride for us all. We went past the ninety days, and I changed the classification of my home so that he would not have to move again.”

Four years old, seven placements, abuse, neglect. Wow. To willingly take on a child with all the issues that go with that kind of mistreatment is heroic. I complain when my kids bicker, when they forget to put their uniforms in the wash, when they whistle constantly while I’m trying to write. I am so in awe of someone who has the strength and generosity and compassion to parent a little boy like this to a place where he finally feels safe and relaxed.

Well, Kathy had to say good-bye to Andrew, who is returning to his mother. He hasn’t lived with his mother for three of the last four years. Imagine the heartbreak for Kathy. Here is some of what she said about it:

“What matters is that Andrew got under my “professional” foster mom skin. What matters is I love that little boy. What matters is that, when I tried to pack his little plastic forks and spoons that he got for having good table manners, he said, “No, leave them here for when I come back”. What matters is how hard he hugged my neck when he left, and how hard I cried after I closed the door.”

Head over to Mom’s Night Out by clicking HERE and read the full post. My kids are still bickering and the cats are literally climbing the curtains and life feels overloaded, but after reading this I realize that there are other people out there who really have every right to complain and yet they quietly go about doing God’s work here on earth — shouldering another’s burden, bringing a smile to the face of a little boy who has known far too much sorrow for someone of his tender age.

Severe disabilities, inspiring strength

My post from OSV Daily Take today:

Jennifer over at Conversion Diary has posted a moving interview with the parents of Sunni, a severely disabled little girl who cannot do anything for herself. Their love for her, their acceptance of their role as parents, and their conversion from pro-choice to pro-life in the face of such suffering is inspiring.

“When asked how he created such stunning works of art, a famous sculptor once said that he instills in his mind a clear image of the form and then removes everything that is not a part of it. In a way, God has shorn from Sunni nearly all of the adornments that would be considered part of a basic human life. She cannot act on her own, communicate, or possibly understand even simple concepts. She is left as a nearly pure example of human life without anything to distract us from its elegant beauty.”

Click HERE to read Jennifer’s full interview with Sunni’s parents about what it means to raise a severely disabled daughter in a society that often looks at her and thinks abortion would have been the better choice.

It’s funny because it’s true

I first came across this incredibly funny essay on parenting years ago. Now it’s back in circulation, and just as funny as ever. If you have children or know people with children or have ever had to deal with children for any reason whatsoever, this will strike a chord. It’s called “Old Testament Parenting: Lamentations of the Father” by Ian Frazier, and it is hysterical. Makes me realize that the parenting hoops I’m jumping through this week are all par for the course. Click HERE and enjoy.

My Birthday Baby

Chiara turned three years old today. Hard to believe. That’s her up there in her princess outfit and tiara, looking very birthday girl-ish. This photo captures the moment she was waiting for. Earlier this morning, when her godfather called to sing “Happy Birthday,” she told him, “It’s not happening yet.” She was referring to the arrival of the “Happy Birthday Party Cake.” As far as Chiara is concerned, it’s not a birthday or a party until there’s cake. She has a point.

Every once in a while since late last night she would say, “After I wake up will it be time for cake…After I get dressed will it be time for cake…After my nap will it be time for cake.” By the time dinner rolled around and the cake was sitting on the counter taunting her, it was all she could do to maintain control. She could barely eat dinner because she was so focused on that cake. Read more