Monday, March 18, 2013

After the Retreat

One or two people wanted me to follow up on the silent retreat I took two weeks ago. I'll offer random thoughts and observations:

1. I don't consider it a silent retreat when mothers are allowed to bring nursing babies along. [NOTE: This is likely a pandora's box topic, so let's not allow ourselves dig too deep here, OK?] On the one hand, I don't want to deny a mother the opportunity to go on a retreat just because she's nursing. On the other hand, most of the moms attending this kind of thing are trying to GET AWAY from the noise of children and babies.

In this case, there were two mothers with babies along and lucky Char got the room next door to one of them, also sharing the bathroom. OK, I'm being snarky; it wasn't a problem at all, I barely noticed the baby in the room next door. However, on Friday night I was totally concerned and wondered who thought it was a good idea to allow babies on silent retreat. Of course, the irony is that Sunday morning, when silence was broken for breakfast, I sat with both mothers, connected with them, and left the retreat becoming Facebook friends with one. How the Holy Spirit laughs at me!

2. I've mentioned it here once or twice, but in real life, I have been absolutely terrified and freaking out about the potential prospect of my son's school closing next year. It's been my day-to-day obsession for months now. But when I left the retreat, a spirit of "I don't care" had come over me, with my realizing that whatever happens, God is not abandoning our family. Trust me, this is a good development.

3. A revolutionary concept particular to the Schoenstatt spirituality was revealed to me, which is: Ask Mary to take RESPONSIBILITY to CO-PARENT your children. I bring this up because it was like the biggest, brightest lightbulb moment that I've experienced as a Catholic in years.

A subject I no longer discuss as a blogger is my absolute loathing of being a parent. On the old blog, in the early years when Alan was a baby/toddler, I talked about this quite a bit. Then one day some anonymous a-hole of a commenter came in and read me the riot act, telling me what an atrocious parent I was, predicting that I'd have a completely f-up'd kid because all I did was complain about how much I hated the responsibility of being chained to a kid all day. After that comment, I vowed to pretty much never bring it up again, given that it seemed impossible to communicate my particular situation, mindset, and troubles.

To this day, despite Alan being close to six years old, I still struggle with these same parent issues. I despise the responsibility because I am an A-1 free spirit. Believe me, close friends have raised a few eye brows at some of my parenting choices and attitudes, since I cannot stand being a parent. However, they also know from real life experience and observation of how terribly much I love my son, which is something that cannot be adequately communicated on the internet.

Anyway, since the day I knew I was pregnant right up until today, I have felt alone, oppressed, and resentful about the parental position. So this Schoenstatt teaching has reached deep down into my heart, and it's something that I am going to cling to and examine and attempt to implement in our lives. Note this isn't just asking Mary for daily help at being a mom or dad, which is something we should be doing anyway. Rather, this is literally and seriously asking Mary to step in as a parent to your children. And why not?

4. During a group sharing time, a woman very vocally worried about whether as a married person, she had missed her calling to her true vocation, which would be a religious sister? It got me to thinking how many times I've wondered the same, and also suspecting that many other married women have too. Has that ever happened to you? Personally, I believe such thoughts naturally come out in an atmosphere like a silent retreat, because you're actually quiet enough to be talking to God and/or listening to Him, and when that happens, you recognize how much more you'd like that to happen - like ALL THE TIME - and thus you think, hey, this must be what's it's like for religious, and wait, maybe I missed the boat! Really, though, I think people only have this worry about a missed vocation when the going is tough in their own chosen vocation.

5. Finally, the retreat sealed it for me that I am very drawn to the Schoenstatt spirituality and wish to make their Covenant of Love with Mary, Mother Thrice Admirable. Again, I do plan to blog about Schoenstatt soon, so that I can introduce this movement to others.


  1. Yeah, I dunno about babies on a silent retreat either. But that's cool that you made friends with them, life is funny like that, eh? SO glad to hear that you have released the worry about the school. That is a great feeling. It's one of those things you can't control or engineer, so just wait and see what happens and you will deal with it then. I'm not sure about the missing-your-calling stuff. I guess I'm not sure how helpful it is to go down that road. Once you take vows, whether marriage or otherwise, it becomes irrelevant. Interesting though, and I would never judge someone for that, it sounds like a pretty painful road to be traveling down.

    Thanks for sharing, I was so curious how it went and if you busted out of there in the middle of the night :)


  2. "Really, though, I think people only have this worry about a missed vocation when the going is tough in their own chosen vocation."

    That's it exactly. Happens to vowed religious in active orders too - they like to pray so they think they are called to contemplative life in a monastery. Human nature looks for a way out of present circumstances - even when the going is just monotonous. We resist the present moment.

    I recommend alcoholism. Kidding.

  3. LOL on babies on a retreat? I think I'd have a similar response. As much as I loved my babies, I could take or leave somebody elses. I'll have to ask my bro the priest about his vocation. I can't imagine him in any other way of life but I think he's itching to do some missionary work and get out of the hospital.

  4. I met and stayed a week with a Schoenstatt family in Europe, and never inquired into their spirituality. If you can believe it. I have almost a phobia about "communities" because some of them have cult-like aspects. Yes, I was part of a Community for some years.

    That said, I love the idea of asking Mary to co-parent. And I had never heard that before.

    I also can relate very well to the whole parenting dilemma, of not liking being a mom, even while knowing I would die for love of my children, if needed. In hindsight, I think a lot of it for me was serial post-partum depression episodes which colored my view, or discolored it. Annndddd, I can (while never having heard anyone til you say this) relate to wondering if I was called to the religious life and did I miss my calling. This was after listening to a very eloquent Brother in the Missionaries of Charity talk about being a co-helper. Actually helping the poor. It really touched me...although I never acted on it. I was super over-whelmed with motherhood. At that time I had 2 little ones. I almost never had that comfortable feeling of little ones clinging to me and my not minding it. (I do remember marveling at some of the other moms I knew who had little ones and how they just seemed so into it, their babies, their families) Sad, I know. Because I only judged myself in the harsh light of depression blackening everything, and at the time, not knowing really that it was depression, although I suspected it. I really thought it was my own fault that I wasn't better at this motherhood business, and just thought - ugh - I'd somehow get through it. My husband loved being a dad of little ones, thank goodness. Now, I have come into my own so to speak, with my children in their teens & twenties.

    Thank you so much for sharing so deeply. Or - if you're thinking, hey, this isn't deep...well it's deep enough for me to start crying at the computer!!!

    signing myself,

  5. Thank you for sharing this! I've wanted to go on a retreat for sometime, but we always seem busy and like to be homebodies on the weekends, or I'm shy, or 500 other reasons. And also what 'Mom' above me said about communities. Though, I did check out Schoenstatt's website. It might be something I'd check out eventually (the homeschool folks around her a into them). I've been to an Opus Dei recollection in Miwaukee with my SIL, who now goes often enough and asks me if I'd like to go and now I feel weird about it.

    Gosh, I feel that what 'Mom' above me said about depression and children, etc, really echos a lot of what I feel. I made the mistake once of telling a coworker that I don't really like children (we do have 4). We work at a 'large health establishment specifically for tiny humans.' She was quite dumbfounded to say the least! Like you said, it is really hard to express. It's not as if I didn't want to be a mom. I think it's my personality? I don't have a stereotypical mommy-blogger personality, is probably the best way to describe it. I love my children and might have more, but I'm not super-into other children. I like them once in a while :) It's a tough subject, but it's nice to know I am, you are, and 'Mom' isn't alone. There must be more of us!

    And to echo once more, I have never heard of what you learned about Mary co-parenting. That seems wonderful! I could use the help. I think it would be good for the kids, too.

  6. Just poppin' by to leave a wee greeting, enjoyed reading thus far down the thread of recent posts (I read you recent comment at Abbey Roads. Do you read Pentimento also? She writes sometimes on isolation of motherhood in a rural community vs nostalgia for her former high-wire life in the city as an accomplished single, I think she may resonate for you also).
    re: I'm raisin' a red flag on a putative temptation to self-pity I read into this sentence fragment: "in their own chosen vocation"
    God does the vocal work of calling not we ourselves. He qualifies his chosen, he doesn't chose the self-referentially (Pope Francis' term, yours=prettybubbles) qualified. God's grammar is always in the present moment, your vocation is NOW is to discover his will for thee and thine! IMHO Jesus the Divine Word of deus caritas est works his mysterious rhetoric through our proposals, disposing of them as he sees fit. Thus a lay woman consecrated to a religious family and its associated apostolates is spiritually no better or worse off than a lay woman consecrated herself to her secular family and its associated apostolates with the aid of the evangelical councils of poverty, chastity and obedience (to the gifts endowed to that state of life).

    The value of certain things is revealed to us first by their absence, as sort of photographic negative if you will. Yet Divine mercy fills that void, truely, I discovered reading St. Faustina's diary (I read a page or so at a time, once a week on Fridays - I figure she took three years to write it, what's wrong with taking three years to read it? Chuckle!)