confessions of a new mom

“Today… was officially… the WORST day EVER!” I exclaimed after a long day of what seemed like hour upon hour of a fussy, overactive, nap-fighting, teething baby.

I knew I was exaggerating. I knew I was being a drama queen.

But sometimes, that’s the best therapy (for me, at least): to speak in fourth grade level hyperbole. To let that frustration out like a bang.

“And guess what? It was also the BEST day EVER… because we have HIM [our son]!” Matt chimed in.

I smiled. He spoke truth.

“You’re right… you’re SO right.” I agreed.

Recently, I have found myself an ungrateful mother. I may be a saint in the making, but I am no living saint now! (Ha, ha, ha!)

“God, you say you know how many hairs I have on my head? Well, I want to pull out ALL of them right now!” I kept thinking today.

It’s amazing how much of “my life” I have felt that I have “lost” since giving birth to my son. Career plans? What career? Hobbies? What hobbies? Free time? Ha! Ha, ha, ha!

But my husband is right.  When we got married, we vowed that our marriage would be ,”free, total, faithful, and FRUITFUL.” And God sure did deliver (fast!) on that fourth “f” (when he blessed us with the FRUIT of our LOVE: our dear son)!

We said “yes” to being free, total, faithful, and fruitful… we said “yes” to LIFE. Which is actually quite funny. Because while that YES meant gaining the CUTEST, most LIFE-filled baby in our arms, it also meant LOSING *our* lives as we knew them! It is our dear son’s life over ours now. We are called to LOVE by laying down our LIFE for his.

Yet in the end, it’s like a 1,000,000,000^infinity return on LIFE– just a different kind of life. One that is full of suffering, sacrifice, and selflessness. Yet it is precisely that life, I’ve found, that grows… that grows me and my husband as a woman and a man, respectively– and that, hopefully, will make the world a better place one day: via passing on that spirit of sacrificial Jesus-like love to our dear son.

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He ended up tryin’ to eat my Confirmation teaching materials today! This boy’s on the move, and boy is he fast now!

they’re one in the same

Ah, this.

Yes, this.

Silence.

My two boys asleep: my hubby and my son.

Silence! Time to think uninterruptedly. Alas…. alas!

And yet, I am so tired. It is SO late.

Who knew the vocation of motherhood could be so exhausting?! Really, zillions of other women have gone through this?!

And yet, it’s an exhilarating feeling that I am left with at the end of the day. Honestly, I’ve dreamed of being a mommy even before grade school. (As I experience all of this joy being a new mommy, I can’t help but pray even more for those struggling with infertility and miscarriage– I cannot imagine that pain. <3)

All of those moments that I want to bang my head during the day when my son is fussing, screaming, or just being overactive and not napping… they are put to *shame* when, at the moment that my baby finally DOES fall asleep, I pull out my smartphone and peruse my photos and videos of him. Ha! Ha! Ha ha ha ha!

What I am learning about motherhood is this: sacrifice. Isn’t that the single word that comes up numerous times on this blog?!

Sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice. Whew!

Yet what I am also learning is this beautiful, mysterious paradox: that I revel in this sacrifice. That at the time that I hate it, I also love it, because I know that it is edifying.

Sacrifice and love: one in the same. THAT is what I have been learning. 

I am being edified… refined… purified.

The one event that has made me “grow up”? Having a child of my own. Cliche, yes. But true, so true.

I often wonder if this is how God feels with me as his daughter. He sees me crying, he sees me blindly hurting myself, he sees me confused, he sees me needy, he sees me being just a little bit naughty sometimes (or maybe other times, very, very in the wrong), he sees me THIRSTY… he sees me HUNGRY. AND IN IT ALL, HE LOVES ME! He only wants the best for me! HE SAYS, “COME, DRINK MY BLOOD. COME, EAT MY FLESH.” Oh my! ” ❤

My motherhood is teaching me soooo much about my daughterhood of the King Most High…

But I am exhausted. So, good night for now! 🙂

#tobecontinued

“Look mom! Sushi! Mmmmm” 😛

My great uncle took a candid of us at dinner one day... we never get family shots! Life is going by too quickly. Hope we get another one soon. ;)

A (blurry) candid of us at dinner one day… we never get family shots! Life is going by too quickly. Hope we get another one soon. 😉

an immutable gift: marriage & family

These are the eyes he has for his Daddy. He loves to play with Daddy so much. There is definitely a father-son bond with a kindred humor and an endearing camaraderie. As Mommy, I just stand on the sidelines and smile. I cannot replace this bond, nor do I intend to do so.

Dominic looking at Daddy

I am so happy for them. I am so grateful to God that our family is blessed with a strong, loving leader who shows us Jesus Christ, and who provides and protects. Just the way Jesus loves, leads, provides and protects for His Church (His bride) on earth, so too does my husband do for us.

Often my hubby tells me that I’m the “MVP [Most Valuable Player]” of the family. He asks me, “What would we do without you?”

But I often ask the same of my dear husband. What would we do without him?

Neither of us are the “MVP.” Both of us are needed to act full-force as husband and wife, as daddy and mommy, respectively, to keep our family ship afloat and sailing, Heaven-bound.

There are beautiful differences between myself as wife and my husband as husband; they are rooted in our God-given feminine and masculine natures. More than stereotypical, they are in our very element, intrinsic to who we are, coloring all we feel and do.

We are espoused to one another, and our gender differences strengthen our family as stabilizers, reinforcements, and propellers. Our complementarity is what keeps us going so strongly

Moreover, there is a beautiful complementarity not only in our marriage and how we support one another, but also in our parenthood and how we love our son. I’ve been learning this over the past few months, daily. And it’s been such a lovely site to witness.

I realize that, essentially, it is my husband who will show our son how to be virtuous… how to be brave… how to be chivalrous… as a young man.  

Sure, I can inspire my son via word and example [and I can do so tremendously]. But only my husband can embody [with his male body!] to our son, by his very living example, how to be a man of God, a man of honor… how to be a man. How awesome! (And oh my, he’s got quite a job to do.)

Yes, God has a master plan for marriage and family life– for life and for love. What a gift!

As I learn more about that gift, I stand in awe. That master plan includes the complementarity between husband and wife, father and mother, which makes for a unique and immutable teamwork and dynamic.

Yet God did not intend marriages to make merely “teams”; He intended marriages to make families! A child is the living proof of the marital love of a man and a woman. This is how life is begotten in the world. And this truth will never change. 

Just as the Father so loves the Son that the Holy Spirit exists as the love between them– so too does our son exist because of our love. Indeed, recently, when my husband and I were having it rough, my husband pointed to our son and reminded me: “There’s our love! It exists!” Yes, our love is so real…. that “it” [he] has a name. 🙂

My prayer is that my generation sees this master plan for life, love, marriage, and family– with its complementary nature between man and woman– and rejoices in it!

May my generation seek this master plan for life and love more and more deeply.

And may my generation stand up for this master plan for life and love, for it is truly a gift.

#thankYouGod #marriage #familylife

she was everything to Him: a reflection on motherhood

When I was driving my cousin around town (and while my mom was babysitting my son),  I told my cousin that it couldn’t be long because I was basically my son’s source of food since I am nursing him. I then jokingly mumbled a bunch of other roles that I play for my son: teacher, console-r and soother, playmate, snuggle buddy, psychologist (to figure out what all those cries mean, of course!).

And I realized: Wow. I am everything to my son.

It made me think: Mother Mary must’ve been everything to Jesus. Yes, at least for a time, she was everything to Him.

I further pondered how, just how, my mission “to change the world with the grace of God” is indeed being lived out in my “hidden life” as a mother.

How? Well, MY heart is being changed by God’s grace day by day, moment by moment. So technically, isn’t the world changing? God is changing me through tiny little him (my son) by showing me who He (my God) is.

In fact, God’s grace is the only thing that is sustaining me right now!

Yes, my mission is feeding my son, burping him, changing his diaper, keeping the house clean, and maybe, possibly cooking– just getting through the day.

My mission is praying fervently that my baby takes his naps– and doesn’t cry from having gas!

My mission is working on my marriage 110% now more than ever, because the happiness and holiness of my son depends on my husband and I being an “us.” My husband and I are to make a very important foundation, which itself must be rooted in Christ.

Yes, this mission is motherhood. And motherhood is changing me through the grace of Christ.

Motherhood is teaching me patience… gentleness… to love the little things. To love this tiny person’s personhood.

To stay strong.

To have Faith.

Many days, motherhood doesn’t seem glamorous at all. Spit up everywhere. Poopy diaper blowouts. Your son pulling all of your hairs out. Oh, and not getting a bite to eat for a while (that one’s tough on me!).

But by the grace of God, what could be more noble? 🙂

2 friends, 2 vocations: sisterhood & married life

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One of my best friends, Melissa, is an “aspirant” in a religious order, meaning she is preparing to become a fully-vowed religious sister one day (there are a series of vows over many years). Similarly, I am engaged, preparing to become a Christian wife this upcoming April. 

Recently, I was looking at pics of Melissa, who now lives in a convent (and has an apostolate chockfull of various duties, such as teaching). I saw her radiant smile shining the love of Jesus! JESUS: her all-in-all, her MAN… the Son of God made man! There she was, in her beautiful uniform. Radiant. In every picture.

The pictures had me thinking… I feel like I was sorta a “wannabe” religious sister before I met my fiancé. Simply put, the entirety of my days revolved around Our Lord. Much of my time was devoted to Him. Because I was single, it was easier to have a more singular focus on my spiritual walk with and worship of Jesus.

When I was 25, dating for the first time had me feeling very odd at first. I was jolted into another way of existing: loving Jesus, but also loving a human man like I love Jesus.

Dating meant making time for daily Mass, holy hours, and morning/noon/evening/night prayer and as well as for daily significant-other conversation, date nights, and relationship building.

So much was new to me: talking out misunderstandings like there was no tomorrow, making surprise brownies like it was a sacred duty, entrusting to this young man my vulnerabilities when I had never laid them out to anyone.

I began to see that Matt deserved my attention, adoration, and sacrifice as Jesus did, albeit in different ways. My new mission was not just to love my perfect Jesus, but also to love an imperfect man in His name. And to be trusting enough to let Matt love an even-more-imperfect me.

Gazing at the radiant smile of my “sister-in-training” friend, Melissa, the presence of the Son of God Made Man could not be more apparent with her. And, after reflecting, I can see how Jesus is present in my relationship with my purely human man as well. I have not left Jesus. In loving Matt, I am loving Jesus in new ways that I have not loved Him before.

In dating / courtship and engagement, my love for Jesus been put to the test! In the past two and a half years, I have tasted the decisive love of the Cross in unforeseen ways. Ultimately, I have learned that with grace, with the life of Jesus within, selfless love is possible to give as well as to receive.

My attention?

To decrease on myself, and to increase on Matt. My Ultimate Question: “How can I serve him better?” In serving Matt, I serve Our Lord!

John 3:30 reads: “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

My adoration?

On Matt’s personhood, his manhood: on his being made in the image and likeness of God. And as the man in our future marriage, on his being our image of Christ: my spiritual “head” to whom I am to “submit” or to “be subject.” On respecting and adoring Matt as a son of God, I am respecting and adoring Our Lord!

Ephesians 5:22-23 reads: “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.”

My sacrifice?

To lay my life down for Matt. Every. Single. Moment.

John 15:13 reads: “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

The two biggest differences between my friend who is in the convent and me?

FIRST. Jesus will be my friend’s “head” while Matt will be mine. He will be my head, I will be his body. Matt and I will be an indivisible team, united by God as “one flesh”! In the ups and he downs, the joys and the sorrows. Together, we will reflect the entirety of Jesus; we will also reflect Jesus the Groom with His Bride, the Church.

SECOND. My friend will have Christ as her “husband” to sanctify her and lead her to Heaven. On the contrary, Matt’s and my shared mission as husband and wife is to sanctify one another via loving one another with the unconditional love of Jesus. And, get this: it is only when we are BOTH alive in Jesus that He will be able to lead us as “one flesh” into Heaven. I am accountable for Matt’s soul and Christian discipleship as well as my for own. And as for our possible future children: we will also be accountable for them so long as they are in our care. These duties are not to be taken lightly!

It is always so fun to receive a letter from Melissa, or to call her, or to meet up with her. Girl talk abounds; but the funny thing is, we could just as easily call it “vocation talk”!

“Vocation” comes from the Latin word “vocare,” meaning “to call.” As Melissa and I follow the Lord’s call in our respective vocational journeys, it is a sight to behold the parallels in our shared calling to Christian discipleship. Although we have two very different vocations, we have more similarities than we can imagine! For at the root of both of our vocations is the Cross, on which hung our sweet and powerful King, Jesus.

What an adventure life has been for both of us, and what more adventure awaits!

A.M.D.G.

marriage as a cross

“I’ll share in your suffering… to make you well, to make you well…” – Phillip Phillips

When I watch this music video, I can’t help but smile. The song dons some pretty idealistic and romantic thoughts. Everything just screams “emotional high! I am in love!” Besides, perhaps, that line on suffering.

You know who the media needs to admire more, though? Not those couples who are “crazy in love” all the time. Instead, I think that the media should admire people who are married and truly fight to keep their marriage strong and alive in good times and in bad. Now those are the heroes of love, the spouses laying down their life for the other, even when that sense of excitement or chemistry is just plain ole’ gone

Still being loyal to the other even when everything feels like it is falling apart. 

Still dying to self for the other even when the other seems to be going cold turkey on you. Nothing could hurt more.

As I prepare myself for marriage, it’s odd thinking of all of the harsh, cold realities that may hit my dear fiance and me. O, and my fiance and I will let one another down at times. That’s a guarantee. One day, it may even feel like there is no chemistry. On either or both ends. What we do at such times will either strengthen or weaken our shared “cross” together. 

Yes, when we get married, we will both  be picking up the “cross” of marriage. This cross will be a joy and a blessing, but also a bearer of great struggle and hardship. This cross will our source of life! This cross will be our way to Heaven! May we always kiss its wood.

sex & sexuality: a gift

Under How Many Suns

Under how many suns have we embraced
In what long fields of flowers and streets of stone
In the strong light of summer, interlaced
And made, like God, a darkness of our own.

Oh when the bitter wind of longing blows,
And all between us seems an aching space
Think that we hold each other close, so close;
We cannot even see each other’s face.

— Gilbert Keith Chesterton

…A poem by the intelligent, witty, and… yes, romantic… G.K. Chesterton.

The first stanza mentions a “darkness of our own,” and I initially asked myself, “What ‘darkness’ does God make? That’s impossible: He’s all light!” I then realized that darkness here does not refer to evil. Rather, “darkness” here is one not only “made” (as Chesterton describes) but begotten: the MYSTERY of the most INTENSE union of three Divine persons in one God!

Yes, the Trinity is the deepest intimacy that will EVER exist: an eternal exchange of love between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. And the Trinitarian mystery of God is “dark” to our unenlightened human mind on this side of Eden.

Similar to the Trinity, my dear fiancé and I have also created a “darkness of our own,” an intimate world such as that to which Chesterton alludes. We, too, are “close, so close,” that our begotten “darkness” is hidden to everyone else, just as the Trinity is to mankind.

The inside jokes. The little quirks we take joy about in one another. Our couple habits, rituals, and traditions. Our shared past-times and interests, the things that only we know about one another. The rhythm of that ebb and flow of our shared days, one after another, marked out by our prayer-life…!

And as a long-distance couple, O, have we known that “bitter wind of longing” and that “aching space” mentioned in the second stanza! Moreover, that “aching space” can also refer to our joint striving towards chastity. 

To be honest, there are indeed moments when we desire to give all of ourselves to one another, body and heart, in the so-called ‘marital embrace’ (a nice euphemism for sex). The relationship’s MYSTERY can just feel so INTENSE sometimes; the other person’s personal mystery can feel so intense, too, that you just want to be one united, body and soul. 

As Blessed Pope John Paul II spoke of in the “Theology of the Body,” God has designed the human body and the human heart in such a way that when a man and a woman are in love, they strongly desire, to the core, to gives themselves to one another in totality. Yet a ‘total’ exchange of self to the other can only happen in the context of marriage, due to the unique design of sacramental marriage!

Human sex and sexuality is indeed a gift from God. God wills our good by giving it to us, and it is our privilege and duty to offer it back to Him via living chaste lives as according to our state in life. For instance, chastity looks different if you are dating/engaged vs married.

When my fiancé and I are affronted by that “aching space” Chesterton mentions, we try our best to remember, in joy, that saying a firm “No” to pre-marital physical desires is actually exclaiming a resounding “Yes!” to one another and to God.  

By trying to live chastely, it is our prayer that we are saying “I love you” as the Italians say it: “Ti voglio bene!”—literally, “I will your good.”

basstreble

engaged

[NOTE] Anyone reading this who may think, “Well, it’s too late for me,” remember: Satan lives in the past and in the future, but JESUS lives in the Present Moment, and His love and His mercy extends to us ALL. JESUS wants you to heal, to be integrated and whole!