Summer. That simple word evokes many feelings. It represents the smell of sunblock and bug spray. It is barbecues and lemonade stands, pools and beaches. It is fireflies and baseball games, firework shows and festivals. It is a break from school lunches and uniforms replaced by parties and vacations, celebrations, family and friends. It is all things happy and exciting as summer approaches. These events will undoubtedly be captured and shared on Facebook and Instagram posts for the world to see.
Then…there is the other reality… of summer. It is homes full of hungry children and a refrigerator that that is always seemingly empty. It is the messy house caused by too much coming and going. It is the long car or plane ride and the continuous ask, “Are we there yet?” It is scrambling to make dinner well after the sun sets. It is bickering siblings and looming summer reading lists. It is sunburn and scraped knees, mosquito bites and bee stings, late nights and crabby children. It is dirty feet, sweaty bodies and last minute decisions. Do I put them to bed dirty and wash bed linens tomorrow, or do I force a shower at the risk of creating a second wind? It is parents trying to survive until bedtime, at which time they will likely collapse into bed (or the couch with a glass of wine). These are the events that will likely not be posted, but ones that we all know are happening behind closed doors. If you have young children, you know it is the time when parents catapult into survival mode.
Summer. The ups and downs of the season all help shape the lifelong memories of our children. These memories provide a rich learning experience for our children. Thank you for allowing them this upcoming experience and continuing their education beyond the classroom. Please remind them of all they have learned to be kind and caring, to use manners, to listen carefully to others and to make a difference wherever they go. Remind them to pray and to attend mass on Sunday. Visit churches as you travel and help them stay connected to their faith. This will provide the needed consistency they need in an unstructured schedule.
The teachers are welcoming the upcoming break (although a teacher never really stops thinking about teaching and lesson planning). They have all the faith in you, your child’s first teacher, as you take on the next leg of the journey. We will miss you all and hope you have a healthy and safe summer! Thank you for a wonderful year.
I know I have asked you at many times this year to reflect on why you choose Faith Hope. What is it about Catholic education that is important to you?
As you might imagine, I was filled with great happiness at being asked by many parents to publish the rosary reflections written by two of our 8th graders and shared at May Crowning. Perhaps the answer to this question was answered by the wisdom of these 8th graders. While these are just two of the reflections, the words of all our thirty 8th graders told of very similar experiences.
Rosary Reflections Read at May Crowning:
The rosary is a very powerful prayer given to us by Mary. The prayer is a way to communicate with her, ask for help, guidance, and advice, and receive forgiveness. To me, the rosary means that Mary is giving us the opportunity for us to interact with her and let her be apart of my life. With the rosary, I can pray to Mary and ask for help, and I know that I can rely on Mary to give me the guidance and assistance that I need to persevere through the task ahead of me. To me, the rosary also allows me to show my devotion to Mary. She gave us the rosary as a gift to show how much she cares and loves us. She wanted to show that she will always be there for us, and that we can ask her for anything. We can ask her for advice, guidance, help, and forgiveness, and comfort. Mary wanted us to know that she will always be there for us, and if we have instilled the same love for her as she has for us, than anything is possible.
The rosary has impacted my life in many ways. One of the ways is that the rosary taught me how to pray. When I was younger I knew what the different prayers were, but I didn’t understand why they were so special. The prayers that we say in the rosary are so significant because each one brings us closer and more faithful to the Holy Family in a unique way. The Our Father helps us stay close to God and become a true disciple of Jesus. The Hail Mary lets us devote ourselves completely to Mary and know that we always have a comforting soul keeping each and everyone of us safe. From the time I was just four years old, I remember praying the rosary during Lent. My mom told us that giving up candy wasn’t enough, and we had to do more, so every night as a family we would say the rosary together. This is why the rosary is also a way for me and my family to stay close together and to stay close to God.
The effects the rosary has had on me have impacted my life. The special graces and the rare connection to God that the rosary gives us changed my life. The graces have made me a better person, and have helped me to act how Mary would want us to. To me, each bead on the rosary represents a different grace and gift that we will receive, each one going to help us with the next step in our life, while Mary is guiding us along the entire time.
The Rosary is very important to me and many other people in this world. As Catholics, we pray this and it was given to us by Mary. The Rosary is a prayer straight to Mary. We can ask for guidance, help, forgiveness and much more. As a Faith Hope student, the Rosary has done magic for me.
The first time I prayed it this year, someone was on life support. This kid was not doing well. We sent all of those prayers straight up and believe it or not he is doing just fine right now. The second time that the Rosary did its work was when we prayed for the Berghoff family. Even though I did not know the family well, I still went to church and prayed with my friends because Johnny (who knew the Berghoff’s very well) as us all to come. I know that those prayers worked for their family because just us showing up and praying probably warmed their hearts.
When I pray the Rosary, I feel so relaxed and I feel strong. I feel so grateful when I pray because my attention is directed to God and Mary. I think that people are grateful and are thankful of you when you pray it for them. The Rosary for me is like a combined prayer. It is every basic prayer all together. When you put all those prayers together you get a very powerful prayer and that’s what it means to me.
“The bar does not have water, but the hotel does, but not the bar.”
This was what I learned on a Friday morning as I walked a beautiful preschool student down to her class. She had just finished telling me that her babysitter brought her to school because her “mom and dad went on a plane to Jazz Fest.”
I explained that it is good for moms and dads to have some time to themselves and kids to have a little break from parents. “Yeah, but the bar doesn’t have water, anyway,” I was told rather matter-of-factly. She said this with 100% certainty and was confident that this was the reason she was not also on that plane. I let her teachers know she had arrived and then left her at her locker where she resumed business as usual in four-year old preschool.
I walked back to my office with a smile, while reflecting on how very important it is to take time for ourselves. As parents, we make hundreds of decisions each week. We give 110% to our children every single day. Some days we do a better job than others, but regardless, we give up much of ourselves for our children. And while we wouldn’t have it any other way, it is also important that we take care of ourselves so we can be healthy and be present for our children-both physically and mentally.
I also reflected on the honesty and openness of young children. They say it like it is, hold little whites lies as truth, and interpret things in their own little ways. I always say that we’ll believe half of what we hear, if you believe half of what you hear!
Whatever it is that you do to refresh and reset yourselves for the task of parenthood, take some time to do it. Perhaps it is an exercise class, dinner with a friend, book club, weekend with a spouse or friend, or even a visit to a bar with no water, take time for you. We can only be our best selves if we do what we need to do to take care of ourselves. And when we are our best selves, we can raise children that are the best versions of their selves, too!
I hope you had an opportunity to regroup and enjoy some relaxing time over Easter break. We were able to get most of the family together and head up to the lake for a couple of days. It always amazes me how Wisconsin life slows my pace, clears my mind, and helps me to refresh my priorities.
The week before break, I experienced a day that I know many others have also experienced. Hitting snooze one too many times meant I would have just enough time to get myself ready for work. Running an iron over my shirt, I noticed a stain that forced me to choose a new outfit. I then received a call from my husband that he had something come up at work and he would be a little late. This meant that I would have to wake Ryan, get him showered, dressed and ready to go, in addition to lighting a fire behind the 8th graders. It was a race to see which would be more challenging.
Asking them to pack their lunches, I secretly hoped that there was actually something for them to pack. A trip to the grocery store was long overdue. My high schooler reminded me that he had to turn in raffle tickets, which we forgot to sell. This meant that I needed to write a check and fill out 5 books of tickets. Barring any other setbacks, we would still be on time. As soon as my husband walked in the door, we were off and running. Three minutes into our drive toward Winnetka, I received a call from home. One of the boys left his lunch on the table. Since we were close enough, I decided to turn around to pick up the lunch. After a short lecture about being responsible, I took a deep breath. The first hour of my day had been nothing short of a marathon.
As we set out on the second attempt toward Faith Hope, I quickly noticed that we were not the only ones hurrying up and rushing. I first noticed a woman running down Harlem Avenue to catch a bus. I then saw a man skipping steps out of his apartment, tie and belt in hand, shirt unbuttoned and untucked, clicking his key fob to start his car. As we trekked further down Harlem, I noticed drivers weave in and out of traffic, cutting each other off. I guess I am not the only one running a marathon today, I thought.
Stretching toward the finish line of spring break, I was thankful for the upcoming opportunity to regroup, slow down, and catch my breath. I wondered if the others I had encountered that morning would also have this opportunity. It made me think of how fast-paced our lives are and how very important it is for us to achieve a balance-time for our spouses, children, faith, work, and of course, ourselves. This time of year is often filled with special school events, celebrations, and often hectic spring sports schedules.
We need to remember to slow down the pace every once in a while, for ourselves and for our children. They need us to slow down and they, too, need to slow down. The school calendar allows us to do this periodically. Unfortunately, we will find ourselves hurrying up and rushing as the race to the finish of the school year will be full of many extra events. Let’s all remember to take time to slow down during this busy season, setting and keeping our priorities. Rather than hurry up and rush, perhaps we can hurry up and slow down.
Do you sometimes struggle to balance time between work, obligations and family? Have you ever looked at your children and wondered where time has gone or if you could slow it down just a bit? You are not alone. This fast-paced, opportunistic world that we live in makes us all wish for an extra hour in some days and an extra day in some weeks. Sometimes we seem to barely get by while keeping up with the demands of life. When I have one (or several) of those weeks, I try to recall the following story to help me realize my greatest priority–that of raising children.
Daddy, Can I Buy an Hour of Your Time?
Son: “Daddy, may I ask you a question?
Dad: “Yeah, sure, what is it?”
Son: “Daddy, how much do you make an hour?”
Dad: “That’s none of your business. Why do you ask such a thing?”
Son: “I just want to know. Please tell me how much you make an hour?”
Dad: “If you must know, I make $100 an hour.”
Son: “Oh!” Then with his head down: “Daddy, may I please borrow $50?”
The father was furious.
Dad: “If the only reason you asked that is so you can borrow some money to buy a silly toy or some other nonsense, then you march yourself straight to your room and go to bed. Think about why you are being so selfish. I work too hard everyday for this childish behavior.”
The little boy quietly went to his room and shut the door.
The man sat down and started to get even angrier about the little boy’s questions. How dare he ask such questions only to get some money? After about an hour or so, the man calmed down and started to think: Maybe there was something he really needed to buy with that $50; he really didn’t ask for money very often. The man went to the little boy’s room and opened the door.
Dad: “Are you asleep, son?”
Son: “No, Daddy, I’m awake.”
Dad: “I’ve been thinking, maybe I was too hard on you earlier. It’s been a long day, and I took my aggravation out on you. Here’s the $50 you asked for.”
The little boy sat straight up, smiling.
Son: “Oh, thank you, Daddy!”
Then, reaching under his pillow, he pulled out some crumpled bills. The man saw that the boy already had money, and he started to get angry again. The little boy slowly counted out his money, and then looked up at his father with a big smile.
Dad: “Why do you want more money if you already have some?”
Son: “Because I didn’t have enough, but now I do. Daddy, I have $100 now. Can I buy an hour of your time? Please come home early tomorrow. I would like to have dinner with you.”
The father was crushed. He put his arms around his little son, and he begged for forgiveness.
This is just a sure reminder to all of you are working so hard in life. We should not let time slip through our fingers without having spent some time with those who really matter to us, those close to our hearts. This week, can you remember to share $100 worth of your time with someone you love? Time is moving fast-we have the rest of our lives to work, but this may be only time you will have a young child who is wanting to spend time with you.