Routines

Growing up in a large household, I learned the importance of routines at an early age.  People would jokingly refer to my family as Baby Bootcamp – we were always on time, always knew where we had to go and what we had to do, and we religiously stuck to a schedule.  Then, I worked in a children’s home, where I learned first hand the importance of a routine as a housemother.

In school, one of the parenting techniques that was very basic and taught very early on in our degree program, was learning to teach parents the importance, and then the steps of implementing routines.  They don’t have to be rigid routines, but routines are extremely important.  They allow the child/ren to know what comes next, helps set boundaries and expectations, and quite frankly, reduces anxiety in children.
Two days before the movers came, we shipped our vehicle to the west coast.  We will pick it up in CA in a couple more weeks.  Then, the movers came and took everything from us.  Thankfully, the first day of the movers being here, Soldier Boy was able to rent a pickup from a colleague, and we had a vehicle back.  After the movers left, Soldier Boy left.  Since Soldier Boy left, I have had several evening engagements which have required a babysitter.  As Man Cub still nurses to sleep at night, I don’t insist the babysitter tries to put him to bed – if he falls asleep (i.e. the previous post’s picture), then that is awesome; typically, however, Man Cub won’t go to sleep unless he’s attached to his momma.  
Because of all the things occurring at one time, I realized tonight that our routines are completely out of whack.  Before the movers came, we had a relatively strict bedtime – Man Cub was worn out from the day by around 8 PM, and was in his own bed, sleeping peacefully, by 9:30 PM.  We also spent a lot of time with the military chapel, between daily Mass attendance and Adoration on Fridays.  During Man Cub’s bath time, I usually would take some time out to read from a daily devotional book –   I recommend Small Steps for Catholic Moms: Your Daily Call to Think, Pray, and Act by Danielle Bean and Elizabeth Foss; I would typically, during my routine, concentrate on the devotional for the day (or sometimes days) ahead.  
Tonight, as we were getting ready for Man Cub’s bath at 8:40, I had a realization that hit me like a ton of bricks.  Perhaps part of me is allowing for my impatience and negative attitude because I have not continued to prioritize my spiritual life.  Perhaps I am being hit upside the head by impatience, and being quick to anger, in part because I am not taking the time to really focus on where my heart is truly being called.  Sure, I have said our obligatory Our Father, Hail Mary, Guardian Angel prayer, and Glory Be as Man Cub nurses to sleep, but I have done very little else.  My daily devotional was packed with the movers, and is currently en route to VA.  I didn’t realize, when I made the conscious decision to put it in the packed gear, rather than leaving it out, how much I looked forward to checking out what came next in the book!  
We used to go to daily Mass 3-4 times a week, outside of Sunday.  In the last two weeks, I have been lucky if I have made it to daily Mass twice a week.  I saw a meme online (from the Catholic Study Fellowship FB page) at the beginning of May that describes a person’s life with daily Mass, versus without, and found it fitting:
Unfortunately, I don’t know who authored or developed this meme, but as I said, I got it from the Catholic Study Fellowship Facebook page in early May.  This is an absolutely fitting description for my life right now – by the end of the week, I am running on low, to dead, battery.  And, by the week’s end, I am struggling to contain the anger, resentment, and impatience that I have.  Sadly, the pre-movers routine will have to be something that I will miss until our move is complete.  I am looking forward to being able to begin going back to daily Mass several times a week, once we have found a new church, because I truly believe that daily Mass helps center me, and keep my batteries fresh, making me the best mom I can be for Man Cub.  
As a Mary Project update, I have had daily time and reflection on the Blessed Virgin.  I have been able to spend some quiet moments reflecting on Our Lord’s mother, and how she would handle situations.  Pope Francis even has encouraged Catholics to use the month of May to pick up the Rosary again, and begin praying it daily – I am going to give that a try another month, after my month of “mandatory” dress/skirt wearing is completed (so, I’m thinking of starting that the first of June).  
The only time I have regretted my decision to go completely skirts/dress wearing for an entire month was after I sprained my ankle a couple days ago.  In times of self-pity, as I was trying to find adequate support for my slightly swollen ankle, I would think to myself that it would be so much easier to just put my capris or jeans on (of which I kept 2 of the former, 1 of the latter), and run around wearing those with my “tennis shoes” (they aren’t real tennis shoes, they are the thin soled, light weight running shoes that I wear as my around the house and town shoes – New Balance Vibrams).  However, the more I thought about wearing pants, the more I was determined to go the whole month of not deterring from this mission.  In an odd way, skirt/dress wearing has become part of my new, post-movers routine.  
This last week, during Adoration, I wore my veil while I said my prayers and spent time with the Lord.  Man Cub fell asleep at the beginning of our hour, which allowed me an entire hour (actually, a little more than an hour) to spend in quiet contemplation with the Lord.  During that hour, there were several times where I would feel awkward.  Man Cub nursed to sleep during daily Mass that precedes Adoration, so for the first half hour or so of Adoration, I was wearing both the veil and my nursing cover.  After Man Cub was completely asleep, I was able to cover up again completely, and remove the nursing cover; that act alone helped me become less aware of the veil, although my mind would still occasionally wander to the veil and how it felt “heavy” or how it was a little warm.  And, I noticed the “veil” I am using (the Middle Eastern scarf) actually acted as blinders, of sorts, for me.  It kept me focused on the monstrance (the vessel that hold the Host).  I couldn’t easily look around (thanks to both the veil, and the sleeping child), and allow my thoughts to wander, because every time I looked up, I would see Jesus in the Host.  So, this time, in a way, it did help me remain reverent during my hour.  
As I write this, I am trying to still determine the best way to prioritize my spiritual life during this time of upheaval and changes in routine.  Tonight, I went to a stand-by – I discovered the Divine Mercy Chaplet a couple months ago.  After our nightly prayers, I always turn on non-spiritual music for Man Cub, so I figured since he falls asleep listening to singing, I might as well be singing along to the chaplet – he won’t care.  Tonight we replaced his music with the chaplet, until it was complete; after the chaplet was complete, I switched over to his regular music, which will stay on with him all night.   While the chaplet can be said as routinely and rote as the Rosary, there is a fabulous YouTube video that will aid in singing the Divine Mercy Chaplet.  Originally featured on EWTN (the Catholic television channel), they have placed it on YouTube, where you can find several excerpts of the chaplet – tonight, I broke out the full version (all of 21 minutes long).  It walks you through, singing, the chaplet, and I decided this may help me get into the swing of developing a more spiritual routine in the midst of our move.  I hope the link to the YouTube video will work, and maybe it will help guide someone else in their spiritual journey:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5TGfisOKMM
As I sign off, I am struck by the phrase by Robert Frost’s poem, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, in which he writes, “… But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.”  I made a promise to blog about my experiences throughout this month, and my thoughts, as well as a promise to blog about my spiritual journey.  I hope they are as enlightening for you, as my thoughts have been for me!   

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