Enter “Mama Hawk”

Time and again have I heard parents openly express their fears when it comes to raising girls. Fathers half-jokingly declare that the day their daughter brings a boy to the house, they will either be cleaning a shotgun…inviting 20 of their closest friends over for a panel interview…or digging a hole 6 feet deep in the corner of the backyard.

It is inherent in the heart of a daddy to want to protect his little girl. Thoughts projected into the future spark anxiety about the loss of her purity and the possibility of teenage pregnancy. On our visit to the Aquarium of the Pacific last summer, Gary and I complimented a man boldly wearing a shirt that read “D.A.D.D.” (Dads Against Daughters Dating). Yeah, we thought it was pretty cool, too.

Something happened the other day, however, that woke me up to the harsh reality of society’s double standard when it comes to boys. I always knew that many parents did not exercise the same vigilance with their sons. Boys seemed to have more freedom. Certain behaviors were more acceptable among males than females. I’d worked in co-ed schools for most of my teaching career and witnessed these differences first-hand. But never had it struck the depths of my soul until my own child was affected.

A few days ago, I took our four little ones to the playground where some middle school kids happened to be hanging out. My two-year-old son Kali couldn’t keep up with the girls so he circled the play structure, making his way up a side ladder. A young boy of about 12 coached him up and cheered him on as he reached the top. I thanked the boy for his encouragement and watchful eye.

Ten minutes later, this same boy says to Kali, “Hey, tell your mom you learned a new word. #%@!”

Oh no, he didn’t. But, yes, folks…he did. And the junior high teacher in me let him have it. “EXCUSE ME! We do NOT say that word in our house, and YOU shouldn’t either!”

Thank God that Kali was totally oblivious to anything that boy said to him. I was unquestionably angry for a good while, but then I started feeling sorry for him. Who knows what kind of background this kid had with the barrage of negative influences leading him to think that trying to taint the innocence of a toddler would be funny.

All of a sudden, the whole incident became my day’s meditation. Sure, our girls need to be guarded…but so do our little boys. They are introduced to impurity at a much younger age and at a much more aggressive intensity than the girls are. “Locker room humor”, pornography, relationship conquests – all seen as normal in the lives of our men – find their roots in the culture they grew up in as children.

It makes my insides churn.

I always intended to raise all my kids with the same morals, rules, and expectations regardless of their gender. They are taught to love God and to see everything He made as good and beautiful, including their bodies. Other people are to be respected and treated with the dignity they were created with. And anyone who has ever heard Gary and I speak about courtship knows that we will do our very best to help them understand the nature of sacrificial love and all that a lifestyle of chastity entails.

It is our God-given duty to shield them from harm, both physical AND spiritual. To protect the body and neglect the soul would only lead them down a tragic road laden with unnecessary heartache and suffering. But our family will not be enclosed in a “box” completely separated from reality. That’s not the life God calls us to live. Gary and I will decide together how to educate them about the world…about the way that it is and the way God intended it to be.

We want them to be salt and light. We want them to reach out to those in need. We want them to know that they have a great mission only they can fulfill. Their foundation will be the life and example of Jesus Christ…the One who was sent to love those who did not know love…to convict those whose hearts were hungry for the truth…and to forgive those who did not know what they were doing.

So when our children do encounter sin in its different forms, we pray that they will face it the same way Jesus did: with a pure heart formed in the Word of God and fully enlightened by the Holy Spirit. Will they fall? Probably. But hopefully with the faith we are passing on to them, they won’t fall as hard. If they should ever stray, at least they will know that Mother Church will always be here to embrace them with open arms.

‘Tis quite a scary time to take on the challenges of parenting, but if we do our job right, maybe our children will be numbered among the faithful whose courageous witness proclaims to the world that God’s love surpasses any fleeting pleasure…wipes away the shame of sin…and fills us with the hope of eternal life.

May this generation rise up and become the saints they were made to be. And may all my fellow parents embrace the huge responsibility in being models of virtue for their families. AMEN!



My Journey to Bethlehem

Well…I’m not REALLY going to Bethlehem.

On July 13, I began the preparation for total consecration to Jesus through Mary using Fr. Michael Gaitley’s book 33 Days to Morning Glory. I made my very first consecration in 2002 and have renewed it repeatedly over the years, but this time I experienced a much deeper connection to our Blessed Mother because now I am both a wife and mother. I have also switched roles with my husband and become the full-time homemaker. And I’m PREGNANT.

I was expecting my re-consecration day (August 15 – the Feast of the Assumption of Mary) to arrive with this monumental epiphany accompanied with profound revelations about the new and ever-growing responsibilities I have taken on. But, no…it was very quiet on God’s end…probably because it was very noisy on my end.

Being a Holy Day of Obligation, we needed to go to Mass – and we did. However, I had to take the kids without Gary because he had already started work at LMU and was going to catch a Mass in LA. So…we were late. Really late. It was the second week he was working, and these were some long hours he was putting in. I don’t adjust to major changes very quickly, so I was tired…overwhelmed…and spent in every which way possible.

The one thing that helped keep me going was my “FIAT”.

No, not the car.

It was the “YES” I had given to God, to my husband, and to my children to accept wholeheartedly the place reserved for me in the home during our kids’ most formative years. This was a big decision and a huge transition for us to make as a family, and it was something I wanted since I was carrying Meleana in my womb six years ago.

But, let me tell you… This is no easy job. I have a belly the size of a basketball, currently starting my 33rd week with baby Jean-Paul. It is now my job to take food orders throughout the day…homeschool our two girls…change Kali’s diapers…wash dishes…cook meals…clean…do laundry…take them all grocery shopping…run errands for the family…and get myself (still with the 3 kiddos) to all my prenatal appointments. Oh, and of course there are days when they’re sick, and I have to clean up “other stuff”.

On top of all that, it’s HOT.

There would be nights when I was so exhausted, I would cry. I missed having Gary here all the time to talk to and help with the kids. He’s been going through his own adjustments with an incredibly rigorous practice schedule and a trying commute, so I tried to hold down the fort as best as I could without too much complaint.

After a while I couldn’t hold the frustration in anymore, and I needed to find balance for the sake of our marriage…our family…and my own sanity.

The consistency of my prayer routine rooted my relationship with God, and it gave me the courage to be honest with my husband about what I needed. Now that we’re both used to the daily grind, it’s a little easier to carve out the time to check in with each other. Gary has been great about sharing the household duties, as time permits, and taking care of a sometimes fussy Kali when I just need a full night’s sleep after a challenging day.

As much of a roller coaster that the last few weeks have been, I have not once regretted the choice we made to do this. It was time.

It’s always an incredible comfort to know that my husband understands what I’m going through (apart from the pregnancy). He devoted five years to these little ones, and they all truly were his priority. Everything I do now, he did, too. So when he comes home from work and I look frazzled, he knows why. On the days when I share our small victories and lessons that the kids are learning, he is also able to appreciate them all right along with me.

So what does this have to do with Bethlehem?

Around this same time in her pregnancy, Mary hopped herself with her growing belly on the back of a donkey and rode some 100+ miles away from home so that her husband would not have to travel alone to his birthplace for the required Roman census. She did not worry about where or when she would give birth. She didn’t even give a second thought to the discomfort she would endure for the last trimester…again, on the back of a DONKEY.

There was no air-conditioned SUV. No restaurants to stop at. No hospitals in case of an emergency. When they arrived at their destination, there wasn’t even a clean, comfortable place for them to stay.

All the while, she knew that the child in her womb had a very special purpose, and whatever God led her and Joseph to do in each and every moment would play an important part in the Plan for her Son.

It was TRUST and OBEDIENCE at their finest.

Although my own journey does not completely mirror that of Mary’s, I am realizing more and more how close she really is to me as I live out God’s will in these days. I am called to faithfully and prayerfully support my husband. I must put my complete trust in the Lord to care for all our needs. If He should summon us out of our comfort zones, I have to obey Him without fear because His plans are always good and perfect. And should I be graced with difficult moments, I will choose to offer them up so that Jesus Christ Incarnate will reveal Himself to each one of my children, as we teach them about His merciful Love and the eternal Truth handed down to us through His Church.

I will reach Bethlehem. And then I will make my way to Nazareth…Galilee…Jerusalem…and Calvary.

When all is said and done, there will be Heaven…and that will be the final reward.



“As for me and my household, we will serve The Lord.” (Joshua 24:15c)