Motherhood & Parenting

Mom Hours: My Son Suffers Migraines

I’ve been putting in a lot of Mom Hours lately.  You know, days when one doesn’t even get a solid fifteen minute break.  (Not to say anything of the night.)

Of course it’s been busier than usual with the selling of our home and the purchasing of another, but it’s more than that.  It’s the start of a new school year with many new elements thrown in.  For example, two of our children are now attending a brick and mortar school, which requires more driving.  And I am still homeschooling three others with a Toddler and a Baby bouncing along in the background.

And somebody has to make sure there’s food on the table.

Now I like doing all these things.  But I don’t like that my 9-year-old son suffers from migraines.  This throws me for a loop every time.  I can always sense when one is coming on because I find him sitting on the couch, not moving.  Then, there’s a glassy look in his eyes.  Then, he doesn’t want to eat, which is a constant worry for me because he only weighs 60 pounds to begin with.  And finally, within an hour of that, it’s an all-out migraine.

His migraines last anywhere from 4-10 hours.  And they almost always end in vomiting.  Last week, as he was throwing up in the toilet, I was moved to tears.  He was so weak that when he finished, he simply slumped to the floor and lay there.

I felt helpless.  I finished scrubbing the toilet and turned to him and said, “I’m so sorry that you’re hurting.  I wish I could take it away.”  Then he got up and looked at me with his big, sunken-in eyes and said quietly, “Mom, you are not meant to suffer migraines.  I am.  It is God’s will.”  And he slowly walked back to the couch.

It is God’s will.

He’s right, and I have a lot to learn from him.  Even while he was clutching the toilet, he was praying for my cousin who suffers from alcoholism.  Surely God hears the prayers of the little suffering children.  It was painfully beautiful to witness.

If only I would remember to pray during my hardships – my sleepless nights of insomnia, for example.  For the Office of Compline reminds me:

In the silent hours of the night, bless the Lord.

And again in Psalm 91,

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, who abides in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.”

My God, in whom I trust.  To whom would I rather go?

It is God’s will that my son suffers migraines, and it is my lot to care for him.  It is also God’s will that I suffer from insomnia.  And yes, it means putting in long Mom Hours.  This is no 9-5 vocation after all, and it requires a lot of sacrifice and prayer.

Motherhood & Parenting

Insomnia Bites

I was asked the other day if I suffer from insomnia?  Uh, yes.  From time-to-time anyway, and it’s terrible.  I’d say that it sucks, but that’s not proper language for a sophisticated blog.  So I’ll just say that it’s terrible.

I never used to have a problem sleeping.  Anybody remember those college days of setting the alarm clock for 10am?  And sleeping all the way through the night, until 10am?  Yeah, that’s a little pathetic, but you get the idea.

Then I got married and started having children.  Like a lot of children.  And the older I get, the less sleep I get, and not just because the baby wants to nurse and the 5-year-old wet the bed and the 2-year-old just feels like screaming.  Nope, with this last pregnancy especially, I was just plain wide awake at all hours of the dark, dark night.

There is nothing more frustrating than getting all the children asleep and realizing that one has only a few precious hours wherein to sleep and then not being able to sleep. Oh, the agony!

If any of you find yourself in this situation, I’ll give you a few ideas that seem to work for me.  But remember, everyone is different, so these tips may or may not work for you.  (Shoot, they don’t always work for me either.)

4 Tips for Surviving Insomnia

1. Watch what you’re doing those two hours before bedtime.

If I’m stressed out, running around, or worrying about everything I didn’t get done, you bet I’m going to be wide awake at night.  This is why it’s very important for me to relax in the evening.  I need to forget about the load of laundry sitting in the dryer and the sticky mess on my kitchen floor.  Rather, it’s time for me to sit down, have a glass of wine, and play a hand of Gin Rummy with my husband.

2.  Eat well.

I always feel better when I’ve attempted to eat well during the day.  You know, like pass on the potato chips and have a bowl of plain yogurt with blueberries instead.

3.  Exercise.

Every day I try to get outside and go for a walk or a run.  It’s amazing what just 20 minutes will do for a gal.  And yes I said outside, even in the cold, cold North.  Bundle up!  The reason I prefer outside to a machine indoors is because of the quiet.  Some of my best ideas come to me when I’m walking down the road outside by myself.  And I always feel better at the end of the day knowing my body moved around a bit.

4.  Just get out of bed and go pray or read.

This one is so difficult for me, but when I do it, I almost always come back to bed and fall asleep.  Instead of lying in bed, staring at the clock, and thinking Oh, I just need to sleep!  The baby’s going to wake up in 45 minutes, and I have so much to do tomorrow.  Why, oh why can’t I just fall asleep!  I just get up and go tell Jesus about it.  I grab my robe, stumble out to the living room, and sit before our icon of the Sacred Heart and pray a Divine Mercy Chaplet.  I don’t turn any lights on either.

I also have a couple favorite Psalms that I like to pray, which come from the Office of Compline.  (Click HERE for it on Amazon.)  From Psalm 134, “In the silent hours of the night, bless the Lord!”  And from Psalm 91, “Night holds no terrors for me sleeping under God’s wings.”

In the end though, Jesus knows, and he cares.  Really.  And this too shall pass, or so I tell myself.

Call Me Catholic, Life is Worth Living

A Day in the Life of a Crazy Fool: Part 8

This is it.  The final part of this series and my day.  If you’ve missed the earlier parts, look to my sidebar under “Tags,” and click on A Day in the Life Series.

7pm Rosary

Around 7pm, my husband calls all the children to Rosary Time.  Now I would love to paint a pretty picture of this.  You know, with all the children gleefully running to pray as a peaceful, harmonious family, but that would be a Big Fat Lie.

No, I must be honest.  Generally at least one child is grumbling about it all.  “NO!  I want to play legos!”  Or, in a really whiny voice, “Aw, Daaaad, I just sat down to read this book.”  Or, even better yet, utter disregard and aloofness–the children ignore us and go on wrestling.

Sigh.  But we keep at it.  After all, it’s worth it.

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Here’s where the day began with Morning Prayer, and here’s where it ends with Rosary and Compline.

In any case, the five older children each lead a decade while I hold the baby and the toddler roams around the room, distracting everyone.  (She is really cute and hard not to look at.)  And we trust that Mary understands.

After the rosary, the children retire to the basement to pick up their toys and get ready for bed, and my husband and I pray the Office of Compline.  (Click HERE for a look at what we use.  It’s excellent.)  When we’re finished with this, it’s usually around 8pm, and my husband ventures downstairs to give the children blessings.

8pm “Bedtime”

Now I do not put the children to bed.  I’ve been around them all day, and I’m done.  When my husband gives them blessings, that’s it.  We do not make this a great production.  For we’re not about to waste our whole evening cajoling and persuading our children to be quiet and go to bed.  Nope.  No bedtime stories, no lying in bed with them, no nothing.  They’ve been read to and sang to and attended to all day long.

So, they’ve taken it upon themselves to tell nighttime stories and sing songs and all the rest.  It’s really quite sweet.  And we don’t care if they’re all snuggled up on the Eldest’s bed, listening to her tell a Tall Tale, so long as they don’t come upstairs.

This may sound harsh to some, but it’s what works for us.

My husband and I enjoy this time from about 8pm to 10pm as a time for us to be together.  Many nights we enjoy a glass of wine or a cocktail and play a game of Gin Rummy or Cribbage.  Sometimes we just talk.  Sometimes we read aloud to one another.  Sometimes we watch a movie.

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Tonight it’s cocktails.  Manhattan on the left.  Cosmopolitan on the right.

Life is just too short to not enjoy your spouse.  If you’ve been in the habit of staring at your technology and ignoring your spouse, quit it!  And find time to be together.

For as the Venerable Fulton Sheen reminds us, “Life is worth living.”