It is difficult to convey the impact certain people have on us when others are not familiar with those individuals. I am going to try because I think their words of wisdom are so valuable and worthy of sharing.
A local woman's apostolate, called Heart to Heart, hosted an evening of sharing for young moms. A panel of three moms at various stages of their mothering careers, shared their experiences and discussed young moms concerns in raising children and living an authentic Catholic family life. One of these moms is a good friend and another is a mom who I have long wished to know.
The former is Crystal Russell, who with her husband Dr. Henry Russell, facilitates our children's homeschool enrichment tutorial program. The latter is Irene Fredoryka, wife to Dr. Damian Fredoryka. Dr. Fredoryka is a philosophy professor and a former president of Christendom college. Synthia, the third mom, is a physician's's assistant, trying to juggle work and raising her children well, educating them in good Catholic schools. All of these ladies are quite accomplished in their own right and between them have 22 children. 22 children who are turning out to be faithful, bright and winsome Catholics, the kind of people we hope our children will be.
Crystal has a lovely way of expressing herself but I took my notes in bullet points, because that is how I think.... so here are my notes.
- Mothers are imitators of Mother Mary, pouring ourselves out for our children, while retaining the dignity of our vocations.
- We should dress and conduct ourselves in a pleasant manner using polite vocabulary with our children.
- Civility in the home is the groundwork for charity.
- Manage your household with prudence as opposed to practicality. My example of what she meant would be: It is often easier to use paper plates (practical) at dinner but much more inviting (prudent) to set the table with real dishes.
- Work on obedience from an early age. Use the playback technique when the children need to work on getting their response correct. We call it do-overs. On this point Synthia mentioned to only give your direction one time, then get up to help the child obey if they did not. Good policy.
- Be present to the goodness and beauty of your children and nature.
- Be positive and open with your children so that when they hit some rough patches in the teen years, they will not shut you out.
- Do not keep your computer in the kitchen. The kitchen is where you nourish your family in body and soul.
- Sanctify your day with a morning offering and a personal resolution.
Dr. and Mrs. Fedoryka raised their 10 children in several different states, and for a time in Austria. Classically trained at Julliard herself, Irene Fredoryka managed to make sure all the children were trained in music as well. They were deeply committed to a Suzuki music education for the children. To make the budget stretch, at one point Dr. Fedoryka got up at three in the morning to deliver newspapers before going to teach college philosophy. Irene shared many amusing and interesting stories of their years raising children. (Now their grandchildren number in the 20's.) Her main themes she wanted to encourage the moms with were:
- Accomplish what you need to do with consistency, not speed.
- Praise and uplift your children for real things, keep encouraging for the good.
- God provides even when the budget doesn't look good. (She had many stories of His providence.)
- When the work is piled up and you only have little ones, don't feel sorry for yourself, just do it
- Get rid of the TV, electronics make true family communication more difficult.
Irene never imagined herself with a large family. Dr. Fedoryka told the story of their courtship when he said he hoped for 10 children and she said "Ha!" defiantly. He knew he had her then.
Two of the Fedoryka sons played for the us. They have a new recording of childrens music called Cake for Dinner. Very enjoyable music and fun young men.
The whole evening was a treat, what bright, fun, sweet moms! Teresa Tomeo interviewed Crystal and Irene on Catholic radio. The show is archived here, and the ladies are on near the end of the show. Well worth the listen for heart to heart encouragement.