Vanessa Gonzalez Kraft tries to balance her traditional Mexican-American cultural heritage and Catholic identity, personified by her grandmother La Lupe, with her roles as a young wife and mother.
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2013: No Excuses
I’ve always been a person who doesn’t like to hear excuses. I don’t dismiss all excuses because some are completely valid and the situation is out of the person’s control. But, especially since I work at a high school, I believe most excuses are people slacking off and trying to get away with it.
Recently, though, Brandon and I were given the opportunity to coordinate a Marriage Preparation Weekend for engaged couples. This is a ministry we’ve always been interested in helping out with, so we jumped at the chance to be able to facilitate the weekend. We should have more seriously considered that we would have a 6-week-old at the time, but we were optimistic about our time management skills. As the weekend approached Brandon was freaking out that we didn’t have more of it planned. I kept saying, “Look, Brandon, we have a new baby and two older girls that never sleep in past 7 a.m. Cut us some slack.” At some point Brandon looked at me and said, “Stop giving me that excuse. We could have had all of this done before the baby, and we didn’t do it. Now we have to get it done. We don’t have an excuse. It has to get done.”
He was right. I am at a point in my life when I can give all the excuses in the world about why I don’t get things done and these excuses would be completely legitimate.
No, Brandon, I haven’t made out the grocery list. The girls have kept me busy.
No, Doctor, I haven’t been taking my vitamins. Things are just so busy at home.
No, Mom, I still haven’t folded the laundry I washed a week ago. Things have just been so crazy.
No, Dentist, I haven’t been flossing at night. I’m lucky to get my teeth brushed in the morning trying to get everyone ready.
Now, I am very busy, but that’s not the reason I haven’t done these things. I haven’t done them because I haven’t made them a priority and just gotten them done. I have to decide to make some of these things important. Yeah, flossing will probably continue to fall by the wayside, but I should be taking care of myself better and taking my vitamins. I should make organizing our meal plan a priority because it makes the entire week less stressful and gives us so much more time when we’re not racking our brains for ideas for the next meal.
We have three kids 3 years old or less, which means things are always nuts. Someone is always sick. Someone is always keeping us up at all times of the night. Someone is always missing a nap and in a really sour mood the rest of the day. I could give a zillion excuses to get us out of anything, and they would all be true, but at some point I can’t let the craziness of family life keep me from everything. Granted, if my child has pneumonia, I’m going to pass on the Christmas party. But we can’t keep slacking off because our hands are full and we’re tired. We’ll probably be incredibly busy and tired for the next 30 years. I just have to learn to live with it and continue moving forward.
I actually saw a bumper sticker that reflects this perfectly: “Much of the world’s work is done by people who don’t feel very well.” Touché.
In 2013 I want to be more purposeful. Every single second of our day can be filled with just trying to survive. Wake up, get kids dressed, breakfast, clean up, naps, lunch, clean up, naps, grocery shopping, dinner, clean up, put kids to sleep. Before we know it the whole day is gone, and we haven’t really done anything. If you watch the “West Wing,” Brandon and I had a moment like Leo’s return after his heart attack. Leo tells everyone: We have 365 days left in this White House, and we’re always going to be on the brink of some catastrophe, but we can’t just be running around like chickens with our heads cut off from problem to problem. We have to use the time we have left to get the stuff done that we set out to get done.
Don’t think that I’m being super hard on our family. I do cut us slack, and I know that change is slow and even slower with kids in tow. I’m not expecting all of us to be fluent in Cantonese and be expert ballroom dancers by 2014. But Brandon and I are in the process of figuring out what our real goals are for this year. We don’t want to just float through another year. We want our whole family to really grow and do some great things. This year as a family I finally want to make bags filled with non-perishable foods to pass out to the homeless people we meet. I want us to take out the Advent wreath at the beginning of Advent, not during the fourth week. I want to start losing this baby weight (x3). I want to cook more and start teaching Olivia how to cook. I want to celebrate more saints’ feast days with the girls.
So, while I’ll probably still give lots of excuses this year, hopefully these excuses will be purposeful and not just the default.