A few weeks ago, a priest friend of ours, Fr. Pettit, called out of
the blue and asked if we and some mutual friends could have dinner with
him on Wednesday night. We were delighted to hear from him, since we
hadn’t seen him in three or four years and he had never met our two youngest children. It was too late to find a
babysitter, so we decided to go over to the home of the other couple,
our friends the Romeros, and have dinner there.
The evening was not a total
wash, but it was pretty close to one, at least for me. One-year-old Gianna inexplicably cried
about 80% of the evening (we found out the next day that she had double
ear infections…yay). I was constantly excusing myself from the table
and stepping out of the room. The big kids kept falling and fighting and
generally being amazingly needy despite our brilliant plan to feed the
kids first and then put Frozen on in the back room. I was so busy
with my children the entire night that I was barely able to talk to Fr.
Pettit. By the time we had finished loading up the kids to go home, I
nearly burst into tears as I hugged Fr. Pettit goodbye.
As much as I fight it, hate it, deny it, or think I’ve avoided it, I fall into a stereotype of the frazzled, busy mother of multiple small children all the time. It alternately drives me nuts and humbles me to the core.
I am the iconic “You’ve Got Your Hands Full” mom. Behold….
Temper tantrums in Target. And Old Navy. And lobbies. And other people’s houses. And parks. And parking lots…
I’ve been to Target on a “night out” just because it’s strangely calming in there and, hey, retail therapy is a thing
I feel like I’m on vacation when I get to go grocery shopping alone
I’ve packed up my crew and headed to the drive thru at McDonald’s, then gone to the park, because the thought of cooking something I don’t feel like eating + three more hours until the kids’ bedtime is slightly stress-paralyzing (thanks for the awesome vocabulary word, Mom’s Night Out)
I’ve put the kids to bed in their play clothes as a “special treat”
Every time one of my siblings calls me, somebody is crying or fighting in the background
Every time I call to catch up with my certain friends, I end up boohoo-crying on the phone
I boohoo-cried during the closet scene in Mom’s Night Out
I have to psyche myself up to give my kids a bath
I treasure my kids’ naptime (read: my nap time/quiet time/time to get things done) so much that I have to make sure I pray for the grace of detachment from it
I get mini panic attacks if we get to church late and have to sit in the middle of the pew with other people on both sides of us…or if we have to sit all the way in the front
Michael makes fun of me because I usually don’t remember the last time I showered
Sometimes I accidentally talk to Michael like he’s one of the kids (for example, “Mike, do you want to get the kids’ pajamas out now or in five minutes?” True story.)
Saving the best for last.
The last time somebody commented that I had my hands full, and then proceeded to ask if “we were done,” I told him that Michael and I were going to “keep going until we got an ugly one.”
I know. WHO says that?! I’m a horrible person, even if I wasn’t trying to be rude. The man was just trying to be nice, and I did realize that at the time. I had read a list of funny responses to the “are you done?” question on a blog somewhere and was honestly trying to be lighthearted and funny. But…I am pretty sure I horrified both him and my husband. Lesson learned.
Sometimes I get frustrated with myself for falling over and over again into such common struggles as a mom. (Don’t even get me started on all the stereotypes I’ve fallen into in marriage at one time or another.) In the end, though, so many of us go through this craziness that it’s got to be important and it’s got to be necessary for this vocation. I always go back to a great quote from St. Josemaria, in which he writes that “our ordinary activities are not an
insignificant matter. Rather, they are the very hinge on which our
I try to look at the virtues that these common struggles make me work on: humility, selflessness, order, faithfulness, patience, gentleness, endurance, joy, and so many others. Mostly importantly, maybe, a dependence on God alone for my peace and happiness. A holy marriage and a holy family need those things and they need them from me, through the grace of God.
Am I all-in or what with this God stuff? Do I trust him with my life and in everything that happens to me–or not? If I’m in, then my faith says that nothing happens to us, good or bad, without his permission. He works all things together for our good–whether it feels good or not.
One of the best ways I’ve heard it explained is this: We pay human doctors to do surgery on us, to cut away and repair and heal us, but we have trouble trusting the Divine Physician to work on our souls in similar ways.
At least, as a parent of small children, I generally get plenty of opportunities for laughter each day. I hear that laughter can be the best of medicines.
Some things to think about. 🙂