Domestic Bliss Report

Motherhood is hard work. If we don't stick together, we'll all fall apart.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Keeping my head above water

I started this Lent with lots of enthusiasm. If that makes sense, that is. I had the schedule I was going to work on, I'd figured out some adaptations for my own household, it was gonna be great. I'd have the house clean(er) and (more) organized come Easter--yay!
Then five visits to the pediatrician in six days; nebulizing ever three, then four, then six hours; four kids going on antibiotics twice daily and two of them with eardrops four times daily; unseasonably warm weather making everyone want to be outside (and thus slack off on chores); so we got behind and haven't caught up.
I'm feeling overwhelmed by STUFF. We have more books than we'll ever read, more movies than we'll ever watch, more toys than they'll ever play with, more clothes than we'll ever wear out... I don't think we'll have more food than we'll ever eat but that's only because we regularly consume quantities of that. Maybe it's because I watched an episode of Hoarders last night but I'm really feeling this glut of abundance that can only happen in First World countries.
Like forgoing vaccinations, by the way. Here in the US, we can debate shots versus ill effects, government conspiracies and autism risks, mercury poisoning and ethical production. In places where children still die from polio, they don't have that luxury.
Back to my original thought, such as it was. I look around my house and think of so many things I want to do, and wish could happen, and even could get rid of and simplify... then the baby cries, or a diaper needs changing or bickering needs refereeing or someone needs help with their school. Repeat ad infinitum until the end of the day when I just want to crawl in bed.
Even on my Kindle where entire collections of classics can be found for free, I still feel that in my head. Carrying it around. Perhaps that's my own little neurosis as they don't take up any physical space.
Purging doesn't take any money, just time and effort. And the motivation to do it.

So today is a fresh morning. Perhaps I will be one bag of donations lighter at the end of it.

Monday, March 05, 2012


The noise is sometimes unbearable. Not just the juggling of six children, their conversations and questions and requests and disputes and... The other noise. The one that never goes away and starts with, "I really should be doing..." or "After I'm done with this, what can I start next?"
Multitasking can be both a lifesaver and a route to insanity. The washer, dryer, and dishwasher running; the littles napping; the big 3 doing school or chores; folding laundry and mentally planning what to do next, or writing the shopping list or dinner that night. It's the standard of my life and it's become second nature. But where is my silence?
Yesterday, when Husband was home ill but not contagious, I went with just Thomas to pick the Big 3 up from art class. I arrived and luckily saw a familiar mom; she told my kids I was outside waiting. So there I was. Three kids safe and involved in an activity I'm not leading, two others home with their father, the youngest asleep in his car seat behind me. Instead of simply sitting still, contemplating the quiet, saying a prayer, what did I do?
I pulled out the girls' handbook and started looking over badges we could do. I could have prayed a decade (God gave us 10 fingers for a reason), I could have said something spontaneous, instead I started looking for more work to do.
It's a sickness.
Saturday, when getting Elizabeth down for her nap, I lost my temper. For some reason, yelling "Lie down!" is counterproductive when dealing with a 2-year-old. After she finally wound down, I went and got my Rosary. She was drifting off when I hugged her for a moment; she started to say she wanted to get up and I shushed her. "Mama's going to say her prayers. You go to sleep," I told her. Her eyes slid shut.
Despite my many distractions on what should be done to tidy their room, I managed all five decades. It was almost penitential which tells me more than anything it's been too long.

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Saturday, March 03, 2012

So now I have a patron saint?

     I've written about this before--the insignificance I feel sometimes when I compare myself to certain others. Those who get mentioned in my alumni bulletin, for example. There are kids younger than I gallivanting around the globe bringing potable water to obscure villages in developing nations, or making huge scientific breakthroughs related to various plagues. (I'm not exaggerating. One of my former students is currently in the Peace Corps working with his wife in South Africa.) Or they're making these thoughtful and generous philanthropic donations or improving literacy rates in Appalachia.
     Whatever. I'm just trying to keep my baby happy, my school-age trio on-task, and preschooler and toddler alive. Monumental global accomplishments and curing cancer will have to wait.
     Will the small acts of kindness I do ever amount to much? Will my kids even remember? Will she remember how I tried every week to make sure she had tights for ballet, or he how I made sure his uniform was clean? How I would try to serve one of her favorite dinners the same week I made her least favorite to please her brother?
     In the one episode of Leverage I've watched, one of the characters said something like, "One child is a human interest story; a thousand is a statistic." All of those tiny acts are statistics that get lost.
     I was thinking about this some weeks ago. We'd arrived early for Mass and the ambulatory kids were walking around looking at the church--something they still do even though we've been there many times now. I contemplated the painting above the altar of the church's patroness, St. Veronica. I think she's one of those early saints that got "grandfathered" in before the Church started getting official about who was or wasn't and thoroughly examining miracles, kind of like St. Philomena or St. Christopher. Did you know the saint referred to most certainly wasn't named "Veronica"? She's called that from the translation of true image--I'm not up on my Greek, but I think it's vera ikon. According to Catholic Tradition, she wiped the face of Jesus as He carried His cross. An image of His face remained on her veil. Her act of kindness isn't even mentioned in Scripture, but is part of the Stations of the Cross. What else she did in her lifetime, whether she had children, even her real name is lost.
    That kind of humility, to be remembered two millenia later for one simple act, is a saint that understands motherhood.

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