As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Duty of the Moment

A beautiful friend of mine, who is the mother of ten, offered the following advice to me: attend to the duty of the moment.  There will always be an infinite number of things that need your attention, but there is always the one thing that needs to be done in this moment.  Focus on that duty.

Her words brought me much comfort today.  Things started off great, we had been at my family's camp to celebrate my mother's birthday last night, and spent a lazy morning relaxing while the kids played outside.  Today being Sunday, we needed to make sure we got to mass.  So we left the camp in plenty of time for us to spend a few hours at home before heading back into our 6:00 pm mass.  No pressure, just go with the flow of the day.

I am a working mother of four (soon to be five in November).  I work four days a week, and got asked to work on my day off this week too, which also happens to be my husband's 30th birthday.  We talked, and I figured I would work around it, so I agreed.  Then I got home and opened the door to my house, which smelled like a barn!  I'm pretty sure (though I've yet to confirm it) that our cat peed somewhere.  I couldn't find it, but the smell lingered in every room of the house.  I feverishly began cleaning hoping either to discover the source of the smell and clean it up, or to fill the house with so many cleaning products that the smell of cat urine just disappeared.  While I was on my cleaning spree, my 18-month-old discovered some dishwasher detergent in the dishwasher (left over from the load that had just been put through), which I only became aware of when she started gagging on it.  I flushed her mouth out with water for about fifteen minutes, read the bottle, and determined (with the help of my husband) that it probably was not enough to cause any harm, save a few stressful minutes for my baby, who couldn't understand why Mom was draping her over the sink and spraying water in her face.

My brother showed up to pick up a futon that we are passing back to him (he gave it to us when we had room for a spare bedroom, which is now being transformed into a room for our own growing family), and I escorted him to the basement to the sound of my three boys (6, 4 1/2 and 3) dumping every toy they owned on their bedroom floor.  Not wanting to waste my brother's time, I left them to continue their mess so that he could take the futon out without any little ones underfoot (sometimes you have to pick your battles!) and when he was gone, I was eager to get the newly-emptied room set up for my little girl.  She, by this point, had decided that she wanted me to pick her up, and unable to distract her I propped her on my hip, while I pushed furniture around the room.  I could not get the furniture set up in a way that I thought worked well, everything I tried made the room look too cramped.  I just wanted to put the baby down, roll up my sleeves, and get this room taken care of, but every time I tried to set her down she screamed.  Heartburn was setting in (did I mention I'm seven months pregnant?), I could still hear the mess the boys were making in their room across the hall, mass time (and my work week, which included one extra day this week) was fast approaching, and I could still smell cat pee!  My husband came down, and I almost cried.  I was so overwhelmed!

He told me if I wasn't feeling well we didn't have to go to mass.  I wasn't feeling sick enough to miss mass, but I was feeling like I might crack mentally at any moment.  He suggested we pray about it, and as we did I really felt like God was saying that whatever I decided was okay.  That He knew exactly where I was at, and that He understood.  When we finished praying I shared my thoughts with my husband, who said he couldn't make the decision for me, but that I should think about whether I would gain more benefit from staying home and resting, or the grace I would receive by going to mass.  As I thought about this, and how much I wanted to just stay home and take the easy way out, I thought about what mass really is - going to be with people who love God, to get my strength from Him, and to receive His body and blood in Holy Communion.  Here is where I would find everything I needed to sustain me in my every day, and to miss out on this because I was too tired would be to deny everything that mass is meant to be.  I knew then and there what my duty of the moment was - to get myself to mass.  The room could wait until another time, the boys could clean their mess, and I could light a candle to get rid of the barnyard smell until I got home.

No sooner had I made the decision than my phone rang, and I got the news that I didn't need to work on Friday after all.  It was an affirmation to me that I just needed to focus on the one thing I could accomplish in that moment, and the rest of the things that were bothering me would all work out with God's grace.  As we attended mass this evening, I felt completely renewed.  And particularly at the sign of peace, as I reached out to each member of my family I felt like I was passing on a peace God had given me earlier in the day to just trust Him with the never-ending list of things to do.  I am not unlike any other wife or mother - there are never enough hours in the day to accomplish everything that needs to be done.  But when I put things in the right perspective, God gives me what I need to do the things that matter. 

I'm thankful for days like today.  Whenever I am tempted to think that I can do anything on my own, please show me Lord how desperately I need You.

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