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

Thursday, March 6, 2014


Yesterday was Ash Wednesday.  It's also March Break, and so we had planned to have a friend visit for the afternoon.  It started off as a nice relaxing day, but quickly went downhill.  My husband has been battling a terrible sinus infection for the past few days, and I had started getting it earlier in the week.  When we were at Mass, it really started to hit me.
I had the youngest two with me, and while the baby was completely content, my three-year-old was quite active and precocious, and it took a lot out of me to have him pulling on me all through Mass while holding my baby (not to mention my toddler's outbursts and meltdowns).  But there was grace in it - I did not lose my temper (not even when I had to take him outside just before the final hymn to speak sternly to him) and the rest of the kids were little angels.  I left Mass feeling truly blessed that we had been there.

Nevertheless it was physically taxing, and as I drove home I could feel a sinus headache start to set in.  I took some tylenol and did my very best to visit with my friend, but as the afternoon progressed and things got worse all I could think was, a) I hope I'm not being inhospitable, and b) I can't wait for Jeff to get home so I can put my head down.  The kids were WI-RED and bouncing off the walls, and I sat as still as I could in my chair trying my best not to let it show how much pain I was in.  Then I remembered that my Mom recommended Advil Cold and Sinus as the best thing for sinus headaches, and that I can actually take that for the first time in my ten years of marriage (you're not supposed to take anti-hystamines when you're pregnant or nursing, and this is the first time in my marriage that I've been neither of those things).  So I texted Jeff and asked him to bring some home, and he did.  And let me tell you, within twenty minutes of taking one pill I was a brand new woman.  My Mama, she knows what she's talking about!

So the evening went on as planned, we had a lovely supper with our friend, and when he headed out we were left with the usual bedtime routines. But my poor husband was still suffering so much with his sinus infection, and I think the meds he took (and likely having to tough out a whole day of work) knocked him right out. The kids were at an all-time level of excitement from the day, and I was physically spent.  I decided to put numbers 2 and 3 to bed 45 minutes early, because they were definitely showing signs of being tired.  Unfortunately, as we had been out, the baby didn't get a full nap and was cranky.  And also that morning I had decided to take my three-year-old's security item (a miniature stuffed Pooh bear) away from him - long story short of that one is that he was getting to the point that it was becoming a crutch to him, and the mere sight of it reduced him to a whining puddle on the ground.  Nevertheless, this had to be the day - this day, where he was overtired and overstimulated.  I faced the question, do I give in and give it back, or do I stick by what I said earlier in the day?  I decided to be a Mom of my word.

Normally I take the baby with me to tuck numbers 2 and 3 in if she's still awake, because at that hour of the day she is quite needy, and doesn't take kindly to being left upstairs without me.  But I had decided that since my toddler was already having a difficult time, I wanted to be able to tuck him in with my full attention.  Naturally the baby was in hysterics, but it was good for my boy.  I was able to be comforting and nurturing, and he did settle down to sleep without his security item.  By the time I came upstairs the baby had been crying for nearly five minutes, and while I normally would dress her and put her straight to bed awake, I decided in her state to rock her for a bit.  Normally she doesn't take kindly to the rocking chair at this time of the day, knowing that it leads to bedtime which she has taken to protesting loudly.  Under normal circumstances I just put her down and she only cries for a few minutes - and yet today, I felt that with the extra demands of the day we could both use a little quiet time together.

I held her high enough that her fat little cheek was resting solid against mine, and I began to sing.  I sing her the same song every night, and she rested so closely to me that I could feel she was drinking me in. Her little legs were at my stomach and her whole body was pressed hard against mine, so that as I sang I was certain she could feel the vibration of my voice as it left my stomach and travelled up through my chest and throat, the full length of her body.  As we rocked cheek-to-cheek my breath left my mouth and brushed past her little nose, and I could see her eyes (which were lined up with mine) only out of the corner of mine, as they were too close for me to look directly into them.  We only rocked for a few minutes, but at the end of such a choatic day it was exactly what we both needed - a moment of pure gift from she to I, and I to her.  The two of us being nurtured and fed through the gift of each other.  Her eyes started to get heavy and I realized she was asleep, and after a few moments of stillness I put her into her crib.  She opened her eyes, but was in such a state of calm that she stayed quietly looking at me as I tucked her in.  I kissed her forehead and thanked God for such a calm and peaceful end to this crazy day.

This age (sixteen months) is the time when you start to appreciate these moments and how much we need them.  Because when they're babies, they're always with you, always drinking you in (and you them).  But as kids get older, they become more independant.  Sometimes they even refuse you when you know that a little down time and loving cuddles from Mom is exactly what they need.  And sometimes it takes a really crazy day of being physically and emotionally spent to make it happen.  I imagine that's what Lent is like.

As children of God, we are quite like little babies.  We begin on a spiritual high, completely on fire for the Lord.  We are like newborns and infants who never tire of our Master's presence, who never want to be put down.  But as we grow and become more independant, we start to walk our own path.  That's not a bad thing, but sometimes we forget just how much we need to be scooped into the Lord's arms.  We think ourselves too big, too busy, too far along to need such coddling.  And yet, the further we walk without the Lord's consolling, physical touch, the more out-of-sorts we become. Lent is a time to turn inward, to recognize our sinfulness, and to turn to God.  To climb into His lap at the end of a crazy busy season of winter and Christmas, and press ourselves firmly against Him, to feel His voice rising out of His body and kissing our noses.  Lent is a time for us to be cheek-to-cheek with our Lord.

I pray that as Lent progresses, we may all find in the solemnity of this season the ever-present opportunities to climb into the waiting arms of the Lord.  In our fasting, praying and almsgiving, may we find what we need to turn away from our crazy lives, and be soothed and comforted by the One who loved us into being.

Many blessings on your Lenten journey.

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