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

Friday, October 17, 2014


This is post I feel compelled to write, because it's not neat, and nice, and pretty.  As I sit here, typing, my kids are on their way to my mother's.  She was watching them so that I could do my part-time job of cleaning an office once a week, and she offered to keep them for the night.  Which is really a Godsend for all of us, because I think we all needed the break.

I have a confession.  While I love to be a Mom, sometimes I get overwhelmed.  It's never any one thing, often the combination of a few unforeseeable disruptions added to the daily trials (even those that we make peace with) that, over time, just all add together to make a "straw that breaks the camel's back" scenario.  I feel like I've been there for some time, and it kills me.  I can be so, so mean to my kids by times, and the thought of that breaks my heart.  This morning, for example, we had a 10:30 am dentist appointment for my daughter.  We don't do school Friday mornings (thankfully!) but that's still quite early to have everyone out the door, and I've been feeling a bit burdened because we seem to have a lot of these appointments lately (we had one last Friday, and we have one next Friday too).  My poor husband told me I needed to make a doctor's appointment to check out a wart on one of our other children's hands, and I just let a heavy sigh - I know it needs to be looked at, but how can I squeeze another appointment into our maxed-out schedule?

Back to this I did the usual routine of getting the troops on the go when we're spending the afternoon in town.  It was hectic, but we managed.  Then as I started buckling the kids into the van (in a downpour!) I looked up to see our chickens had not been let out.  Since their water is outside the coop, I knew they couldn't stay in all day - so I ran up to let them out.  I looked at the clock as I pulled out of the driveway and breathed a sigh of relief that I was still, blessedly, exactly on time to catch the 10:00 ferry to town.  And then, halfway there, I caught up to a work truck. He was going 20 kms below the speed limit (probably due to the rain), and I was certain we'd miss the boat. I prayed and prayed that somehow we'd make it, knowing that it's not uncommon for the boat to leave a minute or two behind schedule (especially in inclement weather) and when we arrived I almost cheered to see the boat still at the dock.  My excitement soon waivered however, as I noticed the gap between the boat and the dock becoming gradually wider.  There were two of us, me and a huge work truck - surely the ferry driver saw us?  I don't know, but he didn't slow down.  He kept right on his course, and I watched my ride to town drift further and further out into open water, knowing now that it was not coming back.  When I called the dentist to advise that we would be 20 minutes late, I was told I needed to reschedule because there was an appointment right after me.  And so for all of my best efforts, all I came out with this morning was the guarantee of one more Friday morning appointment, two weeks from today.  Goody.

We went home and I tried to make the best of my time at home, which to be honest would have been great if I didn't need to go out again for the make-up appointment another day.  I did manage to get the bedrooms rearranged for some out-of-town company we are hosting tomorrow, and supper for tomorrow's meal prepared.  I also made a quick casserole for tonight's supper, and made plans to come in to clean the office early (since my rockstar Mother was able to watch the kids).  Despite the bright side being clear, I remained quite snippy and on edge, and I'm sorry to say my poor kids were on the receiving end of more than a few quick tempered remarks from me.  One in particular, who has been locked in an intense power struggle with me for the last few weeks, bore the brunt of it.  As I made the switchoff with my mother and she prepared to take the kids overnight, I popped my head into the van to say goodbye to the kids, and this little guy wouldn't even say goodbye to me.  At the time I thought, "I'm not so thrilled with you right now either!" but as I sat in the office by myself, I broke down in tears. I thought of how great it was that my mother is able to give me a break like this, and it occurred to me that my poor children probably need a break too. This is not the mother I wanted to be. 

And as I sit here feeling sorry for myself for not being a happy mother all of the time, for being snarky and impatient, and not having it in myself all the time to be the mother I want to be, I am almost slapped in the face for thinking there is any way I can be the ideal mother on my own.  I think of the women I know who work, who don't have the option of being with their children every day.  I think of the women who have physical limitations that prevent them from doing the normal everyday things that I take for granted.  I think of the women who are separated, and share custody with someone, watching their children be turned over to another parent's house for set times all of the time.  And I think, "what on earth ever made me think I was less of a mother because I couldn't do everything I wanted to do?"  So many Mom's - I dare say probably every Mom - wishes she could do more. Whether the limitations are physical or spiritual, built into this vocation is the constant reminder that no matter what our life's circumstance looks like, we don't have it in us to do it alone.  We need something more, someone greater than ourselves to shoulder the burden.  To carry the load.  To make up when we fall short.  We need Christ. 

God doesn't judge us for falling short, in fact He's just waiting for us to call out to Him, to give us what we need.  And thankfully our children, who are much more like Him than we are, are always quick to forgive our greatest failings towards them.  The answer for me is not to wallow in self-pity, disappointed that I can't do everything all the time - but to rejoice that I have reason to call out to the God who will hold me up.  The answer is not to be angry at my children for pushing me beyond the limit, but to apologize to them for the times I lose my temper, and respond unreasonably and unjustly to what is normal behaviour for children their age. And the answer is not to run away because I need a break, but to be grateful for the people in our lives that are a soft place to land, for me and my children, and who provide opportunity for much-needed reflection and prayer, to help me remember what truly matters in this beautiful life.  It's not whether I made all of my appointments on time, whether I had the house perfectly clean, whether I taught the kids lessons and baked the supper and did the laundry, all with a June Cleaver smile on my face. It's whether I was able to find Christ in the midst of it all, the joys and the struggles.  Because if I find Him there, I will make Him visible.  And with our eyes fixed on Him, we can all weather any storm that comes our way.

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