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, May 15, 2015

I Don't Know How You Do It

There is no sentence that induces more guilt in me than this one - "I don't know how you do it."  I hear it all the time.  Sometimes, like last weekend when I was away with my husband while both sets of our parents tag-teamed to hold down the fort at home, I even foolishly find myself responding things like, "it gets easier as kids get older," or "I've learned to let go of a lot of things and pick my battles."

Those things are true, sure, but it's still hard.  And sometimes all it takes is a dose of reality to show you that you don't have everything together. This is the reality I face every day, that people don't see when I'm out and about because truthfully, being out and about IS easier than being at home.  So I do look calm and together, because in that moment I am.  But so often, everything that lead up to that moment pushed me to the brink. Some days it's all I can handle, but many days it's even more than that.  And I realize, I'm not "doing it" the way people think I am.

This May, not unlike previous Mays, has been insanely busy.  It usually catches me by surprise how crazy this month can be, with activities amping up and preparing for final recitals, projects, school trips, concerts, and all the things that usher in summer vacation.  For us, this month also brings the added chaos of finding a new family doctor (which means physicals for me and each one of the kids - physicals which need to be done on three separate days because our doctor can't accommodate all seven of us in one visit), a trip to the dentist, biweekly prenatal visits to my OBGYN, dental visits, and longer than usual ballet practices to prepare for the recital at the end of the month.  So yesterday, when I was trying to get everything finished around the house in order to bring my kids in for their violin practice (which they've missed far too many times this year, and for which there will also be an end-of-year concert in four weeks), I was feeling the weight of it all.

One of my dear little boys has taken to pushing limits, not only in the typical "boys will be boys" kind of way, but in a way that makes me fearful that sometime soon either he will seriously hurt himself, he will seriously hurt one of his siblings, or he will cause serious irreparable damage to an expensive piece of our property.  Keeping on top of this guy in the pressure cooker of being 35 weeks pregnant and juggling the chaos of this season has proven to be more than I can handle.   When I discovered not only this child but all four of my youngest children playing in the ditch on our road (which I had expressly forbidden several times earlier in the day), my baby crying because an older sibling had thrown a rock that hit her on the back, and our neighbour (who probably thinks I'm a deadbeat Mom that doesn't look after her children) consoling our children, I crumbled.  I had a half hour to feed the kids, wrap up all the housework, finish making beds and get my oldest two out the door - and I TOLD THEM TO STAY OUT OF THE DITCH!!!  At that moment, my husband called and asked the question that opened the floodgates - "How are you doing?"  I proceeded to unload everything, and the poor guy was witness to the unravelling of his wife.  He silently listened as I complained, then interrupted myself to yell at children who were still being disobedient, then broke down and asked if I could call him back in a few minutes.  When I finally composed myself, I called back to find out he wasn't sure he would make it home in time for me to leave when I needed to, so I told him I would load all the kids in the van and we'd meet him wherever he was able to meet us.  All the while this phrase, "I don't know how you do it," playing over and over in my head, mocking me and making the weight of this life seem even more heavy.

One of the greatest things I took away from our weekend away last weekend (which was for some Spiritual Exercises) was a quote by Pope Francis that sin is a "privileged meeting place for Christ".  One of the speakers talked about these jolts we receive in our everyday life, the things we wish were not provoking us all the time, as being the very things that bring us to a deeper awareness of ourselves, and point us to Christ.  In the face of such provocations, I can't deny that I don't do anything on my own.  The days I try hardest to keep it all together are the days I fail miserably - I take my gaze away from Christ, and everything crumbles - I fall apart.  I feel like my day is mostly made up of these kinds of jolts, and hearing them spoken of in such a way gave me an incredible sense of peace about the chaos of my life.

But - it's still chaos. And it's a terrible reduction for me to think otherwise. The truth is that it's not easy, and I don't do anything - I couldn't possibly.  But Jesus can, and in these moments that seem so desperate there is an invitation to lay my burdens on Him.   It's easy to say that Christ never gives you more than you can handle, but I don't think that's always the case.  I feel like He's given me so much more than I can handle, so that I learn to lean on Him for strength.   Because even when May is gone and all our appointments have been fulfilled, concerts have been attended, school has wrapped up for another year and baby is here, there will always be something else.  Some other commitment, some other catastrophe, some other joyous event to attend, milestone to fulfill, or crisis to endure.  All jolts, all moments and opportunities to seek wisdom from the One who loves us better than we could ever love ourselves.  We were not made to crumble under these moments because we were not made to carry the burden alone.  If we coasted through life without any provocations, it would be easy to turn inward, and think we were accomplishing it ourselves.  But pushed to the brink of our existence, we find the invitation of Christ.  It is these precise moments that lead to our encounter with Him.  And in this way, we find our privileged meeting place.

This life is hard, and thank you Lord for that.  May I turn swiftly to you, and stop trying to do it all on my own.


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  2. Another beautiful reflection, Natasha. Challenging to hear the immense demands of family life and compare it with the priesthood. But who is comparing. Both challenging vocations and rewarding in their own right. I enjoyed the comment about whether or not the Lord gives us more than we can handle. I think sometimes we are given more than we can handle. I haven't figured out the reasons why - maybe I'll never know in this life. But anyways, I laugh because I've thought the very same thing. May God bless you...and keep writing!