Thank God for our good health. I mean that from the depths of my heart. I'm simply throwing a little hissy fit because I can't have Advent my way again. I am quarantined with little fevers. I am stuck inside with sounds of the Donut Man singing for hours on end. I am making quick estimates using numbers of kids, suggested incubation periods for random viruses, likelihood of contagion by certain dates, etc... and I am experiencing early onset Winter blahs. As I shake my virtual fist, I think This is what happens when I finally have a plan! And I vow to be totally random and harried next year just for spite.
My big people went to Mass this evening and then to a pro-life prayer vigil with Eucharistic adoration. I sat on the kitchen floor with my little people while Peaches bounced herself in her buzzy seat. I poured drinks (no, not those kinds of drinks), mopped up spills, cooked food, wiped noses, and muzzled the young lady inside of me that needs a date night very badly.
You want to know what heroic motherhood looks like today? Just this:
Child: Mommy, will you please pour me some more juice?
Me: (noticing that the juice is all the way on the other side of the kitchen and screaming NONONONO inside my head) Sure, honey.
After that exhausting episode of self-giving, I took a peek at my reader feed. I read about a young father from our area who was killed in a car accident. I saw that a blogging mother was murdered by her violent suicidal husband last week and her children are orphaned. I read about a mother loving her little son through a bone marrow transplant. And many more stories of people who really suffer.
Where is my head? Where is my heart? This taking care of little bodies, minds, and hearts is such a beautiful and awesome privilege! What is it about my tiny mind that can so easily complain about minor inconveniences in the midst of tremendous privilege and joy? What do I know about suffering? I get a little scratch and I am like a toddler with a skinned knee, making the most blood curdling sounds that can be stopped instantly with a strawberry lollipop.
Do you know what I know with certainty? I know that I am very self-centered, and that when I am sick, tired, or anxious, my defensive position is pure, unadulterated selfishness. As long as I am feeling comfortable, I can afford to stretch past my limits a bit. But when I start from a place of discomfort, I recoil violently.
I've been a mother for 16 years now and I can't remember the last time we made it all the way through Advent or Christmas without some sickness or another. Perhaps some of you can relate. My mistake is thinking that somehow, someday my perfect Advent is waiting. Kind of like someday, I'll be able to leave my make-up on the counter without someone using it to paint the mirror. Or someday, I'll be able to paint a wall without someone nicking it within 24 hours. Or someday, I'll be able to have an empty laundry basket. Or someday, my teenagers will miraculously see the wisdom of all of my brilliant lectures. Or someday, I'll sleep all the way through the night. Or even be able to get ready on a Sunday morning without losing my temper!
And perhaps someday... I'll sit alone in church, wishing that I could have just one of those harried Sundays back again. I'll adjust my mantilla over my fluffy white hair (yes, I think I'll be wearing a mantilla by then) and I'll think about what a fool I was to waste my joy on stupid pity parties and I'll beg God to forgive me my selfishness.
I will not lie to you though... I'm still badly in need of that date night. And a personal chef. But one step at a time. Tonight, I'll settle for a good night's sleep. If I don't get one, c'est la vie... I'll just throw my hands up to heaven and receive the grace I need to power on.
Lesson learned every single year:
Jesus comes whether we're puking our guts out or not. He comes whether we're grumpy or not. He comes whether we've got the wrapping done or not. Simplify. Cut away what isn't necessary and focus on the Heart of it. If we don't do it ourselves, the Divine Surgeon loves us enough to help out. And perhaps our annual bout of Advent sniffles is just the right dose of humility to get the job done. God be praised! Bring it on.
Now for my nightly kick in the pants from the Venerable Fulton Sheen....
Joy is not the same as pleasure or happiness. A wicked and evil man may have pleasure, while any ordinary mortal is capable of being happy. Pleasure generally comes from things, and always through the senses; happiness comes from humans through fellowship. Joy comes from loving God and neighbor. Pleasure is quick and violent, like a flash of lightning. Joy is steady and abiding, like a fixed star. Pleasure depends on external circumstances, such as money, food, travel, etc. Joy is independent of them, for it comes from a good conscience and love of God. ~ Venerable Fulton J. Sheen