Monday, May 29, 2017

Day After Day, Week After Week, Month After Month, Year After Year...

I finished a book today that I bought four years ago for my husband.  It was recommended by a beloved priest then, and again last week by my spiritual director.  

It reminded me of something I used to know and how it inspired me when I learned of it, and motivated me to practice it consciously, at least for a little while.

The vision of the kingdom, the call of Christ to labor and suffer with him, has overtones of a great and noble crusade - yet we must each of us translate that vision and retain that spirit in the routine, humdrum events of every day at a time, frustrated and perhaps discouraged, each twenty-four hours filled with as many defeats and frustrations as victories, each hour made up of sixty minutes of humdrum things and little people busy and concerned about many other things, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year...

...Each day, every day of our lives, God presents to us the people and opportunities upon which he expects us to act.  He expects no more of us, but he will accept nothing less of us; and we fail in our promise and commitment if we do not see in the situations of every moment of every day as his divine will...

I simply cannot be reminded of this enough.  Brother Lawrence in the The Practice of the Presence of God and Fr. Jean Pierre de Caussade in Abandonment to Divine Providence have been two great teachers for me on the subject.  But, I read them so long ago, and had forgotten, again.  So, thank you, Fr. Walter Ciszek for reminding me, yet again, to celebrate the sacrament of the present moment!  

Wrapping up Memorial weekend and kicking off a summer with boys ushers in a lot of memorable moments...
Like trying to build a hobbit house under a trampoline

Hanging out with friends and explosives
Launching a cardboard paratrooper from a rooftop

Shooting an AR-15
Fishing, again.
And finding a little beauty in a fungus for me, in the middle of all this boy stuff
And these are just from the last two days.  But, I know there are exponentially more unphotographed and unrecognized moments than photographed and fully present ones.  That's okay.  It will always be that way.  But, the gap doesn't have to retain its seismic features.  I can close it, little by little.  Not by taking more pictures, but by being present and remembering, believing that the details are the expressed work of God.  

This is not easy, but for me, very worthwhile.  If I can work to believe that God is at work in my life (because, sometimes it is work), all of the moments that come to us, come with their own sense of peace and joy.  People, places, inconveniences, and drastic changes in the plan can be received with new energy and acceptance when considered as the will of God, hand-delivered.  

Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!  
Mark 9:24

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Fish, The Calendar, and The Hood - Happy Mother's Day!

Mother's Day is upon us and I have to admit I always feel a little giddy when it rolls around.  I know it's going to be a good day, for sure.  Because, along with my birthday, it is one of two days out of the year I don't cook and I don't feel guilty about not cooking.  Cards?  Probably.  Gifts?  Probably not. Not cooking?  Definitely.  Every time.  Happy Mother's Day to me...

Today, motherhood looked like this.

I caught this catfish.  It bit my bait on my line on my fishing pole and I reeled it in until it was completely out of the water and laying on the sidewalk.  My son told me to text the picture to my husband and tell him he caught it.  I texted the picture, but didn't write anything.  My  husband assumed my son caught it.  I was going to let that ride.  At least until we got home.

But, then.  Then my son, who prides himself on being a fisherman, told a fellow fisherman that he technically caught it, because he saw it first.  Oh, no.  Nope.  This was the biggest fish I've ever caught in my life. So, today, motherhood was a little private conversation in hushed tones about not taking credit for things you don't earn and giving credit where credit was due, and "You're not the only person who can catch a fish around here."

Yet another picture perfect example of feeling like a great parent and a jerk all at the same time.  Say cheese.

Not long ago, there was another conversation.  This one was about basketball and the place it holds in a person's life.  This "game" was soiling attitudes, self-image, brotherhood, motherhood, and annihilating character like no game ever should.  So, this mother painted a pretty good picture of a basketball-less life and closed the conversation with a fiery ceremony burning all of the negativity written down (as an I'll-be-waiting-for-you-to-show-it-to-me-when-you're-finished-assignment), up.  Burned it up.  For real.

Haven't heard one negative comment since.

I heard once, that convincing your kids that you're crazy, can encourage obedience and good behavior.  They don't know what that one thing is, that is going to make you crack.  I think it's working.

Also working, is this...

This is the fruit of my silent retreat this year.  Intentionality.  Each day of the week, every week of the year, one of my guy's names is written down.  That is my cue to make an effort to engage with them for at least 15 minutes, in a way that makes them happy.  

This was going along beautifully, and unannounced, for about a month.  Then, one of the boys saw my calendar.  Hey!  Why is each of our names written down on your calendar?  I explained.  

Word traveled fast.  It's been several months now, and talk about accountability.  Sheesh!  "Mom, whose special day is it today?"  It's 9:00pm.  "Umm, it's yours, but since it's so late, let's do it tomorrow and I'll double your time."  Say cheese.

It's eye-opening to see who always gets their time, on time, and who often gets overlooked.  Gotta be careful about those "easy" ones!  They just don't demand much, and can slip through without a lot of fuss.  Yikes.  Accountability might be just the thing. 

But, kids and husbands aren't the only ones who get overlooked.  I just realized (and we're a couple of months in, here) that my name is not on my calendar.  What was I thinking?!  There's nothing like celebrating Mother's Day to encourage a little self-care.  Next year, for sure.  It's not like anyone else has a calendar with my name on it.  Next year.  Hold me to it, will you?

If you know me, you know I love quotes.  I only have one quote about motherhood, but it is definitely my favorite.  And not just because it was my son who said it.  Or because I know what it means. Even after trying to get him to explain, I'm still not sure.   

Rough, with walls filled with drawings done when no one was looking and difficult to escape?  
If so, I think he nailed it.

"Motherhood is like any other kind of hood."  

Happy Mother's Day from the Hood!
(whatever that means...)