Betty Duffy

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Odds and ends (Updated)

Injured husband, five kids, five acres, herd of dogs, a house...if I am ever again overcome by existential angst, wondering why I have been placed on this earth, the answer is now, "Duh."

It's tempting at times to think that other people haven't done this to their lives: run off as fast as their legs can carry them to hurl child after child into the universe. Why did I make my life so difficult?

"I" didn't really do any of this. I didn't set out to have five kids in quick succession. I chose to be faithful, and this is what happened. A commenter to my post yesterday wrote: "Marriage and parenting truly can be the antidote to selfishness." No cure for selfishness, I'm afraid, but a conduit, maybe, through which selfishness finds a better outlet or a distraction, until this job is done, the flames die down and then selfishness once again proclaims aloud, "Why me?"

I think Mrs. Darwin nailed it when she said, "Somehow, in marriage or in parenting, you find yourself just doing what needs to be done -- even the tasks that sound utterly heroic when you hear about someone else taking them on." And I think about Pentimento's recent post "The Moral Theologian and Me," and about the heroism of Blessed Gianna Molla, and how what parenting and marriage do allow us the opportunity to do is be faithful, again and again. Sometimes being faithful is thankless and anonymous, and sometimes it takes us into the realm of public saints and heroes.

And sometimes faithfulness is all we have, even lacking purity of intention, lacking a generous spirit, lacking the will to put one foot in front of the other, I will do it nonetheless. And my selfishness becomes the offering.

All of which is to say that I have not been cured of my selfishness. Maybe the stars have aligned of late, giving me the opportunity to do a few things that appear saintly, but will I have these same opportunities next week? And if so, will I be faithful? I don't know.


I am always surprised/ amazed by how the prayers and tools of the faith DO supply us with every grace we might need. One week I'm stressing out because my kids keep beating up on each other, and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy gives me at least some glimmer of hope for their eternal souls.

This morning, I'm thinking about the Angelus, how I'm lucky if I remember to say it even once a day, but morning, noon, and night, if I just remind myself, "She conceived of the Holy Spirit," I can take heart that God is going to accomplish the big labors, and all I have to do is cooperate. Faithfulness.

My eighteen month old has developed the bad habit of putting his hands in his diaper whenever he sucks his thumb and he sucks his thumb ALL THE TIME. Grocery store, church, wherever, his little hand is creeping down the waistband or up the leghole of his pants. Not sure what prayer of the church there is to offer for this one.

It is not every mother's dream to rear a chronic crotch-grabber, but sometimes faithfulness takes you there too.


My husband is recovering nicely, and as seriousness is behind us, we can speculate as to whether or not setting oneself on fire is worthy of a "Darwin Award." My family offers the Darwin prize to any member of the family who survives incredible odds against survival brought on by one's own thoughtlessness, stupidity, or sheer bad luck.

Darwin awards have been offered for things like going out to clean the gutters in a lightening storm, or for putting a big tractor on a not so big trailer and taking it out on the interstate.

My husband doused weeds in gasoline and the fumes surrounding him ignited when he struck the lighter.

Fire is not joking. Hopefully we can be done with it for awhile.

Anyone interested in what a serious burn looks like may be interested in this picture:

Sorry. Jusk kidding. That's the meatloaf hospital food service brought him.

I cannot for the life of me figure out what happened to May. It's just begun; no, it's almost finished, and my tomato plants are still sitting on the kitchen counter.


Hope said...

Please don't swear at me but this was a beautiful and comforting post to read. One of the blessings for me in becoming Catholic is the freedom to be human. I've had more inner change since I embraced my humanity than I ever did in the years I was trying to squelch it although I am still as selfish as ever. Today I am aware of my selfishness. There were too many years when I was only aware of other people's.

I love the reminder to be faithful and that being faithful is enough. Or that wanting to be faithful is a start. This reminds me to embrace the journey towards the perfection that I will never manufacture myself.

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Rachel Gray said...

Wowwwww..... you got me with that picture. :)