Betty Duffy

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Just Keep Going

I like to take walks at night now that it's warm outside and sit and have a cigarette on the handicapped swing at the park across the street from me. The dog sits next to me, and I look at the moon, which is mostly full, as the park lights go off, one section at a time. This is a freedom to be able to do, and so the heartbreaks of the afternoon seem less heartbreaking, because even the worst day can come to a satisfying end.

I took the kids to Stations of the Cross, and I thought it started at 5, so we were half hour early, accidentally. Too early to sit still and too late to go home. I let the baby down to crawl because we were the only ones in the Sanctuary, and before long all the kids were out of control, following her around on their hands and knees as well--even the teenager.

Getting them back in hand would not be possible, and my several attempts to reign everybody in in a stage whisper as other worshippers started to arrive yielded nothing. I had  given the teenager permission to watch the baby in the narthex during Stations and that started a fight between him and my daughter, because she felt she should have childcare rights as well. And before long the baby wanted to nurse anyway, so we were all in the narthex when Stations began. 

I nursed the baby, boy and girl fought, autistic son rambled God knows where, five year old sat at the electric votive station lighting every candle under St Therese. Even the one kid I can usually count on to do what I say had given up sitting meditatively in the sanctuary and had come back to get in on the fight.

We had been early to arrive but I still missed half of Stations by the time everyone was disentangled. And when it was over we were all hungry. I went to the Knights of Columbus thinking we'd eat at the fish fry, even though it wasn't our home parish, and I didn't know any of these particular Knights at our sister parish with whom we are supposed to form one parish, "Connected in the Spirit." Dinner cost $8 a plate, which was a debilitating price for six kids in need of cheap fast dinner. So we left.

On the way home I felt like crying, and said so, in spite of the kids protestations that McDonalds also sells fish for a nice price--but it wasn't the cost that was making me sad. It was the whole plight of the thing--you want to pray? You may not! You want to eat? You may not! You want fellowships with your fellow man? You may not!

That life often feels like a big bag of No--that's what made me sad. Even what I'm supposed to do, to pray, to care for my kids, to discipline and nurture, to stay up beat and model charity--everything is so hard.

The kids were cheerful now--and I'm always surprised how they commiserate with my disappointment, if I let on that I'm feeling it. Too often I hold it in and let it seep out as irritation with them.

We decided to go home and listen to Jim Gaffigan for lafs and fry some potatoes. I let my oldest slice and dice the fries, while second oldest folded laundry, and third oldest set the table, and fourth, fifth, and sixth evaded all duties by virtue of their being quiet and peaceful. And before long we had a fine dinner on the table and a tidy house for my husband to return to.

There's no great moral to this story. The trials are temporary, the rewards enormous. After dinner and clean up I let the kids watch a movie while I went out to spray the fruit trees--which has been another arduous process, relocating all the supplies I needed after the shove and duck of winter. I had to buy a new hose, and the sprayer was clogged up, and I think even the dormant spray has gone bad, so the job still isn't done, but each day I get closer to completing it.

The weather is warmer and I'm inclined to keep trying.


Kelly Dolin said...

Oh, Betty!

This may inspire me to write up our experience at Stations two weeks ago.

Long ago you coined a phrase I say often in my head, if not aloud: a shit sandwich full of resistance.

There is resistance from both within and without. Bottom line: The devil doesn't want us to go to Stations and if he can't stop us entirely, he can at least engineer some sort of train wreck.

Blessings and peace.

Lizzie said...

Thank you for the encouragement-this lent was miserable and I thought I'd have a miraculous light bulb moment at the Easter vigil when in the end I sensed God saying to me 'just keep going-I know it's really hard but I've conquered the world so take heart and keep working hard.I'm the captain and I'll steer the course but you've got to play your part and fight the resistance with spiritual and physical muscle'
Ps that didn't all come in one beamed down son and I were privileged enough o spend the triduum at a Benedictine monastery with one of the monks leading us on retreat throughout.
Happy Easter-keep going! You continue to be in my prayers.

Jenny said...

"That life often feels like a big bag of No--that's what made me sad. Even what I'm supposed to do, to pray, to care for my kids, to discipline and nurture, to stay up beat and model charity--everything is so hard."

That's what Holy Week drove home to me. Life can be a big bag of no. That it is hard, I usually don't get my way, and I have to keep going anyway. An opportunity opened up for my husband which seemed perfect, but we got a big, fat NO for our efforts. A lot of the time I feel like I never even get around to what I'm supposed to be doing because I am always at stupid work or driving the stupid commute.

We had a similar issue at our parish with the fish fry a few years ago. They advertised adult plates at $8, children's plates at $5, and a family ticket at $24, which seemed like a deal until they announced the "family" price only covered two children. There were, um, complaints and that pricing arrangement only lasted one year.

Caroline said...

Needed to read this - needed the honesty, the lack of an overarching "moral." This Lent was tough for just about everybody, in one way or another - but it's good to read about another person's trials that are different from mine. Makes me consider what blessings I have, and what ways the rest of the body of Christ is using to cope.

Anonymous said...

Late to this party but LOVED this post. It's exactly what daily life is like in the trenches - awfully close to feeling insane but manages to right itself at the last moment by sheer grace. God's hand is upon us, after all.

NY Mom