Highlights from the week:
- at some point Monday morning, the little boys steal the syrup bottle, sneak it downstairs, and proceed to take shots from it while watching He-Man in their underwear. The empty bottle, shoved under the coffee table, is not discovered until a two inch thick trail of ants leads me to it on Wednesday afternoon.
- The girl takes three solid days to complete 20 math problems (again), then takes 20 minutes to flawlessly complete three days’ worth of English, vocabulary, science and history.
- All five children, who are usually thick as thieves, become even thicker and thievier and devise a system by which at no time during the hours of 6 a.m. through 8 p.m., is there a fraction of a moment when someone isn’t shrieking at the top of their lungs. I find myself Googling phrases like “how do you debark children” and “what viruses cause laryngitis”.
- In preparation for Holy Week, theological conversations overheard in the backseat of the van reach dizzying heights of absurdity. Topics covered include “God is a Woman, and You Can’t Prove Otherwise Because He Has Long Hair and Wears Dresses”, with the 4 year old defending this thesis against the increasingly scandalized 9 year old. Like many of her countrymen in these politically charged times, she finds it difficult to engage in civil discourse with someone whose whole argument consists of “If you don’t agree with me, you’re stupid” and “If you don’t agree with me, I’m going to yell my opinion louder”. For her part, she employs the “I value your viewpoint so little and my intellect so much that I’m only going to communicate with you in the most condescending of manners” tactic.
All this crescendos to a lovely display of Lenten lessons learned and preparations for Holy Week of my own, as I spend much of Thursday screaming at every living creature that has the misfortune to come into contact with me. This includes the two telemarketers who somehow crossed the impenetrable barrier of the “National Do Not Call Registry” and called the house (one is involved in an illegal phishing scheme, and the other is a fiery lady with a thick Texas accent calling on behalf of the NRA. I figure one deserves to be yelled at, and the other can take it).
Sprawled out on my bed at 7:15 p.m., after instituting universal early bedtime, a sudden realization comes crashing down on me:
I am not holy enough to have a large family.
This realization fills me with such panic and horror that I can’t breathe. For all my blabbing about how children strip you of your selfishness and jumpstart your journey to holiness like nothing else, I am a heap of impatience, and self-centeredness and irritation. And sweet Lord in Heaven, there’s another child on the way.
Women of large families are patient, and calm, and generous, and unflappable, and they never yell themselves hoarse because they have embraced the wisdom that their many children come bearing. They are too full of love to feel hurt when someone describes their children as “ragamuffins”. They are too full of joy to feel anger when the house isn’t as clean as they’d like. They are too full of service to feel irritation when a child interrupts in some way.
And if these holy women of large families happen to stumble in one of these areas, they certainly don’t wallow in self-pity on their bed. They pick themselves up, they ask the Holy Spirit to soften their hearts, and they say a Rosary or something while cheerfully cleaning the kitchen.
I did continue to wallow in self-pity on the bed. I did not get up; I asked the Holy Spirit to just get it over with and fix me already. I said a halfhearted Hail Mary and figured the kitchen could just dang wait. Once they polished off the syrup bottle, the ants could take care of what was in the kitchen, anyway.
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