For the smile is the beginning of love

For the smile is the beginning of love

Our eldest just received the Sacrament of Confirmation, and the chrism oil smeared across her teenaged forehead transported me back to when she received the same glorious-smelling oil on her bitty baby head at baptism. Incidentally, teenagers don’t tolerate their mothers huffing their sweet-smelling heads as well as infants do. Truly, truly I say to you: The days are long, yet the years are short.

Now, as a young Mom, my skin crawled whenever someone observed my spirited youngsters and felt compelled to offer this gem: “Treasure every! single! minute!” I’d force a smile and bite my tongue to keep from pelting the well-meaning stranger with a litany of grievances. Did she expect me to cherish every blow-out diaper, each sleepless night, all ear infections and colicky episodes? How about the countless tantrums and the myriad other exhausting maladies of young motherhood?

Today, comments about how full my hands are don’t irk me like they used to. When the cashier at the store is mortified that I have the audacity to mother five—FIVE!!—children and declares: “That’s too many kids!” I’m neither shocked nor angry, and I’m certainly not losing any sleep over her ridiculous opinion. Rather, I laugh heartily and ask: “Which one would you like me to take back?”

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photo credit: Marie Sylvester

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And a not-so-little child shall lead them

And a not-so-little child shall lead them

While driving in the car the other day (Lord knows I spend a lot of time in the car these days), I decided to solicit some advice about how to tackle all of the things I’ve currently got on my plate.

Luckily for me, I had a middle schooler in the passenger seat of my car, so, naturally, I asked her.

“Honey,” I began, “what do you think about all the things Mama has going on these days? How do you think I can get them all done?”

She barely thought for a moment before she replied: “Well, it seems like you are doing a lot of things all at the same time,” I vigorously nodded my head in assent as I navigated the sweeping country roads back to our house. “In school,” she said, “I try to just do one thing at a time until I’m done. And then I move on to the next thing.”

The simplicity of her response both startled and resonated with me. “Soooo,” I queried, slightly incredulously, “what if something changes, and the teacher wants you to do something else before you’ve finished with the first thing?” She admitted that happened from time to time. “Well, then I have to adjust, and I do what the teacher asks until that’s done, and then I go back to the other thing I was working on and do that it until it’s done.” After a quick pause, she added, “I really hate homework, and I’d rather just get it done in class so I have time for fun things when I get home.”

Wow. My kid is growing up. And she is pretty smart. And I should take an organizational page from her every once in a while. Just don’t tell her I said so. She is on the cusp of the teenage years, after all. I really wouldn’t want all her “right-ness” and “smartness” to go to her head. 😉

The moral of the story is: Do what you’re doing until you’re done. The end.

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