Lent can be a strange liturgical season for mothers. There is much wisdom and tradition to impart, and also it’s pretty much impossible to make it to stations of the cross, because 7 PM is a time of day which renders most preschoolers what the French call lesincompetent.
I entered into Lent this year with some trepidation, mindful of years past spent crashing and burning, having bitten off a choking mouthful of penances only to end up with a month-long plague of rotavirus ripping through the house and an angry, under caffeinated mother overseeing triage.
Taking a page from Servant of God Dorothy Day, who was reported to have finally abandoned her repeated attempts at giving up smoking for Lent after members of her community begged her to stop trying, so unpleasant did nicotine withdrawal render her, I made no grand efforts this year. Don’t canonize me yet; though I did give up social media, which I mostly stuck to until Monday of this week, at which point the Notre Dame blaze tempted me into a Twitter binge that lasted almost 24 hours.
Applying a little mindfulness to how I felt after said binge, sitting on the couch last night having read perhaps my dozenth hot take on the previous day’s events in France, I felt almost as sick as if I’d taken down a half gallon of ice cream solo. Not that I have any idea what that feels like, mind you.
Maybe Twitter is too toxic for me to consume, I mused, closing my laptop with a disgusted thud.
This morning I was awakened by an excited 8 year old whose nose, inches from mine, fairly quivered in excitement at having an unexpected, citywide day off from school.
“A crazy lady wants to do bad things to schools, so we have a day off! Can I go check if (neighbor kid) is home today, too?”
I mumbled something incoherent about not bothering the neighbors before 7 am and rubbed sleep from my eyes as I contemplated what he’d said. And I wished my 8 year old wasn’t growing up in a post-Columbine world.
Just a few minutes ago my phone lit up with a stream of messages: ‘suspect is apprehended. Suspect is dead.’
Eternal rest unto that troubled soul, I mumbled, texting as much to my fellow school moms. Self-inflicted gunshot wounds. A chilling conclusion to a bizarre saga.
This Holy Week has been heavy with uncontrolled circumstances, the weariness and tragedy of the world seeping in and disrupting my optimistic plans for marking the most important week of the Christian year as something remarkable to my kids.
Having a house full of excited children home on what was meant to be my big spring cleaning day, the calm before the storm of Triduum, has largely derailed those plans.
Now I’m fumbling through my to do list distracted, anxious, looking at my phone every few minutes and wondering if we’ve done enough, if I’ve done anything, truly, to impress the solemness and meaning of this week, of this season, of the Christian life.
Nothing puts me into melancholic introspective mode more effectively – or reliably – than major holidays.
Are we showing the kids a different life? A more excellent way? Do they get that it’s more than what the culture tells them, more than candy and presents and imaginary customs? Do they know Jesus through me?
Days like this, I think not. Grateful that parenting is a season comprised of hundreds of ordinary days, thousands of unremarkable moments, I push aside my fears and holiday anxieties and ask for the grace of acceptance, of being willing to take the week I’ve been given and not pine for the one I imagined.
God is in reality. God suffered and died in battered human flesh. He is not confounded by my weakness and He is not repulsed by my failures to Get it Right.
Silly me, I tend to forget that this week – this universe – hinges on a Savior. I must need Him, still. We all must. We all do.