Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Slacker. That's me, today. I've sat down dozens of times to blog today (no, really!) but got interrupted or had a chore to do or had something else to do. In fact, between typing the words "to" and "do" just now I did some laundry, talked to Mr. M. as he rushed home and rushed back out to attend a homeowners' meeting, dished up dinner for the girls, and...

...oops. Wait. I forgot to start the next load of laundry. Hang on.

Okay. I'm back. :)

Motherhood, my wise sister always says, is a series of interruptions. Even when we count on having a certain slice of time to ourselves, things can happen. I usually get some time in the early-to-midafternoon to do some blogging or chatting or letter-writing, but all it takes is one well-placed interruption before that time vanishes like smoke from an unlikely hookah in a far-too-detailed desert mirage; I realize that it's time to do something I have to do, and that I'll have to put off the thing I just want to do until later.

Which is pretty much the human condition, of course, but it's also why a mild-mannered mother can don the cape of Super Testy when the children start to complain about having to pick up a handful of assorted toys or books after spending most of the day playing. "Why do we have to do all this work?" they mutter; and if they're really unwary, they may throw in a stomp for good measure.

We'd like to tell them that this is life. We'd like to explain to them that never again in their journey across this planet will they experience a time so free, so unfettered, so liberated as their childhood. We'll never be able to convey to them the sheer luxury involved in having one's play or reading or leisure measured in hours, and one's chores or duties measured in minutes. Sometimes we try, but no matter how measured our words or moderated our tone the children hear nagging, and we know they do.

The joys of childhood can really only be measured in retrospect; looking back across the years to that shaded valley, we wonder why we didn't have the maturity to appreciate it all then: meals prepared, laundry folded, naps on a schedule, and so much time to be free. But that's one of the mysteries of childhood; we don't appreciate it until it is behind us, and then our wistful memories can cloud out those things we didn't like all that much at the time, or make them seem small and trivial compared to the troubles or sorrows we've known since then.

But we have to hold on, just a little, to that childhood. We have to find, in the midst of our daily tasks and random interruptions, that one most precious thing, the ability to become lost in a dream, or a book, or a toy, or a rainbow appearing like a magic paintbox in the sky: the fine and childish art of contemplation. Our Lord said we'd need to be like little children to enter the Kingdom, and sometimes I think that most of all, it's that gift of timeless wondering absorption in mystery that He meant.

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