Oh How I Suffer

Last night we had family prayers up the street with some other people in our neighborhood. It has been bitterly cold here (the boys went in two hours late two days this week) and we are just getting back in the Real Life groove post-holiday-season.

But I was excited because it was a small, quick gathering — a nice little jaunt out before coming home to put the littles to bed. It was one of those moments where I appreciate sharing life with people around me because otherwise I would totally be a hermit. If left to my own devices I would never leave the house past six p.m. And I generally come home from gathering with others feeling encouraged, not depleted. (This is not always true and in certain seasons pacing myself has always been best.)

The one mistake I made going into the evening was that I had everything tuned on the side of a dime. Meaning we had a lot of things to do, had to rely on all the members of the family, but if everyone would just do the one thing I told them to do, the exact moment I told them to do it, everything would be just fine.

You’re laughing right now, I bet. Because we all know that’s generally not how things go. Oh sure, in my mind I can have Henry off retrieving his shoes from the shoe basket and putting them on, while Charlie and Augie quickly and magically clear the table at the exact moment Ethan and Elliott are loading the dishwasher and wiping off counters with robot precision.

Don’t even ask me where I got the idea to operate this way. You’d think after all these years of being a mother — of being a human! — I would know not to time our exit plan down to the nano-second. But Ethan was leading music at our little gathering and Charlie would be dropped on for basketball practice en route and if everyone would just do what I say (trust me guys just DO IT) we can make this work and be on time — maybe even early! — and arrive in a calm, sensible fashion.

And as you might imagine, nothing went the way I wanted. I assigned everyone their task, which they were to perform with mind-blowing rigor and when that didn’t happened I blinked and we were eight minutes late. Which meant we arrived to prayers on time, but only right on time. Not early.

And then there was the whole “we’re going out for prayers at seven p.m., right when the littles are generally heading towards night-time rituals.” Which meant things were crazy.

Before I go any further I’ll just say things actually all went pretty well. It could have been a disaster. But we arrived and sat in the front room with our group of mostly grown-ups and the scene Isabel caused was only marginally worth reporting. It was actually pretty cute (in the END). She was a pill to another sweet little girl there and yanked a book out of the girls hand. So I whispered to Isa that she needed to apologize, all the while just prayingprayingpraying that she would because I won’t lie I wasn’t really up for making a scene of it. Picking my battles and all that jazz. But of course abject bratty behavior must be addressed (especially when performed in front of an audience) and to my delight and relief, Isa walked directly over to her sweet friend and said “I’m sorry.”

“I forgive you and I love you,” was the girl’s reply.

Isa ran over to me beaming.

“She said she loves me!”

It was really cute and after that I decided to calm my bad self down. Because leading up to that moment I had been wound up pretty tight. As in, shooting darts at Paul to be equally wound up as me, and not worrying that others might be seeing said darts. Which they did.

Here’s where I might be inclined to think “well the best option would have been to stay home.” And there have been lots of seasons where that’s probably true. When children are tiny, I avoid lugging them out at night. But then there are times when pushing through is just good, and at the very least, for someone like me, it helps me not take myself so seriously. It was nice because all the other adults who are NOT in this season of having small children helped remind me, with their kind words, that’s it’s just not that big of a deal. That’s always so nice to hear, isn’t it.

As we were leaving my friend Dan noted that he enjoyed watching me watch Henry and Isabel but especially he liked how I was sure to include Paul in on the vigilance. I was not about to suffer alone, not tonight. He hit that nail on the head. Boy did he ever.

We’re all just doing the best we can. And somedays our best is a little bit better than others. Somedays, it ain’t.


  1. I as definitely laughing because this is how I try and leave the house too. And I SWEAR that everyone senses when things need to run like clockwork and they deliberately operate at “snail” speed. It’s a male conspiracy at my house and I will swear that they are all in on it. Thankfully, I’ve learned to build more time into the operation and not stress so much. And they are getting better about hurrying when I say “hurry”. And I don’t have tiny people anymore, which helps.

  2. Love it Rachel—from the dime to the darts, I can totally relate, as usual.

  3. Parenting is the hardest thing anyone will ever do! I see all my friends with their numerous kids and I know I would be a nut case if I had to do what they do. It’s just admirable. :0/

  4. I loved this, because I too have been known to not leave Pete out of my ‘you must CARE this time’ stares. Honestly, he has mellowed me over the years way more than I’ve wound him up and I’m glad for that…at least until the kids are behaving like monkeys, which is almost always…so never mind.
    I miss praying with the neighborhood, we did this in Virginia and gathered once a week to pray the Rosary together and it was never easy, but always worth it.

  5. scotch meg says:

    My kids always blame me for being late – they don’t know what late is! Anything beyond on the dot seems to bother them, whereas anything less than ten minutes late is what I have learned to live with. I expected them to be able to come when called, put on outerwear, and head out on short notice. My mantra used to be “Car! Car! Car!” They actually got pretty good at it. If I just had one kid to handle (the youngest one) and everyone else could get himself or herself in, we were good.

    But, oh, you reminded me what those days were like!