Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Does it get any better than this?

Tonight after dinner, I had a good natural consequences/learning moment with my 6 year old son, who came down from his shower and told me that he had made a poor choice, that he would eat his squash because he was sorry now that the he had watched the others eat cupcakes. He had tears in his eyes and I looked at him calmly and said, I know how hard this is. I have put your cupcake in the fridge, and you can try again with your vegetables tomorrow, but for tonight the kitchen is closed. Shall we go and read a story? I was thinking of Texas Mommy, who, I am told, disciplines her boys firmly and graciously. I wish she lived closer so that I could see her in action.

Tonight my 6 month old son had a wet diaper, which right now is a triumph because it means that my nursing is going a bit better, and I was thankful for the cloth diapers which allow me to keep better track of his output. I have been eating and drinking mindfully, thinking of Red, who believes that mothers need to take good care of themselves so that they can take care of their children.

Tonight when my three year old son poked his head in, up and out of his bed, to ask just one more question, instead of yelling to go back to bed, I told him to snuggle up with us for the end of the big kids story, then I would take him back and tuck him in. I was thinking of Kat, who makes an effort to be gentle and kind to her children.

Tonight I read aloud the last chapter of The Secret Garden and we rejoiced together as Colin and his father walked across the lawn. Then I tucked the boys into bed and snuggled up with my 5 year old daughter, who read aloud to me from a Magic Tree House book. She finished her first one tonight and is so proud and excited to print out her passport stamp in the morning. This is a great way to close up her school year, it is an amazing thing to watch a child learn to read and to love reading. Honestly, this was the real me, there is nothing I love more than reading with my children.

Tonight while I switched a load of laundry, I noticed that the floor between the machines was all filthy. Sometime, years ago perhaps, someone spilled a lot of detergent between the machines, and since then dust and debris have been collecting there, stuck to the floor. Now, I was thinking of B-Mama (minus the bleach), as I pushed the machines apart, got down on my hands and knees with rubber gloves and rags and cleaned the floor.

Later tonight, when I stare at the computer to write my quarterly report, I will think of Juris Mater, who begins her professional work at the end of a full day of mothering.

There have been times in my life when housework has seemed like drudgery, when disgusting tasks like this one have seemed deeming, but tonight all I could think was, does it get any better than this? For the first time in my life I am making a home in a place that will house my family for more than a period of months. I have five healthy, loving, hard working children asleep in their beds. I have a husband who, in order to make all this possible, will get on a train to come home long after the sun has gone down, but he will ride it looking forward to coming into his home, to greeting his children at breakfast in the morning, to getting up and doing it all over again tomorrow, because, as he has said, that is what dads do. As I parent on my own for long days, I think of AWOL Mommy, whose husband has to go away to do his work.

In my home, learning is an atmosphere and we are all learning so much from one another. My job is to be like the Virgin Mary in this household, to work quietly to encourage them to be Christ to one another. I have found a place where Heaven and Earth meet, I couldn't be more surprised to tell you, on a cul-de-sac in New Jersey.


Joanne said...

Oh this is just beautiful. It makes me want to go downstairs and clean that horrible mess between my washer and dryer.

Right Said Red said...

As always, great thoughts. And a big congratulations on the new home! I'm really happy for your family. Finally getting settled is a great feeling, isn't it.

Oh, and I'm impressed with your use of the term cul-de-sac. I would have avoided it altogether for fear of misspelling it!

Stephanie said...

Mary Alice,

I do not know you, but on every post you write, on every comment you make on another's post, you shed a light and true goodness that must come from your soul. You are an inspiration. You have inspired me to look on the bright side more often that not. I thank you.

AR's & J's mama said...

Huge dittos on what stephanie said. Thank you for this beautiful perspective. a.

Rachel said...

What a great post. You are a thoughtful and beautiful writer. I don't even know you, but you are a huge inspiration for me!

B-Mama said...

Mary Alice, how awesome to have such an attitude after an undoubtedly stressful move! I was so blessed reading your thoughts and words--and am glad at some point to have provided you, such a source of inspiration to me, the motivation to clean between the washer and dryer! lol!! Maybe I should do that too... :)

mad cow said...

That was excellent - and that's not the growth hormones talking!

Carolina Girl said...

I agree with everyone before me. What great perspective you have! What a great tribute to your friends as well.

texas mommy said...

So beautiful, Mary Alice!

I still remember a talk that you gave at Princeton my freshman year at one of the first Aquinas fellowship meetings. You spoke of imitating the Holy Family. What a inspiration to see how you are living that example now!