Over our last break, I opened the meat and cheese drawer and about choked. One of my eight kids had opened the provolone cheese, taken a piece, then just chucked the opened package back into the drawer.
I picked up the package, which had transformed into one piece of yellow granite and whirled around, angry.
I put the package under 20-year old Mitchell’s nose, home from college, and said, “Do not have kids. They ruin everything.”
Now Mitch is actually in the seminary, discerning if the celibate life is for him. He has the possible option of NOT having kids. He waited a half second then calmly said, “Yes, Mum.”
His CALMNESS infuriated me. I knew he was thinking, “My mom has finally lost it.”
For the rest of that day, I steamed about the cheese, which of course morphed into Why Having Children Has Ruined My Chance at Having A Perfect Life.
I easily allowed my mind to meander and and dwell on all of the broken aspects of my house:
- My oldest kid got mad and threw a SOFT lunch bag at the wall, leaving a big dent.
- My daughter ran into the house to get away from a brother and she flung the door open so hard that she by-passed all of the fancy door stops my husband had installed. The door handle put a huge hole in our wall.
- The ottoman is broken.
- An older child sat on the arm of the love seat, destroying it.
- There is fingernail polish on the carpet in the girls’ bedrooms. Their bedrooms are “no fingernail polish zones.”
As the crazy train began to pick up steam, a little bit of music tried to waft in, “You are raising children, not a home,” but I didn’t want to hear it and I changed the station.
I wish I could tell you that I magically calmed and my hard little heart grew five sizes larger and all was fixed with a wave of my magic Fourth of July sparkler.
But this is what I realized, slowly, over the course of the next weeks.
Hardened cheese IS my vocation. And if you are a mother, Hardened Cheese is YOUR vocation, too.
The random hardened cheese is not an obstacle to living a perfect life. It is THE PATH.
Hardened cheese is my gift. If I look at it with right eyes, I can clearly see the gift.
I want nice things.
I want them because I was created for the eternal. I was created for the perfect. And so, naturally, nothing less than that truly satisfies the me of me.
My vocation is mother. My vocation is about raising infants to toddlers to preschoolers to elementary students to middle schoolers to high schoolers to college students to adults.
My task is MONUMENTAL.
There are many things I must teach to my children. MANY.THINGS.
I need to teach them how to close the cheese package, among other things. They don’t come prewired with this knowledge.
My job as mother is massive.
Something clunked down into my brain and clicked into place.
The next time I found the cheese package opened I simply gathered my chicks around me and demonstrated, once more, how to close the cheese package.
I didn’t get bent. I didn’t feel all crazy. I just accepted it as the invitation that it was and I taught my people.
It felt sort of holy.
Now, let’s be honest. Giving direction and teaching the children to close the cheese package is never glamorous. It is ordinary. It is exhausting. It is continual.
There are, after all, a lot of cheese packages in life.
But isn’t that the beauty?
Motherhood is not about some sort of perfection, with everything solved but it’s about engaging and entering into the challenges. And that, my dear friend, is the journey that solves us.