Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Mary, Mary, Think of Mary

This year for Lent, I’m trying something different. After talking with my husband, I am attempting to ban a flaw that sabotages my capacity to love my family well. It’s my “personal gritch.”

My personal gritch shows up on Saturdays some time after lunch when everyone is settled into a recreational activity. She goes about cleaning the dishes in a huff or sighs audibly in front of the laundry. She claims she wants help but what she really wants is a reversal; everyone else working while she takes it easy and just yells. She is humorless, joyless and ultimately, a very annoyed cleaning martyr that no one much wants to help or hang out with; and she pops up like clockwork on the weekends. I don’t like her anymore than the rest of the family does, but try as I might, I haven’t been able to shake her influence despite trying diversion (Look Sherry, a blog!), inclusion (Do you want to play with us Mom?) and redirection (We’ll get to that later, did you get to look at that article I mentioned?).

Fat Tuesday rolled around and I asked my husband, “How? How do I beat her?”
He smiled, “Well first of all, don’t be too hard on her, because I happen to love that person even when she’s in a bad mood.” It was hard to stay on point after such a sweet comment but I persisted. “I’m serious.”

“Okay.” He thought for a moment and brought me the picture of our Blessed Mother. “Mary. Think of her. She’s the model you want to shoot for. When you’re stressed out, think of Mary. That will help.”
My oldest daughter agreed to help by saying, “Mary” to me if I seemed too overwhelmed or stressed out. She said it yesterday morning when I began to feel the time crunch of getting ready for school. She said it again today when I started ordering people out to the car and ranting about lost shoes.

This evening however, my daughter would not be with me as she and her sister and brother had altar training. I wasn’t happy at my parish for doing this project. Adding a mandatory four training sessions once a week for three of my most capable children at prime dinner/bedtime routine time seemed cruel and almost anti-family to me, but I dropped them off and started the errands I’d saved for the mindless ninety minutes I’d have to kill before pick up.

The remaining five younger children would just have to deal with the boredom. Well. We all know how kids deal with being bored; they fight. I drove to the post office. I got gasoline. I stopped the fights but they kept coming. Finally, I swung into the parking lot of the school and yelled. It wasn’t Marian. It wasn’t pretty and then I looked at their faces and the clock that indicated we still had an hour with each other. I couldn’t expect things to get better without a major attitude adjustment for all concerned. “Mary.” Think of “Mary.” I told myself and apologized to my son and daughter for yelling. They both looked grateful but the faces collectively were still glum. Part of getting rid of the “practical gritch” involves getting rid of the “practical” part that would have me running errands to eat up the waiting period, so I popped in Foreigner’s Greatest Hits and said we were going to do an exercise program in our seats.

I’m sure anyone who cared to watch got a kick out of seeing a 43 year old woman jab, cross and air box a punching bag in the first row of a 12 passenger van with four happy co-boxers following along. The exercise program devolved into a dance party within three songs before I had to reign it in. I didn’t want to surrender the fun but they were getting a bit too wild. “Mary. Think of Mary.” I visualized the picture my husband had referenced. “Let’s sing songs.” And we sang away another 25 minutes before my voice started to give out. “Tell us a story.” It was now effort, and the gritch wanted to quit. “Mary help me.” I thought; and a story about five puppies was created. Feeling triumphant, I buckled everyone back into their seats, put on some classical music and fed the baby. The older kids returned just in time to help keep the gritch at bay.

There were struggles unloading and getting to bed that evening, but overall, the day was saved by thinking of Mary. This one day of the 40 could be considered something of a success. Even so, with 12 more days to go and a crammed weekend schedule that includes two major band performances and a musical that goes on three days plus altar serving, I'm starting early. Mary. Mary. Think of Mary. Mary. Mary....


Karen said...

Remember, Mary was conceived without original sin AND she only had one kid to raise! Whenever I feel frustrated with my three children, I think Sherry ... Sherry ... Sherry!

MightyMom said...

oh GOOD JOB!!!

how hard it is to NOT be productive with every spare we have so few spare moments!!

print out this post and tack it to your bathroom mirror!

Sarah Reinhard said...

Sherry, good for you. This is a great meditation and practice for everyone, and it's just what I needed today.

Thanks for sharing it!

Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!