Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Different Valentine Story

Every day when we drive to school, we say set prayers.  It is partially to settle the crowd in the van. It is partially to pray. It is partially to prevent or stop fights. 

It does not always work.  
But we do it.

Each child has a separate designated prayer.  The youngest gets the "Glory Be," the next "Hail Mary," the next, the "Our Father," then the "Hail Holy Queen" and the oldest going to the elementary school has "The Prayer of Saint Francis."  I have the "Act of Contrition."  Yes, sometimes there are editorials in those prayers. 

However yesterday, the children were not happy.  The prayers came grudgingly. 

"Make me (Kick) an (Kick, Kick, Kick) HEY! an instrument of your peace...
"Where there is Hatred..."MOM! HE'S KICKING MY SEAT!"
Mom edict from front seat, "NO KICKING DURING PRAYER..."

Prayer/Kicker is still going...
"To Console as to be understand as to be understood...."
I am not quite in a consoling mood.  I have already said my prayer and am feeling it big time that I need to say it again. 

We have to cross a train track to get to the school. The train guards are down. We will be delayed. We are already late.  Tattles are starting to roll in like thunderclouds with a cold front.  Mommmmmmm.....

I can see the snake/mongoose faces of my children in the back seats preparing for battle during the stall at the station. 

I turn off the car for dramatic effect.  (We're stuck waiting for the train to go past so it won't matter). 
"Attention. ATTENTION.  Right Now...Saint Francis is face palming because you asked to be an instrument of peace and yet you are still kicking your sister's seat." 
"Well she was making faces..."
"Well he looked at me funny."
I am not happy.  I launch into a lecture.   Let me sum up with the take away shout being, "Talk about NOT GETTING IT!"

"Mom! Count to Ten!"
"Mom! Calm Down!"
"Mom, You need to Chill."

I get a chorus of corrections.
I lose it.
"I don't want your advice. I want you to listen TO ME!"

"But You're the one who Told Me to Count to Ten."
"Fine.  First, we are going to pray one more prayer."
I begin the Act of Contrition.
"Mom, you already said it."

"Evidently, it didn't take." I explain and carry on.  Halfway through, I have a vision of all of Heaven, face palming as I run through the prayer with no small amount of irritation.  I can hear Saint Francis whispering to Saint Anthony. "Talk about Not GETTING IT."  and swallow hard.

The train is passed. I restart the car.  I tell them I love you, and there is the settled silence of a crowd that has been squirrely and fighting and now realizes, it is over.  

They get out of the car and I get a small chorus of, "We're sorry Mom." and I am too.  We missed out on a morning, we missed out on getting to school on time, we were lost, all of us.  I felt it all day until I came back to the school in the afternoon for the class parties (Valentine's day).   I'd spent the afternoon feeling as if I'd flunked love 101.  It was hard to focus, it was hard to do anything.  My heart felt shriveled, like whatever it was, wasn't yet finished.  I was still damaged from the morning. 

 Arriving, each child is pleased to see me and their younger siblings in tow, they are eager to load my two toddlers down with red lollipops, chocolates and heart stickers.  The principal gets on the intercom to say the afternoon prayer; it is the act of contrition and the prayer of Saint Francis.  And my heart starts to unfold.  Somehow, everything is better.  Somehow, all of the morning is washed away in the saying of the prayers now. 

I look at this place, this annex of my home for my children, and if I could hug every parent for sending their children here, I would. If I could send a card to every teacher that pulls late nights to grade papers or do extra research to teach here and try to get my kiddos to listen, I would. They are all deserving of a dozen roses, a box of chocolates and a paid day off.  I know they work hard, and part of what they do, is create this place with its capacity to pull back to health, the crumpled foil heart of this parent when she's done her best to close off.  This is why they are here, in part, to protect me and grow my faith.  This is why I am here, because I need these feasts, these moments even during Lent, even only one day into Lent.  


Laura @ Mothering Spirit said...

I love so many parts of this piece...the prospect of Saint Francis face-palming, the way you describe this beloved school as an annex of your home, the image of your kids kicking car seats during prayer - all of it. Thank you for a fast-forward picture of my life in 5, 10, 15 years. I laugh and I tear up all at once.

Rose Godfrey said...

Love it. My sister was just telling me her funny stories from mass this morning and I was telling her she should be reading your blog. Sending her this post. :)

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Daily Grace said...

Our children are older now, some have kids of their own, but this could have been our family on any given day. It seemed like getting them together to say the rosary was always anything but a prayerful, peaceful time! I only hope the sincere effort stuck.

Great post! God bless..

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