February 16, 2010

What I'm Thinking About - Convicted by My Not-Quite-Two-Year-Old

I'm pregnant again, which means that my moods run from high to low in an alarmingly uncertain and dramatic fashion these days. Being a working mother doesn't help, and getting my little son and myself out of the house in the mornings without losing my temper and my patience is one of my great challenges.

It's also Lent, my favorite season of the year, but one in which my good intentions fall far short of my reality. I'm always overzealous in the weeks leading up to Ash Wednesday. Instead of picking one key thing to work on, my mind rifles through the file of faults in my head: I'll give up gossip, meat, sweets, white flour, negative comments, TV, biting my nails, soda, cursing and eating between meals. Oh, and I'll pray every morning, I'll write every evening, I'll go to Adoration once a week, and I'll be more patient with my husband and son.

I will perfect my life in 40 days. It never works.

So here we are, Seamus and I, on a typical morning, driving to his babysitter's house. He's eating a Nutrigrain bar for breakfast in the car, spilling his juice on the floor, taking off his shoes and socks, crying because he dropped his binky somewhere where I can't reach it to give back to him. I'm maybe eating a Nutrigrain bar too, trying to drink coffee without spilling it because my husband took the only clean travel mug this morning, and cursing under my breath (so my mimicking-everything little boy won't hear me) at the driver in front of me who is not driving as fast as I would like.

Every morning we pass our beautiful church (Immaculate Conception in Towson, and thank you to the Maryland Historical Society Web site for the lovely image at the top of this post). It sits on a hill, cathedral-like, soaring above the high rises, apartment complexes and restaurants of this part of our town. A week or so ago, as I was in the midst of my morning meltdown, I heard my son's little voice behind me say, "Jee-Jee house? Hi, Jee-Jee!" And he blew Jee-Jee (Jesus) a kiss. Then he said, "P'ay, Mommy?" and folded his little hands.

There is nothing more heartening than seeing your children absorb and return the things you try to teach them. Struggling for a way to explain church to my toddler, I told him that although Jesus is everywhere with us all the time, churches are His special house. Right in the middle of the stress of everyday life, my baby son reminded me of the simplest of truths - Here is Jesus, let's pray. So we made up a simple little prayer that he reminds me to say every day now, as we pass the church. "Dear Jesus, we love you. We know you love us too. Please help us to love others better."

That's about the only regular Lenten devotion I've been able to manage this year, but it's enough. Thanks, Seamus.

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