Monday, August 16, 2010

signs of life

   When all my kids were little, I had to grow accustomed to a high activity level in the house. And a general mess, especially when there was a  preponderance of babies and toddlers. Some days, I could only get out of bed by promising myself that I could relax a little at the kids nap time. (I still use a version of that). I remember a friend of mine, who also had a good amount of children, saying something like, "People matter more that things." Seems kind of elementary! 

Then I would  awake each morning to mountains of laundry, (no dryer--someone in cloth diapers), meals to prepare, lessons to teach (I homeschooled back then) -- all the while skating over blankies left on the kitchen floor, stepping on legos in the hallway, (ow), cheerios buried in the couch cushions and the occasional piece of fruit forgotten in a dresser drawer for approximately seven weeks. (So that was what that smell was!)  The people vs. things issue clouded a bit when the things that were extensions of the people are difficult to manage. 

When things got really hairy I would often repeat my friends' saying and try to remember that someday I would miss those days. ( I do). Later, I also found it helpful to add the little mental caption, 'Signs of Life', to the particularly distressing scenes. The favorite- "fort" made from  sheets and blankets, held in place by many teetering, heavy books on the edges of tables and chairs. All their worldly possessions  got dragged inside so that they could barely fit in themselves. All these items were much more fun to put in the fort that to take out. Or put away.

  One son was the quintessential tinkerer.  Anyone who has one knows what this means.  One day, the thing that got taken apart was an antique gold watch I had saved from my mother's jewelry box. I think it had been her mother's. What a sight--all the teeny gears and teenier springs on my dresser. This one was not getting put back together. But this was a Thing and the tinkerer was my Son. Who now can take things apart and get them back together in even better shape than they were before. 

These days, the people are considerably larger, and the activity level is about things like applying to colleges, job interviews, and SAT's. I still have to talk to myself some days, and allow for lots of  'signs of life'. The kids are largely teens and young adults now, well able to take care of a lot of their own messes. It is tricky, as we have eight people in a South Philly row house. Picture a large, uncoordinated dance troupe in an area the size of a postage stamp. For it to be always neat as a pin ( ha HA) would require almost military style order. And I don't really want our home to have the atmosphere of a boot camp. So I take a deep breath, say a prayer or three, do whatever work needs to be done, delegate what needs to be delegated. Then I remember that these people are much more important that anything else surrounding us, and that someday, when they have moved on to leave signs of life in their own places, I will miss them like crazy.

If there are those who might be thinking that having a child or several children, (or seven), will take away something from your life; it will. It will take away your focus from yourself. It will take your breath away, every time you peek in on them while they sleep. It will take away your small vision of the world, and open up whole new horizons, as they grow and pursue their dreams. All the love, sweat, tears, and laundry, you put in on their behalf comes around and blesses you beyond what you could have imagined.

So yes, life is messy. But without a little mess, all we would have left is a very sterile, orderly, lonely and colorless existence. When the Lord said, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." ( John 10:10) Sure there are those who do not have children for one reason or another--but I am not talking about those here--I have in mind those who would practice and promote abortion. What a sad world indeed , is one that would not welcome the children it is given.

There is always the danger that we may just do the work for the sake of the work. This is where the respect and the love and the devotion come in - that we do it to God, to Christ, and that's why we try to do it as beautifully as possible.
Mother Teresa

 If you are contemplating abortion, feel free to contact me, or go here: to talk with someone who can help.



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