The Small Things by Christine Capolino
Startling blue skies. Crisp, clear mornings and halcyon spring afternoons. An impromptu game of marbles. Discovering a family of ladybugs on the kitchen windowsill. Jungle animals imagined in drifting cloud formations. Quiet togetherness watering newly planted pansies. Joyful noise in piano and recorder tunes. One boy’s huge chocolate- brown eyes peering over a splayed hand of Uno; the other’s pensive azure-blue eyes taking in a new novel. Sipping steaming hot cocoa after wintry sledding, icy lemonade after a summer bike ride. Bare, little boy feet slapping dewy grass at dusk on an early summer evening, catching and releasing fireflies, whoops of excitement uncontainable.
It’s in the little things, the quiet moments. Yes, it’s the many years of Christmas morning memories, the family video of the kids excitedly zipping down the stairs to uncover the many surprises. It’s the birthday cake pictures, number candle poking askew out of the whipped confection, huge grin on the crowned head. But it is also the unspoken camaraderie, the support, the bond, sitting side by side while one son grapples with Latin adverbs and the other attempts to conquer place value. The cleaning of the skinned knee, the rocking of the middle of the night toddler, the presence our kids need when they are troubled by the trivial. If it’s important to them, it’s our crisis too. The small things are what matters.
Family. The sweetness of childhood. I stopped to revel in its wonder this week as my boys gleefully noticed the lilac bush at the head of our driveway erupting with beauty. I rushed them past to the car on our way to beckoning errands, book club meeting and baseball practice. And I realized: We get another crack at this. We get to experience this twice. The energy and exuberance of all things life, love and Faith. We lived it once. Now, through a special blessing called Motherhood, we are graced to live it again. Beside our kids. Every step of the way. Our children’s journeys are a first time whirlwind…..an entry into newness and expectancy. Meeting for the first time ever, Jo March, Boy Friday, Long John Silver, Huck Finn, Laura Ingalls Wilder, the Village Blacksmith; stepping back in time to explore the mystery of history; marveling when scientific principles are revealed, when mathematical concepts are grasped. The edifying crack of the ball against the bat, the mastery of the elusive chord, the inaugural two wheeled ride sans training wheels, and yes the dropped glass of milk, the lost beloved stuffed pup, the birthday party to which he was not invited -We are there for it all. We nurture and provide the constant presence in order for them to become independent. And aren’t we blessed? Is this not the greatest gift?
Foremost, we all know that mothering means details. We don’t believe it until we live it; but, it’s true. The endless cycle of laundry, dishes, food preparation, lesson planning, directing our children’s learning as well as their social calendars and their sporting lives- the list is without end. The duties around the minutiae of it all can overpower our vision of what a true gift we have been given.
Motherhood is thankless at times; but, we try to be there for our children, happily and completely, with our Blessed Mother Mary’s guidance as the quintessential example of selflessness. After all, our Blessed Mother unquestioningly shouldered much hardship in the name of motherhood. We always celebrate her acceptance of God’s will; but most especially on March 25 and again on Good Friday. Ravaged by grief at the foot of the cross wrapped in more sorrow than any of us can begin to imagine- her baby, her son, bloodied, tortured and breathing his last. What more can be said of her quiet humility and stoicism? All I need endure is an occasional mountain of dirty baseball and soccer effects, breakfast crumbs littering the floor, splattered craft paint and piles of schoolwork yet to be tackled. Would that I had a modicum of our Lady’s total trust in the Lord.
At a time when motherhood is viewed as lowly, at best, as a part time job – when mothers are very often looked upon askance, as if slackers; when casual conversation artfully hints that mothers should be engaged in ‘something worthwhile’ outside the home in order to be productive; when families sacrifice deeply so that stay at home and homeschooling mothers can follow their vocations, only to be held up to scrutiny within the nationwide media – when all of this begins to put us off balance, let us know how truly blessed we are and let us not be distracted by this noise.
I admit that I did not fully realize the magnitude of a God given gift until a decade ago when I became a mother. And I find it unfathomable that one day my sons will drive, master trigonometry, interpret Longfellow, translate foreign languages, be taller than me, not want me around, get married, be fathers, be productive members of society. My babies. All in God’s plan. I pray that all this will come in time….even the not-wanting-me-around part, for that is the healthiness of growth and separation. I pray for it; but I don’t want it.
The second Sunday in May can be idyllic. The simplicity and the love poured out in construction paper cards. The ease of a lovely spring afternoon spent with the individuals who you love most in the world. Thankfulness to the Dads, our husbands, who make it happen through their hard work and encouragement. They’re the ones who tell us that tomorrow is another day. Not to worry, that math concept will be ‘gotten’ eventually and the dust can wait; the kids’ happiness is what matters. My husband is the one who centers me and brings me back to what is real. The second Sunday in May can also be emotionally charged and empty for many. For those who suffer loneliness, we wish we could take it away.
For all the mothers who chose life and gave up their babies with the hope for a life with more promise than they could give, and for the mothers who adopted these precious souls; for single mothers who are both Mom and Dad to their kids; for mothers who struggle to give their kids a childhood that was missing something for them; for mothers whose babies wait for them in Heaven; for mothers who have lost their way; for those whose own mothers and grandmothers have been called Home; for those mothers who boost each other with your wit and wisdom, your love and generosity, because it is what you know first and do best; to all mothers – Happy Mothers’ Day.
Copyright 2010 Christine Capolino