Small Success: Tea Parties and Mercy


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Last week was too busy. With everything. Everything offered was lovely. It all was important. It all mattered. However, when all was said and done, it was too much. I feel Fubuki’ed. The Fubuki (for those not married to a World War II military history buff) was a class of Japanese destroyers. (24 designs in all), some of which suffered from having too much put on too small a scale to be effective. This spring has been one giant Fubuki.

Every event, I felt like I was only half observing, half present, because I was also thinking about the next big thing we had to tackle…prom, graduation dresses, confirmation, leaving ceremony, track, AP finals, actual exams, ordinary everyday stuff, spring show, spring concert, submit a column, write the blog, work on the book, don’t forget the 5k, don’t forget to read every day, write every day, pray every day, exercise every day…and I’ve come to the 25th of this month and feel spent, like there isn’t any more room to shave off of what we do or how we do it, and no graceful way to do anything but all of it, because all of it mattered.

However, I was exhausted and feel like it all spun by without me somehow getting to notice it.

I needed some mercy on me. However, because I felt I wasn’t getting it, I stopped being merciful to everyone else. I fumed as I went upstairs to start cleaning up. I snarled as I found the shoe we’d been searching for the past four days. My growl was working to a full-fledged silent passive-aggressive rage. Despite trying and trying and trying to pray my way out of it, to work my way out of it, to distract my way out of it, I was working up a great mother martyr mad.

My five year old came into the room.

“Mom?  Do you need a hug?”

She didn’t wait for the answer. “Also, my cat (it’s a stuffed animal) wants to hug you. She’s purring.” She put the stuffed kitten on my shoulder. “Will you take care of her for me?” she asked.

“Sure.” I didn’t really hear the question but she heard the answer.

“Good. She’s no trouble. T’asha likes to be petted ten times a day and she gets five baths. You should rub her belly too, and she wants fish for lunch and chicken for dinner.”

I petted the cat and my daughter came over and gave me an extra hug for taking such good care of Tasha. “I think you and Tasha and I should have a tea party.” We sat and had a tea party.

The papers still needed to be filed, the cape and sash mailed to my son, a tax paper to the accountant, and the dry cleaning picked up. However, mercy had been offered, it had to be either received or rejected. I didn’t think it would be hard; I found myself fighting it, but in the end, after a few pats on the shoulders and a few more reminders to scratch behind T’asha’s ears, I sat and joined the party.

We sat drinking warm apple juice and tap water, eating goldfish crackers and taking turns bathing T’asha. She needed rainbow bubble soap, special magic cat shampoo, extra special striped cat conditioner, and a hair dryer to make sure all her fur was dry.

“Do you feel better, Mom?” My daughter cuddled up to me, meowing like a cat. She wanted a foot rub and to know if she could have a bubble bath that evening.

“Yes and yes.”

The imaginary tea and the oddly high-maintenance chores of managing T’asha the stuffed kitty were the cure. Mercy comes in many forms. Small Successes do too. It wasn’t the Prom or the 5K or the Book Festival that made this week a success. God can do wonders without us; we aren’t needed. What was, what is always needed, is our cooperation with love, our cooperation with grace.

I did tons this weekend, but the biggest small success? It was the impromptu tea party.

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Copyright 2016 Sherry Antonetti


About Author

Sherry Antonetti is a mother of ten children, published author of The Book of Helen and a freelance writer of humor and family life columns. You can read additional pieces from her blog,


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