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It's all about Jesus.

It was a pretty typical Wednesday and I hate Wednesdays. I still hadn't recovered from the previous long weekend (which included four days' worth of company in a house that's too small for my own family, never mind more). Wednesday means driving two children (of the five who study music) to another town, for piano lessons. This necessitates a four-hour stint away from home. Four hours I can't afford to lose, because the battle against laundry, housecleaning, meal preparation, clutter and homeschool teacher-stuff is uphill and ongoing. Four hours away from a busy preschooler (so busy, she waits too long to go to the bathroom and has frequent accidents) and a fussy toddler (teething, and--this week-diaper rash, which makes diaper changes a two-person job with a lot of crying and yelling and squirming, and that's just the babysitters). Leaving said children in the care of my teens and pre-teen who would (actually) rather get their schoolwork done, than chase, feed, clothe, entertain, and clean up after their little sisters half the day. If they don't do their schoolwork during the day, they have to do it during the evening, and after a while that starts to feel suspiciously like not having a life.

And so I was gone from noon to 4:00 pm, and, because I am so disorganized and did not-yet again--get a marvelous slow-cooker meal ready (this is my fantasy Wednesday supper plan), I had to scratch together yet another "hasty not tasty" supper consisting of greasy fish-sticks, plain rice and vegetables, some of which boiled over and made a mess on my stove, but what's one more mess, because now it matches the rest of the house. And it's harvest-time, and even though my husband is not a farmer, he owns farmland, which his brother rents from us, but he (my husband) feels obliged to go and help him (my brother-in-law) whenever he possibly can. And so he comes home from his full-time job and barely has time to grab a sandwich (he doesn't stay to eat supper with us), and rushes back out the door to go help his brother with the harvest. And I wonder in my resentment why he can't stay home to help his wife with the parenting.

The evening is spent trying to help the older ones and the middle ones (who spent the afternoon at music lessons and so did not get all their schoolwork done) get their schoolwork done. And also simultaneously watching the toddler and tidying up the house (ha ha), because the little ones have been on the rampage all day, and how can you expect your pre-teens to babysit, do their schoolwork and clean house? Then the phone rings and am I coming to the pro-life meeting tomorrow night, which is in yet another town, 45 miles away, which means a six-hour stint away from my family, not to mention 90 miles of driving in one evening? And I ask myself, "Why am I involved with organizing a pro-life conference, and why am I trying to keep up with these women?" (the ones involved in prolife), because they are mostly older than I am (and therefore have no kids at home, or perhaps at most, one teenager in high school), and the few that are my age nevertheless do not have a nursing toddler, a preschooler who demands to watch TV all day, and five other homeschooling children.

After I hang up I go back to picking up toys and books and puzzles and craft supplies and I scream at the kids because why can't they pick up after themselves? And I vacuum and take out the garbage, which is the 11-year-old's job, but can I expect her to do her chores when she's spent half the day babysitting and trying to get her schoolwork done? And then I ask myself, "Why are we homeschooling anyway?" And then I remember that I have an editorial deadline, and I have no idea what I'm going to write about, and I also recall that I'm supposed to speak to some parents at an upcoming conference, and I laugh (somewhat bitterly) and say to myself that I really should cancel the engagement because I am the most horrible mother that ever lived.

And then I look at the clock and it's pajama time and snack time and if you don't get them on RIGHT NOW there will be no snack and hurry up because it's time to pray. And I have to call the family to prayer because my husband is not there (see second paragraph, above). And a little child shall lead them. My 5-year-old asks me (hopefully, because she likes to lead) if we are going to say the whole rosary. And I pause, because I was not planning to say even part of the rosary. I was going to pack the little ones off to bed with probably a hasty "Angel of God" and "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep" and leave the older ones to finish their homework and I was going to take the baby downstairs and nurse her to sleep and nurse a diet Pepsi (and maybe some potato chips, depending on whether my self-pity would get the better of me, which it often does, despite my best efforts at self-control and weight loss) and watch TV. So when she asks if we are going to say the whole rosary, I say, "Yes."

So we start to say the rosary and my husband arrives home (three hours earlier than I expected him) and he joins in. And my 3-year-old (the one who pees her pants so often) climbs into my lap and tells me she wants to lead. And so I help her lead, and after the end of the second Hail Mary (which she begins by praying, "Hail Mary, full of God," which sounds funny, but is the absolute truth), she looks up at me and says matter-of-factly, "It's all about Jesus." Except with her lisp it sounds like "Dethuth," but it's still true.

And now I know why I've had such a lousy day. Because I forgot it was all about Jesus. The pro-life conference is all about Jesus, and my husband helping his brother is all about Jesus. Surviving life with a big family in a small home, and keeping that home neat and tidy, and opening it to others in hospitality, is all about Jesus. My writing apostolate is all about Jesus. Getting more organized with time schedules, lesson plans, meal plans and even weight-loss plans, is all about Jesus. Training my children well, educating them in academics, life skills, good manners and (most importantly) the faith, is all about Jesus. My marriage is all about Jesus.
 O my Jesus, forgive us our sins;
 save us from the Fires of hell.
 Lead all souls to heaven,
 and help especially those
 most in need of Thy mercy.
 Especially me.
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Author:Ulrich, Mariette
Publication:Catholic Insight
Date:Oct 1, 2006
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