I sit amongst noise. Owl’s City’s Dreams Don’t Turn to Dust streams from my middle son’s computer, the youngest plays Halo Reach on the XBOX screen behind me and the eldest is, supposedly, syncing his iPod to mine while playing Team Fortress on his PC. It is loud and we sit within a 12 X 12 foot space. We have only been in here for approximately half an hour and I already feel claustrophobic.
The minutes of our days are being accounted for and we are in the midst of activities that mark the end of a school year with: Open House, field trips, teacher appreciation and programs galore. Though I dread the triple digit temperatures that pervade during the summer months, I look forward to the freedom of not having school consume our waking hours. Not much longer to go…
When I finally find time to sit and establish what it is I’m doing and where it is I’m coming from, the thoughts come unbidden. I feel that my voice is not heard.
In a day where young voices clamor for attention, phones ring incessantly and machines rhythmically thu-thunk there is no room for distraction. It is all I can do to focus on the various items, at hand. It is only in the quiet, in the early morning that my inner voice can be heard.
In periods of transition it takes all of my energy to process the various inputs around me; making me hyper focused with tunnel vision. It polarizes my brain to allow me to complete the task before me. When I was a first-time, young mother, every day, each moment, was something terrifyingly new. My mother was not available to guide me as I learned the responsibility of, not only taking care of myself; but of the little human life placed in my hands. I don’t think I ever really slept in that first year. It was the instinct to protect; a maternal adrenaline rush that I had never experienced before. It is strong; that instinct. Stronger, even, than self-preservation. In any given circumstance I would give my life up before I would allow any one of my children to give up theirs.
And so I find myself, sitting quietly in the dark intently listening to music. The song is striking a chord and is called Some Nights by the band fun. The lyrics, “But I still wake up, I still see your ghost. Oh Lord I’m still not sure what I stand for, oh. What do I stand for? What do I stand for? Most nights, I don’t know anymore….” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQkBeOisNM0 (cut & paste)
Why do we have to go through crisis to fall on our knees?
This is a difficult path for me to follow; falling to my knees. It is in the falling that we truly learn of our grit, tenacity and grace, forgiveness. What do I stand for?
I thought of this today as I stood angrily in my pew. Because my two older sons are altar servers I understand a lot of the ritual and ceremony that entails a Catholic mass. Although there is a schedule, and my boys were not on it today, each Sunday l have them check-in to make sure their help is not needed. It is the acts of service part of my personality. As the procession headed forward I noted there was one, lone, female altar server. I immediately glared at my sons who had gone to the room to check-in and decided they did not feel like serving today. They weren’t on the schedule. They did not stick around to see if anyone else would assist. The bare minimum servers needed at a mass are three; most times there are six. But as summer approaches and sport seasons end there are less servers who regularly attend mass.
I could see the perplexed priest and the lone server at the altar and immediately demanded my boys head there, mass already started, to serve. I was incensed at their lack of empathy and laziness. Just because you are not scheduled or assigned does not mean you are absolved of responsibility to serve; in the Lord’s house, no less. Is this what I am raising my boys to be? Legalistic, black and white followers? Parishioners around us were, none the wiser, that the mass would function with less. Why make them go?
Earlier in this school year I had the painful realization that the things I want for my children aren’t always what they want or need. As a parent we have to discern what’s really important; overscheduling and being stressed out vs. extra-curricular academics and physical activity. It is a fine line we must walk and when my children and husband overruled that swimming is not an essential activity, last August, it was painful. I inwardly seethe as I watch my boys sit like zombies at a computer screen; though I am not allowed to discuss it. But, our schedule revolved around an activity that wasn’t enjoyable for all parties involved; 3-4 hours sitting at a pool deck watching my sons swim, all the joy of the sport gone for them. This all flashed through my mind in the 2 minutes it took for my boys to get up and out of our pew and enter the sanctuary from the back of the church. Another server also joined them and my husband turned to me and said that our boys were decorative; not being tasked since they came late.
But I did not care. My boys are not serving for others to notice; only for the glory of God. It is a moral issue for me. They should know to serve and help others. The fact that this really doesn’t enter into their minds galls me. Am I projecting my acts of service on my children? How important is this in the grander scheme of life?
And so I smoldered and searched deep down most of today; pondering this thought. Again, the voice unheard. What do I stand for? What, as a parent and a mother, do I want my boys to stand for? And is it up to me to decide?
This is the answer that evades me. I ask myself, silently, if the life I am leading is fruitful? How is what I do, each and every day, helping the greater good? I know that my husband does not understand this burning desire, in me, to serve others; to contribute to society. These are grandiose schemes and really, how would I serve that purpose? How can my individual God given talents help others, as a whole? Unlike my husband, who feels that my services should cater to my children first and only, I always think bigger. It is my democratic personality that truly drives my capitalistic, Republican insanely crazy. Why should you volunteer your time? There are countless other people who surely can do what you do with more time and money on their hands. Why does it always have to be you?
I hope, eventually, that my voice is heard in my household. What do I stand for? What do I stand for? Most nights, I don’t know, anymore….