Monday, December 17, 2007
I’m getting too old for this. I expected my fourth child in six years to be a delicate whisper of sweetness, yet all three of her determined sibling's temperaments combined cannot compete in any real way with the impressive stubbornness of our one little Mary. On Saturday night, we were inundated with a snowstorm. It was touch and go there for awhile regarding Liturgy on Sunday, but eventually we made the decision to pull boots on over our dress pants and tights and try our luck with the unplowed roads that lead to St. Elizabeth’s.
Mary got her heart set on a ridiculously large, blue striped, Land’s End dress that belongs to her six-year-old sister, Priscilla, and a pair of old white sandals. I try to be open minded, to let the girls modestly express their own sense of style but every single thing about Mary’s outfit was impractical– the prospect of her tripping and freezing off those impossibly tiny toes was, unfortunately, more than I could ignore in good conscience. “No sweetheart,” we told her and it all went downhill from there. The screaming lasted a solid 40 minutes, which translated to three and a quarter hours in Temper Tantrum Land where every nerve-fraying second drags on like a Junior High band concert – you stick around out of loyalty, wishing all the while for an alcoholic beverage to take the edge off.
We held Mary firmly, we presented her with many charming options in terms of attire, we tried to distract her with a strawberry cereal bar –her most favorite snack in the world. But the anger only intensified until (I am convinced) she forgot completely what had started the smoldering fire, now raging uncontrollably within her, in the first place. “Let’s just take her anyway and see if she calms down in the car,” my husband suggested, but that sounded like a giant, stress- induced migraine waiting to happen. We were shouting such ideas back and forth to each other when suddenly there was a break in the storm…silence, oh good grief what a beautiful sound! I hurried to Mary’s bedroom where just seconds earlier she had been howling in her crib, only to find her peacefully snoring; beads of sweat on her small pixie forehead were the sole remaining evidence of a struggle. I changed into jeans and tennis shoes; this mom wasn’t going anywhere. “Rest, Mary, rest. Life’s overwhelmed you.”
“Where’s daddy?” asked my newly awakened daughter an hour and a half later, all smiles and kisses and sunshine.
“At Church,” I told her, “where mama and Mary should be.”
“Oh-h-h! Church!” she said happily, tracing the ever-increasing fine lines on my face with her fingers. I could have swallowed her whole right then and there; so delectable to me did she seem at that moment. The affront to our ears, my morning plans, was forgiven in a heartbeat - the resiliency of maternal devotion in continual affect. I’ve got my hands full all right with this one, but free time is overrated anyway. Who needs predictability when there’s wild, messy love to keep me permanently engaged in the present?
But I’ll certainly take that glass of Merlot if you’re offering.