i should preface this post by revealing that i, mamazilla, am a lapsed cradle catholic.
i'm lapsed in the sense that if i didn't dislike our parish church so much and if the kids didn't ride the thin man and myself like busted playground equipment during mass, we'd still be attending church for the next three nights (holy thursday, good friday, easter vigil) with easter sunday as a bonus. i'm not lapsed because i'm disillusioned about being catholic - i should be. there's plenty to be disillusioned about -but i'm not.
and tonight, i might've considered having my feet washed. that's right. this evening, catholics all around the world will be allowing others to wash their feet and will in turn wash someone elses. it's a symbolic gesture/ritual that we do to commemorate what jesus did at the last supper, teaching by example, a lesson about serving others and to allow others to serve you. and yes, i’ll spare you the sermon. 'cause god forbid, i mention easter and kids and being catholic or *shudder* christian in the same post. we're all raving homophobes and pro life vigilantes.
this made me reflect and think about humility and worth and teaching and service and how they are linked together. it reminds me of how much the paloma likes to be "of service" and how much like me she is in that way.
a week or so ago, i got the chance to volunteer to read to her classmates at her preschool for the day and "in appreciation", the paloma set up a tray for me with a vase of teeny silk flowers, a small porcelain teacup of water and a matching saucer of animal cookies with a napkin w/ napkin ring on the side. i know that the students are asked to do this by their teachers but she was REALLY happy to do it and she did went about her duty dilligently and with a true spirit of service. she walked over to me very slowly and carefully - something she NEVER does - and placed the tray in front of me very purposefully and said, "here mommy, i made this for you." i could've cried. instead, i stamped that memory in my head and made sure to thank her for all her hard work and for sharing me with her classmates. i can't wait to volunteer again.
i often joke to my childless friends about how thankless this parenting job is – much like other service jobs in restaurants, retail, waste management, construction, etc… that my employers (the paloma and the porkchop) pay me in desiccated cheerios and used diapers. unlike other jobs, i can’t apply for disability for back injury or deafness due to circumstances while on the job. i don't get vacation days or sick days and i can't quit. i just serve and serve everyday (which is why i didn't give anything up for lent. i'll admit it. i'm a little bitter).
i wish i could say that i love being a mother. i don't. i don't hate it. but i don't love it. i do however love my children. and there really isn't one single thing that keeps me going. throughout a day, i can think of little things, here or there, that get me through the next minute or hour. watching the paloma and the porkchop become more independent is one of those things.
this past weekend, we locked ourselves out of our garage. we had to break a window (a 3 x 2 pane) the ONLY other way into the garage. of course, neither the thin man nor myself could squeeze ourselves thru such a small hole. the paloma however would fit perfectly. i was against it from the start. i had visions of sleepless night after sleepless night, of nightmare fits about spiders, broken glass and dark holes. but, the thin man talked to her about it. showed her the window. showed her the car thru the window. explained to her what she needed to do, how she was helping us, etc.... i was so sure she wouldn't do it. i turned around to save the porkchop from another possible head injury and when i looked back, the paloma was gone. whoosh. lowered into the garage she went and thin man's head followed her. i ran to the big garage door just as she opened it with the remote. she was standing next to the car with a big goofy grin. and that night, no nightmares, no nothing.
today, the porkchop got away from me (again) and climbed up the first few steps to our second floor. i was sure he'd take a tumble coming down (again) but he actually got down on his belly and negotiated them with that handy reverse crawl. he got pretty confident and while i supervised nearby, tried it again and again, succeeding everytime with the same handful of steps.
there's something about them discovering their independence makes me proud of the work we've done and the time we've spent together to get where we are. but there is something about being needed by them that will always reverberate deep within me. i guess that's what keeps me going, being needed. being an essential.
so the rest of today (like all other days), is dedicated to serving them but, i think i'll try to encourage them to "serve" me too. i need them to know that they are essential to me. that i need them right back. maybe, we'll serve each other snacks at snack time. i know i'll get especially squeamish when the porkchop takes a goldfish out of his mouth and puts it in mine. but hey, it's just for today. then, she can pour some milk into his sippy cup. at bedtime, the paloma can help me with the porkchop's diaper and pajamas and maybe the porkchop can help the paloma with the toothpaste and the soap dispenser. i may even let them brush my teeth and "read" to me for a change.
it'll make for a long (and arduous) day for sure. but, their service and sacrifice is worth it.