In the Catholic church there is a liturgical calendar. Important religious holidays like Easter and Christmas are preceded by special times of spiritual preparation like lent, advent etc. These periods are relatively short compared to the rest of the year which is made up of something called Ordinary Time. I like the sound of it, Ordinary Time. Something about it rolls and relaxes and soothes me.
For a long time I felt caught up in a multitude of "special" events. There was the adoption, the adjustment to parenthood, changing jobs, etc. Now, finally I feel like we've returned to Ordinary Time.
Recently we attended a preparation class for Elian's baptism. It turned out to be quite literally a Come to Jesus moment for me. The nun teaching the class was running it like some sort of bad-ass baptism boot camp. She was not messing around with bland platitudes about grace and mercy and cleansing waters. No, no, no, she wanted to make sure we got that baptism is not a one time party but a lifetime commitment "You must remember that we are beloved children of God and as parents you are the first and most important people to teach your child what it means to be unconditionally loved."
I felt those words cut to my heart.
It is so important to take the time to go beyond the basics of caring for my son. I am diligent in emphasizing manners and practicalities: to wash his hands and not to throw things, but I am severely lacking in other things that are more important. I remember to scold but not to tell him how proud I am of his kind and generous little heart. I remember to feed him healthy food, but I forget to bless him, pray for him and remind him that nothing will ever separate him from our love or God's. I am impatient with his rambunctiousness but slow to appreciate his bright smile. Yes, I am tired and exhausted and imperfect but life is not about excuses, it's about looking for solutions. I'm praying that God will help me do better.
The day after the class Elian's school was closed and I decided to trash my plans of getting chores done and instead dedicate the day to working on teaching love: namely listening to him, being patient, and lavishing the attention that he constantly craves but doesn't always receive.
It was a total blast.
We watched Sesame Street, we ate yogurt, we went to Starbucks and discussed the merits of each car that passed through the drive through. Instead of mumbling uh-huh to his nonstop chatter I made the effort to focus in. We talked and giggled and hugged. It was ordinary time and it was extraordinarily beautiful.