In talking to my mother the other day, she told me she had found a couple of the Christmas video greetings we used to make and send every year since we moved 900 miles away. I apologized for not getting them made in recent years. “I thought when the children got older we would have more time to do things like this, not less,” I said. But she replied, “Oh no, you get busier. When the children are young, you are very busy, but you are in control of everything. When they get older you lose that control.”
How true! I have been thinking about this recently, and how hard it is to plan both daily and seasonal family activities.
For example, we have said the family rosary almost daily for years. My wife likes to say it right after breakfast, before we embark on the school day/work day. However, recently Matthew often works in the morning (cooler weather) for the neighboring farmer, doing his school in the afternoons. So we decided we would pray the rosary right after lunch before Connor goes to work at the hardware store at 1:00. This sometimes works, but if we don’t sit down to eat right at noon, or if we have a visitor stopping by during the lunch hour, that time also disintegrates. So we put it off until after supper. The possibility for neighborly visitations increases in the evening, as well as our own fatigue. We end up trying to pray well while our heads are nodding.
With these obstacles, we have finally decided we will do the best we can and pray the rosary with whoever is home. Our oldest children will have to start taking responsibility for their own daily rosary when they can’t pray with us.
How about our yearly May crowning? In past years it was a big thing, sometimes inviting friends to participate. We used to process around the property with the statue of Our Lady, singing and praying. It was a lengthy affair. Now with all the three older boys working, I realized that we were in the last week of May and hadn’t planned anything.
So on May 29th we surprisingly (and unexpectedly) had everyone at home in the evening. I had spent all day under my oldest son’s truck working on a very stubborn bolt while trying to change the starter. I had been struggling with this bolt for several days and was close to the end of my options. He really needed his truck back on the road for work, and in fact was off work because of the truck. As I was giving it my final effort, I thought about May and Mary, and how everyone was home.
I made a promise, “Mother in Heaven, if you let me get this bolt now, I promise a May crowning today.” Then I started putting force on the lever and heard Nick shout, “It’s turning!” Sure enough that bolt came out. I told Nick of my promise, but cautioned him, “I only made the promise based on the bolt turning, not that installing a new starter will get the truck rolling again.” But Our Lady was generous. 10 minutes later the new starter was installed and the truck cranking.
As I washed up, I quickly had Bernadette pick flowers. Theresa found a vase. I sent Nick to the store for ice cream. We ate supper early; sang “Immaculate Mary”, knelt and prayed the rosary before my wife’s grandmother’s statue of the Blessed Virgin, sang “Bring Flowers of the Rarest” with my oldest son Nick placing flowers before Our Lady and then we celebrated with ice cream. Our Lady knew we needed the May Crowning once more as a family and thus made it happen, for us, not for her!
I am not in control anymore-but in fact, never was. I only thought I had control.