Wednesday, May 09, 2007

What is Necessary and What is Possible

I've shared the quote from St. Francis a number of times here: "Start by doing what is necessary, then do what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible." I use this quote as a motto rather often and it helps me to prioritize things because, as much as I'd like to, I can't do everything and I'm hit by this sometimes more than others.

I've been sick with a bad cold since just after the homeschool conference (a week and a half ago) and was still feeling pretty crummy on Sunday for Bernie's First Communion.

Now, I'm a perfectionist type. I LOVE to have everything just perfect when company comes over (and would prefer to have things perfect all the time!) and I have to deliberately push myself away from that. Sometimes circumstances - like illness - force me into that (and the reminders are good for me!).

I decided that getting down to the "necessary" and the "possible" for our First Communion Day celebration centered around making it a special and beautiful for Bernie. Other aspects were more flexible and impressing relatives with a perfect house was pretty low on the list. And so I did go with Bernie to five different stores on Saturday night to find some pretty white shoes (amazing that we didn't have white shoes for girl #3 in the family - but girl #2 has a way of making clothing somewhat...ahem...less suitable for future special occasions). We had to reach a bit of a compromise with some very pretty white sandals that she wore with lacy socks and she was very happy (the other four stores had nothing that would work - good thing the fifth store had something because those 5 stores within reasonable range of our house and close proximity to each other were my absolute limit - otherwise black dress shoes would have to do). So new shoes turned out to be "possible" though not strictly "necessary".

Getting ready for Mass was more challenging than usual with low energy and last-minute details and the other kids filled in more than usual on helping the little ones get dressed while I helped Bernie with her hair. I got to Mass, looked down and saw that Frank had grass stains all over his pants. I spent a lot of Mass standing in back with Frank so I wouldn't cough on the poor people in front of us (our neighbors, by a neat coincidence) and came back from communion to discover that one little girl who will go unnamed (though I should mention that it was definitely not the first communion girl) went up to communion barefoot because she was having trouble with her shoes (never would have gotten past me if I was in the pew, sigh).

But you know, those little things really didn't matter. Bernie received Our Lord lovingly (and in fact wanted to go to Mass every day this week, which sickness unfortunately overruled), rules about shoes at Church were clarified with a certain little girl, and we had a lovely party and visit with the relatives afterwards. I was remembering, during all of this time, little Gabriel and his family, who also had a First Communion this weekend and had to cancel their party. A healthy dose of perspective and a little "letting go" are just what the doctor ordered.


Kristen Laurence said...

This is beautiful, Alicia, and so important to remember. (I do suspect though, that your worst days are more perfect than my best days!) Congratulations to your lovely daughter!

Love2Learn Mom said...

Thanks Kristen, but my goodness, maybe I don't blog enough on the crazy and chaotic sides of life (or take enough pictures of what our house actually looks like on a regular basis) because I very sincerely doubt that that is true! It's partly that I don't feel as much like blogging when I'm tired and overwhelmed.

If you were to peek into my house right now, even before the kids (except Ria) are up, you'd find plenty of dirty dishes on the counter (though the dishwasher was run last night, so things are technically moving along), very unswept floors (the dog is a major shredder and I never get the floors swept more than once a day - often less), towels drying on the deck railing, peeling wallpaper in my bedroom and plenty more.

We do seem to manage a lot of joy and love and learning, but perfection - no way! A lot of times it's the letting go that has helped with the joy and love and learning, especially for the kids with unconventional learning styles and needs.

Ana Braga-Henebry said...

Oh, Alicia, I love this-- and bumped into it accidentally by goggling the St Francis phrase for my sister!
Your house is the right balance, very much like mine, of happiness and mess-iness! And yet, what a beautiful dinner and clean house you had to receive us last summer! God bless you!