Tuesday, January 8, 2008


When my mother called last night, I gave her little chance to tell me why she had called. Barely pausing to take a breath, I told her how my nine-year-old had had a fever all weekend and my six-year-old had thrown up in his bed and slept in it.

“And yet you tell me this so lightheartedly,” she mused.

I could not explain my carefree attitude except by the grace of God. “Laughter is the heart’s best medicine,” Proverbs tells us, and somehow the capacity for laughter had been sent me as a much-need gift overnight.

Certainly I was not seeing things so well early on Sunday. Halfway to church, we realized we had left the offering envelope at home. After dropping my husband and the older children at church, I went back to retrieve it. Coming in halfway through the mass, as soon as I found a seat the baby started acting up. She wanted every hymnal in the pew. She wanted to stack them up a certain way, then put them back, then hold them all at once. If she did not get her way, she would shriek. Even half a mass was too long for me.

Once she was tucked in for her nap, we started a project I had not looked forward to. We had left the Christmas tree and lights up until January 6, and my husband was anxious to take them down. I served lunch and retrieved the Christmas boxes from the garage to get them set up. Then I went food shopping.

When I got home, the lights were down and away, and the tree was at the curb. My husband had vacuumed and swept. All the ornaments were neatly laid on the dining room table. And yet I grumbled. Each of the decorations had its own box, which it had to be laid in precisely. Then each individual box had to be packed into a larger box in such a way as to maximize space and minimize breakage possibilities. The chore seemed so depressing to me and I moped through it for hours.

After the children were in bed, I noticed the sap that had dripped across the floor. I got the floor cleaner out and started polishing the dining room floor – something only done when it becomes obviously necessary. Then I swept and cleaned the kitchen floor. My husband ripped up old boxes and put the packed boxes back into the garage. He saved Mary from accidentally being thrown away (!).

Finally, exhausted, we lay on the couch and watched some television. Looking around me, the cleanliness and absence of clutter calmed my spirits. I peeked in on my son, who had conked out before changing into his pajamas.

My husband turned on an infomercial and my ears perked up as a medical author discussed natural remedies for some ailments some of my relatives suffer from. “Should we order it?” I asked jokingly. Surprisingly, my husband answered in all serious, “Go ahead!”

We had never ordered anything over the telephone before, and I was so pleased at having this gracious permission offered, that I picked up the telephone. The customer representative soon started in on a series of related offers. Was I interested in a weight loss book in the series? A smoking cessation book? Free trials for three magazines? A shopping savings club? No thank you, no thank you, went my “broken record”.

My husband was nearly in stitches listening to my end of the conversation. Finally, “we have made arrangements for you and your family to spend six days and seven nights in sunny Florida,” and I broke into peals of laughter. “No thank you, we just got back!” I answered, “Have a nice night!”

Monday morning, my son came to me in silent tears. I asked my husband to help me discover the cause. He looked into our son’s room and informed me he had thrown up. So at 6:00 AM I started running a bath for him, stripping the bed, and disinfecting.

“Mommy, my head hurts,” said my nine-year-old. She was running a fever of 102 degrees.

“I guess you’re the only one of us going to school today,” I told my eldest.

Once I heard the baby wake up, I started to steam clean the rug in my son’s room. When I was done, I went in to get her. She had fallen back asleep – and stayed that way until after noon! I went downstairs and joined the sick children, who lay on the couch watching television. I caught up on some sleep.

My son had a little table with Cheerios and grape Pedialyte. Of course, he knocked it over. The steam cleaner came down the stairs and now my living room floor is really clean.

Concerned about my daughter’s state-mandated English-Language-Arts exam, which was to take place starting Tuesday, I called the school secretary. She let me know that a child must be fever-free for 24 hours before returning to school, and that a makeup period would be provided for her. After all the preparation that had gone into this test, she was going to miss the first day. What else could I do but laugh?

It was unseasonably warm, so we all went outside for a few hours. It was very pleasant. Once the baby was up, she was happy to stretch her legs outdoors.

It definitely could have been worse, so for what it was I had to be thankful.

I turned in at midnight, saying I’d been up since 6:00. Then I corrected myself, remembering my morning nap. “Oh yeah,” I said, laughing aloud, “I’ve really only been up since 11:00!” I kept chuckling until I finally fell asleep.

“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”
Proverbs 17:22

Pictured above: Saint Francis of Assissi, whose lightheartedness was contagious with both children and animals.

1 comment:

Joanna said...

oh my goodness! What a day! I am so happy that you can still have such a hopeful and positive attitude though! What a wonderful example!