29 October 2009

More fun with the phone

I hate those phone calls. A hapless coed from my Jesuit alma mater was trying to squeeze me for cash. But before these people get to their real point, we have to suffer together through the scripted chat-em-up, wherein they pretend to care about my graduate school experience and my life thereafter. She really had an uphill battle last night, since even I had no interest whatsoever in discussing my graduate school experience or my life thereafter. (Yawn.)

Hapless Coed (HC): So, I see that we have your current employer listed as . . . Homemaker. Is that still correct?

Me: [Chuckling over her rather clumsy handling of the script, especially since she’d told me she was a communications major.] Yes, that’s me.

HC: OK . . . So, what all does that entail?

Me: [More interested in my book than in this little game, but still feeling conventionally polite enough to censor my kneejerk response, which involved detailed explanations of the bodily functions of small and unruly persons.] Oh, you know, all the stuff that makes a house a home.

HC: Hmm . . . OK . . . So would that be more like interior design, or are you involved in the actual construction of homes?

Me: [Laughing out loud now, as I realize that the poor dear really doesn’t know.] I’m a stay-at-home-mom.

HC: Oh! Riiiiight . . . I’ve got you now.

I don’t think she’s the only starry-eyed undergrad in that call center who’d need “homemaking” explained. I only wish I had realized sooner that Homemaker, or Minister of the Interior, or Humble Servant, or whatever you want to call it, can be a legitimate and full-time occupation. I could have used my dormitory days to far better effect.

After I disappointed the caller’s earnest desire to get that pledge card out to you right now, I hung up, and I thought—I’d rather be giving out kisses for sweet dreams than dreaming big in a lonely dorm room. That hapless coed is burdened with the need to write the story of her own life. Exhilarating? Maybe…but also weighty, with the feeling of fate hanging on every decision. And even terrifying, fraught with agony over whether the mishandling of a subplot might not destroy the entire tone and trajectory of the grand opus.

I do expend much prayer and effort, even agony, in the earnest desire that my children’s names appear, along with my own, in the Who’s Whose. But oh, how sweet the comfort in knowing that the trajectory of this Grand Opus will not be mishandled! The story has been written, the main plot played out. The Hero has overcome. The mighty task has been completed. In the subplots, we groan desperately for a more final catharsis, but we know, even as we yearn, that consummation is surely coming. The more I lose myself in the larger plot, the more I’m rescued from the quixotic quest to “find myself.” No matter what I do or don’t with my life, that Day draws closer, every day.

God knows I can’t be trusted to write my own story. Thankfully, all I’ve got to do is follow the script. And it helps if I play my part as though I mean it. So if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some serious rehearsing to do.


Melrose said...

"That hapless coed is burdened with the need to write the story of her own life. Exhilarating? Maybe…but also weighty, with the feeling of fate hanging on every decision. And even terrifying, fraught with agony over whether the mishandling of a subplot might not destroy the entire tone and trajectory of the grand opus."

I dont know, some days I think I'd rather be her only having to obsess over myself than over the lives-plural- of little individuals to which my husband and I have been entrusted.

We can baptize em, teach em, love em, be with them every waking moment (or close to it) and still, still they could fall away. Not to be a downer or anything.

Reb. Mary said...


I hear you. That's when I have to work hardest to remind myself that we placed our children in the hands of a far more perfect parent. It's His story. And (speaking for myself), I know that my mothering obsessions can represent a faithless attempt to snatch them back out of that hand whose grip cannot fail.

Starck's parents' prayer helps me focus: "I am, therefore, concerned lest one of them be lost through my fault....I will do what I can....But, O Lord, Lord, in all my efforts do Thou perform the most efficient part....On the last day let me stand at Thy right hand will all my children and say to the praise of Thy holy name: 'Behold, here I am, my God, and the children which Thou hast given me; I have lost none of them.' Aye, my God, grant me Thy divine favor to this end, that none of my children may be lost, but that they may all enter with me, and I with them, into Thy glory."

Melrose said...

I dont know, this is just one area I really really struggle with. Both my husband and I were raised in amazing Christian families, brought to baptism, confirmation, church every Sunday and sure our parents made mistakes, but they loved us unconditionally.

In my family, of 5 kids, there are only two of us that have remained faithful to our confirmation vows. In his of 5, there is at least one that has fled, and possibly more.

We have both watched our parents despair over the lost ones and it leaves me awake at night.

It's such a paradox...God's grip NEVER fails...and yet, we in our sin can choose to MAKE IT FAIL and walk away. And that leaves me as the sinful mother thinking I have to pick up the reigns and find a way to keep them from doing so.

Gauntlets said...

Melrose, don't despair. In Baptism and prayer, there is always hope:

"According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire." 1 Corinthians 3:10-15.

And Christ and His Bride do not easily let go of even the snottiest of children. Some of my kin are, by all appearances, lost. But appearances are not final. Until the grave swallows its victims, there is hope.

Rebekah said...

the feeling of fate hanging on every decision

Rebekah and All Creation: Groan.

Luzia said...

Amen, Gauntlets. Eyes on Christ.