Friday, July 07, 2006

Limited woman, know thyself

Atticus and I have begun helping out with our parish's Baptism preparation program. Over the long haul, it will be a minimal time commitment, as we are one of several facilitator couples, and we'll teach only every 2-4 months, depending on the rotation. A deacon handles the sacramental prep, and we couples handle the "how to keep loving each other and your children through these major life changes" portion of the evening.

But, I'm the kind of person who stresses a bit over preparation, "first times" and things like that. As we prepared our material this week, I was reminded of a couple of things.

First, because I do stress over these things, and am a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to presentation (though this week's presentation was anything but perfect) I tend to spend more time than is necessary getting things ready. What should reasonably be a "minimal time commitment" before a talk can stretch out into marathon prep if I let it. So, this week it was good to follow Atticus-the-Teacher's lead and try to adopt his, "Sometimes you just have to let it happen" attitude. He was right. I didn't need to spend any more time reviewing, memorizing or preparing material. I had reached the stage in which I simply had to experience it, and we'll tweak from there.

Second, this whole thing reminds me of the reasons I must be careful not to take on too many commitments outside the home. It's true that once Atticus and I are settled into this, there will be no prep of material, no stressing over giving a talk, no need for extra time to review or memorize. And that's a good thing. Because this week, as we sat at the table reading over our material, Ramona came to me, wanting my attention. I'm sorry to report that I was an impatient mommy. I was fretting about not being prepared (because, really, Atticus and I should have had these little meetings a month ago ... would I allow such procrastinating from my children? Horrors!) and Ramona sensed that she was not welcome at this conclave.

I immediately felt awful (you would too, at the sight of Dejected Ramona ... it's a truly pitiful thing) and said to Atticus, "You see? This is why I can't take on too much of this stuff. Because this is the kind of person I become -- someone who might as well have just said to her child, 'Go away -- I'm teaching people how to be loving parents.'"

He scoffed and said I wasn't really quite that horrible. He reminded me that it won't be like this once we know what we're doing. And he's right. But so am I (she is quick to point out.)

It's true that our prep time won't be stressful once I'm comfortable with what we're doing. But it's also true that I can't regularly take on commitments that require a lot of prep, new talks, new teachings, etc., at this season of my life, because it just takes too much out of me. I know my limitations and I'm trying to live with them and not make my family miserable.

There will be a season in my life for a greater amount of parish work, for teaching or talks. But, right now, as a homeschooling mom, I have to maintain a different balance. I remind myself that "no" can be a good thing. And that a Dejected Ramona (or Dejected Betsy or Anne, for that matter) is not part of my vocation. The best way to teach young couples "how to be loving parents" is to try to live the part myself.

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