About 10 days ago I went on my first retreat since just after college 5 years ago. It was my first retreat since marriage and having kids. One of the best parts of these silent retreats is extended time for spiritual direction with a priest. After I had talked for a bit about my struggles, he asked me if I had seen the movie, The Incredibles.
“You see,” he told me, “I think you have this idea in your head of what a young, Catholic mother should be…a perfect supermom.”
“You are like Mrs. Incredible. While you may occasionally called upon to do very heroic things, life is mostly like the scene where she and Mr. Incredible sit around the dinner table eating leftovers while the kids are fighting and making a mess. This is everyday, ordinary life.”
I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or cry at the invocation of The Incredibles (so I did both…love third trimester hormones!!) since I have been blogging about our Incredible family for 2 years.
He reminded me that the goal, holiness, is the path. The path is to try out of love for God. Sometimes we will succeed, sometimes we will stumble. But where true charity and sacrifice come in is when we decide to try. When we offer a smile to our husbands when they walk in the door even when we are exhausted, when we do not become angry over the milk spilled twice in the same meal.
“What does it matter that we stumble on the way, if we find in the pain of our fall the energy to pick ourselves up and go on with renewed vigour? Don’t forget that the saint is not the person who never falls, but rather the one who never fails to get up again, humbly and with a holy stubbornness.” wrote St. Josemaria.
One week after the retreat I loaded the kids up and headed to the airport to fly home to visit my family. Things were going pretty smoothly until security. Since Dash usually freaks out when he has to take off his shoes at security, I didn’t even have him wear shoes into the airport, leaving them in the bottom of the stroller (and thinking myself pretty clever).
However, this particular day, Dash did NOT want the stroller to go through the x-ray machine, which he let me and the rest of the airport know in no uncertain terms. So I had to pick up the kicking, bawling and screaming 37 pound Dash in one arm, the 25 pound Jack-Jack in the other and balance the wriggling, screaming mass over my 7 month pregnant belly and walk through the metal detector.
The TSA lady looked at me acutely and told me (also in no uncertain terms) that I could NOT touch the sides of the machine. In the moment I blurted out, “Are you kidding me?” to her. Not my finest moment.
But I regrouped, took a deep breath and began again. We might not make it through, but I was going to try. A very tiny thing, to be sure, but this is what is asked of us, especially mothers. To try in the little things of daily life.
And miracle of miracles, the 4 of us (me and the 3 boys) made it through at the same time without a stray, squirming leg hitting the sides thus avoiding a 4-way security wand fiasco.
So each day, each moment we have the opportunity to begin again. To not be afraid of falling, but to be determined to get up again. And we are given superhuman powers through the graces in the Sacraments that we may all try to be the superheros of ordinary life….saints.