Thursday, February 5, 2015

Patience, Penance and Spills

I don't think it's any secret that I struggle with patience.  Patience has really never been my strong suit.  It's something that I've really had to work at over the past several years.  Who am I kidding?  I've had to work on it pretty much all my life, but it's only been in recent years that I've been making a concerted effort to actually cultivate patience.  And my cultivation of this patience at times is about as successful as trying to grow a tomato plant in soil soaked with deck cleaner.

The weeks leading up to last Saturday were a bit on the trying side.  Homeschooling had hit that point that you often hear people talk about where everyone hits this winter slump and no one wants to do work.  I didn't feel like grading anything and when I did get around to doing it, I found myself growing impatient with the kids who took advantage of my laxity and hadn't done all of their work.  Then we all got sick (except Madeline) just before Bryan had a business trip.  By the time I successfully made it to confession last Saturday, lack of patience was topping my list.  In fact, I regarded my impatience as being enough to add the word exceedingly in front of it.  Good job, Karen, toss out those awesome modifiers!

So do you want to know what kind of penance I managed to walk myself into thanks to my love of descriptive language?  Father decided to pick out the word exceedingly and use it, too.  I think I almost fell over when he told me that my penance would be to pray to become exceedingly patient.  Now I'm not someone to ever question the priest about the penance.  I'm sure there are some who probably do, but I never have, until last Saturday.  I couldn't help but ask him if he knew what he was asking me to do.  The response was him laughing and telling me that he did.  Arrgh!  I told him that I knew that I was going to have loads of opportunities to practice patience now since I know full well what happens when you pray for patience.  You don't get the actual patience. No, no, you get opportunities to BE patient.  They are not, in fact, one in the same.

Do you know what happens when you spend several days praying to become exceedingly patient?  Let me tell you.  You get a super-sized dose of opportunities to be patient lobbed at you from all directions.  Child crying for no apparent reason? Check!  Bickering kids to set your nerves on edge?  Got it!  Dog barking as soon as the baby finally falls asleep?  Yup!  Spills?  We got 'em!

What's that about spills?  They don't require much patience, right?  Ha!  Did I mention that I mopped the floor on Saturday?  So for the first time in I don't know how long I mopped the kitchen floor.  I held my breath for the first 24 hours because that's when spills usually happen.  We made it over 48 hours before the spill happened.  Not sure how she did it, but Ellie was being nice and getting Katie a cup of apple juice and somehow she dropped a full bottle of apple juice on the floor.  She stood there in shock as the juice glugged out copious amounts of apple juice  all over the floor and under the oven.  I had to tell her to pick up the bottle before all 96 ounces ended up on the floor.  Somehow, I managed to be patient.  Crazy, right?  Cleaning up this spill was more involved than a normal spill.  The juice was in all sorts of crevices on the oven that I didn't know about prior to the spill, and it even dripped into a cabinet.  But the important thing is I stayed calm and was patient.

The next day I had a new spiller in town.  Katie was playing with her klip klop ponies and spilled apple juice all over the table, herself and a little on the floor.  I got it cleaned up quickly and was happy that none of Ellie's school books got hit.  Spill #2 conquered.  Five minutes and a new outfit for Katie later spill #3 happened.  It was a repeat of the previous one.  The blasted ponies she was playing with behind the cup led to another spill.  Deep breath. Exhale. Wipe up mess. Get a new shirt for Katie while my granola in my yogurt goes soggy.  Another hurdle cleared.

Today I realized that the first three spills were just a warm up act.  Somehow, Ellie managed to spill milk and while it wasn't a lot, she hit all of the bottom kitchen cabinets, a large area of the floor, and the oven and all it's annoying crevices, along with her hair and her shirt.  Don't ask.  I have no idea and I don't even think I want to know.

Not sure if I've ever mentioned it before or not, but I absolutely hate the smell of white milk.  I can't stand being around it unless it's in cereal.  So there I was this afternoon, wiping up splatters of white milk and thinking about that penance of praying to be exceedingly patient.  It was in that moment that I realized that this really wasn't an easy penance at all. I knew within seconds of being told what my penance was that it was going to have an element of difficulty, I just didn't realize that it was going to require so much cleaning.  As I was on my hands and knees on the kitchen floor wiping up spills for the fourth time in four days I couldn't help but wonder if Father had any idea just how far reaching this penance would go.  Who knows, maybe one of these days I'll be patient or perhaps even exceedingly patient.


  1. I had to smile when you typed the part about knowing what happens when you pray for patience because it's so, so true! And I saw a meme not that long ago that said something along the lines of "Please God, give me patience... not opportunities for patience but just the actual patience!" and I thought "exactly!"

    1. LOL! I was thinking of the same meme when I was given this lovely penance! I just found it and added it to this post. Isn't it funny how kids can really help you to see your faults? I knew I was impatient before kids, but I didn't know just how impatient I was until I had them.


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