At a drop-off recently for a birthday party, a woman looked at me with sheer amazement when I happened to mention that I had five kids. "I've never met a woman with FIVE kids," she gasped as her eyes widened. (I'm wondering if it's ever been her opportunity to ever leave the our square mile of Toronto.) But nonetheless, there are people who croon and gawk and say all kinds of silly things when they stare in utter disbelief at our noisy gaggle of kids. (My personal favorite was being asked whether or not our religion permitted birth control. No doubt it is entirely reasonable to assume this as a possible explanation for having so many children. But let me add that I'm not sure it's a question one should be asking of an almost complete stranger.) People I don't know figure I'm superwoman, having the capacity for doing it all. Strangers tell me I must have the patience of a saint. (Notice I don't EVER hear these comments from people who actually know me.) And for the record (as if it actually needed setting straight), neither are true. Superwomen and saints aren't so easily overwhelmed by strands of Easter grass whimsically scattered through their house, as I feel today.
As if Easter grass weren't already too big a chore for this Tuesday, I have piano to practice.
I've agreed to accompany Audrey for her clarinet recital coming up in less than two weeks. A little background: I played the piano rather seriously for thirteen years. And since about college (eh-hem, 15+ years ago), I have only touched the piano to occasionally pluck something out so that the kids and I can sing together. Now I have less than two weeks to whip into shape the second movement of Gerald Finzi's Five Bagatelles.
It may actually require me to practice at least an hour every day over the next ten days to meet the simple (and low) standard of not embarrassing her on stage. I find I'm being schooled once again in another lesson in the discipline of the undone. There is no doing it all. Having a call (to be a wife, a mother, a teacher, an acrobat, a writer) forces each of us into the necessity of defining our priorities, and the confines of our time and the demands of those priorities will force us into difficult decisions ever day. What does and doesn't get done is a choice that is yours, mine: we are free to make those choices and free to live fully into our priorities.
Every week, it's my goal to put family before my writing. I don't always meet that goal - remember the John Piper post? My kids may have fended for themselves that night for dinner. But this week, because I have these three pages of music begging some of my attention, I've committed to not sitting here with this blog until I've put some time on the ivories, especially since her teacher has requested to HEAR US PLAY TOGETHER this Thursday. Yikes.
Here's to you and your priorities. Here's to Finzi.