How not to scream "I ALREADY HEARD THAT STORY!"
When the Pope came to visit Philadelphia (and some other small cities) this year, I thought, this is my chance. I've never really been 100% on God, Catholicism, or formalized religion in general, but the Pope seems like a really, really holy guy. Please, don't prove me wrong later, PF (I think he would like a nick name, don't you?). So I decided to hedge my bets and walk downtown to add my prayer to the growing number of prayers that were being left on small pieces of paper for the Pope to hopefully see. The picture above is the grotto where hundreds of thousands of people began tying their prayers and wishes to small pieces of cloth and then weaving them together in front of the Cathedral in Center City. I decided that even though I was probably going to hell for a lot of different things, the Pope is from Italy and he might not know that, so maybe it was worth a try. I then decided to be really greedy and write a whole bunch of them (this is a sure way to get your prayers heard-cheat on the praying instructions). Here's what I asked for:
A friend who recently had a rough diagnosis who I love to get better
That my Dad was okay (an odd thing to ask about someone that has passed away)
That my siblings and I stay close.
Mom. (I wasn't specific, just wrote "Mom")
But what I should have asked for is more patience. Tonight I was with mom for 48 minutes. I knew I didn't have a lot of energy and I've really been trying to only do what I have the energy for and to plan carefully when I am tired. I thought I had the ultimate plan- a quick visit for a specific purpose- frozen yogurt. But it wasn't just a million toppings that I needed. I went in with expectations about what I wanted and needed from Mom too. And that is the worst set up. I can't expect her to give me the support I need, and I can't expect to feel how it used to when a parent would offer to pay for something, or remember things about your life, or talk about current events. When we lost Dad, we didn't realize it, but we lost all of that too.
And so in those 48 minutes that it took to order and eat frozen yogurt I got frustrated, then disappointed in myself, then angry that she couldn't follow what I was saying, then surprised that I can't ask her to watch my son for the two minutes it takes to pay for something. I thought I would have more energy because I haven't seen her in two weeks, a long "break" for me during which I was doing sexy things like annoying the hell out of my family with my coughing, and making a huge pile of tissues next to me in bed each night.
But as soon as we walked into the frozen yogurt place I felt it unraveling. My son went nuts- a whole wall of frozen yogurt that comes out when I pull this lever that I can almost, almost reach????????? And the toppings- oh geez. I am so thankful that he was one inch short of sticking his little paw into the container of M + M's. But the worst, the absolute worst, was looking over and realizing that Mom had no idea of what was going on, or what we were supposed to do. So I get bowls for the crew, and announce to Mom and D "Vanilla is the best. Let's all get vanilla." I fill mine, my boy's and then move to the toppings part. I look back at Mom and she is trying how to figure out how to pull the lever. I feel like a sea lion where I need to be an octopus.
And this is where asking for the Pope for patience would have been a better idea than just those random prayers. Every single time I attempt this trio of my son and my Mom, I need more patience than I thought I would. And there is no blame to assign. Neither of them are doing anything "bad" or "wrong". They are just being themselves and showing love in every way they know how. But when we sit down to eat the frozen yogurt together, I look at Mom as she starts to tell me how many Christmas cards she got, and that she got invited to an event in Connecticut and for a second I truly just want to be my worst, selfish, mean self and say "I already heard that story. A hundred times. You tell me that literally every time I am with you."
Because you are wondering- I got vanilla with Nutella and sprinkles. D got vanilla with M + M's and a strawberry and Mom got vanilla with cookie dough on it.
The Pope did stop that day at the grotto with the prayers. He wasn't supposed to, but he did. And he did bless the knots of prayers that were tied at the cathedral. I hope he knows that I need patience now and is sending it from Italy. Must have sent it book rate, because it hasn't arrived yet.