Back in the early stages of my marriage, before we had children, I used to envision what family Rosary would be like. It went something like this: The whole slew of kids would gather around Phil and I, the older ones kneeling piously next to their Dad, in front of a beautifully ornate, yet tasteful, picture of Our Lady. The littlest ones would snuggle up with me on the recliner, each playing quietly with their Rosary. We would, of course, be saying the correct mysteries on the correct day, and no one would ever lose their place. Then, the children came, and
exhaustion reality kicked in. Tonight, I was laying in bed while waiting for Phil to finish up a few things after dinner. I started to think that we hadn't said the Rosary as a family since Lent, and since the kids were conveniently jumping on the bed next to me, unraveling my latest knitting project, I decided we would say one...NOW. So, I send little Andrew to get everyone's Rosary from their home on top of the TV. Ten minutes later he comes back with his sword, but no Rosaries. "Andrew, where are the Rosaries?" "I can't reach them" "What were you doing? Never mind...Natalie, will you please go get our Rosaries??" She skips off and returns promptly with the Rosaries. Phil comes in after getting ready for bed..."we're saying a Rosary?". Excellent! He's on board! Gather around, kids...it's time to start! In this particular scenario, the only picture we have in our bedroom is a framed playbill and two ticket stubs from Phantom of the Opera that Phil and I attended our first Christmas as newly weds. But, if you relax your eyes a bit, and tilt your head to just the right angle, I'm pretty sure you can see the Holy Family in it. Now, we used to use just regular Rosaries; you know, the beaded kind on wire. But after many sessions of tears because Natalie's precious heart-shaped Rosary was broken and scattered on the floor, Crucifixes being ripped off and used as swords and daggers, and Rachel almost strangling herself, I decided to get something safer. So, for Christmas, I enlisted the help of one of Santa's very Catholic elves - Jim from RealLifeRosary - to make everyone a corded Rosary to put in our stockings. I don't remember now how much these little beauties cost, but they were worth every penny!! So, we get started on the Rosary. It's Thursday, so we should be praying the Luminous Mysteries, but no one can remember them (Natalie asks what Station we're on O_o), and I think Rachel may have eaten our card that lists the mysteries, so we go with the old faithful - The Joyful Mysteries. Which is fine. It's May Crowning season, so The Coronation had a special place this evening. I tried to focus...I really did, but Rachel was crawling over everyone, screeching at the top of her lungs at anyone who refused to relinquish possession of their Rosary to her, so that she could wear them all as necklaces. If you did, however, give in to her pleas, you were rewarded with a polite "ti-ti" (aka "thank you") in the sweetest, most angelic voice she could muster. Andrew's got his Rosary wrapped around his wrist so tight, I'm worried his hand might fall off. Then he starts making these karate noises, and re-adjusts his Rosary to bow and arrow status. By the end, he's doing head stands and tuck-and-rolls on top of Rachel. Natalie is asking me about every five minutes which bead we're on, but I have no idea because Rachel is using my Rosary as an accessory. By the time we get to the Hail Holy Queen, I'm starting to get the fit of giggles, and I'm just so thankful that it didn't start until then! We manage to squeeze in a final St. Michael prayer, and after we make the Sign of the Cross, Andrew, while standing on his head, says "that was good!". I laugh and say "yeah, it was something." Natalie says "It was prayer!". Yeah, I guess it was. It may not have been perfect, but it was our attempt at family prayer this evening. Do you think three year old Jesus did head stands during the Holy Family's prayer time???
**I should probably clarify...we do not actually have monkeys for children. We actually work hard at making sure our children are well behaved and respectful when it comes to prayer; however, life does not always work out the way you want, and every so often we have a situation like this...which always reminds me that it's not me who is in control here; it's God, and if I don't rely on Him for the graces to be a good parent and steward of the gifts He has given us, then our little family just won't work properly. Besides...kids will be kids sometimes...and, that's ok, too =)