Whether priests, women religious, or mom and dad
By George Valadie
Well, I have to say it’s been quite the summer already, and the baby hasn’t even gotten here yet.
Yes, in a week or so, our middle daughter, Meg, will experience the miracle of birth yet again when she and husband Jeremy welcome baby boy Fischer into their already chaotic family of three.
We began the summer when Jeremy offered to fly us to Little Rock for Meg’s birthday. He either wanted something badly or had messed up royally, but that was his problem.
Six weeks ago, Meg was hot, sweaty and swollen and had already been trying to evict the little booger with night walks and spicy sauces. Even still, she’s finding him as uncooperative as he’ll likely be in his teenage years. So we wait – on God!
Besides the goose-bumpy thrills that get delivered with any grandchild, my wife, Nancy, and I are curious to see how their daughter, Finley, will take to this newest tyke of a family intruder.
I’m thinking the little guy will have to come out singing a Disney musical to even make an impression on his 15-month-old sister. And if he’s not as soft and cuddly (and powder blue) as her pal “Peter Rabbit,” it could be a rough few months for Mom and Dad.
Fisch and Fin — God bless ‘em both … the kids, too.
Add to that we also had the opportunity to spend a week at the beach with our other two daughters, our son-in-law and their two young ones – Brady and Emma.
Brady is 5, Emma is 2 – and that’s all I need to say about that, except four days before we gathered, Emma broke her arm.
They make waterproof casts, but her doctor said no. Kids do get them wet, but her doctor said no. Skin rashes can’t be that bad, can they? But her doctor said yes.
So as you’d expect, by noon of the first day it seemed as if she had filled it up with both sand and water, now capable of creating castles on demand.
Brady spent the best part of the week doing cannonballs in the shallow end and rotating from pool to pool to pool to pool — five minutes at a time in each. All he needed was one of us to tag along as his personal lifeguard.
It was a week of great sleep, way too much food, and only a couple of meltdowns; other than that, they said I was pretty well-behaved.
However, when you get to see family as seldom as we do, being chosen as Brady’s lifeguard and blamed for Emma’s new cast were badges of honor I’ll gladly accept.
Once the week was over and we all were back at our various homes for just a day, we received a video text from Emma’s mom. It was no more than 15 seconds, but it had captured one of those milestones we almost wish we’d seen in person.
There Emma was, naked as the day she was born, monster-size smile across her face, pointing at the potty, proud of the poo-poo she had skillfully put inside. She was telling us about it with as much pride as if she had just danced her first Nutcracker.
Tell me that alone doesn’t make for a great summer! It generated a way different sort of joy.
Our summer break also included getting to attend the recent ordination of our four newest priests. Inspiring, motivating, the Church being church at its finest – it is a liturgy every Catholic should see at least once.
But as beautiful as this ordination Mass always is, I will embarrassingly admit there were a few moments when my mind wandered, taking a bit of a stroll — to the beach, to the altar, back and forth and back, a journey made complete with occasional stop-offs along the way at our own home when our three children had been young.
Though no video texting captured such things, we still had potty training and the bribery that preceded it, as well as all the other sorts of chaos that come with three little girls growing up to be women.
At one point, we were facing bottle time, bath time and homework time all at once. When we could get two in the tub at once, it was not uncommon to hear one of us say, “Stop making bottom prints on the wall,” as they’d laughingly hop down both sides of the hallway, leaving a trail of wet butt cheeks along the way.
When I was gone for a long night of coaching, Nancy would serve them fish sticks and candy corn and tell the girls to say they had eaten all their “vegetables.”
No pro football team ever generated as much laundry; and once they understood that boys were … you know, boys, well, their hairspray alone was responsible for much of the missing ozone.
And you might as well toss in those days when you hear one daughter screaming through the bathroom door at another, “I hear you in there using my makeup! Now stop it!”
Odd musings for an ordination, I know, but we often joked with our priest friends that we had inadvertently created one of the most valuable ministries the Church could ever utilize.
We would gladly open up our home to seminarians and priests alike, inviting them to come live with us for an hour, a day, a week — whatever they could stand. The timid could sit and observe, the brave could baby-sit, the brazen could spend the night and face our youngest in the morning — face-to-face with Satan.
And in so doing, we believed our chosen vocation of marriage and family would forever — and I do mean forever — confirm their lifelong commitment to celibacy.
Never had a taker.
New parents, new priests, new paths – and the Father smiling on them all.
Dear God – Please bless those moms and dads who keep bringing children to you — for baptizing or ordaining or both. Amen.
George Valadie is president of Notre Dame High School in Chattanooga