We – all six of us – have just come back from a holiday in the beautiful city of Brugge in Belgium. We had met in the airport in Dublin, delighted at the prospect of going away together. That evening, having settled into our AirBnB, we went out for a walk. Along by the canals, with beautiful houses, hundreds of years old lining the street, we walked and chatted and laughed. And I was struck with the thought that this business of being family is really one of the most sacred things we can do in life.
As the days went on, I was also aware that a family holiday can truly be a call to holiness. Taking six adults away for any amount of time can really try the patience of a saint and I am no saint! We are lucky that our four are adults now, the youngest nineteen, so they are well able to go off and do their own thing.
However, there is still the matter of food, lots of it – and Mammy to cook it! We have some fairly serious allergy issues in our family so eating out is complicated enough at the best of times. It is not something we do much of when we are abroad. That means that I generally do a lot of cooking – and sometimes I get grumpy.
Saturday was the hottest day so I will blame it on that but as the day went on, I got more nippy and grumpy. That negative side of me wanted my kids to pay attention to all their mammy was doing for them. I wanted them to tell me the cooking was wonderful, that I had found a great place for our holiday, that I was a fabulous organiser, that I was the best mammy out!
If my kids picked up on any of this they would have just been mystified – sure wasn’t mammy just doing what mammy always does? And it is true, I am the organiser, the provider of food, the one who makes sure everyone is alright. I am the typical Irish mammy! So, when my kids don’t particularly notice it is hardly surprising. Why would they notice what is as ordinary to them as the air they breathe?
And that is what got me thinking – what do I miss, ignore, take for granted? For starters, Danny is the main earner in our house, so all my organising wouldn’t go far without him to pay the bills. I’m not the only one who got us to Brugge. Then there’s the fact that at ages ranging from 19 to 25 our ‘children’ still want to come on holiday with us. Yes, we did have our grumpy moments but we had a brilliant holiday with a lot of laughter and good craic. We are blessed to be able to do that and to want to do it together.
I also found myself wondering what would happen if God became as grumpy as me if he felt he was being taken for granted! I wanted more gratitude from my children and yet so often I live my life with a lack of gratitude. We were surrounded by beauty, the sun shone, we met lovely people, ate good food, cycled out to a picturesque village, played silly card games and laughed till our sides hurt – I have a lot to thank God for. It has reminded me that I need to consciously make time to think of all the blessings that surround me and thank God for them. I also need to live that out in gratitude to my husband and my children for all that they are and all that they do.
And yes, after we had landed back in Dublin and all dispersed in our different directions my phone began to ping, “Thank you Mammy and Daddy, it was a great holiday!”