2023-02-22 17:45:32 By : Ms. Laura Huang

Inspiring the Archdiocese of Baltimore

February 19, 2023 By Rita Buettner Catholic Review Filed Under: Blog, Commentary, Open Window

It’s hard to believe that Lent starts in just a few days and that Ash Wednesday is this week. I’m looking forward to Lent and have no concrete plan yet—except filling our prayer basket with intentions to pick each morning.

I never have trouble avoiding meat on the meatless days, but I do struggle to pack meatless lunches for my sons for school. They don’t care for sandwiches, so they take soups most days, and most of their favorites are some form of chicken noodle soup.

Still, we will find a way, as we always do, and I will look forward to enjoying tuna and salmon and fish sticks—some of my favorites. My sacrifices will have to come in other areas. But I will not be giving up social media because I really see a purpose to accompanying others and having companions on the Lenten journey.

On Friday, my sister Maureen drove my nephew who is a high school senior to town for a college visit. She was only in town briefly, but I got to hug her and go for coffee. Is there anything better than a hug and coffee with your sister?

I got a little time with Maureen, more time with my nephew, and then my younger brother and his wife and six children arrived from New England Saturday afternoon.

I hadn’t seen my sister-in-law in person since Christmas 2019, hadn’t met our youngest nephew (who was born in March 2022), and hadn’t seen my brother or the other five children since January of last year.

It has been a long time, and we have some catching up to do.

My brother’s oldest two children are boys who are the same ages as our sons. It’s amazing to me how God brought our children into a family with cousins who are so close to them in age and with similar enough interests that they can hang out.

It’s beautiful to watch them tossing a football around the yard or beating one another in complicated strategy board games that don’t keep my attention for more than 10 minutes.

My parents had 23 people for dinner, including 13 of their grandchildren. They made two huge lasagnas, and my sister-in-law baked two lovely pieces of salmon with a delicious glaze.

My parents don’t have room for 23 people to sit and eat at the same time, so we have the children sit and eat in the first shift while the parents hover and bring drinks and forks and whatever else.

Then the children run off and the grownups sit down and eat. My brother pointed out that the lasagna might get cold, and I didn’t know what to say. Who minds cold lasagna when you get to sit comfortably at a table having grownup conversation while your children play the piano or Risk or Stratego or cards in the next room? Not this mom, that’s for sure.

My sons attend two different schools. I know that shouldn’t be that much to keep track of, but it can be challenging.

Back in August, I sat down with both school calendars and painstakingly put all the vacation days and half-days into the calendar in my phone. But apparently, I didn’t do them all correctly.

Last week I kept telling our younger son he would have a half-day on Friday. But then the night before, I looked at the actual calendar—not the erroneous one in my phone—and realized he had a full day. I had to tell him very sadly that even though his brother had Friday off, he had to go to school for the whole day.

Luckily, he likes school, and I knew he would roll with it. Still, to make it up to him, I ran and got him some egg bites from Starbucks for his breakfast that morning. I figured one of his favorite breakfasts would make the situation a little more bearable.

I left the house early Saturday morning to go with my nephew to a college open house, and when I got home that evening, my husband had installed a curtain in our newly renovated master bathroom.

I couldn’t believe he had fed our children, gone shopping for baseball equipment for our younger son, and installed a curtain, too.

Maybe I should disappear from the house more often on a Saturday.

My parents still have their Christmas tree up partly because this was a delayed Christmas with my brother and his family, and partly because the family tradition is to keep the tree up until my brother’s birthday in late February.

That’s not that confusing—at least not to someone who has been in the family for 46 years. But the other day when I was visiting my parents’ house, I sat down on a couch and noticed that a lamp was labeled with a sign that said, “Book.”

Is it an inside joke? A test of my reading abilities? An obscure literary reference? I may never know. But you know I didn’t dare touch it. It seemed to have been placed with purpose.

Rita Buettner is a wife, working mother and author of the Catholic Review's Open Window blog. She and her husband adopted their two sons from China, and Rita often writes about topics concerning adoption, family and faith.

Rita also writes The Domestic Church, a featured column in the Catholic Review. Her writing has been honored by the Catholic Press Association, the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association and the Associated Church Press.

Catholic Review Media communicates the Gospel and its impact on people’s lives in the Archdiocese of Baltimore and beyond.

Catholic Review Media provides intergenerational communications that inform, teach, inspire and engage Catholics and all of good will in the mission of Christ through diverse forms of media.

Catholic Review 320 Cathedral Street Baltimore, MD 21201 443-524-3150

Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada