Failing at the Heroic Minute

All I wanted was a Pajama Day.

Last night I realized that, since I’m playing at the 7 PM holy-day Mass tonight, I could take my time about things and spend the morning in my PJs. I wouldn’t have to get dressed until it was time to head to Adoration at noon.

I relished the idea of working in my PJs, with the bonus of avoiding an early-morning shower-schedule collision with my daughter.

I even woke up a few minutes early! And I remembered that I’d be hanging around in my PJs, so I put on my cozy slippers and went downstairs to make my cup of tea and begin my morning routine.

All was well until TheKid’s alarm went off at 6, and he didn’t get up. He didn’t get up at 6:10 or 6:15 when I called to him from the hallway.

He didn’t get up until 6:24.

I wasn’t sweating it TOO much, because he’d said that his first-period class was having bagel sandwiches for breakfast and he’d already brought in his money to give to the classmate who was picking up the order. THEN he told me that the breakfast party had been moved to tomorrow.

And that’s when I failed at the Heroic Minute.

Succeeding at St. Josemaría Escrivá’s Heroic Minute is getting up when you’re supposed to. No snooze alarm. No rolling over and pulling the blanket over your head. I’m normally pretty good on that score.

For me, the Heroic Minute involves managing a graceful response when someone throws a monkey wrench into your plans.

I like plans. Monkey wrenches, not so much.

At 6:24 I kind of lost it when I realized that I was going to have to change out of my pajamas so I could drive TheKid to school, because there was no way he’d manage to shower, dress, and finish breakfast before his bus arrived at 7:13.

Me: I have nowhere to be until noon today. Don’t miss the bus and make me have to get dressed to drive you to school.

Kid: You don’t have to get dressed. You’ll be in the CAR.

Me: What if there’s an accident?! (Why yes, I did just hear my mother’s words … and her mother’s … come out of my mouth.)

Kid: If there’s an accident, nobody’s going to care if you’re in your pajamas.

Being my mother’s daughter, there is no possible way I could leave the house in pajamas. Or slippers. So I put on my sweatpants (translation: almost-pajamas that are fit to wear outside the house) and a pair of sneakers and grumped around folding laundry until it hit me.

I was mad because my kid’s laziness wasn’t letting me indulge in being lazy.


So I grabbed my car keys, and off we went, and we had a laugh about the music on the radio (instead of a fight, as is our usual), and I hope we redeemed the bad start to the day — just a bit.

Lesson learned. I don’t get to plan to be lazy, whether that means hanging out in pajamas for half the day, or indulging in spiritual laziness.

I should be grateful for the surprise of down time when it comes my way, but I should not take it for granted.

The soul of the sluggard craves, and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied. (Proverbs 13:4)

Copyright 2018 Barb Szyszkiewicz

Image: Canva


On Barb’s Bookshelf: Ways to Keep Teens’ Faith Alive

Keeping Teens' Faith Alive

When you’ve invested over a decade in raising your child, you discover that as he enters his teen years, the way you need to nurture his faith changes drastically. This is the time when your child needs to begin to take over his own faith development, but it doesn’t mean you’re off the hook — or unnecessary.

Ignatius Press has released two books to help parents and teens in this stage: The Light Entrusted to You, for parents, and Humility Rules, for teens (though parents shouldn’t skip this one).

light entrusted to you

John R. Wood’s The Light Entrusted to You: Keeping the Flame of Faith Alive is a parent-to-parent guide to help you share Catholicism with your family by living Catholicism with your family. The author is not a theologian or professor: he’s an eye doctor and a parent who loves his children and his faith. The chapters are cleverly titled to form the acronym “SAINTS,” and the topics covered range from saints to Scripture to sports (yes, sports). A more-detailed table of contents or an index would be helpful in this book, but the information in the book is solid and Wood’s delivery is engaging.

Christ is our model. After His baptism He does not go to the beach to drink a piña colada. He goes to the desert to fast and do battle with the devil (see Mt 4). We must follow His lead and also teach our children to “do battle”. Much of our time parenting is simply training our children to overcome concupiscence, the tendency to do wrong because of original sin. It should be obvious that children often desire to do and have things that are not good for them. Imagine if we simply let our children do everything they wanted to do. They would probably end up either dead or in prison very early in life. We strive to teach them to live lives of virtue, and we all know it is a long journey that each of us continues his entire life. (25)

From the corporal and spiritual works of mercy to the great cathedrals to a synopsis of Old Testament events, Wood invites readers to dive deep into the deposit of the faith and nurture their own souls so that they can inspire their children.

humility rules

While you’re reading Wood’s book, hand Humility Rules: Saint Benedict’s 12-Step Guide to Genuine Self-Esteem to your teen or college student. Author J. Augustine Wetta, OSB, does not talk down to teens, but rather challenges them to engage with their faith as they grow in virtue. Self-esteem might seem like a dated buzzword, but Wetta demonstrates how it’s important, even virtuous, for teens to develop a healthy self-esteem.

Genuine self-esteem is a form of holiness, and holiness, in Saint Benedict’s eyes, is not about self-love but self-abandonment. In fact, the whole idea of holding yourself in high esteem would sound ridiculous to him. It would defeat the very purpose of the Christian life, which is to empty one’s self in order to make room for God’s grace. (18-19)

Wetta distills, from the Rule of Saint Benedict, 12 steps along the ladder of humility, and challenges his readers to climb that ladder.

Humility Rules would make an excellent Confirmation or graduation gift.

Barb's Book shelf blog title

Copyright 2018 Barb Szyszkiewicz
This article contains Amazon affiliate links.
I received review copies of these books, but no compensation, for my review. Opinions expressed here are my own.

The Example We Set

A friend of mine emailed me the other day to find out TheKid’s performance dates in the upcoming musical at the community theatre.

Her own kids had also auditioned for the musical but were not cast.

And that’s a hard thing to live with, as it is, when you’re 9 years old–and when you’re the parents of those 9-year-olds.

I didn’t expect my friend to bring her kids to see TheKid in this particular show. I’d have totally understood why they’d all want to sit this one out. I let her know that, too, when she emailed me again to tell me she’d purchased their tickets.

“Thanks for supporting TheKid,” I replied. “You are teaching your kids about graciousness in a way many parents wouldn’t bother or be able to do.”

These boys are learning how to rise above their own disappointments and support their friends who were not similarly disappointed. It’s a hard lesson–at any age.

How many adults have not learned such a lesson? How often do we let our own wounded pride stand in the way of enjoying an experience or supporting a friend?

Stumbling Blocks on the Road to Sanctity

Via Seinfeld Daily on Tumblr.
Via Seinfeld Daily on Tumblr.

Get into a car with me and you’ll meet a whole different Barb. While I’m not Road Rage Incorporated, in the sense that I don’t get aggressive and tailgate or illegally pass people, I do vocally (with windows safely rolled up, but within earshot of my children) express my frustration with people who drive 30 or even 45 when the speed limit is 50, who leave the turn signal on for miles or don’t use it at all, or commit the Cardinal Sin of Driving: neglecting the “Thank-you Wave.”

I mean, how hard is that?

And then I remember Luke 14: 13-14:

But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.

In other words, I can’t be a saint until I stop expecting a thank-you wave.