A few days a week, I get to a point where I ask (usually in exasperation): “Why can’t I even just finish a single thought?!”
It’s often after hours of homeschooling the kids, trying to place online grocery pick up, folding a basket of laundry, sending a few emails, feeding the children, in a flurry that often feels like a juggling act in a domestic circus. I will freely admit that I sometimes don’t juggle very well. I stare at a few pieces of laundry, sitting folded on the couch nearly all day while the rest of the basket sits untouched. An email languishes, half-composed in my inbox. I’m still in my pajamas at lunchtime because I waited, ever so naively, for a peaceful moment to sneak away.
My brain is even more fragmented than the physical world around me. Four kids at four different developmental stages all ask me different questions and need different things on a near-constant rotation. Someone could scream at any time, or excitedly slam a door, or hurt themselves and need my support.
Once, last month, after planning a very nice Advent activity that got interrupted about five bajillion times, I asked, in front of my children, “Why do I even bother?”
The answer came only seconds later, and I’m glad I ended up saying both the question and the answer out loud.
And the answer was this: “Because I love you. That’s why I bother.”
We all had a moment of exhale after that, and we kept forging on, as we always do.
Sometimes the interruption is to show me something they’re proud of.
Sometimes it’s to ask about something they’re curious about.
Sometimes it’s because they need help with something.
To be sure, not all interruptions even have the potential of being pleasant. A tattle, a fight born out of selfishness, those are the really tough ones for me. How can we just finish talking about being loving and then go off and do selfish things? But even those, no matter how much my heart pinches when I see it, are chances for me to help my kids (and myself) turn back to love.
I’m not very good at accepting interruptions, at least not at the frequency I receive them these days. I like to start tasks and finish them, but the truth is, many of the tasks my kids interrupt aren’t truly emergencies. They aren’t things that are vital for me to complete in any given moment. Truly, sometimes the most important thing is closing my laptop and leaving that email unfinished so I can look at my son’s newest Lego build, or my daughter’s picture. It’s just not always easy, in the moment of the interruption itself, to see it.
I think back over 2,000 years ago when God made what could probably be considered the biggest interruption of all. He literally interrupted time with Himself incarnate. Some people were ready for the interruption, and accepted it gladly. For others, it took a while. For still others, it was hard to accept it at all, and still is to this day. But that great interruption paved the way for humanity to be restored in union with God, through the person of Jesus.
I’m so, so glad, even with all the varied spectrum of reception, that God bothered. And He bothered because He loves us. I hope my kids continue to bother too, because I want to see their creations. I want to hear their hearts. I want to put band-aids on their wounds. I want to keep trying to do cool things with them, even if it doesn’t go as smoothly as I hoped.
Interruptions can be good. And, at least once, a great interruption saved us all.
May we all strive to look a bit more kindly on interruptions this new year, as there are sure to be plenty. May we see the opportunity hidden inside them, and learn to let go of ourselves and lean into what they might have to teach us.
Note: This article originally appeared on Catholic Mom