When I think about Sunday mornings, I think about realizing I’m still in my pajamas at 10:48 or 11:22. About coffee mugs scattered around a coffee table, newspapers and magazines laying open alongside them, in disuse, awaiting their reader’s return. About a plate dusted with a couple of flakes of buttery croissant and a smudge of jam — all that remain from an earlier breakfast. About an abandoned pair of sandals at the door, next to a bag of farmer’s market goodies: a bundle of parsley, a block of cheese, a baton of bread, a pint of cherries. I think about Miles Davis on the stereo, about the hum of the air conditioner, about birdsong coming in through an open window. I think about a breakfast nook illuminated with the sun; no incandescent light needed.
I think, in other words, of Sundays from my past, of Sundays in D.C. and Charlottesville and most especially in Chicago, in our beloved home on Superior Street. (Thinking about that sweet house, I had to take a minute and re-read some of my earlier writings on it. I love this one, on the eve of our move to New York; it’s tone feels like a lump in my throat. I also remember the angst and frustration of this post about our moving woes, appropriately titled: “Grouchy,” and this corollary. And then there’s this one, written the day we sold our house, and it still smarts.)
Those Sundays no longer exist; they’ve been replaced by a far different pace of life, by an earlier Church time, by motherhood and its joys and demands.
In other words, Sunday mornings used to be “easy like Sunday morning.” Now they’re one of my more frenzied segments of the week, as I’m always rushing to feed, dress, and corral mini and sufficiently preen myself so that we can get out the door by 8:15 for 8:30 Mass up the street — and Mass is no cakewalk either. Now that mini is mobile and voluble, the notion of sitting still, and silently, on a wooden bench, while people chant, sit, and kneel around her in what I’m sure must appear to her a bizarre pattern of movement and stillness, stops-and-gos, silence and sound, defies all toddler logic — and so after mini has plowed through the books and toys and snacks I have packed her, we spend the majority of Church in the narrow vestibule, running from the west end to the east end together. There is a small chapel off the vestibule lined with statues of saints, and one such, mini proudly declared with a pointed finger, looks like “muh-nana” (Moana). As she insistently made this observation, I grinned sheepishly at the other parent lingering in the vestibule along with us — a young dad and his rowdy toddler son — and he just shrugged, and I’m not sure why. (“My kids watch Moana too?” “Kids say the darnedest things?” “It’s OK that she’s comparing a sacred statue to a Disney character?” “I’m too tired to think about this?”) As I mused over his cryptic response, my thoughts bouncing from mini to Moana to this man at the back of the Church, I realized with a jolt that I was entirely tuned out of the actual Mass taking place beyond a couple sets of double doors three feet to my right.
In college, a friend of mine said that even when she’s too distracted to dial in on the readings or the sermon, she enjoys going to Church because it gives her time to sit and think. I pushed back at the time: “I get what you’re saying, but it’s not meant to be about us,” I objected, earnestly, unconvinced that Church time should be used for anything but its intended purpose, which is — which is, what? (At one point, on the eve of my Confirmation, I had a memorized answer to this.) Now, I’d say — to praise God, to give thanks, to take in the lessons of the Gospel, to receive the sacrament of Communion. In other words, not to sit and dwell on myself. In months and years past, even when my mind wanders, I find myself disciplining it back into action: “Focus, focus.” At the time, my friend politely batted away my rebuttal and changed the conversation, and we went our separate ways.
These days, spending time in the rear of the Church, separate from the congregation, about a mile from the priest, and often entirely absorbed in prying mini’s fingers from the delicately carved wooden, Moana-like statue or guarding her from the beckon of the stone steps leading out onto 71st St, I must admit that I’ve asked myself whether what I’m doing “counts” as going to Mass. I’ll occasionally conjure some sort of “it’s the thought that counts” reasoning, or a vague “but I want her to remember coming here as a ritual of her childhood” logic — but these entirely miss the point of whether or not I am absorbing what I’m meant to absorb as the practicing Catholic in our family. I occasionally think about leaving mini at home with Mr. Magpie on Sundays so that I can be more present, but then I think about all of the millions of parents around the world who get by with their children at their side, and the promise I took when Baptizing her, and I’m determined to make it work. And so I tune in as best I can, straining for just one piece of the Mass to stand out to me — just one word, one thought, one observation that I can pocket and take with me for the rest of the week. Most weeks, to be entirely up front, I fail at this intention, and I leave in a kind of inglorious fog of victory and relief. But I am always determined, at the dawn of a new weekend, like this one spread out in front of us, to do better.
Meanwhile, some things that are easy like Sunday mornings used to be: a slew of very pretty, easy-to wear, cool and breezy dresses…and I want them all, starting with…
This striped dress, which I just ordered at the last minute for our Hamptons’ vacation next week.
It reminded me of this beauty, which was just restocked, and is easily the most popular dress I’ve ever featured on my blog. Ever.
This chambray style is super sweet.
With white jeans, this classic-with-a-twist blouse is super chic. Bonus: it looks like it could be Caroline Constas, but it’s under $30 with the current promotion running.
Speaking of striped shirting: this dress is a must.
I love safari jackets for a kind of boyish down-to-earthness when balancing out something more ladylike — this stripe and this khaki are my favorite colorways. I’d wear either/both with white jeans and a white eyelet top.
This looks like a Mara Hoffman, but costs less than $100!
Finally, for bedtime: these darling floral jammies and for beachtime: this adorable gingham one-piece ($20!!!). (And speaking of the beach, if you passed on the brand-less French market bags I’ve been swooning over in search of something with a little more oomph to it, I’ve got you covered.
P.S. Lilly for American Girl dolls?!?!?!?!?!?!?