KITCHEN SINK DRAMA
or my first trip to the shops on the morning of the Confirmation, I am wearing running shorts and a vest. In Supervalu, I run into two other mothers, both in tracksuit bottoms and t-shirts, like myself, completely make-up free. Fresh cream, one of them. Bread and milk, the other. If you were to forensically examine the three of us, you might spot the freshly shellacked nails. But otherwise, no clue.
Half an hour later — the thank you card for the sponsor — I meet another two: still tracksuited, but now with freshly curled and sprayed hair. It is not yet nine o’clock, but as I pass the hairdressers, the cacophony of youthful excitement blends with the voices of stressed mothers. Lots of tracksuits in there, lots of curls.
By the time The Youngest and I land in there, all dressed up and somewhere to go, the stragglers with their non-straggly hair are just leaving (well, you didn’t seriously think I could manage to make a hair appointment in time now, did you?). For the next 40 minutes, my baby girl and I will alarm the hairdressers with the thickness of our hair and the attendant amount of curls required, and we shall be quite the talking point for being the only two customers all morning who read books instead of phones. Then we leave, with curls that won’t last till lunchtime, and walk over to the church, she for Confirmation, me to witness a child of mine receive one of the sacraments of initiation. One. Last. Time.
The biggest impact that having no more Communions or Confirmations will make on our household, I observe to The Husband, is that our house and garden will now go, bliss- fully and with God speed, to rack and ruin. For all that I have frequently sniggered at the sort of zealous madness that afflicts mothers at Communion and Confirmation time, I am every bit as bad as the worst: for this final whirl around the bouncy castle, we basically rebuilt the back of our house, had the entire building — inside and outside — painted, reseeded the lawn, restocked the garden, power-washed the patio and the path and generally pretended that we live like this all the time. To be honest, short of demolishing our home in a controlled explosion
mothers were surprisingly lovely,
considering the state of us running around Supervalu a few hours earlier
and rebuilding from the rubble, it’s hard to know what more we could have done.
We did all this, incidentally, to the beat of a quiet mantra in my head: “I’m not stressing this time around. I’m not making a fuss this time around.” Anyway, stressed and fussed, we had a lovely day. Anyone who has attended Confirmation will know that the age at which it is bestowed in this country means that the newly confirmed break down into a strange demo- graphic of a lot of little boys, a handful of grown men, a lot of grown women and a handful of little girls. In the company of towering young women who might have passed for models and worse, the Youngest, thankfully, remained a little girl for the day – her only concession to creeping womanhood her newly pierced ears and a dab of eye shadow. At the restaurant for lunch afterwards, I spotted that her handbag — “but what are you supposed to put in it?” — contained nothing but a couple of cards and Pablo, her beloved penguin, sporting a dickie bow for the occasion.
In fairness, he wasn’t the only one. Along with a lot of Woodstocky flowers in girls’ hair, dickie bows were a popular choice amongst the more cutting edge boys. As to the mothers, we were surprisingly gorgeous (especially given the state of us at opening time in Supervalu) — although to be honest, I thought we deserved a round of applause simply for being the right way up. Shortly before the Confirmation, The Sister, who really should know better, had asked me what the plan was for afterwards. “The usual,” I replied. “Bouncy castle and carnage.” “Are they two of the lesser known gifts of the Holy Spirit?,” she wondered.
It turns out that you learn something new every day. It has taken all these Confirmations, including my own, for me to register that selfcontrol is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. I literally never heard this before, I tell the (same) Sister afterwards. She suspects I might have been in the toilet when He was giving that one out. And looking up at my newly painted, planted, built, washed, plucked, cleaned, pretend-it’s-alwayslike-this home, I don’t doubt it for a second.