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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

The Con­fir­ma­tion

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.

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