It is amusing and a bit mysterious how I reach a set point when it comes to taking on things. I am willing and willing and doing and doing and then suddenly—too much. Something pushes me over my limit. The French have a word for this: le comble, the ultimate, the “too much,” the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
For family Thanksgiving, for example, I was fine with everything–setting up bedrooms, cooking, serving, cooking again, entertaining grandkids, enduring chaos, accepting plan changes, calming fussy baby, cleaning the kitchen so I could cook again—until our daughter called an hour after she left and said she’d left her purse behind with all kinds of things in it she greatly needed.
It was Saturday. I asked Vic to investigate whether FedEx overnighted on weekends. He halfheartedly looked at his phone, said it was hard to tell, and kept watching the football game. At which point I got on my computer and quickly learned that FedEx didn’t pick up or deliver on weekends and that the post office, which might take it, was closing in 15 minutes. I grabbed the purse, dashed to the P.O., and told a skeptical clerk that I could indeed get the express package ready before she closed on the dot at 2 pm. Which I did, and paid the hefty charge, though it still wouldn’t be delivered till maybe Tuesday morning, so my mad dash was probably unnecessary. And it was neither my daughter’s nor my husband’s fault that, after four-and-a-half days of cheerful Mom/Grandma duty, this was my comble.
For church, things have also been piling up. In the last few months I have taken on the Outreach Ministry chairmanship, put together budget requests and plan descriptions for that, begun meetings and plans for sending a congregational delegation to visit our sister church in Congo, helped plan and lead Advent worship and children’s time, attended a two-day workshop to prepare for a 10-week series on sexuality in the new year, done miscellaneous cooking and potlucking, all while taking on sponsoring a refugee via a request that came through the Immigration committee, which of course turns out to be a whole separate new endeavor arising from, but only tangential to, the church stuff.
It was all well and good until today: the comble was an email asking me or a member of my team to put together a table, complete with visuals and “a snack to help attract people,” describing the work of the Outreach Ministry Team, for a kind of fair during the first two Sundays of January. Anything involving visuals and snacks is generally outside my wheelhouse, and I will find someone else to take charge, though that is often harder than doing it myself, but it was the timing of the request that gave it comble quality.
The comble is often a small thing, something that would not normally seem burdensome but is only made that way because it comes on top of everything else. Something that pushes you just beyond a set point of which you may not even be aware.
I am retaking possession of my house, which was so sweetly invaded last week: laundering sheets, carrying toys back upstairs, scraping up the last leftovers. I think I caught the baby’s cold. The refugee may be released from detention this week or next if there are no more bureaucratic hangups. Give me a day and I’ll be fine.