Woke up this morning to instantly feeling frustrated because my sweet son let the cat out, and the cat then took it upon himself to sit on my face in an effort to receive some love and affection. Then the baby woke up, and the four and six year old, and my hubby and I were all of a sudden covered in cats and babies and needy neediness. They want cuddles, food, water, diaper changes. They want loving smiles, kind words, and enthusiastic parents ready to serve them. Abe and I glance at each other, steal a hug (if we’re lucky), and then push ourselves up and out into the cold air of morning and head for the shower (him) and the coffee maker (me). We proceed to make breakfast and get the children going on their chores for the day. It always feels a little raw, that getting up and moving. Like scraping the dirt from a cut. It feels better once the dirt is out, but it takes a few minutes to do the dirty work.
I have been encountering my own limitations in a new way, as of late. This past week I found myself breaking down in tears at the pediatrician’s office when my six year old injured her foot. I couldn’t believe that I heard these words come out of my mouth: “I don’t have time to go to the ER!” And then instantly felt ashamed for saying it. How can a mother not have TIME to attend to their child’s injury? How did my life get so busy that I contemplate ways to avoid doing one more thing, regardless of if that one more thing is a really NEEDED thing? Like the doctor?? Being the good doctor that she is, she looked at me without judgment and said, “Can I pray with you?” It meant a lot to hear her words of encouragement and support. She prayed a sincere and thoughtful prayer and asked God to lead me. It was the best thing she ever could have done in that moment. Throughout the rest of that day, I felt a peace within me and had several people pop up out of nowhere to say they were thinking about me and praying for me. How cool God is.
When you are going through the motions of your day and feeling the inevitable overwhelmed feelings that come from time to time, remember that you are doing all the things that you are asked to do, and then some, and that the work you are doing isn’t going to be stress-free or easy, it’s just going to be what is –but God is with you. When we ask Him to show up, He does. When we knock- He answers. There are traps that can make the adventures harder. One of the traps I have been getting caught in lately is what I call the “DOING IT RIGHT” Trap. I want to share this with you so that I can hear your stories of how you deal with the sometimes intimidating vocation of parenthood. The thing that happened to me was a kind of inadvertent recommendation from a well-meaning person who had been inspired to share her ideas on what we expose our children to. It was good stuff, just maybe a little more extreme than I could appreciate, or fits well with my family. I initially felt that what she had advised was up the right alley, and shared her perception with my husband and kids. But the more I grappled with the idea of it, the more I asked myself this question: if I never allow my children to be exposed to anything outside of the Catholic Christian worldview, what then will happen when they go to college and discover all the other ideas? The answer I came up with is: they will more then likely feel overprotected and bitter and possibly even throw out the baby with the bathwater.
I have seen super fervent parents pass on the faith to their children by being so amazingly awesome that their kids wanted to grow up to be just like them. I have also seen parents who weren’t seemly strong in their relationship with God raise up children who are currently serving the church and living the faith in a beautiful way. I have also seen incredibly Christian families produce children that dismissed the faith and went on to lead a life that was outside of the church, and sadly, often not close to their families of origin. The reasons why these different outcomes happen are varied and all different based on the individuals involved and the circumstances of the family. I wonder what I can do to better increase the likelihood of my children becoming saints? I know one thing has been made clear: I must pray with them and for them, and allow them to make mistakes while they are under my roof, so that I can hopefully help them navigate the challenging balance of living in the world, but not of it. I can not teach them to be a good faithful Christian by depriving them of every negative influence or persuading them to see life thru the lens I look through, I somehow need to inspire them to want to be holy for themselves.
This Lent I gave up Facebook only to run into some friends who love Instagram, to then sign up with Instagram and here we are. Parenting fail. Lent fail. Social Media Fast Fail. I really love the feedback and inspiration I get from both Facebook and Instagram. People like me trying to stay on the straight and narrow and love Jesus. It’s a tough job, and there are many many bumps in the road. But there is too much of a good thing, and I felt like a fast was just the thing I needed to “reset” my spiritual journey of being focused on what is in front of me. Being present to my kids and husband, and not being so absorbed with my screens that I couldn’t focus on faces. I know now how addicted I am. I am addicted to social media and the affirmation of others. I have a long way to go. Please pray for me, and I will pray for you! Unplug yourself and be with the folks you love. Pretend this is your last day on the planet and just savor the ones God has given you. I’m going to start over AGAIN with my fast and spend the rest of Lent setting up my own standards, together with my husband and kids….. and not doing it right…..because there is no such thing.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer yourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to everyone of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ, we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” Romans 12:1-8