Life as a Mom is Busy
Be it Holy Week, or any other ordinary week, my life as a mom is always busy, and although it differs in nuances every day, it’s easy to allow one weekday roll into the next until all of a sudden the weekend rolls in. As a WAHM, I find that most moments I am switched into survival mode, from when my feet hit the floor until bedtime, psychologically “holding my breath” until the kids are asleep when I can finally exhale and take a few hours to get caught up, find some quiet time for work, and finally get some rest and quality time with my soulmate and best friend before crawling into bed to recharge for the next day.
Struggling with Guilt
I sometimes find myself missing the dedicated quiet and prayer times I used to have in my life as a missionary. Or the times, when as a single person, I used to drive by the Church on my way home from work, park just outside the doors, and just spend a few minutes talking to Him about my day. My beautiful kids bring a lot of noise into my life, and I have often struggled with the guilt of not finding time or energy for heartfelt prayer other than a deep breath and a “Lord, grant me patience!” or “Help me love like you,” and night prayers as we put the kids to bed. Brendon and I have joked about how long it’s been since we’ve actually been able to concentrate on Mass, considering it a win if we remember even a single point from the Homily between all the entertaining, shushing and bribing with a post-Mass donut or sticker. I’m sure God blesses us for just being there and making the effort, and is graciously lavishing our children with many, many graces that may only bear fruit in the future. Nonetheless, there have been times of late when I have struggled with the guilt that I didn’t pray enough. Or at all. Other than before meals and at bedtime with our children, there just hasn’t been the opportunity for me to care for my spirit.
I knew I had to draw strength from prayer, and oh, how I desired it; although I was honestly running near empty most days, I still felt so overwhelmed by the idea of squeeze in the time between the kids and their endless needs, household responsibilities, my work, and just surviving!
Finding God, Finding Peace
One rough night as I sat on the floor by Audrey’s crib, trying to help her fall back asleep, I read a page from Max Lucado’s The Greatest Gift, which brought such peace to my heart during this struggle:
“Do this. Change your definition of prayer. Think of prayer less as an activity for God and more as an awareness of God. Seek to live in uninterrupted awareness. “Acknowledge his presence everywhere you go. As you stand in line to register your car, think, Thank you, Lord for being here. In the grocery store as you shop, think Your presence, my King, I welcome. As you wash the dishes, worship your Maker. Brother Lawrence did. This well-known saint called himself the “lord of all pots and pans.” In his book The Practice of the Presence of God, he wrote:
‘The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer, and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the Blessed Sacrament.’
Besides, it makes more sense to talk to God than mumble to yourself.”
Through awareness of God’s presence in my life, I can find prayer. Even in the small mundane things such as cleaning the kitchen, changing a diaper, or picking up toys and food off the floor, there is prayer. In the beauty of his Creation around me: the song of a bird, the refreshing spring breeze and the warm sunshine kissing my skin, the beauty of a flower, the simplicity and purity of love in a snuggly hug from Audrey, or the “Umma, I love you soooo much!” from Dominic as he takes my hand, I realized that I can turn most anything into a prayer since prayer is a dialogue with God, and as we well know, you can say so much without a single word. Sometimes a glance, a smile, a thought, a sigh, or even a tear can be prayer enough.
As much in moments of trial as in joy, as long as I choose to acknowledge God’s presence there, very real and next to me, I can be at peace knowing that I can turn that moment into a prayer, and that this is the kind of prayer he is calling me to now in my vocation as a wife, and mother of young children. It may not come with nice feelings or amazing reflections but it’s what he wants, and prayer isn’t all about me anyways, right?
Prayer & Holy Week
So that is one way I plan to live out the rest of this Holy Week: trying to be mindful of transforming my days into prayer, and by remembering Jesus’ great love for me when I, too, feel tempted, weak, overwhelmed, and when I fall. If my little sacrifices of holding my tongue, in responding kindly, in serving my family with a joyful disposition, in being patient (Oh boy, I’m constantly praying for more patience!), can lighten the load of the cross on his shoulders and help dull the pain of a thorn in his head, but mostly console his heavy heart by proving to him that his sacrifice isn’t in vain, then that is enough for me. No, we won’t make it to all the Masses and ceremonies as it just isn’t the best thing for our little ones right now, but this is something I can do right here, right now.
I’m hoping we can also incorporate some of the beautiful traditions of the Church this week in a toddler-friendly manner such as a Seder dinner on Holy Thursday, doing an outdoor Stations of the Cross at our own pace, going on nature hike/walk with the kids for some quiet of reflection and meeting God there, praying a decade of the rosary with them on Holy Saturday, and of course making Easter Sunday extra special! I’ve already prepped their Easter baskets with toddler-friendly items, and I’m excited for them to experience their first Easter Egg hunt too! We’re creating family traditions this year and trying to make sure through it all that there’s “more joy than stress”, a standard I hold myself to when I start going crazy with preparations and planning.
What are some ways you are living this week? How do you find time for prayer and for God in your busy lives?
Count on my prayers for you during this Holy Week, that you may experience the fidelity of His love and peace in your hearts, and His real loving presence around you.