Wednesday, February 15, 2012

How A Liberal Education Can Continue Even When You Are the Mother of Small Children: Part One Prayer


I remember how it was my first year out of college; I had just gotten married and had my first child before that first year was up. I was thrilled to read whatever I wanted to read and claimed pregnant brain whenever my husband tried to bring me into an intellectual discussion. I confess that I was jealous for about two days when he went back to school for graduate work in the fall and I was at home with morning sickness. After G. was born and the realities of parenting hit me, I really started to miss my old intellectual life of graduate school, studying in the library, going out after dinner, etc. While I was a pregnant, we continued to go to daily Mass, go to Eucharistic Adoration, frequent confession, and had a full prayer life; similar to college. When I was stuck at home without a car and a newborn on my lap, none of this seemed possible. But, as my loving husband always does, he pointed out to me the ways I was unhappy and the ways I could become better, and I realized I needed to make a change.

I decided to sacrifice ten minutes of nap time for doing whatever I did during nap time for prayer time. I discovered that God can hear me even if I don't go to Adoration in His Real Presence. Because, get this, while the Eucharist is amazing, wonderful, and so necessary for the Sacramental life, we still have Jesus in our hearts where ever we go. And He is in our children, and our husbands. He is also everywhere, and God holds us in existence moment to moment, constantly sustaining us. During my prayer time I read Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis De Sales. It is such a practical prayer book, divided into short but pungent sections that teach you how to pray always and takes into account every state in life. While I do not follow the advice to wake up and pray for an hour before the household is awake, I have taken up many of the smaller less time consuming ways to pray and be mindful of God throughout my day. Now I no longer use nap time, but just after the kids bedtime, and get this, my husband and I take this time together. Also we try to have one of us go to Adoration every week, so that we each get to go every other week. When you spend the whole day with little kids, the solace of Eucharistic Adoration is pretty amazing.

Another thing I resumed after my first child was several months old, was to make daily Mass a priority. My first reason was that she was up before 8 am everyday, so why not go to Mass? When my second was born and I was not physically capable of going daily, I remember how I felt the graces of all the Masses I had gone to before I have birth sustaining me day to day. And now thinking about it, my reason is not because the kids are up, but because it is God I encounter at Mass every morning (when I get myself up to go) and it is totally worth it to wake up 45 minutes before my kids so that I can take them to Mass most days to experience Christ's sacrifice extending throughout time and space to the very altar in our church.

The third thing I have been able to do even while having little kids is frequent Confession. St. Francis De Sales recommends weekly confession, and some weeks I wish I did. My husband and I aim for every two weeks; we make this work by going to different churches' Saturday confession times that are different by 30 minutes. He goes to one church's scheduled confession time, and when he gets home I have just enough time to get to the other one early. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is by far the best way to learn where you can be better in day to day life, and where you fail to be the best wife, mom, friend, daughter, sister, etc. you can be. This Sacrament is such a gift! In this Sacrament, we can know our failings, be forgiven for them (wiped clean!), and then be given the grace to become holier! What more can a woman want?

The point of this essay is to show how stay at home mothers do not have to give up ate daily Sacramental life of the Church; they just have to discover how to fit it into the new life that is quite different from the liberal arts educational experience.

Next week: Part Two The Intellectual Life

5 comments:

  1. This is inspiring Sana and I hope to one day do the same in my life when God graces me and my husband to be ;) with children. Love your sis

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  2. I'm so glad you wrote this...so true. We can all come up with so many excuses for why not to do things, but they are just that, excuses. I like how you said we need to make a change and fit prayer in to our new life. Great reminder!

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  3. Thanks for being practical, especially about not doing the wake up before your household wakes up. Hate that unwieldy advice because how many kids have the sixth sense about when mama wakes up? Or would be awaken by th e alarm that mamas need to compensate for the lack of brimming vitality God saw fit to share generously with our kids? But ten mintues out of a nap, time after the kids fall asleep, the prayers may not be eloquent, but I think God loves them anyway. I think I have a Lenten practice all lined up for me now. Thanks

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  4. Being a mother of small children has drawn me deeper into my faith. I didn't have the same experience in my education, as it was more occupation-based, so I haven't had the struggle of maintaining the routine established earlier in life. But I can most definitely relate! Motherhood has, more than any other experience in my life, brought me to my knees, both in the realization of my unworthiness and need for God's mercy and grace, and in humble awe of the beautiful little miracles that God has entrusted to my care. Thanks for this reminder...that all it take is a little bit of extra effort to reach out to God in our lives to receive the blessings and grace that He has ready for us :)

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  5. God is so faithful in how he provides for us. We just lean in His direction, dispose ourselves to receive from Him in our daily life choices and He overwhelms us with blessings and His fatherly providence. He is taking such good care of your body, soul, spirit and family. Thank you for your faithfulness to Him and your witness. I am so blessed to have you as my daughter.

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