Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Serviam

I feel like I’m finally getting over the disillusionment that came with the beginning of motherhood. I no longer expect it to be easy, and I’m generally not bitter about the fact that it’s hard. Regardless, it still surprises me that there are so many days where from the moment I wake up I can’t stop thinking about going to sleep. And I worry about it. Is there something wrong with me, because there are still many days when I just don't want to do my job? Is it bad that I find it so challenging to be grateful and to soak up all the moments with the small people that God has blessed me with? If you have read anything at all of my frequent complaining on this blog, then I am sure it is no surprise to you to hear that I feel like that some days.

It is how I was feeling a couple of days ago as I sat on the kitchen floor with a fussy, feverish Lucy, staring at the nasty food splatters all over my old, ugly cabinets.
 ^^ same sick baby, same ugly cabinets, same stressed mom, different day.

After several weeks of the older girls going through some crazy tantrum-heavy phases (which have since magically gotten much better, praise the Lord!), I was feeling completely discouraged and like I wanted to be anywhere else than this house. But then I started to think about a reflection I had read that morning during some rare quiet/prayer time.

(I say "rare" because, seriously, it barely ever happens that I am up before the girls and intentionally give specific time to praying, but whenever I do, God makes sure to make a big deal out of it for me- probably in a Divine effort to get me to please pray more- it is working about as slowly as the girls are learning to listen to directions and follow them- i.e. the pace of a handicapped turtle).

So anyways, what I had been reading during that rare prayerful moment had to do with the special role of women in service of Christ and the Church. It had highlighted several different women who were close to our Lord during his life: Mary Magdalen, Martha, and obviously his Mother, and it went on a little about women who helped to grow the church after his death and how they did so with a special spirit of gentleness, sensitivity, feminine grace, and a constant spirit of service.


The main special characteristic that the author was pointing out was their willingness to serve out of love, certainly not because anything would be easy. For instance, it would not have been easy to take on the task of be preparing Christ's tomb after the crucifixion, but that is what the women closest to Jesus did. Theirs was a willingness to work for Christ, not out of any servile fear or foolish optimism, but simply out of love for him. That morning after I had read that reflection, I ended my prayer time by repeating to Jesus the author’s closing words: "Serviam. I will serve".


All of this came to mind as I sat there on the floor of my kitchen, completely fed up and irritated with how hard being a mom is. I hadn’t just been blowing smoke that morning when I said I would serve; I really do want the work that I do as a wife and mother to be a constant expression of love through service to God. Thankfully, God knows that I can’t serve him on my own- and even I know it in moments like that- and right then that I felt like he gave me the grace that I needed to serve in spite of myself and all of my inclinations to wallow in self-pity. So I made use of the fact that I was on the floor next to the nasty cabinets and I just scrubbed them, possibly for the first time since living here. Not because is was fun or easy or because I wanted to at all, not because Mike would notice, not because the girls would thank me (ha!), but because I had told the Lord that morning during prayer that I would serve Him out of love for him, and He came through with the grace for me to do that. I know, it’s small, but it’s something.

Anyways, when I woke up today I tried to have some prayer time and found myself lying on the couch only able to mutter something along the lines of: "if you want me to serve, you absolutely have to give me all the grace to do it." Within a few minutes I was able to drag myself from the couch, shower, and get on with my day, and I feel confident it was only through God-given grace that I was able to move from my near catatonic state.

Ultimately, I don't think that my life as a mother needs to be lived in a constant state of gratitude that is tangible and felt by my senses. I may find it terribly difficult some days to be soaking up all the blessings and relishing every moment, especially when the blessings are throwing tantrums and the moments are spent cleaning up bodily fluids. But in the end, I think that the thing the Lord is most pleased with is a spirit of loving service, of looking to Him each morning, through my bleary eyes, with my fatigued body and saying genuinely: “Serviam. I will serve. And you will give me the grace to do it.”

35 comments :

  1. I don't have much to comment, except that I hear you. It's hard, and it's rewarding, and I hate it, and I wouldn't do anything else. God grant me grace.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love this and I have been in there- sitting on the kitchen floor, staring at my gross and dirty floors...thank you for this post, really needed it today. :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you, what a wonderful reminder to ask for the grace and strength from God to do the work set before us. Hope Lucy is feeling better soon.

    ReplyDelete
  4. It took me a long time to realize it wasn't just coincidence that I'm named Martha. Providence had it set out for me for a long while that I would eventually figure out that I've got so much to learn from St. Martha. I had so little of an appreciation for those sisters early on in my life but that has really come to change recently. Thanks for the reminder.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This is beautiful, what gifts God offers us everyday if only we're willing to accept! What is it you were reading?

    ReplyDelete
  6. "especially when the blessings are throwing tantrums and the moments are spent cleaning up bodily fluids."

    Thank you for this perfect read on a day spent not enjoying my blessings for the above quoted reason! Every time I come here,especially in a moment of please-just-let-me-read-one-blog-and-not-whine-at-me-you-terrors!, your words are always just what I need. Encouragement when I am giving up, understanding when I am feeling alone! I am so thankful for you and your words, Ana!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Please keep in mind, coming from someone who struggled for years to get pregnant and whose sister will never be able to have children of her own, that it is difficult for those who struggle with infertility to hear women constantly saying how hard it is to be a mom. We know it's hard. But women who cannot have children would give anything for that opportunity. Just something to think about. I know most moms don't intentionally do it, but sometimes by bonding and saying "This is hard!" it is frustrating to women who will never experience it.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This was great. Thank you for this reminder for my own mothering of little tantrum throwers! :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Oh, and I hope Lucy is feeling better!!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I so needed this right this second! Hubby on day 2 of a 3 day business trip, messy house, and a baby who never ever ever cries when she goes to bed screaming her head off while my dinner gets cold. This was exactly what I needed to read right now.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Oh this is so great Ana! And so true. Man. I always remember how cool I thought it would be to just go out and serve the poor and sick like Mother Teresa, but somehow serving grumpy, whining, completely illogical toddlers doesn't feel as glamorous in the service and sacrifice department, but really its the same thing. I wish I could remind myself of this epiphany everyday. But I fail lots.

    Btw, I really like that Holy Family icon! (I bet it came from Scott Hahn! ;) )

    ReplyDelete
  12. Saving this post so I can read it again in tough moments. Mothering little ones is so darn hard!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Excellent post. I so much enjoy your musings on motherhood, as so much of what you write about is stuff that is already running through my brain. Thanks for your beautiful articulation!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I'm 11 kids in and still irritated some days but I repeat over and over and over again "Your Grace is enough" (and I listen to Matt Maher sing it a lot too, lol). Thanks for a great post!!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I am still in the "totally bitter that mothering is so hard" stage. I'm glad to hear that it does end though; it makes me feel like a huge jerk to be so grumpy because my job is difficult! I honestly never thought of asking for the grace to carry on even when I feel like I can't do it. Thanks for this post!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I am going to read this over and over. I soooo need it these days. Teething and tantrums have me in fits. Guh.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Ana, I'm new to your blog (thanks to Haley from Carrots for Michaelmas), but I feel like you and I are singing some similar songs. It's tough sometimes. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and this simple phrase: "Serviam. I will serve." (And with that, it's time to make breakfast. Looking forward to reading more and getting to know you better!)

    Abbey @ Surviving Our Blessings

    ReplyDelete
  18. Please meditate on the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady-- I can't tell you how powerful and it is much shorter than a rosary. My goodness, it has given me so much strength

    http://www.sevensorrows.com/7sprayers.htm

    ReplyDelete
  19. I really love this, Anna. Because there's no way I've spent the last two weeks complaining about everything and being short tempered with the kids. *whistles innocently*

    I also want to add that you talk about things like this without coming off as self righteous, and that is a gift. Keep on being awesome...:)

    ReplyDelete
  20. I needed to read this today. It's just the kick in the ass that I need on this self indulgent morning. For real.
    This is brutally honest and that's why I love it. And that's why I like you.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Thank you so much for writing this post. I really needed to hear this. I've been in such a rut, not wanting to do some of the things I need to as a Mother.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Thanks for a really encouraging post - I read it last night before going to bed for what was to be a pretty sleepless night with a teething baby, and I kept trying to keep this in mind...it's so comforting to know that there are others out there with the same struggles and attempts at holiness!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Thank you for writing this - I'm going to keep the mantra in mind as I'm yelling at Stan, bouncing George on my hip and breaking up a fight between Dave and Frank :) Grace comes when we most need it right??

    ReplyDelete
  24. Beautiful post! I love reading about your ups and down of motherhood. Thank you for being so honest and real!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Yes! This was a beautiful post, Ana. Our priest said something in his homily on Sunday which wasn't particularly profound, but got me thinking none the less. He said that everyday when we wake up, we should thank God for more time. So, I've been trying to do that this week - thank him for another day to take care of the people I love. Another day to try to get better at it!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Sanctity is in the struggle!! Great thoughts!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Such a beautiful post! My husband had Serviam inscribed on my engagement ring. It was beautiful and filled with so much meaning not only for us, but also our future family. This post just reminded me that we are here now with our littles, the family that was just a prayer back when I first got the ring. And that choosing to serve (with grace and prayerfully with Joy) is what I am called to do for my little ones just as much as I am for my husband, family, friends, loved ones, and all we meet. Thank you for the reminder! This post was also needed because I'm just so sleepy (ie self-absorbed, self pity partying it up). And it helped me get out of my own head a bit more. Prayers :)

    ReplyDelete
  28. Ana - Thank you so much for sharing such a beautiful post at the LTM link-up. A friend of mine, once shared with me, after I too was complaining about the struggles and difficulties of being a mom, that whenever she is struggling to serve with a heart of love, she says all day long, "I'm coming, Lord" to every need, every want, every duty that only we moms can take care of. Her words have stuck with me. Serving with love can be so very hard....but with God's grace we can keep going!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  29. Phew.

    As a mother who gets caught up (still. even with six kids) in wanting a thank you for all that I do, this post hit home. Hard.

    It's a beautiful, poignant reminder to me of my role, my vocation, and my Yes. So glad to have found this via Sole Searching Mama.

    ReplyDelete