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
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.”