“I, then, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love…” (Ephesians 4:1-2)
Being a loving, Catholic wife is my calling, but I’m not sure I always live in a “manner worthy of the call…with humility and gentleness, [and] patience.” But I do try and lately I’ve had to try a whole lot harder, especially with the whole patience thing. Madeline has never been a good sleep, but for the last three weeks we’ve been dealing with some major sleep struggles. We have a little insomniac on our hands who fights going to sleep and staying in nightly catatonia for uninterrupted stretches any longer than three or four hours. Naps are negotiable (to her at least) as well. I usually get her to drift off to the Land of Nod eventually, but it typically takes over an hour.
Meanwhile, I’m nearly 33 weeks pregnant and the exhaustion is eating away at me and my patience. Instead of a fertile mama ready to ripen and give birth at any moment I feel more like a ticking bomb always on the verge of exploding. Whereas I once prided myself on being a patient mom who relied on firm but gentle discipline, in the past week, I’ve “lost it” more times than I’d like to admit. Then there’s the constant worry that consumes me: If I am this short-fused and tired now, how will I possibly make it once I have two needy night owls on my hands? And then the worry snowballs and I start to think that perhaps I am not really cut out for this whole mothering thing. I want more kids and to be open to life, but pregnancy is tough for me (more emotionally than physically – I still worry far too much about my changing form and the number on the scale) and this flattening lethargy leaves me feeling hopeless sometimes.
Oh, and then there’s the guilt. The guilt that I am questioning my vocation. The guilt that I am complaining about sleep deprivation when there are parents who have children dying of leukemia or parents who don’t have enough resources to feed their children. The guilt that I haven’t gotten down on my hands and knees and scrubbed our bathroom floors in weeks. The guilt that I’m sometimes too tired to make myself a healthy breakfast when my little lark pops out of bed, so I grab a granola bar that surely doesn’t satiate my growing baby. The guilt that I’m not being attentive enough to my husband. The guilt that I’m not updating this blog nearly as much as I’d planned on doing. The guilt that my prayer life has become only a footnote in this tome of my life where sleep is my only passion, obsession.
On Friday Madeline and I went to morning Mass and then crowned Mary with a small group of moms and kids from our Totus Tuus homeschooling group. I stared at the peaceful statue of Mary, her head adorned with bright, pink blossoms and thought of her trials as a mom. I’m sure Jesus was the perfect sleeper – the kind of child who asked to go to bed and fell quickly asleep after quietly saying his prayers. However, Mary bore other challenges as a mother. She understands the anxieties that beset me. She is familiar with the doubts I have of my calling to be a mom. She even knows the bodily and emotional suffering I endure as an expectant mom. Yet, she never seemed to grumble or bemoan her maternal sacrifices or duties. How did she do it? How did she endure suffering far greater than chronic sleep deprivation? How did she stand at the foot of the cross and watch her only son, her beloved, die? From the moment she said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord” and said yes to God’s profound call for her, she overcame all her fears and doubts by a loving and complete trust in God and an acceptance of his will for her.
I, too, must do the same. I must trust that God will give me the graces to be the kind of mom I’m called to be and when I do stumble, He is there to help lift me up. God also gave me Mary, our Holy Mother, as a gift. She’s always someone I can turn to as an example of maternal love, someone who can help me to live out this worthy calling with humility, gentleness and grace.
Mary, Model of Mothers, pray for me!