I’m still gestating. I’m also cutting back on computer time to soak up on life with my girls. So here’s a rerun. (I’ll probably be sharing a fair amount of recycled posts in the coming weeks as we adjust to our family of five.) I wrote a version of this post shortly before I was put on bed rest with our second child. I was struggling with patience and God helped me nurture this virtue by first reminding me to turn to Mary as a source of strength in my mothering journey. Then, like this pregnancy, he gave me a few weeks where I had to not only be still, but I had to pray for a patient baby, Mom, and heart. Likewise, it seemed a fitting repeat post since we recently celebrated the Feast of the Annunciation.
“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, Christian wife and mom 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. I’m nearly 33 weeks pregnant and the exhaustion that comes with sleepless nights due to constant trips to the bathroom and a wakeful 2-year-old 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’m not really cut out for this whole mothering gig. 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’m questioning this God-given vocation at all. The guilt that I’m 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 healthful 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 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. Now 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. Still, Mary surely 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 have to “offer up” 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 burdens 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. As I prayed a decade of the rosary with fellow moms and all of our children, I also reminded myself that God 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.
So today I turn to her. I ask God’s own mother to be with me now as I face my fears, as I strive to live a life a that is full of grace and to live in a way that is worthy of this sublime calling to be a mother and a wife.