When I was still a brand new mother, in the hazy and sleepy days of my girl's "newbornhood", I remember reading a sage piece of advice; when dealing with very little ones it's best to worry less about setting a "schedule" and more about following their natural "rhythm." Of course, as every mother knows, we desperately try to impose some structure to this rhythm, but since little ones can't tell time no two days are ever alike. Yes, I can hope that my little girl gets down for her nap by 1:00 every afternoon but that doesn't always happen - life happens! And, as life happens, times need to shifted and expectations adjusted. Motherhood, but especially early motherhood necessitates listening to the needs of your child.
One evening, as I was rocking and nursing my daughter before bed, it suddenly struck me how much the rhythm of our life mirrors monastic life. I remember at some in my vocational discernment years, reading a book that described the daily routine of cloistered monastic life. It included waking up at least once during the night for prayer, going to bed early and rising early, eating, praying, working, recreating - all at about the same time every day. I remember reading this schedule and thinking, The same thing every day? Waking up before sunrise EVERY DAY? Never sleeping straight through the night? That sounds awful! How exhausting! Thank goodness I don't think that God is calling me to monastic life. I mean, it's be great and everything, but I don't think I'm capable of that kind of life style.
And so, I married a wonderful man and we thoroughly enjoyed that early phase of marriage - sleeping in late on the weekend, being able to come and go as we pleased. Then...we met our little girl. Sister Stinky, if you will. The first postulant to enter our domestic monastery.
Sister Stinky did not embrace the newlywed lifestyle. She woke up every hour and a half to two hours. She was not fond of getting out of the house and going places. She had her own agenda.
As she has gotten older, she's become more predictable, although she does still sometimes get up during the night. She also wakes up early. EARLY. Sister Stinky wakes up to chant her lauds before the sunrise every day. (Although her version of lauds sounds a bit more like this.) She thrives on doing basically the same thing EVERY SINGLE DAY. She takes her meals in her own personal refectory at the same times each day - thriving mainly on bread, cheese, and fruit, ala Carmelite style. She takes time to "work" each day, as well as recreate. She retires early each night, thus beginning the great silence in our home each evening. (We tried not having a great silence each night when she retired but our noise was greeting with loud protests from her monastic cell.)
Yet, this sweet little one has helped us grow in holiness. There is a beauty to the gentle rhythm of each day. There is silence, and prayer, and play...lots of play!
Welcome to our domestic monastery.