Bringing you another installment in our Raising Your Kids [The Catholic Way] series! Click here for part 1, part 2, and part 3.
Today we're going to talk about your vocation...to your specific children! We'll look at some pretty pictures, too! Are you following us on Instagram, yet?
So, I think that everyone has the experience of having some children that are easier to relate to, and some that are more difficult to relate to. I won't tell you which is which, but one of my daughters has a personality very similar to mine, and the other has one very different (for the most part). I love them both intensely, but each personality type comes with its challenges. One of my daughters is far more daring than I ever was as a child...and sends my anxiety through the roof, trying to keep up with her! One is every bit as cautious as I was, and I can relate to her a little too well. I'm guessing I'm not alone in sometimes feeling that, surely, there is someone more qualified to raise my children than me?!
But there isn't. God gave them to me for a reason.
I could just watch them all day. Such lovelies!
The older Therese has gotten, the more I've realized - God gave her to me for a reason. The same goes for Maria. There are things about each of them that I understand in a particular way because of who I am and what my life experiences have been. God already knew all that about me when He gave them to me. He knew what my personality is, what my childhood experiences were, etc...and knowing all that, He gave me these two little girls. But it's not as simple as that. It isn't just an equation you can punch in - "Michele has x,y, and z in her resume so I will match her with baby B" - but something much more.
Heading out for our morning walk. I recently realized that we are technically walking distance from seven different parks!!! Some are a much longer walk than others, but we're walked or biked to them all at one point or another since living here, and they are all doable!
It isn't just that the factors line up - it's that God has put our family together in such a way that we each can help each other get to heaven. And that means that even our imperfections can work toward that good. You can bet that these little girls have taught me a lot about patience, and slowing down. I tend to be a very busy person, but they tend to move at a turtles pace. Sometimes they even - gasp! - want me to sit and do nothing but be with them. Doesn't that sound like a good lesson for the spiritual life, though? Learning to be still, so that you can be more attune to that "still, small voice?"
But even knowing all of that, there have been many times I have felt discouraged, and have felt like I just "wasn't doing it right" (whatever "it" was). It's then that I remember that there is a deeper purpose to my motherhood. I am trying to point them to God, and they are helping me get to heaven...and that process isn't called "taking up your cross" for nothing!
Storytime for one...crawling practice for the other!
A little duckie at the "real" storytime, with her beloved Miss Laura.
The thing is that God doesn't ask for perfection the way the world sees it, and some of the very things that seem the most imperfect about me may actually be just what God needs to help them on their path to sainthood. In Catholic parenthood, we try to keep in mind one thing - that by baptizing these little ones into the faith we aren't promising them a life of comfort. Their lives won't always be perfect, and comfortable, and easy. But we are promising them that they can always fall back on Christ. During the saga of this past go-around with hyperemesis gravidarum and the resulting surgeries and ER visits from all those post-pregnancy kidney stones I was well aware of my own imperfection as a mother. What I was going through was beyond my control, and it was easy to feel like I wasn't doing motherhood "right." But even in instances like that - instances where the cross is all too evident in your family's life - you can trust that somehow God can use even your imperfections to help your little ones grow. Yes, I was terribly sick while pregnant with Maria - but I was able to slow down and also to show Therese that even if a parent is sick, things can be just fine! People heal! People get better! And even when the reason why God matches you with your children is less than evident, you can still cling to that realization that, yes...it is no accident that God gave you to your children and your children to you! He matched you together for a reason!
I only have two kids so far...that third "kid" was just along for the ride. ;-)
If you trust in that, and trust that God has a purpose...it can be a source of such hope for you! It is easy to get discouraged in this parenting business, but our children are not, ultimately, in our hands. They and we are in God's hands.
Keeping that in mind can give us the peace we need to journey on.