Taking time to pray, rest, and nourish your spirit will help you parent your children the way God wants you to do.
Becoming a mother changes your world. How can you keep this new world from filling the whole landscape of your life?
More than 80 years ago, a Catholic educator named Madeleine Daniélou wrote (in “Vivre selon l’esprit” in Visages de la famille, 1940) about the danger of letting oneself be swallowed up body and soul in material concerns, educational worries, and family rhythms.
Her analysis is liberating: Instead of incriminating men for not taking on their share of household tasks and encouraging them to transfer this burden onto their shoulders, she takes the issue in a different direction.
She considers this situation not as a burden, but as a responsibility: How can we ensure that the responsibility inherent in motherhood does not become a weight, an unbearable burden, a source of endless resentment?
How can we know how to delegate and let go certain things, while embracing what really matters? How can we ensure that this responsibility is lived as a free and rewarding mission? These tips can help!
1Take silent time to sort things out
In a life without a place and time for silence, it’s impossible to step back from the sequence of events of the day. It’s impossible to prioritize what’s important (the child who cries at night) over what’s less important (the menus at the school cafeteria). Above all, it’s impossible to weigh and appreciate what really matters to us.
Only external and internal silence allows us to sort things out, and thus to convert the diffuse sensation of being burdened into awareness of responsibility. And this is of great importance: Burdens are delegated, while responsibilities are assumed.
Once again, only silence, only this time taken away from action, gives us access to this discernment which allows us to delegate what can and must be delegated. Indeed, how many women complain about not being helped, while holding on to what they believe they do better than their husbands? Ultimately, only silence allows us to hear the solutions and advice that our intelligence, our memory and our heart give us.
All women know what kind of situational intelligence is required for the care and education of children. There’s a great temptation to concentrate one’s interests on only the subjects that will help us improve our parenting. Madeleine Daniélou brings to light the necessity of an intellectual and cultural life of one’s own.
This intuition, which seems obvious, is crucial today. Why? Because the two-fold life of many women—work and family—is entirely focused on service. A day spent at a job, as exciting and enriching as it may be, is by nature defined by the interests of others: clients, patients, students … It’s doubled by a “second day” at the service of the family.
However, it’s an illusion to believe that the work day is a substitute for inner renewal. A woman who spends her day filling out orders or calling suppliers, one who has examined patients and written prescriptions, will have used her skills and gained new ones. Yet it’s not in this activity that she expands and nourishes her spirit for her own benefit.
Each woman must occupy in her own schedule the place she deserves: the first. When this place is respected—when her own spiritual, cultural, intellectual nourishment is assured—all those who depend on her will find their own place, which will also be the best for them. They’ll benefit from the inner freedom, the curiosity of spirit, the mental availability and the ability to understand that she will have gained for herself.
3Let the Holy Spirit guide you
Last but not least, the life of the spirit is a life that is guided by the Holy Spirit. It’s about giving yourself the chance to ask and to listen.
We need to listen in our hearts to the One who’ll give us guidance when we’re struggling with a decision; who’ll give us strength when we’re feeling overwhelmed with monotony, routine, or depression; and who’ll teach us his wisdom when we’re going over and over seemingly hopeless questions.
Each time we invoke the Holy Spirit, we send ourselves this beneficial message: You’ve undertaken a mission that’s so far beyond you that God wants to work with you on it.
This responsibility isn’t heavy because you’re not alone: It’s not heavy, it’s elevated. This family that you and your husband lead is an adventure that’s more than human.
You heal bodies and lift up souls, and that’s why God himself entrusts you with this adventure. You’re capable of doing it with him, and he’s holding your hand.
In conclusion, living this way is a powerful antidote to the resentment we might have towards the “mental load” of motherhood, which is neither a novelty, nor a fatality, nor a curse. It’s also an antidote to the shrinking of our mental space, thanks to which stroller-folding problems will take their rightful place, well after your best friend’s heartache.