We parents get to be living, breathing sanctuaries for our kids ... and it’s the privilege of a lifetime.
I hear you cry when you wake from your nap and I hurry into your room. As soon as you see me, you stop crying and start wiggling happily in your crib. I scoop you up and snuggle you close.
Just seeing me brings you instant peace and calm.
You fall down at the playground and, crying, run to find me. You bury your head in my knees and wail, but as I hug you, your sobs gradually slow to a halt.
Just touching me and hearing my voice makes you feel healed.
You wake up, scared, in the middle of the night and sneak down the hall to my bedroom. You climb into the bed and burrow in between your daddy and me.
Just being in our presence, even when we’re asleep, is the safest place you can think of.
Something that surprised me about becoming a mother is how I suddenly became a physical sanctuary for my children. As parents, our bodies, in all their imperfection, feel like the safest place for our children, not only as babies but throughout their growing years.
It’s an amazing and powerful thing, but it can also feel like a burden. At times, being their safe space can be inconvenient or annoying. Sometimes I don’t want to get up in the night to nurse the crying baby or to pause making dinner to hug the toddler who scraped her knee.
There are so many things that are hard about being a parent, and if I think about them for too long, it’s easy to get bogged down in a negative mindset. Sometimes I feel like Sisyphus, endlessly pushing that boulder up that same old hill, except the burden I’m pushing is the laundry, the dishes, and reminding my kids to pick up their socks off the floor.
But I’m a lot happier when I focus on what I love about being a mom instead. When I stop to think about it, being my kids’ safe space is high on the list. Being able to create an oasis of safety and peace by my very presence feels so healing and hopeful.
Like most parents, I worry about raising my kids in a world that often feels scary, dark, and deeply troubled. It can feel as if there’s nowhere left that’s peaceful and happy, the way childhood should be.
But there is: It’s right here, in my home and in my arms. The comfort and security of these little moments, repeated day after day, is something that our children can go back to in their minds and draw upon for strength throughout their lives.
Putting out goodness into the world in this way is something real and important. As parents, we have the immense gift of creating these little moments of peace and safety for our families. It brings me a lot of joy to know that I can always create a place of calm, even in an agitated world.
Creating these “islands” of comforting love is also an expression of our Christian vocation. The Catechism tells us that, in the early days of the Church, “families who became believers were islands of Christian life in an unbelieving world. In our own time, in a world often alien and even hostile to faith, believing families are of primary importance as centers of living, radiant faith.”
I hope my kids remember our home as an “island of Christian life” and a “center of living, radiant faith.” So I’m trying to reframe my mindset to appreciate the beauty of these little moments, even when it’s hard. We parents get to be living, breathing sanctuaries for our kids, and it’s the honor of a lifetime.