Holiness in the home is the source of much grace. When we make an effort at holiness, such as attending Mass, participation in the sacraments, seeking out a fully Catholic education, teaching our children how to work and learn, preparing them for First Communion, and teaching our children about the fruit and gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as other tenets of the Scriptures, we will, in turn, receive much grace.
This blog series is written as meant to encourage converts and reverts alike to continue seeking out holiness in your home, with a special Parenting Concentrate added in for good measure! ;)
To start out, I want to give you just a little window into our day to day life. I am a mother of five. I just gave birth to my fourth girl and fifth child a little over 5 months ago. What does it look like in our home each day? Here's just a small picture! A day in the life as stay-at-home a mother of 5. ;)
This morning, I woke up, and got some breakfast after nursing our 4 month old. I turned to the kids. I poured cereal for our five-year-old, Frances, answered questions asked by my eight-year-old Molly. I sat down for a few seconds, only to be interrupted by my three-year-old Madeleine, who was asking for a snack. I hand her a banana, since she had only already eaten a donut, that we had bought for her sister Molly’s birthday.
I break up a fight over a toy, and sit down to my computer. Meanwhile, my eight-year-old is begging to play Minecraft, and my three-year-old is asking to watch Sofia the First. I allow a little screen time while I sip my coffee and answer an email.
After a little while, it’s go time. Except I'm not ready to go. The baby wants to nurse again, and although Stephen has left with the one (or two) kiddos who attend school, that means I'm left with 3 under 3, as I usually am! I run upstairs, coffee in hand, and I grab three pairs of pants, three shirts, and three pairs of socks. I know I’ll have to run back upstairs to grab their scattered shoes (which belong in the downstairs closet), unless I can cajole one of my kids to
do it for me help me. I ask Molly- our oldest- to find her clothes for school. She dresses herself, and after I hurriedly pack her lunch and do her hair, she leaves with Daddy. I dress the younger three, and the older two can dress themselves. I go back upstairs to change the baby and put her in a fresh outfit.
We are all, eventually, dressed. I throw my clothes on, and tell them to sit on the stairs. They wait on the stairs until I can get myself together and put on a little make-up and spray my perfume. In a line, I put their shoes on as they sit obediently on the stairs. We try to go potty, then I tell them to wait by the back door, so that I can find their coats. Eventually, we’re all ready to go. We do this everyday, because it seems we always have somewhere to go. Even if I rush around, doing dishes and shoving a load of laundry in, it seems to take at least 45 minutes before we're finally ready to head out the door to run errands.
After picking up medicine at the pharmacy drive-thru and returning some books to the drop off slot at the library, we are running to the Dollar Store, and a feeling of guilt settles on my heart. They've been fairly good today. Why am I so discouraged? It’s a familiar feeling. I'm constantly wondering: “What does any of this- pottying, dressing them, running errands- have to do with raising beautiful souls?”
We run through the drive-thru and I see their face light up at the free Frosty’s I have procured for them at Wendy’s. Although my three-year-old cries because I wouldn’t let her buy a toy at the Dollar Store, I know that those tears are part of a journey. It was her sister Frances’ turn to get a special toy; she got one last time. Next time it might just be a lollipop or a treat that she picks out. I don't think it matters what/when/how/why/how much. She needs to realize something very hard for her age: She does not get a toy or a treat every time we run errands or go shopping. She can barely grasp it yet, but someday, she will remember this day (or what she learned therein), and hopefully her sense of entitlement will float away, evaporating into thin air by the time she is independent and on her own. (Hopefully;).
They play with their little treats and knick knacks. Then I give them their daily chores. They have to pick up the living room before lunch. After lunch, we read books, cuddling into a fresh pile of good reads, and honestly, it is my favorite time of the day. I grab a second cup of coffee and we settle into a stack of some of our favorites: the world of Babar, Winnie the Pooh, Frog and Toad, Angelina Ballerina, or The Berenstain Bears. We absolutely love books and reading. There is nothing better, in my personal opinion.
After books, it is rest time. Our two-year-old, Anders, always takes a nap. I let Madeleine have “room time, “ where she can look at books, play quietly, and rest in her bed. If Frances is home from Pre-School (which she is, today), she has the same routine, of rest time after lunch. Everyone tries to go potty, and then I sneak away. I curl up with a good book, or eek out a couple of sentences of writing. I'm interrupted by the baby crying. I change her diaper. I write for a few more minutes. She wants to nurse. I oblige. Then, before we know it, it’s go time again.
I wake up Anders to pick up Molly from school. We wait in the car line, eat a snack, and as soon as we return home, Molly does her homework. She is learning how to borrow while subtracting. She is learning, but she still needs a lot of help, as this is a new skill. I stand beside her, holding the baby, while she tries to learn it. She finishes the front of the worksheet, and we both hold our breath, only to find out that there is another side. A full back of more problems. A huge sigh from me, and then the three-year-old has a potty accident. I attend to her, running upstairs for more pants. The baby is crying, I’m getting really hungry, and the two-year-old is acting needy and fussy from teething. “Hold muh, Mama… hold muh!!”
Molly finishes! They have about an hour of screen time, until Daddy comes home at 5:15, and I am trying to get a good healthy dinner on the table. I'm stirring, they're nagging. I'm trying to hold onto my patience. But... I snap. I’ve held it together until now, but I start to scream when Frances and Madeleine get into a fight over a toy. I give myself a Mommy time out, and fold some clothes in my bedroom, sans kids. I was *done* an hour ago, and Daddy just started coming home earlier, believe it or not.
We gather at the dinner table to eat. A peaceful meal ensues. (Not always ordinary, but tonight we're having chicken noodle soup and crackers, and it's devoured in no time). Daddy quizzes them about their day, Molly makes us laugh with her jokes, the littles always say something hilarious, and we end the meal with a few catechism questions that Daddy pulls up on his iPhone.
After dinner, I go for a walk with my podcast. I take a deep breath, once again for a moment to myself, sans kids. which is so rare these days. I've been eager for this chance to be alone. I'm an INFP (introvert all the way), and mothering littles wears out my faculties in a way that's hard to describe. Picture me in a fetal position by the time I'm done with my day. Without this walk, I'd be toast, literally. Stephen does baths and the bedtime routine. The girls yell “Get Mommy!” and I come in their room and scratch their backs and sing them songs. Then, I read, pick up the house, sometimes do extra laundry, take a shower, and get in bed, around 10pm.
And I sigh. Tomorrow, we will do this all again.
Everyday, it seems, I am left with a question: Is our life simply routine, routine, routine? Isn't there more to life? What is the purpose in all of this? What are my children learning every day? When will they be independent? When will Molly curl up with a good chapter book and when will Frances be able to read Dr. Seuss with no help?
Q1. How do we live our faith in the midst of the dailyness of everyday?
Q2. Why bother with devotions after dinner, and they know the Catholic prayers and some terminology from Mass and Religious Education?
Q3. If these are moldable, shapeable souls, how are we working to make them someday saints?
Q4. How are we helping them along, so that they eventually become beautiful souls?
These questions are what I want to answer in this upcoming series.
A few things spring to mind, even now:
~They’ve observed the babies in our family getting baptized.
~They’ve heard theological conversations and discussions between myself and Stephen.
~Often, they have their own commentary to add in to our dialogue. Madeleine (our three-year-old) recently asked if Mary was helping us get to heaven! (Yes and yes!)
~Each day, I’m patiently trying to teach them to dress themselves, find their own shoes, put on their own coats. The Montessori Method at work.
~In our home, we try to model a certain atmosphere of grace and consistency, in keeping with the fruit of the Spirit.
I hope to flesh these things out, and I am so deeply anticipating going through it all with you, my gracious, gentle readers.
unpacking these thoughts, and more… coming to a series near you!