Catholic Spirituality,  PPD

Lents do it

First off, thank you for the overwhelming outpouring of support in response to yesterday’s post. I feel your prayers, and I’m so touched by and grateful for the braveness of other mamas admitting to this struggle. No shame! It’s happening to you, not because of you.

So Carnivale. Here we be. I’ve never felt so ready for lent as I do this year. Maybe it’s the combination of postpartum + chaotic schedule featuring 3 crazy babies + this half eaten (purchased yesterday) box of chocolate Joe-Joe’s (Colorado finally got a TJ’s last month. Amazing.), but I am ready and raring to go.

I was all set to launch into some kind of modern day sackcloth and ashes routine involving early rising, Scripture reading, mental prayer, junk food/social media/sugar fasting + 6 days per week of exercise but then I was like, wait a second Jenny…slow your roll. You’re kind of in the throes of a mental health crisis here. And you have a 10 week old, a toddler, and a preschooler. And sleep is already a rare commodity.  So I’ve … lowered my expectations, shall we say. Plus, I have been guilty in the past (frequently guilty) of making Lent some kind of Catholic New Year’s resolution opportunity, and I generally focus on self-improvement and discipline related penances instead of, oh, I don’t know, stuff that actually causes me to grow spiritually. No more. Not this year, at least.

As much as I desperately wanted to hop on Steph or Susan’s bandwagon and make the gym commitment, I knew it would be for me and also, all about me, so it wasn’t the best fit for where my focus needs to be. I’ll still try to get to the gym as often as possible, but it won’t be for Lent’s sake. (And don’t get me wrong, these are fantastic ways to grow physically and spiritually and I love the ideas. But for me, right now, they would be distractions, not actual opportunities for growth in holiness.)

Then I read this earlier this morning and I knew I’d found my way. This is where I’m at: taking little opportunities throughout the day to take the focus off me and instead direct it toward Him. So where does that leave us? For starters, instead of my valiant resolution to get up before the kids and pray, I’m resolving to simply … pray. To take 15 minutes each day for mental prayer (not just a rosary, though I do love me some bead time) actual, focused, intentional connection with my Creator. And not necessarily at 5:45 am when I’m dead and useless (and guaranteed to continue being that way for the duration of the day) but during some stolen chunk of time during naps or preschool mornings or while my MH is here when I’m otherwise squandering my solitude on HGTV or pinterest. Ahem.

Which leads me to my next resolve: no social media. Blogging excepted. I don’t need to be further distracted, and I should probably be reading actual books (spiritual or no) in lieu of chasing endless bunny trails down the rabbit holes of the internets. Guilty as charged.

I’m also going to commit to only fruits and vegetables as snacks between meals. I know as a nursing mom I’m off the fasting hook, but I’m super guilty of mindless handfuls of veggie straws (definitely not a veggie) and cookies or tortilla chips throughout the day. If I’m really hungry, carrots will do.

And finally, as a family we’ve committed to forgoing eating out/takeout for the month, and we’re using the typically budgeted amount to spend at the store which we’ll bring as a gift to our parish’s food pantry. We figured it would be really fun for the boys to shop for food and then bring it to give away, or at least that it would make the concept of ‘charity’ more concrete in their wee minds.

Oh, and how cute is this? Joey’s preschool will be fasting as a class from, get this… 5 minutes of recess per day, which they will spend in prayer instead. Whaaaaaaat? Have you ever heard of something so cute or so amazing? They’ve also been asked to bring in pennies and coins to drop in the classroom jar, which they will march across campus which during Holy Week to deposit in the St. Vincent de Paul box for the poor. I heart our parish, and Catholic schools 4 ever and ever.

So happy Carnivale to y’all. It’s not quite Mardi Gras in Rome up in here this year, but it’ll do.


  • Stephanie Weinert

    I read the same thing this morning and was super convicted. I’m still including exercise in my sacrifice because for the sake of everything in my life I need to do it and right now it’s a sacrifice…but totally loved that post (and yours) and no taking my phone to bed. 🙂

  • kqsmeltz

    I’ve been reading your blog for the last few months as it was recommended to me by a friend, and *thank you so much* for being a voice in the wilderness in this whole mothering thing. As an aside, I can’t remember if we’ve ever met but I’ve met your husband several times in the past. I was also just writing about my plans for Lent this year, and am simply hoping to offer up a prayer for my children any time I would typically use another “vice” to cope with them. That’s it. Anyhow, you are not alone and thank you for your public acknowledgement of How Hard It Is. God bless you and your family.

  • Betsy

    I love the idea of eating only fruits or veggies as a snack. I’ve been wracking my brain as to how I can observe the lenten fast/abstinence while pregnant and I think that’s just the thing for me – because, really, carrots for a snack isn’t exactly appealing to me. Thanks for the idea!

  • Em

    Hey Lady!!! Love it. Can you please email me…I need your email address, cause I don’t have it anymore. [email protected]. I have some questions for you. Also, thanks for showing us how big your freakin brave is with yesterday’s post. Love you!

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