I almost called this “why I have to keep going back to Confession” or maybe “getting the hell out of the house” but…I didn’t.
I’ve only recently (like a couple months-ish) settled on a good prayer routine for myself, so it seemed about time to get the small people humming along the path to sanctity, too. Plus, I have really less-than-fond memories of forced car rosaries (sorry mom!!!) and I’m hoping to not repeat the trauma for my own kids, though that’s probably (much!) less to do what my parents did and more my own natural penchant for sloth and resistance to authority soooooooo, the best laid plans and all that.
I have to do something. And with a 5-year old in the house I’m becoming increasingly aware that I’m on borrowed time here in terms of character formation, will-shaping, etc. so…to work.
Even now. Even at 13 weeks postpartum with a chaotic house full of needs and not quite enough sleep.
I still have to do something for their spiritual lives, lest they waste away on Leap Frog videos and admonitions to not!hit!the!baby! (mostly directed at the fierce not-quite-two-year-old) and general platitudes of the WWJD variety.
Those are all well and good and essential (even Leap Frog, at this juncture) but I want to do a bit more to infuse some grace into our endless days at home, so we’ve begun an almost idiot-proof practice of “Mommy reads her Magnificat and drinks coffee and don’t talk to me for 9 minutes” followed by a single decade of the rosary, beginning with the first mystery for whatever day of the week we’re on. Oh, and we light candles. They make sure to fight about who gets to light them and blow them out.
That’s literally it.
Is your mind blown because it’s so creative and impactful?
Nope, didn’t think so.
But, I realized that waiting until Catechesis of the Good Shepherd showed up at a parish near me (please, soon!) or looking down the road to the nuanced philosophical discussions we’ll be having aroud the dinner table wasn’t addressing the here and now. (Plus, the rosary is the ultimate marian devotion. And Mama Mary seriously has our backs as moms, she just gets it. And I need all the help I can get.)
I also have an alarm set on my phone to go off at noon every day. It’s the sound of ringing church bells, and when the kids hear it they yell “Angelus alarm!” and we say the Angelus really quick, either in the car or, if we’re home, facing our sweet little Mary statue in the kitchen window. I’d say it gets done 80% of the time, and about 50% of the time it’s me by myself, but it’s something. And it’s manageable for me now, in this season.
My deepest desire for my children is a personal, meaningful relationship with Jesus, and that they find their home in the heart of His Church.
Beyond that? I really don’t care. Be a garbage collector, be a librarian, be an attorney or a brewmaster stay-at-home dad. The primary goal for me, as a parent, is to point them towards heaven with a good, firm, push.
I want them to grow up knowing without a doubt that this Faith is their home, and that Catholics know how to blend the mysterious supernatural with the mundane day-to-day better than anyone else.
And also? That we throw the.best.parties.
Feast days, holy days, holidays…I want their little minds crammed full of St. Nicholas shoes with chocolate coins, Advent wreaths glowing at the dinner table, and St. Patrick day keggers with friends and beer and shamrock cookies and…you get the idea.
Kids have a better – sharper maybe? – sense than most adults for the transcendent and the majestic. They get, on a deeper and more instinctive level, what matters. And when it comes to God, I think they are intrinsically more open to Him, nearer to His presence just by nature of their innocence and capacity for wonder.
So the number one thing I need to be concerned about, as their mother, is facilitating that capacity for wonder and protecting their innocence.
My hope and prayer is that they grow up remembering this simple rhythm to our daily life, that we sat around the table (or in the car en route to school) and prayed that first decade together, with the expectation that we’d maybe? hopefully? finish it on our own, or perhaps in a few months when life calms down, pray the final decade together before bed, hemming in our day with the graces He longs to pour out through His mother’s Immaculate hands.
I hope they remember mommy being super weird about not playing (too much) Christmas music during Advent, but letting it rip the week of Christmas and turning on 2,000 twinkle lights and partying so hard that we actually need 12 full days to consume all the sugar and finish all the wine and recover.
I hope they feel the presence of God in their ordinary, extraordinary little lives, whatever He calls them to. And I pray that the language they learn to use to identify that call is spoken here first, and please God, may they one day be fluent.
My particular favorite of their authors is Maite Roche, whose illustrations are breathtaking. Ignatius was kind enough to send along 2 of their newest titles which, subsequently, Luke is getting them for Christmas. (And basically nothing else, because he’ll never know, muahaha.)