For the last week or so my husband has been continually asking me what I'm doing for Lent. I'd change the subject or tell him I was still thinking about it. Truthfully, I was still in fact thinking about it. I couldn't figure out why it was so hard for me to come up with my "lent plan". Why was it so difficult for me to choose something to give up?
Then it hit me.
Thinking of my lenten sacrifices was difficult because motherhood is difficult. I realized that I constantly feel like I'm walking in the desert alongside Jesus. Motherhood is sacrificial in it's nature. Motherhood drains you to the core. You are constantly giving of yourself until it seems that there is nothing left to give. It is a struggle to stay connected to your spiritual life. I fight tooth and nail (or teething and sharp fingernails in this case) to just get in the daily Mass readings everyday. The rosary is absolute chaos because I'm interrupted at least 20 bazillion times trying to keep the boys from fighting or drawing on the walls (they must have a secret stash of crayons that I have yet to find). And don't even get me started when we go to church on Sundays. I know I am there physically at Mass but mentally I am miles away. I feel so disconnected and out of place. All I can think about is how the kids are behaving or how angry I am at the people who give us dirty looks. Before I know it, we are singing the closing song. I can't remember the readings or the homily. Walking (or running, depends on who I'm chasing) out of church I feel so spiritually dry and out of touch. What once was a time for me to recharge and surrender is now a time of exhaustion and anxiety.
So I sat down to try and figure out what to give up. My coffee is always cold when I finally sit/stand to drink it. We listen to the kids music in the car. I change dirty diapers. I wipe up noses. I always seem to find myself fasting without even knowing it. I've given up so much to be a mother. I've pushed so much aside and I'm even finding that I need to put MORE aside.
It feels like Lent everyday.
There was a decision I needed to make. I could begrudgingly go through lent with a "woe is me" attitude and tell myself that I already do enough. I could go through the motions and then smile and celebrate when it's all over and we celebrate our risen Lord. Or...I could choose a different path. This journey through motherhood is no doubt difficult and somedays I feel that I'm just not cut out for it. But when all is said and done, when Peter snuggles up to me or James rests his head on my shoulder and when Aria smiles at me, I KNOW that all the sacrifice is worth it. With two toddlers and a little baby, they can't fully understand what I do for them. The same is with God and His people. We will never fully understand all that he has done for us. However, I think that motherhood has brought me just a tiny bit closer to that mystery
This Lent I've decided that I definitely can sacrifice more. I can take my motherhood and use it to make this the best Lent yet. Starting with a morning offering, I will give over my entire day to God. All the diapers, nose wipes, and juice clean-ups. All of it. This Lent, I will praise the Lord through my motherhood. I have daily devotions (Blessed is She) and extra little things (no chocolate and making the bed) to do as well. But really? I'm giving God my everything. Will my Lent suddenly be this amazing spiritual experience? Maybe. Will my everyday tasks become some life-altering experience? I doubt it. Will I suddenly feel full and no longer empty? Probably sometimes. Will I suddenly feel recharged and ready to keep going? Hopefully. All I know is that when I'm losing my patience and I want to just cry, I'll be able to remember that everything I'm doing, I'm doing for Him.
God doesn't need perfectly said rosaries or total quiet at Mass. He just wants me. He wants my intentional living and purposeful mothering. No going through the motions. Thankfully God has given me a great opportunity to kickstart this Lent. Today we won't be able to attend Ash Wednesday because all three kids are sick. So I'll stay at home, wipe noses, take temperatures and give medicine. And though the day is already filled with toddler tears and newborn screams, I'm offering it up. Offering up my motherhood. This amazing gift of motherhood.