We’re sitting there, both of us with wiggly babies under warm blankets nursing the night away and I begin to realize I’m no longer the young mom. Really, this is not the first time I’ve had this graceful insight. This is not the first time I’ve realized time marches on. It happens here and there and each time I pause and thank God for His amazing grace to have brought me to this place. This place where I am older and hopefully a little bit wiser–to myself mind you, not others. I praise God that He sees fit to ask me to share Him and His divine plan for marriage and motherhood, for friendship, and quiet rest with Him.
I’m totally ok with this new lot in life opening up to me. I’m forty-one nursing my seventh baby and my friend, she’s in her 20′s nursing her second. And as we talk, laugh and share baby stories, I feel God the Father water the seedlings of these verses He has planted in my heart;
Likewise, tell the older women to be reverent in behavior, not to be slanderers or slaves to drink; they are to teach what is good,
so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,
to be self-controlled, chaste, good managers of the household, kind, being submissive to their husbands, so that the word of God may not be discredited.
†Titus 2:3-5 Revised Standard Version
In the same way, teach the older women to lead a holy life. They must not tell lies about others. They must not let wine control them. Instead, they must teach what is good.
Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children.
The younger women must control themselves. They must be pure. They must take good care of their homes. They must be kind. They must follow the lead of their husbands. Then no one will be able to speak evil things against God’s word.
†Titus 2:3-5 New International Readers Version
I don’t have to be old and gray, or a grandma to live the Titus life; there will always be someone younger than me to encourage and instruct. And in turn, thanks be to God, there will always be someone older than me to encourage and instruct me.
Here are 4 things I have learned–am still learning–as time marches on and I go through my daily life, loving my husband and children, caring for my home and living the life God has blessed me with.
Shouldn’t every list about anything begin with “Pray”–Yes, I think so too. Pray and then pray some more and then pray differently but always pray. Pray with your husband and children before bed, pray with your sleep deprived head on your pillow one long restless night, pray when the baby gets you up in the middles of the night, pray when the baby let’s you sleep, pray when the toddler wants cereal and milk at the crack of dawn and when the teen wants it at the stroke of midnight. Pray when your husband is so stressed with the world he barely notices you and pray when he can’t keep his hands off you. Pray when your friends hurt your feelings and pray when you hurt theirs. Pray when you feel all alone and pray when you wish you were. Pray on your knees, in the shower, on your face, in the car, getting dressed, cleaning a mess, making dinner, sitting down, lying down, standing up, up all night, when it’s loud and when it’s too quiet and you’re not sure where the toddler is.
The only way, my sisters, to make it through each and every day, is with prayer. Some days that prayer may seem long, dry and formal and others–sweet, short and to the point. Maybe now would be a good time to quickly define prayer just in case you don’t think you can or have the time to. St Teresa of Avila said, “For prayer is nothing else than being on terms of friendship with God.” That leaves a lot of room for interpretation ladies. Some days I may have time for a long conversation with my girlfriend. And other times, a quick “Hi” is all that’s needed. Same with God.
Do not bog yourself down in what your prayer should be or could be. Pray and let it be what it is.
2. Set Your Own Beat
I cannot make it to daily mass like an older woman at my church. I cannot make it to daily mass like a younger woman at my church. I cannot…I cannot and I cannot…There are many things it seems like I cannot do right now in this stage of my life. So not only do I not do them, I don’t even try right now. Trying and failing to do something I just cannot do, is self defeating. I go to bed feeling lousy and usually so do my children. So I focus on what I can do and do it well–or at least sort of good.
I cannot make it to daily mass, but I can pray family rosary at night with my husband and children. I cannot drag my children to art classes, but I can discuss beautiful art with them at “Family School” everyday at the table and attempt to draw with them once a week.
I’m not silly or hyper but I can smile at them when they walk into a room. I’m not chic or trendy but I can look nice for them during the day.
Discouragement is straight from hell my sisters. And if the enemy can lead me down that path, guess who follows or who I drag along—yep, my kids. Keep yourself from discouragement at all costs. If you get off Facebook feeling fat or frumpy–delete your account. If you shut off the television feeling discontent with your track house, builder grade cabinets and cheap carpet–do not watch television. If you leave the soccer field feeling like a bad momma because you don’t wear a blinged out “Soccer Mom” tee shirt, sit somewhere else. The point here ladies, do not compare yourself to others. You are you–work on being the best you you can be, not the second best someone else.
3. Read Things that Encourage You
If you are not taking in good words, I can assure you, you are not producing good words. The first place to start reading–The Bible. Read one Psalm a day or read one chapter of Proverbs a day. The Word of God is living and active–it will make you the same.
You know the saying, “There’s an app for that.” Well, “There’s a saint for that.” Read about the saints. Even if all you can manage each day is a brief biography, it will draw your heart and mind to people and ideas that are righteous and noble. It will show you people who were once great sinners but fell in love with and were redeemed by an even greater God. Did you know St Augustine once said, “Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet.” Doesn’t that give you hope? To know that an immoral man uttered those words and then by God’s glorious grace went on to become a great saint gives me tremendous hope!
Encourage yourself because the world will try its hardest to discourage you.
I mean it, literally rest. Take a nap, go to bed early, lay on a blanket, relax in a hammock, snuggle up to a sleeping baby, say “No” to Sunday activities, say “No” to Tuesday activities…say “No” to any activity for a season if that’s what you need. Burn out is real and really bad for you and those you love.
Eat off paper plates for a week, stay in your pajammies one day a week. When the toddler wakes you up early, make yourself a pallet on the living room floor to doze off and on while watching cartoons. Buy a roll of cookie dough instead of mixing it up homemade, a loaf of store bought bread instead of grinding and soaking and kneading and baking your own. This is not a forever, this is an “until.” Buy frozen pizza, a frozen dinner, shoot, buy a frozen margarita if you need it. Take some of the pressure off yourself and just rest. Rest and catch your breath and then tackle the world one homemade loaf of bread at a time.
*Vintage paper from Coffeeshop blog.