Kids are in bed, the house is quiet, and I walk down the stairs anticipating the sweet peace of just sitting on the couch. No fights to referee, no James climbing on a chair trying to kill himself, no older kids to roll their eyes at me and give me attitude.
Then I walk into the kitchen.
Cabinet doors open, cups and bowls not in the dishwasher, table not wiped off, and a crunch with each step from all the cereal on the ground. I survey the mess and weigh it against my energy level. The task feels insurmountable. Wasn’t this room just clean after dinner? Why do I even allow them to eat a little something before bed? Tate and I muster all remaining strength, load the dishwasher and close the cabinets. The floor and the rest of the mess will have to wait until morning.
It is amazing what a good night sleep can do! When I wake in the morning and come downstairs I set to work, finishing what I started the night before. The task doesn’t seem nearly so large, and before I know it I am finished. At least until the next meal.
As we begin our preparations for school, I find myself feeling like I am looking at that kitchen at the end of the night. Getting everyone’s books in order, organizing schedules, making sure we have all our supplies, and the list goes on. On top of this, sports are back in full swing. There are now practice schedules to be kept straight and driving children here, there and everywhere. Where did my July go?
In the end, I can’t do it by myself. I must admit to myself that I need help. I must go to Christ and ask for His grace if I have any chance of fulfilling my tasks not only well but with charity. If I can remember IMMEDIATELY in my struggle, that I need to turn to Him, it is like that good night’s rest that leaves me refreshed and changes my perspective on the task before me. Suddenly, I find myself setting to work, one task at a time, and before I know it I am done. If I don’t turn to Him, I can only scrape the surface and so much is left undone.
This cycle continues throughout my life. That is one of the reasons I have so much religious art in my home. Each time I see with my eyes our Lord or our Blessed Mother, I am reminded where my strength and treasure lies. As I recall often, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil 4:13
People ask me all the time how I do it. How do I manage with nine children? The answer is not how do I do it, but how God works through me. I begin each day in prayer and receiving Christ in the Eucharist. As often as I still fall and struggle with impatience, I cannot imagine where I would be without food from heaven that nourishes my soul and gives me strength.
My good days are those where I continually turn to God, where I am constantly speaking to Him in short prayers asking for His grace. My bad days, without fail, are those where I forget to go to Him. When I speak in my times of trial, without first saying a quick, “Jesus, Mary and Joseph,” I am bound to regret what I say. When I refuse to respond with humility to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, I hurt those around me by not being the wife and mother God is calling me to be.
St. Paul compares our faith journey to a race. In our Second Reading from Hebrews this weekend we read, “Let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus.”
The only way to persevere is with the help of God. By shedding the baggage of sin our journey becomes lighter and easier. What sins am I holding on to that are weighing me down?
As I prepare to begin a new school year, I pray that I remember to immediately turn to God in my daily trials and tribulations. If I can do that, it is certain to be a good year. If not, God help us!!
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, pray for me and remind me that I cannot do it on my own, but only by the grace of God. Refresh my spirit and give me the strength to complete all my duties as wife and mother with love and gratitude in my heart. JMJ