Recently, my family of five was in the car. I was attempting to get through three full sentences mid-conversation without interruption — a rare moment of husband and wife sitting side by side after a busy week. Then, from the backseat: “Mommy, do you have initials?”
I shook myself out of my own train of thought and calmly explained to my always curious 5-year-old girl that I do, in fact, have initials. My husband and I continued when, not a minute later, this time from my little boy: “Mommy, excuse me! Mommy, what’s her teacher’s doctor’s name?”
I set aside any desire for adult conversation and decided to soak in a moment of gratitude that I at least remembered to bring the batch of brownies for the dinner we were headed to.
Family life is almost always a challenge. I don’t say that to be negative but to acknowledge that the job of parenthood — our biggest responsibility, our highest calling — continually demands much from us. Responding with kindness, patience and service to countless interruptions, unlimited spills and endless sibling quarrels often doesn’t come naturally to us. We need to work unceasingly at building our own virtue.
St. Teresa of Calcutta became the inspiration for the tone I wanted to set in my family long before I had kids. And although it’s not easy to be like her, the poem “Anyway”— sometimes attributed to and often associated with her — serves as the perfect blueprint for those who are trying to raise Christ-centered families.
Monday: Forgive them anyway.
Mondays are often about do-overs, the reinstatement of routines and “the grind.” A fresh, often long, to-do list is made that requires patience and perseverance, especially for those moms who are working against the clock between school drop-off and pick-up. How often does the weight of our responsibilities determine the tone we use with our spouses? Our kids? It’s in these precise moments, however, when we must remember that despite our idiosyncrasies and shortcomings, we are the domestic church. And we are called to see our spouses and our kids as God sees them, through a loving, forgiving lens.
Act it out: Next time a family member grows short-fused, call upon St. Teresa to respond in love. Say a prayer, even one as simple as, “Help me to respond with charity. Jesus, be with me.”
Tuesday: Be kind anyway.
Errand Day? For many moms it involves packing up the cute, vivacious littles and piling them into the “fun” cart at the store. But when out shopping, opinions from others can frequently fly toward moms with a cart full of toddlers. There’s the classic, “My! You have your hands full!” Or the more cutting, “I always ask parents, was two not enough?” Though probably not meant to be offensive, the words as we hear them can fall heavy on us. But remember: We don’t know what someone else might be facing in their day. Responding in kindness is always the right answer.
Act it out: Next time someone comments on the size of your family, respond with a smile and say, “It’s a joy.”