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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.”

Wednesday: Succeed anyway. 

It is not uncommon for parents to face a sleepless night (or five). There are instances in our daily family life that could easily set us up for not performing at our best. St. Teresa encourages us to ​succeed​ despite mood, circumstances or other people.

Act it out: After a particularly long week, avoid hitting the snooze button and get up early on Saturday. Go for a walk or do some spiritual reading.

Thursday: Be honest and frank anyway.

Honesty and frankness can be a surefire way to promote strength, resilience and growth in a family, especially when raising kids. Familial structure and discipline are seemingly going out of style. Yet structure, discipline and boundaries shape our kids into respectful, loving, focused humans.

Act it out: When your child does something deserving of correction, find a quiet place, sit down with them and explain why the act was wrong and what could be done better next time. Then, remind them of your love.

Friday: Build anyway.

The scariest aspect of having and raising a family, for me, is the very real element of unpredictability. As young parents just starting out with toddlers and babies, we don’t have a window into what our future will look like. In fact, it’s a common reason why some choose not to have kids at all — the potential pain and suffering the world could bring to a child. It’s true, we never know what future days hold. But we are living as the truest form of ourselves when we are lovingly and joyfully carrying out our vocation. So, we build our families anyway.

Act it out: Call on St. Teresa to intercede for you. Pray to St. Joseph and the Blessed Mother for help raising your family in the image the Holy Family.

Saturday: Be happy anyway.

It’s not unusual for families to face lofty challenges. Things like illness, debt and discord among extended family can take their toll on happiness. But it’s when we fall on tough times that we ought to remember our true source of happiness. Smiling in the face of overwhelming adversity is when real Christian joy is born.

Act it out: Spread happiness by helping a family in need. Send a GrubHub gift card, offer to watch the kids, or ask your kids to suggest other ways your family can be a blessing.

Sunday: Do good anyway and give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

It’s on Sunday when we give our best to Jesus through adoration at Mass and to our family through a well-prepared Sunday dinner. We’re called to drown out the hustle of the week and make a distinct effort to focus on God and family. It doesn’t matter what has developed over the last six days; we take the day for the enrichment of our family and to glorify Christ.

Act it out: Plan a family outing. Get the kids involved by asking them for ideas. Reserve the day for your spouse and children with Christ at the center of all you do.