But it can be easy for me to feel like they are in control rather than me. After all, if someone needs help on the potty or Elizabeth is rapidly approaching a toy that is not suitable for her age or the laundry needs to be rotated or the phone rings, the doorbell rings or Elizabeth spits up or Felicity spills her drink, a million little things can demand my attention immediately or threaten consequences. I spend much of my day being at the beck and call of three small children and it is too easy for chaos to ensue or me to fail to be the best mother/wife I can be. That is why my goal this year is to make respectable strides toward becoming the wife and mother I should and want to be. Before I can do that though, I needed to have a clean and organized home in which to work and improve and build. When I got back from our trip, I made a point of scheduling time to clean everything and get my home in order. After Felicity's birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and our vacation, our home needed a little organizing and cleaning, with which I can happily say I am pretty much done. But, alas, having the home in order is only a tool for running my home rather than my home running me.
So, my task this week will be beginning to take control of my home. This is not the easiest thing for me. Controlling one's home though is a delicate balance. We are not dictators nor tyrants and our children are not servants or pets. As Mary is the Queen of the Universal Church, so am I called to be the queen of my domestic church. But how many of us have been trained to be queens, to rule wisely for all and to be a model of how to behave? So, for my "handbook," I turned to Proverbs 31 and the amazing description therein of the perfect wife, mother, homemaker. Now, I don't even know what flax is no less how to use it to make cloth. So I made a more practical guide of 15 items for myself based on the text.
1. Help your husband. (You are after all called to be his helpmate.)
2. Apply yourself at skills involving sewing and needles, such as quilting, knitting, embroidering, crocheting, tatting, darning and sewing clothes.
3. Master cooking, especially in providing nutritional food for your family and do so using your family's resources wisely.
4. Use the family funds wisely.
5. Strive to be healthy and strong physically, spiritually and mentally.
6. Work hard and be productive.
7. Be resourceful.
8. Guard the family's health and needs.
9. If possible, find a way to increase the family income or reduce the family's expenses.
10. Be calm, dignified and joyful.
11. Be wise and gentle.
12. Teach and discipline children well.
13. Take care concerning your own health and appearance.
14. Be humble and not manipulative.
15. Strive for holiness and aid and direct the family in and toward holiness.
Easy peasy right? Should only take me a couple of lifetimes to master all that. Fortunately though, I don't have to do it alone. I have a massive support system in my husband, my children, my parents, my Church, the Saints and God IF I listen, ask for help, pray and am open to receiving help. Of course, those are important "if"s. With three small children, prayer and being open to grace can be the hardest part of these. I used to love saying the Divine Office every morning and I especially miss Mass every morning. I manage to say the DO some mornings but not consistently and those days when James couldn't come with us to daily Mass, juggling little ones by myself at Mass was enough of a challenge that I stopped going. So it struck me when I read something on Melanie's blog. Melanie quoted Katherine and I am quoting her here:
My spiritual father often reminds me that mothers must learn to be creative in prayer. It's a matter of taking utter chaos and, by God's grace, using it to affect the ordering one's heart. This is the creativity of motherhood. Nursing a sick child in the middle of the night becomes an opportunity to keep vigil. The repeated interruption of a meal in order to serve a hungry child becomes an opportunity to fast. An overflowing basket of laundry becomes a reminder to pray for each member of the family as each piece of clothing is folded and put away. Little ways to capture grace in the smallest of moments.
I spent the first decade of motherhood waiting for a moment of quiet. As soon as the children are older, I can pray. As soon as the house is clean and organized, I can be at peace. As soon as we get through this trying time, then I can be the kind of wife and mother that I truly want to be.
Always missing the opportunity to engage the present moment and instead, living for an imaginary one.
The older I get, the more the present moment becomes a treasure hunt. Where is it? Where is the grace of this moment? God is here. Where is He in this moment? While I used to hunt for quiet, I now spend my time as a mother learning to listen amid the noise and have made it a practice to creatively search for any opportunity to catch a brief spiritual word of encouragement.
It's amazing how much better you can hear the quiet of God's voice when the noise of one's complaining ceases.
I too have been waiting and searching for those imaginary quiet moments but I'd like it to be time for the waiting and searching to end and the present to become that rich treasure trove of graces. So, part of my goal in becoming the queen of my home and the wife and mother I should be will be striving to practice that creative motherhood in order to grow in virtue, particularly in patience, diligence, humility, and temperance.
I will still strive to say my Divine Office every day and, this year, I am going to do my best to get to Mass every Friday as a family and every first Saturday, even if only by myself. Last year I had made a New Years' resolution to go to Confession once a month. I succeeded until Elizabeth was born. This year I thought, along similar lines, I would try to go to Confession on the first Saturday of each month, thus going monthly (beginning in February), and practicing the First Saturday Devotion requested by the Blessed Mother to the children of Fatima.
I would also eventually like to add a daily Rosary, Chaplet of the Divine Mercy, and recitation of the Angelus, but I need to get some other things in order first.