I am 5 weeks postpartum. I can't fast since I am exclusively breastfeeding Brigid. So I knew that was out. But I was at a bit of a loss as to what to do for Lent.
In her Quick Takes, Jen asked her husband what he was going to give up for Lent. "He looked up from cleaning vomit out of the carpet from one of the latest stomach-flu-related incidents, stared into the distance, and said, 'There’s nothing left to give up. My life is Lent.'" That is kindof how I feel. It isn't that my life is bad at all, but, as we push ahead with school and adjust to life with 5 children 7 years old and younger including a newborn, each and every day is very busy. Very little of any day is about me. I spend almost all day, every day, taking care of others.
Now, I'm no saint; far from it. Anyone with young children knows that they don't give you much of a choice. Either you get the child a snack or the whining, crying and hysterics become intolerable. They are born with persistence. But Lent is about self-denial directed towards growing closer to God. Children, especially young children, instruct their parents in self-denial in spades. But that doesn't mean that all self-denial is automatically directed towards growing closer to God, and that includes mine. It is easy to be irritated when being interrupted, etc.. So, on the one hand, my poor sinful soul still needed to do something for Lent but, on the other hand, I couldn't think of a whole lot I could give up or that I should give up without breaking me. Most days are good, but some days I can feel stretched particularly thin, and I don't want to try to give up something that will "send me over the edge" and make me a worse mom, like giving up caffeine and then having a bad, long night nursing a newborn.
Now, one of my New Baby Resolutions was reading anyway, so it certainly makes sense to take up some Lenten reading and I have a book on the life of Christ I've been wanting to read anyway, so I got out my copy of Dr. Franz Willam's The Life of Jesus Christ.
Melanie over at The Wine Dark Sea had the great idea that, while I might need to keep caffeinated beverages, I don't need to keep anything I'd add to them, like the sugar or milk I might put in my tea. So, while I can't fast or give up caffeine, I can do this little thing for Christ and my own sanctification without crushing even a bad day. It is a very small thing to be sure, but it is something I can do and it is just these kinds of small things I've been looking for and trying to add.
I guess you could say I'm expecting our Lent to be fruitful but, to the extent it is intense or rigorous, to be so simply by the season of life we are in at the moment rather than by much I would add to it.
And, although I was not about to venture to Mass today with all five kids by myself, I think it is so cool that Cecilia really wants to go to Mass to receive ashes. My dad is going to take her later this evening, but she (and James at work) will have to represent our family this year with ashes. I just can't hold a 5 week newborn and a squirming 22 month old at the same time. (I've tried - it either ends quickly or not well at all.)
I hope everyone has a blessed beginning to Lent!