I am finally getting to the point where I am giving myself permission to do what works for my family right now. No comparing, no guilt trips, no envy, no “if only” or “we should be by now.” Or if those temptations and emotions do come to mind (Who am I kidding? They always come to mind), I am learning how to take them captive.
|Our neighbors gave us their old play house!|
I’m learning to be OK with what works for my family right now. I’m talking about the routines, activities and choices that characterize the way we pray, eat, go to mass, play, dress, spend, work, read, and learn.
I have really had to take a look at the season of life I am in, the ages and temperaments of my children, the ups and downs of my marriage, and even my own temperament and that of my husband. What is more easy or even natural for another family may be stressful and difficult for us at this time.
A really good example of what works for us right now has to do with Sunday mass. We believe in taking our children into mass with us. They are welcome there–Jesus wants them there!–and we love that our parish is very family-friendly. But mass with our three children right now is a dreaded wrestling match every Sunday. I’ve read every blog post, book and article that you have read on the subject, and I’ve tried creativity, bribery, sweetness, preparation, threats and stern discipline. But little ones will be little ones.
I know that God honors our efforts to bring our children to Him in mass. I know He wants them there. But given the ages of our kids, our somewhat challenging season of life right now, and even Michael and I’s personalities, we realize that something needed to give for a little while. Michael or I being with a baby in the back of church doesn’t bother me…it’s when the older kids are a handful as well that get really tough! Since our vocation is about our marriage–not just our children–we decided to make a small change that would help nurture our marriage so that we could be better for our children.
So, a few months ago we started putting the kids in the nursery for one mass per month, sometimes more. We call it our ‘date mass.’ It does help that our parish has a great nursery with a good Sunday school program for the older two children. We still fight the good fight on those Sundays that we take the children to mass with us, but we definitely work from a better place on those days now! 🙂
Using the nursery option at our parish once or twice a month is something that is working well for us right now. I know several great families who have taken turns with their spouses going to mass for a little while when circumstances have warranted it. There will come a time, sooner than we think, that Michael and I will be able to take all of our children to mass, and we can expect at least the older ones to behave semi-reliably. Two months or even two years can change a lot of things.
So, if you need it, I give you permission to let something give–or to be OK with where you are right now. I think that must be part of living out the virtue of hope. We hope by keeping our eyes fixed on God to work in our souls and in our families for His glory and for our good.