My family is my beloved, precious jewel – vibrant, talented, spiritual, dynamic, artistic, and for the most part, none of them have a single negative intention toward me, their dear mother. They are each and all a match-made-in-heaven for me, each in their unique way. It’s just that they are also relentless. There is the one who wakes up talking, dancing and singing and goes to sleep doing the same. The one I can’t keep track of. The one who wants to suckle day and night. The one who adores me with constant, lock-step devotion. The one who is always hungry, craving something unique and specific in the culinary and counseling department alike. They range from twenty years old to eight months old. They are wearing me out.
Most of my close friends would classify me as an extrovert, but nothing has shown me more than quarantine that I am a clearly a craven introvert at times. I have a human need for non-talky, serene space. This became apparent to me in this exchange with my husband;
Husband: Are you going to bed already? It’s Friday night?
Me: Um . . . I am going to our room.
Husband: Where the baby is sleeping? In the dark?
Me: I just have no words. No big answers. No thoughts left. And I have no idea what day it is. I will lose it if anyone needs me right now!
At the outset of quarantine, the opportunity for growth presented itself like a prescribed, global fast suited for my family, sure to bring incredible growth. You know the idea – defining times that draw us into living out the best version of ourselves. I was psyched for the marathon that lay ahead! I envisioned spiritual depth, art projects, culinary (healthy) projects, extensive workouts, academic pursuits, and renewed appreciation for each soul hand-picked to be a part of my domestic church.
But for days now, I have been struggling in my relationships – struggling to engage and not just tolerate. Particularly with my family (who else could I mean since we are in quarantine!). As a result of QFS (Quarantine Fatigue Syndrome), my responses have been less than gregarious and less than model. I have come in inner touch with my worst self.
When a child simply needs eye contact and a few minutes of my undivided attention, I sigh with irritation. I have become the one impatient in family prayer time. When a young child clearly wants a minute of my loving awareness, I rush past the moment. I say, I don’t have time to read (yet) another story (where am I rushing off to again?). I avoid the not-so-subtle gaze of a teen looking for engagement. These close quarters of quarantine have me impatient, irritated, and desperately digging for the requirements needed for the relationships I hold dear.
Dear mothers, I wonder if you are challenged in your relationships? People are challenging, other people. Do you catch your heart and your responses not matching up to the gentle kindness you envision exuding? Do you catch yourself daydreaming of a cloister? Is your patience extinguished at the sound of bickering siblings? Is your energy zapped by needs and requests? Maybe it is a specific member – a teen, a baby, a child, a spouse?
In the next two weeks, I am going to share a series of practical steps about how I am persevering in applying my will. If you are like me, you desire to get your beloved relationships back on track (or keep them there) and see God move through you.
We are modern Catholic mothers, yet isolated in quarantine with so many of our community support systems closed. We are human, and this deprivation of sorts can press. If you’re feeling depleted, impatient, or discouraged you are not the only one.
Motherhood is a self-emptying call, but emptiness is not our end-game. Our call is Mighty and our mission is to thrive in Christ who bestowed us lovingly with this very call. We are called to pray and work (Ora et labora), and I absolutely believe that inaction in our relationships can cause us to get derailed. With focused prayer, hard work, and careful attention, the Holy Spirit can meet us where we are and transform our relationships.
I look forward to us all greeting one another in person, post-quarantine – with smiling ease, sharing about how we have new-found relational skills, and heart-change in our domestic churches, because Catholic motherhood is the life – the sacred way to transformation and holiness.