Lord,give me strength.
Thishas been my mantra of late, every morning when I start to hear the first whinesand cries from my 17-month-old around 5:20 a.m.
Lord,give me strength.
Myswollen body aches, my hips annoyed at the extra strain of a pregnant-againbelly. Slowly, I find a way to roll over and push out of bed to start the day.
Lord,give me strength.
Itsthe prayer I recite at 2 a.m. when my teething toddler cant sleep and needs tosnuggle on my shoulder. Not Daddys just mine.
Ialways said I admired the strength of mothers before I was blessed with myfirstborn. I knew that motherhood was going to be hard work, that it must takea special kind of energy to run around after little humans and also manage tosomehow take care of yourself.
Andthen after the rugrats become self-sufficient, to be able to have thestability to stand by and let them grow into themselves and one day becomeadults.
The Book of Proverbs says, She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come (31:25).
Ihave been blessed to witness to this type of resilience in my own mother. WhileI dont remember much about those early years of chasing my siblings and mearound, I do know what a heart swollen with pride looks like as a mom watchesher child accept a diploma, walk down the aisle or hold her firstborn.
Mymother boxes of tissues in hand once drove overnight from Chicago to NewYork so she wouldnt miss either graduation of me or my brother who happened tobe receiving degrees the same weekend.
Toreference Proverbs above, its been six years, and while shes laughed aboutother memories, Im not sure shes at the laughing stage yet for the graduationdebacle.
Itwasnt until after Brendan was born that I came to fully recognize how muchthat motherly strength came from God. Perhaps its because as mothers we get toexperience a God-like love for our children. God loves us, each and every one,for who we are.
Heaccepts our faults, celebrates our successes and is there to meet us when wefail. I know that the same goes for me and my two children, and any otherchildren I may be blessed with. I will always love them unconditionally, as Godhas and always will love me.
Prayingfor strength each day may sound like a pathetic plea for help. But its where Ihave found my spiritual life to be most days.
Iadmit at times in the last year and a half Ive been so wrapped up in life inovernight nursing sessions, in endless laundry, meal planning, diaper bags that I have not turned to God for more than just to simply ask for a littleboost to help me survive the day.
Beforemotherhood, my prayer life certainly looked different. It was a bit moreoutwardly focused and more often went beyond myself and the care of my son. Nowthat I have a mobile child, I cant say Im always as focused during SundayMass as I used to, or should, be.
The Book of Deuteronomy says, Be on your guard and be very careful not to forget the things your own eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your heart as long as you live, but make them known to your children (4:9).
Despitethe struggles and times when I plead for strength, there are even more momentswhen I can smile and laugh in awe and wonder at the life God has created forme.
Inthe early weeks of motherhood, when Brendan slept almost all the time, dailyMass was a refuge. I could go and sit in the chapel with a small babe sleepingsoundly on my chest and pray. I could close my eyes, silently cry and marvel atthis little life God had blessed me with.
Thatmarveling continues, though usually there are fewer tears involved. Recently, Icame home late from work and heard a commotion in our basement. I wentdownstairs and found my husband lifting weights while my son danced along tothe workout music.
Itwas one of the most beautiful and happy moments of my marriage. I just sat andwatched for a few minutes as the two of them enjoyed their evening together inour warm and comfortable home.
This,by the way, is what I need all that strength for. So I can, as Deuteronomysays, teach my children about the wonders of Gods love. So I can teach them torelish even in the small moments of life and appreciate that they are all giftsfrom God.
Everytime we laugh together or go for a walk in the woods or find ourselves dancingin the basement, these are treasured memories and gifts. I just hope God keepsgranting me the strength to be able to enjoy them too.
Anna Jones, Catholic News Service. Jones is a freelance writer.
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