Tuesday, September 30, 2008
My Life in the Cry Room
The past few weeks have been rather overwhelming with the children. It is likely due to 1. the hurricane, 2. hubby's 8-day hunting trip, and 3. Steven Joseph's new mobility. The hurricane threw me off in many ways...messing up our schedule and camping trip, flooding our bedrooms, and just bringing that fear and loss-of-control that comes with a natural disaster. We had a nice visit with friends in Austin during Steven's hunting trip, finding parks and stores and just getting away from the stress of home life. It was wonderful spending time with Roxy and Veronica and really helped me to get into a routine and work on both discipline and cleanliness since the two of them are so on-top of those things. But of course it was overwhelming being in a different city taking care of three young children without my husband. And then there's the new crawler! I have to keep track of Steven Joseph every second since we have no baby gates or cabinet locks and he screams if put in a pack-and-play or exersaucer. He puts everything in his mouth and is just the typical 9 month-old right now! It's exhausting.
Last week while in Austin, I took all three children to an evening daily mass at St. William's Church in Round Rock. We lasted all of about 2 minutes in the quiet church sanctuary before Stevie started making loud noises, necessitating a move to the cry room. I sat in the cry room with the baby crawling all around and the girls making up songs and prayers while holding the missalettes. Ellie refused to move from the ledge below the cry room glass in front of us, speaking loudly..."And on the third day, Jesus died! Let us pray for him!" I was too tired to discipline them or ask them to be still, so I just took it all in.
I was thinking about how this life with small children makes me feel like I'm living in a cry room! I'm looking through the glass and trying to see what's taking place around me, but I'm constantly distracted by the kids. It was ironic that in the cry room last week, I could hear everything during the mass through the sound system, except for the Eucharistic Prayers, the most important part! Many times I feel like I'm missing out on the "most important part", namely quiet time with my Lord and Savior. My spiritual guide reminded me yesterday that a simple morning offering prayer and listening to his simple word back is enough. Just spending a few moments meditating on the images of Jesus and Mary in my home...it's enough.
But many times I feel that those quick moments of prayer are not enough. I have children to form, ministries to discern, friendships and relationships that need work and prayer to help me grow. I have bills to pay, meals to make, and clothes to fold, and I feel the need to be closer to Him than the cry room.
So today I got a little more, felt like I stepped out of my cry room for a few minutes. This morning we had a Morning of Reflection for my lay movement. Just to get there is a big ordeal...feeding the baby, dressing everyone, dropping the girls at my parents' house, and having my poor screaming baby in the car for almost an hour before we finally arrived at the center. We meditated on the Beatitudes, particularly being "poor in spirit". My spirit feels truly weak right now, so I guess I'm on the right track!
I didn't hear much of Father's talk since I was in the hallway with the baby, but the one thing I do remember was him talking about how on the "Mount" you could stand at the top of the hill and speaking in a regular voice would echo down the hillside into the valley so all could hear. After another talk about poverty of spirit recounting a lady's granddaughter's stillbirth and her own cancer scare, we reflected on some questions relating to the talks.
One of them asked, "As I put myself at the Sermon on the Mount, what are my thoughts, my feelings? Where do I imagine myself to be sitting that day? Do I feel a need to sit close to Jesus or at a distance? Why did I pick that spot?"
I initially thought about how I would love to be close to Jesus, listening intently on his words and watching him closely. But then I remembered my state in life...I would likely be way at the back of the crowds watching little girls dance around in the fields and a baby crawling away from me! "Why did I pick that spot?" My initial thought...I didn't pick it! I'm confined to my "cry room" with these children and can't get close to my Lord!
But then I remembered...I did pick it. I reflected on that building where we were this morning. We were sitting in the classroom where I taught first grade during my first year of marriage. Now it's transformed into a chapel where Mass was celebrated! I thought about how this life is my dream. This was what I pondered that year of teaching, before children arrived. This was where I spent those first days of joy at knowing a new baby was growing inside me. This was where I shared with those sweet first graders about my new blessing and received many sweet notes from them about what a great mother I would be. This was where I admired those amazing Catholic families who sacrificed so much for their children to attend that school. And this was where my own vocation to Regnum Christi was born through their example and my interaction with other lay members and priests in the early days of that school. And now this room was filled with older ladies and spiritual guides who have been vital in encouraging me on my journey of motherhood.
So I realized how important it is for me to embrace my cry room! I must take joy in the simple actions of my children and in showing them Christ through the window, that they might step out of the cry room and find Him. In fact, my girls did go out into the sanctuary by themselves last week to witness the Eucharist while I stayed in with the baby. I need to take to heart the words that so many older mothers say to me "enjoy this time; it will be gone too fast." One mother told me of her sadness at her youngest going to kindergarten this year. Another said that someone once told her, "Now they tug at your shoestrings, but later it will be your heartstrings." And I know this woman's children have many challenges and she always talks about how she wishes she could go back in time.
This is my moment. This is my opportunity to seize these little souls for Christ. I mustn't go around complaining about being stuck in the cry room, but I should take joy in knowing that it's exactly where I'm called to be. And Christ is there with me even if I can't feel him or hear him or touch him. He is in my children. And that's enough.