I remember how it was my first year out of college; I had just gotten married and had my first child before that first year was up. I was thrilled to read whatever I wanted to read and claimed pregnant brain whenever my husband tried to bring me into an intellectual discussion. I confess that I was jealous for about two days when he went back to school for graduate work in the fall and I was at home with morning sickness. After G. was born and the realities of parenting hit me, I really started to miss my old intellectual life of graduate school, studying in the library, going out after dinner, etc. While I was a pregnant, we continued to go to daily Mass, go to Eucharistic Adoration, frequent confession, and had a full prayer life; similar to college. When I was stuck at home without a car and a newborn on my lap, none of this seemed possible. But, as my loving husband always does, he pointed out to me the ways I was unhappy and the ways I could become better, and I realized I needed to make a change.
I decided to sacrifice ten minutes of nap time for doing whatever I did during nap time for prayer time. I discovered that God can hear me even if I don’t go to Adoration in His Real Presence. Because, get this, while the Eucharist is amazing, wonderful, and so necessary for the Sacramental life, we still have Jesus in our hearts where ever we go. And He is in our children, and our husbands. He is also everywhere, and God holds us in existence moment to moment, constantly sustaining us. During my prayer time I read Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis De Sales. It is such a practical prayer book, divided into short but pungent sections that teach you how to pray always and takes into account every state in life. While I do not follow the advice to wake up and pray for an hour before the household is awake, I have taken up many of the smaller less time consuming ways to pray and be mindful of God throughout my day. Now I no longer use nap time, but just after the kids bedtime, and get this, my husband and I take this time together. Also we try to have one of us go to Adoration every week, so that we each get to go every other week. When you spend the whole day with little kids, the solace of Eucharistic Adoration is pretty amazing.
Another thing I resumed after my first child was several months old, was to make daily Mass a priority. My first reason was that she was up before 8 am everyday, so why not go to Mass? When my second was born and I was not physically capable of going daily, I remember how I felt the graces of all the Masses I had gone to before I have birth sustaining me day to day. And now thinking about it, my reason is not because the kids are up, but because it is God I encounter at Mass every morning (when I get myself up to go) and it is totally worth it to wake up 45 minutes before my kids so that I can take them to Mass most days to experience Christ’s sacrifice extending throughout time and space to the very altar in our church.
The third thing I have been able to do even while having little kids is frequent Confession. St. Francis De Sales recommends weekly confession, and some weeks I wish I did. My husband and I aim for every two weeks; we make this work by going to different churches’ Saturday confession times that are different by 30 minutes. He goes to one church’s scheduled confession time, and when he gets home I have just enough time to get to the other one early. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is by far the best way to learn where you can be better in day to day life, and where you fail to be the best wife, mom, friend, daughter, sister, etc. you can be. This Sacrament is such a gift! In this Sacrament, we can know our failings, be forgiven for them (wiped clean!), and then be given the grace to become holier! What more can a woman want?
The point of this essay is to show how stay at home mothers do not have to give up ate daily Sacramental life of the Church; they just have to discover how to fit it into the new life that is quite different from the liberal arts educational experience.
Next week: Part Two The Intellectual Life