Tuesday night, I was blessed to listen to most of a presentation given by Maria Rioux as part of Homeschool Connections' REFRESH Midwinter Virtual Conference. If you don't know about this, do click on over. These webinars are completely FREE!, and while you sit and view the live presentation, you can snuggle little ones and participate in live chats, too! This is the third year Walter and Maureen have organized these sessions to help Catholic homeschoolers through February, aka burnout month. You can even watch most of the previous year's webinars anytime for free!
Honestly, I took a whole page of notes on what Maria shared in less than an hour. Her topic was Ora et Labora: Loving Service as Prayer, and she had so many good thoughts and quotes. The one that has been stuck in my mind, however, is truly meaningful and quite simple. I won't try to quote her exactly, but she said something like...
Go easy on yourself. Yes, you need prayer time, but sometimes we put too much focus on having alone time for silent meditation when we have small children. There have been seasons in my motherhood where I couldn't even use the bathroom alone, much less get alone time for prayer.
Thank you, Maria, for giving me permission to let go of that expectation, for now. As 2014 began, and I tried to decide what resolutions to attempt, I kept reading about mothers, some with small children, who shared their habit of waking early before their children in order to pray and blog. It sounds glorious to me, as much as I hate mornings. The thing I want the most this year is more time to pray and write.
Having learned as a law school widow (a post for another time) that key to my happiness is realistic expectations, however, I went on Facebook and asked my actual friends, people whom I have seen face to face and hugged delightedly, if anyone who still gets up to nurse a baby at night is getting up early in the morning to be alone in prayer. Overwhelmingly, the answer was no. At least half a dozen friends told me they are waking up with their children in the 6-8AM range.
Phew! I'm not alone! Yes, getting up before the children can be a delightful gift to a weary mother whose soul needs fed, but getting up before the children also means, sometimes, waking the baby who is on top of you. It can be absolutely draining to a weary mother whose body simply needs more sleep. That was me in January. It's a slightly different story in February, as our gradual night weaning is going fairly well, and I'm getting better rest.
So, when I heard Maria share her thoughts about realistic prayer time for mothers, I was reminded that in this season of young children, I am called by God to take the moments I have been given and offer them to Him, as humble as they might be. If I have a few minutes of waiting for the pasta pot to boil at lunch, I can pray. When I am driving in the car, and the children are interested in their books for a bit, I can pray. If I do awake in the morning early and the baby is asleep on me, I can offer a few words of prayer before drowsily falling back to sleep. It is not going to be perfect, sometimes it is not even going to be pretty, but every little bit is a taste of grace. And I can never get enough grace!
As an example, yesterday morning, I went straight from nursing to showering to cooking breakfast, but when we had eaten, I had a few minutes while the children were finishing their chores. I sat on the couch, grabbed a children's Bible, the three-year-old, and the baby and pulled up iBreviary on my iPhone. Each line of the Psalms was punctuated by questions about the Bible stories and a wiggly nursling, but it was beautiful and necessary to this weary mama.
What time do you wake up? What are your morning prayer habits?