Here's a question I ask, I get asked, or I come across online all the time.
What is the best advise for surviving homeschooling and other life adventures with babies and little ones and larger families? Or just surviving being a mom, no matter how many kids you have? Well, never leave them alone, for one thing. Not even for. five. minutes. seriously.
I do have the best advise though, I do have the answer! The definitive answer! And it doesn't involve a bunch of links to lists of how to keep your babies happy under the table while you homeschool, make dinner, clean the house, do the laundry, run a home-based business, and have neighbours over for tea. The answer came, as most things do for me, at Mass. Let me tell you the story :).
Going to Mass with little ones is always a challenge. Always. Because they like to be busy, which is just so normal. And its hard to be busy for an hour in a narrow, squishy pew. So its a given that either hubby or I are at the back to let Kate crawl around, and one of us is fielding Maria who tends to just yell and scream at the drop of a hat if something sets her off. We don't do food during Mass, we don't bring in clunky toys (but soft cloth dolls OK in a pinch!), we don't let the kids go in and out of the pews. So during Mass we just try to survive and some days are good and some days are not. All around me I see other families doing the same thing. Our church is FULL of babies and children - and our Church as an institution does not typically segregate the babies off into a daycare room. We don't have babysitting areas with hired or volunteer caregivers. We do have an optional Children's Liturgy but its geared towards ages 4-6, and its only for a part of Mass. And you know what, I'm glad that we include our littles in the Mass proper, that's how they learn to behave and what to expect; I can't imagine worshipping in a room devoid of children. Nevertheless we are always glad to see the end of Mass and we think, Hey! Survived another one! And every now and then someone will approach us afterwards and tell us what a beautiful family we have or how much they enjoy sitting behind us and watching it all ....
Such was the case recently. There is an elderly couple that often sit behind us and say hello after Mass. They have four grown children of their own, the youngest is now 40.
oh, she smiles warmly, just watching you all reminds me so much of us when we were your age
you understand then? i ask, but its more like a statement
oh yes! she looks me right in the eye, you just persevere! you just persevere!
per.se.vere (verb) continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no indication of success
Well finally. Someone who tells it like it is. No sugar coating about how this time of life will eventually pass or how its all such a blur or how to just embrace and enjoy it because it will be over before you know it. Uh-uh, nope. You just persevere.
I pray that God grant you and me the grace of perseverance. The grace to continue on with little or no indication of success!! We cannot avoid difficulties and struggles in life, and Catholics actually place great value on such suffering. It is redemptive, it is not worthless, it is never pointless, it has great meaning, it is integral to life itself.
You just persevere.
Because it is so worth it.