Sunday, November 1, 2009

3 Minutes

If I could choose how my mornings go, I would have a good hour to myself while the world is still and cloaked in the light blanket of a fading night. I'd make some coffee and retire to the couch. It's a good time to pray, to get centered, to have a game plan. All before my husband gets out of the shower or the kids get out of bed, collect their stuffed friends, come downstairs, and begin to jockey for a position at my side.

It shouldn't be a surprise that with the kids being so young, 6 and barely 4, that this rarely happens.

This morning, I got up and was barely outside my bedroom door when my oldest popped out of bed and was at my side. I made the coffee, and by the time I had poured it into my favorite mug, my youngest was thumping down the stairs.

I sat on the couch between them, gently reminding them not to nudge me too much, lest some coffee tumble over the edge and onto my lap.

They chattered about SpongeBob, regaling me with synopses of recent episodes. And despite my desire for quiet, it was difficult not to be swayed by their infectious tales. How funny was this sea sponge and his underwater counterparts!

On any of the few mornings that I do have the couch to myself, I like to talk to God about my becoming a nurse, because it scares me. I've been home now for 6-plus years. In my past life as an income-earner, I existed in fairly tame administrative settings. This new path is something I desire, but as it stands now, is also way outside my comfort zone. Despite caring for two newborns and successfully raising them into young childhood, I have trouble seeing myself taking care of patients.

Despite talking to women on a breastfeeding helpline, and trying to help them find some resolution with any issues they are having feeding their babies, I have trouble. I've existed as a caretaker of sorts for years now. And yet, the doubt remains.

So I talk to God about confidence, and helping me to grasp that although there will be difficult days merely getting through nursing school, it's okay. I have the capacity. I have the empathy. I have what it takes. Maybe not in every setting, but in many settings.

This is my main prayer, because there are times when I look in the mirror after a hard day, and find myself wondering, "What are you thinking?" I see myself, in my bad state, feeling somewhat defeated, and I have trouble seeing myself accomplish anything outside of getting the laundry folded and put away. And even that is completed is stages, with clothes sometimes occupying the dryer for days, until the creases and wrinkles are too bad for ironing.

I also have prayed in that waning dark to be a better mother: more present, more positive, less exasperated. Because no matter my goals, they were here first. Each one, pulled from me, slick and screaming, and I signed on for our duration in my blood. Sometimes I forget this, just like I forget God. There are times when I sleepwalk, until something jolts me. The sound of their laughter, a cough in the night, how viciously they can fight.

A friend sent me a link to the Loyola Press website, as the Jesuits have a wonderful thing called the 3-Minute Retreat. Giving a brief quote from the Bible, the retreat asks questions of you and then offers a prayer. In lieu of my time, alone in the dark, I can turn here, as even I can usually find a few minutes of peace.

This morning, the retreat reminded me to "Rejoice in the present. See the Lord in everything and everyone." And though I usually find the prayer moving, this morning I actually wrote it down, intending to stick it with a magnet to my fridge:

O God, grace me with a rejoicing and glad heart. Bless me with saintly vision and uphold me in my times of doubt. Keep me aware, O God, of your constancy in my life.

Sometimes I have to laugh at His perfection, because when I'm open and listening, that voice I hear can be exactly what I need.

For this doubting, faltering, forgetful woman, exactly what I need.


Fr. Michael Najim said...

Children at your side in the morning, getting laundry folded and put away, praying to be a good mother: this is exactly what holiness is. So often we think it needs to mystically extraordinary, but it's really in the ordinary things of daily life where we meet the Lord and grow in discipleship.

Thanks for your post!

Anonymous said...

Amen to the morning hour. I even wake up before the girls and actually think about getting nice it would be to have that time. And do you think I ever do it?? NO! But I honestly believe it would make me more patient, understanding and more tolerant of small children behavior.

Kimberly really let your kids watch Spongebob?? Holy hell, that is a naughty show!! ;o) .

Belinda Munoz said...

I clicked over from living holiness and the tagline "wayward Catholic girl..." pulled me in. Then I saw a reference to Innocence Mission so I thought I should at least let you know I stopped by -- a simple effort to connect.

Anonymous said...

I pray to St. Joseph to help me recognize my vocation. It's helpful to me to "categorize," if you will, by choosing patron saints.

You'll be a fine nurse. And as your girls get older, that part of life will get easier, and you will regain the use of strengths you may not even realize you are currently employing.